It’s Time to Get Desperate

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“And let no one deceive himself: if someone thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he could become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 One New Man Bible 

Let’s start with a memory. A religion class in my private high school. An argument with a fellow student about whether or not miracles (physical healing, rising from the dead) still happen. My passion for the subject exceeded any insecurities I held at the time, which says a lot.

This other student argued adamantly that miracles ended with the time of the Bible while I just as adamantly argued that of course they still happened today. However, at that point in my life, I had not seen or heard of any physical miracles, but I just knew. I knew it in my heart because I didn’t want to believe in a God who didn’t still move in mighty ways.

Finally, our teacher cut in and stated, if I remember correctly, that while God certainly still is powerful enough to do miracles today, He just doesn’t anymore. He offered no explanation why, no biblical support. Nothing.

I remember I almost cried. Maybe because I felt like I had just made a fool of myself or maybe because my heart broke for the lies being believed about our God. Like I said, I felt passionately.

I’ve never forgotten that. Immediately following that incident, I kept replaying the other student asking for proof. If miracles still happened, he reasoned, then where were they? Why hadn’t he heard of any? Because clearly, nothing went on in this world without him hearing about it.

But I was frustrated that I didn’t know any modern stories of Jesus healing people, so I said to God, “I know You still do miracles. I know You still heal people instantly and raise people from the dead. But I need to know about it.”

A few years passed, and I forgot about my challenge to the Lord, but eventually my mom and I started attending a new church, one that allows the power of the Holy Spirit and moves in His presence. Now it’s four years later, and I’ve heard of a profusion of healing miracles and even been in the same room as some.

(And to be clear, there are many types of miracles. Financial miracles, miracles of protection, emotional healing miracles. But the other student and I were specifically talking about physical miracles, the kind that fills the Gospels.)

Just a few weeks ago, my church hosted Graham and Irene Baker, missionaries who changed the country of Papua New Guinea since they arrived there about fifty years ago. While they told only a few of their myriad of stories, one in particular stuck in my mind.

There was a young man who wanted to start a church in another village so he asked Graham and Irene how. They told him to go find someone sick or blind or deaf or lame and heal them, and the next Sunday he’d have church

And the young man just did it. And it actually worked. Just like that. He found someone for the Lord to heal and somewhere between thirty and forty people gathered the next Sunday. Amazing.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about many stories like this one. They often seem to happen in poorer countries. African countries, India, Honduras, or even China, where many of the people are poor even if their government isn’t. But I personally haven’t heard many stories like these from America.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t happen here. And films like DeadRaiser and Holy Ghost excellently bring that awareness and anointing to this country. However, I still feel like there’s a block here that sometimes makes these types of stories harder to find. And I have a theory why.

Here we’ve got our technology. Our medical advancements. Our scientific studies. Our cars and homes and every other cliché material good that people refer to when talking about the American dream.

And those things aren’t bad. Certainly God blesses us and teaches us and uses these things to help and heal us. But when we begin to put our trust in our own resources and understanding, I question if it’s really worth it. When we live in a developed country, just what exactly are we developed in, and what are we losing because of these developments? Because something tells me those Papua New Guineans understand something that I, an American, am just beginning to grasp.

I don’t ever want to grow in worldly education if it’s going to take me away from spiritual growth. While studies, medicines, advancements and the like are great, if it came down to picking just one, I’d rather have the Holy Spirit. I’d rather have Jesus. But we replace God with facts and research instead of allowing those things to show us another aspect of His multifaceted identity.

Why was that man able to just go out and heal someone? Start a church like it was no big deal? Was it because he was desperate? Because he didn’t have any other answers to mask the truth that at the center of it all is Jesus? He, as Sean Feucht once described it, was so blinded by Jesus that He didn’t know any better. He just believed. He just obeyed.

I don’t want to be tricked by the mirage that my resources, my Google searches, my medicines are more reliable than Jesus. Whether or not He uses those things, He is my cornerstone for whatever healing or breakthrough I’m asking and believing for. It doesn’t even have to be physical. Financial breakthrough, relational breakthrough, emotional healing – He’s a specialist in all of the above.

I want to just believe. I want to not know any better. Because when that happens, I no longer live in the world’s mindset. I become kingdom minded, able to rise above whatever circumstances surround me.

See, the lie that seems to permeate our culture is that faith is either  a weakness or for the uneducated. But faith doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It doesn’t mean you’re naïve or that you ignore scientific evidence.

It simply means you rely on your spiritual eyes more than your earthly ones because you realize your spiritual eyes see more truth than your earthly ones ever could. Faith means hope, the joyful, confident expectation of good.

