What Fruit is Your Tree Producing?

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

For the past few months I have been obsessively craving oranges. I can eat six of them or more in a day sometimes. Definitely can eat several over the span of a week. But I’m a bit weird with how I eat them. I can’t peel just one and then eat it. I have to peel several at a time and store them in a dish so they’re readily available whenever my belly craves them. If I don’t peel them all at once, they tend to sit, rot and get wasted.

Tasting the juicy sweetness of a ripe orange and throwing away one that’s mushy and covered in a fuzzy green substance reminds me of God’s calling on all of us to be fruit bearers. In Galatians (Chapter 5 verse 22 and 23) we read about the fruits of the Spirit being love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, perseverance and self-control. These are all characteristics God requires of us to display in our day to day lives. Reading the list sounds easy and I am confident there are many times practicing all of these have come natural to all of us. But what about the times when it doesn’t? Let’s look at some scenarios.

When a person cuts us off on the road it’s human nature to react in a harsh manner (not practice gentleness.) when someone wounds us deeply or continues to disappoint us, it’s human nature to stop loving them, maybe even feel hatred toward them. When we’re grief stricken if feels impossible to experience joy. Addictions make it incredibly challenging to practice self-control. When life feels out of control it’s easy to worry and be anxious instead of choosing to be at peace fully trusting Abba. If you’re a parent dealing with a toddler meltdown or a disrespectful know-it-all teenager it’s super easy to lose patience. On days when we’re just feeling grumpy it’s easier to lash out at others rather than practice goodness and kindness.

Then there’s the concept of being known by our fruit. If we are a person bearing good fruit we should be identified as such. But what about those who constantly bear bad fruit? What about the people who cross our paths who appear to be mean-spirited, toxic, hard-hearted or down right evil? What about those people who seem so hard hearted that no amount of prayer covering seems ever possible that they will ever change?

First and foremost if you’re a Christian who’s known for bearing bad fruit (maybe you hold grudges, is unwelcoming, always arguing, gossips, harbors hatred toward others, loses your temper easily, over spends/over eats or even over works) it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror, confess these attitudes and behaviors and ask God to cut off the branches that aren’t bearing good fruit. Until you refuse to repent, you will be a tree that produces bad fruit and bears a false witness as to what being Christ like is all about. If you repent, God promises to prune you in a way that will make your tree overflowing with His fruit once again (John 15:2.)

Dealing with nonbelievers who bear bad fruit is a bit more challenging. None of us hold the power in our human strength to change a human heart, including our own. Part of bearing good fruit is being a seed planter for those who bear bad fruit. If you have any knowledge of botany (which mine is very limited) you know that some plants actually populate from having their seeds spread elsewhere. This happens in both plants and weeds which means Christians can plant both good and bad seeds in the lives of those whom we cross paths with. If we want to be good fruit bearers, we have to be good seed planters also (read Mark 4 regarding Jesus’ parable on seed planting.)

How do we do that? We practice the fruits of the Spirit at all times. Think about being a comedian performing on stage for the first time. Your audience boos you and throws rotten tomatoes at you. This is the epitome of being exposed to bad fruit bearers and toxic people. It’s also human nature to want to defend ourselves and to pick up those rotted tomatoes and throw them back. Instead, God calls us to give them good fruit. Sticking with this analogy let’s say when someone throws rotten tomatoes at you, you pull out fresh ripe ones and ask them to join you for a salad. If someone steals from your apple tree, bake them a pie with what’s left. By doing so, you will be planting seeds of the Spirit that God can use to grow your enemies into good fruit bearers also.

This is definitely easier said than done. Trust me-I struggle daily with practicing any of this. I tend to live out my feelings instead of practicing self-control. I lose my temper and throw gentleness, kindness and goodness right out the window replacing them with anger, harsh words and unforgiveness. I wallow in my sorrows and give the enemy my joy. When I try problem solving in my own human wisdom, I get engulfed in worry and anxiety which suffocates any ounce of His peace within me. There are days I make a conscious effort to choose His fruit instead though. Just like choosing healthy food gives your body more energy, choosing His fruit gives my spirit a supernatural energy boost that produces more fruit within me. The more we pour out into others, the more He pours back into us. To keep using a scientific analogy, this would be a spiritual osmosis!

Whether you’re in a season of seed planting or fruit bearing remember three things-one, just like growing a garden or planting trees takes a length of time before the plant is fully matured and fruit is produced, so it may take years before you see changes in those you are discipling to, including even your own children. That’s where consistency, perseverance and the power of prayer play their biggest roles. Just because you can’t see anything growing, doesn’t mean there aren’t roots forming beneath the surface. So don’t give up.

