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    a good good Father

    a mind shift takes place when we see that

    God is FOR us, not against us.

    we’ve all heard the verse,

    Hebrews 12:5-7 (MSG) “my dear child, do not shrug off God’s DISCIPLINE but don’t be crushed by it either; for it’s the child He loves that He DISCIPLINES, and He CORRECTS every daughter whom He embraces.”

    but have you ever felt loved getting in time out? how about a spanking? how about an illness? a broken marriage? a financial hardship? persecution? or for some sin you committed?

    a lot of times we blame God for “punishing us for our sins” when sometimes sin opened the door for the enemy to come in to steal, kill, & destroy some areas in our lives. satan punishes us. God wants to rescue us from it.

    He’ll turn your wild lament into whirling dance; He’ll rip off your black mourning band and decks you with wildflowers. He’ll clothe you with a festal garment in exchange for your weeping attire. discipline is actually the dearest form of His favor.

    maybe the illness was to realize that God is the medicine. maybe it taught you how to fight. maybe the broken marriage was teaching you that He can love you more than any man can. maybe the financial hardship made you lose all to discover the blessing that money can’t buy. whatever purpose it has, God is out to bless you and restore to you what was stolen.

    i remember my first “God spanking.” it was actually more of a wave of grace. just one of those that slaps you in the face and leaves you spitting out salt water.

    my boss had given me the opportunity to run an errand. she printed out directions for me. my pride and i got in the car, turned right to show my boss i was listening, and then made a u-turn and followed my phone’s directions. 20 minutes later, i show up with the place nowhere to be found. i now have to call my work and tell them that i’m lost. i got back and was asked, “how did you get lost?” i said whatever i could to cover up my mistakes because i feared punishment, but what i really feared was looking foolish for not following her directions. God told me, “go tell her the truth and apologize.” anxiety came over me in the pit of my stomach. i got up from my desk after 5 minutes of this awful feeling and marched into her office. i told her what i did was wrong and began to cry. she was utterly shocked and told me it was okay. i said, “no, that was not okay and i am so sorry.” after that day, she began to treat me with the utmost respect and kindness. the anxiety disappeared because satan had lost his victory.

    have you ever felt punished because you disobeyed what God told you to do? i want to encourage your tired, discouraged, and confused soul. we so fear punishment that in these times we have forgotten that our trial has a purpose.

    one of the biggest delusions is believing that your pain is God trying to teach you a lesson.

    sure, you may learn a lesson in the process of pain but the goal is in verse 13>>

    Psalms 94:12-13 “Rewarded is she You correct, And who You teach out of Your Word; That You may grant her RELIEF from the days of adversity,

    UNTIL A PIT IS DUG FOR THE WICKED.” >>who is the wicked? well #1 it’s NOT YOU! so many times we feel God is digging a pit for us and were sinking in despair. instead its for the wicked. the wicked isn’t the sickness, your ex, or your bank account. it is the enemy of your soul. the one who set up all of these plays against you that God will turn for your good.

    Psalm 23:4-5 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

    UNTIL YOUR ENEMIES BECOME YOUR WAITERS. >>Lets put God back in His rightful place. He comforts us from death & evil!

    if you’re wondering if your perspective needs a shift, look at the lies below to see if you’ve ever believed these about God’s discipline:

    1. Discipline focuses on the misbehavior of the past. FALSE

    the discipline you have been experiencing is not God’s punishment. He’s invested into making you new.

    2. God’s correction is condemnation aka God is frustrated with me. FALSE

    God correction isn’t to punish you to pay for your sin, that was spent on the cross. His wrath account is bankrupt. His conviction for you is a call to righteousness.

    3. Your intuition is that loud voice inside of you that makes you feel guilty. FALSE

    That’s the enemy wanting to press rewind and then play all of your sin over till you’re singing songs of guilt and misery.

    4. God believes in the child who rarely misbehaves, who does everything right! FALSE

    God sees who you are in Christ, not what you are failing in at the moment. He believes in you because you’ve succeeded not by your actions but by His grace by dying on the cross.

    5. God is crying over my sin. FALSE

    If God cried over your sin, He would never be able to stop.

    Perhaps when God flooded the earth, it was from the ducts of His eyes at the thought of losing generations to sin.

