Thursday, June 13, 2019

Early Morning Reflection

It is currently 4:30 in the morning and I can't sleep. I am wondering if Tom is going to end up getting sick after his first round of chemo yesterday. He is sleeping like a baby however and doesn't show any signs of discomfort.  

I also find myself reflecting on the whirlwind of a month since Tom was diagnosed. We had high hopes and expectations that he was going to be miraculously healed. After all, wouldn't that be the best witness to God's goodness?! 

When that did not happen, all the emotions rose to the surface in my heart as I was disappointed. I really did not want him to have to go through chemo and it was hard to understand why the Lord would want that for him as well. 

Still both of us have chosen to trust. 

I am also thinking about how suffering doesn't cause us to be broken but just brings to the surface what is already there. Somehow though, when we join that brokenness to Christ, he turns it into something sweet.  I am beginning to taste that sweetness as Jesus has been very present to us. It has me reflecting how I would much rather be broken and have Christ than be whole and not have him. Thinking we are whole without Christ however is just an illusion.

This week I am also in the middle of leading crafts for our church's VBS. Today's theme is "When life is sad...God is good!". Our craft is a safari sun-catcher with a silhouette of an animal against a sunrise. The teaching connection with the craft and the theme is how there is always hope in Christ, the sun always comes up over the horizon and we can always put our trust in Him. God is good all the time even when life doesn't go as we had planned!

I know God will have the last word and ultimately be glorified in this situation! He can make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3)!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Black Diamonds

Last week, in prayer I saw an image of a black diamond. I didn't realize diamonds came in the color black but as I did some research, I discovered that indeed they do come in black! I also discovered that black diamonds are 1. more tough, and able to withstand more pressure than regular diamonds 2. absorb light instead of just reflect light and 3. are even more valuable than regular diamonds.

In case you are not familiar with the diamond making process, once the diamond is discovered, it is put under intense pressure. To be exact, 725,000 lbs per square inch. Next, the diamond is put through extreme heat 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the diamond is cut. Real diamonds are also unbreakable. In fact, the Greek meaning of the word diamond is unbreakable.

Black diamonds are made the same way as regular white diamonds but they are even tougher and they absorb light instead of reflecting light. The light doesn't just bounce off of them, the light possesses and takes over them. We are called to become like black diamonds!

Ultimately, as lovers of Jesus, that is what we should want from our life, to be completely taken over and possessed by Jesus! What a privilege to be able to surrender our lives and take up His! How awesome that we can become like Him from the inside out and he exchanges our His life for our crappy life!

On a personal note, the Lord has once again provided Tom and I the opportunity to trust in Him and become more like Him, the most precious of diamonds as we once again lay our life down and take up His!

Tom has had a mass on his tricep for the last year. It has been growing and is now the size of a grapefruit. He kept going to his doctor but his doctor kept reassuring him that is was just a fatty benign tumor. Tom went back yet again and finally got a referral to a surgeon. After tests, it was determined that it is a very rare and aggressive form of a malignant sarcoma.

Now our God is a good and loving Father and he in no way caused this to happen but he did allow it. Tom and I did not see it coming but it is no surprise to our loving Father! Our lives are just as much in his hands now as they were before the diagnosis.

Now, to be honest, we are not thrilled about having to walk through this, just like Jesus was not looking forward to his cross. However, we do not feel shaken and we have peace. We've been through too much and have overcome too much to let this shake us! The Lord has always been faithful to us! His love is steadfast!

I'm reminded of a word the Lord gave me years ago. He showed me a window taped up in a hurricane. This doesn't prevent the window from breaking but it does help it not to shatter. I felt like the Lord said to me that he doesn't promise that when we follow him, our lives won't be broken but if we put our trust in him, our lives won't shatter and fall apart when trials come.

