Let's not forget about victory. Let's not forget about deliverance.

I don't believe I've ever been a part of a church that preached a prosperity gospel, so I'm not 100% sure what falls under that umbrella, and I don't think it's a good use of my time or mind space to read up on a false doctrine when I could just be reading the Word. But I've sensed and been influenced by a wave in the opposite direction that I believe rose up in response to the prosperity gospel, which talks about suffering often and at length. I refer to it as the opposite, the suffering gospel. It seemed to be weaved into every sermon and every song, by multiple pastors, churches, and leaders. The message was not to waste the suffering in our lives, because God ordains it as an opportunity to grow and become more like Christ. After all, there are many verses that call us to patiently endure suffering and assure us that God will work all things together for our good. If you're thinking that nothing sounds wrong with that, (which I don't necessarily either) than hang on and hear me out for a minute.

What if you heard that in every sermon every Sunday? What if all the "famous" pastors were saying the same thing, and you trusted them? What is you saw how God brought good, and maturity out of the suffering of others that you slowly and subtly started to believe that suffering was the ultimate sign of maturity and holiness? This is the spot I was at after being immersed in the suffering gospel for many years, until I was hit with some suffering of my own. This time, it was trickier to identify, because on the outside it might of looked like I WAS KILLIN' IT in life. Nothing actually changed in my circumstances. But on the inside my world had fallen apart. The nutshell version of it is this: long standing, unresolved issues in my heart and life created a big foothold for the enemy to come in a do what he does best: lie, accuse, intimidate, confuse, doubt, fear, seduce, guilt, and shame. I had a massive wounding in my heart and I have a massive calling on my life and I couldn't go forward with both. If I was really going to go for it with my calling, my heart needed healing. And thus I entered a long process of inner healing, deliverance, freedom, and realizing what Jesus really purchased for me when He died on that cross and rose from the grave victoriously. That could be a whole blog post (or book) of it's own but the point of if here is that I was definitely suffering. But in the culture I was in, I was so heavily under the influence of the suffering gospel that I'd forgotten that Jesus wanted me to live victoriously. He wanted to deliver me from the enemy and give me an abundant life. I wasn't even sure how to wear the armor of God, what warring in prayer was, how to discern the will and heart of God for me on the matter, how to demolish strongholds, and how to discern enemy activity and engage him in battle, instead of thinking that everything bad happening to me (internally) was a result of my sinful flesh. 

It all came to a halt when I realized I couldn't get free and live in ongoing victory and stay in the suffering gospel culture. If I was going to get a breakthrough, I needed to be around people that believed Jesus wanted a breakthrough for me more badly than I did. And it came, although I stayed in the wilderness a lot longer than necessary because I believed God wanted me there. The Holy Spirit taught me how to live in peace, wear the armor, pray from victory for victory, discern what God is doing and partner with him in accomplishing that. He healed my heart and made me new. I still have giants to slay, but they're the giants in the Promised Land and not the wilderness. 

"Suffering" is a broad word and covers so many different things that happen in you or to you. I absolutely DO NOT think that when we come to know Jesus that everything will be comfortable and easy and he'll get you a new car. But I do think that what we misdiagnose, we will also mistreat. If we do not know how Jesus responded to the people who suffered in the bible (I'd suggest you read the gospels and see how He responded to someone who is suffering in the way you are), that we cannot discern how He would responded to us as well. Jesus suffered the cross and all that he endured on the way (the ultimate suffering), suffered persecution, laid his reputation on the line, didn't have a place to lay his head at night, was left by his closest companions, was misunderstood, had a broken heart over people, and was so stressed that He sweat his own blood. He also healed everyone that came to him, delivered people from demonic influence or possession, made a way for us to be right with God and victorious through Him, forgave sins, taught his heart out about what it's like in the Kingdom and manifested what the Kingdom is like wherever He went. 

I've had to contend with both ways of suffering (in and outside of God's will for us). My concern is that many people are trying to suffer well with things God wants to set them free from. My concern is that we've swung so far to the opposite extreme of the prosperity gospel that we've embraced hellish situations that break God's heart. My concern is that we've forgotten that the cross didn't just forgive our sins, but the resurrection power empowers our victory. My concern is that we've forgotten how to fight, how to get free and stay free, and have made ourselves doormats for the enemy to come in and kill, steal, and destroy we're not sure what to embrace and what to fight. My concern is that we've become complacent with going from mess to mess instead of from glory to glory.

This is a conversation I want to continue to talking about and equipping you with. This link (http://lindseyfalls.com/blog/2016/2/15/resources-for-spiritual-victory?rq=victory) is a post I wrote a while back might be a good place to start. (Sorry- hyperlink isn't working and I want to get this out!)

 

From Average to Ablaze: 6 Practices That Keep My Fire Alive

ben-white-139141.jpg

Hey friends! If you read my last post, you'll know that one of the things I'm passionate about is making your theology become your reality. Do you know what I mean by that? Whatever it is you read in Scripture or know intellectually, I want it to get down into the marrow of your bones and so it becomes the reality of your daily life. Today we're talking about possessing and maintaining our pure, unadulterated love for Jesus. Because this doesn't alway come naturally yet I really believe that this is the foundation to everything else you do. If you love Jesus, you will automatically live on mission. When you really love Jesus with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, all of your "should do's" will become "want to's". Just like your relationships in your life require care and tending, so does your relationship with Jesus. I don't know about you but I don't want an "average" or "meh" relationship with Jesus. I want to be ablaze in my love for Him. When I love Him the most, I am filled with His fullness and animated by His Spirit. I'm full of joy and peace. The most wild of dreams and daunting of tasks seem possible when my flame is burning. These are a few things I've been practicing, many of them for years and some are relatively new. Let's get started!
 

