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Agape.  Divine love that is completely unselfish and all-giving.  In my last article, I shared that it really is possible to “grasp” this love – to truly experience it and to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3: 19).  After all, Agape is Who He IS and we are to be conformed to His image!

This week, I have felt the Holy Spirit brooding over this in a new way.  I’ve had an on-going deep and interesting dialogue with the Lord about this – lots of questions – lots of thinking through things with Him.  I have felt the urgency of His heart regarding this topic.  I hope I can do this justice as I simply share how our conversation has unfolded.  Hang with me, because we are going into some deep reasoning with the Lord on this – engage your thinker.

Over the past five years, the Lord has taken me to some amazing places in learning how to love through my fears and self-protection mechanisms – to truly love others unconditionally (hugging cactus until you bleed is how I describe it).  Then the other evening, I had a series of questions pop into a thought bubble above my head, “Do we ‘agape’ God?  Do we love Him unconditionally?  Have we made agape about us?  What about Him?”

We all want to be loved unconditionally by others, don’t we?  We want others to accept us for who we are – am I right?  The problem is, we are starting with ourselves and in order to “grasp” THIS love we have to be able to completely let go of ourselves (unselfish and all-giving).  So where does our focus need to start?  As the Lord had me pondering the above questions, I followed my curiosity and began digging.  I kept thinking of Jesus answering a teacher of the law regarding the most important commandment:

Mark 12: 29-31 (NIV – emphasis added)

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

Interestingly enough, as I studied I found that the root word for “love” in this passage is “agapeo” – that answered my question!!!  We ARE to ‘agapeo’ God FIRST!!  To make it about us actually prevents us from experiencing it – because the only way to truly experience it is to DO it!  Great – so what does that look like?  As I processed these things, the Lord asked me, “Do you know my love language?”  OK – now we have to pause here for a second.  I instantly knew the answer, but let’s make sure we don’t miss the significance of this question in light of all the hub-bub over the past few years about love languages.  I believe the most HELPFUL way to use this information is to understand that there are multiple ways for love to be expressed so that you can recognize and receive them ALL – don’t miss any opportunity to receive the love someone is trying to give you – INCLUDING God.  There are times His love may not ‘feel’ like love (Hebrews 12: 4-11).  In fact, being made in His image ‘feels’ more like crucifixion – hmmm, it seems we’re told it will (Luke 9: 23-24).

OK – so do you know the answer – what is God’s Love Language?  I’ll give you a hint:  it starts with an ‘O’.

O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E!!!  Why?  Well, obedience is an expression of our worship (Genesis 22: 1-4), our faith (Hebrews 11: 8-9), our ‘agape’ (1 John 5: 2-4).  We HAVE to grasp this!!  To ‘agapeo’ God means we love Him on His terms.  In fact, the ONLY WAY to grasp this ‘agape’ love and be able to truly have it for others IS obedience!  The Spirit guides us into ALL TRUTH.  The Spirit is the author of the Scriptures, which means that the Spirit will NEVER guide us into anything that is not in alignment with the Truth!  Spirit and Truth – they are married – inseparable.  To ‘agapao’ God means we have an uncompromisingly surrendered will (heart) to obey the Spirit as He guides us into each Truth that our emotions (soul), thoughts (mind), and behaviors (strength) need to align with.  Behaviors are really manifestations of our emotions & thoughts – we DO what we BELIEVE – so our ‘believer’ has to be retrained.  The Lord orders the process.  We don’t, and we can’t, do this all at once.  The sanctification process is orchestrated by the Lord, and the Spirit is the guide.  We offer our will – our agreement with His assessment of where our standards are out of alignment and our permission to be changed by Him.  He does the work by His grace, through our faith (obedience expresses faith).  Our surrender shows Him we believe He’s good, He has our best interest at heart, His way is better than our way, He’s a genius at giving us the best life, and that He’s a God of ‘more than’ not ‘less than’.  He is not going to give us something ‘less than’ what we currently have if He’s requiring us to give it up.  Resurrection comes after death!

Now, understand that we cannot do this legalistically out of our own striving – HE does the transformational work.  It looks like this: “Lord, You have highlighted the next area of my operating system that needs to be reprogrammed.  I don’t have the code to reprogram it myself, but I agree with your assessment – this area of my life is not in order according to Truth, so I give you permission to do whatever is necessary to get the programming right.”  OR, I’m a bit more raw – this is what I say, “Yep, You’re right AGAIN – that stinks, but I don’t know how to BE any different than that, so I give you permission to take the trash out.”

THEN YOU OBEY whatever He tells you to do – every moment of every day!  It may not even seem connected, but being surrendered means you just walk each step in obedience, remembering that the Spirit is ALWAYS guiding you into TRUTH.  I don’t know about you, but I ONLY want Truth!  That’s why His Word is so precious – it is the primary source of His standards for testing what I’m hearing.  If what I’m hearing doesn’t line up with what He says, it’s not His Spirit.  There are times the Lord has healed one of my mindsets instantaneously (this is rarely the case).  There have been times He’s called me to extended seasons of fasting and I had no idea why until I was a few weeks in – then He’d speak a word that would reveal a mindset / belief / emotional issue that He was healing through the fast.  Sometimes He’s given me incredible revelation in a classroom season and then He orchestrated the “perfect storm” of a lab experience to give me the opportunity to apply it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given the Lord permission to take out my “trash” and then later found myself in a situation I’ve been in many times before, but suddenly found myself not “being” myself – I was doing it completely differently!!  I have no idea how or where along the daily process of surrender He transformed me, but HE is SO good at what He does!!

