{re}fresh

Month: May, 2012

Life in Color

by mandyade

My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:15a

Has this ever happened to you? A fried asks, “How did your day go?” You reply, “Amazing!!” And he says, “Oh, wow, what happened?” You think for a moment and realize that nothing really happened. In fact, your day sounds quite dull, BUT during the day God showed up somewhere and made a normal day exciting.

We all crave buzz and excitement. We were created to appreciate the thrilling aspects of life. When life gets boring there is a tendency to look for excitement in the wrong places. We are made to carry and walk in the most thrilling lifestyle possible; the daily God adventure- life in color!

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they did not recognize Him when He came to them. He was filled with compassion and frustration that this was Jerusalem’s hour and they were missing it. Jerusalem couldn’t access the great things waiting for them because they didn’t recognize God’s visitation. Learning to recognize when God comes to us is critical. If we miss His attempts to visit us we miss the adventure He brings.

Often our biggest problem is that we reserve time with God and expect Him to show up during that time, then we close that part of our day. ‘Duty’ is a killer of God adventures.  When we feel we have done our duty by spending time with God or ministering in any way we have just allowed duty to suck the life out of our day.

Duty thinks we need to get God’s blessing over our day but it doesn’t understand that God doesn’t only want to bless our activities; He wants to be part of them. With a ‘duty’ mindset we couldn’t hear God even if He was screaming, (unless of course if it was during God’s assigned time.)

He waits over us each day to intercept normal life and make it spectacular.

Jesus’ life was a ministry adventure; his formal teaching was simply a facet of His ministry. He knew and understood that ministry is not something we do, it is who we are. Our life is our ministry- we all have a ministry- it is every part of our life.

If we put ministry or any aspect of our faith (no matter how great it is) into a compartment we unintentionally set ourselves up to miss God in all the other places. We have to allow God to mess with our schedule. We can’t compartmentalize any aspect of  ministry or our walk with God because our life is our ministry.

Sometimes His sweet interludes mess with our routines but it’s part of our daily adventure, here are some practical applications to recognizing God when He comes to us:

1. Stay tuned into God’s voice after a time of prayer or  ministry-it’s often in the afterglow where the glory lies.

2. Awake yourself to God throughout the day by reminding yourself that He is rejoicing over you with love and passion. (Make yourself stop & be conscious of His love when you think of it- no matter where you are.)

3. Be expectant and ready. He is waiting to intercept your day with His love; it could be in awkward and strange places.

4. Recognize God’s voice (it may come in an unusual form). Pause your activity when you think you sense Him. Listen and flow into what He is doing.

5. Be open to changing gears quickly if God starts to mess with your organized plans.

6. Honor God more than your schedule. “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15a.)

It’s His day when you let Him mess with it and He’s going to make it a great day

 To learn more about Mandy’s prophetic art ministry and subscribe to her weekly blogs visit her at http://mandyadendorff.com.

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Walking in Freedom

by Julie

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” John8:36

Think of what your life would look like without anything holding you back. Picture yourself without fear or worry. Visualize yourself without sickness or pain. Imagine what  it would be like without all of the what if questions and guilt from past sins or mistakes.

Can you consider the most free you have ever felt? Now multiply that by a thousand. This is the freedom that is available to us in Jesus! God is inviting all of us into that freedom.

When we fix our eyes on Him and desire His presence above everything else,  that’s what we get. He shows up and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom! He is so ready to break off those chains we have become so comfortable with. When the chains come off  we become free to live the lives we were created to live.

Galatians 5:1 says, “For Freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” I once heard this verse translated in two words. Stay free. It sounds so simple but it is so profound. Jesus is the reason for our freedom but we have a responsibility to maintain it. The work has already been done and the veil has already been torn.  Stand firm in the freedom that has been given you. Declare your freedom and protect it by staying in intimacy with Him! We are citizens of Heaven–a place where freedom cannot be stolen!

As we experience this freedom, we are able to walk in our true identities as sons and daughters of God. Freedom allows us to enter into our destiny and purpose.  Part of our destiny as believers is to give what we have received! As carriers of the Kingdom, we carry freedom.

Let’s take a look at the people in our lives that seem to be lacking freedom. It could be your co-workers, close friends, a family member, or even the cashier at the grocery store. Align yourself with God’s heart for these people and share the freedom you have been given. Speak freedom into the atmosphere and be confident in what the Lord is doing. It is our privilege to partner with God and bring His freedom to the world. We get to be a part of the celebration that happens in Heaven when a child of God is set free.

To learn more about Julie or read her blog please click on our Contributor’s page or visit her at: http://julieozbun.wordpress.com.

Baggage: Packing for the “Just in Case” Moments

by Dawn Aldrich

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  –Galatians 5:1

It amazes me how little my husband needs to pack for a trip. Whether it’s a week or just a weekend, he fits everything into a carry-on. I, however, need the largest suitcase, an overnight bag AND a large tote bag!

You see, I pack for the “just in case” moments. Maybe you can relate? I pack that pretty dress “just in case” we visit a fancy restaurant, (which also requires packing an extra pair of shoes, a clutch, matching jewelry and perfume). I pack a long pair of pants for a summer trip down south “just in case” the weather turns cold, (has the south ever known a July day less than 85 degrees?). Oh, and I pack an empty tote bag for all those “gotta haves” I find along the way.  So, you can imagine how heavy my baggage is on our return trip.

