Category Archives: Growing Pains

The Difference Between Lack of Faith and Unbelief

My guest post today is by my beloved friend Yvette Dempster of The Adoption Ministries. I know you will benefit tremendously! That’s why I’m sharing. 

Have you ever heard someone say they needed to increase their faith? Or have you ever said–when you didn’t see an answer to prayer– that something must be wrong with your faith? Have you ever thought you had a lack of faith? If so, I have good news! You don’t have a faith problem!

http://the-adoption.org/the-difference-between-lack-of-faith-and-unbelief/

Prophetic Word: Living Unsettled

Prophetic word:

Earlier a friend posted a quote on growth happening when we getting out of our comfort zone- I replied, “What about living in the ‘discomfort’ zone?” She replied, “Lots of growth!!!” And it’s true. 
Then this comes in my email: 

“Cyndi, 

Can you get comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Because if you can, you’ll be right in the sweet spot of personal growth. The times when you’re getting stretched, pushing through the pain, or feeling out of your element — that’s when the magic happens. It doesn’t happen when you sit back on your heels and start getting complacent…” -Michael Hyatt

Then another friend sent a similar insight… Repeats are cues and clues to listen and engage…

The reality is, I’ve felt and heard the Lord say over a long period, more than a year now, 

“My people need to learn to live “unsettled”. 

The meaning is that we are creatures of habit and routine, and while to some degree we need structure, we can also become dependent on our ‘familiar’ circumstances rather than Him as our anchor and stability. 

It’s interesting that without pruning, grape vines (and other plants) will choose spreading leaf and runners over producing fruit. Pruning is essential. It may seem a bit of a shock to the system, but it’s part of Life. 

Likewise we tend to get rattled and sometimes even frantic when our comfort zones get challenged. We pray for change and yet become highly resistant to it at the same time. Resistance can hinder or help, it depends on the application.
In these globally troubled days, we are being taught how to thrive in the midst of turmoil, upheaval, and distress by learning to live and move and have our being in Him, not in our circumstances, not in our familiar routines, or our sometimes entrenched expectations of how life must go. Sometimes we may feel like we’ll only be okay when everything settles. If this becomes our expectation, we may long feel upended and as though life feels out of control. We are being taugh to live in the flux. 

Much of our anxiety, pain and discomfort is in our resistance. We need to discern when resistance is helpful and when it is actually in our way. In the big picture, we are foreigners and aliens transversing this life, we are unsettled, moving through, by an internal map and compass of the spirit. 
Will the upheaval settle? Not permanently, every shaking causes us to inherit the unshakable, if we are willing. The shaking and displacing of our comfort isn’t going to stop in some permanent manner in which we can “settle”, but if we learn to move along, living “unsettled”, if we can learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, then we won’t as likely go into shock when the dismantling of our familiar occurs. 

Sure, it takes a bit to find our feet in it all, but this is why we are given a Comforter-to help us get comfortable in the uncomfortable. 
“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” Isaiah 41:10

The Glory Doorway

I reached to access a storage container and stopped still, staring. Brilliant sparkles winked and twinked in the air before me. There was nothing special about this corner of the room, or the room itself. I hadn’t stood up too fast, I hadn’t bent over; I wasn’t “seeing stars” but I was seeing … Starry lights. Then they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
I was left in wonder…

They next time they appeared, I was telling my son something about Jesus. I was multitasking and in next room as we dialogued, but as I walked into the same room as he, I stopped abruptly. Dancing before my eyes, and in a cloud like cluster about a 1×2 feet in depth and breadth were these effervescent diamonds. Slowly turning my gaze, I sized up the cloud.

I asked if my son saw them. “No.”  

But I saw them, as clearly as I was seeing anything else in the room. 

Filled with wonder…Awestruck wonder. 

This must be glory

Now, hope rose in place of surprise. 

This. Was. Real.

Scientific training has had its use; considering correlations, one was definitive. I had been shifting my focus considerably- it was all on HIM: Jesus, Dad, and the Holy Ghost. Something was changing. Joy was becoming a constant companion. Praise and worship came in bursts and raptures. It felt like a endorphin high only better and longer lasting. And then…the glory began to appear. It. Was. Beautiful! 

