Identity Theft

Identity-Theft

By Kara Montanez

Lately the theme of ‘identity theft’ has been coursing through my mind.  I have been robbed.  You have been robbed.  We have been robbed….and it is just plain sad.

In fact, it’s more than sad, it is humanity’s greatest tragedy.   That day when that serpent spoke his sweet nothings into Eve’s ear.  Those words which made her question who she was, those words which made her think she could be more and that God was holding out on her.  If she would just take that bite she would be free, she would know, and she would find out what she was missing.

And then he robbed her.  He robbed her of position, he robbed of her relationship, he robbed her of peace, he robbed her of purity, he robbed her of life.

And so it goes today in this world.  Countless women robbed of relationship, robbed of peace, robbed of purity, robbed of hope, robbed of life.   Broken down women, hurting women, abused women, taken-advantage of women, bitter women, offended women, betrayed women, and abandoned women.  Women so far removed in time from the Garden of Eden, that they have no clue to who they really are, or to whom they belong.

Held for ransom by sin.  Held in the darkness of death by the thief himself.

Are you this woman? This lost woman?  I have been this woman, and have spent many years of my life as this woman, this robbed woman.  Then something changed.

I accepted Jesus Christ in my heart and invited Him to be Lord of my life.  Then everything has gradually started to make sense.   I realized that I had spent years looking for God and I didn’t even know it.  Something in me was always searching for something or someone greater than myself to meet the deep aching in my heart.  I wanted to feel complete, I wanted to be loved and protected.  I always thought that if I could just get married than I would be complete, because then my husband would love me and that would be enough.  So I dated, and I dated, and I dated, and I gave too much away in hopes of getting something in return.  I pursued love but I was never able to overtake it.

“She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them.” – Hosea 2:7

I never succeeded in my pursuit because I was being pursued by the very One my broken heart was truly searching for.  I just couldn’t see Him.  I couldn’t recognize Him because I didn’t know Him.

Have you ever wondered why your relationships aren’t working out?  Have you ever wondered why whatever or whomever your pursing is always just so elusive?  Could it be that you are being pursued by God, but you are too busy running after what you think you want that you don’t even see Him?

I will punish her for all those times when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earrings and jewels and went out to look for her lovers but forgot all about me,” says the Lord.   -Hosea 2:13

Remember the God who created you.  If the love you’re chasing is elusive, then you are looking for it in the wrong places, and it will not prosper. God’s love is never elusive, it can always be found; His love is unfailing.

Do you know that we were created for relationship with God? And that relationship was broken when sin entered the picture.?  God could’ve just wiped the slate clean and started over, but He didn’t. We are not worthless to Him.  In fact, God places such great value on us that He had a plan already in place to bring us back into relationship with Him.  He did this by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

This is God’s free gift to us.  God’s plan for us is restoration. God puts us back together and empowers us to live with clear purpose and destiny.

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10.

I want to encourage you today to reclaim what has been robbed from you. Reclaim your place in God’s Kingdom, reclaim your position, your power, your peace, and your purity.

You don’t have to be that lost woman anymore. You can be that healed woman, that set-free woman, that empowered woman, that loved woman, and that redeemed woman.

Reclaim your identity. 

 

 

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Good vs. Good

Tips-for-Growing-an-Apple-Tree-SuccessfullyBy Kara Montañez

I have had a pretty eye opening experience this past month- you know the kind where you realize that you’ve been standing in a dark room for years, and then someone walks in and flips on the lights?  It’s slightly unsettling, yet exhilarating.  Why exhilarating? Because light brings hope for change, and to me hope and change are just plain exhilarating.

Did you know that the greatest deceptions can come in the most beautifully wrapped packages?  A new job, a college degree, promotion, position, wealth, fulfillment, even relationships?- all good things right?  Yes, but if they are not from God then they are not good.

If you check out Matthew 4 where Jesus is in the wilderness and the devil is tempting Him- take notice of what he tempts Jesus with.  It’s not blatant evil like “hey Jesus tell a lie” or “hey Jesus why don’t you steal something” or “hey Jesus lets have a gossip sesh about so and so” or “hey Jesus wanna get high?”.  It’s none of these – I mean these are no brainers!

Instead, he tempts Jesus with success, fulfillment, wealth, position.

Crazy.  I mean who can discern between good and good? I apparently can’t because I have fallen into these very types temptations many times, and have strayed from what God has called me to, and how God has called me live.

