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Bagworms

Growing up in a fruit and nut orchard I spent my time barefoot in the trees, playing in the irrigation water and eating fresh fruit right off the branch. One year a large, old black-walnut tree near our house got infected with bagworms. The worms wove silky-spider-webby-like bags all over the tree and my dad had to take action. If he didn’t then the worms would spread and soon he wouldn’t just have one infected tree he would have a whole orchard and then the next door neighbors would have a problem too. To kill the worms my dad carefully maneuvered the ladder and a wand of fire to burn away each worm bag. It was a bit dangerous and precarious but he had to do it to save the tree and contend for the health of his entire orchard and the orchards around us. Much of cultivation requires nurturing through watering and pruning but when an enemy shows up you have to fight for life and health. Cultivation requires, at times, contention.

In Psalm 139:16 God tells us that before there was even one of them that God ordained each and every one of our days in a book, set apart, holy unto God. From the very beginning, even our first day in utero is holy unto God and God has a plan and a desire for every one of our days no matter how small, how big or how old we are. What does the scriptures tell us about these plans? That they are for our welfare and for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). God is good period. He does not plan for bad things to happen to us or those we love at any stage of development. However, we need to be aware that God isn’t the only one who has plans for “our orchard”. Just like the bagworms tried to set-in and launched an attack against my dad’s orchard, Satan will launch attacks directly at our ability to fulfill our God-given destiny (both our big life destinies and our destinies of season or a position as a child or as a wife for example). The enemy’s whole focus and agenda is to steal, kill and destroy everything God has a destiny for: marriage covenants, children, even babies and more. The enemy doesn’t have a “they are too cute” or “they are too innocent” off-limit line, he will go anywhere a legal foothold is provided to him and do whatever he can to thwart the plans of God in our lives and He won’t wait until we are old enough to know it. That is where the role of a parent moves from the nurturing aspect of cultivation to the contention aspect. We create footholds in our children’s lives either for the Holy Spirit to flourish or for the evil one to set up a stronghold. To cultivate God-given destinies we must contend in prayer, word and deed for ourselves and for our children. When God gives us a glimpse of his destiny for our children or for our own lives whether it be through a prophetic word, a life-verse that jumps out at you in scripture, a God-given passion, however He communicates it we need to hang on to it. We need to write it down. We need to carry it around. We need to remind ourselves about it when things seem to be going awry. We need to speak it over our children, be intentional about cultivating it, and bring it up in prayer over and over again. If God has spoken it we can push for it in prayer, it is His promise for our child. We can push and push in prayer until every stronghold that is in the way is destroyed…and there will be obstacles. We need to pray and ask God to show us where the enemy has legal rights/footholds. Whether we are facing a generational fortress of darkness or a toe foothold we, as followers of Christ, have this promise: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5” God has given us every weapon we need to destroy every “bagworm” in our walnut tree. Even if those bagworms have already spread and have already infested our orchard or the orchards of family members or even generations of family members….OUR GOD IS BIGGER!

I always knew since I was a little girl that I was going to be a mom someday. I now realize that becoming a mom wasn’t just a desire of mine or simply a choice or a preference for me to make, no it was part of my God-given destiny, to cultivate children in the fear of the Lord. This became particularly important for me to realize when after the traumatic newborn phase due to tongue tie I never wanted to have children again. I knew though that what I had just gone through was not from God, it was not good. I also knew that God had given me the desire to have kids so I started praying immediately upon having this realization and asking God to heal me from the trauma and to help me want to have kids again. I was contending for my God-given destiny to motherhood! God did heal me within a few short weeks which is miraculous given the fact that we were still struggling, just not as bad. God wants me to be a mom and the enemy will try to take that desire away.