The Word tells us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13: 5).  How do you test yourself?

  1. Check your level of surrender.  Surrender means every answer to what the Lord asks you to do is, “Yes” – no matter what!  If you say, “No” then you’re not surrendered!  BUT it doesn’t stop there.  It’s asking the Lord if you get to feel a certain way, think a certain way, respond a certain way about your circumstances / situations, if you get to remember certain things from your past – it’s about getting HIS perspective on everything and holding that as your own perspective – making His Truth your Truth.  I even ask Him if I get to WANT to…  Get this – I don’t even get to love others the way I WANT to love them, OR the way THEY WANT to be loved – I have to surrender to the way God wants to express His love in any and every situation – sometimes that’s just not stinkin’ pleasant!
  2. Check your level of freedom.  It’s the Truth you KNOW that sets you free.  You don’t know something until you’ve done it, so you have to DO the Truth in order to be free.  There is no freedom when you deny Truth because the Spirit of Truth is always working to be your guide into Truth – that is a wrestling match that the Spirit will not stop because it’s His assignment from God.  The Spirit also ‘agapaos’ the Father – thus is radically obedient to His will.
  3. If there is a behavior, mindset, emotional issue that you intentionally hold onto after Truth has been highlighted, chances are that it requires another ‘sin’ in order for you to ‘keep’ it.  This sin-layering will bog down your conscience, and covering up sin with sin will steal your peace and rest, and ultimately lead to self-deception.

This is NOT behavior modification – it is heart (will) conformance that brings transformation in your emotions and thoughts SO THAT behaviors change.  In fact, if we as the Body only focus on the visible ‘sin’ issues, it provides a smokescreen that prevents us from looking at the invisible heart issues – jealousy, greed, envy, lying, competition, control, manipulation, lust, judging, anger, fear, unbelief, etc.  These drive behaviors.  Our goal is a total heart transplant – ours for His!

At times on this journey, it seemed the lines would blur for me between loving people and accepting behaviors that just don’t align with Truth.  Was this judging?  What about grace and unconditional love?  I can tell you, on the other side of obedience is ‘agape’ for others AFTER ‘agape’ for God FIRST.  That means HIS standards are ALWAYS the standards.

It’s unbelievable to me that Jesus had to learn obedience (Hebrews 5: 7-9).  Why is that important for us to understand?  Because it isn’t even necessary to BE obedient until your will doesn’t align with God’s will – until you have to wrestle with your will, your soul, your mind, your body to bring it into submission.  Jesus’ WILL disagreed with the will of His Father in Gethsemane.  He had to surrender His will.  As I pondered this, Jesus asked me the following question, (and I will leave you with this to ponder with me):  “What IF I didn’t PRIMARILY die because I love you?  What IF I PRIMARILY died because I ‘agapeo’ My FATHER, and to ‘agapeo’ My FATHER I had to obey unto death?” You see, He didn’t come to serve us.  He came to serve the Father (John 8: 28-29; John 12: 49-50), and in doing that we were the recipients of the overflow.  May it be so with us (John 14: 23)!  We’ve missed it if we haven’t fallen so in love with Jesus that we will pay any price for the Father to make us into His image – willing to lose nothing less than everything, including relationships (Matthew 10: 37-38)!  Jesus showed us how to ‘agapeo’ God unto death, and in so doing demonstrated God’s ‘agape’ for us.  The first and most important commandment, and the second one that is like it.  It’s time for us to get first things first, and second things second!

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

“EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource for spiritual growth.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.

What in the world could be the topic of an article with such a weird title?  Would you believe “The Love of God”?  I know – that was my question and reaction when someone began sharing a prophetic vision she had for me back in the summer of 2009!  She saw an image of one of those blow-up punching balls (you know, it looks like a balloon with a rubber band on the end of it – who knows if they even make them anymore!) – anyway, this punching ball was completely flattened out like it had been run over by a steam roller.  She saw the hand of God reach down, and pick up the punching ball and breathe into it until it was fully inflated.  She heard the Lord say for me, “You have known my love 2-dimensionally, but I am taking you into a season where you will experience the fullness of all 4 dimensions of my love.”  Well, now I don’t know about you, but that sounded like dark chocolate truffle decadence to me!!!  I had NO idea how excruciatingly painful, transformative, glorious that season would be.

The love of God – expansive, unfathomable, restorative, unconditional!  But is it grasp-able (I made that word up)?  Well, according to His Word, it is!!

Ephesians 3: 16-19 (emphasis added) – I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I love the Amplified translation of this passage:

May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

I said in my previous article you don’t KNOW Truth until you’ve actually DONE (applied) Truth.  So let’s look at the reality of what is required to grasp such an overwhelming love.

I find it interesting that Jesus links your capacity for love to your level of need for forgiveness.

Luke 7: 47 – [Jesus speaking about the woman who poured the costly perfume on his feet]“…Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Now, obviously this doesn’t mean Jesus is rating or ranking sins either by number or magnitude – sin is sin.  No one except Him is exempt from the title of sinner.  It has to do with the level of awareness you have of your own depravity.

The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to their inner cesspool…”  C.S. Lewis

Timothy 1: 15-17 – Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Like Paul, and like the woman with the alabaster jar, by 2009 I had sat in a 2-year season of getting a good whiff of my own depravity and could honestly say I sat well with their company – and the depth of gratitude for His forgiveness, mercy, grace and love was overwhelming.  We can only receive His love to the extent we recognize our need, our utter dependence, on His grace, forgiveness, mercy – His goodness toward us.  The more you smell your own stink – the stench of the motives of your own carnal heart, the more you know you need His fragrance!!