This encouraged me to engage with Him even more. I was dazzled. This was how things were meant to be! Heaven in Earth; as above, so below. 
I often listen to messages as I fall asleep at night. I like the first and last of my day specifically centered on the Giver and the good news of the kingdom. Following the treasure clues, I often stumble upon Gold. Around that time I discovered a Joshua Mills podcast- it was truly the title that caught my eye. 

      JESUS IS THE GLORY DOORWAY.

I listened attentively, absorbing the beauty of Jesus. Then my prophetess friend asked the next day if I knew anything about Jesus & a glory door, because Holy Spirit mentioned it- I shared the link and happily went on to part 2.

However, this particular night, the glory doorway appeared differently in my dreams. 
Glory spilled out, it’s golden luminescence beautiful, but inaccessible except for the sliver of beauty I could see from the crack beneath the door. The door was shut tight, leaving me in outer darkness. I could only stare at the door with a sense of loss.

Consciousness began its work, and with it came a sense as though joy had dropped through the bottom of a trap door. It felt sucked away and in its place was an adipose, nauseous sensation. 
Feeling drugged, I realized I’d been “slimed” by an enemy. It was the best my mind could offer at the moment. For several days afterward I felt that spiritual residue I had encountered in spirit via night vision, affecting me inwardly and outwardly. I couldn’t seem to shake the sense of gross residue.
 My thoughts often returned to that crack beneath the door where glory awaited me on the other side. Worse, a void replaced the joy and passion building in momentum beforehand. Everything I had been experiencing now seemed inaccessible and far removed. I didn’t know how to get back to where I’d been. It all felt so real, so affective, and so continuous.

Days passed and with them the slimed sense. Still, I felt rather defeated somehow, and I didn’t understand how this had occurred. I wanted the glory back! The union I’d been experiencing with God was the best sense of life I’d had yet, I knew it was supposed to be my everyday normal, and somehow…I’d lost it. 
Soon, as the Lord taught me, I came to realize that I’d fallen for an old trick. Perception is a powerful sensory experience! The defeated enemy has limited strategies to work with but they’re not going to just go quietly into the night without a final last attempt to influence our beliefs. They know how reliant we can become on our senses and feelings, and they will manipulate our perception if they can. They will try what they can to distract us from engaging with God to the fullness- good thing they’re no match for us and the Giver of good gifts.

It was partly through this experience I began to learn to walk more by faith than my senses, or lack of. Because my senses felt locked out of the glory, and the gross residue felt so tangible, I behaved as though it was true. My feelings led the way. In reality it was nothing more than illusion. A magic man’s trick. We don’t have to be poisoned by a negative experience. 

As I learned about truth trumping feelings, and sense, I began to stand in the knowledge of Him. Jesus Is the Glory Doorway. Jesus is the Door (John 10:7) What He opens cannot be shut and what He shuts cannot be opened (Revelations 3:7) especially by a defeated enemy. The door stands open for all who are willing to enter. (Revelations 4:1)
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38,39)

I paid less attention to how things felt or seemed, and studied about our union with Christ, our oneness. I chose truth; truth trumps feelings, senses, and experiences.

In that manner I learned strategy: to know the enemy was still beneath my feet, even if he managed to lob a smoke bomb,  and my emotions are subject to the spirit of Truth. The schemes of the enemy backfired. 

As this became my greater reality, I briefly caught a sparkle again, and realized they have been there all along. It was only my awareness that changed. Now, I often see them, without thinking about it. They are part of us.

“I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one…”             (John 17:22)

Being one spirit means we won’t be separated. We have an all access pass- His name is Jesus. When we know the truth, we know we are free. Free to live in the Glory and majesty of God all all times.

What Kind of Spirit Have You Been Given?

Running several leg lengths would allow me to vault myself past the first couple stairs so that “it” would have less chance to grab my ankles and pull me into the black abyss. Such was my strategizing after about 7 years on semi-hostile planet earth. 

Of course my burgeoning rational capabilities argued The Boogeyman didn’t exist and couldn’t possibly live under the basement stairs in a space of 4h x 3w, but my older brother was quite convincing. He had the ability to authentically mimic a police car siren so that my parents pulled off to the side of the road, looking for the flashing red and blues more than once. He could imitate several of The Muppets, like Gonzo and the Swedish Chef and other TV/movie characters. I was convinced a job was waiting for him in Walt Disney’s studios, so you can see why I might have been inclined to give him the benefit of “possible” when he told me to be sure the boogeyman didn’t grab me from under the stairs. Oddly enough (sarcasm), the boogeyman never entered my conscious consideration prior to his suggestion.

