What Does God Say About Me?

Earlier today I was spending some time with the Lord and during our dialogue, I began to think about the man I will one day marry.

I think about him often. He comes to mind during random moments throughout the day. Hopeful wishes form as I journey through life and think of what it would be like to have a supportive partner by my side. There are many things that bring him to mind and I eagerly anticipate the day I will finally know who he is.

Today as he came to mind, I felt like I wanted to hear the Lord tell me more about him. I wanted to know what the Lord had to say about this man who holds a piece of my heart.

So, with my pen in hand, I vulnerably shared my feelings and asked the Lord, “What do you want to tell me about the one you have for me father?” and this is what He said:

“He will be patient and supportive.

He will love your passion and spur you on to greater goals.

He will love you well.

You will be his favorite thing.

He will beam and light-up when he sees you happy.

He will admire you when you share your heart with others.”

 As I penned these words in my journal, these futuristic words I thought were describing the man I would one day marry, an image of Jesus in a crowd listening to me speak came to mind. I was overwhelmed with emotion. My question to the Lord was brought forth by a desire to know more about the man I would one day marry but that’s not what the words of my hand wrote down.

How sweet of my Abba to set my mind on the things above and remind me of the eternal. How loving of my Abba to refocus my attention on the one who loves me yesterday, today and tomorrow. The one who cherishes and adores me now.

As you read these words, I just want you to know how God feels about you. I want you to know how much you are loved. How special you are to Him. How much He beams and lights up as He looks at you. He is so proud of you and He wants you to know how much He cares.

This is what God says about you:

You are My masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are accepted. (Romans 15:7)

You are loved beyond measure. (Romans 5:8)

You are My beloved child. (Galatians 3:26)

You are My friend and I want to spend time with you. (John 15:15)

I am with you always. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I know who you are and I love your heart. (Psalm 139:1-2)

I have called you to do great things. You have a purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I will never leave you, I am with you always. (Isaiah 41:10)

When you are hurting, I am here. (Psalm 147:3)

The Power Of Your Story

There are only two things that qualify me to have worked as a Social Worker for the past 10 years; a college degree and a heart for service. I love helping people. I love serving people. I love to see their lives transformed when they are given much needed love and attention.

No matter what struggles I’ve endured though, fighting the temptation to eat a pint of ice cream isn’t the same as struggling through fighting the urges to use heroin. The emotional abuse I’ve endured in past relationships doesn’t compare to the physical and sexual abuse the clients I’ve worked with have suffered. The only time I’ve been inside a jail was worked related and I’ll never know what it feels like to be abandoned and not have anyone to call family. My experiences just aren’t the same.

One approach to case management however attempts to close this gap with the utilization of a “Peer.” Also known as a Peer Specialist, a “Peer” is someone who has endured similar life challenges. Maybe they have been through addiction and are now sober. Sometimes they have been institutionalized for mental illness but now understand the balance between medication management and support. Because of their testimony, the Peer is able to relate to the client through the power of life experiences. They understand what it’s like to travel the road to recovery. They know what it’s like to carry the emotional scars of the trauma life deals. They know what it’s like to spend time isolated in a cold cell enclosed by the walls of a prison. They get it.

There is power in the peer approach because of the relatability and connection that bonds two people who have traveled a similar path in life.

While I may never have been to jail or be able to understand the stronghold of addiction, I have another testimony — the testimony of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The last five days have been amazing. The Lord has revealed strongholds, broken the chains of bondage and freed me from myself. He has filled the places of my spirit once inhabited by lies from the evil one with security of the Holy One and he has healed me from physical wounds. I’ve been overwhelmed by the intense emotion and closeness I’ve felt with the Lord and I can’t stop sharing about it.

As I’ve shared, I’ve realized there is incredible value for the Kingdom when we speak about the things the Lord is doing in our lives.

We live in a dark and broken world. A world filled with hate, murder and war. A world filled with pain, brokenness and retaliation. A world filled with desperation, suffering and longing. A world filled with emptiness, confusion and void. A world that needs the testimony of a Christian. A world that needs comfort, good news and hope.

