Is there anyone you have a lot of confidence in? For example, if that person is involved, you know that things will succeed? Who is it?
A few people come to my mind, each with their own lane of strength. If my husband is involved in a project, I know that it will be done with integrity. He is a rule-follower. I admit, I am not. I have a friend who is deeply empathic. If she is involved in a project, I know for certain that the people around her will be well taken care of. There is a leader I served for a season who is secure in empowering people around him. I am confident that when he leads a project, those involved will be free to take ownership of their roles.
What about the flip side? Are you ever trusted in this way, where someone puts confidence in your involvement in something? How does it feel to be trusted?
Over the years, my most fruitful, creative, and powerful expressions of ministry and leadership were in contexts where I was trusted. The more confidence that was put in me, the better I performed. In environments of trust, I found myself spreading out wide, leaking creativity, and motivated to explore the potential of my contributions. In those environments, I was often the most surprised at the success of what was birthed. I did not know the capacity of what I was carrying until someone else put confidence in it. Trust liberates people to their potential.
Walk with me for a moment on this topic to Jesus.
Then they asked him,“What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29, NIV) / Believe (Strongs 4100) = to have faith, i.e. Credit; by implication, to entrust.
This verse is striking to me. Consider that in the same way that our confidence in a person liberates their expression, our belief in Jesus liberates the work of God in our lives. God is longing for us to trust Jesus more deeply, to throw away every other crutch and discover a whole-hearted dependence on the Person of Christ.
Do you have confidence in Jesus’ involvement in your life? Do you trust that if Jesus is involved, success is imminent?
These questions emerge from my own devotional times in recent days where Jesus is asking me to trust Him with very sensitive lanes in my own story. As He invites me into deeper trust, I am discovering again the liberty and empowerment that trust unlocks. The work of God is performed in our lives where our trust in Jesus is whole-hearted.
Friends, it is time to embrace a deeper trust in Jesus; to insist that He is on the scene with us, enjoying the confidence that breeds in our story. Make more room for Jesus in your process.
Take hold of His hand.
Let go of all others.
And, expect the best as a result!
This is the work of God.
To trust in Jesus.
Guarding your heart during a challenging season can enable you to increase in radiance and strength through difficult times. Here are 5 guideposts for that process!
(1. Determine your leader
(2. Don't judge others
(3. Exercised gratitude
(4. Process honestly
(5. Seize opportunities
Reflection: Which of these guideposts challenge you most? How can you incorporate it into your week?
"Jesus is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
When Jesus walked the earth, he was drawn to the brokenhearted. His compassionate heart pulled him towards those who were hurting, alone, rejected and broken. Why? We could assume it was a hero complex, the need to fix things, which He did quite well. But, I believe Jesus’ motivation for ministry to the brokenhearted was much deeper than a ministry agenda. I believe that Jesus ministered to the hurting because He loves the brokenhearted. Jesus chose out of his own desire to forge friendships with those who dare to live this wild life with an honest and open heart. It is there, in the soil of an honest heart, that God performs the wondrous process of turning ashes into beauty. Ministry to the heart was not simply an assignment for Jesus. It was and is a part of His very nature.
I have my own testimony of emotional healing. My story is laced with unexpected losses, tragedies, disappointments and prolonged seasons of emotional pain and recovery. I do not believe that this disqualifies me from a sense of “wholeness” or “usefulness” for God. On the contrary, I believe that the crevices caused by pain in my heart are now wells for the water of the Holy Spirit, if I dare to submit them to God and receive healing in those places. My story trumpets the healing power of Jesus, and the redemption that He so passionately presses into the deficits of our life experiences. I believe that this power to heal is available through Jesus for all who desire for their hearts to be healed.
Healing hearts is something that Jesus has been doing since He set foot onto the earth, and He is still doing it every day! I love following Jesus around and serving His ministry to people’s hearts. Below is a glimpse of what the process of emotional healing often looks like for me. It is not a formula or grid, but a real-life testimony with insights shared along the way. My prayer as you read this is that you will both find yourself in the story for a deeper healing experience, as well as gather helpful tools for partnering with Jesus in this ministry.