When you read this passage, it’s apparent that the devil was trying to divert Jesus from the Cross- he was attempting to dissuade Jesus from what God had called Him to do, and how God called Him to live. He was craftily trying to lure Jesus into disobedience to God.  This is where the devil hits the hardest- when you’re in the wilderness, when you’re hungry, you’re tired, and you’re lonely.  And he hits you with a deviant path that entices you to not wait on God, but to reach instead for the instant gratification of ‘good’ that is not from God, and is outside of His will for your life, at that moment.

This is a whole new level of deception for my mind to comprehend!  I have never been able to see or discern this in my own walk because of my immaturity in this area, and of course my impatience.  I just always assumed that if something was good, it had to be from God.  However, over the past month, through a series of eye-opening experiences, God has been training me to comprehend that even good is not good if it is not from God, or in His will for me. If success, promotion, fulfillment, position, opportunity, and relationships are not from God then they are not good, and they are not for my good.  Ultimately, the only good is from God, and this good is worth the wait.

Mind officially blown.

In Hebrews 5:14 it reads: “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”

Recognizing the difference between right and wrong is a skill, and it takes training.  This is grown up stuff right here, no more baby stuff.  This isn’t your blatant obvious right and wrong, no, this is being able to discern between good and good.  This is walking in the wilderness and waiting on God.  This is being tired, lonely, hungry, weak and not taking your eyes off the Cross for a few moments of instant gratification.  This is waiting on God.  This is clinging to His Words.  This is being as eager to finish the work as you were to start it.  This is obedience to the point of death.  Death to all your dreams, all your visions, all your desires, all your needs, and all your wants.  A focused purposeful obedience, that endures for the greater promise, the greater fulfillment, the greater glory, and does not settle for the counterfeit.

Let’s be honest here, a counterfeit $50 bill may look legit, but it has no value at all, except maybe for kindling. As for me? I don’t want the counterfeit,  I want the real deal.  I want God and what He has for me and I am going to seek Him for it, relentlessly, and that’s it.

It’s time to eat some solid food people.  It’s time to grow up into your salvation and become skilled in discerning the difference between truth and deception, between good and good. Jesus understands this temptation and this difficulty, because He went through it! So He can help us and He can walk us through these type of situations and help us to overcome, if we will follow Him and obey His voice.

God is always good, and His good is the only good worth having.

Mighty Warrior – Your Strength

warriorBy April Poynter

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7

If our strength comes from The Lord why are so many believers walking around so downcast, weakened and beat up? What would the body of Christ look like if we actually lived out what we claim to believe?

God’s mighty warriors have strength. They have strength that comes from the One True, Living God. They don’t have to lean on their own shattered pieces of strength – they just have to bring what they have and place it in Jesus. He does the rest. Isn’t that awesome?

Somewhere along the way we have gotten the wires crossed that the strength comes from us … or that strength comes from our circumstances, or our finances, or our relationships. No – not at all! If we place our strength in changing people and things or in fleeting emotions, we’ll never be able to stand.

Mighty warriors are able to stand with the strength of Mighty God. There is no need to worry when you know that God has gone before you and that God will always work out all things for the good of those who love Him. There is no need to shrink back when we know that God has given us boldness, that He hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. The strength that God pours out on us comes from faith. Do you believe He has it to pour out? Do you believe He will strengthen you?

You were made to be a mighty warrior. You have incredible strength beyond what you could have ever imagined. You are selling yourself short by not stepping into that strength and drawing it more often. We wear ourselves out by operating in our own strength. We don’t have enough, my friend. God never meant for us to operate from our own strength.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

I pray that we would surrender our need to control situations and outcomes. I pray we would hand them over without a worry. I know that God wants to strengthen his mighty warrior women. I know that God wants to secure His truth in our hearts so that we can stand under great pressure and not budge.

Be strengthened and rise, mighty warrior!

april

Check out April’s official blog site at www.poynterjourney.wordpress.com
And her official Facebook page ‘Point Her Journey’  www.facebook.com/pointherjourney/?fref=ts

 

 

Mighty Warrior – Your Safety

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By April Poynter

I remember in 2011, right before I spun out of control with fear, anxiety, and depression, I saw a vision. The vision was of me holding on to a safety post and telling God to use me. The problem was I wasn’t able to do much because I wouldn’t let go of the safety post. The Lord revealed to me that I often pray for Him to use me and send me out but my heart wants to stay anchored to safety.

Mighty Warriors are not thinking about safety. They’re not reckless and careless but they understand that safety is just a feeling. It’s a false idea that makes us feel secure.

