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Faith

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How many times have you prayed and begged for God to move but you see nothing?
I have. I begged God to heal my mom. I begged for more faith. I begged for anything!
“Father, please, please, please, please, please increase my faith.” (Like the more times I said “please,” the more likely He was to do it.) “I will do anything if You will just give it to me. Let’s go. Send me. Okay, I am waiting…”
I’m not the only one who has begged for more faith. The disciples did this, too:

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17:5 NIV).

Look at Jesus’ response:

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:6 NIV)

 

He was saying that you do not need more faith. The tiniest amount of faith is more than enough for you to speak to a mountain and it will move (see Matthew 17:20). You have all the faith you need. If we can truly understand this, it changes everything!
We don’t need more faith. We need our faith to be pure and not tainted or diluted by the hurts, bitterness, and unforgiveness we can have in our hearts. Many times when you fail to see the thing you are hoping for come to pass, a little bit of doubt creeps in and dilutes your ability to believe God.

 

You don’t need more faith! Clean up your broken heart so you can trust fully in Jesus and the Word of God!

 

How?

 

Jesus said, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21 NIV). (Also see Mark 9:29.) Many people pray and fast to get God to move, but prayer and fasting are meant to get your heart to move into alignment with God’s heart and help you to weed out the old hurt, unbelief, and bitterness.

Let’s study this and talk about it. It’s a big subject.

 

Love,

Sheri

 

 

Tool Highlight: Check out these healing scriptures at http://www.ikanministries.com/healing.html

DESPERATE for God

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Cassidy is a precious 14-year-old girl who loves Jesus. You know she is filled with the power and love of God after you are with her for only a few minutes. Wisdom just leaks out of her. I do not look down on her because of her age; therefore, I actually learn from her when she speaks. God uses her in my life. Although she lacks life experiences, she doesnt lack an all-power, consuming, wisdom-giving God. 
 
I asked her to guest blog for me so you could have a peek into the heart of a child who is recklessly abandoned to God. All of our children can have this, too. We should aspire to lead their hearts to KNOW God rather than just perform for God. 
 
Let’s hear from Cassidy ~
 
There was a time in my life when I lived in passive Christianity, a time when I cared deeply about what others thought about me, and it crippled me. 
 
Then the Holy Spirit came, and I was set free. I was changed. The filling of the Holy Spirit awakened my soul. It gave me a new desire to worship, a DESPERATE hunger for the presence of God.
 
The truth set me on fire. 
 
I still, to this day, walk in this freedom and will continue to walk in it the rest of my life. I am not going back. I do not want to go back. I do not want to go back to a life of self-consciousness and timidity. 
 
How silly popularity seems now that I see clearly what a prize I am in the eyes of the Lord. What’s the point of status when the blood of Jesus is our true security? 
 
People tell me that I’m different. They’re not sure what it is about me, but I’m just different. 
 
I can tell you what it is. It’s freedom, and it’s not me. It’s the Holy Spirit, and it is completely accessible to all believers. 
 
I could say so much about this but honestly can sum it down into this: the Holy Spirit is a free gift from God, generously available through the death and resurrection of Christ to all who believe. 
 
It is one of God’s special gifts to us because He loves us, and it is truly an amazing and wonderful thing.
 

Cassidy
~Psalm 91~

Love

I was twenty-four years old before I heard of agape. It was a time of trial in my life. I was driving in the car with a coworker when he started explaining to me the differences among three types of love: erosphilia, and agape.

 

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I had been in church, on and off, for most of my nearly twenty-five years, yet I had never heard of agape. My coworker described agape as unconditional love. It is always there for you no matter how righteous or wicked you are. You cannot do anything to lessen it or increase it; it is the same, steady love day in and day out. This type of love does not keep track of your sins. It does not stifle you or imprison you. It is the kind of love that fills you and frees you. It is the kind of love that changes you.

 

I had spent the last fourteen years deprived of love. I had sought love in every corner. I had pursued passionate love, romantic love, and friendship. I had searched high and low for a love that would make me feel valuable. I yearned for love. I simply wanted to be worthy of someone’s love.

 

You can only be rejected so many times before you start to believe you deserve it. At that time of my life, I felt alone and unlovable. Then my coworker guided me to the truth of unconditional love. I did not fully comprehend the significance of this concept at the time, but I have since come to understand that I am loved. When I felt rejected and worthless, those feelings were not my true identity. In truth, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). God Himself “created my inmost being”; He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV). God set me apart before I was born as one who was and is and always will be loved—by Him.

