Remember that episode of Friends where Ross thinks he has this thing called Unagi? He received Unagi while training in Kay-Ra-Tay. It is a conscious state of TOTAL awareness where a person is keen to all things around them. A sort of “sixth sense”, if you will, or what we who love Jesus might call communion with the Holy Spirit.I had an Unagi moment yesterday.
Life is always a mixture of ups and downs. Good stuff, bad stuff… it all comes with the package. Sometimes we just have to roll with the punches.
But yesterday, I was complaining a little, I will admit.
I just can’t do this anymore! This is impossible. There is no way I can handle this. I CANNOT DO IT. CANNOT. NO…. NO NO NO!!!!
And then Unagi:
“I trust you,” He says.
At first I think it is me praying these words out loud. Because that is something you PRAY, not something Jesus says to you… or at least He wouldn’t say it to me. But then I realized that I have a ton of trust issues and so that couldn’t have possibly been me who made this statement.
What the heck does that even mean?
“I trust you. You can do it. I picked you and that means you can do it.”
Ummmm…. No. No, I cannot.
“Well, not without me, you can’t. But you have Me, so you can.”
This doesn’t even make sense. What the heck is happening right now??
But something weird did happen. All of the pent-up anxiety that I had been feeling all morning just left. I felt this rod in my back, strengthening me, straightening me. I felt taller (those who have seen me might find that hard to believe).
He trusts me……… You trust me? ME????? WHY????
It’s funny how one word from God can change everything. It’s a suspicious word, I know. But His words bring life and I know that it was Him because that phrase brought life to my heart. That was the only thing I needed to hear. That He thought I could do it. No, that He KNEW I could do it.
Next time you give a word from God to someone, think about whether that Word will activate something in their heart. Will it bring life? Does it seem impossible or possibly ridiculous? Does it not make sense to you? Do things not line up with what you see? Then, baby, it is probably Unagi… errr Jesus. That’s how He rolls…. In the impossible.
I have had a lot of 4 am mornings lately but let me tell you, it’s not because I’m ultra-disciplined. It’s because Holy Spirit keeps waking me up and for the life of me, it is impossible to get back to sleep at that forsaken hour. I woke up from such a tender dream that the Lord gave me in those early morning hours and I laid in bed, hearing over and over Jesus speaking His love over my heart– speaking identity over me about who I was to Him. I think that is a good start to this blog about identity. I’m starting with the conclusion in the first paragraph… the answer to all of the issues I speak of below. It is His voice of love that drives out every other false voice.
At 6 am I finally crawled out of bed, dragging my journal and Bible into the living room. I read the story in 1 Samuel 17 that everyone that has ever been to Sunday School is familiar with: David and Goliath. This is a story of inspiring triumph. If David can defeat Goliath, I too can defeat the Goliaths in my life, we’ve all said. I wonder how many self-help messages have been preached from this passage. But something in this story pricked my heart in a way it never has before. Here, we see this young kid who kind of seems to be on an ego-trip. He actually has the balls to suggest that he might be the giant-killer… out loud. It does seem a little cocky, now that I think of it. I kind of identified with his brother Eliab who looked at him in disdain. I probably would have thought the same thing… who the heck do you think you are? I’m bigger, older, and wiser than you and even I know this is impossible. But David doesn’t receive his brother’s insult– or label of himself.
But then Saul hears about this mischief and calls David into his chambers. Saul of course, sides with Eliab. David is not making sense. He’s a child. How in the world could he make this happen? But knowing that there was no way he could talk David out of it, he finds some armor for the young boy to wear into battle. He places on David what He believes is the right thing… Saul’s identity, not David’s. But David refuses the armor. It’s just not me, David says. He felt uncomfortable, bulky and it’s just not how things rolled with him. Both Eliab and Saul have tried to place what they conceive as David’s identity on David’s shoulders. Instead of seeing his value from the lense of the Father, they are only seeing David through their own flesh and expectations.