I didn’t realize that for years I was contending for my God-given motherhood destiny. When my husband and I got married in 2006 I would always talk about “when we have kids” so much so that it led one lady to comment as to why we just didn’t have kids yet. In 2010 we started trying to have kids. We kept on trying in 2011, in 2012, in 2013, in 2014, in 2015 and in 2016…something was clearly wrong. Along the way it was tempting to just let my heart become hardened against the desire to have biological children in order to protect myself from the cruel and unusual emotional roller coaster of hope and heart break that is infertility. I am so thankful that during my journey more than one woman told me to remember that God had given me that desire to become a mother. This gave me strength to keep on trying and most importantly to keep on praying. Finally in 2016 God called me to do a fast starting out with 24 dry, 24-48 hour water only then 21 day juice. Around this time a friend of mine on the prayer team named Laverne had an anointing from God to pray over someone who had a request of prayer for the desire of their heart. I remember that prayer meeting, I was all of a sudden in a surprise and sudden battle for my destiny. On one shoulder thoughts like “oh you have prayed for this so many times at the altar with so many godly women, cried so many tears, you have reached a place of peace and contentment (see my blog post 5 years), is it really worth making a big deal about again today?” On the other hand I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to raise my hand for prayer. I raised my hand. I was contending for my destiny and I listened to God, hallelujah! After the prayer meeting disbanded two of the women took me aside for further prayer. One laid her hands on my womb and was led by the Holy Spirit to sing a song in tongues over my body and I now realize over my destiny. Susie at the same time was given a vision from God of me and my husband playing with a baby boy. Just a short time later and after years of trying my husband and I conceived…our joy and delight, our baby boy Caleb! Incredible! A prophetic vision and a miraculous conception! I also now realize that the fast God called me to was part of the contention for my destiny. Through my experience with Caleb I have found out that the root cause of my infertility is due to a leaky gut and all of the overgrowth of gross things like Candida (a fungus) that go with that. God knew this. I do not believe it was coincidental at all that He called me to do a detox fast right before getting pregnant! Not only did this fast help me conceive but it helped me keep my pregnancy as high toxic load (again linked to leaky gut) has been linked to miscarriage. My heart was so fragile after all of the infertility heart break already and God protected me from the shattering affect a miscarriage would have had on my heart. The fast God called me to do was not easy either. Contention is not easy. It was not easy for my dad to carefully balance himself on a ladder and burn out each bag of worms from the tree in the hot New Mexican summer but he did it. I faced cravings for food to feed the candida etc. that were so vivid and so hard to resist that I thought I would go crazy. It took a lot of determination to obey God and to cry out to him for help to get through that fast. Contention for my destiny through prayer and not letting my God-given dream die led to fasting, led to divine appointments, led to spiritual songs and prophetic visions and to a stronghold that was destroyed enough that it led me to get me pregnant and to a delightful baby boy! Hallelujah! I am now preparing to destroy that generational fortress out of my life all the way, in Jesus name.

Just a few hours before I went into labor God gave me a “jump-out-at-you” Bible verse promise for my labor and delivery: “…I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:25b”. Less than 24 hours later my baby wasn’t breathing and was being intubated a second time by the ER doctor since the first intubation had failed by the labor and delivery team. God’s promise to me from the night before about saving my children had seemed a bit strange then but all of a sudden I knew this was a promise from God and in that moment it was what I hung on to and it gave me the strength and the faith to contend like I have never contended before in front of God and man in that delivery room. Crying out to God for what seemed like an eternity in front of everyone I prayed earnestly, I cried, I sang, I fought and I stood firm and my baby BREATHED….HALLELULAH (see my blog post Caleb Gabriel). The ER doctor came and saw us the next day and told me he really believed my prayers were the reason my little one had life. God gave me a scripture promise and a song, He gave me tools for the battle that He knew was just around the corner. God has prophetic words for our children all the time for us to use against every bag in every tree in our stewardship. We need to seek close relationship with Him for them and we need to herald them in battle. If the Word of the Lord has spoken it then we need to realize with the fear of God that we are accountable to it and can stand firm in it. It doesn’t mean the fight will be easy, there will be precarious moments but we have to stand firm.

I am still fighting for my son’s God-given destinies. We are up against generational curses related to tongue-tie, candida overgrowth/leaky gut, etc. This fortress is big and it is hard. My life and the fight against the “bagworms” would be a lot easier if I had heeded the Word of God and refrained from giving Caleb omeprazole but it doesn’t mean we are defeated. I did lay “lifeless” on the battlefield, frozen by my broken heart for a time after I realized the scope of the consequences from me discarding the warning of God, but I can stand up again and fight cause the grace of God is part of my heritage as a daughter of God. Grace. So it is not easy, we are still fighting the “bagworms” and I have realized that this “bagworm” infestation is so much bigger than “my orchard”, but we have the victory in Christ Jesus, even if we are surrounded by worms we have the victory. So just like I kept on contending for my destiny to become a mother and just like I kept on contending for my son’s life in the delivery room, and just like I kept on contending for my son’s oxygen which God gave him at 12 weeks of age (hallelujah, see my blog post Red Lips)…just like those and many other times I will keep on getting up and bearing the name and the word of the Lord in battle. Sometimes when I “get hit” in battle I feel like just lying there and crying and sometimes I do just lay there and cry for a bit, but my goal is to get up faster each time because to wallow in despair and discouragement is to wallow in agreement with the enemy. To sacrificially praise God in all circumstances is to agree with God. God deserves my praise no matter what and praise is a weapon of victory in and of itself!

I will praise Him and I will agree with Him that my son’s life, my son’s body, my son’s mouth, throat, stomach and bowels will be a living testimony of:

Jehovah Rapha, The God Who Heals Caleb
of Jehova Nissi, The God Whose Banner over Caleb is Love
of El Roi, The God Who Sees Caleb inside and out
of Jehova Jireh, The God Who Provides for Caleb
of El Shaddai, the All-Sufficent One

That will be and is my son, a living testimony. I am striving to cultivate, in the fear of the Lord, a living testimony of the Lord God Almighty. I am rearing a holy image of God and I am pressing in for my son’s physical body to not only reflect a Good God’s physical image but for his mind, heart and soul to reflect the same Good God, in Jesus’ name.