Second, you may not be the person God uses to fully change their hearts. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that he planted the seed but Apollo watered it and only God actually made it grow. This verse reminds us that some hearts may take more than one person to soften and that no matter who God uses, He ultimately gets the glory. It’s His power alone that truly changes hearts. We are just His tools.

Lastly, and this part is a sad reality, some hearts will never change. Choosing the fruits of the Spirit is a choice. There are people who choose to be hard hearted and no effort will ever change them. (Matthew 21:19) I believe God will show you when it’s time to walk away from such a person and surrender them fully to the Lord. We can still pray for a miracle in them but walking away means protecting ourselves emotionally and avoiding getting spiritually burned out. You may not agree with this last concept but just remember Judas was a prime example of such a heart. He walked right beside Jesus and betrayed him. Jesus never pursued Judas after the betrayal because He knew there was no changing him.

Jesus forgave Judas and He calls us to forgive our enemies also-even if they refuse to change. Forgiveness is definitely a seed that when planted can produce amazing fruit in ourselves and in those we choose to forgive. Jesus modeled this as He was hanging on a cross enduring excruciating pain, pushing himself up just to take a breath, and said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” So what seeds are you planting? What fruit are you producing? What is your spiritual tree bearing? Strive to plant seeds that inevitably produce trees that bear His fruit.

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The Voice of Truth

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””

‭‭John‬ ‭8:32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we go about our daily lives we engage with many voices throughout the day. Some of those voices are encouraging, some are critical. Some voices are loud and direct while others are barely audible and more passive. Nonetheless, these voices tend to skew the way we see and carry ourselves. We give a lot of power to these voices but the only one that truly matters-the one that can truly define us, is the voice of God.

But first-let’s look at the different voices. There are voices of encouragement. These are messages that build you up, strengthen you and motivated you. These can come from your family and friends who love and support you. Heck, maybe they come from Tony Robbins, Joyce Meyers, Bishop T.D. Jakes or Steven Furtick by means of a self-help book, devotional or YouTube video. Whatever the form, these voices help you walk taller, see yourself in a positive matter and display a “can do” kind of attitude.

Then we have the critical voices. These voices see your flaws and define you only by your worst moments or mistakes you’ve made. These voices condemn you, berate you and can cut deep and severe emotional wounds. They leave you seeing yourself in a very lowly manner. If you listen to them long enough these voices can lead to you feeling depressed, anxious and believing you are what these voices tell you. Ironically-these voices always seem louder and more direct than any voice of encouragement. Truth be told-these voices are liars.

The voice of truth is God’s voice. Since we are His creation, his voice is the only one that can truly define us. It’s also the only one we should be listening too. However, God’s voice isn’t always easy to hear or recognize. David describes the voice of the Lord as a thunderous roar that echoed above seas (Psalms 29:3), is powerful and majestic (Psalms 29:4), strikes with bolts of lightning (Psalms 29:7), and can split might cedars (Psalms 29:5.) In 2 Samuel 22:14, the voice of God “thundered from Heaven”, and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we read that the voice of the Lord is a commanding shout. Thunder, echoes, shouting-these words all describe LOUD! Yet far too often, the liars are louder than the voice of truth. How can they be, what can we do about it and who are we really according to the voice of Truth?

In biblical times, we read multiple examples of God speaking directly to His people. I firmly believe He still speaks to us directly through His word and the Holy Spirit but in today’s day an age we have to remove all distractions and get quiet before Him to really hear His voice. I believe this because of the passage in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah is at his lowest point, asking God to End his life and God speaks to him. “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (Verses 11-13.) God’s voice was a soft whisper. Can you hear whispers in the middle of noise and chaos or are whispers best heard in stillness and silence? Why else would God tell us is Psalms 46:10 to “be still and know that [He] is God.” And again in Exodus 14:14 when promising to fight for us He says, “you need only to be still.” We can’t hear God because we’re too busy, too distracted and most likely to stuck on the critical voices that tell us we are the opposite of who God creates us to be.