I have had some wonderful people speak into my life over the years. In that, I have been very blessed but unlike David I haven’t always believed that I was as valuable as what they spoke over me. When you hear promises and worth spoken over you and you resist God’s Word and walk in unbelief, the enemy can easily come in and snatch the Word from your heart. It can open the door for the enemy to use others to reject our value and worth and place false identities on us. When we believe a lie from the enemy, we carry it around with us. It’s placed on us just like a piece armor and it sends messages to those around us. If we believe we are worthless, unwanted, and undesirable, that’s what others will see us as. The lie becomes embedded in our hearts, creating walls and separating us further from the heart of God. There really is a demonic element to a lie that influences relationships and creates an atmosphere of deception.
What I want to start doing is resisting those false identities. As new creations (I don’t care what your theology says, that’s what we are and everything else is a lie), we aren’t the negative, worthless, stubborn, sinful beings that people speak over us. Even if we behave in a way that is sinful… that is not who we are. Yes, we need to deal with sin, weakness… whatever but that is not our identity and I want to start acting like David who REFUSED to receive that false armor upon himself. He refused to conform to someone elses identity because that wasn’t who God created Him to be. He didn’t do things like Eliab or Saul did them. Maybe Saul fights best with a suit of armor on but David doesn’t. Get over it, Saul. Let David, be David. He refused to give into other peoples misunderstood conceptions of who he was in the kingdom.
Another thing to remember: trust Jesus to deal with the Sauls’ and Eliabs’. Nothing shows more unbelief and insecurity when you feel the need to fight for your own identity. David, just simply told Saul what he was gonna do and he did it. He calmly told him that the armor wasn’t going to work and he went out on the battlefield and “did his thing”. We don’t need validation from others. We get our validation from God. Only from Jesus.
I hate insecurity. It’s a plague, a virus, whatever you want to call it and it’s everywhere, especially in me. I hate that side of myself that is constantly worried about where I stand with people. I hate to see it in other people as well. Musicians and singers are some of the worst about insecurity. I’ve worked with lots of musicians over the years and we are constantly fretting about our role on a team or in a band. I would think that this is only an issue with “sensitive” musicians but I’m pretty sure athletes and business men deal with the same kinds of fears, competitiveness and anxieties. Basically, it’s universal. Everybody has a little bit of it whether it’s about relationships, work, or ministry… there has got to be a list compiled somewhere of things people get insecure over.
Last week the Lord told me to start reading the story of Saul and David. He said He wanted to speak to me about love. So I have been reading and praying through 1 Samuel slowly. Yesterday I read chapter 9 where Saul is out looking for his dad’s stray donkeys. He and his servant have been looking everywhere. Saul doesn’t want to come back home without the donkeys because he’s scared his dad is going to freak out. But as they wandered through Israel, Saul’s servant mentioned that he knew about this prophet guy who always had the right information. Surely, if anyone knew where the donkeys were, this guy did. That’s when they met Samuel on the road. Samuel looked up at big, strapping Saul and made a statement to him, “you are the desire of all Israel.” Dang. That kind of sounds like a big deal.
Of course Saul’s reply was somewhere along the lines of “Are you serious? You’re full of crap! My tribe is the smallest tribe in Israel and my family is the least in that tribe! You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I thought about that statement and how Saul’s insecurity emerged that day. He let that insecurity drive his whole life. He let that insecurity open a door for a murderous spirit that eventually led to his own demise. He let his view of himself as a weak, unimportant, unworthy man overpower the Word of the Lord that he had a massive call on his life to lead all of Israel as their king. He was sure that somewhere along the way, others would discover his unworthiness and all of what God had promised would be taken away. And because he believed that, it happened.
