Category Archives: Holy Spirit

How to Host a God Gathering

People seeking God

It has been on my heart recently to host a “God Gathering” – a place where people can gather to seek the Lord. In the old days, people referred to this as “tarrying in the presence of the Lord”. It’s not exactly a prayer meeting – I’m not sure what to call it so I call it a “God Gathering”. 🙂

I have hosted many of these over the years and it occurred to me last night that there may be someone who doesn’t know how to do this so here’s how I do it – in case it might inspire someone else to host a God Gathering of their own!

  1. Make sure you are hosting the God Gathering for the right reasons. The Holy Spirit is usually the one who initiates the invitation by putting it on my heart to host one. You do not want to do this just because you feel like it – it won’t work. I had a friend call me one time and ask me to host one for her. I had a feeling she was motivated by emotion more than by the Spirit because she seemed upset and hosting the meeting was a reaction to her emotional turmoil. She contacted a bunch of people and twelve of them said they would come. I prepared for it, but I had this sense that this was an empty endeavor. Sure enough, the day for the meeting arrived and she was the only one who showed up. We sat together, quietly talking. When it became obvious that no one else was coming (not even other spiritual leaders, pastors, etc. that had promised to come), I told her I had a sense that it just wasn’t the right time. She agreed and went home. This was a clear object lesson for me – don’t be tempted to do this on your own. Wait for His timing.
  2. Prepare the environment. I usually do this by cleaning the room where we will be meeting and playing some soaking music softly in the background. I often do this a few days before and just let the music keep playing. My brother used to tell me he could tell the angels liked it when he left the soaking music on. I’m not aware of that but it does help your mind to focus on the Lord every time you hear the music. Some suggestions for soaking music are here.
  3. Send out an invitation and make sure people are clear on why you are hosting this meeting. You want to make sure that the people who are coming are sincerely wanting to connect with the Lord. This is not just a social gathering. If parents ask, I don’t usually include young children because it’s hard for them to sit still (though I have seen some children who really like these kinds of meetings, but it is rare). You want an environment with no distractions.
  4. Prepare the spiritual environment. Once the people have gathered and greeted each other, I turn down the lighting to signal that it’s time to begin. Then I pray some specific prayers to prepare the spiritual environment and our hearts for an encounter with Jesus.
    1. Pray over the room, asking the Lord to wash it and commanding everything else to leave. For example, “Lord, thank You for meeting with us. We are here for You. Would You please wash off this room and remove anything that does not belong here? No spirits of the enemy are allowed to stay here – leave now, in Jesus’ name.”
    2. Pray over the people, asking the Lord to wash us off and remove any distractions from hindering our time with Him. For example, “Lord, I ask that You wash us off from all that we’ve picked up today. Would You please draw us close to You? Open our hearts and minds to hear from You. Please remove any distracting influences during our time together.”
  5. Invite the Holy Spirit to come. Yes, the Lord is already there, but there’s something about this step that prepares YOU to hear from Him. For example, “Holy Spirit, we invite You to come. You are welcome in this place. Please increase our awareness of Your presence.” There’s a difference between the omnipresence of God and the tangible manifest presence of God. We are seeking His manifest presence.
  6. Invite Wisdom and Revelation. For example, “Wisdom and Revelation, come. We welcome you. We invite you to speak to us and show us God’s glory and goodness.” I don’t know how this works, but I know that when I do this it shifts the atmosphere. Some say these are specific angels that are released to minister – others say these are aspects of the Spirit of the Lord. Either way, you are welcoming them to reveal the Lord’s goodness and glory. I don’t have to understand it for it to work (like electricity, right?). Childlike faith is simple and powerful.
  7. Wait expectantly. At this point, I often turn the music up just a little bit so we can hear it and drown out any other sounds. It helps us to focus without distraction. Often the presence of the Lord has been building with each prayer of invitation spoken so now we just enjoy Him. I often find a smile bursting on my face because He’s HERE in such a tangible way – I am so happy to be with Him. Sometimes I whisper my love and worship to Him – trying not to distract anyone, but at the same time honoring who He is to me. Others may also whisper their love and worship. 🙂 Some people sit, some lay down on the floor, some kneel – each one is free to do whatever feels comfortable for them. (I have tile floors so when I host these, I often put big cushions on the floor and some fluffy throw rugs for people to lay on, if they want to.) Sometimes people pace at the end of the room – that’s okay too. It’s important for each person to be free to be themselves. I also make sure there is paper and pens on the coffee tables in case anyone needs to write what the Lord is saying to them, especially if they wish to give it to someone else.
  8. Receive from His presence. Just being together in God’s presence is incredibly refreshing and healing. We often just sit quietly and soak up His presence. No one is moving or talking – just being together. Letting God be God.
  9. Ask people to share. After a time of waiting on God, I will often feel prompted to lower the music a little bit and then I ask, “Would anyone like to share what the Lord is showing them?” One by one people share what the Lord shared with them – it could be a Scripture verse, a new insight into His goodness and care, a word, a song or a vision. Scripture says, “When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all learn from each other.” I Corinthians 14 The Message.
  10. Respond to each thing that is shared. This is really important and some people miss this. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying through each person who shares. Acknowledge what has been shared (thank the person) and then ask the Lord if there’s anything that needs to be done. I am often doing this internally while the person shares, asking the Lord to direct us. Sometimes it is obvious – perhaps something the person shares relates to a current event that needs to be prayed for. Ask that person to lead in prayer, others can join in after they pray. Usually the person who gets the insight or revelation has the authority to pray it out. If someone gets a word of knowledge or word of wisdom for an individual in the meeting, they should offer to minister to that person. Maybe they need prayer – but don’t force it. Ask them first. Sometimes it is not obvious right away what the Lord is saying but after 2-3 people share, you might see a theme emerging that guides you. Ask the Holy Spirit – in fact, I often just stop everything and say out loud, “Holy Spirit, what do You want us to do with this?” and we all just wait. If you don’t hear or sense anything, then just move to the next person who wants to share.
  11. Pray for each other. After everyone has had a chance to share what the Lord showed them, ask if anyone needs prayer. If there are many needs and time is running out, break up into pairs or groups of three and pray for each other. This is so important – we have no idea how much the people around us are in need until we ask. Asking for prayer requests tends to open people up like nothing else does – this is often the most precious part of these gatherings as people feel safe enough to be vulnerable and transparent about their pain and struggles. This is the body of Christ loving on one another – first we love God and receive His love, then we love one another. ❤
  12. Close in prayer. You’d think you could skip this step since so much prayer has been going on all night, right? But there’s something about “closing” that feels right. For example, “Lord, thank You so much for meeting with us tonight. We enjoy Your presence so much! Thank You for all You did tonight. We ask that You seal these prayers and all that happened here. We love You.”