“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
 Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’”

Isaiah 44:1-4

God IS the standard.

PrintWhat is the standard for morality? Is it arbitrary, did God create it, can he change it? I was mulling over how I would answer these questions this week. I knew that I would want to explain that true righteousness can only be found in Christ. That morality is not arbitrarily what God “decides it should be”. Why can I say this so confidently? Because God IS the standard of morality. He IS Righteousness. As the sermon on the mount puts it, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness we are satisfied. We are satisfied not because of a law or a code that is found, or decided upon, but because to be filled with righteousness is to be filled with God. The living, powerful God Who has no beginning or end. The unchanging (immutable) God. Since He is eternal and immutable, then all that is truly Good and Perfect also does not change and did not begin; because He was, and is, and is to come. The world’s standard changes with the whim of pop culture, with the urges and desires of man, but God remains unchanged and Holy. God is the standard of morality.

All that is in opposition to Who God is, His Purity, His Holiness, is therefore in opposition to God himself. That is why God describe those who have their minds set upon satisfying the very urges that oppose Him, as His enemy.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:7-8

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

This is kind of scary, I mean every time we decide to indulge the desires of the flesh we are literally taking a stand against God. Against THE God of the universe who determines are very breath and life.

However, when we choose to submit our mind and bodies to Him, we are taking a stand against the ruler of all that opposes God as James 4:7-8 says

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

I was thinking about this even further, I mean there has been times in my life where although what I was doing was “technically” or “legalistically” (in a religious sense) acceptable I knew that God did not want me to do it. He was calling me to trust Him and obey Him. Although I could be justified before man, I couldn’t before Him because it was not God’s will for my life. What then? If it is in opposition to God’s will, it is in opposition to Him. Disobedience, or to violate/fail to respect and comply with God’s will, is therefore immorality in and of itself. It is immoral, or wrong, to oppose what is perfect and pure, to oppose God.

How are we to know what God’s will is for our life? Romans 12:1-2 has the answer:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In other words, as our minds are transformed by the Spirit we begin to have discernment and are able to better hear God’s voice. To better see the way God has for us. But, in order for this to happen we must repent and give up, or sacrifice our sinful ways. We must submit to God so that His Spirit can be in control, instead of our own desires.

God calls us to do this now, while we still have breath, before our soul passes outside of time, into eternity. He sits upon the law in a seat of mercy. Christ’s perfect blood has been shed to pay the price for sinful opposition and to protect all who come and bow before Him, the Holy One. Death has been defeated so that in God’s great mercy life can be restored to those who were at enmity with the Author and Giver of Life. Not because of anything done on the part of the enemy, but because God IS Love, unconditional love.

Something Has to Die

So I’ve just been thinking how you’ll hear “I’m just letting whatever God’s will is be done”, but the person behind that statement is living in blatant sin. I find this statement strange and unsettling. Why? Because there is a difference between choosing to live in sin with indifference towards God, vs living in submission under God’s authority and therefore denying sinful desires. One is called obedience the other is called rebellion. It is not God’s will for us to rebel but to repent.

It is as if we were told by our mom not to hurt our sibling, and then we just slap them up right in front of her and then say “I’m just trusting my mom for her will to be done because she loves me”. It was not her will for you to hurt your brother or sister, and even though she loves you more than life itself, you will suffer the consequences. If you really trusted her you would’ve known that, and feared that, and obeyed. The only thing is we have all done this before God. Blatant or not before men, it is all blatant before Him. The consequence of thumbing our nose at the Author of Life? Death.

But, God loves us in spite of who we are and so He gave His perfect and innocent Son to take our punishment so that if we are sorry and turn from our sin then when God looks at us He will see the blood of Jesus paying the price of our sins, no matter how many or how great. The thing is we must repent, we must be sorry for our sin, we must cry out to God for His help. We cannot keep on thumbing our nose, we cannot keep on living according to the desires of our flesh.

Something has to die, either it will be our soul, or our sinful desires. He has provided Himself for atonement, and He provides His Spirit to strengthen us to obey. Plus that means we get the greatest, most satisfying thing of all, Him. Call out to Him, cry out to Him, we all need Him.

Grace…mercy, what’s the difference?

I recently began to wonder what the difference between God’s mercy and God’s grace is. I mean, the reason I am saved is because of God’s grace…so is mercy and grace interchangeable or does God practice grace on those who believe because of His great mercy?

I looked up the two words in Webster’s Dictionary and here are the applicable definitions:

Mercy:
1 a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment
2 a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion

Grace:
1 a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
   b: a virtue coming from God
   c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

Well there we go.

God regenerates and sanctities those who have faith in Him through the propitiation of our sins by the blood of His son Jesus because of His compassion, forbearance and divine favor on the offenders (us) who are subject to His power.

Romans 3:21-30
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Hebrews 2:9-17
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus,because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

“I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN,
IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.”

And again,

“I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.”

And again,

“BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.”

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.