Saul didn’t get that his call as king wasn’t about him anyway. And that’s where the subject of love comes in. When we’re being loved in a way we’re craving to be loved or when we are receiving recognition for our accomplishments it can create this temporary relief in us… relief from a lie we’ve believed about ourselves. But eventually something else will happen that will pound the lie deeper into our souls and all of that relief that we have felt will be instantly evacuated. But when we know our identity and believe the truth about ourselves and the promises He has spoken over us, we are wide open to love others well. Suddenly, it’s no longer about us anymore. We’re okay. We’re secure in His love. Now it’s about someone else that needs to be loved and to be shown God’s love.
I had a bad day yesterday. I woke up early on a Sunday morning to get ready for worship practice and it felt like this stormy, black cloud followed me all the way to church and back. I’m not sure where it came from because my week had been absolutely fabulous before that. I felt this deep intimacy with Jesus. I was hearing His voice and feeling His presence all week so whatever it was that was bugging me just didn’t make sense. At first I just thought it was hormonal. I mean I am a woman afterall. We have certain biological changes each month… ya know… but it wasn’t that. It wasn’t circumstancial because nothing had happened super recently to trigger a negative response in my heart. I just felt like poop (sorry that I don’t have a more intellectual description).
I’m not normally a very extroverted person but yesterday morning I was aching to be invisible. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I just wanted to be mad and for people to leave me alone. I don’t know about you but when your day starts out that way, every little situation can trigger an avalanche of emotion. After church I had a conversation with a friend and of course, in my state of mind, any conversation with a friend can turn scary really fast. I wasn’t understanding him and he wasn’t understanding me. I walked away frustrated at not feeling understood and as I sat at home brewing, my thoughts and fears started to get the best of me. So I sent him an email filled with lots of ridiculous things. It’s one of those emails where you think it’s perfectly rational at the time and then hours later you realize that you might possibly look a little crazy. Oh come on… you know you’ve done it too!
So today, after we had hashed some things out over the phone and he had brought me back to reality I started to think about how and why all of that happened in the first place. It brought me back to a couple of weeks ago when I had prayed with one of my pastors. Something she said struck me… that I had made an agreement with a lie somewhere in my past and attached to that was a demon that was constantly out to torment me until I acted on the anxiety that it brought. I know this sounds spooky and quite possibly flaky and weird to some of you but one thing that I have learned about the supernatural realm is that it is a very real thing. And there is nothing more that the enemy wants to do than to completely destroy your life and turn you into your very own demolition team.
Now, to teach you something I could quote Ephesians 6 and spout off some commonly used scripture, which in fact might be helpful because it is just that… scripture. But instead I want you to think about negative patterns in your life. What do you seem to be doing over and over again that is causing destruction? Maybe you have an addiction or a certain negative response. Maybe you are judgmental or critical. Maybe you have a hard time opening up to friends. Maybe you can’t seem to commit to a relationship. In the words of Alan, my pastor, there is always a reason. The truth is it’s not just the enemy’s fault that this is happening. Somewhere along the way you allowed him access to you and now your response should be to grab a friend along with your other Friend (the Holy Spirit) and search and destroy. We have something at Grace that we use called Freedom Prayer but if you don’t live nearby, just ask the Holy Spirit where the root is and invite Him to speak truth to you so you can fix it.
In the past I have been known to have some serious sleep issues. Anxiety is usually the culprit… worry, fear, etc. etc.. In the last several months, however, I’ve noticed a healing taking place in that area. It use to be that I could go for a couple nights without getting any sleep at all, and now for the last several months I rarely have one night where I am having trouble falling asleep. The Lord has restored a peace to me that I haven’t had since elementary school! It’s quite amazing, actually.
Unfortunately, last night that same enemy of insomnia crept up on me again. I was worried… again. I was distressed about friends that were struggling with addiction and despair. I was wrestling fear issues in my own heart. Hopelessness started to set in a little bit and the tossing and turning continued. In desperation for some sleep I asked the Lord for help. Please Jesus… I have GOT to get some sleep! It was a scene that was all too familiar as I tried to examine my heart… repent for my fear, worry, or anything else that I might be allowing to rob me of my sleep.