    So when He promised to never flood the earth again, it was sparked from knowing Christ’s love would cover the multitudes of wrongs forever. Now, His heart breaks when we don’t understand that He is not mad at us but forgiven us!

    6. God is punishing me. FALSE

    punishment says, “I won’t tolerate what you did, so I’ll show you how mad I am.” scared and defensive you surround yourself with walls to protect another piece of your heart from getting hurt. but the child who withdraws into this protective walled shell hears nothing. you thought He had outstretched His hand to hit, but He was after a tender loving hug. God isn’t wanting to teach you to fear His anger, He’s too busy loving you into greater things.

    so how about a new season of believing differently? when you believe the truth, your actions follow.

    welcome yourself into the family room of God where you will feel secure. you’ll step onto the carpet of grace, and even when you’ve misbehaved, sometimes He won’t discipline at all. instead of seeing “the look” on God’s face in comparison to your father/mother, you’ll see heaven smiling over you. He’ll not just tell you not to do something but why and how not to by reminding you of your true identity. He won’t rub your nose in the mess you made, He’ll simply redirect the behavior instead of focusing on your misbehavior. He’ll meet your every need individually because you are completely unique.

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    why Charlotte?

    before moving to Texas,

    i went to a workshop called For the Love in Seattle. i went to two coffee shops and they both gave me the same design: a morning glory flower. when i arrived in texas, our backyard was covered with purple morning glory flowers. it marked the beginning of my journey. 2 years later, a bush in our front yard that had nothing on it the day before, now had purple morning glories all over it. Lord, are you saying this is an end to our season here? it was an abrupt thought that passed just as quick as it came.

    2 months pass

    …i had just gotten done writing the blog “why Texas” after an intense week of defending our call at the beach vacation to all of my family. after attending Elevation church’s “Wake up the Wonder” live album recording at Time Warner Arena, we arrive home & Caleb tells me he feels God calling us to Elevation church. WHAT!?!?!? my heart went into shock because I did NOT see this fore coming. he set a table that demanded me to eat all of my words from the whole week. it was a full course meal that left my tummy in aches. my attitude was a complete and whole heartedly NO with tears and loud sobs after it. i work at our church as administrator to the Youth Pastor and I’m an elementary art teacher at a Christian school. i have my two DREAM JOBS given by the hand of God!!

    so i did what any good wife who supports her husband would do…told him to lay his fleece down (because I was sure it would be denied since we obviously we were not “called” there). i went in my prayer closet and began crying…”God, I just feel like he’s being Jacob, pretending to be someone he’s not, and like a good father you’ll put the cataracts on as you feel his fake hairy arms.” God asked me, “then what will I do?” i paused and took a moment to recognize He was wanting me to remember what was next in this biblical story. “….You’ll BLESS him!?!” “that’s right. I’ll bless him, and he should have your blessing too.”

    we called our families

    and told them Caleb was applying for Elevation’s Prodigy Program. skipping the details…i got an email saying i should apply too because they love couples. after so much excitement from our families, i decided it was time to reveal how i was truly feeling about all of it so i sent them the blog “why Texas.” it ended with, “until the winds change.” right after pressing send, i opened up my email and this video called Blow Mighty Breath was sent to me. I clicked on it and at the very end he starts to sing, “There’s a change in the wind, there’s a shift in the wind!” I started to burst out laughing. Okay God, I guess the wind is changing now. 3 days later, we were accepted into “Bootcamp.”

    the next morning

    i went a different way to my destination and drove by the river in the park that i loved to sit with friends and write or paint. i peered through my window to see nothing but leaves! the stream was dried up! New Braunfels decided to not pay for that water anymore and it will never flow again. i was devastated. later i came home and read out of my favorite book,

    Let Go” by Fenelon

    which left me in a stream of my own tears as i read this:

    “I cannot express to you how deeply I sympathize with you in your time of suffering. I suffer right now alone with you, but still, it cheers me up to know that God loves you. And the very proof that God loves you is that He does not spare you, but lays upon you the cross of Jesus Christ. Whatever spiritual knowledge or feelings we may have, they are all a delusion if they do not lead us to the real and constant practice of dying to self. And it is true that we do not die without suffering. Nor is it possible to be considered truly dead while there is any part of us which is yet alive.

