A Lion in Sheep’s Clothing

I hope you’ll allow me to share a personal struggle.  It’s something I’ve tried to deal with on my own for many years, and I know I could really use your prayers.  And who knows, maybe some of you are dealing with something similar.  Maybe my discussion can be of some use to you.

Here it is: I think I’ve “hit a wall” in a very real spiritual sense.  This wall’s name is Fear.  I’m actually a little glad I’ve hit it.  That means I’ve come far enough along to realize its presence.  Of course, I’d be happy if it wasn’t there.  Actually, I’d be happy if I never had another struggle in my life, but that’s not the way life works.  In this life, there are struggles, and I must learn to conquer them.

Over the past year or so, God has been bringing this issue to the forefront of my consciousness.  I’ve even received prophesies from complete strangers, pointing this out: that a Spirit of Fear has its hold on me.  How can I best describe it?  I’ll use the words a good friend of mine prophetically spoke over me Sunday:  I am a lion in sheep’s clothing, and the devil is holding the zipper shut.

Ever since I was young, I’ve felt the call of evangelism on my life.  When I first got to FSU, I’d have dreams and visions of me preaching on corners.  When I first read the Bible all the way through, the verses on preaching, like Romans 10:14, seemed to jump off the page at me.  It seems like every day I’d have an urge to share the gospel with someone.  But most times, I’d ignore the voice of God and give in to fear.  I’ve been disobedient.

I know I have boldness inside!  All of us who’ve been born again do; I’m sure of it.  But we run into these walls.  For some, it may be a wall of anger or bitterness, distraction, apathy or depression.  For me it’s the fear of man.  I’ve come back again from my backsliding to the wall.  Sometimes I feel like I’m just chipping away at it with a pencil.  At least I’m trying those times.  Sometimes I miss on purpose, demonically content with doing nothing.  I look back on those times with sadness, because I know I’ve grieved the heart of God.

Why not obey?  Why not have faith?  Why not take a stand?  There is no logical reason why I can’t.  I know the God I serve is much, much bigger than any wall I will ever face.  I must repent.  I must trust in Him.  Please pray for me.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”–2 Timothy 1:7

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A Fire In His Eyes

Why is God jealous for us?  We didn’t do anything to deserve it.  In fact, I think we did quite the opposite.  If anything, we should be receiving a good dose of His wrath right about now.  That’s what we really deserve.  We’ve cursed Him, rebelled against Him, denied His very existence.  And yet, He loves us more deeply than we could ever imagine.

You know, God really does love us, not for “who we will become,” as if He’s waiting for us to be perfect before He can really love us.  He really does love us, right now.  That’s why He’s jealous.

It was prophesied over me at the One Thing conference that God wanted me to know that jealousy, that fire in His eyes for me.  And yeah, I think I want to know it too.  I want to feel it, and I want to live it out.

He is who He is, and He is Love.  Real love doesn’t care if you love back.  Real love wants the best for the precious.  And God knows that the best place for us is right there with Him.  We need Him.  So I worship Him for his never-ending love.  With everything I have I pursue Him, because He has never stopped loving me.

“Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”–Psalm 66:20

Direction and Focus

Recently, I’ve been hearing encouraging words from people towards me in the realm of, “You’re headed in the right direction.”  Those are great, because I know that I’m in the right place where God can use me.  I am on that straight and narrow path, the path to God, and people can actually see it!  But usually, right after those words comes something like this: “Keep going,” or, “Focus on Him.”  There lies the challenge and perhaps, an even greater encouragement.  I have somewhere I can go!  I can act with more boldness, love deeper, be more purified and know God more than I ever have before.  And what is the only way to go there?  “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”(Philippians 3:13)  We must all be desperate for more of Him!  And that doesn’t mean stress or toil.  Finding our rest in Christ, we can have the peace and strength required to keep going towards Him.