And then He started speaking this passage to me in Isaiah:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called mighty oaks,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
I have heard this passage taken out of context and people attribute portions of it to themselves. I have to admit, when I started to hear Him speak to me that passage at around midnight, I thought maybe He was telling me what I was suppose to do… but instead He was telling me who HE WAS. This is a prophecy about the Jewish Messiah, not about the ones He came to save. My immediate reaction was… “okay! I’m in, God! Let’s do it!” But what He was really saying to me was… “when are you going to start believing that this is who I am? That I’m the only one what can heal the brokenhearted, turn broken men into mighty oaks, set people dancing who were once in despair? When are you going to let Me be that in Your life? When are you going to start believing that I am who I say I AM in the lives of your friends?”
I know I’ve been getting a little crazy about these videos lately. But seriously. Hope is a good topic. The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about this. I’ve learned that we have to fight for hope. We have to declare it!!! We have to believe that God is good and faithful despite our circumstances.
Maybe it’s a little easier for me to find hope right now than it has been in the last year and a half. I’m surrounded by awesome people who are fighting for the destinies and journeys of each other. I have a pastor who is a true shepherd and really has a passion to see his flock encounter God and grow in love. In a church of around 1,000 it’s a rare thing for the pastor’s wife to hand me her phone number and tell me to call her after she sat let me cry in her arms during service. It’s rare in ANY church for a bunch of girls to call up a meeting just so that they can minister and pray over one who is receiving some serious warfare from the enemy. I can’t imagine the Lord putting me in a better transition place.
For more on this topic, check out Mike Bickle’s message on the Spirit of Revelation. It’s a powerful message and I highly recommend it.
It’s been a weird week. It has been really easy for me to become distracted with anxiety, anger, and sadness as I have been wrestling with how to confront the last two years of my life. So much so that I have been finding myself spending less and less real time with the Lord, filling that time with listening to messages and reading books. Sometimes it feels safe to hang onto all of my bitterness and I suppose my subconscious realizes that sitting before the fire of God’s love will probably expose the darkness and pain in my own heart. Not so comfortable, you see.
I can look at David’s life and notice a pattern that he had in seeking God. When walls of despair enclosed around him, he didn’t cower in fear. He just made a decision to avert his gaze. Instead of dwelling on the pain, confusion, and anger, he just looked at God and talked to Him about it. And in times where he could have spent his time thinking about all of the yucky stuff, he instead focused on his beautiful God. This kept David strong and steady throughout his life. He didn’t live a perfect life and failed miserably several times but David knew God enough to know that He would never give up on His favorite one. Knowing the truth of who God is kept David from giving up on himself and helped him to continue to pursue God for the rest of his life.
In Psalm 103:4 David writes about God saying He is the one
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies
David didn’t really care too much about the crown that gave him earthly authority. He knew that his crown was the love and compassion of his God. This is what he put his pride in. He found his identity in God’s love and mercy over his life and in discovering the beauty and revelation of the knowledge of God.
I think a lot of people consider a transformed mind having to do with dwelling on what we can do in order to change our mindset and have healthy thinking. If we simply stop thinking negative things and turn our attention to thinking positive things we’ve got it figured out. But I don’t think these people have the whole picture. I think it is simply turning our attention onto who God is. Having the revelation of the beauty of God makes us beautiful, you see. Examining scripture and allowing our minds to become consumed with who He is, destroys the lies that we have built up in our mind.
We believe so many lies about Him! And because we believe lies about Him, we believe lies about ourselves and it darkens all of our understanding about the world around us. Meditating on the truth of who He is gives light to our understanding, and transforms our minds and spirits into life-giving products. Believing that God is love and that love lives inside of us transforms us into lovers. Believing that God is mercy and that mercy lives inside of us transforms us into being merciful. Carefully meditating on all of these attributes of God and knowing and understanding that this power lives within us will cause us to look more and more like the One we worship.