31 December 2011

the possibilities

Today is the last day of this year. This day and time will never come again and this applies to each day I am graciously given. As such I find it important to live each day intentionally and on purpose. Am I always successful? Not really but instead of living in a condemned place, I choose to remember and activate the Word which declares to me that His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:21-25) For this I am grateful.

As I prepare not only to go into a new day but a new year I am excited about what it holds. In my spirit I sense the unfolding of great things for many people including myself. Though tempted to be overwhelmed with the questions of "How? Why? and every impatient person's favorite "When?" I find myself experiencing a great peace because even thought I don't know the answers, I know the God who holds them. I have nothing to fear and no reason to doubt. This year I am excited to see great victory in the Kingdom of God.

In 2011 I have wrestled with identity and my value. In the post Fighting the Fear of Failure, I discussed this in detail. I have many times cowered down and not moved forward with simple actions because I have felt so unworthy. I've not met my own minimum standards, how could I hope to achieve or assist in the great things I have seen in my dreams and visions? But I'll tell you, I'm extremely tired of asking that question and seeing the fruitless results! Just because I am not able to fit into a mold that I "think" I should to be able go on to the next level does not mean I have to. What does this mean?

I have come to the conclusion, finally, that all the things that I thought mattered actually do not. One of the currencies of the Kingdom of God is faith. I have faith and it speaks a completely different message than that of my personal standards based on the world's systems. One of the reasons I love the Bible so much is because it recounts the lives of ordinary men and women who through their love for God did extraordinary exploits. They lived adventures of a lifetime because they walked in faith. Everything that their societies told them was they way and standard was often not the way they chose to walk because with God, life is very different.  (Hebrews 11)

I am just as they were, there is no reason that I cannot be an instrument and vessel. I am done with excuses. The ones I have put forth have often been there because I did not want to grow out of my comfort zone. Too bad for me. This year I am leaving the comfort zone behind and making the decision to grow. I have an amazing set of gifts that I am not fully aware of because I have spent so long hiding from them. Once you become aware of something, you are accountable based on what you know. If I don't know what all my gifts are then I don't have to be accountable to them, right? This is a terrible line of thinking that places great limits on myself and on God's power to work through me. In doing so I could be holding back someone else's blessing. How terribly selfish of me. No more!

The possibilities before me this year are great in every area of life. In my relationship with the Lord, I expect to come to know Him more intimately than I have in the previous 18 years of our relationship. I know that I will see manifest through me not just the Matthew 28:18-20 Great Commission that I have spiritually "grown up" with but that the Mark 16:15-20 promise of signs and miracles as well. At work there have been some changes and I have the opportunity to do great work and implement new ideas. I believe that by choosing to see this as a divine set up and making the decision to grow that I will see a side of me that I have never known in my professional life. This will bring blessing to others who will be affected by the decisions I make. In relationships I will continue to cultivate great friendships and also seek out a mentor. I firmly believe this is a key to a victorious and successful life. I am accepting the call to leadership. I am choosing obedience here. This is one of those situations where the "How?" question screams at me but again, I choose to place trust in the One who called me not in myself.

There are many more things that are before me but I have written this not only for myself but for those of you who may read this. This is not just for the new year, this is for everyday. In the Lord we are blessed to have the opportunity to start anew everyday. So no matter when this is read I hope it inspires you to think of the possibilities that are before you. How could your obedience bless someone else? How could your trip out of the "comfort zone" inspire someone else or give strength to them. No matter who you are or what you think of yourself, there is someone near you that you can influence. I pray that 2012 is a year of great decisions that lead to extraordinary actions that have the possibility of affecting future generations for the better. I bless you in the name of the Father of heaven and Earth!

19 December 2011

growing up

I appreciate patience, favor and grace. This has been extended to me greatly in my life. I also appreciate truth and correction. It may not be my absolute favorite thing at the time but I know the good fruit it produces when paired with a willing spirit. Hebrews 12:11 has been a key scripture for me in my development as I have learned that just as in growing up in chronological time, in the Spirit discipline is a factor to maturity. Over time and trial we learn what is acceptable, pleasing and good. We  are taught early on that we cannot do everything we want to do just because we feel like it nor can we have everything just because we want it and feel we have a right to it.

In any case, I am considering these things today as I celebrate 18 years of relationship with the Lord. On a cold December 19 I made the good confession that Jesus is Lord and I was baptized into a new life. That was the best Christmas present I have ever received. Nothing could compare. I remember being so happy, so excited about what was to come. I am so excited and moved to write this out because of a situation that happened today. 