 

The church needs to wake up and stop constantly fixating on everyone’s flaws. We cannot afford to forget who God is and what He did out of His abundant love for every single one of us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). We did not and cannot deserve His sacrifice and love for us, yet they are ours to receive. How dare the church allow another child to endure a life of desperately searching for love because no one shared with her the blessing of God’s free gift!

 

Jesus Christ issued His disciples this command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 NIV). Will you rise to the challenge and share agape with someone every day this year? In one year, 365 days, I challenge you to convey this message of unconditional love to the people God brings into your life. Tell someone, “You are loved. It is part of your identity. It is etched into your being, and it can never be removed. It is in your very fingerprints—every indelible line testifies that you are loved.”

One Focus That Will Change Everything

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There’s a movie theater at the gym where I work out. When I first get in there, I can’t hear the movie because all I can hear is the voice in my head that says, “I don’t want to be here. I can’t do this. I’m out of shape. I’m too fat. I would rather be sleeping.” Then I hear my feet hitting the treadmill, then the sound of the treadmill belt. The sound of everyone else’s feet pounding increasingly distracts me. The beeping noises, the feet pounding, the treadmill belt—I can barely take it! The desire to punch someone out at the front desk if they do not turn up the volume is overwhelming. 🙂

 

But if I take my focus off of all of those things and put it on the movie and listen very hard, eventually the movie volume grows louder and louder. Before I know it, all I can hear is the movie. Actually, believe it or not, sometimes I forget I am in the cardio room!

 

When I’m really focused on the movie, it sounds loud and very clear. I forget about all my complaints. In our everyday lives, the busyness, texts, social media, TV, coworkers, children, and friends can all be very noisy. Discouragement, loss of a job, inability to have a baby—those things are really loud. Sometimes all we can hear is our own negative thinking, our hurt feelings, discouragement beating in our hearts, self-loathing.

 

BUT if we will just focus on listening for God’s voice, eventually it will be louder than all of the other things that are happening around us, inside of us, and to us. When we hear His voice above everything else, we can actually, believe it or not, sometimes forget we are in the middle of hurt and chaos!

 

Greater Works

Have you ever made a list of the miracles Jesus did in the Bible? It is amazing. Jesus was for the people. He was caring and so willing to heal—when it was met with faith.

After all of these incredible miracles, Jesus made this bold statement:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV)


You will do even GREATER THINGS…”

At the time I saw this verse, I had hardly seen any miracles, much less greater things. My mom was sick, and I wanted her to be well. I prayed. I asked. I begged God to heal my mom.

Its really hard to have faith for God to heal cancer when you havent even begun to trust Him with a headache or a cold. There is all this fear that creeps in when you hear the word cancer. Fear and faith dont make great companions.

How do we see even greater things than the works Jesus did in the Bible?

Start with the little things:

  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Cramps
  • Earache

Stop trusting in medicine and home remedies and start putting your full trust in the name of Jesus. I am not telling you to get off your medicines. I am challenging you to ask yourself, What tradition am I putting before God?

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition… (Mark 7:13 KJV)

One tradition can be running to medicine for a headache before you seek God.

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12 NIV)

God wants us to seek Him first, not when He is the last chance for survival.


The greater things begin with trusting God for the little things. As we trust God, not methods or traditions, we will begin to have faith for bigger and bigger things.


What are your methods or traditions that you run to before you go to God? Coffee to wake up in the morning? Food when you have a bad day? The phone to talk to a friend about something thats bothering you? Medicine when you have a headache?


Make a commitment to run to your Father God first in all things.



Out of the Pit: What to Do When You Are Discouraged


When I am super discouraged or my hope is deferred, I am very careful of whom I talk to. I don’t want anyone speaking death over me or agreeing with what is going on or giving me advice that is in contradiction to the truth of the Word of God. Every time, I am very careful of whom I speak to and whom I lock arms with.

Everyone’s steadfastness in the Lord can have highs and lows—with moments of really strong commitment and, other times, feelings of weakness. If I focus on my circumstances, I can easily become discouraged. When I focus on the face of Jesus, everything He paid for on the cross, and the truth of God’s Word, my hope can be revived. He has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful today. He is faithful today, and He will be faithful tomorrow. My God is good, but sometimes I have to ask myself, “Do I really believe who God says He is? Do I believe it?”
What I do to get myself out of a pit—because I seem to be in one this morning—is start praying. I tell God how I really feel. I don’t hold back. I give Him all my ugly thoughts and all my ugly words. I give Him all my doubt and disappointment. I confess it all.