Just this past Sunday, my pastor said faith is our agreement with what God is saying and doing. And based off of the young man healing someone to start a church, I’d say that God is saying and doing some extraordinary miracles.

Now if I can just get in touch with that former classmate…

Continually Help My Unbelief

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“But I asked concerning you that your faith would not fail: and you, when you have returned must at once strengthen your brothers.” -Jesus, Luke 22:32 (One New Man Bible)

Lately I’ve been reading Mark. About a month ago, the Lord told me to study Jesus, to which I replied, “Really, Lord? He’s kind of the entry way into being a Christian. He’s probably the subject I know most about in the Bible,” which, looking back now, I realize is laughable. I like to think that the Father just smiled down at me, not condescendingly per say but something like that.

“Study Jesus,” He said. “You have some wrong beliefs about who He is.” So I began by reading Mark out of the One New Man Bible, which I highly recommend. Just to warn you, I will use Jesus and Y’shua interchangeably. This Bible not only focuses on bringing the full meaning to some of the words and phrases that is so often lost in the translation of Hebrew or Greek to English, but it also holds to our faith’s Jewish roots so it uses Y’shua for Jesus.

One of the things I’ve noticed while going through the book of Mark is Jesus’ numerous references to peoples’ faith. Mark 4:40 has Jesus asking the disciples, “Why are you timid? Do you not yet have faith?” in reference to their fear about the storm on the lake. In chapter 5 verse 34, Jesus tells the woman who had the blood problem, “Daughter, your faith has saved you: you must continually go in peace. You are cured from your affliction.” A few verses later, Y’shua hears the message that Jairus’ daughter has died, and he says, “You must stop being afraid, you must only continually believe.”

But I found myself captivated by the story in Mark 9:14-29, The Healing of a Boy with an Unclean Spirit. Basically a man comes to Y’shua and tells Him that his son has a mute spirit and that His disciples couldn’t cast it out.

Of course, Y’shua’s response is completely politically correct and aims to appease everyone. He says, “O unbelieving generation, until when will I be with you? How long am I to endure you? Bring him to Me” (19:19).

Oh that’s right. Jesus actually didn’t care about trying to appease every. He cared about speaking the truth.

He called it like it was. O unbelieving generation. He didn’t coddle them and say, “Well that’s ok. Maybe you’ll get it next time.” He didn’t say, “Well this is just one of those demons you’re going to have to accept and live with.”

No. He called them an unbelieving generation and then commands to see the son. Probably to show the people what a believing generation is supposed to do.

So the man tells Jesus that this spirit has been in his son since childhood and frequently tries to kill him. He then petitions Jesus, saying, “but if You are able, You must now help us, if You have pity on us. 23And Y’shua said to him, ‘If you would be able to believe, all things are possible to the one who believes.’ 24Immediately crying out, the father of the child was saying, ‘I believe: You must continually help my unbelief.’ (19:22-24).

Growing up, I don’t think I took Jesus seriously when He said, “If you would be able to believe, all things are possible to the one who believes.” And, honestly, I don’t think a lot of His body takes Him seriously either. I’m coming to realize that that’s not just a nice platitude. It’s not just a pretty saying to surround with fancy floral in a decorative picture frame. Just like the real definition of hope, that statement is truth power, untapped and overlooked by much of today’s American church.

And notice that right after Jesus makes this statement, He casts out a demon, emotionally and mentally healing that boy from any design of the enemy. I’m thinking that’s the type of stuff we’re supposed to be believing for and actually doing. But that, to me, takes a lot of faith.

Which is why I love the man’s response. He first declares, whether it is yet true in his heart or not, that he believes. That’s what I want to declare every day.

I believe, Jesus, that You will use me to set people free from demon harassments and possessions.

I believe, Jesus, that You will use me to heal the sick and raise the dead.

I believe, Jesus, that You will heal my heart and my mind from all the junk that I have gone through, that I am filled with joy and peace, that I have direction, wisdom, and guidance in my life.

I believe, Jesus,…fill in whatever it is you need to be believing for.

Or maybe leave it at just, “I believe Jesus.”

And then, right after declaring that he believes, the man sets an example and almost demands Jesus to continually help his unbelief. If I want to have the kind of faith that moves mountains, that can curse a fig tree and have it actually wither away, then I need Jesus’ help. I need the Spirit’s help. I need the Lord to step in and help after I declare that I believe.

Of course, not every miracle records Jesus attributing the miracle to someone’s faith. So either it wasn’t always recorded or He simply didn’t do that every time. Of course, God doesn’t need us to do a miracle. His faith and power are more than enough to override any doubt we harbor.

But He also doesn’t continually stress faith and belief for no reason. More than I could ever fully grasp, He knows what our faith activates, whether we can see it or not. So when He tells us to believe, He probably knows better than we the importance of that command.

