Friday, January 29, 2010

Marriage 911: Don't Give Up!

In the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to pour into several womens' lives about standing for their marriages. I promised one of my dearest friends that I would post this word because I truly believe the enemy is after marriages and families. And he will get them if we don't fight! Here's the word of encouragement and instruction:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Chunking My Past - Literally

Chunking My Past – Literally

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12
As some of you may know, I started keeping a journal (see left) during my pre-teen years, shortly after my mother had a horrible car accident. Thank God, she is fine now, but I believe the Lord led me to writing as a means of dealing with that very tough time in my life. As years passed, I wrote about everything in those journals – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The boys I had crushes on, getting kicked out of Six Flags, how angry I was with my mother all the time, how I wanted to smoke cigarettes but couldn’t afford them. I can honestly say 1985 – 2000 was the best of times and the worst of times. Really, it was a hot mess.

In late 2000, my journals took on a different purpose. They began to chronicle my relationship with the Lord. From 2000 to today, the journals almost read like love letters.

On New Year’s Day of this year, while in prayer, I heard very clearly in my Spirit that I needed to destroy the pre-God journals. For the record, I already had a feeling those journals were an issue, but I couldn’t bring myself to destroy them.
So I stayed on my knees that Friday and tried to bargain with God. Can I just put them in storage? Can I give them away to somebody? What if my grandchild wants to read them? [Never mind the fact that I probably can’t even pay my own kids to read them.] What if I get famous – then can I just sell them on Ebay? Other people get to keep their journals – why I gotta throw mine away?

(Even as I write this, I’m thinking about when God told Saul to destroy the Amelakites, but Saul was not fully obedient and suffered for it.)

The Holy Spirit (Who always speaks the truth) began to remind me of how and when I return to the journals, and I had to admit: I only visited the journals when I wanted to re-live my teenage years. And that only happened when I was feeling bad about my life, mad at my husband, regretting things, remembering old boyfriends, laughing about [mostly sinful] things my friends and I did as teens and young adults, wishing I could do things over again. Basically regressing, spiritually. That’s why Michelle Stimpson needed to do throw them out.

The Holy Spirit assured me that those old journals had served their purposes and it was time for me to let go of the past now. All of my regrets were useless, and I needed to trust God with the total of my past as much as I trust Him with my present and my future. To top it all off, I heard with crystal clear clarity in my Spirit, “Those journals are nothing but a record of your sin and foolishness. I don’t even have a record of those things, why should you?”

Instantly, my mindset changed. The Word tells us that the Lord does not remember our sin any more (Hebrews 8:12). So if He doesn’t want to remember it, I don’t want to remember it, either.

I knew that it was okay to keep some of the pictures and certificates, so I started going through the journals to retrieve the things that were not counterproductive. As I went through the journals, it occurred to me that this journal was indeed exactly what God said it was – a bunch of sin and foolishness!
I mean, did I really need to hold on to a sheet of paper with my Junior High boyfriend’s name written on it 300 times diagonally in three different colors of ink? Or notes between high school friends about the fight in the cafeteria? Additionally, there was a bunch of anger against my parents for having many of the same rules I have for my own teenage kids. Pulleaze! Once I began to see the journals the way the Lord saw the journals, it was easy to get rid of them. God has a sense of humor, but He doesn’t think sin is funny or worth remembering fondly, and neither should I.

It occurred to me then that so many of us are trying to get rid of baggage we LOVE, and until we see it as God sees it, there’s no way we’re going to be able to tear ourselves away from it. If that’s where you are right now, tell God the truth. Let Him know that, right now, you don’t see things the way He sees things. We must all ask Him to give us a vision that lines up with His completely!

Top 5 Things God Taught Me in 2009

Right now, I’m reading a book entitled A Call for Character by Greg Zoschak. One of the most profound quotes I’ve read thus far is Every believer should have this testimony: I love God more than I did a year ago; therefore, I don’t fear like I used to. Because of this, I now overcome something that used to defeat me. In this spirit of growing in Christ, I share my top 5 spiritual lessons of 2009. Perhaps they will bear witness with your spirit, too. [All scriptures reference King James Version.]

