Monday, 16 March 2015
Entering His Rest!
It was August of 2009. I can still see myself standing in our kitchen in Gallatin, Tennessee, where I heard the Lord say, “The shaking has begun. If you can walk with Me through this regeneration process, it will end in a place of power for you on the other side.”
Hearing words like regeneration and power, I quickly signed on and fully agreed to this process God spoke about. I had absolutely no idea of the details, nor the cost of such an agreement.
Up to this point, I had served the Lord twenty years. Not one day had passed in twenty years that I had not walked in fellowship with Him. I had matured in my faith and served the local church in many capacities: Sunday School teacher of children, youth, and adults, youth pastor, president of the benevolence committee, choir singer, front-line singer, Wednesday night church director, women’s ministry, nursery worker, etc. From the outside, my husband and I were esteemed as seasoned, stable, faithful Christians and we were.
However, I tell you all of that to say this…You can be a Christian fifty years and never enter into the rest of the Lord I am writing about today. Hebrews chapter 4 explains it best:
9 There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that enters into his rest, must also cease from his own works, as God did from his.
Entering into the rest of God requires that we cease from our own works and labor:
• Striving to be good enough/and godly enough
• Striving for perfection
• Striving to forget our past and present failures/shortcomings
• Striving to serve/please everyone
• Striving for perfect church attendance and fitting into religious molds
As much as we hate to admit it, many Believers who truly love God are still caught up in the bondage of self-works and religious mindsets. Few seem to fully understand the huge difference between religion and relationship with Christ Jesus. Religion shames us into an endless punch list of rules and regulations that are impossible to keep in our own strength. It then keeps a record of our wrongdoings and reloads the reel of memories quite frequently. It forces us to compete and compare our lives against others, producing fatal judgmental attitudes.
Religion screams for us to “DO” instead of “BE”.
In 2 Corinthians 3:9, Paul refers to religion or “the law” as the ministry of condemnation. However, he further describes a relationship with Jesus through his Holy Spirit as LIFE. Oh, how accurate Paul was/is. You see, he had experienced this transition personally. Paul had dedicated his entire life to religion and works until one very special day when he met Jesus. There on that dusty road, he discovered the difference between religion and relationship. This process of ceasing from self-works in order to find true LIFE in the Spirit is known as Regeneration. Paul gave himself to the ministry of regeneration! It was his constant teaching.
Regeneration is the renewal of what “once was” or what “used to be.” In order to fully experience regeneration, the old must die. I know that isn’t something you really want to hear, but it is true.
My personal process of regeneration required the death of a seventeen year season in Tennessee. God relocated me to an entirely new geographical location and held me in isolation for three years. Privately, I suffered the death of two family members, the death of friendships, the death of religious mindsets, the death of judgmental attitudes, the death of several beliefs I had governed my life by, the death of wrongful identity, and the death of man’s applause and pride.
God led me to change my definition of church and true worship. I discovered that some of the best church services are when good friends spend the night with us on Saturdays and we awaken Sunday mornings to a fresh omelette bar prepared by Chef Steve. All while sitting around in our pajamas discussing life, exhorting one another by the Word of God, praying and prophesying. The Spirit fills our home!
Am I against the local church? Absolutely not! I love the local church and still attend in my own community. However, I have now learned that “we – those who are born again” ARE the true church and if I miss a Sunday or two my Father does not consider me a slacker as I was told. No, I can still fellowship with others or worship privately within the four walls of my own home.
True worship is not based on church attendance. Rather, it is revealed through a life that is wholly His!
I no longer fit into this BOX called “religion”. I now live a life of joy and freedom governed by Holy Spirit. Instead of being ruled by a long list of Do’s and Don’ts, I have discovered that the Holy Spirit of Grace enables me to live a life that is fully pleasing to God and not unto a system. My relationship with Christ guides me into a life of purity, passion, and peace. It is here that I have found His rest, the place He longs for everyone. My personal death has made me alive in Christ.