What can we do about it? This is going to sound simple and cliché but we can stop, drop (to our knees) and pray. We have to carve out moments of silence daily to get into God’s word, the only source of really truth, and be still before Him. We have to pray for open hearts and open ears with the God-given ability to hear His voice and then allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and speak to us. We have to be patient when we spend a day or weeks in these moments hearing nothing at all. We have to persevere and choose to stand on His truth every day. Most importantly, we have to recognize the voice of God over the voice of the creator of lies. God’s voice will always coincide with His word. God’s voice will always be pure, peace loving, gentle, full of mercy and sincere. (James 3:17). It is never condemning and will not remind you of your mistakes. (Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 2:5)

So who does God say we are? First and foremost we are HIS! James 1:18 confirms that with this: “He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” A prized possession is a priceless treasure that is safe guarded, protected and preciously cared for just as God Himself, treasures, protects and delicately cares for us. We are also FORGIVEN! 1 John 2:12 states it very matter-of-fact like: “I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.” Luke 7:47 reinforces that with, “““I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love…” and 1 John 1:9 promises that “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

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God also say we are LOVED. He confirms this in 1 John 4:19 “we love because she first loved us.” For those who have never been unconditionally loved, this one is probably the hardest to understand. How can someone love you in spite of your failures? How can someone love before you were even born? For God it’s quite simple-God is love and He creates our inmost beings. He loves us because He created us and He knows us more intricately than we or anyone else can ever know us. One of the best ways to combat our critics to let go of their harsh words and cling to God’s love for us. It’s the only way we can rise above hate and truly walk in love.

There are many more things God says about us and you can find them all in His word. We have a choice to listen to the voice of critics or the voice of truth. When the enemy strikes you with harsh words, when liars try to remind you of your past or haters criticize you out of jealousy or selfish ambition, stand on God’s truth and if you can’t cling to His love just yet, cling to this one simple verse: “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” Acts 11:9 If you’re a child of God, He has made you clean no matter what dirty mistakes you’ve made. You are not who your critics say you are. You are exactly who God says you are. Walk as the hold of God He made you to be.

Are You a Joseph or a Jonah?

 

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Romans 12:18 AMP

 Adversity is something we have all encountered at one point in our lives.  For some, depending on their circumstances, adversity can be an everyday constant.  Sadly, in war stricken and third world countries, adversity is a way of life.  It’s how we all handle adversity that determines what happens to our character.  Will we use it as an opportunity to build our character, or will we allow it to destroy what God is developing within us?

I have been dealing with an overbearing amount of adversity in 2017 both personally and professionally.  Unfortunately it seems to be continuing as 2018 begins.  Without being too detailed I will simply tell you that at first I tried focusing on just the facts, reiterating the truth and not being bothered by what was thrown at me.  However, the more it continued at both levels, the more I allowed it to rattle me and I became consumed with bitterness and unforgiveness.  I became reactive instead of responsive.  I magnified the wrongs being done and I prayed some incredibly angry and irreverent prayers that even included a few swear words from time to time.  I was so focused on my enemies’ toxic behaviors I couldn’t see that I too was becoming toxic.  In fact, at one point I almost wrote a very prideful post about how to deal with toxic people.  Although I had bible verses in mind I have to be honest, that post would have been written from an angry heart, definitely not words of wisdom from Abba.

Recently I’ve been surrendering these situations and my enemies to God.  It’s a day to day, moment by moment effort because when you magnify something it can be challenging to let it go.  Since doing that I have felt God reminding me of two men in His word who struggled with some serious adversity and how each one handled it.  One chose to trust God no matter what and make the best of his circumstances.  The other pouted, complained, hid from God and then secluded himself because God saved an entire city of toxic people.  These two men were Joseph and Jonah.

Joseph had some very jealous brothers (Genesis 37:4)   They were so jealous of his relationship with their father that they plotted to kill him.   Instead they threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery.  He was sent away to another land completely cut off from his family and all that he knew.  Those who bought Joseph then sold him to Potipher, an Egyptian officer.  There’s nothing in Genesis 37 or 39 that show Joseph’s response or reaction.  However, in chapter 39, verse 2 tells us this, “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.”  Clearly we can be sure that throughout this confusing and most likely frightening time for Joseph, he knew God was with him and he kept his eyes focused on the Lord.

Sometimes when I read the story of Joseph I imagine him being a methodical man who simply says, “Ok this is happening now-let’s see what God does with it.”  Or perhaps his response was more like Ace Ventura’s “Alrighty then!” Who really knows. One thing is for certain, you won’t find any complaining from Joseph when you read his story.

If being sold by your brothers wasn’t bad enough, Joseph then gets put into prison because his boss’ wife accuses him of hitting on her.   Again there’s nothing in scripture that shows Joseph defended himself, fought the accusations or reacted at all.  We simply read “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love.  And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” (Gen 39:21 NLT) Chapter 39 closes with verse 23 which reads “The warden had no more worries because Joseph took care of everything.  The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.

