Don’t Have Coffee With the Devil!

Imagine for a moment that you’re on the way to have a coffee date with Jesus. You walk in to the cafe and find Him smiling, seated with a worn leather chair reserved for you next to the crackling fire place. He leans your way and begins to tell you about how much He loves you. He tells you how glad He is that you’re there and that He has so much to share! He tells you of your intrinsic value and promises never to leave your side. He reminds you how much He simply enjoys you and that He is so glad that you’ve chosen to spend time with Him. Right in the midst of your conversation, eyes lovingly locked with Jesus, soaking up every word, you notice your former friend, the devil, out of the corner of your eye. He walks boldly into the room, and you flinch as he scoots right up to the empty table next to you and begins to whisper to you, “don’t listen to Him…that is a bunch of garbage…you’re not even a real Christian! Your foolish to believe that you’re valuable! I mean, look at you! You’re an idiot! Do you want me to tell you how many times you’ve messed up!?!”
That old, familiar whisper reminds you of your insecurities, your failures, your broken dreams. You try to keep your eyes locked in with Jesus, but there seems to be some validity to what the devil is saying…after all…he’s right, isn’t he? You lean in closer to the whisper of your enemy, and now begin to take to heart what he says. The words of Jesus fade into the background of the cafe rumblings. Jesus continues to talk to you, telling you the truth about your identity, but you find yourself listening intently to the devil’s whisper. Eventually he notices that you quit paying attention to His words of life, and doesn’t leave, doesn’t stop loving you, but just waits to talk until you turn back to Him.

Within a few minutes of soaking up the filthy lies of the enemy, your heart has been saturated with filth, leaving no room for the truth of the One who loves you. You turn back to Jesus and say, “you know, I hear what you’re trying to tell me and all, but I really don’t deserve to hear it. After all, I really don’t believe what you say about me…I really believe what the devil says about me.”
Now, that may be a bit extreme, but think of how often we do that when we choose to believe the lies of the enemy in our daily lives! It may come as a passing thought in the mirror, “I sure am ugly” or we may reach for our vice of choice, believing “once an addict, always an addict.” The problem is, that when we believe the lies about our identity, we are in agreement with the father of lies. Let me say that again…when we believe lies about our identity, we are agreeing with the devil and are basically telling Jesus that we would rather side with the one hates and wants to kill, steal all we have and destroy everything God wants for our lives!

Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32, 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:44 says this, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Each day we have the choice to agree with what God says about us or to agree with the adversary and what he has to say about us. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we must know our identity as God’s beloved children who can walk in total freedom if we would just believe what He says! If we don’t know who we are, the devil would be glad to define that for us!

One way that we can know who God says we are, is to read the Holy Bible, His word and to study it. A great place to study about our identity in Christ is the book of Ephesians. One of my favorite passages in all of scripture talks about putting on the armor of God. In Ephesians 6:12-18, Paul reminded the church in Ephesus to be aware that they are in spiritual battle that cannot be won with earthly weapons. Among those weapons is the belt of truth. Now, as a fashion-conscious gal, I love a good belt to accessorize my wardrobe. But Paul wasn’t talking about being fashion forward…he was taking about standing in war…and having the truth buckled around the waist so as never to lose it…to keep it on even in the battle. The important principle here is that we must hold to the truth of our position and identity in Christ in this day. Long after those words were written by the Apostle Paul, we are still challenged to hold on to the truth of who we really are.

Lean in to the voice of the One who is longing to share His love for you! Go ahead– tell that devil that you’re on a date with Jesus…and his days with you are OVER! Then, be sure to tell him as you and Jesus sit side by side, “Oh and by the way, devil, you are a LIAR and nothing you ever say is true…so thanks for confirming that the opposite of what you try to tell me is true…I AM LOVED and VALUABLE! I AM MORE THAN A CONQUEROR, AND THE CROSS WAS AND IS ENOUGH AND THE BLOOD COVERS AND CLEANSED ME FROM THE PAST!!!”

Raise that Latte up high to toast the Most High!!!
Ginger ❤

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Pulling Back the Shades

50 Shades of Grey books have been around for some time now. I hear of many talking about the movie on social media and see moms in waiting rooms and at parks reading this series all the time. While I have chosen NOT to read the books or see the movie, my heart breaks for those singles and moms looking for love in all the wrong places.

