Cloudy and I Know It

Last year was a bit “cloudy” for me. I went through a lot of transitions and experienced some high points and low points. Dreams were put on hold and others came to reality. My faith was tested and my walk with God wavered. Many people believe this myth that because you are a Christian, you won’t have struggles or you do not wrestle with your faith…this couldn’t be further from the truth. I say all of this to say that there were moments I was on Cloud nine. I was blissfully happy and nothing in my surroundings could move me in a negative direction. I saw clearly what life had in store for me and I was ready to dive headfirst into the vision I know that God has for me. Then there were other moments…

…life situations that I allowed to happen and life situations that. just. happened

…and they placed me right in the middle of the clouds and everything became a blur. All I could see was what was right in front of me and nothing made sense anymore. My heart became heavy, my mind stubborn to the Word of God, and I felt myself slowly falling away from God’s pleasing and perfect plan for my life.

Welcome to what I call life. We all have different life situations that will challenge the way we see things. Sometimes we allow those things into our life that we know are not for us…they could be romantic relationships, business partnerships, jobs, excessive social media, etc…and they slowly take our focus from being above the clouds where the vision is clear to suddenly being immersed in them.

Sometimes we allow GOOD things into our life, but it’s not the BEST God has for us.

What’s funny is then we try to justify our actions. We try to make the wrong right, or what we think is right fit into our lives. Let me tell you…it will not work! No matter how bad we desire our own wants, we know in the back of our minds something is off. I guarantee you the Holy Spirit splashed a huge warning sign in front of us at some point but we were so stubborn to follow it because we want what we want so badly. Then I’m sure you get frustrated with the struggles of life because you have no control over it. Well, at least I do. I had a situation that lasted nearly 8 months and it seemed like whenever I fixed one problem, the situation only got worse and was prolonged further!

I understand what it means to feel pain in areas of life that makes you wish you had a huge reset button. (How cool would that be to just reset life lol?!) You’re tired and your strength is weak. You wonder what the future has in store for you. You feel like no one else is going through what you are experiencing. Trust me when I tell you that we all have some giant elephant we are dealing with…some choose to try to hide it which only makes matters worse. Life is certainly not a fairy tale, but I know it is beautiful. It becomes beautiful in its own time. Only when we surrender to God’s will and perfect timing, will we be able to see the beauty above the clouds and even in them.

The serenity about life is that when we mess up…God is still faithful. God is not moved by our conditional behavior. The fact that I fell slowly into the clouds only made me aware how much more I need a Savior that loves me in spite of the filth. It was when I recognized my weakness and vulnerabilities that I could be strong in the Lord. I am not saying that you should accept your shortcomings as a way of living; we are called to be set apart and live a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. However, we are to accept our wrongs as lessons, make them part of our stories that we share with others, as to maintain an integrity and wholeness towards soundness and healing. True healing and peace comes from accepting all of yourself, even the parts you don’t want to; to recognize that you may be on cloud nine or in the clouds. That’s authenticity. That’s integrity. God can only transform what we authentically bring to Him…

Now that the new year is upon us and it is 2017, it is a great opportunity to see clearly what God has for your life. I am joining my church in our annual 21 day fasting and prayer this month which starts today. Why fasting and prayer? It is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all discussed in the Bible. We need our lives transformed! We need results and not talk! We need the power of God! Prayer and fasting is the answer to all of those. I’m believing God for clarity and a clear vision for 2017 and beyond. If you need to get out of the clouds, I encourage you to fast and pray so that your life can be used for Kingdom purpose. I will leave you with 12 things you can expect from a Fast from Lisa Bevere’s “You Are Not What You Weigh.” Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

 

