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Deep Thought Thursday: The Next Generation

I’ve been thinking about the generations behind me lately. A lot actually. And whether or not I am doing my part in teaching them and guiding them. We all have a part to play in the lives of those around us.

Today I was thinking about the generation of Israelites leaving Egypt. About how many amazing miracles this generation experienced leaving Egypt. And yet they grumbled and complained and failed to believe God. 

Hebrews 11:6 tells us to please God you must do 2 things: Believe God Exists and Believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

This generation believed in God, but they didnt believe God. My theory is because they had never actually believed they were free. They still had a slave mentality. 

Meaning they never dealt with the trauma and issues that resulted from being slaves, therefore, didn’t have the capacity to believe. In other words, they had broken places and wounds that they didn’t bring to God. Joshua and Caleb were the only two that could see from God’s perspective, despite having been enslaved. So healing and true freedom were available to all, but only two received it. 

As a result of not dealing with their issues the entire generation, save Josh and Caleb, died with unfulfilled lives.

Heartbreaking. 

The next generation were either small children in Egypt or were born in the desert. They believed in God and believed God (the majority at least) and were able to take possession of the Promised Land.

But this generation also failed.  

They did not properly teach their children the ways of the Lord. And as the years passed, and additional generations were born, they wrote off what they did hear as “old stories.” They didn’t know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They didn’t understand their covenant rights and responsibilities.

That generation didn’t live according to the guidelines God gave them that would make them stand out and be successful over the people around them. Instead they wanted to be like the people around them. This desire got them into trouble. See the book of Judges to see the cycle repeating itself.

All of this because a generation failed to teach their children and their children’s children that God is the Great I Am and He will do what He said He would do.

I have realized that I am guilty of the same things as both generations.  I know God is good. I’ve seen it and experienced it first hand! And yet, I too struggle to believe in the goodness of God. 

It is a battle every day for me to keep believing and walking towards what God has for me. It was easier for me to believe my future would be great when I was younger…since there was sooo much future ahead of me. 

But at 42, the enemy keeps whispering in my ear that I missed my chances. That I am too old now. Saying, “who are you to believe such audacious beliefs about my own future. You aren’t any different from the rest of the ordinary people. A cog in the machine.” 

I know those are lies. But on the harder days they seem easier to believe then to agree with this: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, ” Ephesians 3:20 NIV

But I cannot give up. If I give up that teaches those behind me to give up and stop trusting God. So even when for myself I don’t want to keep fighting and moving forward, I do it for the kids in my life. 

I am not a parent. But I am an Aunt. I am a big sister. I am a spiritual mother. And in that vein, I will not quit. I know God is faithful. I know God is good. So I will continue even when the enemy’s lies seem more believable than God’s promises.

The promises God has given me are very close to my heart, very personal. So I tend not to talk about my relationship with the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit internal because it’s not a light and breezy conversation for me. It’s real. And it’s deep. And that makes it difficult to bring up when you’re playing mini golf or grabbing lunch.

I want to see the people in my life to start where I end and go further than me. To believe even bigger for themselves. Partnering with Jesus on things even bigger than my audacious imagination can conceive. 

But I feel like I am failing the next generation by not teaching them about Jesus and telling them about what God had done. I love these kids more than my own life, but when it comes to really telling them what matters, I stumble and falter. 

I don’t know how to teach them. I don’t know how to explain all that I know about the goodness of God or the incredible miracles He’s done in my life. 

BUT!

But I am a writer. So I write here on this blog. I sent texts of encouragement. And I do my best to live according to Kingdom Principles. I do this not out of guilt or fear but because I owe Jesus my life. And so I will share real stuff here.

At 17, I threw away my virtue and what I knew to be true because I wanted so much to be loved and have a partner for life. It took me several years of counseling with ministers and spending much time in the Presence of God so He could heal the damage I did to myself.  That’s not easy to bring up in random conversation is it?
It isn’t easy to tell people that it took Jesus years to get me to understand that if I didn’t forgive myself, He couldn’t heal me. Forgiving myself for being self-destructive was easier than forgiving myself for hurting other people.