My bother seemed to have early natural insights into Pavlov’s classical training and “little sister” was a quick learner, making associations and being affected by something akin to B.F. Skinner’s operant concept of shaping and chaining. Hence, a long period of leaping to skip stairs and avoid capture when I ascended from the basement of our family home, began. Somehow this “act” would supersede the long armed mystical reach of the boogeyman. I mentally calculated risk probabilities. “If I jump and land on that stair, that one, not the lower one, I’m safe.” Since I could only leap so far, I had to settle for the third step as safe, rather than the tenth. Can you relate on some level? 

This “act of faith” (more aptly named superstition) caused me to become a leaping lannie as a child. I leapt the stairs and bolted the rest of the way to the top each time. I also ran down the hall and leapt into my bed; then the creatures who hid beneath and in my closet couldn’t get me-especially once the covers were pulled over my head, even the one at the foot of the bed had to obey “the rules”! 

As a preteen, I would regularly return late from a long day’s ride, as dusk would fade to black. One night I’d had enough, I leapt through the house door from the dark of night, demanding the barn be burned down! (The barn was actually an old 2-story house drug over from the neighbors, which appeared haunted in particular times of day or night.) Logic: a new, real barn wasn’t a bad idea after all, and the sense of being watched from the second level windows was bad enough, but those creeps in it were creeping me out!

I was also a strong perceiver from a very young age, so I “felt” a lot of things, including in the “barn”. Fortunately my mother’s wisdom and knowledge of the bible exceeded mine and she opted to go pray in the barn instead of striking a match. It was peaceful after that; I’d been convinced it was now unoccupied except for flies, horse dung, and swishing tails in the heat of the day. It would do.

But then there were the Christian ghost tales, the stories of various demons showing up in places they shouldn’t- like the church. Isn’t that a sacred place off limits to devils and vampires alike?! And the pastor seemed a little afraid, or something… Then there were the people who felt like something was sitting on their chest making it hard to breathe-more than one story snuck in my earshot. I decided in my first decade plus that I didn’t want to “see” spiritual things and be further terrorized. For a long while I shut my eyes but I still felt so much. 

There were also the kind of creeps like lust, who often stood behind me or across the room- their watching eyes seeming to bore into me. As time passed, I felt other people’s oppression, depression, and other “-pressions”. Restaurants and crowded places came to feel like a big jangle of sensory stimuli, until I wanted to leave. Hospitals-I felt ill within minutes of entering them. 

Over the years I was undulated with fearful stories, and little evidence of God’s great powers, until even into my twenties I felt like fear was my stalker, encroaching my every aspect of life, backing me into a corner, stealing my confidence and sharing it’s many disappointments. A generalized anxiety became my “mostly normal”, and I felt hyper-sensitized to the awareness of “the darkness” in its various forms.

It’s partly why I liked to be alone on the back of a horse. There, was freedom. There, was an awareness outside of fear and intimidation. Nature, animals and especially horses were where I felt God most, where I came to know his presence best, and where many first lessons about peace, healing, and wonder were learned. It’s the place I first began to sing, and his presence is where I learned the truth about what kind of spirit I was given. 
Had I heard and known these things first, and only, it would have changed the way I had been shaped. Thank God, I learned the truth, and I was reshaped in love. I didn’t need to unlearn the old, rather new learning overwrote the old code I’d been programmed or conditioned to respond to. 

When I understood the kind of spirit I’ve been given*, I stopped being afraid. I began to know confidence. It took a little time to learn who He really is, but I’ve been persuaded. As for fear, fear is at least twofold. 

1) We’ve learned fear through associations, experiences, and pain.

2) Fear is a fearful spirit which counsels out of its own fears, making it the worst kind of counselor.

So what makes us so afraid? The problem is never the problem. We’re most afraid when we feel powerless. Something or someone in creation feels bigger and more powerful than we do, in a threatening manner. It’s also something we learned. We have been full of childlike faith, believed the “impossible”, and we have cowered at mere suggestion, because we learned pain, and we learned fear and we learned so many things from the knowledge of good and evil. We weren’t meant to. We were meant to learn Him- this spirit of love, peace and joy.

We were meant to be powerful, to feel confident, to know our dominion. We were intended for power, love and soundness. 

