Secure with and without.

“Even in my vulnerability, I’m secure because I’m held within the arms of Perfect Love.”

This post is literally what The Lord has me walking through, and I still don’t know how to unpack it except that I’ll try.

In my experience, our walk with The Lord will have us go through phases of vulnerability that when stewarded well under The Sovereign Care of God, will prove to be invaluable in transforming us from strength to strength and glory to glory. I have come to understand that our journey has more to do with the strength of our relationship with God than the fickleness of our circumstances. The circumstances that we see manifest and change literally on a daily basis are only tools in the hands of God to draw us closer to Him in order that we may seek His Heart in the situation, thereby aligning ours with His, and manifesting a piece of The Kingdom wherever necessary. This spiritual heart posture requires vulnerability because it really humbles us to know that we don’t really know, and because we don’t really know, we are compelled to seek The One who we know does know. Quite a tongue twister, aye?!

Seeking the will of God and what it is that He is trying to teach us through circumstances that are clearly beyond us, but not beyond Him is powerfully liberating. It liberates us from the narrow confines of our thinking and draws us into the majesty of His Kingdom. We begin to humble ourselves under His Mighty Hand, acknowledge our need for Him and allow Him to guide us, counsel us and instruct us in the way we must go.

I personally had an experience of late where I saw circumstances shift dynamically in a way that was beyond my comprehension. I knew I had to put everything aside and simply let Jesus in. Friends, that is the best decision we can ever make in circumstances that seem out of alignment, but present themselves only to push us closer to His Bosom, because when He speaks, everything changes. Maybe not on the outside, but certainly on the inside of us.

I spent my day with The Lord, and as it wound to a close, I heard The Holy Spirit whisper,

“If circumstances are fickle, then what is not?”

I’m guessing you know the answer as well as I do. “The Infallible Word of God,” is what I found myself saying. You can well imagine the “selah” moment I had thereafter.

However, this wasn’t only a “selah” moment but a lesson for life. When circumstances come to contest The Word of God spoken over us, we can rest in what has been decreed as opposed to what is seen. What is seen will eventually align with what is spoken, which is what makes us vulnerable in the middle of the mystery. However, it is a vulnerability that Our Father honors and covers as He holds us close and promises to never let go. It is a vulnerability that makes us realize that without Him, we are not enough to win this battle. It is a vulnerability that finds us like little children again, eager to know more and willing to learn. It is a vulnerability that God uses to build our trust in Him, as the alpha and omega, the author and the finisher of our faith. And I also believe that it is a vulnerability that reintroduces us to the strength of His Perfect Love.

Standing in the midst of circumstances that seem daunting, I am held within His Perfect Love. Caught contesting for the seemingly impossible, I am held within His Perfect Love. Letting my light shine, one speck at a time, I am held within His Perfect Love. Sometimes fearful, sometimes faith filled, I am held within His Perfect Love. Seeking resolution and being lovingly restored to a place of contentment deep within, I am held within His Perfect Love.

All this to say that Perfect Love casts out all fear. We are defined by neither failures nor successes. We are defined by neither trials nor triumphs. We are defined by neither the perceptions of others nor their opinions. We are defined by nothing of this world, but everything of another – the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

And that Blood has set me free. It has given me an Identity that nothing can add to nor take away from. It has given me a Purpose that finds direction in His leading every single day. It has given me a Destiny so profound that it blows all my paradigms of how great Our God really is.

My experience has taught me that in our most vulnerable moments, it is the strength of His Love that keeps us, shapes us and molds us. It is His Love that comes to reassure us and settles as a deep peace within our souls. It is His Love that takes our weakness and transforms it into strength. It is His Love which looks at us with compassion and starts to make ways in the unseen, when we have realized that if all we have is Him, we have more than enough.

It is my hope and prayer, friends that this truth will shift our perspective on how we view ourselves in our vulnerability, and that we would be able to see ourselves the way God sees us, as much loved children who cannot fail, because we know the end from the beginning, and are determined to find the joy and delight in partnering with Our King in the process, a joy that will sustain us through the valleys and mountains alike, because it is a joy that comes from knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that irrespective of what is going on, we are held within the arms of Perfect Love.

Amen.

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Salt and Light.

“I am Your Child before I am Your Church.”