This Valentine’s Day, many flocked out like wandering sheep into a wolves den to the movie theaters to watch 50 Shades of Grey. Did they know they weren’t going to be watching a red-hot romance, but rather would be enticed by pull of addictive erotica (a form of pornography)?

I recently came across the book “Pulling Back the Shades” which goes into great detail the dangers of this series and also do extensive research on the effects of erotica on the mind and the family. The authors of the book have also been featured guests on Focus on the Family radio broadcast. There are lots of videos and articles on this website as well as a very cool deal for a free Pulling Back the Shades book too.

Focus on the Family Podcast Exposing the Lure of Romance and Erotica:
Part 1-
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/exposing-the-lure-of-romance-and-erotica-pt1

Part 2-
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/exposing-the-lure-of-romance-and-erotica-pt2

Trade your Shades:
http://pullingbacktheshades.com

The fruit of our lives comes as an overflow of what is filling our hearts. As Christians, we are called to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit. As a result of that filling, we see this fruit in our lives:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-25‬ NIV

We cannot fruitful lives on our own strength–it is only a result of the Holy Spirit. He fills us so that He can flow through our actions and attitudes. We can reflect the very character of Jesus in this dark world only through the power of His Holy Spirit.

We can also let our flesh rule and reign, as it says in the same context a few verses prior:

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭17-21‬ NIV

I’ve heard it said recently that

Whatever we feed will survive.

If we feed the flesh we will have a life of rotten fruit that only leads to death and ultimately leads to eternal separation from God. But if we feed our lives with the Holy Spirit and God’s word and presence, accepting Jesus as our Savior, we will not only reap a life of good fruit, but eternal life with God!

The good news is that we can live as a light in this dark world with God’s help–He doesn’t require something of His children and then abandon them–the Holy Spirit is here to help us every step of the way!

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬ NIV

Will you listen to the voice of your Shepherd concerning all matters of what you see and hear so that you can hear Him? He will tell you where to go and where not to go. He will keep you from the traps of the enemy and will bless you for making decisions that starve the flesh so that you can know His voice even better. What love!!!

In His Step
Step by step He leads me
Will I follow or will I stray?
He will never leave me
To be the the enemy’s prey.
As I stay close to Him
I will live in peace and victory.
I trust Him in the darkness
For I know His voice that calls for me.
As I listen to Him in prayer
My shepherd tells me where to go.
He tells me that He loves me and
Where He leads I will follow.

~by Ginger Ekholm

Blessings to your every step,
Ginger

Unforgettable

Your name is written forever on the palm of my hand
For you are my child and I have a purpose and a plan
Don’t grow weary when it seems too hard to walk
I myself will hold you up and listen when you talk
I know every tear you cry and bend my ear to hear everything you say
I myself will be with you when others have gone away
My child when pain surrounds your soul, when it seems too hard to bear
Just remember I have not forgotten you and I will always be there.
You are unforgettable and I will never leave you.
Don’t listen to the lie that you have been forgotten
While you watch with an aching heart the blessings others have gotten
The time will come for you, dear one, but that time is not for you to know.
Just reach out to me and seek my face, learn from me and grow.
As your destiny unfolds, you will see purpose in the pain endured, and in every loss.
And there will be true fellowship with Me, as you daily bear your cross.
I have not forgotten you, and I know where the road will lead
I know the plans I have for you and I know everything you need
And in due time new blessings will come, new seasons will unfold
But trust in me and be content and I will take your silver and give you gold.
For you are not forgotten and you will never be.
For you are my child and I will love you for all eternity.

(I wrote this poem a time in my life as a response to a question I asked God. In a place of deep pain and questioning, I asked God if He had forgotten about me…and these words of life and comfort came flooding from the Father’s loving heart deep into to my aching heart. I pray that these words will bring life to dead dreams and healing to wounded hearts as it has to mine.)

Love and many blessings to you!
Ginger

Going to the Heights in the Lowest places

A few weeks ago, my husband and I poured out our hearts in prayer on a phone call with a dear friend who had cancer filling her body from head to toe. She was so hopeful that she would be healed and that this cancer would leave her body and that she would continue on being a wife and a mom and doing all of the wonderful things God has promised for her to do in her life. She had a heart full of dreams and things that she knew that she needed to do in her life for the Lord. We were convinced that God would heal her but we also knew that we had to trust Him in this.