  1. The Scriptures. This might seem like an obvious one but hang on! Jeremiah 23:39 says, "Is my word not like fire?" declares the Lord, "and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" If God Almighty is comparing His Word to fire and a hammer that can break the rock in pieces, it's not possible to be ablaze without it. There are various ways I go about reading and studying Scripture (maybe a post for another time) but what has been a game changer for me and really helps me make my theology a reality is not just when I read it, but stand up, and get loud about it. I bring soul and spirit into agreement with God's Word and activate my faith when I start getting mouthy (faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of God!) This is what I mean: I wouldn't just read a verse like the one from Jeremiah above and think, "aw, that's cool! God's Word is like fire!" I would stand up, and declare out loud with enthusiasm, "This Word is FIRE. I agree with You, God, that when I'm around it I'm going to get my fire stoked. This time here MATTERS, and I will never be the same after reading it." Now I sit down and read on and because I'm starting to get some traction. I even feel like standing up to type as I type this because it just gets me all excited thinking about it. There's so much power in speaking Scripture or words that agree with Scripture out loud. Start confessing, proclaiming and declaring! Few other things align my mind and soul with Scripture like this does.
  2.  Witness to someone. It's the last thing you're going to feel like doing when you feel dry or "meh." Trust me on this one. This is proof that the Spirit of God will give you the words you didn't even know you had in you and you'll walk away from that conversation with some fire. This doesn't necessarily have to be a full on Gospel presentation. Sometimes I ask the checker at the grocery store if they have a need I can pray for. Sometimes I remind someone that they're not invisible and that God sees them. However the Spirit leads me, I ask God to give me one second of an insane amount of courage to start that conversation and He always does.
  3. Body Posture. The way you're using your body in the physical always represents the posture of your spirit in the spiritual. Did that go over your head? Let me try to explain. Have you ever felt emotionally exhausted (I know you introverts are raising your hand!) but maybe you're not physically tired enough to need a nap, but you just want to sit or lay down and veg? You don't physically need a nap but you can't seem to want to get up. Now let's flip the story. Say inside, you aren't necessarily feeling the feels for Jesus. I know what some of you are thinking, "It's not about your emotions! You can't let your emotions lead!" Hang tight. Women of God, God gave you emotions and made you emotional. He could have not done this. I think we need to learn to harness our emotions for good. If you think you need not have any emotional feeling for Jesus you are missing out. Jesus himself has emotions for you, I think it's healthy for you to have emotions for Him! There is danger in letting your emotions lead you, but there is wisdom in you leading your emotions. Back to body posture, when I don't "feel it" for Jesus I start getting my body going so my spirit can mine up with my body. Psalm 30:11 says, "You have turned my mourning into dancing, you took of my clothes of mourning and clothed me with gladness." Are you ready to take off the clothes of mourning? Start dancing! Yes, I mean physically dancing! I put some worship music on in my headphones and start dancing, leaping, jumping and moving my body in worship for Jesus. If your spirit is heavy, you can and should offer Him a sacrifice of praise! It'll be the last thing you feel like doing, but step out and try it! I do this to rev up my spirit before I pray and get in the Word!
  4. Pray + Expect. Sometimes I'm so used to praying without ceasing and as I go though my day, that I forget what I'm really doing. Women of God, we are not just talking to our imaginary friend when we pray! Remind yourself that you are in communication with God Almighty who holds the universe in His hands. Remind yourself when you talk to Him that you are up in that throne room of heaven because you are seated in heavenly places and you have access to speak with your Daddy anytime you want. I often call it "throne room time." I also LOVE asking God for something specific and expect to see it though the day. I ask Him for a specific conversation to happen organically that I want to have with my 5 year old. I ask Him to meet people at the grocery store that are broken that I can speak a word of hope to today. I sometime ask him for something small, like "God, can you show me some yellow flowers? They just remind me that You're a beautiful creator and that You love me." I'll usually drive past a field of yellow flowers that day and think of Him. He hears us no matter how large or small our requests.
  5. Serve. This kinda goes along with witnessing. Have you ever had a Sunday morning where you had to be serving somewhere and thought that you really don't want to be there today, you'd rather be in the service or just be able to not be "on" somewhere? I've had that and I'm always encouraged by how God meets me there. Or if you feel "meh" but you know a neighbor or friend needs something and you decide to do it even though you don't feel like it? I encourage you to step out in faith and do it or give it your best anyway! God designed us so that we feel filled up when we pour out!
  6. Get around some people that are ablaze with love for Jesus. When your flame is flickering, you need the fire of community. We need each other. Get some boldness to call a friend from church or someone you see really getting after it and go out for coffee. Don't know where to find some people that are really on fire for Jesus? Go to places where people are going the extra mile. Come early for pre-service prayer or set-up (if you have that). Stay late. Whatever your church has going on, usually the people that are really ablaze are the ones going the extra mile. Get around them. And if you still can't find those people, be what you need. If you need encouragement, go encourage someone else. If you feel alone, go remind someone else that they're not alone. Start a girls night. Text someone and let them know you're praying for them. Keep at it and it will come back to you.
     

Do you guys have any more ideas to add? Does any of this resonate with you? Leave a comment because I'd love to hear about it! I believe you are not meant to be average. You are meant to be a mighty, ablaze woman of God, in Jesus' name and for His glory!