1. How to pray – for real – every day.
“…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

The Lord arrested me at the beginning of another one of my going-through-the-motions prayers one morning. I had just said my usual opening, “Lord, I thank You for another day,” when everything seemed to stop. It was as though the Lord said, “Talk to the hand. I’m not listening because you don’t really mean it.” And He was right. Whenever I didn’t really have any pressing issues on my heart, I pretty much babbled in His presence, and the babbling always started with the same phrase while (simultaneously) I was probably wondering whether or not I’d given my daughter lunch money.

Preparing myself to be in His presence by designating a time and place as well as quieting the world around me has significantly changed my prayer life – thus my entire life. Because He has taught me how to come before Him with expectation of His mighty, overwhelming, Holy presence, I don’t even do go my prayer closet now without Kleenex! (I’m a crier, by the way.)

(My prayer closet film is below.)

2. How to stop grieving the Holy Spirit.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

Ignoring the Holy Spirit’s leading has consequences which often mask themselves as drama, health problems, and maxed-out credit cards. I’m learning to listen and obey Him on the little things (“Don’t repeat what she said, Michelle” and “Don’t call them back. I’ll handle it” or “Just wait until next month”) so I can hear Him on the big things I’m praying about as well. Really, if I don't listen on the little stuff, why should He trust me life-changing revelation?

3. The Holy Spirit speaks the truth and helps me pray more accurately.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13

For example, a friend asks me to stand with her in prayer about something, but we're not seeing results (I do expect things to change when I pray). When I ask the Holy Spirit about it, He might tell me that we’re both praying amiss (James 4:3). Then I can go to her person in love and we can get to the bottom of the problem and pray as the Lord would have us pray. Whenever this happens, my friend usually says, “Yeah, the Lord has been dealing with me about that already – I’m glad you confirmed it.” Of course, the Holy Spirit speaks the truth to me about me, too. Ouch!

4. If I operate in love, I won’t have to worry about my motives.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

This year, I had to come before the Lord and say, “Okay, God, I’m going to be totally honest with you. Yes, I write Christian fiction, and yes, I like to working with kids and teachers, but really, I want to be rich. Like, King Solomon's next-door-neighbor rich. And I’m hoping all this good stuff I’m doing will bring in a lot of money, so I can buy that dream house I’ve been thinking about since 1999. I’m tired of watching MTV cribs and seeing all these people who blatantly dishonor you with all the riches stored up in their homes!” In response to my honesty, God has done two things: 1) Showed me that I am already rich because I have everything I need every day (Luke 11:3) and 2) Given me a true heart for ministry to His people. Do I still want the dream house? Yes, but only as part of the “other things.”

5. I’m supposed to know God’s will.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

In past years, used to just pray “God’s will be done” and leave it at that when I really didn’t know what to do. But God checked me on this in His Word. Since the Holy Spirit lives in me, it’s my responsibility to seek out His will and do what he tells me to do. This year, God (ever-so patiently) walked me through searching the Word first (imagine that – seeing what the Bible has to say about issues?), praying in the Spirit and asking for revelation, and having faith to believe that He will actually respond to me. He may not tell me everything all at once, but He will let me know what my next step is - even if that step is simply to stand and be in awe of His work!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Welcome to the New Format!

Happy New Year and Happy New Format!

After several months of praying and re-dedicating myself to the cause of Women Growing In, I've made the decision to change the format of our communication. I hope that you will find this blog more interactive (thanks to comments) and even more useful. Also, I find that God continues to give me little "snippets" here and there, and I hope to share them more often through a blog so that I won't feel the need to create several articles at once.

Thank you so much for joining me here!

In His Service,
Michelle Stimpson