The more I walk with The Lord, the more I realize how much He values relationship. He will allow situations and circumstances to manifest, and then invite us to listen to His Voice in order that we may discern what it is that His Spirit is doing in and through the manifested circumstances. I am slowly coming to a point where I recognize that the stronger my relationship with Him, the more I am in sync with Him which allows me to see, think and act the way He does in order to see His will manifest in through whatever it is that I may be experiencing. Perhaps, this is the reason we call our lives as believers a grand adventure with The Lord.

The way we were drawn into a relationship with Jesus is the way it is sustained. His Love is what won our hearts over, and it still is His Love which continues to. In a world rife with chaos and turmoil, we are often spurred to be the salt and light. After all, that is what Jesus has called us to be, and my journey reveals to me that the extent to which we allow ourselves to bask in His Light is the extent to which we can authentically be the light in our tiny part of the world. So, before I “do” anything, I am slowly learning the vital importance of “being” in His Presence. I love how The Bible makes this clear,

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, King James Bible)

This leads me to believe that God is more interested in our “being,” than our “doing,” for He understands that from the overflow of our fellowship will inevitably flow the desire, the resolve and the power to be the salt and light. This is where our striving ends, and our surrender to Him puts us in a place of being able to receive like a child, and as a child. This where we learn to receive His perfect love, unconditional acceptance and matchless grace. This is where we encounter Presence and allow it to transform us into a Child that knows how to host it. This is where our weakness meets His Strength. This is where our wounds begin to heal and our souls finds revival. This is where our hearts start to melt as His Love begins to well up from deep within. This is where authentic transformation in Christ begins.

My experience tells me that our journey is purely relational and transformational, the fruit of which is for the world to savor. We can give only to the extent we receive. It is therefore, important to realize that the foremost thing is to receive the love, the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness, the kindness and the goodness of God in fullness and abundance every single day of our lives. This not only keeps us tethered to His Presence, but takes us deeper and deeper into a relational walk with Him; from the abundance of which can freely flow the goodness that our world needs to see and receive.

As His Child, I first want to receive His Love first thing in the morning. I want to allow His Love to heal me, strengthen me, lead me, guide me and then, compel me. I want to let my “being” with Him define my “doing.” I want to yield more and more to the leading of His Spirit as opposed to what I may have thought is the best way to lead my day. I want Him to take centerstage in my life so that every move and every decision is assured of a favorable outcome. I want to first feel His Heart towards me, and then let that heart reach those that are near to me.

So, I told Him last night that I was first His Child, and then His Church. I want to be the lamp that He can put on a lampstand, but first I want to taste of His Love and Light that can be found only when hidden within His splendor shadow. I want to be the salt and light, but first I want to be salted and lit up from within. I want to be a world changer, but first I need my inside world changed. I want to be sheep among the wolves, but first I want to know what it is to be shepherded well. I want to be who He has called me to be, but first I want to encounter The One who has called me in the first place.

I guess what I’m trying to say is quite simple. In our walk with Christ, our foremost responsibility is to value our relationship over anything else. It is in the relationship that we forge that we get to know Him, and the more we know Him, the more we know ourselves and what it is that we are called to. As I write, the words of Jesus, after His Resurrection as He promised The Holy Spirit to His disciples, come to mind;

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, NIV)

It is abundantly clear that the more we receive “power from on high,” the more we are empowered to be who He calls us to be: the salt and light of the world, His Children and then, His Church.

So be it.

Amen.

Vulnerability.

“You’ve seen me through it all, now You can have it all.”

I have been listening to Kim Walker Smith’s track, “Insatiable” lately. Needless to say, the lyrics are exquisite and eloquently capture the heartbeat of a believer’s journey. She speaks of how Jesus won’t stop till He has it all. She responds by declaring that He can have it all: heart and soul. Beautiful, right?

So what is it that inspires such bold confidence in being willing to be ever so vulnerable to God that we find ourselves wanting to give it all to Him, our hearts, minds and souls?

