Pruning the Fruitful

Since I was a little girl, Gardenias have had a special place in my heart.

One of my neighbors used to have a bush by the road, and sometimes at night, I would walk down and pick a couple.  I blame this compulsive behavior on my mother, because I remember as a little girl, seeing her constantly sneak blooms off of Gardenia plants no matter where she saw them.  Her obsession was so bad, she would even have my dad stop the car for her sometimes…so she could run out and grab a fragrant bloom.    I can still see her long fingers holding it as though it was a treasure. I remember watching her bury her nose in the blossom and how it would make her smile.

My Maw Maw, my dad’s mother, had huge Gardenia bush by her front door she’d grown from a cutting she’d taken off a shrub in Florida.  Her and my Paw Paw loved to drive down south to visit relatives there.  It had enormous blooms, and the fragrance was intoxicating.  Oh how she babied that evergreen, as her prized possession, and would cover it if there was any chance of a frost.  My Maw Maw has gone onto be with the Lord, but, before she did, I took a cutting from her bush, rooted it, and ended up planting it right beside my front door too.  It is close to 6′ tall now.

One time in a meeting, a man came up to me and said he had a word for me.  In the word, he told me God called me a flower, and he was listening for the specific flower, and then he said…you are  His “Gardenia Girl.”  That was one of those kinds of words that was so incredibly specific, and precious, you knew it was God;  it was rooted deeply in my identity.   He described me like the flowers, tender, fragrant blooms that would bruise easily, so I must be handled with care.  Since I studied horticulture, one thing I do know about Gardenia bushes though, is in the right semi tropical environment, they are a hardy ever green plant.

When I first began to paint for the Lord, He encouraged me through that same rooted gardenia bush right outside the window where I would paint.  I know that sounds weird…but He did.  He talked to me about the buds that were forming.  The first day I painted He told me to look out the window, and it was covered with opened blooms.  And my gardenia bush that year had more than a normal amount of blooms.  I was fascinated with them…and would weep as I photographed them after the rain, when they were heavy with drops…or when they were drooping because they needed rain.  God was ministering to me through them.

This year, I was out of town a couple of weeks, during the winter, and we had a heavy freeze.  I realized in the spring, I had lost a lot of my bush.  I kept waiting for in the spring for the blooms to come, but late in the season, I only found one deformed bloom, when usually the bush would be covered.   I was doing some yard work, when I found it, and I saw that it would need a good cutting back for it to look good and bloom next year.

Before I left to minister recently, I cut off some of the more straggly branches, but had the thought, it is so bad, I need to get out the hedger and really take it down low.   It is scary to just chop on something that you have babied for so many years, especially if it has sentimental value.

As I was gathering up the couple of cuttings, I had the thought.  I am going to root these and make some more bushes.  I mean, that is how I got this bush to start with.  It was such a powerful feeling, the thought of ALL the blooms I would have to enjoy.  One of my favorite things I studied in horticulture, was the ways of propagation; not just seeds, but tubers, bulbs, grafting, tissue culturing…etc.  So, amazing how God created everything to reproduce.  So, I put these cuttings in a vase with some ivy vines, and forgot about them, when I got home, I had the thought to change the water, and low and behold, there were already roots on them!  I was so excited, gasped, and then God spoke:

“This is what is next.  It is time to reproduce.”

In 1996 or so, I saw an art school in my quiet time.  I walked through it, and drew it.  The next day, I went to church and a visiting evangelist said, some of you are having visions and you have even drawn it.  I was like…wow!!!  Then he said.  “And God wants you to know it is going to happen.  That was almost 20 yrs ago.