Joseph’s story in Genesis ends when he is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and is released from prison.  God gifts him wisdom to not only interpret the dreams but also to develop a plan that saved all of them including his brothers and father from famine.  In chapter 42, Joseph’s life comes full circle when he encounters his brothers again as they are in his land obtaining grain for his father and their families.  That moment could have been Joseph’s perfect revenge but instead, Joseph chose grace and forgiveness. He not only fed his brothers he reunited with them and his father.  Joseph does fool his brothers as a test to see if their hearts had changed and to find out information about his father and youngest brother.  In the end however, Joseph says to them, “…I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place.  It was God who sent me hear ahead of you to preserve your lives.” (Gen 45:4-5 NLT)

After Joseph’s father died, his brothers feared that’s when Joseph would execute revenge and they begged him for forgiveness.  In chapter 50 verses 19 through 21, Joseph replies with this, “…Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…don’t be afraid.  I will continue to take care of you and your children.”  In that exact moment, Joseph demonstrated the same kind of forgiveness Jesus gave whilst hanging on a cross when he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Then there’s Jonah.  Anybody who’s ever attended Sunday School has most likely heard the story of Jonah and the whale.   God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and announce His judgement on that city for all its evil acts.  However, Jonah goes the opposite direction.  If I didn’t know any better I would say perhaps Jonah was just directionally challenged but truth be told, Jonah deliberately disobeyed God’s order that landed him in the belly of a “great fish.” Jonah chapter 1 ends with telling us he was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah was released once he prayed confessing his sins to God and professing God’s greatness over his situation.

Once God set Jonah free from the “whale”, He again tells Jonah to “get up and go the great city of Ninevah, and deliver the message I have given you.” (Jonah 2:2) Jonah obeys God this time and declares to Ninevah that God is going to destroy the city.  The citizens of Ninevah believe what Jonah tells them and fast in a decree to show their sorrow for their actions.  Even the king declared the fast and demanded everyone “pray earnestly to God.  They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.” (Jonah 3:8b NLT) The people of Ninevah hoped that their changes of heart would change God’s mind and it did exactly that.  God did not carry through with the destruction He had planned.

God’s changed plans and redemption for Ninevah angered Jonah.  I don’t mean it upset him I mean it enraged Jonah.  Jonah was so filled with despair that he secluded himself waiting to see what the city would do.  God provided shade, but also took the shade away by killing the plant.  Jonah suffered through immense heat to the point he wished he was dead.  God finally pointed out to Jonah that he was angry enough to die over a lost plant that had provided him temporary relief from the intense heat.  He pointed out that Jonah did nothing to put bring life to the plant and it lived and died quickly.  However, the people of Ninevah (people God created) had lived in spiritual darkness and then repented.  How could God not feel sorry and give grace once they repented?

The story of Jonah ends with that question.  I’m sure scholars could tell you what happened next but I haven’t studied outside of God’s word to be able to tell you what else happened to Jonah after that.  I do know this-both men faced adversity.  Joseph’s adversity came from nothing he did.  Jonah brought adversity on to himself.  Both had big decisions to make.  Joseph chose to trust God and keep his focus on Who was really in control no matter the circumstances.  Jonah chose to go his own way, defy God and even get angry with God.  He ended up miserable and suffering because of his own choices.  When we are faced with adversity we have choices to make also.  In the face of adversity do we choose to be like Joseph or do we handle life’s curve balls like Jonah did?  Each choice results in the consequence of God’s favor and blessing or living in the belly of a great fish (metaphorically speaking.)

The verse I opened with said, “if possible” be at peace with everyone.  Let’s be realistic.  Humanly speaking it’s simply NOT possible to live at peace with everyone, especially toxic people.  But that’s why God also says, “Human speaking, this is impossible. But with God, everything is possible.”  (Matthew 19:26 NLT) I pray those dealing with adversity that is the bi-product of a toxic enemy, keeps their focus on God and allows Him to not only protect you but to avenge you as well.  I also pray that those who are dealing with adversity because of your own disobedience that you will soften your hearts to God’s will and purpose, confess your sins and seek His way even if you don’t understand it.  Please pray for me as well that I can be a Joseph during my own season of adversity and dealing with my toxic enemies.

Heavenly Father’s Day

Tomorrow is the day we in America celebrate the men who are dads.  For some that is their biological dad.  For others it may be a grandfather, uncle, step-dad or honorary dad.  Still for others it stirs up feelings of disappointment, abandonment or sadness because they’re dad is either gone or not a positive part of their life.