Clearly, it is an undeniable revelation of the unfathomable Love of our God who perseveres with us through our rebellion, gently breathes down our walls or simply chooses to break in with a radical encounter. Either way, He is too good to leave us the way we are, and hastens to redeem us. Every such experience only serves to take us deeper into the Love of God which is the number one thing that gives us the courage to be ourselves. One of my favorite Bible verses is as follows,

“Perfect Love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18, ESV)

I love to remind myself that Jesus is a gentleman. He will never force His way in, but patiently waits for us to invite Him in. His sole intention is to heal us, restore us, affirm us and assure us that there is nothing that we have done or can do which will diminish His Love towards us, simply because Love is who He is. My own experience testifies that I need His healing, redemptive touch every single day; and the more I walk with Him, the more joy and confidence I find in learning to depend on Him for everything. Finding Him in every situation and asking Him to reveal His Heart in and through it is perhaps what fuels my relational journey with The Lord.

It wasn’t always like that, but through the passage of time, I have grown by His Grace. When I first started seeking Him, I needed a lot of things, in the natural. But what truly won my heart over was when I began encountering Him as Someone who wants to meet my deepest needs, who longs to bring healing to my bones and pour strength into my soul, who wants to not just do life with me here, but life everlasting on the other side. Eternity beats in the heart of man, and Jesus met me there. Suffice to say, it changed everything.

It began to sink in. He who has promised me Eternal Life will certainly be true in all His intentions towards me. Increasing encounters with Him where He would soothe my restless soul with words of loving kindness began to forge a Love relationship with The Living God where I began to trust that “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3, NIV)

Therefore, in our relationship with Jesus, we can be vulnerable with our brokenness simply because God is faithful to honor our trust in Him. We can invite Him into even those areas of our life that in the natural, seem to have no hope. But as believers, we understand that Christ in us is the hope of glory. He is our confident expectation of seeing something favorable manifest even in the most difficult situations, not because of anything we have done, but simply because our placement in Christ guarantees that our starting point is victory. We can tap into this consciousness intentionally on a daily basis till it becomes our first and most natural response, a response that eventually paves the way to a favorable result.

Each time doubt or unbelief threatens to sabotage our faith, we can simply look back at the faithfulness of God in our lives who in His unfailing love, comes through every single time. Whether it is brokenness in our souls, in our families, in our communities; He is able to mend it all into wholeness in a way that points to His Highest Name. I believe that Jesus didn’t just start coming through for me when I met Him, He came through for me at The Cross of Calvary, a death sentence that mandated vulnerability to the utmost extreme. Yet for the joy set before Him, He took The Cross for my freedom, releasing me to walk in the fullness thereof as I navigate my journey with Him here on Earth, learning to shed the old in order to adorn the new and keep looking forward to see what else He might do.

So friends, let us remember Him this day today in a manner that revives our faith in who He is, which will give us the courage to come to Him just as we are in order that He may begin the glorious work of making us the way He is.

Selah.

Conversations with Christ.

“The strength of my journey is in how You talk me through it, and not just walk me through it.”

When God gives us a promise, more often than not, it embarks us upon a process and a walk with The Lord that when yielded to with a brave and trusting heart, possesses the potential to change us for the better, forevermore. In my experience thus far, the promise towards a circumstantial/relational resolution is only an invitation to allow God to do a deep work in us, which perhaps is not something we shout about instantly, but later, as The Word promises, is sure to yield a crown of life to those that love The Lord.

As I have received a promise for my life, I have recognized that as His Child, I can put the outcome in His Hands, while simultaneously seeking Him to give me the wisdom and discernment that I need to see how it is that He is using the process to change me from one degree of glory to another. God’s goal is simple: to make us Christlike. The situations and circumstances that come our way are only tools in His Hands to improve us and upgrade us, depending on our willingness to surrender to the process of allowing Him to forge the character of His Son on the inside of us.

It is His Love that finds us the way we are, but takes a hold of us gently yet firmly, with a devoted commitment to transform us from strength to strength. For me, it is in the process that I find my strength because I find Christ in it. It is in the candid conversations we have that I experience the beautiful divine exchange of my thoughts for His Truth. Where I want instant gratification, He knows what I need – transformation.

He knows that I need to replace fear with love, and anger with patience. He knows I need to learn to have rest and trust in the middle of the mystery. He knows I need to know Him as both, my best friend that sticks closer than a brother as well as The Lord of lords who is forever, invincible. It is His Lordship that guarantees the outcome, and it is His Friendship that keeps me close. Clearly, as Graham Cooke puts it,

“The One who knows us best, loves us best.”