I was talking briefly with a friend and I brought up something that encouraged me. It is a simple phrase that made me think a little differently about life, "Is there any reason that we should fail?" This simple phrase helped me to frame something in my mind. When I heard it, the response in my spirit was an oft-quoted passage that I really enjoy in the Amplified:

13  I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
Philippians 4:13

I'm finally beginning to understand this. I shared this with my friend and began to tell her of some of my landmark failures that I know I allow to keep me bound and not move forward. I was recalling a couple of them when she stopped me and said, "Seriously that was so long ago. Let me help you with something. People tend to find themselves in a "stuck" place when they have a lack of forgiveness in their lives. Either toward themselves or someone else." I confessed that I know it is a lack of forgiveness toward myself. She then replied, "Unforgiveness toward self is just another form of pride. Do you really want to look at Jesus and tell Him that His life, death and resurrection were not enough for you to be forgiven because that is exactly what you are saying by holding on to this?"

As you can tell, my friend is very direct. That is one of the very reasons I so love her. She called me out on the evident sin in my life. Pride is truly like a necklace (Pssalm 73:6). I could not (would not) see it for what it obviously is, it was too close. What gives me the right to despise who the Lord loves? I get angry with people and frustrated and want to react in a certain way, but I know that it is unacceptable. Yet when it comes to tearing down myself, I allow it. This terrible way of thinking makes no sense yet I agree with the voice of the enemy to the point that I manufacture the most ungodly thoughts about myself. Then, unable to think straight (with the mind of Christ) I find ways to sabotage myself and keep this perpetual downward spiral going. And all for the sake of pride, a sin that is guaranteed to bring me low and not in the sense I want to be.

So why am I so excited about this? Now my eyes are open to see what I was blind to before. I see this for what it is. I can repent, I can move on, I can grow. I will not be able to face the next battle or go to the next place on the journey until I deal with the sin that needs to be removed from my camp. I see that I have camped at Mt. Failure in the valley of Self-Sabotage far too long simply because I felt justified in holding on to unforgiveness. I felt this is something I can do and that I had a right to express this since it's toward myself. I have been praying to be free from a cell that I was holding the keys to all this time. "Aisha God will not free you from something you are friends with." When my friend said this, my response was not one of anger, shame or rebuttal. I was instantly grateful because she was speaking the truth and I knew that I needed to repent.

A few years ago, that definitely would not have been my response. I am not sure if that would have been it a few months ago either. But today I sit here, free from the deceptive blindness of pride (at least concerning this situation) and removed from the shackles of unforgiveness. "Forgiveness is not a destination, it is a continual journey. When you feel as though you want to go back to unforgiveness decide to travel further on the road of forgiveness. This is where you will continue to find the Lord." This is where I will find His strength that will infuse and empower me. I can live a successful, obedient life. 18 years ago I was completely forgiven for everything and born into newness. Just as I have been fully forgiven I can extend that forgiveness to others and as I see now to myself. Thank God!

16 December 2011

the power and promise of one word: yes

The beauty of surrender, the trust, the decision to go in confidence and joy without knowing the end from the beginning but trusting in the One who does. Having placed all faith in the consequences of His love for me and promises to me. I may appear foolish because of this decision, but this life cannot be about living to please others. Everything I choose has to be about Him. As such, I will continually say "yes."

"Yes" has hurt, "yes" has been something I did not understand, "yes" has made me uncomfortable, "yes" has pushed me beyond my known limit into an area where if He did not show up, nothing was going to happen. Yet He knows all and none of what He is asking of me is a surprise for Him; it's a setup for Him to reveal Himself in this life in a new way. As I move forward with a "yes" in my heart, I have the guarantee of His word alive in me, the fullness of His love and the indwelling of His Spirit. And really what else do I need? It is with Him I choose to agree, to Him I say "YES." His promises await!

And what happens with "yes?" I don't know the exact outcome, but I know what happens with "I'm too afraid to try" or "I don't know if I'm the right person for this;" NOTHING. And who needs more of nothing in their life when we were created for great exploits!

By nature I am a very passionate person and that has now been joined with a desire to serve others in whatever capacity that is needed. "Yes" is the hope of walking in that, depending on Him to take care of everything beyond my reach. "Yes" carries an air of excitement and fun. "Yes" to Him makes me think of laughter after tears, dancing after mourning, running after being lame, strength after weakness, peace after chaos, acceptance and love after rejection and possible in the face of impossible. "Yes" has the tension of hope and eager expectation in seeing how He will fulfill His promises. After all the Scripture states:

20 For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God. 21 But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us [enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit]; 22 [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].  1 Corinthians 1:20-22 AMP

When "yes" is the response of a willing heart to God, the promises and power released to that life are limitless. To God be all the glory, Amen!

