Saturday, December 29, 2012

In Flight

"If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea..." Psalm 139:9

Lately I have had so much going on- just busy life stuff- but also spiritually, so much happening in my heart, I just have not had the time to really sit down and write here- but my heart does not lack for revelation content to share. When I realized how long it had been since I posted, I really wanted to sum a bit up of what the Lord has been doing in my heart over the last few months.

First, I want to say, that with the New Year just 48 hours away, I am gearing up to post at least once a week. I don't want to lose track of what God is doing by spending all my time in the living that I don't take the time to stop and meditate on what He has been saying through it all.

This photo was taken recently when Johnny and I went away up the California coast to Point Arena for our 15th Anniversary. It was an amazing time for us to connect, rest, and regroup. With five kids you can imagine, we don't get to date a whole lot. So every year my AMAZING mother in law stays with the kids and lets us take off for a night or two, or three, or four...


I have taken time over the years meditating on different parts of Psalm 139, and I am sure if you are familiar with this passage of scripture, you probably read right over the "wings of the morning" part, but I think it is one of my favorite verses in this Psalm.

      No matter where I am, He is with me.       No matter what I am doing, He is close. 
      There is not a thought I have developed He didn't know before the words came together in my mind, let alone before it spilled from my lips. 

At the beginning of each day, I have made my plans, I know where Im headed and what I am doing, but He has the right to interfere, doesn't He? Aren't some of the best days of our lives the days that don't end up looking like we thought?

We set out each day, just as another day, but in the Spirit, He picks us up, like a cab to the Airport, and we fly away with Him. All through the day we are in flight with Him, if we tune into Him, what He is doing, what He is saying.

So ya, I will take the wings of the morning, I will fly with Him today, and let Him open my eyes, and show me things.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dull Hearted? or Alive and Awake?

It seems like I hear the reference to being "dull" all the time. It was hard for me to understand messages and contexts due to the fact that I didn't really understand what "dull" meant. My main reference for "dull" was a knife that was dull. But what does it mean when a "heart" is dull?

"For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them." Matthew 13:15

The definition for dull, is actually quite intense, with lots of layers, take a look:

KJV Dictionary Definition: dull

DULL, a. G.

1. Stupid; doltish; blockish; slow of understanding; as a lad of dull genius.
2. Heavy; sluggish; without life or spirit; as a surfeit leaves a man very dull.
3. Slow of motion; sluggish; as a dull stream.
4. Slow of hearing or seeing; as dull of hearing; dull of seeing.
5. Slow to learn or comprehend; unready; awkward; as a dull scholar.
6. Sleepy; drowsy.
7. Sad; melancholy.
8. Gross; cloggy; insensible; as the dull earth.
9. Not pleasing or delightful; not exhilarating; cheerless; as, to make dictionaries is dull work.
10. Not bright or clear; clouded; tarnished; as, the mirror is dull.
11. Not bright; not briskly burning; as a dull fire.
12 Dim; obscure; not vivid; as a dull light.
13. Blunt; obtuse; having a thick edge; as a dull knife or ax.
14. Cloudy; overcast; not clear; not enlivening; as dull weather.
15. With seamen, being without wind; as, a ship has a dull time.
16. Not lively or animated; as a dull eye.

Wow! Not one of those words would I want the Lord to associate my heart with! The opposite of "dull", is what I want to be!

5 Things I Want Said About Me by the Lord:

Sharp. I want to be quick to listen, ready, and standing at attention. Flowing with God, not stagnant in spirit!

Bright Light. I want to be the light that shines in the dark places, not a little flicker that no one can even notice or detect when Jesus is present!

Awake. I want my eyes and heart awake, hearing, understanding, and receiving the thoughts of heaven. I want my spirit to be fully engaged with the things of the realm of heaven now! I don't want to be in a stupor unaware of what is truly important or eternal.

Alive.  I want to be fully alive in my spirit man, living, breathing, and spiritually minded deep on the inside of my being! I don't want to be dead on the inside. What would the point be of Christ being ALIVE and living on the INSIDE of me if I'm dead?

Clear Minded. I want my mind completely focused on Jesus, the Great Reward. I do not want to live my live fighting through the clutter in my head to find a small speck of hope! But that the light of God would shine so brightly in my mind, that the battle would be won before a dark thought, hidden motive, or ounce of negativity attempted to enter the mind of this being!

A Declaration of an Alive and Awake Heart:

Today I declare that I am awake and alive to the things of God. The Kingdom of God is my passion and desire, and I eagerly seek after Jesus and His ways in all I do. 