Guilt, like fear is a bully! Guilt is an eater of your soul. If not dealt with it will eventually devour your soul and begin chowing down on your body.

Guilt often leads to self-hatred. And self-hatred, my friends, leads you to believing that God’s promises aren’t for you. To believing that you don’t deserve anything good. It causes you to settle. And if not dealt with can eventually cause auto-immune diseases.

The disease my self-hatred caused was ulcerative colitis. Auto-immune diseases according to the doctors tend to run in families but otherwise do not have a cause.

Sorry Doc! But they do have a cause! And it’s not stress. It is Guilt. Unforgiveness. Bitterness. Self-hatred. You want to read about this from an actual doctor, check out Be in Health.

Auto-immune is your body attacking itself. Ulcerative colitis is painful. I was on IV nutrition. I had 2 surgeries, 20+ days in the hospital, and eventually my colon removed.

But what happened while I was going through the painful hell of UC, was that I sat still. I was in the hospital by myself, quiet. And Jesus used this time to reach out to me again. He didn’t make me ill, but He used me being ill to reach out to me.

He had never stopped pursuing me or loving me despite me flipping Him off in college and telling Him I didn’t need or want His bullshit rules. Yes…I literally flipped Him off. 

I’m telling you people the love of God is a mysterious and powerful force to love me and pursue me through rebellion and into a hospital bed.

I went to church for the first time in years during this time, and a part of myself woke up during worship. I missed worship and church. 

When I came back to God, I expected punishment and wrath for disobedience. 

But that’s not how God’s love works. 

This is how God’s love works; “So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:17-19 NLT

What I received was forgiveness, like the prodigal son. The Father was overjoyed to see me. And as I sought Him, He made it clear to me that performance and stellar behavior is not what pleased Him (see Hebrews 11:6). Seeing me get free of self-hatred and self-destructive habits. He wanted to heal me. 

When I was praying, desperate for an answer, He spoke to me audibly. God, Himself, spoke to me.

Now I know that we can all hear the voice of the Shepherd. He speaks through the Word and through angels and etc.

But for me right then…God loved me enough to speak to me directly and answer my prayer audibly during worship. It changed everything for me.

I started taking classes about healing. Then I went to counseling. I was so desperate and hungry for change and healing that I was in the church every single time the doors were open. Worship services. Sermons. Classes. Intercessory prayer. Group counseling. Counseling. I did this for about five years.

Today I am a very different person. I still am working on things with Jesus. But from a place of wholeness not brokenness. 

But how do I take all that I’ve learned and experienced and boil it down to bite sized child appropriate pieces to share with my kiddos? This I don’t know. Maybe that is why the 2nd generation failed in teaching their kids, they didn’t know how.

I continually pray and ask God to help me plant seeds. And to send people who know Him into their lives. And I seek to live a life that inspires them to seek God and to really live! Because teaching the next generation about who God is and who they are in God prepares them to change this world for the better. And is so vital. And we all have a part to play.

Where are you in the journey to the promised land? Are you the 1st generation? The one who needs healing? 

Receive God’s love. Receive God’s healing. You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot help your kids or anyone else if you don’t first take care of you!

Are you the 2nd Generation? Are you struggling like me to to teach the next generation? 

Ask God to show you how to reach tjem each kiddo is unique. God made them. He knows them even better than we do. Then pray for them. Declare God’s promises and blessings over them. Live your life as an example. Plant seeds. Water seeds. Listen to them and watch for opportunities to teach Kingdom Principles and share God’s love. 

Point to ponder while you wander…”After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

You are Seen

​”God’s love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost; not a man,  not a mouse, slips through the cracks.” Psalm 36:5-6 MSG 

No one slips through the cracks, because His name is El Roi…the God who sees.

He received this Name from Hagar. She is most known for being Sarah’s Egyptian servant. But God saw Hagar independently of her title and position. He comforted her when she and Ishmael were cast out. Read Genesis 16 Genesis 21 from Hagar’s perspective, rather than Abraham or Sarah’s, to get a better understanding. 