I have not encountered too many church meetings that follow this format. But every time I follow it, the Lord comes powerfully and everyone leaves very happy, refreshed and blessed.

I wonder if you could do this virtually. Could you have an online God Gathering using video chat? What do you think? Would it work?

Is there anything you do that helps you and your friends connect with God? Please feel free to share it. I love new ideas!

 

Advertisements

Listen, obey – don’t second guess!

Trust & Obey

A man shared this story with me and I thought it would help to illustrate the importance of following the Holy Spirit.

He was on a business trip and contacted some old friends he hadn’t seen in years. They picked him up for church and then invited him over for lunch. He spent several hours with them, enjoying their company and getting to know their three small children. (He loves kids!)

The following weekend, he was making plans to see them again. As he was getting ready, the Holy Spirit impressed on him to prepare to give them some money – $120 in cash. He wrestled with the idea. When he had visited them, they had seemed to be doing okay. Their house was nice, their children had toys and were dressed well. They didn’t appear to have any financial needs.

Especially as a man, he didn’t want to embarrass his friend by offering him the money and implying that he wasn’t a good provider for his family. He kept wondering, “Why do I feel this nudge to give them money? This doesn’t make any sense!”

But this man has walked with God for many years – so he knew better than to second guess. He put the cash in an envelope and prepared to give it to them at the right time. Even though he had no idea why.

He visited with them and just before he was ready to leave, he spoke to both the husband and wife together. He said, “I felt from the Lord that I was to give you this money. I’m not sure what you need it for – maybe for Christmas or something.” The couple politely thanked him and then his friend drove him back to his hotel.

As they drove, his friend told him what a HUGE blessing that money would be to them. He told him that just a few days before, he’d given his wife his last $40 to buy groceries for the week. He had put $10 of gas in her car and $3 in his, hoping to make it to the end of the week when his next paycheck would come. They had been able to meet their basic expenses like rent, electricity, gas, etc, but right now, they had no cash flow and things were very tight.

His unexpected cash gift was a BIG answer to prayer and came at just the right time!

Isn’t that cool? From the outside, they looked like any other family. The man had no idea they were in need. They never mentioned it to him. But thank God, he listened to the Holy Spirit, he obeyed and didn’t second guess himself. Not only did it increase his faith, it also increased theirs – God demonstrated Himself as their Provider without them saying a word to anyone! I love that! ❤

Have you ever had an experience like that? Please feel free to share it below. 🙂

Help Me, Holy Spirit!

“Help Me, Holy Spirit!”

I have found this to be the BEST prayer for everyday life. The Holy Spirit is referred to as our Helper in John 14:26:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things,

and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. – Jesus Christ, The Bible

Oftentimes we don’t know what to pray. Life situations can overwhelm us. We can get so tired or so busy that it seems like an effort to connect with God.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be sent to us by the Father. The Spirit has many functions – one of which is to help us! Isn’t that cool?

I don’t know about you, but I need help every day.

When I’m trying to figure out what to cook for dinner and my mind is drawing a blank, I say, “Help me, Holy Spirit!”. Pretty soon a dinner menu drops into my mind with the ingredients I need (or already have on hand). I know what to make and I know how to make it. Instantly! Sometimes when my family asks, “What is this?” I tell them, “This is a new dish – never before seen on the earth! It’s a new creation. I hope you like it.” They dig in and usually love it! But don’t ask me to make it again because I won’t remember how I made it. It’s like art – you can’t mass produce it and make “prints” from it. 🙂

When I haven’t slept well and the day seems challenging with all that I need to accomplish, I have often found myself walking toward the store saying, “Help me, Holy Spirit.” I discover the energy I need to accomplish all that is on my list to do that day. When I fall into bed that night, I am often amazed at how much got done. I whisper, “Thank you, Holy Spirit, I know that was YOU.” The Spirit can quicken our mortal bodies to have the energy we need to finish our daily race (Romans 8:11).

When a friend calls with a serious relationship problem or a deep question about the meaning of life, I silently pray, “Help me, Holy Spirit!”, as I listen with my heart. Miraculously I open my mouth and say things that seem to help. Often times I’ve never even thought of the things I say – I learn even as I’m speaking! It’s really cool – instant download of new revelation from the Holy Spirit. I call that “hands-on training”. One minute I had no idea what to say and the next minute I sound like I have all this wisdom to help my friend. That’s the Holy Spirit!