But I’m not perfect, and I still struggle with doubt. Yet as I continue seeking His face (Psalm 27:8), the doubt begins to lose its stronghold, so I continue on, saying every morning, and every evening, and every moment that I need supernatural strength, “I believe, Jesus. You must continually help my unbelief.”

Choose Hope

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“For though I walk in the flesh, I am not serving as soldiers according to the flesh, for the weapons of my warfare are not fleshly but powerful in God for the tearing down of strongholds, tearing down reasonings, even every high thing being lifted up against the knowledge of God, and taking captive every thought in obedience to Messiah…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news lately, but if not, let me just sum it up – everything is terrible. There are viruses, sicknesses, murders, political battles, the Middle East, death death death! And here’s the thing about all of this stuff. It’s more than just news – it’s a weapon. It’s more about what’s going on in the spiritual realm than it is in the physical realm. Don’t believe me? Check out 2 Kings 6. That’s why prayer is so important. That’s why using our spiritual eyes is more important than using our physical eyes.

See, it doesn’t matter if no one close to you gets struck down by Ebola. It doesn’t matter if your family isn’t one of the ones murdered by someone who is more hurt and lost and deranged then we could ever know. It doesn’t matter if you are never directly affected by the trauma happening in the Middle East. If we give into the fear and the chaos that satan so desperately throws at us in these news segments, then he’s already won (Also I know I didn’t capitalize his name. I like to make sure he knows he doesn’t even have the honor or authority to have his name capitalized).

Maybe satan won’t use someone to physically destroy your family, but when we allow the news of the world, and the focus of the world, to become our focus, he’s destroying our purpose. He’s destroying our authority in Christ. Actually, that’s not true… He could never actually destroy our authority, but he likes to convince us that we don’t have any so that we don’t use it. And unfortunately, it seems to be working.

The world can look at the news and be terrified. That’s understandable. All they can do is plan, strategize, research, fight, and strive. They look at the news and take it at face value.

As Christians, we’re not supposed to be doing that. Our war is not against the people and the viruses in the news. Our war is against the spiritual force behind these things. Because these are not just things that are happening. These are weapons and attacks from our enemy, and followers of Jesus need to take up our arms and stop laying down, pleading to be saved. Jesus already did it.

Let’s actually stand on that now. Let’s look at the happenings around us through a lens of Jesus’ blood and victory. Let’s not just pray; let’s command.

And now let’s get to what I was actually planning on writing about. When we give too much of our focus to the world, we’re giving power to those things in our hearts, in our minds, and in our lives. Now I’m not suggesting we completely ignore everything going on around us. That would probably not be the smartest thing to do.

But it’s time that other types of stories start getting the limelight. Just the other night I cursed any foothold that satan has on the media, because too many of his stories are being spread, and there are not enough of Jesus’.

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. There’s a reason for that. Notice that Paul tells us to do that right after he talks about spiritual warfare. Knowing how the Bible works, it’s pretty safe to assume that those two things just might be connected. The battle is in the mind. That’s not just a cliché saying. That’s a powerful truth statement that can change your life when you really grasp it. I know it has changed mine.

So what I wanted to do in this blog post, what I will now do in the last several paragraphs, is spread a Jesus story. It may seem small, but it holds truth, and it holds Jesus, and it holds hope.

Last Saturday I went to an arts and crafts show (yay! It’s that time of year) at a local church with some of my family. Before even arriving, I could feel that my heart was not at peace, and so I figured there was some lie or unhealthy belief causing that. Walking around the show and finding several things I wanted to buy for both myself and my family revealed that the lie had to do with money. Being part of Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ, while certainly what the Lord has called me to, is also very expensive, and the fundraising has not been going as well as I would like.

So I commenced worrying. The battle in my mind was not going so well. One worry led to another, and pretty soon I was not only worrying about getting enough money for AMTC but also if I was even capable of the talent and skill required for the movies I dream of making.

While passing a booth, one painted canvas caught my eye. It was a beautiful butterfly (which has huge significance to me) and it said, “Once we choose HOPE, anything is possible.” It spoke to everything that was going on in my mind and in my life.

The woman could see how much I wanted it and said I should buy it. Much as I wanted to, I declined, explaining I just didn’t have the money. After passing the booth several more times, gazing at the canvas longingly, I finally made my last round and waved goodbye to the woman. Quickly, she got up and handed me the canvas, explaining that she wanted me to have it. “It seems to speak to you,” she said.

She almost cried. I did cry (just a little). And in that one painting, God reminded me of all of His promises. He touched my heart and my mind.