I thought it was interesting, because I also got this word from a sister, before I left to minister, before I saw the roots on the cuttings:

“I hear ‘change of venue’, new creativity full of lavished love from the Father’s heart. A new room opened up to you: this room with white clothed tables full of beautiful colored jewels and different creative mediums for you to take and enjoy. No limit to the creative beauty. There’s such a refreshing breeze blowing through, that the white cloths on the tables are gently fluttering in the breeze”

And just the other day, I had a vision. I saw a fisherman in a river, and then I was looking from His view, and under the water were all these butterflies.  At the meeting where I had ministered, Jason Upton talked about learning to breathe under water, because God is like an all consuming ocean.  Since I have been ministering, I often see people with butterfly wings on in the spirit and that is how I know they are artists.  I think the vision was more confirmation that it is time to start a river, like the evangelist, (or fisherman) told me…and reproduce.

It says in the word, that God prunes the unfruitful, but He also prunes the fruitful…to make them even more fruitful.  I started to realize, that maybe He even uses those clippings…and roots them…to make even more new fruitful plants.

Praying now to know where and how He wants me to do this…
I have been looking at a location for some time.  So, just waiting for a door to open…
I know My Jesus will open the door for me and provide all I need.
He is a gentleman, so He likes to pay for everything, and open doors for his Bride,
…that is how I will know it is Him.

 

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Forgiveness, Time, Distance

Forgiveness should be given to everyone…time with you, to people who are truly repentant…and distance should be made between you and those people who are not.

I believe in forgiveness. Yes, I believe we’re called to forgive one another, but there has to be a balance. Jesus wants us to be a strong people, with good common sense, a healthy people who love themselves enough to protect their souls and teach others right from wrong, not enable them to sin against others.

So, when somebody, especially someone who calls themselves a Christian, does not love you and continues to hurt you…sure…you can forgive them, but then you can also sever all ties…and remove them from your life.

It’s ok to get as far away from them as you can…and protect yourself. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian it makes you wise. We don’t have to be martyrs in our personal relationships, that’s not healthy…

Jesus didn’t hang out with the devil…because he was his enemy…

David hid from Saul because Saul was trying to kill him. Sure, David still loved Saul, and he forgave him, but he also had wisdom…and protected himself.

There is such a thing as a martyr complex…or a victim mentality, and it causes people to stay in unhealthy abusive relationships and churches. It is not God, and it does not glorify Him. A lot of times it is done to avoid taking responsibility for your own life, or to glorify yourself, to prove how spiritual you are…but trust me, it does not, it is actually codependent, masochist and sick…and makes you look like a fool.

You can lay down your life as a missionary, because God told you to…and preach to people that will kill you, beat you, mock you or imprison you…that is not what I am talking about. You can choose to be around unbelievers that do not love you and reject you for the sake of the gospel…in order to win them to the Lord…again…not what I am referring to.

I am talking about people in the church staying in unhealthy situations with other believers, who are abusing them…and saying it is God. It is NOT God. Sometimes love must be tough, and you will have to take responsibility, and change so that the other people will learn and change.

Boundaries are of God. Expecting those you are in a personal relationship with to treat you in a way that is good and healthy, loving and honoring, respectful and courteous…is RIGHT…and it WILL glorify God!

Unsafe People

Do you find you pick friends that end up hurting you? People you think will be safe because they say they are Christians, but turn up acting like the devil…lol?

We have a responsibility to guard our hearts and use wisdom in selecting friends. Here’s a list of traits to look for to help you avoid unsafe people.
(List 1-11 from “Unsafe People” by Cloud & Townsend, Christian counselors. The rest are ones I learned the hard way  )