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would help us by teaching us all things. He also said the Spirit would bring things to our remembrance. That is very comforting – especially as our minds age and we start forgetting things. Whenever my husband or I misplace something (i.e. keys, wallet or glasses), we cry out, “Help me, Holy Spirit!” and guess what? The missing item shows up. Every time.

I remind people who are in school that if they are struggling with a specific subject (i.e. Calculus, for instance) that they can pray, “Help me, Holy Spirit!”. They will receive supernatural “teaching” to help their mind comprehend what is necessary. And it can’t hurt to pray that same thing just before a test, asking the Spirit to bring to your remembrance the material that was studied. I often experienced supernatural memory recall when I was studying and taking tests for my Masters degree. It reduces your anxiety about big tests when you rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you and help you. 🙂

There are so many situations where this simple prayer can help

  • making decisions
  • parenting children
  • choosing a career
  • planning a vacation
  • making new friends
  • developing a business idea
  • making sales calls
  • writing a proposal

I encourage you to practice saying this prayer this week and then watch to see what happens. Please come back and tell us what you experienced!

I love this simple prayer! It cultivates in me an attitude of reliance on the Holy Spirit to lead me, guide me, teach me and help me. 🙂

Talking to the Spirit – Is It Okay?

I was recently asked this question:

My church does not teach anything about talking to the Holy Spirit. What assurance can you give me as a Christian that this is the right path in our quest to have a close relationship to God. And why don’t churches talk about this kind of thing?

My response:

One of the foundational truths of the Christian faith – the one thing that unites all true believers is the belief that “Jesus is Lord”. In fact, to become a follower of Christ, to take on the name “Christian” means that you have decided to make Jesus the Lord of your life. You seek to follow His ways and let Him guide you in your daily decisions.

How did He say He would guide us? He’s no longer physically here on the earth where we can see Him. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:12-13

In the New Testament, the word “Spirit” is used to refer to “the Lord”, to “God” and to “Christ” interchangeably, so it seems that the Spirit is the same as God or Jesus. Here are some Scriptures to illustrate this point:

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

In fact, Peter says that it was the Spirit of Christ that spoke to the prophets of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures (I Peter 1:11).

From the dawn of creation, God is described as a Spirit.

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:2-3

Jesus affirmed this when speaking to the woman at the well in Samaria. He said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

It seems pretty clear that the Spirit refers to God or Jesus so talking to the Holy Spirit is the same as talking to God or Jesus. Jesus said He would guide us through the Holy Spirit (aka the Spirit of Truth) so talking to Him would be an essential part of our guidance – at least in my opinion. When you are driving a car and the passenger says to you, “Turn right up there.” My natural reaction is to ask, “You mean here?” and point with my hand to confirm that I understood what they meant. Even though they are guiding me, I still sometimes need clarification and therefore I need to talk to them. It’s the same with the Lord.

When I was a little girl, someone told me, “Talk to Jesus every day – He’s your best friend.” And I thought to myself, “Well, if I talk to Him, He better talk to me too!” Even in my childlike understanding, I knew that relationships are a two-way street. Both parties need to communicate if there’s a relationship – if not, it’s just a monologue! How boring that would be!

When I chose to follow Christ, I was twelve years old. The very next day after this decision, I was walking to my locker at school and something made me mad. I said a curse word. Immediately, I heard in my heart, “You are a Christian now and Christians don’t talk that way.” Guess what? That was the Holy Spirit teaching me how to follow Christ. That certainly wasn’t my thought – it was completely foreign to my mind. I stopped immediately and thought to myself, “Yes, that’s right. I will no longer curse.” And I stopped using curse words – I was only a kid so the habit hadn’t really caught on yet. 🙂

Later that same “voice in my heart” told me to go to church. I went home and told my mother, “I want to go to church.” She said, “Okay, which one?” I had no idea so I took out the phone book and started looking for a church. I decided to go to one service of each different kind of church listed to see what they were like (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, etc.). Finally, I decided to attend a small Presbyterian church where a friend from school was playing the piano.

The church told me, “Read your Bible.” So I did. I noticed that every story in the Bible was about people interacting with God. God spoke to someone and they responded and that became their story, as recorded in the Scripture. So I began to expect God to speak to me like He did to everyone else. There were no stories of God NOT speaking to people so I figured that was the normal experience of a follower of God.

Every day I talked to God and I expected Him to talk to me. Why not? He talked to lots of people in the Bible. It took me years to learn how He talks, but I did learn it. And you can too. Here’s a post that will help you with that, Look for Him – He’s right there.

There’s also a spiritual training course you can take called, “Developing a Close Relationship with God: A Simple Method” (http://tinyurl.com/Heart4God)

Each type of church has their own methods for how they encourage people in their connection with God. Some use ritual, some use stained glass, some use silence, some use music, some use preaching or teaching. Because we are all so unique, some methods will resonate more with you than with others. That’s okay. Find what works for you and pursue it! Ask God to show you how to draw close to Him and He will – I promise. He knows how to “speak your language” whether that is quiet meditation or loud, joyful music.

Do you talk to the Holy Spirit? I do – every day. What has your experience been? Feel free to share below – to encourage others who are just learning about this. 🙂

[By the way, there ARE churches that talk about this – they are usually called charismatic or Pentecostal. Look for one near you – it just might surprise you what you find there! If you need help finding one in your area, let me know and I’ll help you.]

Is Jesus really there?