Today I will be clear hearted and clear minded. In the name of Jesus I receive the light of God which shines through the darkness and lights my way. Today I will think clearly, hear clearly, and see clearly by the will and power of Jesus. I declare that I have and will continue to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. 

Today I declare that Jesus has already paid the price for my heart, and He is my reward. Today I declare that nothing can keep me from His love, and I have everything I need to diligently seek Him with an ALIVE and AWAKE heart. 

Thank You Jesus for the love You put inside of me, that I can return love and adoration back to You. Thank You for Your desire toward me and keeping my eyes focused on You. 

In Jesus Name.

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 (Amp.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

In the Name of Love

The name "Love, has become a journey I am embracing in the perspective of seeing the Almighty God through new lenses. Many have embraced the idea, "God is love", but if "God is Love" than that would be a noun. "Love" would be a name of God. Take a moment to look at the list of names of God you may have, or perhaps just those that come to mind.

He is Holy.
He is Awesome.
He is Almighty.
He is Faithful & True.
He is All Sufficient One.
He is Alpha & Omega.
He is Love.

And so on... (more names here)

In 1 John 4:8 and 16, God is called "Love". This "Love" word translates "Agape" in Greek. You are probably familiar with "Agape", but here are some translations:

KJV (116) - charitably, 1; charity, 27; dear, 1; feast of charity, 1; love, 86;
NAS (115) - beloved, 1; love, 112; love feasts, 1; love's, 1;

Interestingly, the most common translation has to do with charity, or giving compassionately. Love gives. 

"And we have known and believed the [agape] that God has for us. God is [agape], and he who abides in [agape] abides in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

So God being "Agape", has really changed my view. The audacity to believe that "Agape" could abide in me? That I could abide in "Agape"? What's more, is this:

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the [agape] of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5

So the Holy Spirit has already poured out "Agape" in us who believe in Jesus Christ, God in flesh, who was crucified, died, buried, and resurrected... and alive!

Ok... one more verse... as if it couldn't get better...

"...If we love [agape] one another, God abides in us, and His [agape] has been perfected in us." 1 John 4:12
Can you imagine? God's love perfected in us? Astonishing. 

This name of God has become such a new view for me, because it effects every area of my soul.  

My heart (emotions) needs to feel His agape toward me.
My mind (understanding) needs to be transformed by His agape.
My will (desire) needs to be for His agape in a focused manner.

Surely, if He sees me through the eyes of love, what an example that I should follow, and look at Him through eyes of love!

I encourage you, if you needing to know how God feels about you, to meditate on these passages, and pray in and to the God, whose name is Love.

- gina

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Power of a Focused Life

The Power of a Focused Life is not about being determined, or driving. In fact, its kind of the opposite. It's about living life on purpose instead of just letting life "happen" to you. One thing I learned early on in my life was that if I didn't schedule my time, someone else would.

This week I had the privilege of speaking to our interns at Convergence House of Prayer on the topic of the Power of a Focused Life. [Mike Bickle has some great teaching on it here.]

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from various leaders, and myself, on the topic:

"Money is Power, but Time, is Life." - John Maxwell

"If time is eternal equity, where are you investing it?"

"To squander time, is to squander destiny." - Mike Bickle

"What would you die for? Then why don't you live for it?"  Francis Anfuso

Remember the parable of the talents? This parable is a great picture of a squandered life. In fact, Proverbs 29:18 says: "Where there is no vision, the people perish", or are "unrestrained". Casting off restraint, is like a ship floating around in the ocean, with no direction, no anchor, and no map! In other words, lack of vision, or focus, equals a squandered destiny.

I used to think that when I received a dream from the Lord or a prophetic word than, "so let it be written, so let it be done." In other words, there was nothing left to do on my part. If God had a specific plan for my life, than it would just unfold before my eyes and bam! There I would be. It didn't quite work out like that for me, and then a few years ago I had to pull out my 15 years worth of journals and dig to find what promises God really had spoke to me. I began to lay out all the promises, dreams, and prophetic words I felt were really and truly from God, and pray into them.

This meant I had to take much time, process, pray, write, and evaluate my life. Were there things I was spending my time on that didn't "feed" my destiny? What things that are in my heart were really put there by God?

Personally, about every three months, I look at my schedule, evaluate how I am spending my time, and shift things that are not working for me. Perhaps I will specifically address that in another post, but for now I will leave you with those thoughts.

