Defending Yourself

Believer, why are you so defensive? When someone points out an error you made, a mistake, a failure, why do you feel the need to argue and defend yourself and explain why you made a mistake and screwed up? Why do you feel the need to throw others under the bus instead of taking responsibility and bearing the burden on your shoulders, whether you did it or not? Are you counting yourself as more valuable than others or vice versa?

Are you so insecure that you need to be right every time? Are you so insecure that you can’t fail because if you mess up and fail, then you are a failure? Do you label yourself? Do you think, “If I just prevent myself from failing, I’m going to be good enough”? Don’t you realize that we all fail and if we are not failing, we are not trying? Are you struggling with your own identity so much that you have to be defensive and in the defensive position every time?

Listen to your words. Check if you are constantly saying:
  • “Well, I didn’t do that.”
  • “That’s not me. That was someone else.”
  • “I didn’t mean to.”
  • “Here’s what I meant by that …”
  • “That’s not really a failure. I didn’t really miss that.”
  • “I didn’t really make that mistake. Here’s what truly happened. Let me make sure you know that it wasn’t my intention.”

Do you hear yourself saying that type of thing every day, day in and day out? Instead of accepting responsibility for what you have done, you defend yourself, trying to redeem your own reputation. You weren’t called to redeem your own reputation. You are called to lay it down and hold up the reputation of Christ. He doesn’t need any defending.

Ask people around you if you are constantly defending yourself or throwing others under the bus to save yourself. I dare you to have the courage to ask that question. Now, asking your spouse is one thing. Your spouse will probably tell you, “No, you’re not,” to try to keep the peace and the unity. Ask some other people—your closest friend, your coworkers, your children.

One time, my kids said, “Hey, mom. We’d like to talk to you. We don’t really want to hear an argument about your perspective. We just want you to hear us.” They wanted to be heard. They didn’t want to hear my perspective on why I chose to do what I did. They wanted me to hear their frustration.

Do you have a reputation of being defensive and not easy to talk to? Maybe you said you were going to do something, but you didn’t keep your word. Instead of admitting you messed up, you try to defend yourself. You tell people why and make excuses, failing to count the cost of how you have lost credibility in the eyes of others.

You may not think this applies to you, but trust me, I am pretty sure it applies to most people. Look at your behavior and stop defending yourself. 

Speak to Your Mountains, Don’t Pray about Them

There’s a song that says, “I will climb this mountain with my arms wide open.” One day we were singing it in the prayer room, and the Lord said, “I never asked anyone to climb a mountain. I asked them to speak to their mountain. I also told them that I would give them a new threshing tool so they could thresh their mountain into chaff. I also told them that mountains of human obstacles would be made mere molehills.” God never asked us to climb a mountain, yet we are striving to overcome and become overcomers. We think it’s our religious duty and sacrifice to suffer and climb a mountain. 

We say, “Oh, we’ll do it with our arms wide open in worship to You, God. As I worship You and give You everything, I will lay down my life in sacrifice and climb this mountain for You because You are worthy.” That is really what the song is saying. The song is really not about God. It’s about them and what they will do for God. 

But what did God ask you to do? He asked you to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself. He never said, “I want you to suffer for Me. I want you to struggle every day for Me.” No. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide and comforter, to help us get out of our comfort zone, and to be our teacher so we can learn all the ways of God. We can learn that through the Holy Spirit and His leading in our life.

Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.

— Isaiah 41:15 (KJV)

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with Gods will]. For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with Gods will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you. Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others].

— Mark 11:22–25 (AMP)

Then he said to me, “This [continuous supply of oil] is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel [prince of Judah], saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of whom the oil is a symbol],’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain [of obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who will rebuild the temple] you will become a plain (insignificant)! And he will bring out the capstone [of the new temple] with loud shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’

— Zechariah 4:6–7 (AMP)

It’s not by our efforts. It’s not by our sheer will. It’s by God’s Spirit that we have the power and are empowered to do anything at all. It’s from that close, intimate relationship and knowing Him, knowing He has it covered and His promises are true.