So why do I talk about this story alongside all of the terrible things going on in the world? Because we have to share the stories where we see God working. Because we have to make the news more about Jesus than we do about satan. Because I want to hear about the miracles going on in your life. Because when we choose hope, anything is possible.

Let’s All Just Not Try

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“Just as the branch is not able to bear fruit by itself unless it would remain in the vine, so you could not bear fruit unless you would dwell continuously in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who dwells in Me and I in him, this one bears much fruit, because apart from Me you are not able to do anything.” -Jesus (John 15:4-5)

So let’s recap, shall we? Last week I posted my first blog, sort of an introduction type thing. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. I’ve heard it’s great. It’s called “Beginnings.”)

Almost immediately, I received so much encouraging support. Truly, it was a beautiful thing, and I had two responses to all the love being given. The first response was one to be expected, healthy and right in the eyes of the Lord. The other response was…well, let’s just say, that’s what this post is about.

At first, I was so excited! I have been missing writing so much and starting this blog fits perfectly my desire to pour out my heart through my writing. I had hope, which as you know, is kind of a big deal to me. I felt the Lord’s blessing and His joy in, not only my obedience to Him, but also my joy. See, I’ve kind of realized that Jesus really likes to make us happy. He likes it when we’re doing something that we truly love. (Psalm 20:4, Psalm 37:4). So that, that was a good thing.

My second response was absolute fear. Fear is one of my worst enemies. Yours too. He likes to bring lies into my head and my heart, and I, foolishly and too often, accept them. This time he said, “Oh crap, everyone loved my first post. What if I can’t write any more good ones? What if they all are terrible? Now the pressure’s on. What if I can’t do it?”

He spoke to me as if I was the one thinking those thoughts, as if those statements had come from my own mind. And maybe they did because they were certainly very fleshly thoughts. But I would much rather believe that I have the mind of Christ, and any thought not in agreement with Him was simply being dropped into my mind from an outside source.

Of course, last Monday night, I did not think that way. I fully accepted and wallowed in those thoughts, so much so that I couldn’t even fall asleep. But by then, it wasn’t just about the blog anymore.

It’s about trying too hard in anything. It’s about trying to be good enough in acting, making sure that people like me, putting pressure on myself to fall asleep quickly enough, and on and on. Even trying to get close enough to Jesus. It’s the self-consciousness that comes on when I’m too aware of all the people watching me and expecting something from me. Or at least I think they’re expecting something from me.

But I’m sick of trying. It’s so trying (a little humor for you). But seriously, I want to not try anymore. Because when I don’t try, I do so much better, and I have so much more fun.

In high school, I was in a few plays and musicals. I had leading roles and nameless roles, but one role that always stands out to my mother was Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper, in The Sound of Music. Now my mom is not one of those mothers who tells me I’m good at everything. If I didn’t do so great at something, she will tell me. And she told me how wonderful I was at Frau Schmidt, the ten to twenty line part I had. In fact as I was sitting here writing this, she literally just mentioned to me how I was always good at those little roles. And why? Not because I’m not leading lady material (I think I am).

Because those were the roles I didn’t care about. Those were the roles I didn’t try to be good at. I just relaxed, focused on my part, and did what I knew to do. I focused on the craft and not on the outcome.

Now I’m not telling everyone to just quit caring about their life and give up. Of course we are to prepare and practice and grow, but we can only do so much. We will never be enough. Good enough, strong enough, funny enough, pretty enough, but we were never meant to be enough. That’s why Jesus came. He is all those things and more. He is good enough at whatever you’re attempting to do. You can just relax in Him and let Him work through you. Yes, we are doing it, but we’re not really doing it.

On Sunday I had a photo shoot with AMTC. The night before I had had trouble falling asleep. I’ll give you one guess why.

Fear. Again.

In case you didn’t know, sleep before a photo shoot is very important in order to look well rested, bright and cheery. So I started to freak out a little, but this time I stopped myself and asked the Lord what I needed to do to fall asleep. He told me there was a lie that I was believing that was keeping me awake, and that lie was that all of the pressure was on me to do well in the photo shoot. I took that lie to His cross, asking for forgiveness, and then I replaced it, saying out loud, “I can believe that all of the pressure is on God’s shoulders, and He is more than capable of doing it.” I promise you, I fell right to sleep after that. And, if I may humbly say, I think I did pretty amazingly at the photo shoot. It was and is all Jesus.

Here’s the part where I wish I had some sort of advice, wisdom, or step-by-step process of what to do to not try anymore, but the truth is, I’m still figuring it out. I’m still trying to not try. But one thing I do know is to always, in every situation, dwell in His presence. Seek Jesus’ face with your heart and mind. The more you do that, the more He will be able to take care of what your hands and feet are doing.