The next thing I do is start asking Him whom I could talk to, who could encourage me. I don’t need anybody to crawl into a pit with me because then we would both be stuck down low. I need someone who is up high and will encourage me with mercy, love, and truth. I need someone who will say, “That sucks, but God is really the only person or thing we can put our hope in.” I ask the Lord to bring someone to mind, or I simply listen and wait for peace. He will direct my steps if I ask Him. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 NIV). But if you seek Him, you will find Him.

Sometimes I don’t talk to anyone else. I let the Holy Spirit be my comforter. Today what came to mind was that I needed to call into a prayer line with beliefs similar to mine. I know without a doubt, 100% of the time, they will strongly encourage me. They will agree with me in the truth and renew my hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and it is certain. It is absolutely resolved. It is believing for things that aren’t seen; it’s not visible. It’s impossible for man’s eye to see, but I am sure it is there.

I am reminded of the testimony of a man named Allen Moore. He had a stroke. He is not supposed to be able to walk or talk. His MRI to this date reveals that the part of his brain related to these abilities does not work. With man’s eye, it appears he should not be talking or walking, yet he does. I have met him personally, and he is walking and talking—living the unseen.

I start reminding myself of all the things God has done for me in my life and my family. I start reminding myself of the miracles and the power of God that have been on display in my life for years. As I do that, it encourages me. I am encouraging and sharpening myself in the Lord and in the truth. It awakens me and gives me hope. It gets rid of doubt. It doesn’t increase my faith, but it begins to smash out any doubt so my hope can be renewed. When my hope is renewed, faith is restored. Faith is present.

I can use my imagination in faith to see a part of my body completely healed and whole again. I imagine what it would look like the next time I am able to see it. I’m not going to look at it again until I have done this for a while and I feel it is time.

When I fall into a pit, this is what I do to get out of it. How about you?

Parents Are Asking the Wrong Question

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“Did you have fun today?”
“What did you do for fun?”
“Did you have fun with your friends?”

What is the one consistent word here? Its the three-letter word fun

 

F-U-N. 
Fun.

This type of question is ruining our children’s ability simply to BE. I hear parents, grandparents, and siblings asking young people, “Are you going to have a fun day? What did you do that was fun? Did you have fun with your friends?” 

I hear people asking this sort of question all of the time, even in my own house.

Is this really the question we should be asking? Should we gauge the quality of a young person’s day based on whether he or she had fun? 

We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching our children by asking this.

We are giving them the impression that 
life is all about having fun.
I’m not trying to suggest that children—or adults for that matter—should never have fun. We should love what we do. We should be engaged; we should have energy for life. We should enjoy our lives because Jesus came to bring us life “to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
On the other hand, Jesus also said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). 
 

Hardships are part of life. We will experience struggles. We must often deal with troubling circumstances. In times of trial, however, we can have peace and find strength because we know Jesus loves us. He understands our pain and is both able and willing to help us in all things. We can find joy in the growth of our relationship with Him.

It will not be fun, but there is GOOD in it.

Recently, I took care of a child for a friend of mine. When my friend came to pick up her daughter, one of the first things she did was ask her child, “What did you do for fun today?” Her daughter replied, “Nothing. I haven’t done anything fun today.” The reaction to this statement bordered on shock, as if such a circumstance were unthinkable.

Why is it unthinkable? What is horrible about a child not having fun all of the time? You shouldnt entertain your own children, and I shouldnt entertain them, either.

If I gear my children’s lives toward fun, I am setting them up for future failure, depression, and battles when life isnt fun. I am setting them up for disappointment in marriage because they won’t be able to appreciate those low-key days of rest and recovery with their spouses after hectic times. I want my children to be able to treasure the quiet moments of simple companionship. 

When we emphasize the value of fun, 
we are sowing in our children 
the need to be entertained continuously. 

We are setting them up to view other people in terms of how they can make life more fun. We are encouraging our children to seek relationships based on fun. We are teaching them that it is okay to avoid or abandon tasks and relationships that don’t seem fun.