The answer to every single one of His promises is yes and amen. It doesn’t matter what you see with your eyes. His answer is still yes and amen. But our understanding can become a roadblock and a stumbling place where we think, “Oh, it hasn’t left yet. This hasn’t been healed yet. The struggle hasn’t left me. Maybe I’m supposed to be sick. Maybe I’m supposed to be poor. Maybe this is the banner I’m supposed to carry. This is a mountain I am supposed to climb, and I will climb it, Lord. With everything in me and every striving humanly possible in my body, I will climb it with my arms wide open and worship You.”

This is a bold statement that I am making to you. I am saying there is a mountain you are climbing and you weren’t designed to climb it. You were designed to thresh it, to speak to it, to command it to leave. God moves mountains. He is a mountain mover.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world. [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

— John 16:33 (AMP)

We will face trouble, but take heart, for the Lord has overcome the world. This doesn’t mean that when you are troubled, you should suffer and struggle and have pity on yourself. It means in your trouble, you can look through it almost as if it’s a glass to the other side and see the promises of God. The answer is yes and amen. There is a way out. There is freedom. There is a miracle coming.

Jesus died for you to have life and life abundantly, and only deception can keep you from having that. Our deceived mind, not fully understanding what Jesus Christ has paid for us, can keep us from receiving what Jesus already provided. What? Yes. It is true. It’s for lack of knowledge and understanding that we perish (see Hosea 4:6). Yet in 2 Peter 1:3, it says we have been given “everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (NIV). That knowledge is relational knowledge.

We can be misled in the teaching. We can be taught by believers—people like me or your pastors—who are teaching through their personal filters. Maybe they were hurt. Maybe they were let down. Maybe they didn’t get their miracle. So they teach through that. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes God’s word doesn’t come to pass. Sometimes God doesn’t do that. Sometimes God intends to put these things on you.

The truth is that we cannot filter God’s word through our own circumstance. We cannot filter it through what we see or what we know or our own reasoning. These things cannot be a strainer for the word of God in our lives.

If something does not come to pass, if we don’t see the miracle, if we don’t see God’s hand at work in our lives, we cannot question if the promise is true. It is, regardless of whether we see it or not. It is truth beyond truth. It is unchanging. It is black and white. I will tell you, you can stand on it.

There are times when we don’t see it come to pass, but we cannot change our belief in God’s word when we don’t see the miracle happen. You believe it every time. I believe, every time, when I pray for people that God wants them well. Not every person is healed, but I know it’s a desire of His heart. If I begin to compromise and think, “Well, sometimes He heals, and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He wants people well, and sometimes He doesn’t,” then I become an ineffective vessel of God because I am doubting His word, and that is idolatry. I am putting my own understanding above God’s word, and that is unacceptable.

Have you done that in your life? Have you faced your own reasoning and reasoned God’s word into a package you can swallow, tolerate, or deal with? That is unacceptable. God’s word is true every time. Scripture says that “by His stripes (wounds) we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 AMP). What does that mean? Jesus, when He died, took stripes on His back. He was marred beyond human likeness, not only for our sins but also for our physical health. That was two thousand years ago. That was all provided for.

Sometimes I don’t see that come to pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for that person to die. It doesn’t. We are in a true spiritual battle with an enemy who wants to steal our lives. He wants to kill us and destroy us and infect us with his STDs (spiritually transmitted diseases). He wants to twist the truth, suppress the truth, make us doubt the truth, and then sidetrack us from God. He wants to fix our eyes on circumstances and put our understanding on our own analytical reasoning. He wants us to have a filter that processes our understanding of God through what has happened to us. This is the greatest way we can be deceived.

There is no mountain that can stand in the name of Jesus Christ because His name is above every other name. Either it’s above every other name or it’s not. In Mark 11:23, it says we can speak to our mountains and they will be cast into the sea. When you speak to your mountains, do they move or do they stay? Many times you speak to them and they stay. Does that mean God’s word is not true? Absolutely not. It is truth. You can stand on it. You can bank on it. If you speak to your mountain and it doesn’t move, then you need to ask yourself, “Why do I doubt? What is causing doubt?”

Mark 9:29 and Matthew 17:21 both say, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” I believe, with everything in me, that doubt is eradicated in prayer and fasting. Many people pray and fast to move God, but prayer and fasting moves us. It moves our hearts closer to God. It removes doubt because we are focused on the kingdom. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV).