1. Unsafe people think they “have it all together” instead of admitting their weaknesses.
2. Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual.
3. Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback.
4. Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble.
5. Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behavior.
6. Unsafe people avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them.
7. Unsafe people demand trust, instead of earning it.
8. Unsafe people believe they are perfect instead of admitting their faults.
9. Unsafe people blame others instead of taking responsibility.
10. Unsafe people lie instead of telling the truth.
11. Unsafe people are stagnant instead of growing.
12. Unsafe people are insecure and do not know who they are in Christ, so they compare themselves with others and compete with them.
13. Unsafe people are not teachable.
14. Unsafe people are quick to be critical and judgemental of others, but blind to their own faults.
15. Unsafe people will try to weaken you spiritually by encouraging you to sin or tempt you to step outside of your personal convictions.
16. Unsafe people think they are right all the time.
17. Unsafe people have a hard time encouraging others.
18. Unsafe people are full of guile. They are crafty, have a plan and are always working that plan.
19. Unsafe people care more about their image and looking good than their character actually being good.
20. Unsafe people live double lives, acting one way with some people and a different way with others, and because of that they have a hard time being transparent with anyone. They will say they are “private” but what they mean is they can’t be honest or truthful because they are deceiving people.
21. Unsafe people justify themselves, instead of humbling themselves. They are haughty and proud.
22. Unsafe people like to dominate others, or posture themselves over them. Lording over instead of serving out of a pure heart of love. That way they can control them and use them as pawns to help accomplish their selfishly ambitious goals. They don’t care who they hurt along the way.

Are there any unsafe traits you would add to this list?

Give ME a Drink

A while ago, the Lord spoke to me about the women at the well.  I wrote about it here.
http://www.christinecouncil.com/loves-sacrifice.html

But this was the essence of it:  You have looked to men to try and satisfy your thirst, but IF you just drink from ME, you will not thirst again.  You are hungry, but your food is to do the will of the Father.  If you take this sparkling coat, and choose to be my Bride, wear it for me daughter, I will put living waters inside of you that will heal many and I will use you for my glory.  Don’t be disappointed, trust me.

In December, I was setting up the night before I was to minister, and on the way home, God began speaking to me again about the woman at the well.  He was saying that the reason He asked HER for a drink when He met her, was because she had always been a taker.  He said, after she met Him, she became a giver.  I knew that word was for me.

The next day before I spoke, a friend came and wanted to introduce me.  He is a prophet.  He said he had a word from God for me.  He told everyone that I had suffered so much in my life, I had dug a well in the Lord.  He said but God had also dug a well in me.  He said that he saw my mouth wide open, God was pouring Himself in me and out of my belly was flowing living waters.  He said, many just go…but others are sent from God.  He said I was a true “sent one.”  I wept.  He did not know what God had said to me the night before.

I just got back from a trip to Bethel, in Redding.  When I was there, I noticed, many of the people I spoke to were being touched by the Holy Spirit.  Some of them were physically reacting, others were crying.  It was visible.  I on the other hand, was not really feeling anything.  It made me curious, so I asked God…what was going on.  I was worried…  He said, “remember, I made you into a giver now…you are no longer a taker.”  Wow…

He is so good how He confirms things to us.  I am excited about all the drinks I will be giving.  I want Him to pour Himself into and out of me!!!  I pray He uses me to heal, set free, deliver and save many by His Spirit and for His glory!  In Jesus’ Name!!!

Be nice, until it is time to NOT be nice.

Love confronts, and changes things, fear runs away and enables.

Boundaries are healthy and they are godly. Running and hiding from conflict, will get you no where, but running full speed, head first into it will set you free.

Conflict happens. People will push you, and yes…take a mile when you intended to just give them an inch…but…only…if you let them.

You need to figure out how far is too far, because it’s important to know exactly where your boundaries are and at what point is someone is making you uncomfortable or stepping over the line. There is a thin line between being nice and letting someone take advantage of you, so you need to get to know exactly where this line is, so you can know when you need to deal with it.

By always being nice, we actually do others a disservice. When we fail to establish the necessary boundaries in our life that are essential to happiness and success, and if we always turn the other cheek, we actually enable the abusive. Trust me, someone will always be willing to hit you, if you are always willing to let them, some people just prey on people like that.  The most healthy way to handle things, is to establish that it’s not ok for anyone to hit you in the first place…because they know you have self worth, and will not tolerate it.

There are big consequences for not establishing boundaries in life. Letting people take advantage of you costs you; it erodes away your sense of worth and identity. When someone does something to you that you aren’t okay with, but you are still nice to them and don’t deal with the problem, it will eat away at your self esteem and confidence. When you learn to put your foot down and become vocal about your limits, it can be invigorating. You will gain a sense of self worth that is only achieved by standing up for yourself.