She sits down in front of me; upright and composed. I ask her what she would like prayer for. I then watched her demeanor change. She tells me about a trauma she experienced one year ago, and the torment of emotional pain in her heart ever since. As she shares her story, her composure disintegrates. Her head hangs low, her body trembles, and in time the woman before me is weeping and undone. I move in towards her, and do what I always do first – I honor her.
Honor is the crown of emotional healing ministry (Jn 8:11). People are the way they are for a reason; their stories are tapestries of experiences that form the condition of their hearts. Most people who suffer from emotional pain have exerted enormous amounts of courage in their lives to be where they are. Too often they do not perceive themselves as strong, but rather as victims. People must know that they have strength, before they will identify with the strength to heal. As ministers, it’s our job to help people discover their strength, and honor them as overcomers in their own stories.
One of the common misconceptions about healing for the heart is that the brokenhearted are weak, unfortified, needy, and apathetic people. It’s not true. The brokenhearted are, in my opinion, the heroes of our world. These are people who are daring to live their lives despite real internal injuries. We have a lot to learn from them. The brokenhearted are not victims, they are overcomers.
“I honor you for choosing to share this with me today,” I looked her straight in the eye. “I know it takes courage to face this right now, and I want you to know that I see immense strength in you.” The honor I give her unlocks her heart further, as honor does, and she begins share honestly about the torment of a year in ministry leadership while trying to navigate her own unresolved personal brokenness.
What is happening on the inside of someone impacts the rest of their lives (Prov. 4:23). When the heart is sick, hurting, disoriented, and afraid, it sends those signals throughout that person’s entire being. As a result, the person’s perception and experience of life is overshadowed by that pain. When injuries to the heart are not dealt with, they fester until there is a breakdown of some kind, often proving destructive in some measure.
I feel that it is important to dismantle the shame around emotional, mental, and spiritual struggle, particularly for ministry leaders. Jesus was fully God, and yet fully human. He identifies with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). If Jesus identifies with us, why are we so afraid to admit our struggle? Does hiding our insecurities make us more qualified? Not at all. Jesus is most impressed with an honest and humble heart (Lk 8:15). Freedom comes when honesty is courageously chosen. The deeper the honesty embraced, the deeper the freedom can be experienced.
As the woman shares honestly, I take a few notes of the offenses she has suffered. When she finishes, I ask “Are you willing to forgive these people who hurt you?” I explain to her that forgiveness does not mean that what took place does not matter. It means handing over the role of judge to Jesus. I lead her in forgiveness. She courageously owns the process and chooses to forgive. I know that freedom has come when she begins to feel compassion for those who hurt her.
For the person holding the offense, forgiveness removes the impact that the hurt has had upon them. It requires the person to move forward, however, which means that they have to be willing to surrender to God the justice that their pain cries out for. The process of forgiveness requires the person to fold over the grave clothes on the offense and bury it, letting go of all hope for a better past.
The freedom that comes through forgiveness is stunning. Often people do not realize that when they hold on to bitterness, they are the ones who continue to suffer from the wrong done to them (Matt 18:34). The offender has long since moved on, but they are still living their life on a bed of needles that could be exchanged for a bed of peace through forgiveness. When an offense from the past continues to be deeply painful, it is often a sign that more forgiveness is needed.
Inviting people to forgive is our great privilege as ministers. It does not diminish their experience, but rather exalts the price that Jesus paid for it. The blood of Jesus is so powerful that it can redeem our past. This is the joy we have to share with people when we minister forgiveness.
“Do you want to release this emotional pain you came in with today to Jesus?” I watch her process the question and realize the answer was not as straightforward as it seemed. I add another layer, “Let’s ask Jesus this question. ‘Jesus, will I be safe if I give this pain to you today?’”
Why did Jesus ask the cripple of 38 years if he wanted to get well (Jn. 5:6)? Healing can come at a cost to people. It can cost aspects of their personality, their patterns of self-protection, their sense of familiarity with life and how it works. Obviously, the benefits of a free heart far outweigh the costs of healing, but it is a still a choice. That choice belongs to the person receiving ministry, who will also be the one to live out the impact of that decision.