This fresh new place is worth it all!!!!!
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
It's ALL been worth it!
The pain, the trials, the sufferings, the tears, the molding and pruning...because ALL of that has led me HERE. And HERE is lovely! Here is exciting! Here is new! I realize today that it has taken ALL of that in my life to get me to my Promised destination! Sometimes, the wait seems too long and many just give up, but I want to encourage you today to let GOD have His way in your life. Wherever you find yourself right now, just let go! Stop striving! Stop trying to control your life. No one knows you better than your Creator. Allow Him access into your heart and life. He is the giver of life. The fulfillment of dreams. The baptizer of Love and Revelation and Power. There is no better place to be than broken before Him at His feet. For there, He will begin to UNDO "YOU" and fill you full of Himself.
I bless your life in Jesus' Name!
Monday, 15 September 2014
Ladies, are you really interested in having a bond of great joy and fulfillment with your husband? We live in a world that is more interested in making sure the community thinks our marriage looks good and have it all together, than focusing inwardly at home, inside the real circumstances of a bond between a man and a woman. There are certainly many facets to a good marriage. No one can simply focus on one aspect and expect to achieve joy and fulfillment. Undoubtedly, the foundational building blocks of a great marriage are love, commitment, and covenant partnership with the Lord. But then there are those daily gestures that will keep him knowing that HE IS THE MAN!
Because men are very visual creatures, it is important that we keep ourselves in proper shape and exhibit daily the beauty that originally drew our husbands to us in the first place. When we arrive at a place where it no longer feels necessary to capture his attention, we enter into a danger zone because someone WILL capture his attention. So, why not let it be YOU! Dress up. Put a little paint on the barn and every once in a while ask HIM to accompany you on your next shopping trip to choose your new clothes. I found out that some of the clothes I like to wear and thought looked pretty on me were not Steve’s idea of pretty at all. I hear women saying, “Who cares if he likes it. Because if I like it, I’m gonna wear it!” I enjoy looking pretty for my husband. He is the first person I set out to please.
Hey, it’s no secret...We all know men love sex! But, what we sometimes don’t realize is that men also like variety. They’re spontaneous creatures. The same ole, same ole gets boring and ceases to entice. Stir things up a bit. Start being fun and fun to be with again. Do something you haven’t done together in ages. Really surprise him!
As the old saying goes, laughter does a body good. Well, laughter also does a marriage good. When was the last time you laughed together? Sometimes, Steve and I laugh so hard together, we cry! Everything about life shouldn’t be so serious. Rekindle the old “inside jokes” between one another and maybe even create some new ones.
It may sound foreign to you, but YOU were given to your husband as HIS helpmate. That is your Biblical definition and we know this word covers a vast number of ideas. Let your husband know that he comes first on your agenda. No, not the children! God never asked you to place the children before your husband. Tomorrow, shock your husband by asking if you can do anything for him. Perhaps he needs a button sewn on his sleeve, or he needs you to pick something up at Walmart that he hasn’t been able to swing by and get. Or, maybe he needs you to make him a yearly doctor appointment? Whatever he needs, let him know you are at his disposal.
Another aspect of being his helpmate is RESPECT! I can hear Aretha Franklin singing as I write. Friends, regardless of what you might have thought, RESPECT is the number one desire of a good man. It is possible for a man to receive sex from any female human being, but a good man will be drawn to the one woman who highly respects him. The woman who lifts him up with encouragement and honor. That is why you often see a husband go astray and wonder why the woman he runs to may not be as beautiful as the wife he left. The key is often that he found a deeper sense of respect and the respect was attractive. It was enticing!
You have been given a wonderful man! There is no greater reward as a wife than to make him the happiest man alive. We need to treat our husbands better than we treat anyone else upon the earth. Maybe you’ve experienced struggle in your marriage this year...I dare you to devote yourself to your husband and practicing these few keys to a fulfilling marriage. Soon, your struggle just may end in a delightful place you have never experienced before. Go for it!