Think about the fear of flying. Flying in an airplane is way safer than driving a car. So why do so many people feel more afraid in an airplane than a car? It’s the idea of safety the car brings to us. It makes us feel more in control and more safe.

Mighty warriors don’t get caught up on safety. They are willing to give their life because they know that death is not terminal, life is. They don’t idolize their lives. They believe in their purpose and it’s not to live forever.

We were not put here on this earth to be safe. Although I firmly believe in making smart choices and not playing in the street, I think we can box ourselves in with safety. There is a fine line between safety and fear.

Are you willing to go where God sends you? Are you willing to leave the safety of the shore and walk out into the crashing waves? Do you trust that God will go before you and make a way?

He cannot use us as mighty warriors to the extent of all that He has created us for if we are white knuckling the safety post. That false sense of safety leads to hidden fear and hidden fear leads to bondage. God never intended for us to be in bondage. He died to set us free from bondage.

I pray that you, mighty warrior, would surrender your ideas of “safety” to our Lord, Jesus, and let Him lead you wherever He wants. It’s gonna be worth it!

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—“
1 Corinthians 2:9

april

Check out April’s official blog site at www.poynterjourney.wordpress.com
And her official Facebook page ‘Point Her Journey’  www.facebook.com/pointherjourney/?fref=ts

 

Mighty Warrior – Your Wounds

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By April Poynter

When I think of a mighty warrior, I think of a rugged, strong, relentless person. I think of a person who has been through some stuff. Can you see the image? A person who has ran, crawled, climbed, fought, and prevailed.

When you have been through some stuff you wind up with some cuts and bruises. Sometimes you wind up with deep wounds. Do you have battle wounds? Are they healing or are they still open and infected?

Often times we let our wounds define us. We get so focused on the pain that it’s easy to get stuck. It’s easy to let our hope sink into the pain.

Instead of being a victim and allowing the wounds to drive our feelings and emotions, what if our wounds start shouting Hallelujah?! What if our wounds start proclaiming the Truth of God?!

We don’t deny that we’ve been hurt. We don’t deny that there are moments in life that just flat out suck – but we don’t stay there. What can God do with a warrior who is bleeding out all over the place?

God needs healed, mighty warriors. You are a mighty warrior of God, sister!   It’s time for your wounds to cry out to God. It’s time for you to surrender those hurts to God and let him heal you.

The scars remain but they contain beauty. They are part of your story. They reveal the glory of God and his handiwork in your life.

Are your wounds infected or are they crying hallelujah? It’s your choice. Today is the day for a turn around. Stand up, you mighty warrior of God, and press forward.

april
Check out April’s official blog site at www.poynterjourney.wordpress.com
And her official Facebook page ‘Point Her Journey’  www.facebook.com/pointherjourney/?fref=ts

Mighty Warrior- Your Stake

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By April Poynter

In 2011 I suffered from anxiety and depression so severe that I often contemplated taking my life. Among other battles in my life up to that point, this one definitely took the cake. It was truly that “life or death” season.

One day, during this particular season in my life, I went up to the alter at church for prayer. A husband and wife wrapped their arms around me and asked how they could pray for me.

I was so tired and didn’t have much left in me so I just told them to pray however they felt led. The woman started to pray for me and stopped. I opened my eyes and lifted my head and we locked eyes. She stared deep into me and said, “I was praying for you and all I could see was a mighty warrior. You are that mighty warrior. You were standing firm with your feet locked and your stake in the ground.

Can you picture that? The vision The Lord gave this woman changed my life. I see this woman covered in dirt, clothes are ripped, hair a mangled mess, and yet she is strong and standing firm, like “You can kill me if you want but I ain’t movin’ from this spot. This is MY territory.”

The fact that I had a stake in the ground is so significant. A Stake is a strong wooden or metal post with a point at one end, driven into the ground to act as a boundary mark. This woman’s vision showed me that I was not playin’ around spiritually. Although I felt beat up, forsaken, lost … my spirit was like “oh heck no! Girlfriend is not goin’ down without a fight”

Let me show you a different definition of the word Stake: historically it was a wooden post to which a person was tied before being burned alive as punishment.

One stake. Two different uses.

It was my stake and it was my choice what I did with that stake. Do I stick it in the ground fiercely and push the powers of darkness back or do I tie myself to it and burn alive?

