STRONGHOLDS

strong•hold/ˈstrôNGˌhōld/

1. a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack

2. a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld

Strong holds never seem to be a ‘good’ thing. When I think stronghold, I think a habit that seems to be unbreakable. When I think stronghold, I think fear. When I think stronghold, I think depression. When I think stronghold, I think that place in my life that the enemy continues to attack. 

Is there an area of your life that you’re really struggling with? More than likely that area is what you think about when the word stronghold comes to mind. 

A stronghold is typically believed to be something strong that has a negative hold on your life. What if this idea was flipped? What if instead of pleading and begging for things to turn out a certain way we prayed prayers of praise and adoration? What if we shifted our focus from our problems to God’s promises? What if we started looking at those ‘strongholds’ and telling them how powerful our God is instead of letting them take over our life? 

Praying prayers of praise will do something miraculous in our lives. Those negative strongholds will begin to crumble. They might seem strong but they stand no chance against God. 

When we pray prayers of praise our mindset changes. We began to shift our focus from that problem, addiction, unforgiveness, depression, rejection, anxiety, whatever that stronghold might be to how GREAT our God is. Those strongholds that have consumed our minds and hearts for so long won’t seem so unshakeable. Hope filled strongholds of truth will start to form. When we pray these types of prayers strongholds will be built on our behalf. Listen people, our God is still in the healing business. He is still in the restoration business. He is still changing lives. He has not closed shop. If our God can create the universe, don’t you believe He can handle that problem area in your life? 

Jesus paid it all for YOU. You now have rights. Satan doesn’t have rights or authority over your life unless you give that to him. 

Use the weapons you’ve been granted and confront Hell boldly. [The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4] You’ve got the word of God. [Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:05] Declare scripture over that stronghold. The word of the Lord is alive. If you’re facing it, there is scripture that applies to that situation. You’ve got Jesus’ name. Declare victory in his precious name. You’ve got the blood of Jesus’. Apply it to all areas of your life. You’ve been washed clean – your past isn’t who you are anymore. You are a child of the most high King. You’ve been forgiven. You’ve been redeemed. You’ve been bought. 

I want to encourage you all to speak the answer not the problem. Start turning to the word of God – which is the answer in every situation. You are loved unconditionally. You are forgiven. Openly invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the things that are causing you to believe otherwise, or anything that doesn’t align with God’s word, and replace those things with truth. [The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. Nahum 1:7] [The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1]

 

Heavenly father, I release it all to you. I declare strongholds be broken, and lives be rebuilt with your truths as the foundation. I expectantly ask you to raise up leaders that firmly believe your word is sovereign in all situations. Your ways are higher than our ways, Lord. Thank you for providing deliverance and for setting the captives free. Amen. 

Election Day 

No matter who gets elected today:

God is still on the throne.

God has a plan.

There is purpose behind God’s plan.

God is in control of who is in control.

The elected officials need our prayers.
.

.

Today more than ever I pray that fairness and truth prevail; for healing, grace, and mercy for our country; and that God’s will be done.

For the LORD Most High is awesome. He is a great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2

It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. Psalm 75:7

For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 1 Timothy 6:15

.

.

.

As christians we need to be engaged… GO VOTE!

Be Still

Do you ever feel like every way that you turn there is an obstacle you must face? There is always something: a friend is hurting, a family member is sick, you face a tragedy, you didn’t get that dream job, you aren’t clear on your calling…

Whatever it may be, God placed you in that moment for a reason. He placed you in the moment you’re in right now for a reason. Trust that He is going to work it out. I can promise you this, God is up to something or the enemy would not be fighting this hard. Confusion, frustration, repression, worry, fear, anxiety… are all things the enemy plants in you to try and wreck God’s plan. Stand strong in the Lord. He will sustain you. Listen to Him. After all, you are His child.

 

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

When was the last time you sat quietly in your room? Not because you felt excluded or because you were experiencing anger and frustration, but simply with the intentions to be still.