The heart is not truly healing unless the heart is honestly and authentically engaged in the healing process. People can declare themselves “well” all day long, but if their heart is resisting that change internally, they will walk away unchanged and even frustrated. Pursuing wholeness means ministering with the patience, gentleness, and kindness to assure that the whole person is on board and able to move forward honestly in the healing process.
Emotional pain is different than physical pain in a number of ways. One of the main differences is that emotional pain is often an expression of an unmet need. It is not simply a violation that needs to be cast out or reversed. Emotional pain can also serve a purpose of protecting or advocating for the heart, in which case it needs to be validated. Jesus offers our hearts a better protection than emotional pain. People often need a revelation of God’s protection before they feel safe to engage the healing process and release their pain from its protective role.
“I don’t think I can do that right now … let go of this pain…” the women looks at me in despair. I look back at her with bright eyes of hope. “That’s okay! Let’s do this first …” I then begin to work with her on building her connection with Jesus, her sense of safety with Him, and her experience of His love. “Let’s ask Jesus, ‘Jesus how do you see me? Is there a lie I believe about you?’”
One of my favorite aspects of healing prayer ministry is helping strengthen people’s connection with God. One word from God can solve a thousand needs of the heart. I spend a lot of time in ministry sessions building intimacy with God, because I know that as soon as someone has that connection for themselves, Jesus will meet their needs directly. My goal while ministering is to bring people to a place where they can receive the love of God deeply, and from there I get to simply watch Jesus perform. Once someone is connected to the love of God, their heart is suddenly safe, and they will shed layers of emotional pain without resistance.
It is both an art and skill to discern and deconstruct the blocks that people live with in their relationship with Jesus, to reconcile people in their hearts to God (2 Cor. 5:18). This is because some of the blocks are conscious, but many are unconscious. Many people live with a distant, shallow, or fragmented connection with God. They have never really stopped to ask why their intimacy with God is not vibrant. The good news is that the “why” question can be answered when brought to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows both our conscious and subconscious minds and he is very willing to reveal hindrances to our intimacy with Jesus.
In time, this woman who is sitting before me renounces the lies that she has come to believe about Jesus during her time of suffering. She renounces the lie that He was absent, that He was apathetic, that He is distant, and then … she asks Holy Spirit, “What is the truth?” The truths from God are deposited into her heart like love bombs determined to consume her pain. It is glorious to watch. “Do you think are ready now to surrender your pain to Jesus?” “Yes!” “Okay, let’s give it to Him and ask, ‘What do you give me in exchange?’”
God designed our hearts to be full. When the heart gives something up like emotional pain, it is left with the need to filled in that same place. Not only that, the pain that was released is often in direct contradiction to a gift of God that belongs in that space. Divine exchanges are the point of transformation when it comes to healing the heart. (Is. 61:1-3)
For example, when someone releases to God the lie that their voice does not matter, I am most confident that God has called them in some capacity be a voice. When someone gives to God the fear of friendships, I wonder if they are anointed to foster and nurture community. Individuals who have wrestled with fear often have a call of courage on their life. The enemy works very strategically in our lives to shut down our purpose through specific emotional pains and interruptions. When ministering, it is an absolute joy not only to see emotional pain be healed, but also to see the individual’s heart find its true home and purpose through a divine exchange.
Suddenly, the power of God comes into the room and I watch a transformation take place. The women describes to me that she has been so fearful since the traumatic experience, but in this moment, she can feel God calling her a lioness who was made to roar! Boldness and courage fill her heart from the Holy Spirit. I prophesy over her, and we both erupt into grateful and heartfelt prayer. She then looks up, “The pain is gone!” Tears of joy. She is healed!
If we could x-ray the soul, the impact of these emotional healing moments would blow our minds. It is no small thing when God binds up the brokenhearted, and sets captives free. It is miraculous, and involves outcomes that many would consider medically and psychologically impossible. Often you can physically see the effects of the emotional healing in the person’s posture, demeanor, face, and eyes. The core of the healing, however, has taken place deep within the heart and soul. The person’s testimony is the shouting evidence that Jesus has done what only Jesus can do for them; performed a healing in their heart.