We’ve been given a spirit. Deliberately. On purpose. But this spirit is different. This spirit is holy, a spirit of counsel and of might, who is wonderful, wise and understanding, just and true. The spirit we’ve been given is one of power, love and soundness. One who acts as our advocate, our strengthener, our teacher and leader into all truth. We’ve been given the spirit of comfort and reconciliation. The spirit who reveals the deep mysteries of God and creation, filling us with knowledge too wonderful to know on our own, a spirit of revelation, a spirit who distinguishes between truth and lies, and brings freedom from the slavish bonds of fear. A spirit who echoes our adoption as children of God. 

Because we’ve been given this kind of spirit, our own spirit becomes just as He is. We are joined as one and we receive His love, his soundness, his wisdom, his fearlessness, his courage, his strength, his truth, his thoughts, his power and might. 

This last year has been something rather special. Before 2015 began I received two themes from the Lord: Grace, Grace and Rest. These were not predictive of an easy, simple year; rather they were words to live by, words to anchor in, words to meditate on, to reassure, to empower. Prior to that the theme had been on how to stand. 

2015 was the year my family would hear frightful things, things meant to make our hearts believe and feel the worst kinds of fear-fear inducing words and phrases like:

He has cancer, numbered days, it’s matasticized, here are some options-what do you want to do? radiation, chemo…

We don’t know- you can try this, okay, try that, ultrasound, google that,some people never get better, this test, CT scan, okay more tests, heart monitor, cardiologist. We can’t help you more, eventually you’ll be better.

Your mom’s had a stroke, can you come (to the other side of the country)? and upon arrival- You need to decide, your dad isn’t able to. What do you want to do?
I’ll probably be gone a month, sorry about Christmas, I really wish I could be home with you and the boys but … 

They stopped life support, she’s gone; dementia…He can’t live alone, what do you want to do?

We’re sorry to hear about your loss. Let us know what you would like to do. 

We have received your withdrawal letter for your program. If you want to enroll in the future, let us know. 

What do you want to do? What do you want to do? What anyone wants to do- rewind, fast forward, delete, delete, delete.
I felt a lot of things this year. I’m saying, a lot of things. But fear? No. Not fear. Fear is unwelcome. It’s foe not friend. And something else…
I’ve been persuaded by love. 

Perfect, complete love casts out all fear because love is power. Love empowers us to believe that the spirit we’ve been given is powerful and sound, and a stronger strongman than the one who’s been made so popular by fear. 

Oh sure, fear hoped I’d take it back, we were codependent for so long! But it’s foreign enough now, when it’s sneaks around I sense it immediately. It feels like a stranger instead of my old counselor. It tried, but I knew it wasn’t mine. It made suggestions, it offered advice as it came within earshot through the words of people it influenced. I stared at them at times; taken aback by their expectations. I realized they knew fear, but not Love. 

But I’d already been persuaded. And I still am. I can’t always know what today will hold, what may come tomorrow. Sometimes Holy Spirit (or Homy Spirit as my fingers often accidentally type- ya He’s my Homy too!) gives me a heads up- a brief preview of the future. And other times I’m caught by surprise like any other.

But this one thing I’ve concluded. I refuse to allow fear to steal my peace for now and tomorrow. I won’t be robbed of today, I won’t live in fear of tomorrow. I learned when anxiety or some other form of fear comes knocking, to bring myself to a place of peace within seconds. My feelings cannot rule; my spirit must, led by the spirit I’ve been given. 

Maybe you’re facing a difficult situation right now, or maybe one is coming and in this moment, you are blissfully unaware. We may face many dangers, but fear is optional. We don’t usually think so, but we can choose to be afraid, or not. Love is a choice as well. You’ve been given a spirit, but He is Good; receive Him in all his goodness and benefits. As He is, so we are in this world.

A few key verses that helped reshape my thinking and being:

2Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

Romans 8:15
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

John 14:26
But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

1 Corinthians 2: 10-12
Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny]…

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed.

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do].
Isaiah 11: 2-4
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord—

And shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears;

But with righteousness and justice shall He judge the poor and decide with fairness for the meek, the poor, and the downtrodden of the earth…

Is it Mental Illness, or is it Psychological Warfare?

Several years ago, I had an a very negative experience.

The church I attended was experiencing some big changes and although these were good, an enemy had an agenda too.

Difficulties began to emerge relationally, a number of people were confused, hurt and communication began to break down. People’s minds and hearts were under assault. It became clear that there was more at work than human souls.