As believers in Christ, it is a pure privilege to have an ongoing series of conversations with Him as we walk towards our reward and promise. Truth be told, Jesus Himself is our greatest reward. His constancy in companionship is an eternal treasure that nothing can stand against. Revelations of who He is and who we are becoming as a result of being in relationship with Him are what form the substratum of our journey with The Lord. His Love gives us the strength to persevere and His Grace empowers us in our weakness.

My own personal walk with Jesus has seen Him give loving assurances of His Promise each time I have felt daunted by doubt or unbelief. Every such assurance has never ceased to bring a smile to my face and light up my soul. He has his own ways to affirm us, the sanctity of which I feel we must cherish with all our heart. It is these tiny yet significant assurances that become arrows in our quiver as we continue to walk towards our promise, unabated.

Friends, conversations with Christ change us. They make us more and more sensitive to the still, small voice within. They begin to reveal the character of God to us. They keep us in sync with the leading of The Holy Spirit. They teach us to open our hearts to The Only One who knows how to take our vulnerability and lovingly translate it into strength. They begin to become the prime motivation behind our willingness to obey, for they are a response of love to Love. They slowly reveal to us the truth that the strength of our journey lies not in an intended outcome, rather in the process of communing with The One who is both, the author and the finisher of our faith.

Selah.

A call to persevere.

“Love that perseveres is one thing, but to persevere with love, is quite another.”

We are all called to love God, ourselves and the people around us so much so that it would be safe to say, that we were designed to be conduits of love. Love heals, restores, liberates, accepts, and as The Bible puts it, “always perseveres.” It does not give up, it does not quit but rather, continues to believe for the best. It is a dynamic force in our midst that empowers and compels us to bring forth gold from the people that God has called us to.

In my experience, when God calls us to love people, it is usually a call to persevere. We are all a complex amalgam of experiences that are bitter-sweet. As such, in our attempts to share the love that God has put within us, we will have experiences that at times leave us in the valleys, and at other times, may feel like mountain top experiences. It is not always a smooth sailing, and when dealing with a world that is full of people that are delightfully different, perseverance is key. We may not always get the responses we desire or expect, but we can choose to persevere, and the call to persevere is again something that we are called to do with love.

Whether we are believing for dreams to take flight, marriages to be restored, families to be reconciled, communities to be rebuilt, enterprises to take shape, or visions to manifest; it will always mandate perseverance. On searching the meaning of this word, Google tells me that it is synonymous with persistence, tenacity and staying power. It is the ability to stand in the midst of adversity, difficulty, trails and tribulation which are a promise from God as surely as is the crown of life that is ours to receive, once we have stood the test.

In our journey through life, perseverance is not an option, but a necessary test that we are bound to encounter from time to time. Wisdom tells me that the way we do it will determine how long we stay in the test. If we travel properly, then I believe that The Lord is able to give the required quickening which will hasten that which we are believing for.

Begs the question, “what does it really mean to travel well?”

The Lord recently gave me revelation. He told me that though it is important to cultivate love that perseveres, it is equally important to persevere with love. And not just with love, but with; joy, peace, patience , kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This spoke to me so powerfully that it literally shifted my spiritual posture and perspective to one of hope, courage, faith; all of which served to catapult me further into His Bosom to hear what else He had to say.

It came to me nearly six times (if not more) through various mediums in the span of a single day, and I knew it was my Word for the season I am currently in. Let me share,

“Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, AMP)

I knew it was The Lord. He always comes through with an unmistakable impetus for His Children. Our lives hang on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God, and to say the least, I was absolutely ecstatic to hear from Him at a time that was critical to my understanding of where I was in my journey with Him. As God is committed to making us more and more like Jesus, it is always helpful to know what it is that He is cultivating within us in this current season that we find ourselves in. For me, He made it crystal clear : perseverance.

Though it is not our first and natural response to get excited about something like perseverance when we would much rather have breakthrough, the truth is that even Jesus persevered. Through all the rejection, misunderstandings, insults and hardships that were destined to come His way, He persevered. The Bible tells us that He even endured The Cross for the joy that was set before Him. However, my recent conversations with The Lord have revealed that it is His desire to see us persevere not only for the joy of the reward, but to persevere WITH joy in our midst as we make our way towards the reward. A Bible verse He seems to have laid upon my heart is as follows,

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NIV)

Friends, as I continue to press in, what I’m learning is quite simple. We may need to persevere in our walk with The Lord, but we can take heart in the confident expectation that Christ will come through, but at the appointed time. Meanwhile, we will abide in Him as surely as He abides in us, allowing Him to transform us from one degree of glory to the next. We will stay in The Word and allow The Word to stay in us. We will confess His promises and allow His promises to dwell within us. We will grow in the revelation of what it means to be in Christ, and let that revelation permeate every crevice of our being. We will resolve to not look with our natural eyes, when God has enlightened our spiritual ones. We will learn to see every situation through the eyes of The Father. We will ask for a wise and discerning heart. We will come to an understanding that if Jesus is both, The Lion and The Lamb, then our love needs to be both tender and tenacious: tender in its approach and tenacious in its intention.