I really don’t understand why she has passed away. Medically speaking, she was full of cancer. But spiritually she was so full of faith…and so were we. So were so many who I consider to be amazing prayer warriors–spiritual giants, if you will. So right at this moment, I’m shocked…I just knew in my heart at that last prayer meeting that she would be old and gray, preaching to the crowds and fulfilling all of the things God still had for her to do. She had been fully healed at one point, but then all the cancer came back with a vengeance. I don’t know why. I just don’t get it.

And in the shock and sadness and anger that is beginning to set in, I NEED now to remind myself today of the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my life thus far: when things in this world are painful, when prayers don’t get answered in the way we hope they will and when we feel disappointed by life’s circumstances, GOD is still good and deserves the highest praise even in the midst of pain, grief and disappointment! Life is sometimes very hard but God is ALWAYS very good!

Putting hope in our prayers being answered a certain way is really not true biblical faith…I define faith as putting our hope in our unseen GOD and trusting HIM for the unseen outcome–knowing He is fully able to SEE…to heal and set free or change circumstances and presenting our heart cry to Him, but choosing to love Him and praise Him & continue to live for Him no matter what happens. That is how I want to live all the days of my life.

That is how our friend lived. She prayed for healing with her whole heart. She declared it was a done deal and lived with such a joyful faith–praising God and sharing His goodness when she had cancer filling her from head to toe, when she was healed and until the day she went home to be 100% healed–with the cancer never to return again!

We pray, we believe for miracles and no matter what, we choose to live for God! There have been many cases of cancer healed in our region in the past few months, and some that have not. We pray in boldness–going straight to the throne because of Jesus, and we ask God bold things. We believe those bold requests are possible, and we trust that even when we our heart breaks in disappointment, God is still good. We don’t stop praying for the sick. We keep asking for miracles, we keep declaring His promises and truth.

The Bible is filled with stories of faith-filled believers who went through horrific trials for their faith. There are Christians across the globe today who are suffering. But the Bible is clear that even in the midst of suffering, WE WIN!

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭37-39‬ NIV)

And we know that in ALL these things, we still win! Nothing separates us from God’s love! Nothing! Not death, not divorce, not bankruptcy, not depression, not autism…NOTHING. And nothing can keep me from praising God for His goodness.

Our friend IS healed…not in the way we hoped, but for the believer, death is always an upgrade! For those left behind, we must hold on to our faith and walk out the promises of God until we breathe our last breath.

And now, we must allow room to grieve. We pray for her husband and children and do what we can to come along side and support them. We continue to put our hope in our AMAZING God…right now we do this through our tears, still praising God.

Take a look at the passage in Habakkuk…they had nothing but loss all around them, but yet he tells of how chose to praise God:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk‬ ‭3‬:‭17-19‬ NIV)

He enabled him to go to a higher place even in his lowest place. I’m doing that today–I’m lifting my eyes to focus on the joy of my Savior! And comforted knowing that my cancer-free friend is right there with Him!

Raise the praise! I’m going to the heights, folks. You can’t stop me 🙂

Peace and giggles in the midst of pain,
Ginger

God is There

As I was thinking of God’s wonderful presence throughout my life, this little poem began to flow out of my heart. I pray that it deeply blesses you and that as you read it, your heart will be filled with the deep comfort of knowing that you are NEVER alone.

He is there when the sun peaks up, He is there in the rain
He is there times of laughter, He is there in the deepest pain.
He gives step by step instruction on the road to find the way,
He is there when heads are bowed in prayer and when the words aren’t there to say.
He is there when others approve with thunderous roars as they applaud
He is there when in the quiet, when its still and we know that He is God.
He is there when ties are broken with others as we go our separate ways
He is there when we don’t feel His presence, He is there when we raise our hands in praise
And in those moments when we feel angry with Him or when we think He doesn’t care,
He is right beside you…Jesus is always there.
For He has been with me on the mountain tops, and in the deepest valley low
I am sure that Jesus loves me and He will never, ever go. 