When someone crosses one of my boundaries, I have no obligation to be nice anymore, I actually have an obligation to take action. I need to do what needs to be done to preserve my peace and personal identity. This does not make me mean, it makes me healthy.

But remember NOT “being nice” doesn’t mean you HAVE to be mean. Often times a strong tone of voice, or a simple “no” will accomplish your goal of establishing a boundary with someone. Very rarely will you have to be rude to get your point across that you won’t tolerate someone’s abusive behavior, or a lack of regard for your wishes. Learn the power of “no;” it is often the simplest way to establish a healthy boundary in any given situation.

A great example is an effective parent disciplining their child; they are not mean, but they are stern in establishing limits, and this helps the child become a better person. Disciplined children are a joy to be around, and it creates a peaceful environment for the whole family. Limits are extremely important to living a happy life for all parties involved in any situation.

Yes, it’s possible to be nice and still not let anyone take advantage of you; this is the balance you want to achieve. Know your self worth, that you have rights too, and don’t let anyone take them away from you.

People often mistake kindness for weakness, let’s show them just how wrong they are. Meekness is actually strength under control.

Love confronts, and changes things, fear runs away and enables.

Embrace Your Small Beginnings

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, Zechariah 4:10a

Don’t despise the days of small beginnings because that is exactly what makes you into who you will be, and leads you step by step into your destiny.  When God saves you, He has a purpose for you, and you can trust Him, that those plans are good!.

Remember, David had a slingshot. What if he had always wished he had big sword, or the King’s armor? What if he had hated his slingshot instead of embracing what God had put in his hands?   He would not have learned to kill lions or bears and eventually the giant!

What if David had complained or grumbled about being a shepherd, instead of loving those sheep, and protecting them?   When that was the very training ground God used to teach him how to be a King and watch over God’s chosen people?

What if David had resented tending those sheep all alone at night?  When that was the very place where he sang to God, and played his harp under the stars.  Just think, it led to all those psalms and prophetic songs we now enjoy!  And it was anointed too…because it would sooth the savage beast in Saul!

What if he had never been so dishonored by family?  See, honor was important to him… because as a young boy he never had it.   If he had not known dishonor, he would not have hated it.  Hated it so much so, that he would confront a giant, and then kill him because he was dishonoring his God!!  Yes, see, when no one else would stand up for God’s honor, this young boy did!

Don’t despise where you are…you are going somewhere.
I say, learn to embrace it!   Let it shape you and mold you.
Squeeze every drop of oil or wine you can get out of it.
How can we be doubtful about our future?
When it ALL has purpose, and God will use it all for good.
Trust me, He will not waste a bit of it.

Small beginnings are good beginnings!

New Wine Skin

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God really wants to do a new thing…if we would just let Him. New wine, needs new skins. You can’t FIX an old skin…it has to be discarded. Lord, have YOUR way, and help us to be okay with it. Help us to find our way and place…rest in it…and not try to force anything…or hold onto the old. Just because you are not “who” you used to be in ministry does not mean you are no longer useful. You just need to accept the new place He has you and be content in it. There is a season for everything. A butterfly can never be a caterpillar again…it has died to that old place. If God has a new purpose or a place for you, He will put you there. No amount of performing, striving or trying will help. It is works, and it is sin…repent, trust and rest.

So many want to BE someone that God never ever called them to be. Or they WERE something in the past but that season is over. I am talking about a complete DYING type thing and trusting God to resurrect. Dying is dying, it is not more DOING….
It is not striving…It is just a BEING thing. Dead things don’t do anything.

If God has not opened a door for you then stop trying to open doors for yourself. Stop trying to be good enough, or copy other people. People see others with favor and they try to mimic them…it is NOT GOD. David refused Saul’s armor…because WAS not HIM. So many are tempted to try and BE like another because they want what they have. David never did that. He said, I have my slingshot, that is all I need. David was authentic, and he HONORED God by WAITING on HIM to make him King. He was anointed LONG before he took the throne.