There’s Only One Word For This!

I had no words, so I asked the Holy Spirit how I should pray.

I have so many people on my heart for various reasons, and I’ve come to a loss for words when I pray for them.  As I asked for this wisdom I was reminded of the most powerful prayer we can pray.  I was reminded where it is that we find everything we need and where all that we long for is discovered.  One word came to my mind to offer on behalf of my friends – “Jesus”!  This is all the Spirit spoke to my heart, and He is more than enough.  This is where restoration not only begins but where it is complete.

A Broken Heart – JESUS!

A Broken Home – JESUS!

Financial Issues – JESUS!

In Sickness – JESUS!

In Loneliness – JESUS!

In Need Of Forgiveness – JESUS!

In The Valley Of The Shadow Of  Death – JESUS!

In The Valley Of Depression – JESUS!

I offered no other words, but as I spoke His name over each person that came to mind all the trials of this world suddenly became powerless.

Throughout my childhood and into the beginning years of my marriage, I struggled with the words “thank you” and “I love you”.  I was full of gratitude and loved deeply, but when words are rarely heard, they can feel like a foreign language rolling off your own tongue.  I remedied this problem by putting into practice a very simple solution, I started saying them.  As silly as it sounds now, it wasn’t easy for me to speak these words at first, but the more I did the easier they became.  Now I value every moment I have to sincerely express these emotions.

About six months ago I realized how rare it was for me to say the name of Jesus.  I talked about God and had no problem with referring to Jesus as Lord, but to say His name was more rare than common.  I sang gospel songs for years that used His name, but to actually speak the name of the One that I call friend did not come easily.  With my new awareness I had to ask myself , Why don’t I say His name?  Why is it so uncomfortable for me to do?

I don’t know that I have one good reason to give you in answer to my self-imposed questions, with the exception of my previous childhood example.  So, I drew from the lesson I learned with those most precious words of “thank you” and “I love you”, and I applied the same prescription to solve this newly discovered language barrier – I started saying His name.

Having my tongue tied up in knots and unable to breathe His name out loud, as I would with any of my other friends, kept me from so many blessings and freedoms.  When I say “blessings”, I’m not at all implying Jesus to be likened to a genie in a bottle, that when called on He gives us all the earthly toys we want.  No, He’s a much better father than that.  The sweetest blessings to me are seeing a prayer answered for a hurting friend, or witnessing a lost soul meet Jesus and come to know that they are worth far more than their social status or job title.  This freedom can only come one way, at the name of Jesus.

“For this reason, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

When we are a part of God’s family, it isn’t bondage that makes us bow our knees, but the joy of our freedom in Christ.  I get more and more excited as I think on this topic and discuss it with friends.  Will you allow me to elaborate on my thoughts for just a moment?

The scripture states that, “every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess…”  I don’t know about you, but I always read this scripture with the mindset that this is a futuristic happening.  My mind heard it as, “When Jesus returns at the end of time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.”  But that’s not what it says!  It says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – PERIOD.  This excites me because I realize that now, at this very moment, there are knees bowing as I speak His name.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  -Eph. 6:12

If we are wrestling here and now then we need now power.  What is our now power?  Jesus!

““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (Again, it’s in the now, not just somewhere in the future).”  -John 14:12-14

If we are going to do greater works than Jesus did, then we must recognize how that’s even possible.  How can I have faith to be victorious if I don’t know where faith begins?  Just think, when we speak His name, all that we are wrestling in the spiritual world must bow and submit to the authority of Christ.

Many have given me the humbling compliment of “You’re Strong.”  My strength is knowing that my strength is only because of Christ in me.  I am not “strong” by my own merit.  I’m lost without Him.  I’m too tired without Him.  I’m too broken by this world without Him.  But JESUS!!!  He is my energy to press on.  He is my wholeness.  In Him alone I am found!

My Peace – Jesus!

My Hope – Jesus!

My Joy – Jesus!

My Healing – Jesus!

My Ability To Forgive – Jesus!

My Ability To Trust – Jesus!

My Ability To Love – Jesus!

On The Mountaintop of success – JESUS!

Anything Good In Me – JESUS!

My Source Of Strength…

“Darkness knows its Lord and the prince of darkness is not its lord.” – Pastor Austin Cagle

JESUS!!!

They Bow Down.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

You Are Not Alone!

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2

Artist - John D. Austin

her illusion - by "HELIX"

Over the last few years I have had many people coming to me with relationship and marriage issues.  I will be the first to shout from a mountaintop that I am NO expert in this area.  I do have some experience with my own growth process in the fact that I was married for 9 1/2 years, and the only reason I’m not still married is because death did us part.  As people open their hearts to me, I hope and pray that it is God they seek because they see Him in me.