If you’re anything like me, this doesn’t come naturally. I’ve found myself asking (expecting a response)… Almost to the point of a beg. God, what do I do? Where do you want me? I trust you, but… I think it is safe to say, we’ve all been there.

 

Question: How can we expect answers and help, if we aren’t willing to fully trust Him?

Answer: We can’t.

 

The quieter we become, the more we can hear. With that being said, I just want to encourage you to be still… Lean in, and focus on what God is trying to tell you. Let Him lead you. How awesome would it be to turn from a fast pace world, feeding you lies, to a God who is ready to whisper to you, as your best friend?

 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

 

This subject has been heavy on my heart, for both myself and those around me, for past few months. It is so easy to get caught up in continually asking and pleading with the Lord. Often we get so consumed with everything around us that we forget to be still. Being still is a prerequisite. Embark on the calm sea. Listen to Him, listen for His voice. Surrender those thoughts that are holding you down. Let God be your guide, He will come crashing over with waves of peace. Sit in an attitude of silence and prayer and He will meet you there.

 

Be still before the Lord
 and wait patiently for him;
 do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
 when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7)

 

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for getting so caught up in the lies of the enemy that I forget to be still and listen to you. He is tricky and rather convincing. I rebuke every lie the enemy is telling me in Jesus name. Guard me. I know you’re bigger than everything I face, help me to rest in that. I love you Lord. Thank you for loving me in the midst of my mess.

 

Season of Thanks

Thanksgiving – lets shoot to make it not just a day, but instead a season.

Thanksgiving: Fourth Thursday of November? Day that most fill their bellies with loads of traditional foods?

Don’t take this as me sabotaging or undermining the Thanksgiving holiday we all know and love. It is amazing that the United States sets apart a day just to give thanks. My goal with this post is to attempt to enhance your thanks and celebrations, not to reduce or take away from them.

The worry I find with Thanksgiving is people tend to sway toward the belief that thanks is due on this day. The same way with birthdays, Independence Day, and any other holiday. Shouldn’t we be thankful we are free, that we have loved ones, for our mothers/fathers more than one day a year?

In church and as I have grown in my relationship with the Lord I have learned that giving thanks to God is imperative. This is so, because giving thanks to God honors God. I would even go as far to say that the bible calls us to show consistent gratitude. Outside of the bible and what we are called to do, it is safe to say that a thankful heart is a happy heart. Thankfulness magnifies the good things in life. Giving thanks can be used as a weapon against battles we face in life.

 

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:12-19

 

In the story, the ten men come to Jesus with hopes of being healed. Each of the men walked away healed, but one man turns back to praise God and thank Jesus for healing him. Jesus made a point to call out the other nine, to show the importance of thankfulness and gratitude.

The reason I share this story is to share with you about God’s faithfulness to provide us with the things we need plus some. Because of this, He is deserving of our thanks through both praise and prayer.

  

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

  

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28)

 

A few weeks back I posted:

“With Thanksgiving coming up, I was sitting this morning thinking about the things I was thankful for: my family, Neil, a house, etc. (the obvious things) when it struck me that my first thought should have been Jesus. God wasn’t content sitting in Heaven watching us suffer, but sent His son to save us… And without hesitation He did just that. He traded Heaven to know you. He came to take your place.”

I share this with you to make it known that naturally we are thankful for the things we can see, touch, etc.; but we need to remember and make a point to glorify and give thanks to the one who traded Heaven to know us.

 

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

  

Are we ungrateful like the nine? Or are we showing thankfulness and letting it add joy to our lives? Are we glorifying and giving God the thanks He deserves? When we move through life ungratefully, we are missing out on so much joy that we could be experiencing.