As you fast and you starve your body, your body no longer gets to control you or rule you. Suddenly your body learns, “Hey, I need to listen up. I am being retrained here.” Your flesh is no longer your ruler, and instead you’re fasting and starving it. You’re saying to it, “Feast on the word of God.” The more you do this, the closer you draw yourself to the Lord and the more doubt is weeded out. Therefore, faith can be effective. Your faith can become effectual in two ways: by hearing the word of God and by prayer and fasting.

Many times, people think, “I’m going to pray and fast this mountain out of here!” They’re really saying, “I’m going to give my sacrifice to God so He will have pity on me and see my great works, and then He will move.” I can tell you right now, God does not move based on you. He moves based on His will and who He is. He is just that good. His love and His grace are irrational. He is uncontrollably generous. It is the kindest love you will ever know. It is so fruitful and so radically true that you can bank on it every time. He moves because of who He is and His great love for you. He does not move based on your behavior. He moves because that’s who He is.

The name of Jesus has been granted to you for you to use the authority to speak to your mountain so it can be cast into the sea. If you are not seeing that happen, check out those other verses because God did not call us to climb our mountains with our arms wide open. He called us to speak to our mountains. He called us to tear them down using His name and His authority. It’s His power that is behind it. It’s His life. It’s Jesus’ blood. It’s Him being marred beyond human likeness that gives you great authority to use His name.

God has already done it. He has already provided. But will you reach out and grab it and take possession of it? Will you use it in faith, knowing that God’s promises come to pass because His answer to them is always yes and amen?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

God does not control everything that happens to you. If you believe He does, I can assure you that Satan will attempt to destroy you. 

God delegated control to us. We are responsible for releasing the healing power of God. It’s not our power; it’s God’s power. Its Gods power inside of us.
The reason people aren’t being healed today is that they dont know the truth. As Scripture says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 NKJV). It’s our ignorance that is killing us. Some of you have seen those bumper stickers that say, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” 

That’s not true. What you don’t know is killing you. Amen? Ignorance will allow Satan to make you think it’s not God’s will to heal you.
As Christians, we look to Jesus as the supreme example. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. … The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me …” (John 14:9–11 NIV). He said, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him (John 8:28–29 NIV).

Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. … By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:19–20, 30 NIV). He said, “I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49 NIV).

Jesus said that He is just like the Father. He didnt do or say whatever He wanted but only what the Father willed Him to do and say.

Jesus never made one person sick. He never refused to heal one single person.

If all this is true—which it is—then Jesus would have misrepresented God if God is the One who gives sickness, disease, and problems. If God just allowed it, well then, Jesus misrepresented God because He never refused to heal a single person.
I can, however, show you a couple of instances where people refused to accept healing from Him. 

Look at Mark 6:1–6. When Jesus visited His hometown, “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5–6 NKJV). Notice that it’s “could,” not “would.” It’s that He couldn’t do it, not that He didn’t want to do it. He couldn’t do miracles there because of their unbelief.

Not His unbelief. 

Their unbelief.  

You see, there are a couple of instances where Jesus could not heal people—not because of His lack of power but because of their lack of faith. It says the same thing in the book of Acts and other places. But you cannot find a single person on whom Jesus ever put sickness. He never said, “No, you didn’t learn your lesson, so suffer a bit longer with this disease.” He even healed unbelievers. Check out the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19). That is how loving our God is!
If you really believe that Jesus is a perfect representation, the exact image, of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), then you have to take Jesus as the example and say, “It’s not God’s will for sickness to remain in our bodies.”

The only time God ever struck people with sickness was in punishment and judgment, and ALL of our judgment has been fully placed upon Jesus in the new covenant. It is no longer our portion! 

Jesus’ Name and the Authority to Use It

In 2003, I didn’t have a clue that Jesus’ name was literally above every other name that could be named on earth. I had no clue that it was a name that had power in it or that it was for my use in my life to speak over mountains so they would be cast into the sea. I had no idea that I could use it in my family’s life while praying over them or for them. I had no idea I could share it with strangers at the grocery store and see them be healed.