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Are You Prepared?
Steve and I were married very young and knew absolutely nothing about how to be good parents. We can testify to having good parents, but we both came from broken homes and once we had children of our own, the desire to be good parents was replaced with the desire to be godly parents. We gave our hearts and lives to Jesus at eighteen and in return HE gave us grace and wisdom to raise both Alyse and Bryce.
Contrary to what might be popular today, we raised our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. This meant that we faithfully attended church and surrounded them with a community of like-minded people and friends. We taught them the truths of God’s Word every day through conversation and life-example. They were infused with character: love, integrity, compassion, honesty, hard work, obedience, generosity, etc. Seven years were dedicated to home schooling them. We were faithful to discipline them. The world today recognizes discipline as punishment, but punishment says, “You made me angry. Therefore, I am going to hurt you. Discipline says, I love you. Therefore, I will discipline you until you can learn to become SELF-DISCIPLINED!”
We were successful at parenting because the grace and counsel of God is very real and tangible. Whenever we came to a crossroads of decision, we sought His guidance. Whenever we did not have the answer, we sought His Word. He has faithfully directed our path and guided us to favorable outcomes. I love to tell everyone that JESUS CHRIST IS OUR SUCCESS! He gets all the glory.
Anyway, we raised two very special children who never caused us any problems until...
When our son, Bryce, turned sixteen. Through the fellowship of a few ungodly, influential peers, he found himself on a slippery road to rebellion. He rebelled against us in ways we never imagined. It was the most difficult trial Steve or I have ever encountered. Our hearts were broken, but because Christ was/is our SOURCE, we were prepared for battle. We loved Bryce, continued to discipline him, and contended for his soul every day through prayer and declaration. Not only were WE prepared for this dark trial, but so was Bryce. The seeds of righteousness and truth had been laid in his life since he was born. They framed his very being.
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it - Proverbs 22:6
One night, Holy Spirit woke me up to inform me that at that very moment Satan was desiring to kill Bryce and destroy him forever. Immediately, God also gave me this promise: Satan will NEVER be able to destroy your son because the foundation you have laid in Bryce’s life is so deep.
Walking this morning, Holy Spirit reminded me of the Parable of the Ten Virgins in the Bible. (Matthew 25:1-13) This parable teaches us about ten people who profess to be in relationship with Christ, but only five of them continually remain connected to Him as their SOURCE. The other five allow their oil to get low and burn out. When the bridegroom appears, they are caught in a panic trying to rush around and borrow oil for their lamps, but it is too late.
I want to lovingly warn you today, do not get caught unaware. Take the proactive approach to life. Do not allow life to simply happen to you and constantly be on the rebound from the severe blows. No, be watchful, prepared, and on guard against the storm that could be coming. Do not wait until a trial arises with your children to try to begin laying a firm foundation in their lives. By that time, it will be too late! Be ready and connected to the only true Source of life, Jesus, when your day of death arrives. Be filled-up and waiting for Jesus to return.
If you wait for these days to appear before making the proper preparations then I assure you, it will be too late and you will not receive the victorious outcome you are expecting. Because we live life prepared, the trial with our son lasted only a short three years. Today, he lives his life in honor to us as his parents and also to his heavenly Father as well. Bryce is blessed and highly favored and God is forever faithful.
Thursday, 10 April 2014
I am thankful that early in my relationship with Jesus, HE placed great emphasis on the importance of being in the will of God personally. A portion of scripture that grabbed my attention and caused me to allow God to shepherd my entire life is found in Psalm 139:13-17
“For you created my innermost being; and knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; That I know full well. My frame was not hidden from YOU when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; ALL THE DAYS ORDAINED FOR ME WERE WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK BEFORE ONE OF THEM CAME TO BE. How precious to me are your thoughts O’ God.”