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

This Scripture keeps coming to my mind this morning. Jesus said this in the context of the Holy Spirit coming as our helper. He seems to imply that the coming of the Holy Spirit is the same as Him coming. And He says He won’t leave them as “orphans” – as though He is their father.

I have noticed the number one thing that holds us back from experiencing the “abundant life” that Jesus promised is the “orphan mindset” – aka victim mentality. We all struggle with times of feeling alone, abandoned, unloved, uncared for, etc – we feel like we are on our own in the cold, cruel world.

But Jesus said, ” I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” The main question is – Do we believe this? When we choose to believe He is always with us, something special happens – we start noticing Him around us. It opens our eyes to see His goodness and provision. However if we don’t believe this, we become blind to it and it increases our feelings of abandonment.

I think this is part of “awakening” to your identity as a son/daughter of God – believing the Lord’s love and goodness toward us that He never leaves us. “As a woman thinks in her heart, so is she.” Proverbs 23:7 (KWV)

What do you think?

I am a Child of God. I know it. I live it. I love it!

Spirit vs Soul, Part 2

Rating: Educational

This post is to continue the discussion of Spirit vs Soul. The first part of the post is here – I recommend you read that one first or else this might not make sense (you have been forewarned). 🙂

Quick summary: You are a spirit and you have a soul. Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Learning to switch between them can change your experience of life dramatically – you can have much more peace, joy, love, patience, etc. There is a process in learning how to make the switch – it starts with learning the difference between the two. Most of us are clueless – I know I was! The process is:

a) Become aware of your spirit

b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place

c) Strengthen your spirit

d) Let your spirit lead

Last time we discussed the first two points, this time I will cover the last two. Here we go!

 

Strengthen your spirit

Strengthening your spirit involves learning what your spirit can do. It is an education for your soul in who you really are. Your soul may have heard many negative messages about who you are (i.e. you’re stupid, you’ll never succeed, etc.). As you learn who you are in your spirit – God’s DNA in you – you begin to see your own value, the value God put in you. You have a core value that no one can take away.

Think of all the negative things you have either heard or thought about yourself. Now write down some statements of the opposite of those things. For instance, if you tell yourself, “I’m dumb and I can’t remember things”. Then the opposite would be, “I am intelligent and I have a good memory”. Once you have a list of these, begin to say them to yourself out loud each day.

It feels like my soul is drinking in the words.

I like to look at the list while I am reading them (versus memorizing the list and recalling it from memory). First, I ask God’s Spirit to come and fill me and wash me. Then I read my list out loud to myself. I use the pronoun “I” instead of “you” because it helps me to “own” the statement of truth.

Below is an example of some of the things I have said to myself. I start with, “Spirit of Sandy, I call you to attention. You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. These are some of the blessings you have:

  • I am free and I give others their freedom.
  • I am accepted and I belong.
  • I am appreciated and acknowledged for my contributions to the world.
  • What I say is important, valued and received with honor and respect.
  • I am loved for who I am.
  • I receive love and respect from other people.
  • I have faithful, loving, close relationships. I am a blessing to others.
  • I am compassionate and I am able to receive compassion from others.
  • I am worthy. I am trustworthy. I am faithful.
  • I trust God to order my steps and to take care of everything that concerns me.
  • I have everything I need to fulfill my destiny.
  • I rely on the Holy Spirit to show me things.
  • I am confident and secure. I am FEARLESS!
  • I am welcome to demonstrate who I am. The world is waiting for me with anticipation and joy.

You can borrow any of these statements that feels true to you or you can write your own. Write them without using negative statements. Instead of “I’m not dumb”, you would say, “I am intelligent” or something similar that is positive. Choose your words carefully because it makes a difference. You are learning to speak kindly to yourself and that’s very important.

Now I’m going to be honest – when I first started doing this, it was tough. I would read my list out loud and my soul would react and say things like, “Yeah, right!” with this sarcastic tone of unbelief. Saying things like “I am accepted and I belong” would cause my soul to immediately remind me of how rejected I felt the day before because of something a friend did to me. But I kept doing it – because I wanted to CHANGE the conversation in my head. My soul needed to acknowledge my spirit’s place and my spirit was not going to feel confident to step out if it was constantly listening to the negativity coming from my soul. This step really helps you to experience the difference between the two. At first, my spirit was quite weak. I simply read my list because I was desperate to change. I didn’t feel confident or strong or fearless. But I had a tiny bit of faith and a whole lot of determination to see things change. And they did!

I will also say that helping your soul heal from the wounds of rejection and fear is also a big part of becoming whole. I didn’t know how to do that when I started this process, but a few years later I did. The exercises in this book called Freedom through Forgiveness helped me tremendously. Healing the soul enables you to switch between your spirit and soul more easily.

Now for the last step ….

 

Let your spirit lead

The last step is to work with your spirit and your soul each day as the need arises. I would not try this step until you have done the previous steps for several weeks, maybe longer. You will begin to feel different inside as a result of those steps. Then you’ll be ready to move forward with this process.

Your soul is like a little child that needs protection from harmful influences. Your spirit was designed to do that. When your soul feels sad, lonely, fearful, rejected, etc., your spirit can give it what it needs in terms of encouragement, support, security, acceptance, etc. because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your spirit.