In 2003, I was blind. I knew there was a God who loved me, but I wasn’t convinced that He was for me. I had no idea that He had left me with the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

From August of 2003 until about November of 2005, I dug into the word of God daily, searching and striving, hungrily devouring every page and every word. I would be in awe of who God is, who Jesus is. Hebrews says that Jesus is the exact representation of God.

I had an idea of who God was from the Old Testament and what I had been told by my church. I had an idea of who God was. I thought He was a God who was on a throne, dictating and controlling. He was kind of our puppeteer, if you will. Yet how could He be controlling a stepdad who was abusing his daughter? How could He be controlling my behavior? How could He be willing to put me through all of that? I’ll tell you how. He wasn’t. He was not. 

He is a God who is sitting on a throne and sent His Son, who loves me so much, to bail me out. He sent His Son through every temptation that I would ever walk through. He left His Son on the cross to die. When Jesus ascended to be with God, He sent His Holy Spirit to come and live inside of me. He sent a piece of Himself to live with me, inside of me. It is a deposit guaranteeing my inheritance. Once He puts it in, He is not taking it back until He returns. It’s fully mine. I have full ownership of it. It’s part of who I am. I am in Him, and He is in me. 

When you look at the attributes of what comes with the Holy Spirit, you see power. It is delegated power from God. It is like the alien mother ship sent me down as an alien, part of His kingdom, to take back this world. Hello? Yes. 

He didn’t do it so I could spend every single day suffering and worrying about myself and taking care of myself. He gave me the same power that raised Christ from the dead and the name of Jesus Christ, which is a name above every other name, and the authority to use that name so that I could live life to the full and share it with others. How do people know we are His disciples? They know by our love. Amazing! Oh my goodness. I had no idea. 

I was not taught in church that Jesus’ name was above every other name and God had given me the authority to use it. It’s not my name. It’s the name of Jesus. It’s what He did for us. It’s the finished work He already completed. I have it. I have the opportunity to exercise it. I can have a trial come into my face—a sickness, a doctor’s report, bills, strife, teenage rebellion—but it cannot contain me. It cannot take me.

If I pull out the weapon of Jesus, whose name is above every other name, the giant must fall. The mountain will be reduced to dust because it is just a molehill under the name of Jesus Christ. I have the power to use that. It’s true that I have the power to complain. I have the power to agree with all the turmoil and all the trials that come in my direction. I also have the power to choose to stand in the name of Jesus Christ, in His name and His authority and His finished work.

I once was blind, but now I see. Scripture says that it’s for lack of knowledge that we perish. I once didn’t know, but now I do know. I have the knowledge. I have the relational knowledge of knowing God intimately and deeply. I know that I have access to the name of Jesus Christ, a name above every other name. 

Cell Phone—The Urgent Distraction

Lately, I have felt so much pressure from many people trying to reach me, but I just cant get back at the moment. I am doing a good work, and I cannot come down. I stopped and asked God to help me with this pressure. His words encouraged me, and I hope they help you, too.

Just because it rings doesn’t mean it’s urgent. The phone and texts can momentarily distract you from the calling on your life often enough that you never get it done.

Don’t come down from what God has asked you to do for the sake of other peoples urgent need for your attention.

Just because people don’t understand what you do with your time doesn’t mean you owe them any explanation. Don’t take the time to convince others that you are busy doing God’s work. Just do it! Keep doing it! Don’t be distracted by the little daily interruptions.

Add up the time you have lost with me in the trenches due to these distractions because you allowed yourself to be diverted to other people’s agendas when you had not even completed the last thing God told you to do.

God is saying to all of us, “Who is your God? Am I or are people? You are only accountable to Me. Do you not see how you are people-pleasing in this on-demand society? See it for what it is and let it steal from Me no more! I am the living God. I am worthy of your full attention.”

Whew. I had to share this. It overwhelmed me. Whats distracting you?
Go back and do the last thing God told you to do.

iKan Parent: How Writing the Book Changed My Life, Part 1

I finished writing a parenting book recently. I’m thinking, “Why am I writing a parenting book? I’m not even finished raising my children.”

I have been searching for wisdom and counsel from people to help me because I am in a struggling season with my kids. I have teenagers, and I don’t really know how to parent in this season because I have not done it before. I reached out to mothers who had done it before and gone before me. Honestly, I got empty counsel. I would receive counsel like, “Just pray. I don’t really know how I raised good kids. I just prayed, and then God did the work.” 