I assumed the affects were localized to people directly involved in some of the conflicts. Therefore, My experience seemed bizzare and unrelated to praying about these issues.

I began to have mental flashes, intrusive mental pictures and short movie type scenes playing in my mind that no one would want. They seemed intermittent at first and were disturbing. Then the frequency increased and occurred both at night and in the day.

At this point of such an experience, many people begin to wonder, “Am I  going crazy? Am I losing it?” or assume that this can be the only plausible answer. Sometimes, maybe most times, it’s psychological warfare.

Because I didn’t understand what was occuring and didn’t seem to know how to completely block these images from my mind, I began to feel distressed and anxious. My present experience seemed to outweigh my spiritual training–my understanding needed upgraded, but not the way I expected.

When we encounter new things, or the unknown, we are in learning mode. We Don’t feel we have all the info needed for the present. We have past experience and victories to guide our responses, but more so, we pay close attention to our commander for more Intel and directions.

On Ground level, such experiences may feel chaotic. It’s hard to see what’s actually taking place, and Friendly Fire may occur. What we experience at ground zero may feel intense, confusing, painful.

At some point, I shared with someone that I was experiencing some unusual things and found out that many others were as well. In this situation, trying to figure out what spirit is creating the trouble is often typical protocol for spiritual warfare.

Many, if not most of us, have been taught in both the natural world and the spiritual, we need to trace the source of the enemy attack in order to be free, to find out how the enemy found a door or legal right. This typical response is so opposite of what Holy Spirit began to teach me.

Often we are taught things that sound spiritual but aren’t necessary to our freedom and may even cause us to feel more bound up. When we honestly desire truth, He will lead us into it.

Eventually the trouble all stopped, and in the aftermath I could see so clearly what I couldn’t in the midst of the experience. Because it had seemed so real, I was afraid that somehow I might be at fault for what I was experiencing, or that I might be losing the ground I had previously gained-even though my whole heart was resisting and I just wanted it to end.

I’ve learned so much since that experience about a new kind of weapon. A type of “warfare” that consists of a state of Rest.

Sometimes people describe contending for something and yet as I listen to them it sounds more like they are praying from a place of fear, or trying to shadow box (which is what I’d been experiencing with those mental flashes).
True contending comes from a place of standing firm in confidence, knowing that we have the upper hand in authority and power, convinced that we are already triumphant.

As I thought about that past experience, I found myself wishing that someone could have identified the real issue and told me:

The fact is you Are Free, and no attempt to affect you changes that. Nothing has changed in reality; you are experiencing a ruse.  

All I really needed was to know that it was merely smoke and mirrors; it wasn’t me and wasn’t mine and I didn’t need to react as though it was. I could have simply rested and known I was just fine, ignoring the mind tricks. Any tactic the enemy was using was simply that-a tactic. Nothing had actually changed.

None of it was real. 

Like in the Divergent serieswhen Tris is in the water tank and seems about to drown (which felt very real to her in the moment) but suddenly she saw and knew the truth:

“This isn’t real.”

The experience was a phenomena of the mind that felt very real, like a dream might, but when she realized it was merely a psychological phenomena, she was free that instant-actually she had been free the whole time. She simply came to that awarenessTest over.

The experience I had was one of the worst types of torment I’d ever experienced. But now I know something I didn’t understand then:

If it’s not His, it’s not mine.

I am one spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17). I don’t have to shadow box a defeated enemy. I don’t need to wear myself out resisting, repeatedly declaring, binding, and trying to block the enemy from messing with my head, sparring until I’m exhausted, only to start all over again the next day or time.

Here’s a fact. Our spiritual enemies are narcissists. They love for the focus to be on them. The more you spar the more egomanic they behave. That’s why Rest is an amazing weapon. It’s function is much like the imagery in Psalm 23.


THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head withoil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

I can dismiss whatever isn’t good, pure, noble or trustworthy because the Strong Man (Holy Spirit) lives in me. This house is filled. I can set my gaze on the One who loves me and gave himself for me.

Experientially we learn to live in our dominion too. When we know the truth, we experience and live the Helmet of Salvation, the mind of Christ.                                  Our mind becomes a fortress of peace when we understand the truth.

We don’t have to feel vulnerable,  we can be confident in trust, and enter His rest.

See TheologyMom for another testimony.