Here’s an example. I have often felt anxious about facing new challenges. Whenever I notice that my soul is anxious, I say out loud, “I come out of agreement with anxiety and fear. I release peace and trust in the Lord into my soul.” This is my spirit ministering to my soul. It actually makes me feel better, usually within a few minutes. When I have felt sad or lonely, like no one understands my troubles, I will tell my soul, “It’s okay. You’re not alone. Jesus said He would never leave you or give up on you. Lord, open my soul up to receive Your love.” Then I will wait expectantly – soon I feel God’s love fill my soul. I soak it up by just being still and letting His love fill the sad, empty place in my soul. I’m tapping into my spirit where God’s Spirit is. Peace will come over me and I let it permeate my entire being, including my soul – the place that felt sad or lonely just a few minutes before now feels happy and full.

Once you’ve 1) become aware of your spirit, 2) acknowledge that it has a right to be expressed and 3) you’ve strengthened your spirit by embracing the truth, try letting your spirit lead. On a day when you have to face something you don’t really want to, ask your spirit to come to the front and ask your soul to go to the back and sit down. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Then walk into the uncomfortable situation. You will probably notice that you are functioning better than you expected. Most people are amazed at the results. They tell me that they went from being fearful to being confident in less than 30 seconds. This is because they had been strengthening their spirit and when they needed it, the strength was there.

Practice calling your spirit to lead whenever you feel weak or overwhelmed by life’s demands. This is what I usually say, “Spirit, I call you to attention – please come forward and lead. Soul, please go to the back and rest. Holy Spirit, I need your help – please guide me now.”

Try it out in different situations and see what happens. If you try it and you don’t see the results you were expecting, it may be that your spirit is not yet strong enough in that area. If you felt intimidated when you wanted to feel confident, maybe you need to concentrate on “I am secure and confident” for a few weeks and then go back and try it again.

Practical Application

There are many different ways to apply this concept. I may do some future posts on this because it seems to come up a lot. How will you use this new idea? Can you think of some scenarios where switching to your spirit would enable you to face some things you’ve avoided?

Here’s an example from one of my clients: She had an important business meeting coming up. She was meeting with an influential person and had to give a presentation on a new business idea. She was hoping to get this person’s feedback and ultimately their support (maybe even do some work together to start a new product line). She was very nervous – it was a big deal to her. She really wanted to see it succeed. She was afraid her anxiety would interfere with the meeting – the other person would pick up on that and it would likely cause them to hesitate to work with her. I taught her this principle of Spirit vs Soul and she worked for weeks on strengthening her spirit in being confident and secure. She also worked on some areas of inner healing regarding negative messages she had received in the past about herself. On the day of the meeting, she called her spirit to attention and walked into the room.

After the meeting, she called me. She was AMAZED at how smoothly everything went. She said she had such clarity and was able to communicate exactly what she wanted to say. The other person was impressed at how well she had thought through the new idea and immediately congratulated her. They also agreed to work with her and were happy to support her in launching the new product. She couldn’t believe how successful and confident she felt. It was a complete transformation from the way she used to be.

Now please keep in mind – this is not an overnight process. It takes TIME and EFFORT. But it is really, really worth it. Are you ready to try? Go to Part 1 of this post and start. It’s not that hard, but it does take persistence and practice until it becomes natural. Then you’ll have your own story of amazing breakthrough!

Any questions? Please feel free to contact me or comment below.

(My contact email is on the About Me page if you’d prefer to contact me privately.)

Spirit vs Soul, Part 1

Rating: Educational

I have noticed that very few people talk about the different parts of ourselves that are unseen. Most people acknowledge that there are at least 2 parts of us – the part everyone can see on the outside (our body) and the hidden part inside of us (our inner being). But I have discovered that our inner being is comprised of at least 2 parts, which I refer to as Spirit and Soul. In reading what others have to say, I’ve noticed there is no universal language to describe it – each author uses different words (which adds to the confusion, I’m sure). Rather than try to pick words that fit all the different expressions of this reality, I’m going to stick to the words I’m familiar with from the Bible. It helps to give me a foundation from which to build. It also connects to the ancient traditions of the Christian faith, which I value. I’m going to try to express what I have seen, heard and experienced in my own life and in those I have helped. It has made a HUGE difference in my life.

I discovered a doorway to peace and joy and love that I never knew existed.

Spirit vs Soul

You are a spirit and you have a soul (Hebrews 4:12, I Thessalonians 5:23). Your spirit carries your spiritual DNA – that’s part of your identity. Your spiritual DNA is the way God made you for His specific purposes to be fulfilled in your life time. When you become a follower of Jesus, your spirit becomes one with His Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17).

Your soul carries your natural identity – who you are on the earth. This would include your personality, your likes and dislikes about natural things (i.e. I love chocolate). Most of our daily lives revolve around the soul. This is what feels most comfortable to us – it comes naturally.

Some people define the soul as containing the mind, the will and the emotions. I’m not sure it’s that simple because we also carry “the mind of Christ” in our spirit (I Corinthians 2:16). Our spirit has intelligence, creativity and intuition. It also seems to be the seat of our conscience (our sense of right and wrong). You could say the soul contains YOUR mind, will and emotions whereas your spirit carries the mind, will and emotions of the Holy Spirit (if you are one with Him).

Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Your soul was created to do certain things. Your spirit was created to do certain other things. They are both valid. They are both very important. Sometimes what causes us to struggle is when we try to get our soul to do what our spirit was created to do and vice versa. It causes confusion for us – especially when we don’t get the results we were expecting! This has happened to me many times. Once I learned the difference between the two and how to switch between then, I got much better results. As I have shared this with others, they have told me what a game changer it is! So that’s why I’m trying to share it here.

If you let your spirit lead your life, you experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit every day – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You experience this wonderful fruit in all your relationships, both at home and at work or school. You experience the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10).