    This spiritual death (which is really a blessing in disguise) is undeniably painful. It cuts “swift and deep into our innermost thought and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.” The great Physician who sees in us what we cannot see, knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts away that which we are most reluctant to give up. And how it hurts! But pain is only felt where there is life, and where there is life is just the place where death is needed. Our Father wastes no time by cutting into parts which are already dead. Do not misunderstand me; He wants you to live abundantly, but this can only be accomplished by allowing Him to cut into that fleshly party of you which is still stubbornly clinging to life. He might even test your faith with restrictions and trials of all kinds. Don’t resist. You must learn to suffer all things!

    The death of self must be voluntary, and it can only be accomplished as far as you allow. You must be willing to yield to the will of God whenever He decides to remove from you all of the props on which you have leaned. Some times you must give up even your most spiritual friends, if they are props. “What dearest thou, oh thou of little faith?” Do you fear that He may not be able to supply to you from Himself that help which He may have taken away on the human level?

    I know how confined you are, but I convinced that God means to accomplish His work in you by cutting off every human resource. He is a jealous God, and He wants you to understand that what He is about to perform in you has been done by Himself alone, and by no other. So give yourself up to His plans. Allow yourself to be led wherever He wants to lead you. And be careful to not seek help from your friends if God is forbidding it. Your friends can only give what He gives them for you.

    Why be so concerned about the dried-up streams when the rivers of living water are so available?”

    every season i ask God,

    “what am i going to be in this season that i couldn’t be in any other?” then i ask Him, “what are You going to be for me that You couldn’t be in any other?”

    i asked Him this back in June at the Youth Retreat and He said, “you’re going to be a vine & root. I’m going to be your shade.” i hit up wikipedia as soon as i got home as usual to see what He meant.

    VINE: climber; runner

    Ex- ‘morning glory’

    •  can grow high IF support is available
    • other plants enable them to reach sunlight with a minimum investment of energy
    • colonize large areas quickly without even climbing high
    • adapt to life in areas where there’s more sunlight but little soil
    • rooted in the soil with leaves exposed getting the best of both worlds
    • twining their stem around support
    • clinging roots & attaching adhesive to the support
    • hooking on to grow quickly
    • flowering plant that provides attraction
    • some climb by themselves, others need work such as tying them in and training them

    SHADE: the blocking of sunlight

    • the shadow created by that object
    • shelter from the sun
    • plants produce shade by absorbing sunlight to invest as energy to produce sugar
    • Hosea 14:7>live in His shade, blossom like the vine
    • Psalm 80>i am a young vine. clear out my brambles & briers. plant my vineyard. prepare good earth. plant my roots deep. fill my land. soar high and shade the mountains. attend to this vine. care for what you once tenderly planted. the vine you raised from a shoot.

    if you haven’t connected the dots thus far…

    this might help: my friend bought me some flowers because Jesus told her to pick them up for me. after a while they began to wilt. i felt much like that little flower…depleted of energy and hope. i was experiencing the brown-thumb syndrome in life and needed to check my growing environment affecting the health of my heart. God had me look up why flowers wilt. there are many reasons why such as fungus infection, lack of water, being cut which could be a separate blog entirely but the one that put the puzzle pieces together was known as “transplant shock.” when a plant is relocated to a different environment it will go into shock if in too much sunlight.

    this next season,

    God is moving me to another location and in order for me to live & not wilt, He will be my shade! after flying to Charlotte, NC for “bootcamp” (the final weekend interview), i got to hear the heartbeat and motivation behind Elevation church. they said, “you need to find the purpose for God’s reason of promoting you. you need the support of others to take the personal risk required to extend the kingdom of God.” they also said, “if you’re always transplanting, you’re never planting yourself and growing roots.”

    i knew we were going to be accepted because God told me so the week before India, when i was able to attend the Gateway Conference despite pink eye & an ear infection. Pastor Steven Furtick was one of the guest speakers and guess where he preached from…Acts 27 (yes, 27 is the number God uses to speak to me & the day Caleb & i got married) and the title of his message was: “IT WILL HAPPEN!” he even said “i’m looking for some Caleb Joshua’s who are saying, “it will happen!”