cloud-post

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A FAST

Excerpt from, You Are Not What You Weigh, by Lisa Bevere

  • Fasting Creates a New Hunger -(Ezra 8:23) As the initial hunger pangs or longings cease, a new desire is formed.
  • Fasting Works Humility – (Psalm 35:13) – We feel our natural strength waning. In our weakness, we find ourselves more dependent upon God. It is turning away from what we can provide, and turning toward what God alone can give.
  • Fasting Increases Sensitivity to God – (Luke 2:36-38) Anna in the scripture could hear clearly what God was saying.
  • Fasting Chastens or Disciplines – (Psalm 69:10) David maintained his spiritual life by means of bringing his body into subjection.
  • Fasting Changes Our Appetite – (Acts 13:2) God often uses times of fasting and prayer to speak to the desires of our hearts, and to reveal his purpose and destiny for our lives.
  • Fasting Increases Our Capacity – (Esther 4:16) Fasting increases your capacity for self-sacrifice and imparted wisdom.
  • Fasting Brings Answers to Prayer – (Isaiah 58:9) A godly fast will bring answered prayer and it may come through his Word, or as a still small voice, or by a strong confirmation of what He has previously shown us.
  • Fasting Leads to Quick Healing – (Isaiah 58:8) The healing can be physical, mental, or spiritual. Even natural medicine supports this – many illnesses occur in the digestive system. A short fast gives our body a chance to refocus its energies on healing instead of eating. (Please consult a physician before undertaking a fast if you are ill.)
  • Fasting Opens the Door to God’s Protection and Provision – (Isaiah 58:8) God promised to be a guard before us and behind us. A fast renews your righteousness and sends it on before you. Then, as you give God the glory, He returns righteousness as your rear guard.
  • Fasting Looses the Chains of Injustice – (Isaiah 58:6) This fast has the power to loose any unjust chains that bind us. It is not merely for personal liberation, but it represents God’s desire to see us reach out and loose the ties that bind others, and remove the chains of oppression.
  • Fasting Frees the Oppressed and Breaks Every Yoke – (Isaiah 58:6) A fast is a time when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our own needs; and look around at the oppression and pain of others. In response, we learn to reach out in compassion and help – becoming agents of healing.
  • Fasting Motivates Us to Provide Food for the Needy – (Isaiah 58:7) You are not eating because of a fast, then you are free to share your portion with those less fortunate.

If you would like to follow the 21 day devotions for fasting and prayer, click the link below.

http://21days.victoryatl.com/

 

Wounded Leadership

It hurts me to to see recent revelations of corruption, immorality, betrayal, or moral failures in leaders we trust and follow. Yet, what seems to pain me more is the slogan for these turbulent times that our culture thinks, “But everybody does it!” We could very well be NUMB to the idea that pastors who fall, government leaders who deal with corruption, etc. is common, and that trust should be replaced with cynicism (Bennis & Goldsmith).

wounded-leader

How should we respond to such moral failures in our culture? Should we accept it as norm and give in to pessimism? Or should we believe that there are ways to bring reconciliation and redemption back to our wounded leaders? 

We adore and respect people who are transformational leaders. Meaning, they are able to cast a vision so daunting, yet exciting, that they bring inspiration to make change happen. Their vision and dreams make these leaders seem way before their time. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill are just two examples of leaders who spoke and cast great visions for the state of their people. We also honor leaders that we encounter in our everyday lives. People such as our pastors, our teachers, our managers, our coaches, our parents, and even our next door neighbors; they have leadership qualities that draws us closer to know more.

However, we forget that these individuals are not only leaders, but human beings like you and I. When they lead us in transformation from hurts, brokenness, suffering, stagnancy, and so on, they also are dealing with the same issues. Leaders are so intent on pouring and pouring and pouring into other people that they forget they are wounded as well, that we are wounded, and as leaders we need to be led and held accountable too.

Henry Nouwen, a theologian and minister, coined the term “Wounded Healer” for leaders in any aspect of ministry. He speaks to leaders of their church and community about a willingness to go beyond the professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering – in the image of Christ. In other words, we must link transparency and trust and heal from our own wounds. If we are not careful as leaders to be transparent and find accountability and mentors of our own, we will lead from a distance and evoke a hurt on our people that is not their burden to carry. If we allow it long enough, we could easily be an example of another moral failure, or corruption, or scandal.

Who is holding you accountable? Who is leading you?

Leadership is hard work and responsibility. It’s hard because we have to work on ourselves first. Then we have a responsibility to lead a team, a family, or a congregation while we are healed. We don’t have to have it altogether. In fact, perfection disqualifies you from leadership. Growth is the key. If we are not seeking healing of our own, we cannot fully lead in healing others. If we are not dealing with trust issues of our own, we cannot fully trust those that follow us. If we do not lead from transparency, we will lose so many people (especially millennials) to the pessismistic attitude that “no one really cares.”

So if you’re wondering what to do next if you are a wounded leader who feels isolated and alone, or a follower trying to understand why they are frustrated and burdened under the leadership of someone; two practical thoughts come to mind:

  • As a leader, you need a leader! – What are the struggles you are dealing with? Find someone who “walks the walk” in that area that can help you! It takes courage to lead others. It takes even more courage to find help and face your own battles. That’s where true leadership takes place; with self. Let’s be faithful in our leadership by being consistent and always holding a mirror to our face and evaluating ourselves. Get a counselor. Find a mentor. Get coached. Have a prayer partner. Whomever you need, find them.
  • Pray for your leaders! – Recognize that leaders are battling and waging wars that we often do not see. We need to protect them and cover them in prayer. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Key word “WE” will live peaceful lives. If you are burdened under a leader who is two hard to bear…the best thing you can do for you is pray.

I will close with this quote from Pastor Larry Stockstill from his book, “The Remnant.” Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

“Mentoring, or fathering, is a basic human need, and no Christian is exempt from it. Jesus Himself needed the affirming word from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11, NIV)…Affirmation, however, is not optional, but totally necessary, for any person to function correctly.”