If you lead your life by your soul, you may feel anxious, uptight, or unsure of what you’re doing. You worry about what people are thinking about you. You worry about the future; you dwell on the past. It’s easy to get “stuck” in your soul. This is perfectly natural. Most mental health issues are in the soul. That’s where we primarily need healing in order to be happy and healthy.

In order to move from living by your soul to being led by your spirit, there is a process that can help you. I learned this from Arthur Burk in his series, Nurturing Your Spirit. I will summarize the main ideas that helped me. Some of this is my own insights and some of this is from his series. Arthur tells people when he teaches, “Look – here are my ideas about this topic. You take it and run with it!” So that’s what I’m doing. 🙂

Your spirit is a very real part of you. If you have ignored it for most of your life (like we all have done), it will take a while to make the change. First, you have to become aware of your spirit through daily practice. What you want to do is

a) Become aware of your spirit

b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place

c) Strengthen your spirit

d) Let your spirit lead

 

Become aware of your spirit

The first step is to become aware of your spirit and to begin to connect with it. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to recognize your spirit. Close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths. Focus on the way the air feels as it flows through your chest. Imagine your spirit filling you on the inside just like your breath fills you. Stay with the feeling for a few minutes. Focus on your breath and just “be”.

It takes a lot of practice to become aware of your spirit. I recommend that you take a minute and do this breathing exercise every day. You can do it when you first wake up, or when you are waiting at stop light in traffic or anytime you remember to do it. The point is to practice and pay attention until it becomes easy for you to recognize your spirit.

 

Acknowledge your spirit’s place

As you begin to connect with your spirit, you will recognize what value it has. God created it for a very specific purpose. He will show you that purpose, to encourage you and strengthen you. Acknowledge to yourself that your spirit has a right to be expressed. That there is something special inside of you that deserves to be known to the outside world.

Each day ask God’s Spirit to come and fill your spirit and wash it. Take a few deep breaths and see if you feel anything. Sometimes it feels like you are standing in a rain shower. Sometimes it may feel like a soft blanket of peace or love. Sometimes you don’t feel anything, but it is still happening. God promises to give His Spirit to anyone who asks.

God’s Spirit is the provider of all the resources you need to fulfill your destiny. When you invite Him to come and fill you, He begins to direct your day and lead your steps (and you notice it). At first, it may seem surprising. After a while, it becomes very comforting.

 

I’m going to stop there for today. This is a lot to take in when you first read it. Ponder this concept of being a three part being – body, soul and spirit. Practice the breathing exercise and see if you can recognize your spirit. What does it feel like to you? How would you describe it? Spend some time each day paying attention to it and begin to acknowledge your spirit and its value.

If you have some insight you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below. I will continue this topic in the next post.

Spiritual Exercise

Rating: Educational, inspirational

Recently one of my clients told me he wanted to draw closer to God, but didn’t know how. Faith was new to him. He was raised in a home where no one went to church or prayed or anything so he didn’t really know where to start. He asked me for some direction. Here are some thoughts I shared with him.

Developing a spiritual practice that helps you draw closer to God is really important. But you want to make sure it doesn’t become an empty ritual. It needs to be authentic and based on your desire for God. I discovered early on in my spiritual journey that there is one prayer that God answers every time – asking Him to give you the desire to seek Him. When I first started out, I was excited to talk to God. It was new and different. But then over time, I felt my spiritual fervor waning. At first, I was kind of embarrassed. How do you get the desire for God back?

desire-God prayer

The answer I discovered is this: Admit you lack the desire and ask Him to give it to you. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. When I ask God to give me the desire to spend time with Him, usually within a day or two it comes. It is not immediate, but it always comes. I’ve done this many times over the years.

So – that’s the first “exercise” I shared with him – ask God for desire. Because without the desire, any spiritual exercise can become an empty ritual.

Then I wrote up a “spiritual exercise” for him. I reached back into my past and tried to remember the first things I was taught that helped me become more closely connected with God. At first, I did these every day as a discipline – whether I felt like it or not. I wanted to teach myself to have a spiritual practice. Then after awhile they became second nature to me. I do them now without even realizing it – they have become part of who I am.

girl praying

These are in a certain order – do them this way for 30 days. After the practice becomes familiar, you can improvise. 🙂

Spiritual Exercise:

1. Acknowledge God – Honor who God is and that you need Him, humble yourself.
2. Confess your self-centered ways – Admit to God and yourself the thoughts and decisions you’ve made in the last 24 hours that were self-centered and apart from Him.
3. Ask the Spirit of God to lead you – Ask Him to show you His ways and the right decisions to make.
4. Open the Bible – Ask for inspiration and then read a passage from the Bible.
5. Turn something from what you read into a prayer – Make it personal to your life.
6. Give thanks – Tell God what you are thankful for.
7. Ask for what you need and finish by thanking God in advance for providing what is needed. He loves it when you thank Him ahead of time because it demonstrates your confidence that He is good and trustworthy. (It also gives you hope.)
8. Sing a song to Him – Learn some worship songs or make up one of your own. Rejoice in the goodness of God and His care for you.

boy-worshipping

This is not a rigid ritual, but more of a practice to teach your heart to turn to the Lord and depend on Him. You will be so glad that you did!

You are dearly loved by God and He is looking forward to talking to you and spending time with you. Did you know that?

So, how about you? Do you have a spiritual practice that you do on a regular basis that helps you to connect with the Lord? Please share it with us!