So, I’m writing this today to encourage you to share. Share how Jesus has freed you. Share how Jesus has healed you. Share how Jesus has redeemed your story.

Just as Jesus instructed the Demon-Possessed man He healed in Mark chapter 5, I would like to challenge you to, “Tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had compassion on you.”

Your testimony is far reaching, our world needs hope, the story of miracles are powerful, and light kills darkness.

Will you be courageous today and share the goodness of the Lord? Will you be vulnerable, transparent and raw and let the Lord use you to reach the broken, hurting and hopeless?

Remember, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11)

He put your story in the same sentence as the blood of the Lamb. There is power in your story when you share.

Is It Possible to Evangelize Without Sharing The Gospel?

This weekend I had the pleasure of listening to Greg Koukl speak. Koukl is the founder and president of Stand to Reason, a radio talk show host, and the author of Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions (1st Edition by Koukl, Gregory, published by Zondervan, 2009. Paperback).

Knowing absolutely nothing about Greg Koukl beforehand, I signed up for “Training Day” after reading the words:

“Greg Koukl will equip you to share your faith!”

Having struggled greatly with this over my years of being a follower of Jesus, I eagerly anticipated what I would learn. The intent to share my faith is passionately burning inside of me. I desperately long to tell others about our wonderful loving Father and how He mercifully forgives our sins through the payment His son made for us with His own life. The desire is there, but the fear of rejection and chastisement by the receiving party has often left me feeling crippled by defeat before I’ve even begun.

In the forward he wrote for Koukl’s book, Lee Strobel says, “We live in a day when militant atheism is on the march, Christianity is coming under attack, not just from best-selling books, skeptical college professors, and television documentaries, but increasingly from neighbors and co-workers.”

Strobel’s words are the very reason I was finding myself feeling inferior as I thought about evangelism. In my own right, I knew what I believed and why I believed it, and could easily articulate the central truth of Christianity, but the anxiety and fear that crippled me kept me in my own pit of trepidation.

But the words I heard Greg Koukl speak left me thinking about things from a different point of view and took away the pressure that was keeping me feeling trapped with no resolve. This is an article I wrote for Single Matter’s Magazine, to view the entire article, follow this link – Is It Possible To Evangelize Without Sharing The Gospel?

Resisting Temptation

If you’ve ever known anyone who has struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction you’ve probably heard something like “Hi, my name is ____ and I’ve been sober for ____ days.” When I counseled people with addiction, before I learned anything else about them I knew their addiction and how long they had been sober. This weekend I was taught a very harsh lesson and I learned just how important it is to remind yourself of how long you’ve had strength to resist the temptation of sin. 
This week was really tough for me. Emotionally, I hit a low I haven’t felt in a while. I could feel myself spiraling down and I could also feel Satan plotting with his minions ready to attack. I felt overwhelmed and after fighting temptation, I gave in to one of my sin struggles and turned to food for comfort. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit covered me, assured me I was not defeated and had the strength to push through. I pushed through only to be continually attacked with ferocious weapons that felt too hard to fight. With every dagger thrown at me I could feel myself becoming weaker. Satan’s attacks began to get a grip on me and it was as if every sin I’ve struggled to overcome was suddenly lurking over me and had me in a daze ready to give in. 
I’m ashamed to admit that although I didn’t actually participate in the act of sin I was thinking about, I gave power to temptation by letting the thoughts linger and take control of my mind. I began justifying it in my head and making excuses before anything even happened. 
Fortunately for me, the only direction you can head when you are down is up and something incredibly beautiful happened. Engulfed in lingering thoughts of temptation with Satan and his minions encircling me, I could literally feel Jesus covering me, taking all the daggers being thrown at me. As I pictured Jesus enduring the pain that was intended for me, the Holy Spirit began whispering “5 years Brandy, 5 years. You’ve fought this battle with strength and self control for 5 years, don’t throw that away, you can do this.” 
God completely broke me in that moment in the most beautiful way. He reminded me of the spiritual growth and transformation He has done in my life in the last few years, and specifically of the growth that happened while I was in Korea. He reminded of the big plans He has to use me in mighty ways and the strides we have made to get closer to that place. And most importantly He reminded me that I have self control! He reminded me of 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and self control.”
What ever sin you struggle with, alcohol, drugs, lust, anger, over eating, sex, legalism…ect, I want you to know that sin is not too big for you. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” He gets angry when we are distressed, he makes the earth shake and tremble, the heavens quake (2 Samuel 22:7-8) He doesn’t like to see us hurting and will continue to take our pain, and equip us with the strength to fight when we are weak. You can do this! Even if you have only been “sober” for 1 day, it is one day of victory and you should be proud of that! 