So based on where I was in my understanding of His love, receiving the fullness of His love was experiencing it 2-dimensionally.  How do you expand from 2-dimensions to all 4-dimensions?

Matthew 10: 8(b) – “Freely you have received; freely give.”

Through one of the most excruciating seasons of my life, utilizing a very significant and important relationship in my life, the Lord taught me to freely give love the way He does.  So this is what it looks like:

–          Expansive (how wide):  God is not confused about who He IS and He doesn’t change His identity to be in relationship with anyone – He actually likes who He IS.  Because He is so rooted and grounded in His identity, He stretches His arms out wide and freely offers us the choice to reject Him – without attitude, without anger, without ‘talk to the hand’ indifference.  Because His identity is LOVE, our rejection doesn’t change His love – it can’t change His love.  His love is about who He IS, not about us.  He owns His love, is the authority of His love, has full power over His love; His love is not controlled by our actions or choices – it just IS.

–          Unfathomable (how long):  God has gone to unfathomable lengths to forgive EVERYTHING – unimaginable, incomprehensible betrayal, indifference, rejection – it’s ALL forgiven.  We are commanded to forgive the same if we are to follow Him.  In my season, the Lord told me in advance that I would be betrayed in a way that I couldn’t imagine being able to forgive.  I’d been betrayed in this same way before, and I knew the pain.  But He told me He wanted me to walk in forgiveness, grace and a willingness to reconcile.  My response was, “Yes, I want to.  But I can’t right now so You will have to prepare my heart so I’m able to when the time comes.”  AND – He is faithful – my heart was ready, willing, excited to!  Believe me, that’s God and NOT Tricia.  He got my will; I was getting His heart – I hit pay dirt!!!  Of course, I got frustrated from time-to-time because He didn’t give me the owner’s manual and I had NO idea how to operate it!!  None of my usual self-protective, self-defense mechanisms worked anymore – I FELT EVERYTHING with no way to block it out!

–          Restorative (how high):  His power to restore all things when we choose Him is breathtaking!!  His heart yearns for this!  He reaches down and lifts us to the height of His fullness – and rejoices over us!

–          Unconditional (how deep):  The hardest love is His ability to release us to our choices when we don’t choose Him – and this comes from an absolute heart of love.  Not controlling, manipulating or requiring someone to be in relationship with you unless they freely want to be in relationship with you is a gift.  No one wants to be in a relationship out of obligation, and no one wants someone else to be in a relationship with them out of obligation.  That’s not freedom; that’s victimhood.  Unconditional love is free – it offers freedom – it doesn’t take, require, obligate, expect – it allows choice without any threat of love being removed because of those choices.  Otherwise, it would be conditional.

It is possible to be rejected and betrayed and belittled and mocked and treated with contempt and not stop loving the other person.  Remember, no one else owns your love – it’s YOURS.  If someone else can cause you to stop loving, then you’ve surrendered your power to them.  I don’t know how the Lord will orchestrate your season “to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ”, but let Him teach you, “that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!”  (see Ephesians 3, above – Amplified version

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

“EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource for spiritual growth.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.

Ahhh, revelation!  Don’t we love it when the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word, unfolds mystery, and shares secrets with us?  Being awakened to Truth is so incredibly exhilarating!  However, there are dangers that we all need to be aware of and avoid.

The reality is that it is very easy to become a revelation junkie.  Let me explain what I mean by this.  To me, this danger is the most important for us to understand.  The first and primary reason the Lord grants us revelation into Truths is for application in our own lives, not just to accumulate revelation upon revelation upon revelation with a constant shout of “now that’s a good word!”  In my journey, the pattern that He has always used is what I call “from the classroom to the lab” – although sometimes He may also pull a pop quiz on me!  Every single time I have enjoyed a “classroom” time with the Lord when He is just pouring out insights and understanding, He follows it by divinely orchestrating circumstances in my life that provide me an opportunity to take that insight and apply it.  I have explained it on several occasions like this:  it’s like He guides me from the classroom and takes me to the lab, where He places me ON the Bunsen burner and turns up the heat until that revelation is baked ONTO me and I BECOME that revelation.  A couple of years ago I was sharing that analogy with a friend of mine on the phone and as I was speaking that explanation out of my mouth, I heard the Lord speaking in my ear, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh.  Tricia, I sent my Word in the flesh so that now I can turn your flesh into the Word.”  You see, the world doesn’t need revelation – it needs Truth!!  Truth is the manifestation of revelation in our lives.  We have the privilege of proving the perfect will of God – His will IS His Word – we get to prove His Word!  It’s the Truth we know that sets us free, but you don’t KNOW it until you DO it!!  And once you’ve done it, it is then impossible to un-know what you know.  What happens so often is that revelation is received and then taught without having been applied FIRST to that individual’s own life.  There is NO authority and NO anointing that goes forth if the lab has been skipped!  This may sound harsh, but quite frankly if you don’t have a story to share that demonstrates how the Lord worked some revelation INTO & ONTO you, I’m not really interested in hearing it.  Think about it – if a scientist puts forth new insights or a new theory without actually testing the accuracy in a lab setting, we wouldn’t listen to anything he/she had to say.  If a medical researcher formulates a new wonder drug without actually testing its effectiveness in a lab setting, it wouldn’t be allowed on the market.  Stories are powerful!!!  They allow us to “see” God’s hand at work in a person’s life and His creativity in demonstrating His Truth in the midst of that individual’s circumstances.  I can’t wait to spend eternity sharing stories!!