Many children today are constantly asking, “What are we going to do now?” They are always seeking new ways to entertain themselves. Next time your kids are with a play date or hanging out with teenage friends, listen to them talk with each other. Take note of how often they ask each other what they will do next.

Listen to them tell each other that what they’ve been doing is getting old; they are bored and ready for the next source of entertainment. Girls who play indoors are always jumping to the next activity: “Hey, lets edit pictures. Lets do a photo shoot. Let’s play a game. Lets make a video. Lets make a song. Lets do all of these projects together. Lets go play this sport. Lets go play that. Im tired of this—lets move on.”

As a mother, I certainly appreciate when my children can entertain themselves and come up with activities on their own. The trouble is that kids don’t stay focused on a particular goal. They don’t stay engaged and committed. You don’t see kids building a fort all day long the way we did when we were young. These days its more of a frenzy. Kids dart from one activity to the next to the next to the next. Theres no break.

I don’t hear kids suggesting to each other that they hang out and talk for a while or read a book or study the Bible. I know these suggestions sound odd, but they shouldn’t. Life isnt about bouncing wildly from one fun activity to the next. I’m afraid that children who live in restless pursuit of entertainment will grow into adults who are never satisfied with simply being. God created us as human beings, yet we allow our children to be only human doings. We are setting our children on a dangerous course because, let’s face it, most entertainment for kids and for adults is of this world and not of God. 

The desire for stimulation can distract us from 
the values and purposes of God.

Will our children be too busy ping-ponging around to realize that?

I believe we need to stop asking children, “Did you have fun today?” We need to stop telling them when they leave the house, “Be sure to have fun!” Since it’s in our power to influence our children’s focus, let’s choose some different questions: 

Whom did you encourage today?
How were you encouraged today?
Did you share your beautiful smile with someone?
Did anyone surprise you with a beautiful smile?
Did you see someone do something kind today?
Did you share with a friend today?
Did you help your friends mommy when you were at their house all day? 
Did you leave their place better than you found it?
When you spent time with your friends, did you ask how they were doing and actually listen to the answer?
Did you ask them if they were hurting in any way?

We assume our children are too young and emotionally immature to have those kinds of conversations with us and their friends. How can we believe this when we know that children are not too young to be hurt? They could already, on any given day, be suffering rejection and deep wounds. They are already being challenged morally. They are already struggling with matters of the mind and spirit and body. Our children need adults who are willing to be transparent and dig deeply with them at the earliest ages.
We should never look down on people because they are young. We shouldnt assume children are incapable of deep conversation. It is up to us to teach them. 

If we raise our children to pursue fun, we can’t expect them 
suddenly to transform into insightful, compassionate 
human beings when they reach adulthood.

We need to teach them while they are young: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV). We need to teach our children how to be introspective, how to search their own souls and seek the Lord. We need to teach them to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We need to teach them to take a genuine, loving interest in other people’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. People are never too young to learn the Lord’s ways and do the Lord’s work.

It is important for our children to learn how to connect with their friends on a deeper level. Otherwise the friendships they have when they are young won’t be sustainable beyond this particular season of their lives. We should teach kids from a young age the value of developing sound, lasting relationships.
Spending time with other people isn’t about cramming in as many fun activities as possible. Rather, it’s about companionship. It’s about relaxing your guard and getting to know each other. It’s about learning how to love each other. Close friends know how to rest together. They find refreshment in each other’s company. Kids need to understand that it’s okay to say, “You know what, Im tired. Lets chill and hang out. Maybe we can read together or talk for a while.”
What’s not okay is complaining about being bored. Maybe one person enjoys sharing some quiet time while another person doesn’t. The main objective isnt to have fun and be entertained. When you are with the people you love, you can find enjoyment in the busy times as well as the quiet times.
I notice many children today who seem overstimulated and utterly exhausted. Adults allow and expect kids to stay on the go all of the time, jumping from one activity to the next to the next to the next. No wonder kids are tired! No one has taught them how to be still. No one has taught them the value of being still.
Stillness calms people. It is enjoyable. It allows us to rest and reflect. Kids, too, can learn to be comfortable enough with themselves and the people around them simply to be. 

How else will they ever hear the still, quiet voice of God?

Two Ways

There are two ways we can minister:

One is out of compassion in response to someone who’s hurting or something that we see.

The second is out of the Spirit’s leading.
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All too often, we minister out of compassion and not out of His leading. When the Spirit leads us, we will always see His power flow. 