I imagine the book sitting on God’s shelf in heaven solely about the life of Jeneen Bullen Kohler. All of my days are recorded in it. It is my life’s mission NOT to miss fulfilling a single day. Therefore, I place high priority on seeking God’s direction and submitting to His plan and course of action for my life.
Recently, I was given the “invitation” to minister in South Africa. It came from a dear mentor and friend of mine, whom I highly respect. I have traveled to South Africa several times and have many dear friends there. These people are like second family to me. Surely God wanted me to walk through this open door? Feeling important, I jumped at the opportunity and immediately began making plans to travel in August.
I had no longer accepted the invitation, when I heard a still small voice within saying, “You didn’t ask ME if I wanted you to go to South Africa?”
My heart sank!
In my own reasoning and desire, I wanted to go! I didn’t want to hurt my friend who had graciously extended this invitation to me. I kept thinking of all the women I could refresh and impact. EVERYTHING SEEMED FINE AND PROFITABLE FOR THE KINGDOM.
Humbly, I decided to make the invitation a matter of prayer. I presented my case for going to the Lord, giving Him every reason Why I thought this was a good idea. He spoke very clearly to me…
”Jeneen, you are welcome to travel to South Africa, but I will not be going with you.”
Suddenly, I realized that I could spend thousands of dollars and much time traveling, standing on stages, trying to impact many people, but choosing this route meant that I would be riding solo, without the anointing and presence of God.
Without Him there is no impact. Without Him, transformation is no longer possible. Without Him, I am only a shell.
I learned through listening to the heart of God that He has others plans for me right now. He has commissioned me to focus on writing my first book. He also revealed His plans for me to conduct a women’s event right here in my own city this year.
In the daily grind, we find ourselves BUSY, but what are we BUSY with? Are we BUSY with our own plans, agendas, and schedules or are we BUSY fulfilling God’s plan for our lives? Our own self-made plans may seem fulfilling at the time, but what better plans might we be forfeiting? You, too, have a book in heaven with your name on it. Have you recently opened it, in the spirit, that the contents of it's pages might be revealed?
Seeking God’s will requires us to separate the desires of man from the desires of the spirit. Discernment is key. Every good idea is NOT always a God idea. It does not mean there is anything necessarily wrong with the idea. It may simply not be God’s plan at the time.
So,why are you doing what you do?
Are you riding solo or are you right in the middle of HIS plan?
Thursday, 13 March 2014
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him”
Steve and I will be married twenty-six years in September. He does not have to question whether I love him. My devotion to him has proven my love. I married Steve when I was only seventeen years old. We were so broke that the only way we were able to go on our honeymoon was by funding it through the money we graciously received at our reception. Talk about last minute! We were simply HOPING. We drove halfway to Myrtle Beach and stopped at the Cricket Inn to spend our first night of forever together. How romantic is that? The Cricket Inn! Yet, it was romantic to us and we devoted ourselves to one another in that place. Steve still carried the receipt from that night at the Cricket Inn in his wallet until a few years ago when it became unrecognizable.
That was before the days of Steve being named a vice-president of a very large national construction company. Before the days of him being a wise man. Oh, that was sixteen moves ago...before I followed Steve to six different states and lived in a fifth-wheel camper for eleven months while also homeschooling our kids. Long before the days of extravagant gifts, dream vacations, and beautiful homes.
You see, before any of the reigning, there was a season to suffer. A season of proving my devotion to Steve, while having little to our name. A season of following him through blind faith. A season of submitting to his plan simply because I loved him. Encouraging him through times when he lacked the confidence needed to go to the next level. Standing with him through the tough days, on my knees in prayer. Creating a safe place of refuge for him to come home to day after day. Extravagantly pouring out love and respect upon him, choosing to build him up instead of tearing him down.