I am led to believe that is not all they did. They probably messed up a lot of things. They probably apologized a lot. But they don’t know. They haven’t reflected enough to give godly counsel to women who are trying to do the same things and are trying to avoid the same mistakes they made. They don’t know how to guide them.    

Now I am seeking the Lord, trying my hardest to bite my tongue and figure out how to get through this season. I felt like the Lord was saying, “You know what, your thirteen-year-old daughter asked you to write a parenting book. Ask her if she still wants you to write it. If she does, I want you to do that next.” I talked to her about it and said, “I don’t even know if you like the way I parent anymore. Maybe you want me to write a parenting book so you can know what not to do. I don’t really know. But would you still like for me to write down how I have raised you to date? If so, I am going to start that book because you asked me to.” 

She said, “Yes, Mom. I want to know how you have raised us. I think you did a really great job training us, especially in the beginning.”

So I began to write this book. I didn’t know God would show and give me wisdom and practical advice as I went back and reflected on raising my kids from birth until today. I didn’t know how much He would give me wisdom on how to move forward. I feel like He has made me a wise woman from writing this parenting book.    

When you are writing a story, it is like holding up a mirror and seeing your own reflection. When I don’t see my reflection, I don’t truly know what my flaws are. But when I look at a mirror, I can immediately see pimples and bumps on my face, ingrown hairs on my eyebrows, or wild hair. The closer I look, the more flaws I see in my face. That is what writing is like. It’s as if you are holding a mirror and you are reflecting on who you are and what you have done. You can see every flaw of your life.

When I began to write this parenting book, I started in my past with my childhood. I recalled my childhood and what made me want to become a different kind of parent from my parents. I reflected on my husband’s childhood. I reflected on those first years of being pregnant. I reflected on how I would wake up with my firstborn and feel like it was Christmas every day. I reflected on those terrible twos and terrible threes and how difficult those seasons were.

As I reflected, God gave me all the answers I needed for the exact season I was in. I may have a parenting book to share tips and tidbits for anyone who would like them, but the truth is that it changed my life, my family, and my responses. It is when we reflect. The process of writing this book changed my life. It’s not the book. It’s not what I did. It’s the process of drawing it out, reflecting, and remembering.

The first thing I am going to talk about is my marriage. I remembered my husband’s story and how he was raised—he was actually abused by his dad. His dad would burn his fingers with cigarettes. He would hold my husband’s head underwater and yell at him. He was abusive. He beat my husband’s mother. Whenever his father came in drunk, his mother would put my husband at the bottom of the clothes hamper and throw clothes on him, telling him not to get up and not to move until she came to get him. Sometimes he would stay in the hamper for hours. He was three then.

As I reflected on that, I thought about those events in his life and how they had to make him a timid guy. He hates temper and anger. He hates to get in trouble. It stems from the little boy who was under those clothes in the hamper. I reflected on what kind of wife I am today and how I nag him and get him in trouble. In what ways do I cause him to be defensive? In what ways am I stealing from him and making him feel like the little boy who was under the clothes in the hamper? 

As I reflected on his childhood, I realized all of that pain made him the gentle man he is today. A mutual friend of ours was flying from Houston to Oklahoma City, and she happened to be on the same flight as my husband. It was midnight, and her baby cried and screamed and flailed throughout the entire flight. She said, “It was such a God-given blessing that I sat next to your husband. He is the gentlest man I know on this earth.” That gentleness comes from this man who was a little boy at one time. His parents chose him for a purpose he wasn’t designed for. He was hurt. It created in him a gentleness such that if I become a radical, pushy, bossy, feminist woman, I can actually hurt him and cause him the same pain. 

Reflecting back on this and his life made me truly respect and appreciate my husband. I made a commitment to myself to watch my tongue more closely. I haven’t reflected on that for seventeen years. As I reflected on it, I recognized some ugliness in my own attitude. Sometimes it’s not even in my mouth, but the attitude in my heart towards him needs to change. Sometimes, we need to look back and reflect because we need to change who we are becoming today, and we forgot somewhere along the way. 