Emotional Healing is part of the heartbeat of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many people suffering from emotional and mental pain in our world that are not being offered hope for freedom. I believe it is part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus to share this good news that Jesus heals hearts. I also believe that it is our responsibility to be honest about our own hearts’ condition, and become vulnerable before God and others for healing ministry when we need it. Jesus is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18). Let’s position ourselves closer to Jesus!
May the compassionate heart of Jesus be ignited in you today!
*Original Published @ globalawakening.com/blog
The wind moves the water. The water does not move the wind. The wind moves the leafs. The leafs do not move the wind. The wind moves the grass. The grass does not move the wind. The wind moves my hair. My hair does not move the wind. The wind has authority. It initiatives movement. It is a powerful source, and yet is familiar with softness, invisibility, gentleness, subtleness, and freedom. Herein lie lessons on leadership from gentle wind:
Wind is not always gentle, but today it is. This gentle wind holds secrets on the use of authority.
Behold; the power of gentle leadership.
Underneath the role.
Underneath the productivity.
Underneath the appearances.
Underneath the expectations.
Underneath the successes.
Underneath the failures.
Underneath the hard-earned favor.
Underneath the grace-infused space.
Underneath the ability to smooth it over.
Underneath the inability to fix a thing.
Underneath my feet.
Underneath my skin.
Underneath my broken heart.
What is underneath?
Inside of me? Inside of you? Honestly?
That is where God wants to meet with us, raw as it is. This is the essence of Immanuel; God with us. Not God stopped still at the outer layer, but God piercing into the inner layer, the inmost layer, our inmost being.
The core me. The core you. The core of us...
.. is the only authentic meeting place with God.
I took the month of July off from public ministry. The first two weeks were terrible, an unravelling of myself to a hard-knock discovery of how I was really doing. The last two weeks were wonderful, a restoration of who I am outside of roles and responsibilities.
I feel like I am getting my life back.
I want to spend my life for Jesus.
I cannot give what I do not have.
If my life is in the grip of another’s agenda, how am I to give it to Jesus?
How is it that we think we can give our lives wholly to Jesus when we have already given them away to jobs, churches, ministries and other people? What would it look like to really give our lives to Jesus?
Perhaps no contradiction.
Perhaps all the contradiction in the world.
Everyday this past month I pursued exercise, time with God, and finding a way to serve my husband. These three pillars were protected despite a whirlwind of an internal process that was noisy, nasty and frankly embarrassing. Honest, nonetheless.
It is easy to lose sight of our identity when we allow our roles, jobs, responsibilities or lack of significant roles to define who we are. If all of that disappeared today, would you still know yourself?
Tomorrow is August 1. I feel alive, ready for the upswing of this next season. I can see it coming. Fast. Friend, consider setting aside time to re-discover your priorities. The honest condition of your soul matters to God. I recommend a focused number of days to:
Take care of yourself. You matter.
"They intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are." Aldous Huxley
Nine weeks since I left my full-time job. I have little to show for it except for the symptoms of a detox; a detox I hope not to repeat. I am left feeling bewildered; how in this racing world do we resist the intoxication of work? Our identity is strapped to production as if our life depended on it. Who strapped it? Who knows how to unstrap it?
Putting the breaks on in life is hard work, a discipline. As long as our foot is no where near the breaks we don't have time to acquaint with the destruction of our competitive speeding lives.
Until ... we do.
Until we are forced to ...
And then ... we either run harder, run away, or crash.
There must be a better way.
I think the better way has something to do with self-control. When that is present, strong, alive in our lives, these things do not so easily happen. Self-control. Prove it is present through taking a break. Prove it.
Today the sky is gray.
Yesterday the sky was gray.
The day before that it was gray.
Last week the sky was gray.
Tomorrow the forecast is … gray.
Gray. Gray. Gray.
Meet my cloudy fog-filled mid-winter world.