Ok, so I think that’s the most critical danger because it can position us as hypocrites before the world if we don’t apply the revelation we receive, but just teach it as Truth.  What are other pitfalls?  The follow-up danger to the one above is that if we have applied the revelation to our lives and proven it as Truth, we can assume that the lab session for that revelation will look the same for everyone.  NOT TRUE!!  The Lord is so creative and intentional with each individual – He specifically and uniquely orchestrates our lab sessions.  I love hearing how the Lord has worked the exact same revelation into others that He’s worked into me – He’s a genius at what He does and His ways are infinitely diverse!  Marvel at His creativity!! Don’t attempt to have others “learn” revelation in the same way you did – let God be God and do what He does best!!  Share your stories as an encouragement to others on their journey – not as a formula.

A third danger is pitching your tent on one revelation.  There’s MORE!!  Don’t stop!!  There are some who receive revelation and then make that their entire platform and don’t move further or deeper into the mysteries and deep things of the Lord – there is layer upon layer upon layer of Truth to be excavated in His Word!!!  Keep digging for treasure – mine Him for all He’s worth!!!

Fourth, we have such a strong tendency for comparison – and revelation can be wrongly used as a measure of where we are on the journey in comparison to others.  DON’T do this!!  I explain it this way:  The Lord has been with each one of us from the beginning of our lives; He knows all of our experiences and how each one of us has been “packed”; He knows the questions that are buried deep inside of us that remain unanswered and require resolution; He knows what needs to be “unpacked” and the perfect order of that “unpacking” so that He can “repack” us with His fullness.  What can happen though is that if two people are journeying this walk together and the Lord is doing something in person A’s life right now that He did in person B’s life six months ago, person B can think they are further along in the journey than person A – they can feel superior or more spiritual.  Well, at that very same time the Lord may be doing something in person B’s life that He did in person A’s life six months ago, so person A can think they are further along.  Seriously, we’ve got to get over ourselves!!!  Praise the Lord that in His perfect wisdom He is working strategically in both people’s lives to accomplish their precise and perfect unpacking and repacking!!

And lastly, we must beware our own filters of interpretation whenever we receive revelation or a word from the Lord.  I’ll share a couple of my own examples that the Lord has used to teach me this lesson well.  I remember when I first felt the Lord showing me that I will have a ministry.  I proceeded to research 501c3’s to try to figure out how they work, what’s required to set one up – it all seemed like more than I wanted to tackle on my own, and quite frankly it made me tired just thinking about it.  After letting me do this for a couple of weeks, the Lord broke into my process and asked me what I was doing.  Of course, I began to explain that I was trying to understand how to set up a ministry.  (Isn’t that funny – I was explaining to Him what I was doing as He just sat there patiently and listened!)  He then asked me, “What does a 501c3 have to do with having a ministry?”  You see, this is my 21st century United States of America filter – ministry = 501c3.  It felt so good just to let all that go and listen to how the Lord wanted to define ministry for me – what does it mean from His perspective.  (NOTE:  To clarify – this was my personal conversation with the Lord.  Just because He didn’t mean 501c3 for MY ministry doesn’t mean that applies to anyone else.  Remember, He’s all about each of us as individuals.)  Another example happened about a year ago when the Lord said He wanted me to train for a marathon.  I had been in a fairly long season of physical training and was excited about the challenge.  My biggest obstacle was that I didn’t enjoy distance running.  During my teenage years I ran sprints and never trained for distance – the farthest I’d ever run in my life was four miles.  Nonetheless, I downloaded a training schedule and hit the pavement.  On about my fourth day of running, it’s like the Lord begins running alongside of me and asks, “What are you doing?”  I answer, “I’m running – you know – training for that marathon You said You wanted me to run.”  I’m thinking to myself (like He doesn’t know my thoughts), “Duh!!  Did He seriously forget that conversation?”  He then says, “But you hate to run.”  I’m stunned!  “Well, of course!  I know that, but I figured that if You want me to run a marathon, You would help me learn to enjoy it.”  Then He says to me, “Tricia, go sit down.  This is a spiritual marathon.  In fact, I don’t even want you working out at all during this season.”  Again, I forgot to take what the Lord was showing me or speaking to me and go BACK to Him with it and ask Him to explain to me what He meant by it.  We have a tendency to attach meaning to things based on our filters (our culture, our experiences, our perceptions, our preferences, our own desires, our own psychological and emotional makeup, etc.).  How often do we miss what He’s actually saying?  I’ve learned to just respond to pretty much everything, “Awesome – so what do You mean by that?”

Here’s the bottom line:  Revelation is an amazing gift!  Freely receive all the revelation He freely gives to you, open it completely, absorb and learn it, and go make the world believers of Truth by BECOMING that revelation!  And don’t forget to share your stories!!!

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

“EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource for spiritual growth.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.

It’s fascinating that the heart is the container of those desires the Lord wants to give us when we delight ourselves in Him, and it is also the place from which flow the springs of life (Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 4:23).  I have an incredible interest in studying the connections between our heart, our emotions and our brain – it’s something that has intrigued me for the past few years and the Lord has shown me so many ways that science has proven the Truth of His Word.  Imagine, the God Who created us, knowing how He designed us, instructs us with scientific accuracy in the ways we should handle our hearts, emotions and thoughts!!

Here’s a tidbit – did you know that before the brain is ever even formed in an unborn fetus, the heart starts beating?  And scientists have yet to find anything that triggers it to start beating – the heart initiates the heartbeat within itself.  When I read that in my recent studies, several dots began to connect for me, starting with a vision I had almost four years ago.