A Small Brown Dog

Rating: Educational, pleasant

I want to tell you a story – it’s the story of a small brown dog. This story illustrates how following the Holy Spirit in the unseen realm can be quite an unexpected adventure! 🙂

Several months ago whenever I walked my dog, I kept getting impressions of a small dog. I have never owned a small dog. Most of my dogs have been medium-sized dogs or larger. I currently had a dog and had no intention of getting a new dog. I didn’t know why I kept getting these impressions or faint images of a small dog in my mind.

I began to notice small dogs in my neighborhood. One day I walked out my front door and there was a woman I had never seen before. She was walking a Shih Tzu. I asked her about her dog – she told me she had rescued it and that she had two other small dogs at home. Then the neighbor down the street lost her Yorkie and came to my house to see if I had seen her dog. She was so worried! I helped her put up posters in the neighborhood and spread the word among the neighbors via text message. Thankfully, someone saw her dog and returned it to her. Crisis averted – all was well.

That summer my dog passed away – he was 14.5 years old. I missed him terribly – he was my fitness partner, always eager to get me up and walking around the neighborhood.

About 3 months later, I suddenly started getting the pictures of the small dog again. This time it was more insistent and I noticed a color – it was a small brown dog. I told my husband about it. We were getting ready to go out of town for the holidays (near Thanksgiving) so he suggested that if we were to get a dog, we should wait until after we got back. I sighed and patiently waited. I wasn’t sure why I kept getting these pictures, but I felt sure they were important and I should do something to respond.

Unfortunately, we both got sick and had to delay our trip. I was starting to feel anxious – I felt sure that there was a small brown dog that needed our help and we needed to find it. As soon as we returned, I started looking for a small brown dog on Petfinder.com. I also looked in the Lost and Found site for pets (a local service). Nothing felt right. We went to two pet adoption events at pet stores (hosted by rescue groups) – lots of nice doggies, but not the dog I sensed needed us.

Finally we decided to try the county shelter. I am very happy to report that all the small dogs were already adopted! What a relief! Yet the search continued.

I began to wonder if it was “just me”. Maybe I wanted a dog and this was just my crazy idea.

Then a friend called and said he needed prayer. He asked if he could meet with my husband and I. We agreed. He came over and while we were waiting on God, the presence of God filled the living room. It was very tangible. The Lord spoke to our friend and it was exactly what he needed to hear. My husband also received a word from the Lord for him – and it lined up with what the Lord had told our friend. While these two men were being “spiritual”, all I got was a larger, clearer picture of a small brown dog! Front and center – the image filled my mind. I took that as a sign that God really was behind this dog search and that He wanted us to find a specific dog who needed us.

The next day we went back to the shelter. Still no dogs that matched my vision. We came home and I laid down to rest. I felt an insistent nudge to go on Craigslist. I am not a fan of Craigslist – there’s a lot of shady things that go on there and you never know who you are dealing with (especially in Miami). But the nudge wouldn’t go away. I did a search and there was a post that caught my eye. I contacted the person by phone.

Pose3

Craigslist photo of a small brown dog

A woman named Zoey said a casual friend lost her apartment and asked her to keep the dog for a few weeks until she got a new place. She did it as a favor. Then after the friend moved, she didn’t want the dog back. Zoey kept calling; the woman did not answer. Finally she left several messages saying she was selling the dog. After a month of no response from the owner, she posted the dog on Craigslist. Three hours later, I saw the post.

We agreed to meet. The dog was adorable – small, brown and lively. Very loving and well-behaved. We paid her a small re-homing fee. We had found our dog! Both my husband and I KNEW this was the dog we had been searching for.

First day in her new home 🙂

It didn’t dawn on me until later – the timing factor. The insistent nudges I received that we needed to DO something were just about the same time that Zoey’s “friend” brought her the dog. However, we never would have found her at that time because she wasn’t in need of adoption yet. Then we got sick and our trip was delayed. After we returned, we went on several trips to shelters and adoption events. Finally, when I was ready to give up and began to think I was “crazy”, God sent me a confirmation that it really was HIM and not me. The next day, we found her through an unconventional path – something I never would have thought of to begin with. If we hadn’t gone through all those unsuccessful attempts to find the dog, I probably would have dismissed the idea of searching on Craigslist.

The Lord knows our thoughts and our path. He knows how to direct our steps even when they are not what we would normally do. He’s amazing, isn’t He? I love the adventure. We had so little to go on – a faint vision, an insistent nudge and a feeling that there was something we were supposed to do. A small brown dog needed to be rescued and the Lord cared enough to order our steps so we would find her. I am so glad He did! ❤

How I Met God ♥

Cross

Today is a very special day to me. On October 8, 1980, I started my relationship with God.

I had heard of God and his Son, Jesus. But I didn’t really know much about them personally. I had heard some stories from the Bible and I had even memorized a few Scriptures. I attended a private Christian school and memorizing Bible verses was sometimes required for homework. I did it because it was homework, not because I had any interest in religion.

My family was not religious. We attended my grandmother’s small country church once or twice a year as part of a family tradition – usually just for Christmas and Easter. Most of my classmates at school were from religious homes where they attended church every week and went to Bible camp during the summers. But not me. I was different.

October 8 was a normal Wednesday. I got ready for school as usual. I made it to home room on time and went to my first two classes. Then we went to chapel, a weekly “class” that everyone attended. Our entire junior and senior high went to the same service – about 150 kids. The younger children in elementary school had a separate service, geared to their age group. I had attended this school since first grade and had been to many, many chapel services.

Chapel type service

I sat in chapel that day with all the other 8th grade girls. Boys had “cooties” so we didn’t sit with them. I recall that we were seated near the back of the chapel, far from the front where the action was.