I am attaching a document I gave to our interns to help you take a look at where your time goes, what your life vision is, and how to make your weekly schedule "feed" your bigger picture life vision and goals.

I hope these tools are helpful to you!
- Gina

The Power of A Focused Life Processing Sheet

Bible Study Planning Worksheet

Weekly Schedule Worksheet

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Parent Ponderings

My whole life I have noticed how children behave, I know you have too. Admit it, when you see a child  behaving in public, especially if the behavior is unruly, you can't help but stare. There is something about children that captivates us, we watch their every move. The cute little things they say, the way they look at the world, they are amazing!

It is funny though, before I had children of my own I use to think that kids were a reflection of their parents. That if a child acted a certain way, he must have been taught that behavior by his parents. Buuuuuttttttt... then I had kids of my own. When my kids were very small I remember thinking how embarrassed I was when they acted unruly in public, because everyone was looking at me thinking, "That mother doesn't discipline her kids!" Inside I was filled with worry and embarrassment about what people thought of my parenting.  It was not all in my head, I want you to know, I actually was un-invited to playgroups and one home-school co-op because of my children's behavior! That was so hard for us because we felt like we were really disciplining our kids and couldn't understand why they acted like they did in public.

Recently, I have been going through the book of John and meditating on the phrases of Jesus when He speaks of "His Father". This particular verse I have heard many times, but not in the context of what I had been meditating on.

"Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." John 5:19

Isn't it interested that Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing? Can I take this out of context for a minute, just for contemplation? Even Jesus imitated what He saw, and isn't that the point? Children imitate what they see, we can all agree on that. What I am not eluding to is that if my child is throwing themselves on the ground, that means they saw me do that!

What I am wondering though, is what does it mean? What about when you see a child with excellent behavior? Does that mean their parents are "excellent"? I know there are other contributors to child behavior, but my contemplation is specifically about what behaviors children get from their parents. What thoughts do you have on child behavior as it related to parent behavior?

- Gina

Monday, June 11, 2012

God is in the Theory of Music

Music Theory? Or God is the theory in music?
Are you as in love with the number seven as I am? There is just something intriguing about the number.
I always wanted to open a cafe and call it "Cafe Seven". I don't know why. Then I started finding 'sevens' everywhere.

Of course we know that God made the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh- creation=seven. 
In the Book of Revelation there are seven churches, seven spirits, He holds seven stars, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and so on. Seven is used over 700 times in the Bible. It is used 54 times in the Book of Revelation alone! (more on that here) But seven in music? YES.

Take a look at a piano keyboard. The first white key is the "C". This is the grounding for where form begins when positioning your hands on a keyboard. Your right thumb on the "C". If you count the white keys from "C" to "C" you get seven. There are seven white keys in an octave. There are also seven FULL octaves in a Full Size 88-key Keyboard!

When forming a Major Chord, place your thumb on the middle "C". Using your index finger, count (on the black and white keys) 1-2-3-4 then stop and let your index finger rest there. Then continue with your pinky, 5-6-7, and let your pinky rest there. You have a Major "C" Chord.

4+3 = 7. Every major chord = 7.

Do the exact same thing again, except rest the thumb on the "C" and count 1-2-3, then 4-5-6-7, and you have a C minor. 3+4 =7. Every minor chord = 7.

Isn't that fun?! God is so amazing!

Friday, June 8, 2012

FREE Children's Resource Friday- Prayer Leading Guide

In this Friday's Free Resource for Children's Ministry, I'd like to introduce you to a Prayer Leader Guide for kids. You may already be doing this with your kids at home or in church, but if not, I love to share this with you, and if so, perhaps a new resource for you to use?

Here is my son when he was just 7, praying during our Kids Prayer Meeting. The first obstacle for kids to overcome in prayer is language. How can kids get scripture hidden in their heart, so they are actually using biblical language to pray from, while applying it to their life at the same time? That's right, by "Pray-Reading" the Scripture.

Here's an easy way to work the muscle of Pray-Reading Scripture- and even better, is that by working this muscle, children will be memorizing scripture in a way that applies to their lives, making it more real to them!

  1. Read the passage to the children and explain that this is scripture which is a prayer written by the Apostle Paul. That there are many prayers already in the Bible that we can pray as well. 
  2. In this passage, Paul was praying for the Church in Ephesus, but we will use it to pray for (your Pastor, Parents, etc. whatever you choose)
  3. Let them read and fill out the booklet, take it up to the microphone, and pray through as directed.
As always, I would love to hear what you thought and how it worked for you!