Through growth and spiritual maturity, Steve now reigns as a King and I stand beside him as his Queen. There is not one thing my husband will not do for me. Not one thing he begrudges me to have, when it is in the power of his hands to provide it for me. He lives by this statement: “My love for my wife is a reflection of my love and devotion to Christ.”
Steve is for me all the way...my greatest fan. He sends me all around the world to do what I love...being a refresher to others.
God is looking for this type of devotion from His children. So often, we want the gifts and benefits from God before the suffering and devotion. But, God is looking for hearts that truly belong to Him, not simply saying we belong to Him through lip service. Have you followed Christ through blind faith, allowing Him to lead and guide your every step? Have you created a place of intimacy for Him to come and dwell? Have you loved him and devoted your life to Him before He gives you anything? Do you serve him with joy and gladness while living in “the camper” just as you will when He provides the mansion? Devotion is the giving of one’s self fully and wholly to another. It is unconditional. It remains through the good and the bad.
Your life, at this moment, may not be all that you desire it to be. Perhaps this is a season of testing and suffering for you, but your faithful devotion to Christ will lead you to your destiny. When you stand in the field of true joy and prosperity, just remember there was no other way to arrive here than through seasons of suffering that reveal our complete devotion to GOD.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” - Psalm 37:4-5
Friday, 28 February 2014
Refreshed and Restored by Jeneen Kohler’s deep-seated words. It was a night I’ll not soon forget; a night of words so moving and majestic that I did not want to end. Undoubtedly anointed, I can describe it best by saying I felt like I’d just had my soul massaged.
On a crisp, southern October evening, in a town where High School football still rules Friday nights and in a time when an Almighty God Refreshed and Restored by Jeneen Kohler’s deep-seated words. It was a night I’ll not soon forget; a night of words so moving and majestic that I did not want to end. Undoubtedly anointed, I can describe it best by saying I felt like I’d just had my soul massaged.
On a crisp, southern October evening, in a town where High School football still rules Friday nights and in a time when an Almighty God is often handed leftovers, Mrs. Kohler served up a warm reminder that what is referred to as the “Fatherless Generation” can be renewed and resurrected. “You don’t have to remain hopeless”, says Jeneen, as she reminds us of the power we - ourselves have been given to speak into our own situations. If a sigh of relief is what you need but seems impossible, her message is for you. Movers and shakers are being birthed by her mission as she authoritatively reaches up and pulls down those blessings God is waiting to impart. Glory to God for his infinite plans and divine interruptions. Will you be blessed beyond measure by what she shares? A resounding Yes! Will you Ever be the same? No beloved, you will not want to be. Staci B.
handed leftovers; Ms. Kohler served up a warm reminder that what is referred to as the “Fatherless Generation” can be renewed and resurrected. “You don’t have to remain hopeless”, says Jeneen, as she reminds us of the power we- ourselves have been given to speak into our own situations. If a sigh of relief is what you need but seems impossible, her message is for you. Movers and shakers are being birthed by her mission as she authoritatively reaches up and pulls down those blessings God is waiting to impart. Glory to God for his infinite plans and divine interruptions. Will you be blessed beyond measure by what she shares? A resounding Yes! Will you Ever be the same? No beloved, you will not want to be.
Friday, 14 February 2014
“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.”
Her smile is contagious! The kind of smile that immediately causes you to stop and take notice. She diligently instructs the Barbell Class I attend at the gym week after week. However, it is not her physical strength which draws me to her.
The tragic circumstances she had recently endured were not evident in her appearance. It had been a little more than a year since Regina suffered the sudden and unimaginable loss of her dear husband, Edward. She lost her helpmate and their two children, Eden and Edward Jr., lost their daddy.
Edward, who had a fear of water, set out to conquer his anxiety by training in the open waters of Joe Pool Lake on August 20, 2012. With several completed triathlons behind him, he was hoping to make better on his time in the swimming division of the up and coming Half Iron Man Triathlon. Changing his clothes and rushing out the door, he lovingly took time to kiss Regina and promised, as he had so many times before, to return in a couple hours for dinner.
