monochrome sun

A Blog for My Bits.

Category: Uncategorized

Sober-minded.

nathan-mcbride-231171-unsplash.jpg12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

Since moving to Denver I have encountered a sensitivity to the spiritual realm that I have not experienced since I was a child, living in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In particular, since June or July of 2017 until now, my spirit has sensed what I can only describe as territories of the demonic in different areas of the city. That’s really, really difficult to explain, and even more difficult to articulate what the “feeling” is. Here’s the thing – I don’t know why this is happening. For a while I didn’t examine the reality of this, but now I am beginning to. I don’t expect to understand the full reason for my renewed sensitivity to the spiritual realm, but no matter what I am reminded to become more prayerful. Everywhere. Always.

Between June 2017 – April 2018 Satan had a field day with the way I was living my life. I was broken-hearted, newly married, believing lies that I was alone and my husband didn’t want to be around me, grieving friends and family, feeling inadequate with my “lack of accomplishments,” and much more. My pride was being challenged daily. Even after starting a job that I loved I was depressed and exhausted from over-committing to church service or pouring into others when I was bleeding my spirit dry. I had no prayer life, nor an understanding that I wasn’t pursuing God, I was first pursuing community. I tried and I tried and I tried, until one day I broke.

The middle part of this story, from my breaking point into darkness, to my breaking point back into light, is not something I can write about yet. I want to and I believe I will in the future, but right now I can’t. I can say that between June 2017 – April 2018 Satan had a field day with the way I was living my life.

One thing I will share is that I unknowingly (at first) began playing around with tools the enemy uses to devour non-Christians. Now, he could not devour me entirely, because I am claimed by the blood of Jesus, however, he was given enough access to me to cause confusion and a spirit of heaviness. It was madness.

There is no way to simplify my way back to repentance. It was a long and very painful journey, complete with rejection, marital counseling, a consistent searing of my flesh, a few moments of falling back into the darkness, and a lot of prayer and reading the Bible.

  • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” 1 Pet. 5:8-9
  • “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph. 6:11-17
  • “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:3-5
  • “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
  • “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

God is so good, so faithful. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, my counselor, who has brought me back to specific memories from my “moments in the dark” to teach me what I was doing, and what was happening around me in the spiritual realm. I am now eager to be sober-minded, which not only includes alcohol, et al., but also the food I consume. For me, sober-mindedness is not completely possible when my brain is fogged from sugar or flowing along with the American diet. I have a renewed responsibility to be alert and attentive to the work of the Holy Spirit around me. One of my non-Christian co-workers is being plagued by a spirit of fear, and the Holy Spirit brought this to my attention over coffee this week, and then proceeded to provide me with the words to take the conversation deeper. She came to church with me today, and wants to come again. Another non-Christian friend picked up tarot cards on her recent vacation. I have been praying for her, that if/as she begins to encounter the demonic she would have an immediate and palpable sensing of Jesus when she is around me. I want her to become curious and incredibly attracted to Him.

God is at work.

Cities are places with high-densities of broken and abused people, who are made in the image of God. Evil is present in corners and crevices, and evil is blatantly paraded on the streets. There are times the air is thick with heaviness and I become quite aware of my small size and seemingly small affect on this place. But — greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. I will put on the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. I will thank the Lord for what He has done and who He is. He has ALREADY conquered sin and death. While I am confused by what I see around me, I rest in Him.

And they have conquered him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:11

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What to Pursue.

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I sin a lot every day.  I curse more than I ever imagined, I lose my temper and am mean to my husband, I choose make-up tutorials on YouTube over worshipping the Lord (again and again and again).  Sometimes I enter seasons of perpetual sin that wreak havoc on my spirit and, now, our marriage.  Often I offend and bulldoze people.  It’s a lot. [pause]  But–Always.  Always I am course-corrected, guided with a faithful hand and firmly re-planted in truth by an ever present lover.  Most of this correction, and subsequent choosing to follow the Lord, seems to have little to do with me.  It’s often as if He “just does it.”

I’ve thought a lot about my relationship with the Lord, particularly why I feel His hand moving me, regardless of how awful I am, and how this is not the described experience of many Christian friends I know.  It doesn’t make sense to say “I’m chosen” to have the Lord do more work for me than He does, or would do, for others, and, if I am not chosen, then what is different about my walk with the Lord?

In general, I don’t pretend to know why my relationship with the Lord is the way it is.  I am thankful that things are the way they are, I do question why others don’t experience what I do, but I also try to not believe I have the answer to the difference.  What’s my point?  My point is, if what I am about to say encourages any of my brothers/sisters in Christ, then it’s worth sharing.

On Monday night, driving home from a Discipleship Class Joe and I are taking, I had a realization.  If ever I question “am I truly a Christian?” I remind myself that, regardless of my role in the equation of my life, the bottom line is that I desire to know the heart of God more and more.  I love God.  I love Him so deeply and want Him so badly there have been times I’ve thought “even if I can never know for sure that I’m saved I don’t care – I simply need to worship Him because my love is so great that I must cry out.”  And this is the point here, I think.  My life matters, my actions matter, but in order to truly align them to the will of God I must pursue His heart above all.  He knows I will fail at loving Him with Agape love, but He also knows that I want to love Him beyond anything I have or will ever want on this earth.  And so He brings me back.  This is the work of grace, and of a lover so faithful that He takes my imperfect loving ability and re-directs it back towards Him whenever I am lost.  This is the difference between me solely working out my faith and God doing the correction work for me.  Pursue His heart and He will give you the desires of your heart (your desires = His heart).  Pursue His heart and He will give you an all-consuming desire for His heart.  It is definitely our choice to pursue Him, but He knows if you will choose Him and He will help you do that.