    • trouble is the route to transformation.
    • you’ll get to where you want but not in the way you thought
    • the dream is free but the journey costs
    • are you steering by your spirit or your senses?
    • loss of hope, fear, shame, opposition= the storm
    • depression-when you can’t see it’s gonna be any better than it is right now
    • we’re too in love with the way we want it to happen
    • there’s a fresh WIND BLOWING & what was against you is breathing to blow you forward!

    in these last 4 months, God has taken me from wilting in despair/dismay to planting my roots in the hope He has for me. i had “small dreams, a skeptical mind, a stubborn heart, selfish motivations, and a short term memory” but despite all that, we will be in Charlotte for 6 months and then see where God takes us!

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    why Texas?

    on the first day of arrival here in Texas, God spoke the future as we pulled in to this small town. He said, “I did not bring you here for the job, but if I had told you why you came, you would have never come.”

    sometimes His words don’t make sense in the moment but clarity rises as time gets spent. now i am breathing in the life of that statement. it is the oxygen in which keeps me level when doubt arises. i want to breathe out some C02 to you so that you too can kill the questions and the reasoning and remember HE is the reason. it’s always been about HIM.

    the first Sunday here we went to a church (that wasn’t even the one we meant to go to but somehow was pulled up in my mind and was 2 minutes away). i had just been prophesied over in Virginia Beach hesitantly…”you are about to walk a path that will be hard…very hard, but at the end you will receive the robe of righteousness.” back in Freedom Fellowship in Texas at the end of the sermon the pastor said very loud and clear as he pointed, “and you will receive the robe of righteousness!” the words pierced to the core of my heart and i knew this was it. this was our church home.

    weeks after that, a prophet came in town named Jay LeRoux. our presence was requested at a “Leadership Meeting” even though we were not yet leaders. that night he prophesied over Caleb a message so spot on we were jaw-dropped. he dissected his heart and deciphered  ”youth & worship, youth & worship as he said over and over.”

    i was told there was no need on Sunday mornings for singers and to get with youth, then youth told the same and to get with home group and from home group i left with the same answer. guitar in hand, sitting on the carpet of our rented room, i said, “Lord, i’ll sing to you in my bedroom forever if that’s what you want. just You and me.”

    that Sunday they had a meeting for vocal tryouts and i was told to go. i was put on the schedule and after asked by the youth leader if i could lead “Closer” one of my favorite songs at the time, & then they asked for us to lead home group worship. all in one week everything had flipped! shortly after we found out the leader & his wife were transitioning out of youth and he out of worship and they wanted us to step in. everything was falling in to place.

    shortly after we had so many worried for us…”you guys do too much! you’re gonna burn out!” i’m humbled to say, we still haven’t simmered down. burn out doesn’t happen when Holy Spirit breathes on your fire.

    it’s coming up on 2 years that we’ve set foot in the foothills of Texas and many of you are wondering, if Caleb’s tennis job is what brought us here and he no longer works there, then why aren’t they scampering back “home”?  if he wants a job in ministry then why isn’t he in one and why can’t he do it near family?

    if God had told us to move halfway across the US, away from family to a small town to do ministry in a small church not knowing anyone and going from one job to the next, we would have never come. the truth is…he is in ministry. we both are doing ministry within the church part time & in the world part time, we just don’t see a pay check for it…in the natural. our treasure is in heaven. what’s the treasure? it’s Jesus. when God says arise, go to Nineveh…you don’t tell Him you’d rather go to Tarshish because there is better opportunity there for ministry and because it’d be way more comfortable to have family there. He’ll cause a storm, provide a whale, and spit you out where you belong because He called you there.

    perhaps you feel that He has told us to go to Nineveh (home) and we ran to Tarshish…then the outcome will still be the same. He will direct us back to where we belong. isn’t that encouraging?

    since being here Caleb & I have seen our church transition into a new building…the youth group go from 30 to 100 kids in attendance, with 60 kids on the Youth Retreat…countless salvations…12 baptisms…10 kids in my Art class get saved!…we’ve been able to attend marriage classes, a 3 month online worship school, co-lead Young Adult Fellowship, lead worship at Youth & Young Adults, and start a young adults ministry called Underground. God is settling Himself upon His people and we are so excited to see the work He is doing. we’ve never felt so apart of a community.

    So please, we need your support! Don’t pray for the ruby red slippers to be put on our feet if He’s calling us to walk the yellow brick of His path. This is all a season and seasons change.

    Until the winds change…

     

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