All throughout my life, the Holy Spirit has brought me incredible comfort, joy, strength, peace and great encouragement in times when I simply shouldn’t–by any logical reason have had any reason to have peace and comfort or strength. There have been many tears in my life–some from the painful choices others close to me have made that effected my life in a very painful way and some from consequences of my own choices, but because of Jesus, I have truly always had the strength to go on! There has been a deep, settling peace in my heart in the most unsettling of circumstances and trials because of His presence.

Before I met and married my amazing husband, he went through the horrific pain of losing his lovely late wife to a tragic accident and he had to be a single parent to special needs child for a season. But instead of choosing to be all alone in his pain and grief, he chose to lean into God’s presence and find comfort in the arms of Jesus. In God’s presence, He cried tears, shared his feelings and leaned into the pain of the loss of his wife. He walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and was deeply comforted and transformed by the love of Jesus which carried Him through. By the grace of God, he is now he is able to comfort many others as a result of the treasures he as gained in those painful, heart breaking times, and God has done such a deep work of healing in his heart because he chose to seek out Jesus and other Christians in those times.

I personally do not think of tragedy as a gift from God. I don’t celebrate when someone gets hurt or is treated unjustly,and I have a hard time believing that God would rejoice when His kids get hurt or when one of their friends die. That is not the heart of any good earthly father, and certainly not the heart of our Heavenly father! I believe that God allows things to happen (for reasons we may never know), but He is NOT the cause for the trauma or the trials. What I do know for sure is the gift of His presence as I’ve walked through those dark times, and the wisdom that has come as result of those painful trials. We can thank Him for His presence in those painful times, but I think it ok to be honest and tell God our deepest pain and sorrows. It is good to be honest and pour out your feelings that you maybe don’t have the strength to share with another human being…He understands more than anyone else ever could. There are others who have learned the secrets of His healing presence who will also have the love and compassion to walk with you through the dark times in your life if you’ll open your heart to them.

As much as I have known God in the pain, I have had the great joy of knowing Jesus in the most wonderful, joyful times! The blessing of family, the laughter with friends, the beauty of the sunset over the ocean, seeing little orphaned children laugh in third world countries…great joy with God! Perhaps the time in my life most rich with sharing joy with God was when I met my husband! It was as though the angels were singing the halleluia chorus and God was smiling right along with me as I was introduced to the man I had been praying for since I was an elementary school girl!!! On our wedding day, the presence of God was so strong and His blessing in our lives has truly been supernatural. The first time I met Steve’s son Isaiah (who is TOTALLY my boy now!!!), I fell in love with him! He ran to my lap, and before we told him anything about the direction of our relationship, he touched my face sweetly and said, “Ginger is my new mommy.” Talk about God’s smile! To hear those words from a little boy with autism was just a miracle! And the incredible love that Isaiah and I share, the bond we have and the attachment that he has for me as his “new mommy” is truly only a work of God for which I am forever grateful! The blessings of God are continuing to unfold as He is providing for us in the most incredible ways both personally and in ministry!  We are rich in heart and blessed to be serving the Lord in a full-time ministry capacity. We are watching the Lord bring many to Himself and filled with joy as we watch others choose to recognize God’s amazing love for them! What a joy to be walking with Jesus and celebrating His presence each day!!!

Whatever you may be going through today, know that you are not alone. God weeps with you. He is there to comfort, heal and give strength. He is there to rejoice with you and smile with you in the most incredible joys of life! He is GOOD and worthy of our adoration and worship…even when we don’t see evidence of Him being there, by faith we can take Him at His word and thank Him for being with there with you all the days of your life!

Some promises of God’s constant presence and love:

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you…” Joshua 1:5

” ‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8

“…And surely I am with  you always to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

Circumstances are temporary…in 5 years, you may have totally different circumstances than you do today. But one thing remains unchanged–God’s presence and His love for you!

Going a little deeper…Some questions to think about…
1. How have you seen God at work in your darkest times?2. Have you felt free to tell God your deepest pain? Why or why not?
3. Can you think of a time when you felt God’s smile in your life?
4. Have there been any scriptures that have been comforting to you in the hard times?

I’d love to hear your responses!

Peace and giggles,

Ginger

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