Most of the time I will freely offer my thoughts when someone asks me for my opinion.  I know in offering them, I am also open to hear some feedback that may disagree with what I’ve presented.  I’m ok with this.  It’s in these times of dialog that greater insight comes.  I use to tell Warren, “I may not agree with you right away but give me time to think about what you’ve said.  I promise you, I do think about it and search my heart to see if I’m wrong in my thinking.” This is still my commitment in any conversation.  Unless you are blatantly going against the word of God, or just wanting to argue for the sake of arguing, then I’m open to hear all you have to say.

Even while I was traveling in full-time ministry, being surrounded by thousands of people, and married, I still felt alone for so long.  As a Christian, false expectations are placed on us by others and by ourselves.  We do need to live by a higher standard because we represent the King, but we cannot forget that we all face the real human issues of life and are in battle with principalities and powers. (Ephesians 6:11-13)

For years, I internally struggled with my self-worth and felt I was letting God down, by not being smart enough or strong enough to do or be more.  Then I married Warren, and carried my insecurities right into our marriage and our ministry.  People don’t tell you that the first few years of marriage are more like throwing a bunch of ingredients, his and hers, into a blender and hitting the “chop” button.  The verse, “and the two shall become one flesh” takes on a whole new meaning!

Ministry can be so very lonely.  By natural instinct, we elevate people to a place they cannot begin to measure up to.  Once you add the competitive side to ministry on this elevated idealistic view, it’s hard to know who you can trust with your real life struggles.  I remember someone asking me, with almost complete disbelief, “You do your own laundry?” I smiled, as I told them that with all the traveling I do, there are still some things I like to do that make me feel normal…haha!  I explained, that I had to wash my own clothes so the bus could eat.  I had a good laugh with the person who asked the question, but it just confirmed once again that no matter how hard you try to be real with people, there will always be someone who will place you on a pedestal that you do not belong on.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” – Romans 12:3

Competition can run high in life on the road and in ministry life.  It’s sad.  There are many, who because of their own insecurities, do not want to see you succeed in your area of gifting, or calling.  We have to be very careful never to fall into the trap of this mindset.  We must constantly search the motive of our heart in our deeds and actions.  This goes for every area of our lives.  In the past, I have delayed responding to people until I could search my own heart before I shared my thoughts on a particular issue.

If we are professing faith in Christ, then we are held to a higher standard and should strive for it.  We are to be set a part and the world should be able to look on us for the truth we have living in us.  The only way we can live a life of truth before others is if we are living a life of truth within ourselves. If we hold a secret place within, we are always vulnerable for deceptive sway.  If we open the door internally to the deception by nurturing it in our thought life, it WILL eventually manifest itself in a physical or spiritual action.

So many of us fall for the lie that we are the only one who deals with these battles in our mind.  This is a deceptive spirit.  You are not alone in your struggle, and the people we admire, they too have to work at taking every thought and motive captive.  No one is exempt.

Some of my struggles, fears, and insecurities, came from what others spoke over me when I was very young.  I became a silent child for many years in hopes to keep peace around me.  I learned this lesson when I was about two years old.  From this point on, the enemy dumped lie after lie into my mind, building a structure of thought patterns that were far from the freedom and real Shannan that God originally created me to be.  BUT!  God in His great and gentle mercy was also calling to me.  As I surrendered to His call, step by precious step, and failure upon success upon failure…upon success, He continues to set me free from all the falsely interpreted thoughts and identities.

A lesson I’ve learned along this journey, is to never assume the person that crosses your path can relate, or cannot relate.  Try never to project an identity onto someone.  Take time to get to know their real life-story, and be a safe place for them to be able to take off the masks that others have placed on them.  Also, be gracious.  Never forget where God has brought you from and the battles He’s won for you to have freedom.  The other person may still be buried so deep that the light of truth has not reached their secret place yet.  If it has and they refuse to release the facade, pray and move on.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

If we work on our relationships across the board, with ourself and with others, we’re more likely to succeed in life.  God is relational – 3 in 1.  Try praying for a heart of compassion.  You may just be surprised at how much more full your heart can be.  We’re brothers and sisters in this race together.

The Perfect Mask

I recently encountered a situation where a friend decided to file for divorce after three kids and many wonderful years of marriage.  She explained her side of the story and why she, “has given up.”  The hard part for me was recognizing how the enemy had slowly deceived her and was playing her like a puppet.  Now here I am, faced with the risk of being shut out by a dear friend for sharing why I disagree with her decision.  Sometimes the greater risk is keeping silent.

All the years I spent on the platform as “the speaker of the group,” I did my best to be transparent and simply share from a heart of love.  I believe it to be a tragedy if we go through a hard time and come out victorious, yet do not share the lessons learned.  Because of that, I feel committed to share some personal struggles Warren and I faced.