Meet my cloudy fog-filled mid-winter demeanor.
I want to take a big stick and poke through the clouds today to find the sun. Or pull out our leaf blower, hold it high over my head and blow the clouds away. A cloud blower would be much more useful to me than a leaf blower anyway.
Maybe I will try.
Katie vs. the gray sky.
I need sun.
My friend brought me to an apple orchard. I picked a lot of apples. I picked way too many apples. I picked so many apples that my plastic bags sagged as I fought to put them on the counter. Check out.
For two weeks my apples sat. They sat because I could not find time to sit with them. The following weekend came and I remembered them, returned to them, pulled those sagging bags of apples out because I knew ... some things are now or never.
I peeled so many apples my hands hurt. I put half of them in the crockpot overnight to make applesauce and the next morning they were burned. I put the other half in a pie shell with brown sugar and those came out perfect. How is it that sugar perfects things? Certain things.
Two bags of apples left.
Mitch and I walked the neighborhood and knocked on people's doors to offer them apples. We ended up at the table of an elderly couple that lives around the corner. They talked for a long time. They talked about appropriate things and inappropriate things; things we wanted to lean into, things we wished we could lean out of. They unloaded their stories as if our knock on their door pulled a long-standing gag out of their mouths.
In time we stood in the kitchen of our new friends and caught the tears of hearts unlocked. The right visit with the right words at the right time. They took our apples.
Where apples may lead.
I woke up this morning out of a bazaar dream. Sunscreen. I had a dream that I put sunscreen on my face, turned around and looked into a mirror. My reflection in the mirror revealed excessive sunscreen; blobs of caulk-like white plastered around my face. I tried to rub it in, but that only made my face increasingly pale. “I didn’t even need sunscreen!” This clear thought shot through my brain and I woke up.
One foot in front of the other I crawled out of bed. Today is my first day off in a very long time. Two months ago I accepted a full time job, a very full time job. Demands and deliverables have been driving me fast, somehow graced by my own genuine excitement and sense of purpose in the role. Busy, nonetheless, very busy.
Four large trees tower over the roof of our house and I stare at their jagged branches. The leaves on them are full - creating a canopy of shade on our deck. Shade.
The Lord watches over you. The Lord is the shade at your right hand.
The Word washes me and I hear Him, “You don’t need sunscreen, Katie. You need to respect the role of shade. Get into the shade. I am Your Shade.”
In that moment, I understand my dream:
My face – myself
Excessive sunscreen – my fear of getting burned, burned out
Mirror – a reflection of my fear
My thought – an invitation to trust God instead of self-protecting
Self-protection is a big deal. It limits my personal freedom. Trust in God to protect me in what He is calling me to is a bigger deal. It liberates my present.
Is it possible to be in full-time ministry and not burn out? I don’t mean the obvious crash, burn, and quit of external burnout. I mean the subtler, unnoticed, layers of internal burnout where people lose their personal sense of “life abundant” and “my cup overflows.”
I fear that.
The trees shake with the wind and the shade shifts.
I sense my invitation – "Don't fear the increase, Katie, trust Me, make use of the shade."
Its easy when people’s expectations are increasing, to start living in response to them, for them, because of them. In that space plaster me with sunscreen and even then I would probably do well to just hide. It is not safe. But … I believe there is a better way. Instead of self-protecting, I could up my ante on following Holy Spirit's voice. Let Him be my protector; listen, respond.
When Holy Spirit says take a Sabbath – take it.
When Holy Spirit says turn off my phone – turn it off.
When Holy Spirit says walk away from a need – walk away.
When Holy Spirit says do something for myself – do it.
I think that becoming a better follower of Holy Spirit is how we can position ourselves to steward increase in a way that supports rather than threatens our personal needs. This requires a die-hard commitment to Him as the primary leader in our lives.
After all, who is really driving us? Is it Him?
It’s a brilliant hot day in my life and I plan to enjoy it.
But the dazzling favor of man, I refuse to work to maintain.
Sunscreen is not my solution.
The Shade is.
The Lord is the shade at my right hand.
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.