Here is what we are believing for and what you can agree with us in prayer for:

1. That God be glorified through this!
2. Complete healing for Tom!
3. That we will have an even greater testimony of God's goodness and mercy! (All things work for the good of those who love God. - Romans 8:28)

James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

I know I've been missing in action. I haven't felt very inspired to write. Lent was a little rough this year, so probably the perfect Lent. I had all kinds of grandiose plans but in the end none panned out. Instead I faced all kinds of temptations and a spiritual fog, hence the reason that I didn't blog. 

It reminded me of how Jesus was baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit and then went into the desert and faced many temptations. That story actually encouraged me because I knew there was probably a light at the end of the tunnel.

A couple blogs ago, I talked about how I had a very profound encounter with the Holy Spirit at the Encounter conference the beginning of January. Afterwards I felt empowered and emboldened to share the Gospel with people. Also, in February Tom and I were speakers at a marriage retreat on a cruise ship. God was very faithful and I believe spoke through us and blessed the people we ministered to.

Soon after we came home, we entered into Lent and that is when the distractions, fog and temptations started, at least for myself.

The first temptation I dealt with was discouragement and depression. It was strange because it obviously was an oppression coming from the outside and pressing down instead of within me. It was easy to see it for what it was and after about a week, I took authority over it, it went away and fortunately I never let it take root in me.

With the 2nd temptation, I can't say the same. The 2nd temptation was regret. Thoughts regarding past failures were entering my mind and I found myself entertaining them and them causing me great sadness. One particular night I was overcome with grief over past mistakes and wondering, "what if I had done certain things differently". I ended up having a dream that night where the Lord warned me that giving into regret might seem harmless at first but it could end up being very dangerous and I needed to take authority and claim victory in Christ's redeeming work. That next morning, that is exactly what I did and that temptation left me.

Another week in Lent I dealt with one of the worst flare-ups with Fibromyalgia and Bursitis that I have had in a long time. Through that, I had to fight off feelings of worthlessness as the fatigue at times was overwhelming.

Thanks be to God we are now in the Easter season! 

Just a side note; There was one year, I regretted not taking more advantage of the graces during Lent and I felt like the Lord said to me, "There is even more grace available with the Resurrection!"  

So, if you are that person this year, know that Easter lasts longer than Lent and there are even more graces available to you!

I have already experienced the grace of this Easter season. The fog is lifting! The veil has been removed! I am back to having prophetic experiences and  encounters with Jesus! That is our inheritance!

Like I said before, I did not have the Lent that I wanted but I think God had his way and knew what would bring the greatest results and now I can more fully enter into the joy of Easter!

James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New Wine Skins

Behold, I make all things new! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? - Isaiah 43:19

The Lord has really been speaking to me this year about the new things he wants to do and the importance of having "new wine skins" in order to perceive these new things he is doing. In Matthew 9 it says unless we have new wine skins to hold the new wine, the wine will run out and the wine skins will be ruined.

Since many of us can not relate to the analogy of a wine skin, a modern day analogy might be a can of vegetables. If you emptied out a can of vegetables, you wouldn't reuse the can and put vegetables back into it, especially if the can was rusty. The vegetables would become contaminated and wouldn't be edible anymore.

The wine skin or tin can represents our mind. Our mind needs to be constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit in order for us to perceive the new things God is doing.

Just as there are mysteries in the natural world yet to be discovered, there are mysteries in the spiritual realm that have yet to be discovered and the Lord is looking for people whom He can share these mysteries with. We could never exhaust the mysteries of God. Even with the gifts of the Spirit, scripture says there are many variations of the same gift (1Cor. 12). You may have the same gifting as other people but it is not necessarily going to look the same.

Often we want to hold onto the old ways of doing things or cling to what God did in the past. We want what feels safe and familiar. When we do this, we put God in a box and we become blind to what God wants to do.

Times are changing however and what worked in the past isn't going to necessarily work in this day and age.

This type of attitude is rampant in the Church! People like what is comfortable and they like to do things the same way they have always done them, even if it doesn't seem to be working anymore. Tom and I have also seen this attitude to a large extent in the Charismatic movement. Often times, people who were involved in the Charismatic movement in the 70's, want it to stay the same, with the same songs, same speakers, and same way of doing things.