When Impatience Causes Impulsivity

It’s that time of year. The time of year when pumpkins get a make over with green paint, in an attempt to be transformed into a scary witch. The time of year when children rush door to door hoping to find their favorite candy bar and praying they don’t hit the house giving out dental floss and toothbrushes. The time of year when people spend countless hours running to different stores trying to pick out the perfect Halloween costume that will transform them from their every day selves into something that gives them a new found identity for just a few sacred hours.
I don’t usually get sucked up into the Halloween hoopla. I have the same tradition every year. A trip to the store to buy some candy corn that will satisfy my sugar craving. And a night spent indulging in my favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus, yelling “A muck, a muck, a muck” with Sarah Jessica Parker and daydreaming about the man that will one day be smiling at my cuteness as I serenade him with the words “I put a smell on you, and now your mine, mine, mine, all mine!” Don’t judge me 🙂 
Anyways, amidst all the Halloween craziness, I found it very ironic that the week people are running around searching for disguises, I stumbled across a passage in my quiet time speaking of that very thing. The passage I am referring to comes from 1 Samuel. After Saul’s disobedience to God, his unlawful sacrifice, and his attempt to end David’s life (even after he promised David he would stop coming after him), Saul cries out to God in distress but God does not answer him. 
The story of Saul’s life is a great example of the constant battle between gratifying our flesh or honoring the Lord. At the beginning of Chapter 28, Saul does the lawful thing by putting the mediums and the spirits out of the land. It’s one of the few times in Samuel we see Saul doing the right thing. His attempt to do the right thing, was however quickly overshadowed when his impatience led to him making several impulsive decisions. After Saul cries out to the Lord and does not get an answer, he does what many of us do. Grasp on to whatever we think will bring us the comfort we seek when the distressing unknown is lurking us in the face. So, Saul having just banned the mediums from the land, puts on a disguise. I don’t know about you but when I picture Saul frantically trying to find a solution to the Lords silence, I imagine him rushing to put on a disguise similar to the one Sheldon Cooper puts on as he tries to get past Amy Farrah Fowler after she asks him to meet her mom.
Sorry, I digress, if you don’t watch The Big Bang Theory, you should! So, all decked out in his disguise, knowing the medium won’t see him otherwise, Saul travels to get some answers. The medium knows she will get in trouble if she gets caught so she reminds the man in the disguise that her life is on the line for helping him. Saul, quickly and desperately assures her she will not be punished, even going as far as to swear by the Lord. Saul’s time with the medium ends with her calling on Samuel’s spirit to reveal that due to his disobedience to the Lord, Saul will soon die. 
In this example, the Lord had no intention of answering Saul’s cry to him. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many times the Lord has sat up on His heavenly throne patiently waiting to answer my cries to Him just to see if I would be obedient in waiting for his response. This passage made me think of one of my favorite go to verses when I’m struggling with patience. That verse is Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” This verse reminds me that in those moments when I am frantically trying to figure out which way to go, I need not be frantic but to turn my attention to the Lord and remind myself He is there. God promises to keep our minds in peace if we stay focused on him. I hope to encourage you not to run to the next best thing when God doesn’t give you an immediate answer, but to be faithful in your obedience to Him by showing Him you trust him.