14 December 2011

the invitation

The times and seasons are a-changing. The atmosphere is charged with an electricity that is coming from battles in the heavenlies and it is spilling over into our lives here. We may not be able to physically lay eyes on the clashes happening but you most likely can feel them. This is a time to be prayerful and seeking the Lord's direction like no other. Yes the calendar will flip over to a new year shortly and I believe that is driving some of this but on a more personal note, your destiny is being fought over and it is up to you to decide to receive and carry out the plans of the Heavenly Father for your life.

We are all here on assignment. Some of us are intimately acquainted with that assignment and are already walking it out. Some of us are walking, faithfully serving in the area we currently have stewardship over. Both places are good. But now as we enter into this key moment of transition it's time to make a decision. What's next? If you're like me you may have a general idea but you may not be sure of the next step, but you are willing to take it. In this place it is so easy for spirits like confusion, doubt and fear to rise up. Just because they decide to show up does not mean that we have to invite them in and entertain them.

It is a basic principle. In order for someone to join you in your home you have to agree to let them in. You can invite someone in because you want to spend time with them. Someone decides they want to spend time with you and they ask to come in and you can agree to let them join you. In either situation you have a choice to agree with the one trying to enter your home. If your best friend wants to come spend time with you, there is a good chance they are readily invited in. However, that one friend or relative who always loves to cause a scene in your home may not be someone you invite back in. Even if they show up unexpectedly, though they are familiar, it may not be the best thing for you to agree to invite them in to relive the same nightmare.

As I sit here contemplating everything I have before me and what I want to see in the coming year I will openly tell you the spirit of fear has been trying to paralyze me today. I have stood at the door all day debating whether or not to let him into my house (my heart) yet again. I have cried and felt uncomfortable most of the day. As I lay before the Lord in prayer a little while ago I asked myself a key question; Why?
Why am I sitting here feeling worthless and like a failure? Because I let a lying spirit come in while I was standing at the door debating whether or not to let fear in. DUH! Sounds dumb right? But while I was distracted talking to one familiar spirit a myriad of others were able to ease on in, bringing with them confusion and the paralysis of fear already had me!

So what should I be doing instead? Well first off, I did pray. I believe going into a quiet moment alone with the Lord is so key. Even though at the time I felt distant and like nothing was happening, I knew that was the safest place to be, in His Presence. That is where revelation and illumination take place. Secondly, my words are ineffective in dealing with spirits unless they are powered by His Word. Because I can talk all day long but when I talk like Him, it is then and only then that things change. Today I specifically went to Psalm 91 for He is my Refuge and Sheild, my safe place and protection. When I am feeling beat up by lies, deception and bullied by fear, the only way to face them is from a safe place of truth. I not only read it, I declared it boldly - out loud in a serious voice. I needed to hear myself say it and so did the enemy coming against me, because this very Word of God is my Mighty and Uncommon Weapon! Next, I literally let those intruders know where they needed to go and it was not here. I commanded them to leave by the Power of the Name of Jesus and renounced any association with them. I then declared who I am. I am the beloved daughter of the Most High King. I am in relationship with God Almighty fully received and loved by Him. Finally, to really fight, I'm telling you about it :)

Now I have gone into my Safe Place, surrendered myself and confessed my current situation. In that place, as always His faithfulness met me. He revealed to me that I had invited in unwelcome guests and that I needed to command them to leave. Now I am ready to move forward beyond distraction to tackle the project from work that is making me weak-kneed and not in the good sense. And then personally to work on my goals, action plan and vision board for 2012 because there is a real Guest I want to invite in, The Holy Spirit. He has with Him an invitation to my date with destiny that will allow me to expand the King's dominion in my area of rule. This is so exciting!

I pray in this season that you will have intimate time with Him like never before and that He would speak to you through dreams and visions and that you would receive your invitation to the next phase of your destiny. May the rest of this year see your life blessed with victory!

12 December 2011

the threat

I have a confession to make: I want to be a great wife and incredible mother. This may seem simple and you may think don't all women want that? In reality, the answer is no. Some women want a career or to spend their lives pursuing a passion other than family. For a while, especially early in my life, that was what I wanted. I desired to graduate college with at least 2 or 3 degrees and then work. I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and be the very definition of success. There was not going to be any excuses for me. None of this sob story of a black woman raised in a single parent home tale of woe for me. I wanted to do well and be able to take care of my family and care for those who had cared for me.