We sang some songs, among them “Onward Christian Soldiers”. A guest minister got up to speak. I don’t recall a word he said. Toward the end of the service, he started the altar call. That’s when a minister asks the listeners to respond to his message. I don’t know what he said, but it was effective. The last girl on our row began to cry. Her two best girlfriends were sitting next to her and they tried to comfort her. She got up and went to the front to pray with the minister, to respond to his invitation. Her friends went with her along with the girl sitting closest to them. There were only 3 of us left sitting on the pew. I turned to the girl next to me, we shrugged our shoulders and decided to follow the others. It seemed like “the right thing to do”.

By the time we got to the front of the chapel, we saw that the place for prayer (the altar) was really crowded – many other kids had also responded to the minister’s call. One of the girls saw an empty space behind the pulpit on the left side, so we all walked up the stairs to the platform and gathered in a circle on the dark red carpeted floor. I was hoping we weren’t going to get in trouble as normally no one was allowed up there but the adults.

I joined my friends, not really sure what to do. I was there for moral support. I had never been to an altar before – what was expected?

Soon the minister came to us and said, “Girls, would you like to give your lives to God?” Several of the “church girls” immediately nodded. They had all been to a youth retreat a few weeks prior where they all got “saved” again. It seemed that perhaps they had backslidden and needed to “fix” things with God. I didn’t really know what the man was asking, but I didn’t want to stand out  – so I didn’t ask any questions. I remember that I glanced at the ceiling and thought, “Do I believe in God?” My heart answered, “Yes.” So I decided that meant I could pray with the minister.

He led us all in a prayer where we repeated some statements after him, as though we were talking to God. I had never prayed before – well, except that in elementary school we all recited a prayer before we went to the lunchroom each day. But that was different.

I don’t remember a word of what I said. I didn’t feel anything. No bright lights or a voice from heaven. I just “prayed the prayer” because someone asked me – and I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t do it. When I looked around the room after the prayer, I noticed that the entire student body was on their knees praying – except for 2 boys in the senior class. They were surrounded by a few teachers who were talking to them – the boys kept shaking their heads “No”. I was amazed that they refused to open their hearts to God that day as everyone else in the place definitely was. I remember seeing even the “tough” boys in our class lined up at a nearby pew, on their knees, praying with the minister. That’s how real God was in that place.

Later that night, I spoke to God on my own. I had heard a few weeks earlier that you should talk to God every day. I remember thinking, “Then He should talk back to me then.” I was kind of cynical, even at that age.

Me, 1980-81

The next day, as I was walking into the girl’s locker room, I said a swear word. Immediately, I heard a voice in my heart say, “You’re a Christian now. Christians don’t talk like that.”

I stopped walking. I knew that wasn’t my voice talking to me because I would not have thought of that. I remembered being told that after you decide to give your life to God and ask Jesus into your heart – He actually sends His Spirit to live inside of you. Hearing this voice and feeling the conviction that went with it, I realized, “This must be the Holy Spirit. I better obey.” And from that day on, I stopped swearing.

It’s funny how, when looking back, I see how “non-eventful” this experience appeared to be at the time. It was a normal Wednesday morning. I was in chapel, as I had been hundreds of times before. Yet on this day, something changed. Someone asked me to open my heart and life to God’s love. And I did. Not because I understood it. Peer pressure “saved” me. I didn’t want to be left out.

Since that time, I can honestly say that it was the BEST DECISION I have ever made in my entire life. From that first day, I started talking to God every night before bed and I have never stopped. He is the air I breathe. He is my hope, my peace, my joy and my strength. My life is SO MUCH BETTER because I decided to open my heart to Him.

Thank You, Jesus, for saving me as a young girl when I didn’t even know what I was doing. Thank You for being there through everything – my parent’s divorce, my boyfriends and my break-ups, my high school and college years, my first marriage and divorce, my time away from home and my time returning to my roots … and all the other times when I needed a friend, a confidante, a savior to get me out of myself and learn how to love others, really love others.

I love what You’ve done with my life. It is so exciting to see where we are going next. I never know what You have up Your sleeve – like the wonderful surprise of my new husband and what a pleasure it is to be married to him. I never saw that coming! And the life You’ve given me, allowing me to help others by sharing the pain and challenges I’ve overcome.

I am so incredibly thankful today. Thank you, dear readers, for celebrating this day with me.

Listen heart2

I hope that if you are reading this and you have not yet opened your heart to God, that perhaps you will. Would you like to? It’s not hard. It’s just a choice – to choose to follow Jesus and learn how to love others, to respond to God’s love for you as His child. And guess what? He DOES talk back when you talk to Him! 🙂

If you’d like to do that, you can pray this prayer or something similar. You can use your own words, if you prefer.

“God, I am willing – I open my heart to Your Love. I give You my life. Jesus, please come and save me. I need Your help. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done wrong. Please teach me how to receive Your love so I can love others. Thank you.”

If you’ve never prayed that kind of prayer, please do. It will open up a world of goodness you cannot even imagine. There is so much peace and joy and love just waiting to come to you, if you open yourself up to it. Words fail me how much better my life is because of God’s love. It does not prevent bad things from happening to you – instead it gives you an inner resilience and a peace that passes understanding.

If you prayed this for the first time just now – then please let me know. Either post something below or send me an email: kingdomwalker2 (at) gmail (dot) com. I would love to celebrate with YOU and help you in your new relationship with God just as others helped me when I first started out.

God bless you today! ♥

The chapel today