For those who are struggling with not having a dad I want to bless you with this encouragement from our Heavenly Father in hopes that it will fill your hearts with peace, comfort and even joy.

In His word God promises to be the Father to the fatherless.  (Psalm 68:5.) He again reminds us of this in 2 Corinthians 6:18; “And I will be a Father to you, And you will be My sons and daughters,” Says the Lord Almighty.” There are also numerous verses that describe God as our “Heavenly Father.” And more that call us His sons and daughters or refer to us as being adopted as His children.  No matter what relationship you have with your earthly father, and some may not even know who their father is-God is your Father and you can know Him in this capacity/be adopted as His son or daughter when you accept His own son, Jesus, as your personal Lord and Savior.

Some reading right now may be asking “How do I accept Jesus as my Savior?” What does that all mean?  Well some believe you have to pray something called the “Sinner’s Prayer” where you confess your sins, confess Jesus as God’s son, confess that you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose again and invited Him to live in your heart.  There’s nothing wrong with that prayer but there’s a lot of human formality to it.  The Bible tells us this is how we become children of the One True God.  “…Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].” (Acts 16:31)  In John 10:9 Jesus Himself tells us “I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever]…” And Romans 10:9 is even more direct with this; “because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” To put it simply-salvation (becoming a child of God and securing eternity with Him) means confessing and believing that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins and conquered death for you and for me!

Salvation makes you a child of God but studying His word, talking with Him through daily prayer and building your faith by walking in obedience to Him is what grows your relationship with Him and opens your heart to knowing Him as your Heavenly Father.  When you grow this wisdom in your heart you will learn three very important things:

1) God’s love for you is unconditional and everlasting! (“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”‭‭ Jeremiah 31:3)

2) God will never leave you nor forsake you! (“…for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”  DEUTERONOMY‬ ‭31:6‬)

3) God is your true Protector and Provider! (“He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.” ‭‭PSALM‬ ‭91:4‬ and “…my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”‭‭. PHILIPPIANS‬ ‭4:19‬)

For the dads out there who are engulfed in their children’s lives fully dedicated and devoted to raising their children, thank you for your commitment and love to your children.  To those who weren’t gifted with this kind of dad or who’s father is no longer living, I pray this post blesses you and draws you to either pursue a relationship with God or if you’re already saved, draw you deeper into the knowledge of Him as your Heavenly Father.  Abba, which is a word used to describe God, means “Daddy.” So start by praying to Abba daily and see how your heart grows toward Him when you view God in this way.

I want to close with the lyrics of Chris Tomlin’s song, Good Good Father. This is a song I resented until last summer when I had to make the difficult decision of emotionally detaching myself from my biological father who had broken his sobriety and gone back to drinking.  It was just after Father’s Day that I mailed him a letter informing him of my decision.  A week later I found myself at a Christian festival hearing Chris Tomlin perform this song live and where I felt God release the chains that had hardened my heart toward seeing God as my Abba.  With a rush of overwhelming freedom I raised my hands up and worshipped my Father as tears streamed down my face.  It was His emotional healing at its best.  I pray these lyrics bring healing for those who need it also.  God bless.

“Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night And you tell me that you’re pleased And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide But I know we’re all searching For answers only you provide ‘Cause you know just what we need Before we say a word
You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

’cause you are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways to us

You are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable I, I can hardly speak Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still..Into love, love, love

You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a Good, Good Father (you are perfect in all of your ways) It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you (you are perfect in all of your ways) It’s who I am, it’s who I am it’s who I am…

Let. It. Go.

“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past.”

Isaiah 43:18 NLV

Anyone who has a preteen or early teenaged daughter, preschool aged niece or school-aged granddaughter knows about the movie Frozen.  If you’ve walked through the toy department at Walmart, you know about Frozen.  But for those who’ve been off the grid or living in an alternate universe the past few years I’ll give a quick rundown of the movie.

Frozen depicts two sisters, Elsa and Anna, one (Elsa) of which is cursed with a spell that t turns everything she touches to ice.  During one of their playtimes, Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her ice hands and the girls are separated for the remainder of their childhood.  To make the story more dramatic, their parents are killed and Elsa is made queen.  It’s at her coronation ball that the town discovers her curse and she flees fearing her curse has made her an outcast.  At this moment of the movie she builds an elaborate ice castle and belts out the award-winning musical number, Let It Go.