Bottom line – if you’re considering a direction in which to trek – pursue the heart of God.  The Holy Spirit will teach, prompt, etc., etc., but it is God who will bring you back to the heart of God once you begin pursuing Him.

Hebrews 12:1-2

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hope.

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“Radical evil, radical brokenness… you have to have hope to rejoice in, in order to really be in the suffering.  Otherwise, you have to get away from it.  You have to wrap your heart around with little luxuries.” – Tim Keller

God has been prompting me to persevere in suffering, deep suffering, by rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God.  The deeper the suffering, the greater the realization of Him as my hope.  Oh, that I might feel a more profound joy than before.

Romans 5:1-5 …5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Further Up & Further In.

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In November we will be moving to LoHi (Lower Highlands, right next to the city).  I could not be more excited for our new apartment, and our new journey further up and further into this city for which we have been called.  It amazes me that my heart is choosing to engage in this city that I hated being part of for so long.  God works – and He moves mountains.  Part of me is afraid of the pain of further engagement… but the freedom God has brought into our lives and hearts, and the continuous teaching of the Holy Spirit, makes risking the pain far worth it.

Thank you, God.  Take us deeper.

Further up and further in…

27.

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  1. Marriage.  The Gottman Method (counseling) has helped us a lot, especially the idea of “managing” conflict rather than “resolving” it;  I find this approach MUCH more realistic and practical, plus it allows God to do the work of true resolve.
  2. Family.  Need to check with Joe, but I think our kids should call my parents Peemie & Pop.
  3. Work.  I have an affection for the word “work” itself.  The challenges, the brokenness, the vision, the people, the aggravation, the fun, the preparation, the learning, the teaching, the leading… I have learned remarkably much about God through my work and processing my work.
  4. Management.  Relationship power wins over role power the majority of the time.
  5. Friendship.  Hits me equally in expected and unexpected places.
  6. Denver.  Hasn’t changed, I’ve changed.
  7. Domestic Life.  I seem to do all dusting, maintaining furniture, decorating, fixing small things, disinfecting, cleaning kitchen & bath, watering plants, making the bed, doing laundry and folding clothes.  Joe seems to do all cooking, taking out trash, re-filling cat food dispenser, changing litter, vacuuming, and regularly making french press coffee.  We both do dishes.  This seems to work, although he gets annoyed that I never cook and I get annoyed that I mostly fold clothes.
  8. Medication.  I have a (mostly) haphazard relationship with taking medication.  I’ll just pop a pill and call it a day.  This is unhealthy.
  9. Personality.  I am an 8 on the Enneagram.
  10. Sentimentality.  I lost one of the diamonds in my engagement ring in New York City.  I am okay never seeing that particular original stone again, and while I love the ring, I am not bent out of shape about this whole ordeal.  In a broader stroke, I think I am losing any sentimentality I once had.
  11. Correspondence.  Writing a card or letter the minute the idea pops into your head to do so can make your day.  And the receiver’s.
  12. Cats.  …can develop chin acne.
  13. Church.  Is tough, even when you adore your church.  Being away from it for a long time has given me more realistic expectations and in many ways more love, more patience.
  14. Cleaning.  Vodka, lemon essential oil & distilled water goes a long way.
  15. Success.  “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.” – Jim Collins.
  16. Journaling.  I now get the art of journaling.  In the sense that it’s not an art, you’re mostly embarrassed by what you write, but it helps exercise your writing muscles for when you want to write something well.
  17. Neighbors.  I am not good at “neighboring,” except when it comes to domestic disputes outside our apartment at 12AM when I decide to get involved and talk it out with the couple, by loudly mediating from our balcony.
  18. Initiating.  I feel the need to be the initiator, even when that means initiating silence to force others to initiate.
  19. Contending.  I feel excitedly closer to someone if they contend with me.
  20. Body Image.  I now have a tummy, noticeable child-bearing hips, un-toned arms and a daily complex.
  21. Leading.  Being a great leader often means being the least anxious person in the room.
  22. Grooming.  Sulfates dry, dull and damage my hair faster than hot tools.
  23. Reading.  I still prefer non-fiction, and have been on a philosophical kick all year.
  24. Clothing.  Less is best, and now I dry clean and get pieces tailored regularly.
  25. College.  I do not regret not finishing college at all.  It has forced me to work harder and not operate with the entitlement/resentment that I see fester in some my age.  I have learned the beauty of being an avid learner, a knowledge addict, teaching myself applicable information and making the “college” factor irrelevant.
  26. Health.  I have now experienced vertigo, late-20’s hangovers (i.e. death) and tension headaches.
  27. God.  Here I have almost nothing to say, because anything I write will be pitiful.  But, I want to say something.  So.  I have learned more of God as my pursuer; and in so learning I have begun to fear Him anew.  I learned that He is not afraid to enter my darkness.  I think “afraid” is actually the wrong word.  He is willing to go into my whorishness and ugliness to gather me and bring me back to Him.  I never knew Him quite in this way, or to these depths.  I have also learned more of Him as the bondage breaker and the relentless lover.  He really cannot be messed with.  That, and He is patient.  He is good.  And He is curiously kind.  And uncommonly understanding.  And never shocked.

…yeah.  Twenty-seven things learned in my twenty-seventh year.