I want to encourage all of you, and myself, not to wait until thanksgiving to give thanks, to give thanks when thanks is due, to give thanks even when we think it’s not needed, and to give it all to the one who saved us. We will truly find life if we lay down every hurt, fear, doubt, that comes over us down at the cross; have a thankful heart; and seek out God’s heart for us.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I humbly come before you today in appreciation for all the things you have done for me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for sending your son to die for me, so I can walk in freedom. Thank you for your never-ending love, grace, and mercy. Thank you for being compassionate. Thank you for all your blessings and gifts. Thank you for telling me I am worthy and thank you for pursuing me. I love you!

In Jesus name, Amen.

 

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving! I’m praying blessings over you and your family this holiday season!

-Lo

King of the World

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind. I try to keep you safely in between the lines. I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed. I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye. 

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas. So who am I to try to take the lead. Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough. When you’re the one who made me from the dust

Ohhhh, you set it all in motion… Every single moment. You brought it all to me…And you’re holding on to me. 

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world? I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world. How could I make you so small when you’re the one who holds it all? When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world? You will always be the king of the world. | King of the World – Natalie Grant |

This song! Wow. It’s so simple, yet hits home every time. It’s so convicting and wrecks me in the best way possible. I’m personally so guilty of trying to align God and what He has for me with what’s convenient. Whether it be staying quiet when I know I need to speak up, trying on my own before I hit my knees to pray, letting myself go places where I know temptation lives, the list goes on… we are all guilty of it. But why? Why would we do this to ourselves when we could whole heatedly pursue the King? 

God holds it all. God created it all. God has gone before you and made a way. God has solutions before we even know there is a problem. Why is it that we try to take the lead? Why is it so hard to let go and let God? We’re not on the same level as God, and will never come close. God is smarter than us. God’s plan far exceeds ours. Although He is so great, he longs to know us. He longs to have deep, intimate relationship. 

Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 2 Chronicles 6:19

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… James 4:8

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

I want to encourage anyone reading this to strive to be more like Christ each day. Cry out to God. Pray expectantly. Seek God. Know God – Jesus died to know you. Endeavor each day to grow in relationship. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Trust God. After all, He created the universe and everything in it. Take a stand for the one who has always stood by you. 

Prayer: Search my heart. Reveal the things that need to be revealed, Lord. I don’t want to do this on my own, I want your help, guidance, and grace. Set my desires to align with yours. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Be you, bravely. 

There is only one you, so work it!

Disclaimer: the majority of the why behind this post is because I need to read it. I need to hear these things. I’m not typing these things because I have it all together, I’m typing them out because there is a chance someone is facing the things I’m facing. 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

It seems like so many times in life we are constantly wanting to be something, and a lot of times these things don’t align with what God has for us. In that moment, when what you want to be and where God has put you don’t align, we start to question things. I’m guilty of it. But when I type that out it sounds so silly. Why would I question God? He made the universe… but I let it cross my mind that He has somehow messed up on me and my story. Now you might not directly think that, but we’ve all questioned certain things. Why do I have straight hair? Why did I not land that job? Why am I not engaged? Why don’t I have a boyfriend? Why don’t they want to be my friend? Why do I struggle with this? Why, just why? So many times questions like that take over our mind and when they do the enemy creeps in. He lies to us. He does everything he can, in that moment, to pull us away from God and what He has for us. This is why it’s so important to know who you are. You have value. You are part of God’s plan. Without YOU, God’s plan wouldn’t look the same. When we fill our heads with those types of questions, when jealousy gets the best of us, when envy is relevant in our lives we decrease value in the role God has for us. In turn, that leads to us not pursuing the role God has for us. 

You, individually, are uniquely loved by God. Not equally loved, uniquely loved. That’s huge. That means that God (or anyone) can’t measure the love He has for you. His love is immeasurable. He loves infinitely. His love is pure. His love is unconditional. He is love. He made you to love and spend time with. He made you perfectly to fit into His perfect plan. He knew when He created you what you would do and how you would glorify His kingdom. He made no one like you. He made you to be you! You are part of God’s puzzle. 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