But I’m going to back up even further.  When I surrendered my life to the Lord five years ago, He began giving me promises.  Now, as I believed these promises, I began to open up to dreaming for the first time I could remember in my life.  As promises were deposited into me by the Lord, there were times that I was literally doubled over by the impact.  As I began to dream and ponder these promises, fear began to rise up in me.  So that brings us up to the time of the vision.  At the time, I was working with a spiritual counselor on some inner healing, and this fear came up.  She talked to me about how we have a tendency to use our own personal framework (i.e. experiences, current situation, etc.) for the promises the Lord gives to us.  She prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what my fear was.

As she prayed, I saw myself taking an 8×10 picture of my “dreams” and placing it in a frame.  I then took it and hung it on this HUGE blank white wall – the only thing on this wall was my 8×10 picture.  Then I saw the Lord’s hand reach out and take my picture off of the wall, and He handed me a wallet-sized photo.  SO, my fear was that I was dreaming too big; He doesn’t have those big of dreams for me; I’m not worthy of big dreams; my dreams are frivolous – you get the idea.

So my counselor prayed again that the Holy Spirit would show me Truth.  Again, I saw myself taking an 8×10 picture of my “dreams”, placing it in a frame and hanging it on this HUGE blank white wall.  Again, the Lord’s hand reached out and took my picture off of the wall.  This time though, He picked up a painter’s pallet and painted a ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall mural!!!  The entire wall was covered with vibrant colors – though I was unable to make out the “picture”.

Why was this vision so important?  Because as soon as the Lord began giving me promises, everything in my life circumstances according to my framework that would have been “required” for my dreams to become reality began to break apart – piece by piece – until one day about a year and a half ago, I realized I was staring at that blank white wall.  It’s interesting to note that the Lord didn’t paint the wall around my picture by “adding” to what I had placed on the wall.  He took it down.  And I sat for over a year crying out like David in the Psalms, “How long?  Lord, how long until you begin painting the mural?”

Then one day last summer, I was driving home from a conference and I saw the blank white wall before me – great!!  As if I hadn’t stared at it enough!!  But all of a sudden, I saw Him breathe on the upper right-hand corner of the wall, and some of the mural became visible briefly – and then it faded again.  I was reminded of the movie National Treasure.  There’s a scene in the movie where they have stolen the Declaration of Independence because they believe there is a secret code on the back of it.  In order to “see” or “reveal” the code, they are carefully putting lemon juice on the back of the document.  But nothing happens – until they realize that it needs heat, so they use their breath to breathe on the lemon juice to activate it.  WALLA – the code becomes visible!  I heard the Lord say that the mural of His promises and desires for me has been painted on the wall since the foundations of the world.  He will be breathing life into them in the coming days.

So it’s been a season of “the coming days”.  But it’s a curious thing how comfortable dead dreams have become!!  As life is breathed into dreams and desires, and hope is awakened, it is actually painful – it hurts to hope!!  It’s a new place of hanging in the balance of our natural fight-or-flight instinct, programmed by our brain – to either fight (try to control things or resist things) or to simply run away.  It’s hanging in the balance of fear and actively waiting on the Lord – allowing Him to breathe while I breathe with Him, and watching things unfold.

So is it possible that the “thing” that initiates the heartbeat within the heart itself is the Lord placing – by His own “breath” – the desires and dreams He has for us; is that the “spark”?  And is our delighting in the Lord our willingness to dream with Him – because quite frankly, I’ve found that to be a place of GREAT vulnerability!!!  It seems that as soon as we arrive into this world, layer upon layer of “world” (disappointment, stress, pain, suffering, injustice, failure, rejection, etc.) gets shoveled over the deepest callings of our hearts – and we become “dead” to desire.  Life flows again when we can re-dig those wells of desire in our intimacy with the Lord – as He awakens the dead places in our hearts.  IF you are willing, go there!  OH – GO THERE!!!

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

“EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource for spiritual growth.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.

The other day the lyrics, “Open the floodgates of Heaven” just kept going through my head.  Suddenly, I heard the voice of the Lord break into the song and say, “I already have.  I’ve sent My beloved Son and My Holy Spirit.  Now, (using the lyrics of another song) ‘Let the River Flow – Move in Power’.”

We have to look at this and really grasp what He is saying!!  What is the river?  How does it flow?  What does moving in power look like?

A little over four years ago, I had a vision for which the revelation unfolded over about a two-year period.  In this vision, I was swimming in a pool of cloudy, murky water.  I had all of these heavy chains wrapped around my body and around my neck.  The more I swam, the more I sank to the bottom of the pool.  Then the vision shifted and I was free of the chains, resting in a brook of clear flowing water.  There was a natural bank of rocks in the middle of the brook that I was just resting against as the water flowed over me in such a relaxing and refreshing way.

As I sat with the Lord for understanding, He explained to me that the chains represented all of the expectations and requirements I had of other people.  He showed me that all of the disappointment that I experience, and all of the ways I am hurt and offended by others are a result of the expectations I place on them to meet needs I have that I should be looking to Him to meet.  As I understood what He was saying to me, I began to grieve but didn’t understand exactly why.  All I knew is that letting go of the expectations I had of others felt like I was dying.

As I committed to releasing everyone else from expectation, requirement or obligation the vision changed to me getting out of the pool and taking the chains off and walking free.  Over the next many weeks I became increasingly aware of moments when I felt disappointed or offended.  Dang it!!!  I thought I’d released that expectation – what the heck was it doing back in my pocket!!  It was a process of observing myself and “noticing” those moments.  Over time, however, I found myself becoming less and less disappointed, less and less offended, and more and more grateful.

