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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Just home from another wonderful Encounter Weekend with a bunch of wonderful women.  God worked in mighty ways!  Made new friends and shared with old ones, too.

I wanted to post the testimony I gave on Friday night at Encounter.  Someone asked for part of it, but I think God wants me to share the whole thing.  I am an overcomer, and God's Word says that I overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony.  Rev. 12:11

April 14, 2015

Psa. 80:7 Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

About four years ago I was burned out, worn out, weary, depressed, depleted and struggling in so many ways. I cried out to God. We were in a new church fellowship and every Sunday they had prayer time during the service where you could pray aloud (or silently) while the Praise Team sang a song; and every Sunday I cried out to God with tears. God and I communing, often without words.

I started a Bible study on my own with Beth Moore's book on the Psalms of Ascents and poured out my pain and emptiness to God and the healing began. I was scared to get my hopes up, scared of failing God—again. After all, I'd been a Christian almost all my life, a church leader—wasn't I the one who was supposed to have all the answers? But I came to God knowing that there was no other place to go. There had to be more answers than the ones I already knew. So I came expecting God to meet me somehow, to show me what was wrong. The more I kept meeting with God, the hungrier I got for His Word. I also began meeting regularly with a couple of friends who loved the Lord.

And then God gave me this dream of a couple of old hags refusing to get out of a room that I am renting. So I negotiate a price with them that they will pay me to stay there. But I don't really want them to stay so I find the landlady. She has some financial records of rent I have paid but there are missing entries and she doesn't have any answers for me. I tell her there must be more records and she points to a pile of papers. When I look through the papers, I find that these are a lot of family mementos and pictures. Then I look up and the landlady is coming down the hallway holding her arm in great pain, a look of grief on her face. And I am surprised that the landlady is actually one of my friends that I have been meeting with.

God showed me that those two hags were fear and pride. Two sins in my life that were grieving the Holy Spirit. I had been working on fear—memorizing verses and renewing my mind with God's truth about His perfect love casting out fear. But pride? I would have to work on that one. I was raised to be proud, I had things to be proud of. But I wasn't too proud, or was I?

At the same time I began seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had been raised to believe that the charismatic gifts of the Spirit were not for today, especially speaking in tongues. It never made much sense to me, but when everyone you look up to, every pastor you've known tells you it is wrong, you accept it as wrong. I didn't necessarily think it was wrong for everybody, but it couldn't be something God had for me or He would have given it to me, right? I had good friends who spoke in tongues but no one in my family every had. Yet I wanted more of God. I was empty. I wanted power to actually live the Christian life. So I kept seeking, searching scripture and reading books on the Holy Spirit. And God was opening my eyes to the pride in my life.

I began memorizing verses on pride, like Prov. 11:2,  "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom."  Or Ps. 10:4,  "In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God."  Or Prov. 8:13,   "To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."  I began to see how God views pride: He hates it, it is evil and disgraceful. Then one day I read this poem by Beth Moore on pride:

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.

That was me. God was breaking down my walls, my strongholds, my prejudices. Finally the day came when I decided I was ready. I had grieved over the sin in my life and repented as best I knew how. I had forgiven people. I had no idea what God was going to do, but I was ready to ask for His Holy Spirit to fill me. So I prayed with my friends and they prayed over me and I asked God to come and fill me and He did! I had such a sensation of joy in my heart! I humbled myself to speak out loud the “silly” word that came into my head and received the gift of tongues.

And that was just the beginning. There is so much I could tell you of my journey. God has broken me over and over again at the sin in my life, but each time He has brought healing to my soul. He healed me of a deep, hidden grief over the death of our stillborn baby, Zebulun. He healed me of a spirit of rejection, of being fearful, of pride, of idolatry, and more. He is still healing me!

I wrote this in my journal on Jan. 28, 2013....

Lord Jesus, I kneel at your feel.  I humble myself before you, head bowed, not daring to lift my face.  I am no longer prideful, but pride threatens to try to worm its way back into my life.  I am no longer fearful, but yet not as bold as I should be.  
Before you filled me with your Holy Spirit, I thought the core of my life was to be righteous, yet I was still serving myself, opposed to You in my prideful way.
I was fearful of the rejection and wounds of man and built up walls of silence around myself.  I knew only a little of your grace and mercy and forgiveness.  I worked and worked to please You and everyone around me, but I was really working to please myself.  I never showed my true heart to anyone.  I couldn't look upon my own heart, afraid to see that I was unclean, scarred by the leprosy of my fear and pride.
Slowly, gently, lovingly, as I sought Your face and the light of Your glory, You revealed Yourself to me.  And as I saw You in your mercy and love, You began revealing my heart to me.  I came to that moment--actually several moments--when I confessed and repented of my pride.  Then you delivered me from all my fears.  Oh that glorious vision of removing Zebulun from his "grave-box" at your prompting and holding him and feeling the warmth of his little body.
But again, Lord, I am prompted by your Holy Spirit as I read the encounter of Simon the leper in the novel, "Second Touch" by Bodie Thoene.  I weep as I echo his words as he comes to Jesus.

     "This is my true heart: I am a leper!  Inside and out, I am unclean.
      There is nowhere else for me to go,"  Simon concluded simply.  "I..
       I need to be forgive.  Oh, Lord!  Clean the inside of the cup as well
       as the outside!  You can heal me if you want to!" 

 And then the Yeshua's words:  "I want to."  As I study your Word about healing and as I ask for healing for my arm, my headaches, my gut, I realize that what I really want is for your Word to heal my insides.  Take the leprosy out of my heart--all of it.  Continue to reveal my heart to me that I might purify myself.  Show me how to change the thoughts and intents of my heart.  Renew a right spirit within me.
I could never than you enough for the punishment you suffered for me.  I will never fully know the depths of your love for me to take my sin upon yourself, to carve my name on your palm.  I accept your righteousness, your forgiveness, your love and mercy and grace.  I welcome your Holy Spirit in my life.  May He dwell in me richly and bring the very fullness of your life into mine, until I  am fully hid in Christ.

God heals. He restores. He longs to show you who you really are in Him. He longs for you. You are the pearl of great price that He was willing to give all that He had to buy you back—to buy me back.