Look for Him.  See Him.  Focus on Him.  Worship Him.  Don’t try to worship Someone you know nothing about.  Give Him glory for Who He is, Who you know He is.  Find out more about Him.  Don’t be scared that you’ll run out of things to know, because He is endless, eternally glorious.  He is God.  He is Love.  What greater joy can we have but to know Him?  I don’t know of any.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”–Matthew 6:33

Prince

At Victory Weekend last Friday night, someone came up to me and said, “God wants you to know, you’re a prince.”  Wow, I love God; He always comes through with a word of encouragement for me when I really need it.  I know I’ve struggled with identity issues in the past.  Lately, I’ve been coming to terms with who I really am.  I am a son of the King of Kings.  I’m not some distrought beggar, striving just to please God or else suffer His wrath.  Jesus already took that punishment for me.  Now I am a son of God, a prince.  I should live like one.

I’m reminded of the movie Spaceballs.  In the film, the hero Lone Star really likes Princess Vespa.  The only problem is, he thinks he can’t marry her, because he doesn’t know that he’s really a prince.  After Yogurt reveals the truth to Lone Star, that he really is a prince, he lives happily ever after with his princess.  The knowledge that he was born royalty was the deciding factor of his destiny.

When we are born again as new men into Christ’s glorious Kingdom, we are not born into poverty.  We don’t start out at the bottom, having to work our way up in the ranks.  We are born into royalty!  Right from the start of our relationship with God, we are born as princes and princesses in the Kingdom.  We are chosen; we are royal; we are holy.  We are loved as sons and daughers of the King.  Here’s a great verse:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
-1 Peter 2:9

River of Life

Last Tuesday during communion, I had a vision.  It was a little weird, so bear with me.  In fact, I had no idea what it meant until I started reading through the Bible.  Here it is:

There was a giant screwdriver in the sky.  It started spinning like a drill.  While spinning, it fell to the earth and dug through the ground.  The ground was actually the ceiling above me.  I was in a completely orange space with no walls or boundaries.  I was standing there, and when the screwdriver fell down, I looked up.  It drilled into my right eye and blinded it.  The screwdriver then started falling gently into my left hand, but it shrunk down and disappeared before it got there.  I then fell to my knees, blood showering from my right eye.

Okay, so weird, right?  I thought so too, and I had absolutely no idea what it meant until Thursday morning during my devotions.  This was the last verse I read during my out-loud reading time:

“Woe to the worthless shepherd,
       who deserts the flock!
       May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
       May his arm be completely withered,
       his right eye totally blinded!”
-Zechariah 11:17

Well, that whole “right eye being blinded” thing immediately made me remember my vision.  The arm being whithered wasn’t there, bit that still got me thinking: am I a worthless shepherd?  Was God somehow warning me to be a good leader or else?  Maybe it was a second chance from God.  Maybe because my arm was spared, I wasn’t a completely bad leader and could still redeem myself.  All these thoughts were going through my head until today.

Today , while cleaning out my wallet, I discovered an old note I’d been thinking about.  It had been given to me at Victory Weekend last semester, and I hadn’t looked at it since.  On it were three prophecies given to me that weekend.  I realized that I hadn’t even read the verses that had been given to me yet, so I did that right away.  The first verse on the note was Ezekiel 34.  This is the gist of that chapter: God was removing the shepherds of his people because they were doing a terrible job.  This is the powerful part, though: in their place, God Himself was coming to shepherd His people.  God would be the one to judge them.  God would shower them with blessing.  God would provide safety.  God would save them.

Here’s what I’ve gotten from all of this revelation so far: I suck as a leader, and God is the most awesome leader ever.  That’s an encouraging thought, because if you didn’t know, God lives in me!  I have the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide my steps.  All I have to do is let go of myself.  That’s really hard sometimes, but I just need to remember the difference between God and me.  I am nothing.  He is everything.  It just puts things in perspective, you know?  In closing, I give you my other verse from Victory Weekend:

“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.'”
Luke 17:20-21