A few weeks back, I started reading a book called Without Rival. I am still reading the book, and the further I get into it the more I realize. I’ve realized that I have unintentional idols. I’ve realized my intentions aren’t always what I think they are, and that I need to do some digging. I’ve realized there are things that if I’m not careful hinder my relationship with the Lord. I’ve realized how flawed I am (…not because God messed up when He created me, but because sin and the enemy are real). Wow, the enemy and sin are so real… but that’s another topic. We can talk on that later. I’ve realized that I’m in competition with no one (this is something I need to remind myself often). That’s a hard thing to realize, especially when you’re a girl. I’ve realized God made me with a vision. I’m a very analytical person and like to know the why… so this isn’t always easy for me to wrap my mind around. Especially when the way things are going just don’t seem ‘right’ or ‘fair.’ And the list goes on… 

I say all this to encourage you, whoever is reading this, to be YOU. God made you and loves you just the way you are. Be authentic. Be real. Be intentional. Be transparent. Be original. Be [insert your name here]. Just rest in knowing God made you the way He wanted you, and even though you might not see it now you were made for this. AND to read Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.  

PRAYER: Lord, I come to you today with a thankful heart. I’m thankful that you made me with a purpose, and that you wanted me to be part of your puzzle. Help me to be me. I need you. Help me to step in to what you’re calling me to do and to appreciate the process. I love you and I trust you. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

fog 

We are living in a dark time. Sin and corruption are prevalent. Evil seems to be taking over. Authority isn’t respected. Unconditional love is rare. Sin is rampant. And the list goes on. These things can take a toll on us. The state of our world can become overwhelming.

Be encouraged. Don’t let the fog of this world hold you back or drag you down. Declare victory – and cast off depression, fear, anger, loneliness, failure, insecurity, anxiety, stress, and brokenness.

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.

Genesis 6:5-18 talks about the state of the world during Noah’s time. I believe some strong comparisons can be made.

Darkness… Check.

Abundant sin… Check.

Craziness… Check.

Wickedness… Check.

But notice this… “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” That’s huge!! God saw Noah’s obedience in the midst of such darkness… And He sees yours as well. I don’t know about you… but that gives me hope. Hope for the future. Maybe not here on earth, but in Heaven. God remembered Noah. God remembered Noah’s family. If we live a righteous and holy life, we don’t have to fear. God will remember us also.

I want to encourage you (and myself) to live a life like Noah. Be the light this world needs to see.

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. Romans 12:2

God designed you.

God loves you.

God is for you.

God knows you.

God forgives you.

God blesses you.

God forgives you.

God holds the solution to all your problems.

So why not be a faithful follower?

Prayer: Lord, give me the wisdom to desire your plan over the ways of this world. Help me to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I want to know you, and hear from you. I pray that you give me the strength to follow you when it’s tough. I am guilty of straying… I ask you for forgiveness. Help me to be more like Noah. In Jesus name, amen.

You are loved wildly by God 

I started thinking this morning about reasons why people get discouraged, how I could encourage someone today, why people think they aren’t good enough (but others are)… and it hit me that there are over 7 billion people in the world, it would be easy to believe that you are being looked over or that you’re not worthy…


God hasn’t called you to do what is easy – He called you to be courageous. This world tells you aren’t good enough, but God tells you that you are. This world tells you that you can’t; but God says, with Him, you can. This world gives us a list of things it takes to be beautiful, but God tells you that you’re made in His image (I would say that is as beautiful as it gets). 

You are worth it. 

You are more than a conqueror. 

You can do it. 

You are called. 

You are beautiful.

This exact second: God is cheering you on. God loves you. God is acknowledging your needs. God is mindful of your situation. God is with you. God is for you. 

What more could you ask for? The same God who owns the stars, who created the universe, who orchestrates miracles daily… is for you, (insert your name), and wants His best for you. 
You are loved wildly by God.

Breathing in your grace; breathing out your praise. 

Heavenly Father, thank you. Thank you for who you are. You are holy. You are forgiveness. You are able. You are my redeemer. You’re a good father. You are my shepherd. You are gracious. Your mercy is never ending. You’re our sanctifier. You are faithful. Your love is unconditional. 