God called Gideon a mighty man of God, when Gideon was hiding. No seriously. Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press to hide it from the Midianites when God spoke to him about leading Israel against the Midianites. Read Judges 6 to see where Gideon’s story began.

In the middle of the so and so begat so and so for the tribe of Judah, we find this blurb about Jabez:  “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called him Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” I Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV

Jabez’s mother labled him because he was birthed in a whole lot of pain. A person’s name during this time and in this culture was a big deal, and he got saddled with Jabez. Jabez literally means sorrow or grief. But he didn’t want to be defined by that or have that be his legacy, so Jabez cried out to God, and God gave him what he asked for.

God saw Jabez.

God saw David too. His father put David in a back field with the sheep. But God saw his heart and heard his singing. And He annointed David king. Read I Samuel 16 to see the beginning of David’s story.

I love this verse…”But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him (David’s brother). The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance,  but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7 NIV 

I think that most of us get blinded by our own inadequacies and failures more often than we realize. We also tend define ourselves by what others have labled us.

But God sees differently. He has the ability to see who we are now, our character. He also sees where we are going and what we need to get there. And He is for us. 

Think about the Apostle Paul. God saw him while he was Saul, a Pharasee of Pharasees. He was persecuting Christians at the time. He was anding out death warrants for people to be stoned. He held people’s coats while Stephen was stoned. But God saw who he could be, and literally blinded Saul with His light. Saul became Paul and wrote 2/3 of the New Testament.

When we seek Him like Jabez and David did, when we trust Him like Hagar and Gideon did, when we are willing to submit to course correction like Saul, God is able to take us where we could never go on our own. 

Point to ponder while you wander…No matter how invisible you may feel in this life know that God sees you clearly! You are significant to Him. Jesus thinks you are worth giving His life for. You ARE loved. You ARE seen.

Musical Monday: Because You Loved Me

Today I want to honor those who loved me into who I am today with
Because You Loved Me

This is the theme song for the movie Up Close and Personal. I viewed it as a romantic lovey type song until my friend chose it for her Daddy/Daughter song at her wedding. Then I heard it with new ears. Since then I’ve heard it as a general song of gratitude for my core people. Mom. Dad. Nana and Papa. NaNa and Boppie. Mentors. Pastors. Siblings. And certainly my friends! All the people who loved me at my worst and loved me into the woman I am now. To those people I say thank you!

But the last time I heard this song the only One I could think of was Jesus.

Sigh.

The way He loves us is so hard to describe or explain. But I am oh so grateful for it. This song is a decent start…feel free to cry in gratitude. I did.

For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I’ll be forever thankful
You’re the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You’re the one who saw me through through it all

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I’m grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don’t know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You’ve been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

Irrevocable

So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above or beneath us – no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!” Romans 8:38-39 TPT

The love of God cannot lessen nor grow nor change. It is permanent and eternal. It is irrevocable. -Jill Nicholson

This is one of the things I have learned through the journey I am on. And honestly, if I never learn anything else, it is okay. This revelation is enough to feast on forever…

I am loved by love Himself. Nothing I do or do not do can affect Him loving me.

Point to ponder while you wander…You are loved with the same radical abandon as God loves Jesus. Believe it, because it is true.

God is Fair

“The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; He sets the standards for fairness.” Prov 16:9

God is good. He gives everyone the same love, the same hope, and the same right to choose. The rest is up to you.

It makes me angry when people blame God when people are sick or dying. God didn’t give your loved one cancer or anything else. He doesn’t have sickness to give and it’s not who He is.

God gives life. He sent Jesus to take sickness and defeat death. God is good.

Sometimes the choices that lead to someone’s illness came from their bad choices or someone else’s. Sometimes there’s no one at fault. Sometimes bad things just happen.

But blaming the One who loves you more than anyone else could possibly attempt to love you and distancing yourself from Him when you’re hurting or grieving is the opposite of what you should be doing.