I decided to believe the vision as an image of encouragement from God. I pressed in harder and I told The Lord, “I will cling to you until this thing breaks.” Day in and day out, although it hurt like hell, I chose to believe Him. My fear did not hinder the promises of God. Even though my mind was all over the place, I surrendered to God and chose to take the anxious thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

God always has the miracle. He hasn’t run out. It is our choice to believe God for the miracle. The Lord has equipped each of us with a stake but it is our choice to use that stake for victory or defeat.

I believe that God has made each of His daughters a mighty warrior with stake in hand. But far too often, when the road gets tough, instead of planting our feet firm and forcing our stake into the ground, we tie ourselves to it in fear and wait to be punished.

The scripture that we claim to believe says in 1 John 4:18, “There is not fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

This is a heart issue. This is not about circumstances and being dealt a bad hand. Ask yourself what do you fear and why? Perfect love drives out fear. What areas of your life have you not surrendered? What pieces of your heart are you holding back?

Where is your stake? What have you decided to do with it? It’s your stake, you’re your choice – nobody else’s. Look past your circumstances, stop collecting all the wrongs in your life, stop being a victim. It’s time to get down off that stake, take your position, put your stake in the ground, and hold steady.

How? You turn your heart and focus to Jesus fully and you wait with great faith and expectation for the miracle.

april
Check out April’s official blog site at www.poynterjourney.wordpress.com
And her official Facebook page ‘Point Her Journey’  www.facebook.com/pointherjourney/?fref=ts

Finding Hope in Failure

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“There is Hope in Failure”
by Sheryl Griffin

Feeling like a failure is something everyone has felt at one time or another. Men, women, and children struggle with failure. Failure can strike the young and old. Failure finds it’s way into every culture, background, and even financial status. Failures can be felt in every category of job, whether you’re a stay at home parent, in the medical field, a city worker, in media, a fast food employee, or an entrepreneur. Failure, much like sin, is not discriminatory.

We can easily feel the dreaded sense of failure when a family member makes a remark or has unmet expectations that contribute to our already inadequate feelings. The media can also add to our feelings of failure with photo shopped pictures in magazines or advertisements. We also measure ourself against our neighbors, friends, and even strangers.

Many times we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves that only serves to increase the sense of failure.  This can happen when we find ourselves back at square one in our struggle with a sin area, a bad habit, or something that we think we should have dealt with by now, or when we succumb to new or familiar temptations.

Then there are times when we have done everything in our power as expected and correctly, yet for whatever reason, we were unsuccessful.

Before we can begin to see hope in our failures it’s important to know we are not alone. To fail is to be human. It is impossible for anyone this side of Heaven to be 100% successful in every area of their life.

Here are five keys to help you begin to see hope in failures:

1.  Give yourself grace. Stop comparing your physical appearance, your parenting, your creativity, your education level, your bank statement, your career, your home, and your life, with others.  Be determined to love your life. Be intentional in every moment. If there is an area where you need to honestly grow, then be willing to make necessary changes in a way that reflects grace to your heart and soul.  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.  Galatians 6:4-5

2.   If those around you are speaking negatively and adding to your sense of failure, you need to prayerfully consider confronting them on the issue and placing   appropriate boundaries (see “There is Hope in Boundaries” for more info on this) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

3.  If you are struggling with a temptation or something that is pulling you away from God, you must be determined to do the next right thing. Confess, repent, and put yourself in a position to be successful.  Allow yourself to be accountable to someone who will speak life into you, as well as love in truth. Be bold and courageous and get to the root of whatever it is and deal with it. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

4.  If you experience a failure when you have done everything as expected and correct to ensure success, the first thing you need to do is step back and evaluate the entire situation.  Consider if this situation involves other people (and their choices).  If so, recognize you are only responsible for YOU.  Next ask yourself, what is the problem? Are there other solutions? We need to remind ourselves we are not perfect, and even though it may seem as if we have a fail proof plan, our limited (human) vision can’t see the ultimate end result, no matter how much planning and strategizing we have applied.  Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God the Lord Himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6

5.  Faith. Faith is always easy to say, but not always easy to put into practice.  Even so, it is essential that we cover the areas of failure in our life with prayer, so that our hearts can be encouraged to know and understand that God is so much bigger than any of our failures.  Many times, our failures can lead to successes if we choose to see God’s hand in everything we do, because God’s ways are so much greater than our own. What we see on the outside may not be what’s really on the inside.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

 So, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

And last but not least, remember as C.S. Lewis once said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

There is hope in failure.

Sheryl at table
Please visit Sheryl’s official website at: www.sherylgriffin.com
Check out her book “A Scarlet Cord of Hope” on Amazon.com
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