After walking in this process for a while, the Lord revealed to me the cause of my grief when I first had the vision.  See, the chains also represented all of the expectations and requirements that I had accepted from others.  The reason it felt like I was dying was that if I let go of others meeting my expectations and I was stuck with a life of meeting everyone else’s expectations of me, then my life didn’t exist.  The question then becomes “Whose life are you living?”  Now I began the process of releasing myself from being bound to those obligations.  This is difficult because it means others will become disappointed or offended – that’s what unmet expectations do!!!

So that’s a cute little story, but what does it all mean?  Let’s go deep with this!

So, back to our questions.  What is the river?  The river of life is love – love that is freely given and freely received.  No coercion, no control, no manipulation.  There is something we all know in the deepest part of our knower: the only way to truly live is to be a free giver and a free receiver – anything else feels like entanglement.  Anything done outside of the Law of the Spirit – which means from a motive of freely giving out of love, not from expectation, obligation or requirement – doesn’t count – AND it does not add to our inheritance.

And this makes absolute sense when you really think about how it works.  If I have an expectation of you and you don’t meet it, one of two things will happen.  I will either become disappointed / offended with you, or I will believe something is wrong with me – I either don’t feel loved, or I feel I am unlovable.  Either way, the expectation became a wall or a dam that blocked the flow of love.  Because there is something deep in our spirit that recognizes expectation and obligation, anything done or given for those reasons cannot be received by us as love because love isn’t what motivated the giving.  Love can’t flow through obligation.  Likewise, if expectations are in place, anything that doesn’t meet those expectations cannot flow through to be received – the “accounting system” won’t compute it.  The River of Life needs to flow in the Body!

So if expectations and obligation are what dam the river, how does it flow?  Well, obviously the simple answer is to release the expectations and obligations – simple doesn’t mean easy though!  There is MUCH work to be done to become unoffendable and release others to be who they are, where they are from a place of love.  There is re-framing of circumstances that requires focused perspectives work with the Holy Spirit to illuminate possibilities beyond what your emotions are saying to you.  There is stillness and quietness before the Lord in humility to honestly look at disappointments and their roots in your own heart.

So what breaks open the dams and allows you to move in power?  Grace (unmerited / unearned / non-performance based)!!  It’s Grace, a freely-given gift from God, that removed all requirements and obligations of the law and opened the door to relationship with Him.  Grace freely gave love extravagantly – and it is only in freely receiving that we enter into that relationship through faith.

A few months ago, I woke up one morning with a burning irritability for NO reason whatsoever!!!  There were absolutely no circumstances going on in my life for me to be irritable about – in fact, quite the opposite was true.  I couldn’t read my email because I was so distracted by this irritability – I couldn’t even spend my quiet time with the Lord in the Word because I knew I couldn’t receive anything in that state.  So, I went to take a shower and just asked the Lord, “What the heck is wrong with me today – why do I have this ‘raging’ undercurrent?”  He said, “Oh that – yeah, well I just removed my grace from you this morning.”  I gasped – and I suddenly saw how true that was because I recognized the old feeling that I lived with before I first received His grace!  AND hear me, it wasn’t His Grace for me He had lifted – it was the Grace He had given me for others!  I screamed at Him, “Don’t you EVER do that again!!!  I can’t live without Your Grace!!  I can’t be in relationship with others without your Grace – your Grace is the most amazing gift and brings life and love into my heart for everyone!”  Then His voice softened, and saddened, “Yeah, I wish people had Grace for Me!!”  That landed on my heart with a thud!  How much of our relationship with Him is based on expecting Him to act a certain way?  What would it look like to let Him just BE?  Are we unoffendable with God or does our faith waiver if He doesn’t show up the way we think He should?  As I sat with this, He showed me that His beloved Son was not offensive.  He was a stumbling block because of the people’s own expectations of what He should be.

So it’s time for the Body to really move in power!!!  That power is Grace and it means releasing others and trusting God.  It takes great faith to release others and become unoffendable!!!  We have to expand our ability to receive by removing limitations we’ve placed on what love is supposed to “look” like for our needs to be met and be willing to receive with deep gratitude the love extended to us by others (in whatever measure or by whatever means they have capacity to give).  Recognize it – and receive it with gratitude and your heart will expand!

What I know as certain as I know my name is that expectation, obligation and requirement create a dam that blocks the free flow of giving and receiving any expression of love.  It cannot be freely given or freely received because deep in my spirit, I know that it was required or expected.  Deep gratitude is not possible if things are given or done out of obligation – it is no longer a gift – it becomes a transaction.

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

“EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource for spiritual growth.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.

There are 2 primary relational allusions in the New Covenant for believers.  While there are others, such as being priests and kings, the ones that were the most revolutionary to Jesus’ followers and contain the greatest revelation are being a son and a bride.  Why are these significant?

In the Old Covenant, the primary relational “positions” between God and His people were the roles of priest and king.  Both of these roles were consummated in Jesus as both the final high priest and the King of kings – the combined role “in the order of Melchizedek” under whose authority those who are IN Christ are considered part of the royal priesthood – royal for “king” – so “kingly priesthood”.

Because these relational positions became one and culminated in the person of Jesus, those who are IN Christ acquire these same relational positions.  But these relational positions again are relevant between God and His people, so they give us a model for how to be with others in relationship.  Jesus was the fullness of this model – how to be in Godly relationship with others.