God isn’t responsible for your life. You are. You may be in a bad spot because of your choices. You may be in a bad spot because of someone else’s bad choices. Or you may be going through a purification process that’s no one’s fault. No matter what your struggles are know that God is good, fair, honest and just. And…

1. God is for you, not against you.
2. God turns things around for good to those who love Him.
3. God is good. All day every day.
4. God is hopelessly in love with you.
5. Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it.
6. God doesn’t want a single person to perish. Hell was originally created for Satan and the angels that followed him…not for humans.
7. Jesus thinks everything He went through was worth it…because it was for you…the one He loves.

All this is true. Reread it. Meditate on it. Bathe in it. Stew in it. Whatever it takes for you to understand and believe it.

Point to ponder while you wander…God is good. And we are equal in His eyes. He has no favorites. He works within the confines of our choices to bless us as much as He can. Why? Because He’s good!

Constant Love

Yes, Lord, let Your constant love surround us, for our hopes are in you alone.” Psalm 33:22

God’s love never wavers nor shrinks. His love doesnt grow with time. He has loved you from the foundation of the world and He’s going to keep on loving you exactly that much forever. That my friends is the definition of constant love.

You Move His Heart

You are loved!!!!

“I call you My dove. My cherishing love is upon you. You will never be able to say, “I am unloved,” for My love is set upon you. My Son was wounded so that you will be Mine. Though others ignore and resist you, you have moved My heart.” -Abba

Taken from The Passion Translation’s I Hear His Whisper Devotional by Brian Simmons and is based on Song of Songs.

Nothing More Powerful

Nothing is more powerful than the Love of God! Nothing!

There is no power above or beneath us–no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!” Romans 8:39 TPT

-His love reveals itself in patient endurance, waiting for us to come to Him. “So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.” Isaiah 30:18 NLT

-His love reveals itself in choosing to send Jesus to us while we were far from him. “For God has proved His love by giving us His greatest treasure, the gift of His Son. And God freely offered Him up as the sacrifice for us all, He certainly won’t withhold from us anything else He has to give.” Romans 8:32 TPT

-His love reveals itself in believing in us, and speaking His truth over us. We say “I know I am so unworthy–so in need.” He says, “Yet you are so lovely.” Song of Songs 2:5 TPT 

-His love reveals itself by never leaving us nor forsaking us. He’s as close as the air we breathe, every single day. He doesn’t walk away or tell us “You made your bed now lie in it. “…you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t He promised you, ‘I will never leave you alone, never!” Hebrews 13:5 TPT

Something to ponder while you wander…His love is unfailing so even your mistakes, bad choices, failures & indecision can’t stop God from loving you. “I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love, with unfailing love I’ve drawn you to Myself.” -Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

Musical Monday Good Good Father

Today’s Musical Monday is Good Good Father by Housefires. This has been one of my go to songs for quite a while now.

It’s a great song about identity and how we see ourselves and Papa God. He’s a Good Good Father it’s who He is. And we are loved by Him, that’s who we are!

If you prefer seeing the lyrics, here’s Bethel’s version with the lyrics.

Something to ponder (and declare outloud) while you wander…The Great I AM is Love and I am His beloved.

Love Changes Everything

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” I John 4:7-12

I want to be a better lover of people.  I want to be someone who can love everyone.  Whether I like them or not.  Whether or not they choose to believe what I believe or not.  Whether they love Jesus or not.  I want to be that way because God is that way.  There are many people in the world who spurn, speak against, and even loathe God.  But He loves them anyway.  He believes in them anyway.  He gives them choice and the free will to hate Him.  Even though He is love and loves everyone, He allows people to choose what they believe and how they will live.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like or how to do it, but I want to be better at loving people.

I want to be better at loving people because the human race is starving for real love.  We look for love everywhere.  We search at school, work, bars and even online.  We stay in horrible relationships because some “love” is better than none.  We accept these cheap imitations because we are afraid we’ll never have the real thing. We choose to withhold love like a bargaining chip in a battle for control.