The second thing writing this book did in my marriage is it led me to recount our first year of marriage and how in love I was with my husband. I remember thinking, “It’s not possible to love anything any more ever.” When I thought about my unborn first child, I wondered how I could possibly love her as much as I loved my husband. Would I love her less? Would I love her more? I didn’t really know, but I loved him so much. After she was born, it was as if my heart grew seven times. Love expanded. I have never ever loved the way I loved my daughter. I didn’t even know such love existed. 

As I reflected on that situation, I fell more in love with my husband. I had forgotten how much I loved him and his heart and how much I appreciated him. Can you believe that? Seventeen years, and I have forgotten how much in love with him I was. Reflecting and writing this parenting book reminded me of my new love. The Bible talks about our relationship with God. It says, “Go back and do what you once did in the beginning.” Because I wrote this parenting book, it revived my love for my husband, and I have gone back and done what I did in the beginning.

Every person has a story. Writing down your story is pulling up a mirror and helping you reflect on the beauty and pain God had in your past. It will help you reflect on how you cared about someone once and how you let all these little annoyances and pet peeves get in the way and cause you to lose sight of what is truly important. For me, in my marriage, I loved my husband deeply once. Some dumb things got in the way, but as I reflected, I came to love him even more today than I ever have before. 

As I reflected on my own childhood and how I was raised, I noticed some little things I had brought into the teenage years with my children. It is frustrating to have your kids leave a pile of mess for you everywhere you go. The room is a wreck, they leave the food on a counter, they come in and set their stuff down, and they kick their shoes off. Their stuff is everywhere. You like your house to be picked up and cleaned. When people drop by, you don’t want crap everywhere, yet that’s what your kids do. They fling it and leave it everywhere. 

In the last couple of years, I heard myself hound and hound, nag and nag, “Pick up your stuff.” “Come get your shoes.” “Get your bag.” I have actually made fun of them with a little skit like, “Hey, Mom!” I kick off my left shoe and my right shoe, and I throw stuff all over the house. That is how our house ends up looking like a bomb went off half the time. 

As I recounted being raised, all I can remember is being nagged about my stuff all the time. That is what I remember. I remember being nagged: “Pick up your room.” “Pick up your stuff.” “Your room is a mess.” “Your room is—,” like a broken record. So, I’ve never been this way while raising my kids. I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted to choose relationships over cleanliness. I wanted to choose my children before I choose chores. Yet, here I am finding myself nagging and nagging and nagging. Maybe I’ve nagged them even before I hugged them good morning. My first thought is, “Pick up your stuff,” not “Good morning.” 

In your young years with your kids, they are ornery. Ridiculous behavior is something so precious to you. You love it like, “Oh, I love it when you’re ornery! Look at the mess you made. I love this mess. Your messiness is so beautiful. Your rottenness is so cute!” All of a sudden, they become teens, and instead of you saying, “Oh, come here. Good morning! I want to kiss your rotten face!” you want to say, “Your rottenness makes me mad.” A change happens, and it begins to separate the intimacy between you and your child. Your expectations change. So do your love and your hugs. Maybe it has become more conditional because you are becoming more and more frustrated. Maybe you are keeping a record of wrongs. You are measuring—making a molehill into a mountain. 

As I recounted my childhood, I remember not being hugged much. I remembered being told, “Hush, I am on the phone.” I remember my mom saying, “Listen, I am tired. Let me go change my clothes, and then I’ll talk to you,” but she never came back and talked to me. I remember feeling pushed aside and placed last. I remember feeling like the least important person on the earth. In fact, when I had my first daughter, Spencer, I was in the hospital holding her, and my love had just exploded. My mom was sitting in the room, and I asked, “Mom, did you ever love me this much?” She said, “I still do.” My mom has been gone for nine years. To this day, I am still baffled by that comment. When does intimacy between a mother and a daughter grow cold? When does intimacy between a father and son change? The love didn’t change, but the behavior did. The action of showing the love was different. 

As I reflected back upon this, I realized I don’t want to leave a legacy where my kids aren’t sure of how much I love them or how much I care about them. It changed my behavior. It shut my mouth. Who cares if my house is messy for a few years? Come over and step over some stuff. Come into our house filled with love, peace, and junk. We live in it. As I reflected, I counted what I truly valued. I value their hearts more than I value a clean, organized home. How cool is that? 