Emotional baggage can weigh us down, too.  It comes from living in a broken world, from circumstances that wound us physically, emotionally or both. We might pack things like fear, anxiety, unworthiness, and unforgiveness – for those “just in case” moments. We tuck fear in our bags because it keeps danger at bay, anxiety to keep us on high alert,  unworthiness to ensure low-risk, and unforgiveness to keep our relationships in check by reinforcing the walls built around our heart.

Gone unpacked, all this emotional baggage  eventually immobilizes us, enslaves us and holds us captive. But we are meant for more. Jesus came to set us  free so that we might know freedom.

He has sent me (Jesus) to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. Isaiah 61: 1b-2a (NLT)

Freedom is ours if we want it. All Jesus asks is permission to sort through our dirty laundry. It’s scary at first. Who enjoys showing off their stained rags?  This sorting process may seem unpleasant, even painful, at first, but Jesus is always gracious and compassionate, never condemning, only loving. And, as He unpacks our bags, sorts through our dirty rags,  he trades our old for His new. He takes our fear and gives us confidence, replaces anxiety with his perfect peace,and unworthiness with Kingdom significance.

Have you over packed for all those “just in case” moments, too? Are you tired of carrying all that heavy baggage, living in bondage to it? Jesus is ready to take it off your hands and give you a whole new wardrobe, if you let him.

Lord Jesus, give us the courage to face our dirty rags and the strength to give them to you. Mend our broken hearts and release us from bondage and heaviness so that we might know the freedom you so willingly offer. Amen.

(Emotional baggage should never be trivialized. If you find yourself immobilized by emotional baggage please seek a professional, Christian counselor to guide you through the healing process).

To read more of Dawn’s posts visit her at Dawn’s New Day http://blog.DawnAldrich.com

Shed your cloak

by Rob Dunne

Please welcome our newest contributor, Rob Dunne:

When I lived in New York, I saw beggars everywhere.  Offering help wasn’t the issue, but rather discerning the legitimate beggars from the scammers.  In Jesus’ day, beggars wore special garments, beggar’s cloaks, to identify their needs.

In Mark 10, Jesus is leaving Jericho with his disciples.  Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, hears that He is passing by and cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus calls for him.  Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak, appears before Jesus and receives healing.  After receiving his sight, Bartimaeus immediately follows Jesus.  He is no longer blind or a beggar.  Rather, our merciful God has re-written his identity.

Throughout the course of our lives, we get stuck with labels that fashion our identity.  Negative labels are easy to spot; stupid, ugly, fat, slow, weak and unlovable.  Positive labels are also troublesome as they may become idols or a source of personal pride.  Neither of these attributes belongs in the Kingdom of God.

For Bartimaeus, shedding his old identity was simply a matter of tossing his garment aside.  In my own journey with Christ, shedding my old identity is difficult.  The devil cleverly reminds me of who I was before Jesus called me.

This is why daily fellowship with the Lord is vital.  When we stay focused on Him, He speaks truth into our lives.  Romans 12:2 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.  We are not citizens of this world.  We sit together with Christ in the heavenly realm where true love generously flows into our hearts.  Daily, God reminds us that we are precious, unique, wonderful, beloved, beautiful, desirable and wanted.  When we live in His truth, transformation occurs and our minds become new.

Do you struggle with the lies spoken over you?  If so, I encourage you to shed your beggars cloak and follow the Master.  Allow Jesus, the lover of your soul, to speak words of love over you every day.

To learn more about Rob please visit our Contributors page.

Paul’s Thorn Actually Was Overcome

by Mike McKinniss

Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” has often been used by Christians in various circles as evidence that God does not always desire to heal. However, 2 Corinthians 12 points to just the opposite claim: God always desires to overcome weakness.

The chapter opens with Paul bragging about how tight he is with God, how super spiritual he is because of his far-out visions of the third heaven (whatever that is).  Then he starts to bring himself back down to earth in verse 7:

So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:7-9)

This text is often cited by those who don’t believe it’s always God’s desire to heal physical illness as proof positive (or negative).  But several things strike me:

  1. It isn’t perfectly clear that Paul is talking about a physical malady.  I’m not sure anyone believes Paul is referring to a literal thorn protruding from his skin, just above the pelvis.  It could have been a figure of speech, as it is today, of just about any bothersome situation.
  2. Paul is clear that his trouble comes from Satan, the accuser.  This, along with the personal weakness talk, makes me think it’s more likely a spirit come to incessantly remind Paul of his deficiencies, like maybe he’s not such a good speaker (1 Cor 1:17).
  3. Whatever the actual thorn, Paul seems certain its source is not the Lord.
  4. Paul’s response is also worth noting.  His reaction is to pray for its removal.  It is not until the Lord specifically tells him that it’s there to stay that Paul relents in his prayers.  Paul assumes the proper stance is to petition for its removal unless he hears otherwise.  He does not assume the thorn is there to stay unless God instructs him to pray against it, but the other way round.
  5. Most importantly, is that God does actually overcome whatever this thorn is.  The Lord’s power is only made perfect when He actually acts in power.  This is partly why I like thinking this was a deficiency in Paul’s gift-set.  Despite being discouraged by the constant reminder that he’s not an eloquent speaker (I’m postulating), Paul consistently finds that the Lord shows up to impact his audience every time.

There’s no question each of us has our own “thorns,” areas of our lives that are less than ideal, parts of our histories we’d sooner forget, things we’re called to do that we know we simply can’t do.  Paul’s point is simple and it’s perfectly in line with every favorite Bible story: God does overcome every deficiency, even yours.

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