Currently, there is a group of us that meet in our home and at the church once a month for praise, worship, an opportunity to practice the gifts of the Spirit and pray for one another. We do not call it a "Charismatic" prayer group because we believe the gifts are available to the Church as a whole and not just a fringe group of people. Also, hearing God speak is not just a "charismatic" thing. All believers are called to have a 2-way relationship with God. The way our God is different from the so called gods and idols of the nations is that we can hear Him speak to us in the depth of our heart. There are many Saints that heard God speak to them, had visions and other mystic experiences but were not labeled "charismatic". They also were not considered "Saints" at the time they had these experiences. 

As far as our meetings go, we don't want to limit the people who come, so we don't want to get caught up in labels. There are also many Charismatic prayer groups that still meet in a small room or closet in their church and they haven't branched out from that or invited others in. They also do not use the gifts of the Spirit outside of these meetings. That's not what the gifts are for! They were meant to be taken out, beyond the 4 walls of the church and used to reach unbelievers! 

Quite frequently we get people asking if we can play the older charismatic songs. There were some good things that came out of the Charismatic Renewal. If it weren't for the Renewal, I don't know if I would be alive or following Christ. Personally however, I have no desire to go back to what God did in the past. I want to move beyond that and be open to the new things he wants to do now! The next great move of God if going to look completely different than what He did in the past. 

We need to allow Christ to renew our mind. There are great spiritual mysteries that have yet to be discovered and that God wants to reveal to us but we will miss it if we are only looking at what He did in the past. 

1 Cor. 2:9-10 - "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." 

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Countdown is On

When I was a senior in high school, I had my first Psychology class and I was hooked! I found it really fascinating and decided to major in Psychology in college. My senior year I switched to Mental Health because I couldn't pass Statistics. I would tutor other students in it, watch as they would end up getting A's and I would fail because of test anxiety, but that is another story.

One thing I learned in Psychology was about all the different defense mechanisms people use to protect themselves. The Lord in his great kindness has provided a way for all his creatures to protect themselves. In Zoology, I even learned how simple, single cell organisms have built in mechanisms for self defense.

As children of God however, it is not ideal to hold onto our own defense mechanisms. In fact, if we do, they could be likened to moth balls. Moth balls protect against moths but they sure do stink!

Eventually, if we want to come up higher, mature in the Lord and become more like Jesus, we need to be willing to let go of our own defense mechanisms. It is important that we follow Jesus' example, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and surrender to His Divine protection under the shelter of his wings (taught by the early church to be Jesus' outstretched arms on the cross).

It is often tempting to escape when the pressure in on and when life gets hard but if we will find refuge in the cross instead, the reward will be great!

Some of the most beautiful mysteries of creation are formed under intense pressure, irritation, darkness and heat. Pearls, gold, diamond and crystals to name a few.

Likewise, when we are in the dark valleys of life facing intense pressure, heat and irritation, we can become more fully alive and refined when joining those trials to the sufferings of Christ.

When praying about 2019, I believe the Lord showed me some exciting things for this year! 

In the past, when trying to step out to do the works that Jesus did, I would get pelted by the enemy and experience setbacks. 

A new day is dawning however, the countdown is on and we are now coming into a season  of unprecedented protection for those who will let go of their own defenses and hide themselves in the shelter of the Most High like Psalm 91 talks about.

We have a green light to go forth in the power of His name, lay hands on the sick and see them recover.

We are coming into a season of Mark 16:15-18
These signs will accompany him. In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not harm them, they will place their hands on the sick and they will recover.
Besides the Divine protection this scripture talks about, another verse that struck me with is, "they will place their hands on the sick and they will recover." It doesn't say, after praying for a long time, begging and pleading, they will recover.