Prayer Leader Booklet

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Update on My Music

Hi there,
So this website was primarily designed as a place for me to post my writing, art, and music, but the music has been a little slow going. Mostly because I have been having throat issues for the last 2 years.
    Currently, I am on a vocal rest for two months, after just having my tonsils out. I am preparing though, in two months, to start my first recording project. It has been a dream of mine since I was 16 years old. I have written over 40 songs, and lacked the courage to sing my original music until the past few years.
   I'm excited about the future of my voice - now that those nasty tonsils are gone! And very excited to get a little EP out. I would love to have your prayers and support. Please tune into my website and listen to the music I post in the meantime, and keep checking in with me. I appreciate your encouragement so much!

- Gina

Monday, May 28, 2012

Personal Update

Hi there,
Just a note to let you know I have taken a couple weeks off my blog,
I have been working very hard finishing another Children's Curriculum called "Discovering God's Heart", a journey through the Song of Solomon for kids. It is almost complete, and will be available soon!

I also am recovering from a tonsillectomy and I thought I would be doing a lot of blogging while I was down, but turns out, its hard to think when you are groggy on medications after a surgery!

Just know, that I am working behind the scenes on more resources to make available very soon,

Friday, May 11, 2012

FREE Children's Prayer Resource FRIDAY: Target Meditation

Today's tip: Teaching Kids to Meditate on God using the Target Meditation.

I developed a little visual system to help me meditate on scripture a while back, and I introduced it to my kids about a year ago and it really helped them.

When we are meditating on a Biblical idea or scripture, many other things come to our mind and we need to sort them somehow to stay focused. In Kirk Bennett's Revelation by Meditation model he shows you how to create that 'task' column along the left side of your page and the "pursuit" section across the bottom. The idea is if you can stay focused on your target, you can get some deeper, clearer revelation from God.

I created this simple worksheet for our kids to do just that. To try this out- simply print one out per child, give each child some colored pencils or pens, and put on some soft soaking worship music.  (Even young non-writers can use it and draw their 'revelation' from God!) If your child(ren) have never done something like this before, start with about ten minutes. My kids are very use to it, so I gauge them and I can tell when they are kind of done and ready to share.

When the ten or more minutes are done, bring them together in a circle (or if you are doing this in a larger church, break them up into small group circles) and have them each take a turn and share what God showed them about the passage of scripture.

My oldest son has always had a hard time in church and school settings. He has been challenged in the area of "sitting still"- maybe you can relate? Last year, when he was just seven, we did this with him and the most amazing thing happened! He really saw an amazing picture. He couldn't really describe fully what God was saying to him, but the way he interpreted it was that being "surrounded by God" made him feel good. This was his picture of dwelling in the House of the Lord. This was our prayer for him, that he would love to be in God's house!

So please download it, print it, and try it out! I'd love to hear from you-- Oh and Pass it on please!

Have a great Weekend!


Target Meditation

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Our Golden California

Picture of Bridge says Revival Come
Praying for Revival in the Golden Gate? San Francisco, California is overdue for a move of God! Many people have prophesied earthquakes and such over California, too many out there to count, and though science may show evidence of possibilities, we have yet to see it. Maybe because California hosts a multitude of prayer warriors? Just a thought.

In my dreams, personally,  I have seen 'shaking', to put it generally, but not specifically an earthquake. It's important to be careful how we interpret dreams, visions, and 'words' given toward our lovely Golden State. I have seen things I use to think were literal, but the Lord showed them to be symbolic.

For example, one of the pictures the Lord had begun showing me in 2006 was this image of the ground opening up with light coming out. It seemed to appear to me at significant moments during corporate prayer meetings, at the California State Capitol, and during worship sessions. The Lord showed me that this is not the literal ground opening but the light breaking through the dark places of politics and leadership in our state.

Recently, I read some reports from different sources about how God is going to bring revival to the San Francisco CA Bay Area. This makes my heart leap because we all know that God has plans for us, plans to prosper and not harm us, according to Jeremiah 29:11.