In that upbringing I did not have some ideal relationship of marriage to want to get into so it was not a BIG thing for me. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of relationship. Romance has always been a weakness. And if you've spent any time with me, you know how affectionate I am. So it's not that relationships were not on my radar, they just were not the main focus. Having dedicated my life to the Lord at 16, some ideas had to change and that was in all honesty the first time I considered marriage and also the first time I began to consider children. "Began to consider" because in all honesty the thought of reproducing anything similar to "this fabulousness that is me" SCARES the daylight out of me.

But here I stand 34 years old, single, no suitors on the horizon having never been married and absolutely committed to the call God has on my life. It's not the patience of waiting for a husband that has brought about this feeling of having my confessed dream threatened. After all, My God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which means He is also the God of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah. All of whom, except Leah who had her own issues, were either challenged with conception or had a difficult pregnancy recorded. Sarah was not only old, the Bible specifically says that "the way of women had left Sarah" Genesis 18:11. At 90 years old she was way past the "sell by", child bearing date. Yet she bore the promised son Isaac whose name means laughter, a reaction of joy. He was a promise not only to Abraham but to Sarah herself from the Lord. And she raised him and saw him grow into a man. She believed for, conceived carried, birthed and grew her dream. So no that's not where the test is coming in, although I must say I know this is the same story that gives me faith to face the threat.

For the past few months, during that "time of the month" (sorry guys, it's a girl thing) I have been so incapacitated by the pain I have experienced that I have missed at least one if not two days each month since September. This month was no exception. However this month was the first time that I realized what this could be. In my history it has not been uncommon to have painful cycles, on the contrary when my sister and I were first having them, we had prescription pain killers. I was probably 28 or 29 before I had a "regular cycle." My sister who is five years my senior has endometriosis. It was so bad that she was not able to get pregnant for many years of her marriage. Now she and her husband have three precious angels but that was after surgery and treatments that I don't want to think about. But, of course, I'm thinking about it. My sister married at 25 and they had their first baby when she was 33. Again, I'm 34 and I would rather not have a baby right away when I do marry. So as I sit here, still considering the uncomfortable pressure I feel right now in my midsection I understand that my dream, that I don't even like to think about is threatened.

I'm still young, especially when you consider Sarah, but that really does not have anything to do with it. This threat that is wanting to creep in so badly is none other than fear. As a book I recently read states, "You have to believe in order to conceive. The two are not separate, they go together." This is yet another distraction sent by the enemy in the familiar wrapping of the fear of failure. If this is as bad as what my sister had, what will I do? After all she was at least married already when she found out. She also was in a better place financially than I am currently. What am I going to do? These are the thoughts competing for my attention.

I'm a woman and not only that, at it's root one of the meanings of my name is companion and as mentioned in a previous post "isha" is the Hebrew word for not only woman but all things feminine. At my core, I was designed for this, yet with the possible threat to my reproductive system this thought that I will not be able to walk out my dream or meet the fulfillment of my name is lurking in the shadows. I am going to the doctor this week and ask for your prayers of agreement for a good report.

The thing that really bothers me, is that this is obviously so much more than a physical attack. I am in a season of revelation. God is revealing to me more of Who He is as well as showing me who I am in Him; the woman He created me to be. I have fought the idea of leadership and consistently found ways to busy myself with "good" stuff that may not always be the "God" thing that I should be doing. But this year I took my stand on Him and said I would trust Him and step out into a leadership role. In August I attended a leadership training class and began to meet with mentors to develop a plan for the group, within my church, that I would like to begin. The next month, this challenge began. Now that could be a complete coincidence but...

In any case, yesterday in looking at all this I decided that if the enemy wanted to fight dirty, then I would fight fire with faith! For the first time last night, I made myself write out my vision for the Lifeteam that I will lead. I wrote down and read aloud the foundational scriptures and why they are important. I decided that no matter what it looks like, no matter what I don't know, no matter what I can't see, no matter what I am unable to change, the enemy will no longer have the authority to use fear to keep me from reproducing whether in the Spirit or at just the right time, physically. I also sat here for a moment tonight and thought should I write this and as you clearly see, I opted for sharing my testimony. I expect that God will reveal Himself as healer in this situation no matter what it is exactly. There are a myriad of things that this physical challenge could be and there is opportunity for fear to rise up and try to take me down. But I have a promise from God myself, one that He made to me. I have not seen that promise fulfilled yet so no matter the challenge I am facing I know that my name is still victory and in due season we will all see His vision birthed through me!