So, as I hasten to a close, my only exhortation is that as surely as we are called to persevere in love, we are also called to persevere WITH love. To be able to stand in the midst of the vicissitudes of life with unyielding peace and joy that comes from abiding in Christ will not only help us receive the upgrades in our relationship with God and thus, in our Identity in Christ; but perhaps will also pave the way for us to develop into a people that are no longer tossed to and fro, because we have learnt that the promises of God are a superior reality to what we see happen in the natural, and as long as we remain, “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer,” we are well on our way to walking into a reality which when manifested is sure to blow all our paradigms of what Our Great God is able to do with a heart that is committed to not just love with perseverance, but to persevere with Love.

Enough said, friends.

Selah.

Receive.

“It is not a performance based spirituality, it is a love based response.”

I used to be a very performance driven individual. Always wanting to achieve more and never feeling content with all the abundance that God had already bestowed upon me, I feel that I can trace that back to a need for Identity. However, having surrendered my life to Christ, I have since embarked upon a soul saving, mind renewing, life changing adventure. God blessed me with an appetite for His Word which brought healing to my bones and strength to my soul. The Bible says that the entrance of God’s Word gives light. All I had to do was to learn to bask in it.

I learned the vital importance of letting the Truth of what HE says about me override all else. I still have journals that I filled with His Word, the only thing that brought me closer and closer to a fuller revelation of my Identity in Christ. I began to learn that I am loved so much that Jesus didn’t even flinch when He took The Cross not just for me, but as me. Having nailed all my sin and shame, my limitations and shortcomings, my weaknesses and failures; He died. But after three days, we all know He rose again.

What His resurrection means for us personally is something I am intrigued to know more and more. Lately, I have had a feeling that it means so much that my tiny, finite mind cannot even grasp the fullness of. However, what it does testify to is the truth that we are now sons daughters of The Living God. He loves us perfectly, with a love so pure that the only response to it is, love itself.

It is by Grace that I have received these revelations and pray that I continue to grow in them. It is Perfect Love that declares we are the righteousness of God in Christ. We are enough, just the way we are. I have understated it, for God’s Word says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God takes immense pleasure in us. Not even remotely concerned with where we come from, He is solely focused on who we are becoming. This process of becoming is a life long adventure with The Lord, but I think the foundation needs to be securely anchored in Perfect Love.

I feel strongly about this because I’m just about beginning to experience it as the Love which casts out fear and as the Love which drives out the need to perform to be accepted, simply because we are beautifully cherished in The Beloved of God – Jesus Christ. His Love takes us the way we are, but is too faithful to leave us the same way. We may come to Him with traumas, hurts, wounds so deep that it seems hopeless, but The Lord turns it all around, slowly but surely. He invades our inner space with unfathomable peace, uncontainable joy, enduring patience, steadfast kindness, and unrivalled majesty. He takes our pain and translates it into a Purpose. He gives us spiritual gifts and talents to equip and empower us to fulfill the hope of the calling we have received. He gives us a heart of flesh and puts a new spirit within us. He chooses us in His Mercy, and uses us in His Majesty.

Friends, we all have a unique brand of brokenness and The Lord is not surprised nor intimidated by it. He knew us before He laid the foundations of The Earth and His Love towards us remains unchanging. He formed us with affection that we never can earn or deserve, but only receive by Grace. I believe we need to receive it on a daily basis because if God loves a cheerful giver, I’m guessing He is one. He waits for us to come to Him so we learn to live from a place that is not defined by our performance, how well we seem to be doing or not; rather we learn to live from a place that is only defined by The Perfect Love of God which makes no demands, but longs to be accepted for the treasure that it is.

Once accepted, the deposits then made are finer than pure gold.

Together, let’s receive it and let’s experience it.

Amen.