The past few weeks in the Prayer Room I have been singing the Revelation 4 song by Jon Thurlow, A Storm all Around You. It was pretty crazy this particular Thursday night as our Israel Prayer Team was singing it because on our way home that night we drove home through a lightning storm after just singing about how God's voice thunders and the lightning around the throne. (Revelation 4:5)

If you are not from the San Francisco CA Area, you may have missed this news, it was a most amazing sight. {Read the article here.}

So What is God saying about California? I believe God is calling all the prayer warriors of California to cry out for revival in 2012, and I believe revival is really coming. Here are a few ways for you to engage your heart in praying for revival in California, and the San Francisco CA Bay Area:

  1. Believe that God can use you in the place of prayer. Your prayers count, so pray. Find a house of prayer or local corporate prayer meeting in your area and commit to regular weekly fasting and corporate prayer for revival.
  2. Fast for revival. Set aside one day a week for weekly fasting for revival for your own heart and for California. For me, it is Tuesdays, every week. For more on fasting, see my post here.
  3. Come cry out for revival at the One Voice Corporate Prayer Gathering coming to Hayward, CA. Attending Corporate Prayer Gatherings changes the atmosphere! Join with the state of California by attending large corporate prayer gatherings like this.
  4. Speak life over California, that's right,  watch your mouth. (Proverbs 18:21) Speak, sing, paint, draw, dance in the spirit and sound of life over this state. When we speak life, we live life. There is lots of bad news out there, but there is also good news out there. Find some good testimonies of what God is doing in California and start talking about that. Start posting testimonies on Facebook and Twitter.  I am getting so tired of the negative slant constantly being spoken in social media. Lets get some of God's goodness declared shall we??

Join with me in corporate prayer and weekly fasting for revival in California, and I'll see you Saturday, June 9th at Cal State Hayward!

- Gina

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Local Church's Role in Children's Ministry

In one way or another, I have been involved in children's ministry since 1996. I have been on staff at several churches and attend various others in between, and one question that continues to echo inside me is, "what is the role of the local church"?
    I believe when Jesus told Peter, 'upon this rock I will build my church', He was speaking of His "plan A".  Plan "A" is that believers in a city would come together in unity and pray and worship together regularly. They would also fellowship with one another, preach the Word, and prophesy over one another. (1 Cor. 14:26-31) This is the New Testament picture of a local church.
   The interesting thing though, is that there is no mention of where children fit in the local church. Biblically, where are the children to be while the 'gatherings' are taking place?  It is fair to assume, based on Matthew 19:13-15, that children were present in public settings when Jesus was teaching.
   Now, culturally, in the western church we have "children's church" and "Sunday schools", and that's where the children go during the adult gatherings, but is that Biblical? Perhaps it is not, but what I want to examine is what the local church's role should and shouldn't be.

1. The Local Church should be a place of Common-Unity. (Acts 2:42-47)

Recently, our Senior Pastor spoke on the topic of "Community". (cHOP podcasts available here.) To define "Community" was pretty funny actually- because it really is so simple. It's people and families that come together based on the thing they share in common- Jesus.

A "Community" includes children, teens, young adults, young marrieds, seniors, empty nesters, older adults... that's right- everyone! One of the neatest things about our community at Convergence House of Prayer is that we all really do everything together- meaning, there isn't a bunch of age segregation. In the prayer room on any given worship set you will see some younger kids, some teens, some young adults, and some older folks all operating in  place of prayer and worship together.  This is the picture of "common - unity" I am speaking of.

2. The Local Church should be a place of equipping. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Within the community, different ones are given different gifts of teaching, shepherding,  evangelizing, etc. Each one should be using his or her gifts for the equipping and edifying of one another. This is not limited to the five fold ministry gifts- but consider the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12. All of the workings of the Holy Spirit through us are for the benefit of the entire community. This is why every part of the "body" is important!

You have heard the famous saying, "It takes a Village..." - I have heard people preach for and against this saying, but I believe this, "It takes a village, to be a village." In other words, it takes everyone participation to be a community. Everyone has something to offer to edify or equip the community. No one was called to come and "absorb". I do not see a gift of "absorption" in 1 Corinthians 12. I guarantee you, there is something you can contribute to your local church community!

What about Parents and Families?

It has never been the role of the local church to raise children, or be their 'spiritual food'. Children should receive from the local church the same thing adults do... community and equipping. It always will remain the role of the parents to train up their children (Proverbs 22:6). The local church should provide community and equipping for parents and families. Personally, I think specialized classes for kids are great, particularly if they are supporting the vision and direction the parents are on as well so that parents and children are on the same path- remember "Common"- "Unity".
     What I am not a big fan of is children's programs that create detachment from a common vision. If the Biblical role of the church is to edify the whole family, then the whole family would be receiving a common message, edified together, and the parents would own the responsibility to pour into their children.
     Now I know there are many, many local churches that are trumpeting this vision, and I too will continue to trumpet this family - focused vision.