As the evening passed with no sign or word from Edward, Regina anxiously began to worry. This sort of behavior was not typical of her husband. He was never late - at least not without a phone call explaining why and when he planned to be home. Call after call went straight to his voicemail. So Regina went looking. Racing to the boat ramp at Lynn Creek Park, a disturbing feeling came over Regina as she noticed Edward’s car parked right where he had left it. His towel still folded and laying on the front seat, awaiting his return from the water. Edward, who was forty-five years old and in excellent physical condition was missing and everything suddenly changed for Regina.
A two-day search and the watch on his wrist revealed that Edward had accidentally been tangled in some hydrilla and drowned only twelve minutes into his training. They would have been married eight years.
Can one ever really understand why such things occur? Why Edward? Why Me? Why Now? Circumstances like these often conjure up an endless stream of unanswered questions, coupled with anger, resentment and fear. The death of Edward left Regina a widow with two small children, ages four and fifteen months.
The words, “The Lord Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want” seemed to somehow no longer accurately apply to Regina’s life...or so it might seem. After all, her partner and father of her children had been taken from her. How could this woman not feel in want? How could she not feel alone?
As Regina trusted me with the intimate details surrounding Edward’s accident, I came face to face with a woman of God, who truly lived, moved and found her being in Christ. Resentment and fear were far from her. Our conversation was filled with much laughter as she fondly recalled details of their relationship. She spoke about the unfailing faithfulness of her Lord. I was reminded that God’s grace truly is sufficient. His love had clothed Regina in strength, joy, peace and the assurance of a great future.
Our circumstances are always apt to change. We are not promised a life without hardship or pain and tomorrow may never come. However, there is one thing we can be sure of, one promise we can rest upon - God will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us in any and every situation we go through. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother - the true Lover of our souls.
So, today, in honor of the love we celebrate on Valentine’s Day, breathe in God’s perfect love for YOU. Experience Him all around and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are His first choice! You are His jewel.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
It's a beautiful thing!
I was reminded of the necessity of contentment today through a conversation with my son. Many are awaiting personal shifts in the seasons of life right now. Waiting on God to make good on His promises.
Often, year after year, our patience wears thin, leading to bouts of complaining, attitudes of unthankfulness and endless searches for immediate gratification. We research the latest trends and abruptly decide we need new decor for the house or perhaps even a new house, new clothes for our self-esteem, a career change, or possibly just an amazing last minute deal on a trip that whisks us away from our mundane routines...
Whatever you might be feeling, Zig Ziglar writes,
“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want NOW!
1 Timothy 6:6 declares that “godliness WITH contentment is great gain.”
That means that godliness and contentment are a congruous pair. To truly walk with God, one must surrender and allow His beautiful Spirit to morph us into godliness. As believers, we trust Him with our paths and our futures, yielding our days to His timing. Assuredly, many can testify to having allowed this process to be at work in their lives, but fewer have understood the role that contentment plays in the journey.
Contentment says, “Though I thank you for what lies ahead, I am at peace HERE.”
It is the calming assurance that our best is yet to come, while gently reminding us to breathe in the value of HERE.
HERE is a test.
HERE has purpose.
When HERE ceases to have purpose, then God will move you THERE!
And,THERE will not present itself without the attitude of contentment. Cultivating a lifestyle of contentment will position you for promotion.
When was the last time you took inventory of your blessings instead of your wants and desires. I would venture to believe that if asked, we could all quickly recite the many things we are currently waiting for and would certainly like to witness come to pass, but just for today let us not think on those things. Let us BE STILL and find a place of quietness with the Lord to simply say THANK YOU for all that you have given me. THANK YOU for your presence in my life. THANK YOU for my health, safety and provision. THANK YOU for teaching me. THANK YOU for the place called HERE!
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