The New Covenant brings new relational models.  These are about how God wants His people to be in relationship with Him.  These relationships are primary because without the fullness of these positions in relationship with God, we cannot be “kingly priests” to others (John 5: 19).

The Son – Jesus – came so we could become “sons”.  Now, as a woman I can tell you that it can be difficult to grasp being a son.  We get very caught up in gender differentiation though this is irrelevant according to the New Covenant (Galatians 3: 26-29).  So why is it important to really understand being a “son”?  Well, it was tradition in that culture that the 1st-born son is the one who inherits.  They typically would receive a double portion and the blessing of the family promises.  It is interesting to see, however, throughout the Old Covenant how often this got switched to the 2nd-born son.  When you consider that there were two “Adams” – the 1st Adam being the created Adam who was first to be manifested in the natural, and Jesus the last Adam who was 2nd to be manifested in the natural (though He always Was as the only begotten) – it is the “2nd Adam” that inherited everything.  So we enter into our inheritance as “sons” by being IN the Son.  That is a position of inheritance in relation to Father (Ephesians 1: 11-14)!!

SO what are we inheriting?  We have to look at the Bride to understand this.  So let me tell you a story to unfold this as I received the revelation from the Lord.

In December, 2010 a friend shared with me that when she had gone to buy some anointing oil for her daughter, the Lord prompted her to buy the case of assorted oils because she would be giving them as gifts.  When she arrived home, the Lord told her to go find the Bridal oil.  Well, there wasn’t anything called “Bridal” oil so she had to do some research (a true heart connection in this friendship)!!  What she found was something I had found over a year before as I was studying the cultural traditions of the Hebrew people during Jesus’ life – she found the Ketubah.  So she went back to her oils, and there was one called Ketubah oil, and the Lord told her, “That one is for Tricia.”  So this was the Christmas gift my friend gave me.  The Lord told me to begin anointing myself on Christmas Eve and to anoint myself every day until it ran out – and I used the last of it on Easter Sunday!!  I was entering a season that the Lord said was about “Radical Rest, Radical Receiving – NO DISTRACTIONS!”  I was about to “soak” in some amazing revelation!

Matthew 11: 28-30 (The Message):  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The Ketubah was a contract that was put in place upon betrothal.  This would have been given to Mary by Joseph.  It was a one directional contract – meaning it was from the bridegroom TO the bride.  The Ketubah was the bridegroom’s commitment to work for, provide, and protect the bride.  It was a legally binding contract, and stated that in any event that the contract was “broken”, there would be a sum of “provision” for the bride – she would never have to worry about her needs not being met.  Basically, this contract was entered into between the bridegroom and the father of the bride on behalf of the bride – the ONLY thing the bride had to do was receive it!!!

Now, I know for you men it is just as much of a mental strain to understand being a bride as it is for me as a woman to understand being a son.  Get over it!!! (I say that with love!)  It is IMPERATIVE that we understand being a bride!!  There has been a lot of focus on being a son, and this is absolutely necessary but it’s not the fullness of the New Covenant relationship.  The Bride is the position of intimacy in relation to Jesus – it is intimacy with the Son that inherits from the Father – intimacy inherits.  Jesus shares a parable of 2 sons who positionally could inherit.  Neither of them understood what it meant to inherit.  One of them wanted his inheritance because he thought it would buy him freedom to go do whatever he wanted.  The other stayed with the father, but never understood that his inheritance was there all along for his enjoyment.  Why did they both miss it?  Because they didn’t understand intimacy – the deep abiding relationship they could enter into with their father.  Our Father has already provided our inheritance.  What is it?  It is RECEIVING EVERYTHING through INTIMACY – it is REST!  We don’t have to inherit “something” so we can go off and do our own thing.  We don’t have to just stick around and “work” so we can someday inherit.  We inherit everything by simply receiving it through intimacy – we rest from being concerned about anything in this world by being intimate with the One who owns everything (and I mean infinite resources – everything we will ever need).  I would rather just BE with the One who owns everything, than try to “find” or “work” for any other position.  I don’t have “to be” anything or “need” anything, because I’m one with the One who IS everything.  So inheritance comes through the Son, and intimacy comes through the Bride!!

Consider this – in the Garden, God opened Adam’s side in order to take what was required to form a woman to be his helper – to be his “bride”.  On the cross, Jesus’ side was opened in order that a “bride” could be prepared for Him.  Somehow we’ve missed that God is “forming” a woman for His Son.  The Church is a woman, serving under the Head (her husband) as His helpmate in the world.  We inherit (as sons) through intimacy (as the bride).  Scripturally, we are to be submitted one to another (Ephesians 5:21).  In the Garden, God gave “them” dominion over fish, birds and animals – NOT over one another (Genesis 1: 28).  The Lord is the Head of ALL of us – and as we submit to Him, we walk in submission to one another in unity.  Submission to the Lord requires FAITH – we HAVE to trust that He is FOR us before we can submit to Him (Deuteronomy 7: 9).  As we submit to Him, and we obey all He asks us to do individually, we will be able to walk in submission to one another.  It is not about trusting others, it is about trusting the Lord with our lives – submitting every situation, every relationship, every conversation, every perspective, every thought to His Lordship – allowing Him to make all of our thoughts, words and actions His thoughts, words and actions (re-read John 5: 19).

In fact, I want to challenge you men – go read every single Scripture that discusses the role of being a woman or a wife – they are for YOU.  They define what your relationship to Jesus is supposed to look like.  You are a “man” and a “husband” in this earth, but you are a “woman” and a “wife” to Jesus in the Church.  You cannot expect a woman to be any more submitted to you (respectful) than you are to the Lord (sacrificially loving).