What about Children without a Family?

I used to think that the local church ministry was first for the unsaved as an evangelism reach. Later I discovered it was because of my personal heart of evangelism that I felt that way, but that it wasn't really Biblical. If the children and families within the local church are operating in real community, what better place would someone from the outside come in and feel welcomed? The fatherless generation of our culture need to be received into a "family" not into a "program".

I became fatherless at 15 when my parents separated, and when I was 16 years old I had a friend that invited me to go to youth group with her. Needless to say, I went and that is where I heard about Jesus. She took me to a summer camp where I joined many other teens at an alter and prayed a prayer of salvation. It didn't really stick for me. I felt very uncomfortable at the youth group or teen events, I didn't feel like I fit in at all. What I did like, what got my heart, was that her family invited me to spend the weekends with them. Often I would spend the night with them on a Saturday night and go to church on Sundays with them. That is what I really enjoyed.  Even when I didn't really know God, I knew that I enjoyed being a part of a family that was taking me to church.

To this day, that family will always feel like my real family. See, it doesn't matter if there is dysfunction, family is real. Programs are not.

To wrap up, I would love to hear from you. How does your local church edify you and your family? How does your local church equip whole families? What's your take on the topic?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Word about Silence...

A word about silence kind of sounds oxymoron? Ya, but in reading the Way of The Heart, by Henri Nouwen, I have been contemplating this chapter on silence for a couple months now. There are a few things that really stand out to me that I have been pondering...

Firstly, the purpose of the 'word'. If the word it to convey an idea, simply a 'candy wrapper' for the real thing, is the idea, philosophy, or even theology being wrapped in those words. On page 49 of his book he quotes Chuang Tzu:

"The purpose of the word is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten. Where can I find a man with forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to."

Many times, I find myself speaking for the effort of trying to convey a thought, a revelation of the Word, or somehow to express what I see so another can also see, so we two together can relate. Many times, I fail at finding the words to communicate what it is inside me that is unspoken.

Long talks, or 'sharing' of our hearts with one another don't always leave us feeling resolved, but somehow emptied. It was really good for me to hear how the author explained this because it is something I personally struggle with. The Roman educator, Arsenius said it well:

"I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent."

I too, relate here. I feel like I speak too much, and when I do speak what is the fruit? I am simply asking these questions, not bashing myself, but it is good to really ask these questions. I want my words to count and to effectively communicate. So I did a little introspective work on this topic and it was really good for me.

The second part to this, is the purpose of being silent in a 'wordy world'. That is to guard the fire within. Many men and women of God I have looked up to I could say a similar thing about, and that is that they were a person of few and powerful words. You can probably think of a few men and women of God right now that speak plain and bold and you feel rich in spirit in listening to them teach or preach. That is what I am talking about. Words that carry within their container something that you can grab on to and receive. 

The life of the spirit within us is fragile, and must be guarded. One of the Desert Fathers says that the "mouth is a door only for exit." This is referring to all that is cultivated in the heart seeping out by the opening of our mouths. I want to give hope, life, revelation, and teaching of God's Word to people, but I don't want to give away everything I have that my fire dwindles to a faint flicker. I am not sure if you can relate, but I am looking for moments in my days that I can steal away for silence.

I have decided to commit my life to daily times of silence as a key to increase the fire in my heart, how about you? Do you take times of silence? Time with the Lord being completely still and silent?

I would love to hear from you on silence!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Compassionate Ministry

Compassion for others is really hard if you think you are deserving of something, or overly focused on yourself most of the time. Most of us probably struggle at least from time to time in the area of becoming inward.

I've actually been doing a lot of meditating on what it means to truly die to yourself, and live for Christ. Sometimes, the painful crushing of our lives is like the crushing of the root and leaves that bleeds the fragrant essential oils. Sometimes, the sweetest fragrance comes from the life fully surrendered, dead to oneself, and out comes the sweetest fruit. But what does that really look like? To die to yourself? (Gal. 2:20) To consider others esteemed higher than oneself? (Phil. 2:3)

In the book, the Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen, he talks about this idea of "Dying to one neighbor".

"To die to our neighbors means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate. Compassion can never coexist with judgement because judgement creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with each other."

