Crossing the Finish Line In a Season of Ministry [Called series]

Finish LineIn a race, the finish line is clearly marked. How you end the race is clear: cross the finish line. Crossing the finish line in a season of ministry is less clear for it is a journey of faith.

Often our finish in a season of ministry will not seem victorious to others or maybe even to ourselves. In finishing a season of ministry, the thing that matters most is this: being in step with God. “What God originates, He orchestrates.”

God shapes a season of ministry to accomplish His purposes and plans. The end of that season will often appear or even feel far from a flourishing finish in the human sense. Seek  to have one focus: to keep your eyes on Jesus, follow His lead, and obey and please Him. Know that as you seek to do so, the Enemy will seek to  try make you feel as if you:

  • Failed
  • Stopped short
  • Floundered
  • Didn’t cut it

When these attacks come, take comfort in the promise of Isaiah 55:8-9:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (NLT)

As you finish, make the words of Paul your mark of vision in your heart and mind: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

For in each season of ministry, Father gives us a fight to fight, a race to finish, and a faith to keep.

It matters not whether others approve or understand why God’s moving you on. You live for an audience of One (Gal 1:10). No matter how short or how long the season of ministry you’re in is, may you fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.

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10 ways to Keep Going When You’re Taking Spiritual Ground [Called Series]

knight kneelingYou know you’re committed when you don’t turn back when the spiritual backlash comes with fiendish ferocity while you’re taking spiritual ground.

Some years ago, I was teaching at a Christian school. During one of the daily staff devotional times, I heard the Enemy menacingly say in my ear five times,

“I will silence you.”

What followed in the next year was the most ugly betrayal and fiercest personal and spiritual attack I have experienced in my Christian walk of 30+ years. Several times I was tempted to give in and be silent.

Being a part of taking spiritual ground is a sure way to experience fierce spiritual attack to the point that you will be tempted to be silent. A common way spiritual attack will come is through personal attacks from people who know and love us, often who are dear Christian brothers and sisters.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.

But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. – Psalm 55:12-14 (NIV)

As He was taking spiritual ground, Jesus experienced the fierce spiritual attack. Judas, one of His beloved disciples, who had co-labored by His side day in, day out for three years betrayed him (Luke 22:1-5, 47-53). People who He had taught, healed, and loved turned back and no longer followed Him (John 6:60-70).

So how do you continue on when you’re experiencing the inevitable spiritual attack that comes with taking spiritual ground?

  • Surround yourself with truth
  • Receive support from your foxhole friends
  • Battle with praise
  • Focus your gaze on what is unseen (2 Cor 4:16-18)
  • Pray Scripture
  • Let the Healer bandage your battle wounds
  • Fix your eyes on what God has called you to (Does Your Calling Consume You?)
  • Remember those who have battled before you (Heb 12:1-3)
  • Fight from victory not for victory – The Invisible War, Chip Ingram
  • Give grace when others don’t understand or minimize what you’re going through

Read More: Finishing (Adventures in Faith series)

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Do You Long to Experience More of Jesus? [Called Series]

abounding explorationMore of Jesus . . . we long to experience more of Him as we grow closer to Him. Jesus longs for you to experience more of Himself too.

Yet often when Jesus leads us into an experience of more of Himself we hold back.

If more of Jesus is truly what we are longing for it will involve the:

  • Stretching of our faith
  • Deepening of our prayer life
  • Strengthening of our willingness to obey His voice at a moment’s notice
  • Developing a daily practice of going to places and into situations that He is inviting us to join Him in

In our longing, Jesus’ offer to us is often that of Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Also see Colossians 2:1-3)

In answer to our longing, Jesus invitation to our hearts is often that of Isaiah 50:4-5 (ESV)

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 

The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.

And yet in both Jesus’ offer and invitation to our longing, sadly we do turn backward and go no further.

In my work as a prophetic intercessor, partnering and interacting with ministry leaders, I have the privilege of interacting with many mature believers who have long ago committed their lives to serving and following Jesus wholeheartedly and unwaveringly.

Again and again through conversation, I have heard their heart cry of longing to experience Jesus in a deeper way.

In talking with one of my mentors and friends, a pastor of 30+ years, he described this tug-of-war of the heart as:

All I know Angela is that if you’re crazy, then I must be just as crazy as you. We all long for more of God and biblical Christianity, and then when Father reveals Himself and speaks, we question and doubt.

It is in our questions and doubts that we have the opportunity to go forward in faith or backward into our comfort zone.