And women, I want to challenge you – we were blessed by God with this “woman mantle” in the earth.  We are the ones who are “ordained” to walk out what this looks like – submission to the Lord and submission to the men in our lives.  There is NO place for control and manipulation!!  It is impossible to submit and retain control.  In fact, control and manipulation is witchcraft!  If WE don’t model this well, how can we expect our men to ever understand being a bride!!  The Lord is NOT coming back for a Church (a bride) that operates out of obligation, expectation, or requirement driven by control, manipulation or seduction from a place of fear!!!  That fear can be due to believing in scarcity more than abundance, from receiving your value and worth from an inappropriate source, or from a lack of understanding your identity (and possibly other “unbeliefs”).  ALL of these are answered in Jesus (re-read Ephesians 1: 11-14).  You cannot expect a man to be any more submitted to you (sacrificially loving) than you are to the Lord.

He’s coming for HIS Bride who fully understands that He is ALL She needs because He IS everything.  Do the work of believing (John 6: 28-29).  REST & RECEIVE the inheritance (Hebrews 4:10)!!  It is FINISHED (John 19: 30-34)!

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

“EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource for spiritual growth.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.

We have SO many ways that we “measure”, but God only has one.  Under the Old Covenant, God’s Law talks about using honest scales and measures.  In the New Covenant, we are told that we will be measured by the same measure that we use.  What does all that mean?

I remember about 2 ½ years ago, the Lord really started talking to me about all of this.  He began to show me all the external things I had used as a measure of my value and worth before I surrendered my life to Him.  He talked to me about the dangers of taking that same pattern and laying it over my life with Him.  When Moses comes close to the burning bush, the Lord commands him to take off his shoes because he is on Holy ground.  When I began my surrendered walk with the Lord, I stepped into a “Holy” walk that requires me to remove all the old patterns of walking – to take off my shoes – to walk “bare” before Him.

It is a curious thing in our nature that wants to “measure” – to have something tangible to be able to define where we are or what our value is in relation to others.  And we tend to measure ourselves by the intentions we know are in our heart, but we measure others by the impact they have on us.  Well, this makes sense because we can’t “see” the intentions of their hearts.  Our desire to measure can only be met if we can find something external and visible as our “scale”, so we find all sorts scales.  Why don’t you sit with the Lord, and ask Him to show you what some of yours have been or are currently?  He gave me 2 pages worth!!

The Word of God is clear that He looks at the internal – at the heart.  He actually spoke to me, “Tricia, I take you at your heart.”  Not my words; not my deeds – at my heart – at the thoughts and intentions that are driving my words and my deeds!  He sees what is NOT visible (things I can’t even see in myself unless He reveals it), and according to Romans 12: 3 the only thing He is measuring is faith.  And that faith has been given to us by Him.  How does He measure our faith?  Galatians 5: 6 tells us that what is important is “faith expressing itself in love.”  He looks for love.  He is perfecting our faith so that we can fully love as He loves.  It takes great faith to love unconditionally!!  It means unconditional forgiveness, unconditional grace toward everyone, and unconditional gratitude for everything in your life – WOW – a tall order!!  But, God!!

SO – the Lord spoke to me, “Tricia, I AM a God of fullness, not measure!”  The Lord is the only one who knows the faith He has placed within each individual, so He is the only one who can measure to what extent they are walking in the faith they’ve been given and are growing in it.  Love is the indicator, but we can’t measure that because we don’t know the capacity of faith any single person has been given by Him in order to be able to express love.  He explained it to me this way.  “Tricia, if I give one person the capacity (faith) the size of a swimming pool to love, and another person the capacity (faith) the size of a thimble, and they are both loving to the fullness of the capacity they have been given, it is equal to Me.”  Now, we experience hurt and pain in this world because we are all running around bumping into one another with our various capacities to love, expecting that others should be where we are – we ALL have our “rules of engagement” – or as the Lord lovingly showed me – I have my “religion according to Tricia”.  The other way we experience pain is that the Lord is IN us – His LOVE is IN us pushing and pressing, trying to constantly EXPAND our capacity beyond our comfort zone so we can receive a greater measure of Him.  He wants us to receive the FULLNESS of Him – which is the FULLNESS of LOVE.

Growing our faith is the key to receiving the fullness.  We exercise and grow our faith through obedience.  As we are obedient (careful here – obedience is out of love and reverence, NOT out of fear), our faith grows because we experience His faithfulness and our capacity to love expands.  This is our life journey with the Lord – it’s a good walk!

The Lord will not allow any external, visible scale as a means for us to measure ourselves or one another.  That would only be a tool by which to judge each other.  Now, if we choose an external scale or measure, that will be the same scale or measure He uses for us.  Think about it – if I choose “my scale / my standard” by which to measure you, He will use someone else’s “scale /standard” that is higher than mine by which to measure me.  There will always be someone who is or has operated at a higher level of faith, obedience and love than me (or you), so the Lord can find any number of scales to choose from.  The ultimate “scale / standard” is His Son so even the highest “standard” demonstrated in human terms will be trumped by that “standard”.  The Truth is that I can’t measure your love or your faith.  Faith is demonstrated by obedience to what He has asked each of us to do, and I have NO idea what He’s asked you to do so I don’t know if you are being obedient or not.  Only He does.  He is the One who sees the unseen.  I’m so glad that the only one I need to be concerned about is me.  The rest is in His capable hands!

www.ThePresenceCoach.com

EdenQuest: The Ultimate Journey to Rest” is a totally free resource.  Find it at the “Coaching Videos” tab on my website.