What I love about the Original Design Youth Group is that they have been ministering out of the Holy Spirit’s leading. The week before they go out to minister, they ask the Lord to whom He wants them to give love. They write down clues and pictures that the Lord gives them. The following week, we worship and then go out to look for the people God described the previous week. 

These young students have learned the power of sitting and listening to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to lead them to minister and bring amazing encouragement, freedom, and healing!

Do you primarily minister out of compassion as a response to people, or are you leading from the Spirit’s prompting?


-Sheri

The Invisible Mom

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Wake up, wipe noses, wipe bottoms, feed kids, draw out Cheerios, dry eyes, discipline, teach, love, snuggle, hug, laugh, cry, wash and fold the laundry, cook, help with homework, run the bathwater, comb wet hair, snuggle in the PJs, fall over into bed.
 

I spend my day caring for everyone in my house—sometimes even for a neighbor, a friend, or a stranger. At the end of the day, I’m just invisible and exhausted. There is no time for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I love caring for others. It makes me feel valued and wanted. Even on a bad day, I still feel special and important. It’s worth it to put myself on the back burner for a while. It’s okay to take care of everyone else but me. It’s just a season—a season when I am invisible. There isn’t much credit in my job, but there is the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing it.

 

But I slowly become too tired to get up early for my quiet time and too tired to get in that ten minutes of exercise I promised myself. 

The kids were so hungry today that I scraped my own plate onto theirs so they would have plenty to eat. So I missed lunch. But that’s okay because when we were out running errands, I picked up a Snickers and a Coke. That was good. It kept me full enough that I wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s worth it to me to skip a meal so that my kids can have plenty to eat. I never loved anything more than I love them. I would give everything that I have for them.

 

Oh, these jeans—they are a little bit too snug. Maybe I just go up one size. The pounds have crept on over the years—just a pound here and a pound there. Before I knew it, I didn’t recognize myself in pictures. I would ask people, “Do I really look like that?” and they would always say, “No. Oh, no. That’s not what you look like. You’re much thinner, much smaller.”

Soon enough, I had traded my size 2 figure for a 10. How did that happen? Why did the waist of my jeans look so large? Surely I was not any bigger than my teenager. Was the scale really telling the truth? That would be the heaviest I had ever been without being pregnant. I probably wasn’t that big. But then I asked the littlest voice in the house, and her voice rang in my ear: “When I used to hug you, Mommy, I could wrap my arms all the way around you, but now I can’t touch my fingers!”

 

Had I taken care of everyone else so well that I forgot about myself? What kind of example had I set for my children—take care of everyone else and never take care of yourself? For fifteen years, I never came up on the list of priorities. Sure, now and then I would go for a run or do an exercise video, P90X, or hit an exercise class. Yet the way I took care of myself, I never completely turned everything I put in my mouth over to God. I just continued to take care of others.

In my own pride and arrogance, I allowed myself to be invisible. I was the one who had no needs, no wants, and no desires. I was holier than thou. I was the perfect mother, set apart, who needed no care—who only needed to be pampered periodically with more rest.

 

At first I couldn’t figure out why my husband wasn’t pursuing me the way I wanted him to. It didn’t take long, however, to figure out that I wasn’t pursuable any longer. When you don’t take care of yourself, you don’t look your best on the outside, but you don’t feel good on the inside, either.

I found myself becoming more and more exhausted every day. I didn’t have the energy to do anything fun. I would take a nap on a date night. I lacked energy and strength to keep up with the man God created my husband to be. I lacked the ability even to go race-car driving—fun stuff he wanted to do, that would engage him. Instead, I made him enjoy more womanly activities.

You can spend your life by laying it down to take care of others, but eventually, if you don’t take care of yourself, someone else will have to lay down his or her life to take care of yours. Refuse to be invisible. Live your life by example.
 
After I decided to come out from behind my works and into the light, my oldest child said to me, “Mom, you have always taught us how to live and how to eat. You have taught us that we should exercise and eat healthy and take care of ourselves. But you never actually lived it for yourself. It’s impossible for us to live what you don’t show us by example.”
 
Come out from behind all of those things you do to puff yourself up and make yourself feel good about yourself—including serving others constantly and sacrificing yourself. Your body is valuable, and it houses the temple of God within you, so you need to take care of it. You need to treasure what you have, the life that you have been given, and value it enough to take care of it.

When will you choose to stop being invisible?