My daughter was in 6th grade when Frozen came out.  And she rode the Frozen fan wagon for a good year. No one could say the phrase “let it go” without her busting out the lyrics to the song.  In the beginning it was cute and we would all burst into song.  But like all things that start out “cute” and get overdone, it became incredibly annoying.  Still to this day, even though she’s now going through her “emo” phase, it’s not unusual for her or my son to burst out in song when those three little words are spoken (and quite frankly I’m guilty of it too.)

In Frozen, Elsa had to let go of her fears and the idea that she was an outcast.  She was actually created for royalty and the curse that was meant to destroy her, became her greatest super power.  How many times have we faced obstacles or setbacks, even felt cursed at times with situations that were created to destroy us.  The enemy will tell us were nothing but a lost cause, or trick us into believing the situation is hopeless.  He’ll do whatever he can to throw us into a pit of despair and keep us there.  But like Queen Esther, God may be saying, “Perhaps you were born for a time a like this?”  (Esther 4:14) Or like Joseph (who was literally thrown into a pit) tells his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”  (Genesis 50:20)

How do we break free from that pit?  We have to let it go.  We have to let go of everything that was created to destroy us. Let go of our past hurts, mistakes, losses.  Let go of our insecurities and doubts.  Let go of the negative self-talk.  Let go of the abusers in our life even.  We have to let it go.  And then, like the saying goes, we have to let go, and let God (take over.)  Trust me, I know all too well that this is easier said than done. But I also know the amazing freedom you will walk in when you finally do let go.

Letting go is a process.  When Elsa belted out that song, she wasn’t free.  In fact, right after her musical breakdown,  she created frozen giants to ward off her sister and others who were trying to save her.  She had to go through the process herself before she could walk in freedom.  That process consists of speaking God’s truth about who we are in Him, aloud over ourselves and our circumstances.  It means we rebuke the enemy’s lies and we call him out for the liar he is.  It means receiving compliments and real love from others.  It also means living a surrendered life to Abba God, stepping out in faith and trusting His lead.

Letting go is similar to jumping off a diving board into unchartered waters near the edge of a dam.  I know, because I did that exact thing two summers ago.  After spending a Sunday afternoon kayaking with dear friends of mine, we gathered near the dam for the men and kids to jump off the diving board.  As I watched I noticed none of the women were jumping in.  We were all just chatting and watching everyone else have a blast being dare devils in the water.  Being somewhat of a dare devil (although at my age it’s much less than what I was as a kid-just as my mom) I decided I needed to step up and be the only woman to take on that diving board.  And I did.  Mind you, there was a grown man in the water ready to catch me if I started to drown.  Nonetheless, when I got to the edge of that diving board and saw how far away from the water I was, I nearly chickened out.  The only thing that pushed me to face my fear was a greater fear of looking like a coward.  I closed my eyes, plugged my nose, thought to myself, “You only live once!” and jumped!  And..I survived.

Although I didn’t start a female diving board club that day-in fact no other women even jumped on that band wagon-I experienced a freedom in letting go of fear.  This is the same freedom we experience when we let go of a toxic relationship, bad eating habits, a habitual sin and negative self-talk.  When we step out on the diving board of life and look down, Jesus is the man in the water, ready to catch us and He will never let us drown.

Whatever situation you’re in today that seeks to destroy the future God has designed for you, I challenge you to step out on the diving board, close your eyes, plug your nose and jump-trusting the Lord to catch you.  If you’re a literal person, stand on your couch or bed and jump picturing Jesus holding out his arms to catch.  Just don’t do anything that will cause an injury or death PLEASE! There’s so much freedom in letting it go.  And since I just wrote those three empowering words, let me help you with the lyrics as you mentally or verbally now break into song:

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight

Not a footprint to be seen.

A kingdom of isolation,

and it looks like I’m the Queen

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside

Couldn’t keep it in;

Heaven knows I’ve tried

Don’t let them in,

don’t let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be

Conceal, don’t feel,

don’t let them know

Well now they know

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care

what they’re going to say

Let the storm rage on.

The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance

Makes everything seem small

And the fears that once controlled me

Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me,

I’m free!

Let it go, let it go

I am one with the wind and sky

Let it go, let it go

You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand

And here I’ll stay

Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground

My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around

And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand

In the light of day

Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!”

One last challenge before I close-that last line, “The cold never bothered me anyway!”- replace the word “cold” with the lies the enemy has been feeding you.  It’s a great start in rebuking the lie and reminding the enemy Who’s really in control.  It’s also a great way to start standing on God’s truth!