Love is not a bargaining chip.  Love is not a feeling.  Love is not lust.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not envy.  Love does not boast.  Love is not proud.  Love is not rude.  Love is not self-seeking.  Love is not easily angered.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil.  Love rejoices with the truth.  Love always protects.  Love always trusts.  Love always hopes.  Love always perseveres.  Love never fails. Love doesn’t coddle.  Love doesn’t control.  Love doesn’t demand.  Love respects.  Love encourages.  Love covers.

God is love.  He is the origin of love.  He cannot help but love.  It is who He is.  Everything He does comes from a love motivation.  That is why we have free will and the right to choose.  Simply because He loves us enough not to control us.

I will admit that I have been somewhat terrified to love people right where they are because I don’t want to condone sin.  If that isn’t being a religious Pharisee I don’t know what is.  But hey it’s the truth.  I was afraid.  I always wanted to be on the right side of the line so I didn’t go down with the ship.  I don’t want to be lumped in with all the people who chose to spurn God.

But slowly I came to the understanding that I am useless to people if I don’t love them right where they are.  That’s what I Corinthians 13 means.  I can do everything right but if I don’t choose to love people then I am nothing more than a crashing cymbal, making a whole lot of useless racket.  I want to be better at loving people.  I want to love people like Jesus did.

How did Jesus love people?  Radically!  He spent most of his time with people who could never give Him anything in return.  Lepers.  The poor.  Samaritans.  Prostitutes.  Tax collectors.  Drunks.  You get the point.  Jesus went to the Temple and did his part there.  But most of his time was outside the walls of the temple.  He was killed because He loved people radically.  His love was confrontational to those who were religious and those with agendas.  But Jesus loved anyway.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were unwilling to receive Jesus’s love and offer of relationship.  They clung to the black and white laws because it was safe.  You knew exactly what you could and could not do.  I can totally relate to this.  It seems easier to put yourself in a box.  It mitigates risk of contamination from the sinners.  I did it for a time.  Got exhausted.  Gave up and went 100% in the opposite direction.  Did I know it was wrong.  Yes.  Did I care?  Not really no.

I’ve asked myself why I just quit, even though I knew the truth.  And after a really long time, I realize there were several answers to that question.  One is that I was miserable and everyone else seemed to be having way more fun than me.  Another is that it is very stressful to try to be perfect and stay in that box every second of every day.  But the underlying reason is I didn’t believe I was worthy of love, especially not from God, because I believed I had to earn it.  But guess what?  I am not flawless nor can I be flawless every second of every day.  So I decided to just do whatever I felt like doing, because it was way too hard to be perfect.

When I came back to God, I did so with a whole lot of condemnation.  Not from the people at church, but from myself.  I prayed that I could work off all the wrong that I did.  My whole mindset was about working and earning and fixing.  So I did everything I thought I was supposed to.  I went to church every time the doors were open.  I took classes.  I got baptized.  I got Spirit filled.  I prayed in tongues.  But I had no peace, no joy, and I felt worthless.  I kept tripping and making messes.  I hurt people.

I went to church on and off from the time I was about 5 or maybe 6 years old.  I received Jesus as my savior when I was 16 years old.  I walked away at 17.  I came back at 25.  In all that time I memorized verses about love.  I knew “Jesus loved me.”  But there’s a difference between “knowing something” and really understanding what it means.  When I was 36 and a half years old, I finally understood that Jesus loved me.  Not just the little kid’s song kinda love.  But unconditionally loved me.  It wrecked me.  I was a pile of mush when I really saw that He was there loving me and believing in me when I was drinking myself numb and sleeping around.  He was loving and believing in me every day for my whole life.

I have grown and changed more in the last 3 years than I did in the previous 36.  Why?  Love.  Love changes everything, even broken angry women with a fierce attitude who don’t need anyone’s help.

Love changes everything.  And that is why I want to be a better lover of people.  We all know what’s wrong with us and how screwed up we are.  Let’s love ourselves and each other anyway.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each other because he loved us first.”  I John 4:18-19