As you write your story down—because every person has a story—you will reflect and see where your weaknesses truly are so you can change. It will empower you to make the change. 


Love bears all things, endures all things, carries all things.
When all is gone, these remain: love, joy, peace. 
If I have a silver tongue, convince a crowd, but don’t love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I can prophesy and reveal all mysteries but don’t love, I am nothing.
So no matter what I say, no matter what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
So we love others as we are loved.
We cherish others as we are cherished. 
Even if I go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but don’t love, I’m no one.
He loved us first, so we love others as He does us. 
The greatest act of love ever done was this: while we were sinners, Christ died for us. For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son. Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And so even God loves.
He loves us with a powerful love that will seize us, carry us, cover us.
His love is deeper than anything we will ever know.
It is so deep, I could drown in it.
It is a life-giving water come to all who are thirsty.

As a deer pants for water, I long for You.
In a dry and weary land, anyone who drinks the world’s water shall grow thirsty again, but Jesus offers life-giving water. If you drink it, it will form a well in you.
I have tasted and seen: You are good.

• Authored by Josh Pugh •

Worship Is Warship

Many battles in the Bible were won with worship only. Too many times, we open our mouths too quickly to defend ourselves or others. We don’t even allow God time to battle for us. What are we thinking? There would be much less drama in our friendships and families and in the world if we would learn to be still and worship the Father so He has the room to do WARSHIP! 

Today read Exodus 14:14 and 2 Chronicles 20:1–30.
Now find how many other battles were won by praise and worship!

Don’t Be Discouraged. Walk in Healing.

I have had a neck injury from breakdancing with my children. I feel like God has restored my youth. I love it. I love being strong and really having my youth restored in this time of my life. But I did have a neck injury, which I think was actually building up for a long time. As I’ve worked out for the last few years, I’ve had a hurt knee, a hurt hip, a hurt shoulder—all these things that kind of nagged at me. I would speak to them in the name of Jesus, and the pain would go away.

You know, sometimes you will get discouraged or hurt or youll be mad at someone, and you will need help. You know what your flaw is. You wrestle with your flesh and your spirit. Sometimes we need help.

I reached out to a friend because I was discouraged and I needed someone to speak truth over me. I didn’t want anybody to pity me or get down in with me. I needed somebody to pull me out. When you are discouraged, you don’t really need someone to say, “Oh, I agree with you.” You need a rope to get you out of the valley. 

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV). When you get discouraged, there is no resisting the devil. You are submitting to the devil. Every day, your words align with his. You start to give him more power in your life. 

So I reached out to a friend and said, “Help me. I know the truth, but fear is keeping me from speaking the truth, and it is really making me discouraged.” 

I also reached out to a chiropractor who has a special field. He does something unique that only one person does in Oklahoma. I have really come to appreciate him so much because he and his family love the Lord. When I go in there, he says, “This is no big deal for Jesus.” Do you know why he says that? Its because he knows the Lord and puts Him first. He knows it’s really no big deal. 

It’s no big deal because God’s power is already present. He is willing. It’s not like He is trying to decide, “Whom do I want to heal? She was bad, so thats a no. He was bad. She was pretty good. I think I will heal her.” No, it’s not like that. We have all been bad. Every single one of us. No one is better than the other. We have all been bad. None of us deserves it, but God is willing. He wants to heal all of us. 

I believe that with all of my heart. His heart is to prosper us, to love us, to consume us with Him. That is His heart. That is all He wants to do. He wants you to know Him. He wants me to know Him. He wants me to look to Him first and not my problem. 

This chiropractor knows the Lord like that. He knows Him so well that he looks at me and says, “This is no big deal. It’s going to be okay. I know you have some symptoms, but don’t be afraid. Do not be afraid of this. You are going to be okay.”

I think he also knows the power of life and death. When we speak words of death over ourselves, we start to believe them and become discouraged. On the other hand, when we hear life-giving words, we start to have hope and belief. Faith is impossible without hope. It just is. You can’t stay down. I love him because he speaks life. 