It is hard to minister to someone, anyone really, when your heart is full of "yuk" toward them, their choices, or circumstances.  I love how he puts it on page 36:

"It is folly for a man who has a dead person in his house to leave him there and go weep over his neighbor's dead"

When you spend time in the "solitude" of your own "house" and weep for the dead inside, it leaves room to be compassionate toward others. Forgiveness for others only happens when we see the "plank" in our own eye. (Matthew 7:3)

Finally, one last quote from this section of the book...

"...solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons, who are so deeply convinced of their own sinfulness and so fully aware of God's even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry. In such a ministry there is hardly any difference left between doing and being."

Father, nurture my heart, and tend to my garden, the garden of my soul on the inside, like Anthony, and the desert fathers, let my heart be cultivated in the secret place on the inside. Amen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Furnace of Transformation

In my last post, I talked about dealing with the conditions of our heart, using anger as an example. Cultivating our hearts in love is the thing. The working of the inward parts is this furnace, it is no wonder we in the Western World are so easily distracted and continually inventing new ways to distract ourselves, because who really enjoys working at the heart? It is the hardest work, it is costly.

In the Book, The Way of the Heart, in the section called, "The Furnace of Transformation", the author addresses the compulsions of the world and the remedy for protecting our hearts from getting caught up in them- solitude. Solitude means many things to people, but here, the author clearly expresses the secret place with the Lord, as the place where we cultivate "solitude". Speaking of some famous Saints, he says:

"For them, solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is a place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the new man and the new woman occurs."(pg. 27)

The place of solitude is taking time away, no phone, no distractions, just you and God. Mother Theresa had suggested and hour a day in adoration of God to be alright, but how many of us are completely alone with God without any distractions for an hour a day? That doesn't even seem like a lot, but it is so necessary to get alone, really alone with God.

A couple years ago I took my first solo retreat. I was away from my family three days and two nights to be alone with God. I experienced many of the things this author described: wicked thoughts, disturbing dreams, and I didn't feel the presence of God. It was a great working out of my own soul. No one would want to live in that wilderness for 20 years, but if we could take an hour a day and chisel off the worlds attachments to our souls, I believe we as a people of God, would be closer to God and less attached to worldliness.

"We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw everyday, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord'...'with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to Him in whose Name we minister." (pg. 30-31)

Finally, I agree with the author, that solitude is not a means to an end, but a discipline that continually fashions us to become more and more like Christ. I long for my next block of time alone with Him, how about you?

Father, I pray you would help me to look at my schedule with creative eyes and get more solitude time with You alone. You are my source, and I desire my heart to be conformed to Yours, in the Name of Jesus Christ my Lord, amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Way of the Heart

Have you read The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen? I just finished it and I am now reading it again. I want to highlight a few things from this book and hopefully, through some discussion, do some digesting.

 To get a quick context, the book is talking about Desert Fathers and Mothers, these are those who gave their lives fully devoted to the Lord as monks and such, hidden away, without an audience, for the majority of their ministry. These Father and Mothers discovered truths about God that can only be learned in solitude and the wilderness of working out your salvation. I really enjoy hearing saints share what they have discovered about God after they've spent a whole lifetime with Him. Truly it enlightens me, as I have just eighteen years with the Lord to date.

The first issue this book brought up for me begins at the end of page 23, under the section entitled, 'The Compulsive Minister".

"Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry. Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be..."

He goes on to talk about how Saint Anthony and his fellow monks, dilemma of being faced with the compulsions of the world and not wanting to allow it to cause them to turn bitter and angry is what led them to flee to the desert.  I have certainly desired at times to flee to the desert! I can relate! However, this book is suggesting that there is a way to get the connection with God that these men and women found in utter solitude, right here in our modern Christianity.

What I have been digging into in my heart is pretty raw to share actually, but it is really important for me to examine it and digest it in the context. The emotion 'anger' in itself is not bad or wrong. It is a preliminary emotion that requests a response. I have anger rise inside me all the time. For example, one of my children, I am not sure who, has taken my hairbrush. I am in the shower trying to brush out my hair, my brush is no where in reach. I decide to go without it, and after I'm dressed find one. I can't find one in my room or in the kids bathroom. I ask everyone in the house, "do we have a brush I can use anywhere?" Everyone says they cannot find one. As the anger rises, my husband brings me, not my daughters brush, but my brush which he found in her room!!! Deep breath.