Jesus always has and always will challenged His dearly Beloved children’s comfort zones.

What comfort zone is Jesus confronting in your life?

What comfortable beliefs is Jesus challenging in your heart?

Like the father of the son with a demonic spirit, do you need to cry:

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Is Jesus reassuring your heart as He did with Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue whose daughter was dying:

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus longs for you to experience more of Himself and His hand is reaching out for you to take hold and join Him in an adventure that will transform your heart and life to the point that you will never be the same.

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When Father Waits

waitingWe often talk about how we’re waiting on God, but how often do you think about God waiting for you?

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. – Isaiah 30:18 (ESV)

As a prophetic intercessor, I have many opportunities to witness firsthand Father waiting for His children to:

  • Receive His healing in their lives
  • Be freed from the spiritual oppression that has a stranglehold on their life
  • Accept His plan, obey His leading and follow His calling upon their life
  • Walk in the newness of life as they walk away from patterns of dysfunction, death, and decay in how they once lived (Romans 6:16-18)

 Is God waiting for you?

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Does Your Calling Compel You to Live with Urgency? [Called Series]

sunset of decisionAt the end of the day, what are you living for? What compels you? What drives you?

Does your calling compel you to live with urgency?

I lived the first 32 years of my life with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression. In 2007, Father miraculously set me free from this oppression.

I am compelled to live every day with an urgency to be a part of Father’s work of bringing freedom to His dearly Beloved sons and daughters who also live with a high degree of spiritual oppression.

I grew up in Asia where my parents were missionaries until I was eight years old. Upon our return to the United States I thought my experiences of recurring nightmares of being strangled by a demonic presence, uncontrollable shaking, and hearing driven voices telling me to do things were just part of the spiritual attack that comes along with being a follower of Christ. When these attacks would occur, I would rebuke the Enemy “in the name of Jesus” and eventually the attacks would subside.

In 2003, I started going through a series of 3 four-hour prayer sessions with the Omaha Vineyard intercessory prayer team. As they prayed over me, it became evident that I was dealing with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression that stemmed from the time my family spent in Asia.

I struggled with why God had allowed me to live with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression for 32 years. In the process of Father freeing me from this spiritual oppression, He showed me how many of His dearly Beloved sons and daughters live with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression. Specifically, how many pastors and ministry leaders are silently struggling with a great deal of spiritual oppression that is often masked as:

  • heavy depression
  • weighty and unexplainable emotional struggle
  • repetitive and persisting spiritual attacks
  • unexplainable delays in personal and spiritual progress

Are you a pastor or ministry leader who is dealing with the above?

Prayerfully consider if spiritual oppression is a hidden reason behind these things (Mark 4:22). Consider a 40 Day Prayer Focus.

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When the Opposition Is Stacked Against You

on the ground of conflictOpposition is:

  • emotionally wearing
  • disheartening
  • strength taking
  • courage attacking
  • progress slowing

Jesus knew our lives would be filled with both opposition and trouble and He told us “take heart” in the midst of it.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NIV)

When the opposition is stacked against you how should you respond?

According to how Father leads you . . .

  • To go through as He told the Israelites to go through the Red Sea
  • To turn around and go in the other direction
  • To wait for another time to continue on in this way
  • To stop, be done, and move on

How will you know?

. . . by listening to His voice. (Isaiah 48:17, Isaiah 30:21)

Knowing all the while that no opposition is greater than His mighty outstretched hand. Any opposition allowed into your life is allowed through His nail pierced hand.

So as you stand in the midst of the opposition that is stacked against you, take heart.

Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;

say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.

The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. – Isaiah 35:3-7

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Moms, Do You Struggle with Self-Hatred?

freedomI will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. — Psalm 31:7-8

I have a dear friend who is a mother of four and a sister in the Lord who has struggled fiercely with self-hatred for most of her life. About seven years ago, I encouraged her to believe this promise over her life and that God could and would bring her to a spacious place even in this.

Over the past seven years she’s done the hard work of persevering through the rigorous healing process that is needed when we’re dealing with such deep-rooted emotional scars in our lives.

Often my friend wondered if the battle was worth it, if she would ever see any real lasting change. Recently she emailed me the below story of her journey, her battle, and her victory. She ended by saying,

I am most excited that I no longer beat myself up and tear myself down.  I love the freedom of no more defeating self talk.

Do you believe God can set you free from your self-hatred?