You need people in your life whom you can trust to know who God is and stand firmly on that. It doesn’t matter what your symptoms are and what you see. They are going to say, “This is no big deal for God. You will be healed. I am telling you right now that you are going to walk in healing. You are going to be healed. You are.” They can’t necessarily tell you a time frame for the healing, and that is okay. They have hope and life-giving words. They don’t ever speak death over you because they know the power of God and they know the power of their words. 

I just want to encourage you to surround yourself with a close inner circle of people you can trust to do that and that only. You don’t need the people who are saying, “Maybe you should get another report. Maybe you should be careful.” 

Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (KJV). Be careful for nothing. I tried being careful. What I really was doing was saying, “I am sick. I am not well.”

But the truth is that by Jesus’ stripes, I am healed. I need to proclaim the truth that I am an overcomer, that I have the victory already, that I walk in health and healing. All things are possible through Christ. By His stripes, I am healed. He provided the power 2000 years ago. My body just needs to receive it in the name of Jesus.

I speak life into my body and say, “Wow, body, you are loved. I speak life into you. With the healing power of Jesus Christ, you are going to move like you’ve never moved before. You’re going to breakdance like you have never breakdanced before. Your youth is being restored every day.” I just keep speaking life into it. I’m not going to stop. I may have symptoms and moments of discouragement, but I am going to say to my little inner circle, “Pull me out quick.” 

If you think that this is from God or allowed by God, then you are not going to be able to stand firmly; you are going to be wishy-washy. You are going to think, “Well, maybe I should just allow it. Maybe I should just receive it.” You are going to be passive. That’s baloney.

Sickness is referred to in the Bible as a curse or captivity. You know what? It is. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV). I am not going to be a captive. I am going to be free in Christ because that is my calling. My God is good. This is no big deal for Him. 

I hope you are encouraged by this to seek Him. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV). Do not go lax in the peace times. It’s easy to war when it’s peaceful, but it’s tough to sharpen your blades in wartime. You need to be ready. You need to practice your faith in small things so that it works in the big things. 

The Name of Jesus

I had a God encounter. I spoke with a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart. We shared testimonies while we did some dishes. It was a random meet for only a moment between women a few generations apart. 

She had lost her husband of thirty years. I began to weep at the thought of even beginning to lose mine. All those little things that I am nagging about—like his socks beside the bed and the protein powder that he sprinkles but never wipes off the counter—started to grow faint. These are minor issues. They’re immaterial, really. Why does this type of thing bother me? Why does it nag me? Why do I have to open my mouth? Shut up. Shut up. I hear it repeating in my head. I would rather have those socks on the floor and the protein powder on my counter than not have him there at all. Who cares about the house? It’s about people. 

She went on to tell me how her last words to him were, “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be doing that.” He was on doctor’s orders not to do certain things because his heart was fragile. She said she had to forgive him for doing things outside of what he was supposed to do because that was who he was. He didn’t want to be someone different. He didn’t want to live a different life. 

I have been thinking about this nonstop. I was thinking that if we knew how to war in the name of Jesus Christ, then the dead would be raised up until they had long lives. When we are given a doctor’s report, we don’t have to receive it. We don’t have to receive the doctor’s report. We have to stand up in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the truth for our medicine, not a fact. I thought to myself, “If that happened to me, I would not only have to forgive my husband, but I would also have to forgive myself for not being the warrior that I was supposed to be, for not being someone so firmly established in the truth that facts don’t faze me.” 

Truth is my fact. The truth should be my reality above everything else in this world. I do live in this world. I live in a body, but the truth is that I am a spirit. I am a spirit with God living in me. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. It does no good to have that power inside of me if I can’t use it in this world, if I can’t draw on it to help people. It does no good if I just receive all the dark, sick evil in this world. It does no good whatsoever. 

I want to be a woman of God. I want to be a lioness arising, according to Lisa Bevere. I want to be a woman who is standing at the gate with my sword and refusing to let in any stealing, killing, and destroying. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me, and I have been commissioned and called by God and given the authority over darkness in the name of Jesus Christ.

I hope you have a God encounter today and you have a revelation that changes you forever. Stand up, ladies. Stand up, women of God. Stand firmly in the truth, knowing that this is a spiritual battle. It is not a battle in the physical. It is won through the name of Jesus Christ.