In this moment I am angry. What am I angry about? I am angry that my bathroom was not respected and my things were removed from it. I am angry that my daughter didn't see well enough to find it for me, so she made her Dad find it. I am angry that I am not a better parent who taught her eleven year old how to respect her property and find things with two open eyes. I could go on and on. The anger really isn't the problem... yet. No, my problem is if I boil over a couple things could possibly happen. I could start yelling at everyone for how disrespected I feel. I could also start pointing out all the wrong things in everybody and why they make me mad. (Both bad responses so far) Or I could, which I usually do, thank my husband up and down for how much he cares about me to step in and save me from my dilemma.

I don't chose the right response all the time, but what I am trying to do is run away to the desert in my heart for the moments in between the anger coming to my heart and the response of it. Closing my eyes, looking inside my Spirit man, and saying, "Jesus, help me right now." That's all. Seriously, thats where its at. I have not figured anything magical out other than this:

  1. God made me a human (rather than an angel or other species)
  2. God gave humans emotions
  3. Emotions can cause us to act good and bad
  4. I need to practice using my emotions to act good.
Does that sound deep to you? Man. It's so deep, we dig right past it. 

Dear Jesus, I plead for Your mercy once again, and Your loving kindness. May the same love you have for me dwell inside this heart of mine and may I love others with it. In Jesus name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Facing Your Affections

When we fast, we are constantly reminded on how having this skin on keeps us a slave to the human world. Do I even see these things when I am not fasting?

It's day one, and I'm constantly reminded of my human frailty. My eyes, are hungering to be entertained. Normally, I don't even like to watch movies or T.V. shows, but when I am setting my eyes apart, my eyes begin to hunger... "feed me", they say.

I normally have a pretty healthy diet, of course except for the sweets I haven't been able to kick... but here I am, in such early stages of my fast, thinking about food, almost non-stop. Do I always think about food? I don't think this is something I normally struggle with. In fact, I have been guilty of forgetting to eat and getting in trouble with the Mr. for not eating my regular meals! But here I am, my brain is telling my mouth to be controlled by my stomach! My eyes, my ears, my stomach, crying out, "feed me"! 

"You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections."                         - 2 Corinthians 6:12

Ouch! You mean this is the real me? It's hard to allow the thoughts, emotions, and desires to come out of you and stare them in the face and say, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!" Rather, we stuff our face, our eyes, with anything and everything to dumb us, to numb us, and to help us get our mind on something else. The problem isn't that we are selfish, constantly thinking about ourselves, it's that we are fully controlled by our flesh, thinking about anything and everything we can to get our minds off of dealing with ourselves! If we truly were concerned with ourselves, we would find ourselves like Paul, just a few verses earlier- in distress, sleepless, and unable to eat at all!

If this is heavy, I apologize, it is truth in my Spirit right now, and I pray that the Body of Christ can truly step out of herself, and step into the fullness of the body, worthy of Christ the head. If you are feeling this little message hit your heart, join with me and pray this prayer of surrender below.


Dearest Father of Glory, as I embark on this first fast of 2012, I ask for grace. Grace to chew on the Word, slowly. To enjoy every step of the process as I look inside my own heart and deal with my own weakness and depravity. As I mourn for my lack and distance from the glory I desire to walk in, may my tears of sorrow sow in the soil of prayer to bring about a great fruitful harvest of righteousness. Oh how I want to represent You, Jesus, and love You well. I lay down my own affections today, and declare that my affections are the same as my Father.  My Lord, I partner with Your heart, Your will, Your desires. In the Sovereign name of Jesus I pray, Amen.


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year Fast and Feast

This new year, like many, I am sitting reflecting what things I want to see more of in my life, and less of. Every January we do a fast, as a family, but this year, I really felt the Lord impress my heart not to just fast, but to feast. Instead of focusing on what I am going without, I want to focus on what I am filling myself with instead.

They say it takes 28 days to make or break a habit, well what if this fast starts a habit? A habit for health, devotion, and my heart life? Hmmm, I think we are on to something here...

In 2012 I am going to STOP and smell the roses.

In 2012 I am going to LOOK at people in the eyes with compassion.

In 2012 I am going to LAUGH more, a lot more.

In 2012 I am going to ASK God for Divine Encounters and Surprises, and make room for them!

Over the next 28 days, while I am fasting, I am going to be going through this devotional along with a few friends, called 90 Days with the One and Only. In addition to that, I am meditating on the Sermon on the Mount 8 Beatitudes each day.

What are some additions to your life you are going after? Do you have your Bible Study Action Plan laid out for 2012? Or for January? I just want to encourage you to have a plan. Even if you don't keep it 100% of the time, just laying it out and having a goal makes such a huge difference!

Happy New Year!
- gina