Above All Else, Guard Your Heart
by Jill Reding

She grew up during a civil war. This civil war was in her mind. There was sweat, tears and rage. For years depression and anxiety followed every battle. Worry and fret filled her chaotic mind. She was emotionally neglected and played the role of caretaker to wounded hearts close to her. Her wounds were ignored. However, she was not always ok with this. She learned to manipulate, appear helpless or rage with anger in order to demand attention. But guilt would overtake her, guilt and shame would cover her, and so the attention from others fell short as she picked herself up, stuffed her needs and became the caretaker again. The role of the helper, or the good one, made everyone else happy. That was good on the outside. On the inside she was bleeding and hated herself.

As the girl grew up in this civil war era, she learned two different languages, or perhaps two different mind sets. One was called Grace and Love, the other beat up and self-defeat. Grace and Love sounded like this… I am a new creation in Christ. The old has gone the new has come. God loves me just the way I am. I am content and fulfilled in Christ. He lives and breathes in me. He’s in control and in charge of my life and my circumstances. I love to serve and help others just like Jesus served and helped others. I am content to be who God created me to be. I belong to Him. He cares about my every need, so I can rest in His plan for my life. He’s got my back. It’s ok to make mistakes. He is all I need. He is enough. Nothing I DO can change God’s Grace and Love in my life.This vulnerable girl learned about rules and outward expectations from God believing adults in her life. She believed that these rules must be obeyed otherwise she would not be completely accepted by God and others. She carried around a ruler to measure herself, and since she always fell short, she would beat herself up. Therefore, the language in her mind called beat up and self-defeat sounded like this…

You’re not good enough… you can’t do it… you are ugly…you are fat…it’s all your fault…you should have known better…see, they better than you…you did this to yourself … no one really cares about you…if only they knew what you think…you better keep trying and trying…you’re still not good enough.

This girl often wondered why she seemed different, what was wrong with her. Others saw a normal girl, pleasant, fun-loving, beautiful and well put together. They would come to her for help. She loved encouraging and praying for others. But she rarely had contentment deep within. How could she speak godly truth to someone else, but not accept it for herself? No wonder she felt crazy.

God says, through Paul, she can learn to be content. Consider trials a joy. She failed again and again to measure up. Depression hurt those closest to her. Her neediness was more than loved ones could bear. When she hurt or annoyed others, she hated herself even more. When she hated herself, she would eat, or people-please, or exercise, or rage, or isolate. The treadmill of trying so hard was exhausting and she would turn her back from her feelings, and from a Grace and Love mind-set.

The girl heard a story that opened her eyes to her own conflicted heart. It was about a daughter who was hit by a car and the mother ran after the car in a rage of anger and guilt before rescuing the daughter. The daughter needed comfort and love from her mother. The daughter did not need to be beat up or measured up to see if she was worthy of comfort. The girl realized she was like the mother, she too had turned her back and she needed to rescue the little girl inside of her. She needed to rescue her own heart from being beat up and wounded.

It was time to put to an end the war. Would she choose Grace and Love or beat up and self-defeat? Would she listen to God’s truths or would she continue to believe the enemy’s lies? Once she faced her old wounds she was free to see truth in a way she never had before. It was not easy revisiting battle scars again. But she nurtured herself. She rescued her defeated heart. And she did not have to do it alone because she recognized she was worthy of God’s grace and love over her. She claimed the truth that was already in her, Christ her Redeemer.

The Bible is full of wonderful verses that reveal God’s promises. One particular verse whispered to her heart words of truth. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

What does a guard do?

A guard protects the enemy from entering the castle. It protects! It fights. It rescues. The girl is guarding her heart from a beat up and self-defeating mind-set. She will not accept that language anymore. She learned its ok for a broken girl to truly embrace Grace and Love.

The war has greatly settled down in her mind. When stressors tempt her to beat herself up and use the measuring stick of perfection, she remembers Christ in her is enough. Christ in her enables Grace and Love. Together, this girl, with the help from her Loving Father, chose to guard her heart from the lies that once consumed her being.

She speaks like this once again…

… I am a new creation in Christ. The old has gone the new has come. God loves me just the way I am. I am content and fulfilled in Christ. He lives and breathes in me. He’s in control and in charge of my life and my circumstances. I love to serve and help others just like Jesus served and helped others. I am content to be who God created me to be. I belong to Him. He cares about my every need, so I can rest in His plan for my life. He’s got my back. It’s ok to make mistakes. He is all I need. He is enough. Nothing I DO can change God’s Grace and Love in my life.

Do you believe God can set you free from your self-hatred?

For More:

Princess of the Most High King

The Ultimate Journey


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