Healings are starting to become more common place as God's people are realizing the authority they have in Christ. As Christians begin to realize their authority and that they can pull down their inheritance now, healings will be more common place than in the past. It will become the "new normal". Instead of begging and pleading, often times we just need to lay hold of that which is already ours. 

The next great move of the Holy Spirit is upon us! I prophesied about it 20 years ago:

"You are about to witness the greatest move of my Spirit that has ever been poured out on the earth! Unlike the Charismatic movement, it will not be able to be contained. It will start with the youth and spread to the four corners of the earth."

Rise up Church! Hide yourself in Christ! The rain/rein of God is here! 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Holy Spirit is Alive and Well!

If you haven't yet checked out Encounter Ministries, you need to! They are a ministry that God is using powerfully to bring renewal to the Church! 

I just got back from their annual conference that was held in Toledo, Ohio this year. I attended last year as well and it was life-changing. This year was life-changing on another level! Fr. Mathias Thelan and Patrick Reis head up Encounter. The Lord truly works through them, I believe because of their humility and ability to yield to the Holy Spirit. 

For myself, one of the most powerful talks of the weekend was given by Jeff Cavins. He talked about how simple it is to share the Gospel with people and we usually complicate it. He talked about the basic message of the Gospel that even Billy Graham would use which is:

1.) God loves you and has a plan for your life.
2.) Sin interupted that plan and seperates us from God.
3.) Jesus Christ died to save you.
4.) Repent and believe the Gospel, the "good news."
5.) Be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.
6.) Live in Christ, through his body, the Church.
7.) Go forth and make disciples.

Mr. Cavins also talked about how when you share the Gospel and God's love with people, the Holy Spirit confirms and backs up the message. Also, all 5 steps of the message do not have to be shared at once.

He then told story after story of how he shares the Gospel with people. Mr. Cavins makes it his goal to share the Gospel message with at least 2 people a day. Even though he is a bible scholar, he even shares this very simple message with people. He also shared ways the Holy Spirit confirms the message, often times by the person crying.

I never thought of it being so simple! I left feeling like, "Even I can do this!"

I left the conference with increased boldness and joy as the Holy Spirit truly blasted me and set me on fire with his love for myself and others!

I decided I was going to put what I learned into practice right away. 

Before we left the hotel, I prayed and asked the Lord if there was anyone he wanted me to reach out to that day. The name Scott came to my mind, but that is all. 

My friends and I then checked out of the hotel and started driving. We ended up stopping at a Bob Evans for lunch. When we were checking out, I had trouble paying my bill because the cash register wasn't working so the cashier had to call up the assistant manager. He came up and his nametag said, SCOTT! I paid my bill and Scott had walked away but I asked a waittress if she would call him back to the front. He came up, probably thinking I was going to complain. I then said to him, "This might sound weird but this morning when I was praying, your name came to my mind. I believe God wants you to know he loves you and he has a plan for your life." His eyes got big and then he started crying. He then said, "I really appreciate that! I have been going through a really rough time!" 

Another opportunity happened the day after I got back. I went to the grocery store. In the line I got in was a cashier that was obviously irritated with everyone who went through her line. I ended up leaving without saying anything but felt like I should have shared God's love with her. I got home and realized I forgot a couple ingredients so I went back. I told the Lord if she was still there, I would share his love with her. Well, she was still there, in the same checkout. I got my items and got in her line. I was just going to tell her the same thing I told Scott which was, "God loves you and has a plan for your life." but as I was standing in line my heart started pounding and I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly! He impressed on me to tell her he sees what she is going through. It was finally my turn and she commented on how I would have been better off going to self checkout since I only had a couple items. I leaned in to her and said, "Dianna, the reason I got in your line is because God wants me to tell you he loves you and he sees all you are going through!" She started to cry! She then proceeded to tell me that she just got out of the hospital with Pneumonia and before that, her husband had died!

These incidents are really opening my eyes to the needs around me. There are so many hurting people that need Jesus! If we don't tell them about his love, who will?

Come Holy Spirit!!!