Worship and prayer are huge. 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 

This verse should be a life motto. I pray that this is me. I want to live out this verse. 
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 

God is faithful. Know that. Find hope in the things He promises. He is true to His word. 

Throughout 21 days of prayer I had many ‘aha’ moments. 

This is what hit me the hardest: There are so many things we are taught, verses we read, songs we sing, sermon quotes we remember, and so on. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we do these things… But the question I asked myself is, “are you living it?” That’s a tough question. In the moment of asking myself the enemy tried to attack. He said you are unworthy, you can’t do it, you’re a failure… And at first it hurt. Then I thought about it. I am unworthy; but Christ knew this and chose to die for me still. I have failed God; but He shows me new mercies each day. I’ve made mistakes; but He chooses to love me anyway. I’ve gone the wrong way; and God led me back to the right path. I’ve picked up things I’ve already laid at the foot of the cross; but His grace is sufficient. I can’t do it; but I serve a God who can. 

I say all this to reiterate that we serve a God who has no limitations. There is no strong hold He can’t break. There is no person He doesn’t love. There is nothing you’ve done (or experienced) that God won’t set you free from. 

He is faithful when we are not. He is constant when we are not. He is everything when we are nothing. He shows mercy and grace when we do not. He loves when we are unlovable. Even after this, He still calls us His. 

Lord, with every breath and all that I am I will worship you. 

I want to encourage each of you (and myself) to realize that it’s all about the way we live out our religion, not about what we say our religion is. Then take that next step, whatever it may be, to live a more Christ like life. 

(W)ait upon the Lord

(O)ffer our lives as a living sacrifice 

(R)est in His presence 

(S)ing to Him

(H)umble ourselves before Him

(I)ntimacy with God

(P)leasing Him 

AND give thanks always! 

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 

Choose to be Holy 

Today I was sitting and thinking about how I wasn’t “happy” like I typically am.. It hurt to face that. In denial I swayed toward it is just a bad day. Then, it struck me. I haven’t been seeking Jesus fully. I’ve let small things creep up. I’ve picked up things that I’ve already put down at the foot of the cross. This is a hard thing to admit to yourself much less broadcast, but it’s so true. I feel like many others around me are facing this same reality. The enemy is real. His attacks are real. But God is bigger. God is greater. I choose to run after Jesus. I wanna know Him. When someone ask me who my best friend is I want to respond confidently, “Jesus.” God should be our go to, not our last resort. 
So many times we claim to love and follow Jesus, but yet we aren’t following the way He has provided us. People I’ll be the first to tell you I fail (but I get back up), I sin (but I repent), and I’m nothing without God. 
John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commands. 
We must know that we all fail and fall short (Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). Also, we must first truly understand and realize how broken, sinful, and in need we are; so that we will truly seek holiness and God’s heart. 
I am convinced that the first step towards attaining a higher standard of holiness is to realize more fully the amazing sinfulness of sin. – J.C. Ryle
Without holiness on earth we shall never be prepared to enjoy heaven. Heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is a holy Being. The angels are holy creatures. Holiness is written on everything in heaven… How shall we ever be at home and happy in heaven if we die unholy? – J.C. Ryle 
Nothing of this world brings peace, comfort, joy, understanding, wisdom, and purpose like being holy. We must strive to be more holy and Christlike each day. Each day we should be eager to know more and grow closer to the Lord. If we aren’t holy, we will never be face to face with the Lord. 
John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less. 
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
I want to encourage all of you to think about the coming day. Also, think about what you will say to the Lord.

When you take these things into account, then sit and meditate on them. I believe you will have a longing and deep desire to become more holy. 
  Prayer: Lord, I’m sorry for picking up things I’ve already put down. Will you please forgive me? I know your ways are higher than mine and you have a great calling on my life. Today I choose to walk by faith and run in full speed towards fulfilling that calling. Lead me, be my guide. I want to know more of you each day. In Jesus name, Amen.