Many of us who have lived a life on stage tend to hide behind the mask of other’s expectations that we have it all together all the time.  Over time we take this mask on as our identity.  We place ourselves and others under a tremendous amount of pressure to live up to an expectation no one can measure up to.  Truth is, we are all human and all fall short; it’s getting back up after a fall that makes the difference.  We need to learn to be real with our self and with others.  Learning to be honest and taking the mask off most likely will help us to avoid future wrongdoings.  We will become accountable to others and hopefully begin to think twice before we act.

For a long time I could not respect Warren as the head and authority over our home.  I perceived that he did not understand the deep spiritual side of following Christ.  I had been brought up with the mindset that those of other denominations were somehow second rate because they were not vocal about “The Gift” of the Holy Spirit.  I was so blinded by my own denominational bubble that I often failed to see the strengths others possessed in their God given gifts.  I underestimated Warren, and in doing so, I drove a wedge between us.

I was the one who was wrong.  I had become self-righteous and blinded by my own understanding.  I failed to trust God’s ability to give Warren the wisdom and knowledge he needed to take care of us.  It seemed like all he cared about was the music and work of the ministry, rather than the things of the Spirit.  In truth, he was praying and seeking God on our behalf.  He loved me when I didn’t think he even saw me.  He loved me when I was very difficult to love.

Our marriage almost didn’t make it through the first few years.  THANK GOD I learned to respect my husband and learned how to pray differently over the situation.  I began to pray for God to change my heart and show me truth.  The truth soon became apparent to me.  If the enemy could tear our marriage apart, he could also defeat our ministry; our testimony given from the platform of our lives regarding Christ would be void to many.

Warren certainly had his own fault in our issues, but I chose to lay my knowledge aside.  I asked God to show me the areas where I was wrong and then help me to see Warren for the godly man he was.  What a beautiful difference!  Here’s the wonderful thing:  Warren then began to talk and walk with a new boldness and confidence in God.  Could it be that he had always been that way?  I may have been too blind to see it had I not prayed for God to change me.

When a man knows he is not respected by his wife, he closes off emotionally – godly and ungodly alike..  He internally wonders why he’s not enough.  It’s in the very make-up of a man just like we, as women need to know they find us beautiful and we are safe with them.

“(…If a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.  Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” -1 Tim. 3:5-7

Who we are in public is who we should be in private.  If these two do not align together, we must search our heart as to why then make the proper adjustments.  This applies both in the physical and in the mind of our private life.  Choose to live what you say.  In John C. Maxwell’s book, ‘The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader,’ Arthur Gordon acknowledges, “Nothing is easier than saying words.  Nothing is harder than living them day after day.”  Only you can choose who you are.

If we wear the masks of perfection, we not only deceive others but we deceive ourselves.  We are not walking around in faith but in pride.  If you play with a thought long enough, you will eventually live it outwardly.  Most affairs start in the mind.  If the thoughts are not taken captive by saying “NO!” to them, they will work their way to the heart, then be acted out in the physical.  This goes for any thought, not just a marital affair.  Thoughts come into our minds and if not carefully discerned can cause great damage to many.

“He must not be that close to the Lord because I don’t hear him pray like I do.”

“She wears too much make-up and jewelry so she must have a vanity issue.”

“He did this… She did that…”

We must seek God’s wisdom!  What we think is discernment could be nothing more than our own judgmental pride!

Are you willing to humble yourself before God and allow Him to show you the difference in judgment and discernment?  This humility is the first step on the path to discerning.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” ~Psalm 139:23-24

What’s really sad is that much of our “spiritual discernment” has led to all-out war.  Look at the wars in the Middle East.  How about the bombs going off in Ireland over the argument between the Catholic and the Protestant?  Warren was born and raised in Ireland until he was 10 years old.  He was the first to admit people didn’t even know what they were fighting over anymore.  It’s simply pride that keeps it all going.  Both sides refuse to admit they’re wrong and lay down the sword.  We, myself included, have a tendency to read the Bible and point fingers at everyone else, but fail to deal with the speck in our own eye.  This reminds me of a spoof song that went around a few years back, “If There’s Hair In Your Ears, There’s Sin In Your Heart.”  It’s a funny little ditty, but true to how we really judge each other.

I feel extremely blessed that God opened my eyes to my pride.  I thank God often that I was able to stand over Warren’s grave with no other regrets than not having more time with him.  I am fully aware I have more junk to uncover and this process requires continual growth.  I have not arrived.  Actually, I realize the more I learn the less I know.

If I am writing to someone who’s thinking of walking out on a marriage, let me encourage you to take each thought captive.  Ask God out loud, “Is this a truthful thought?”  Then ask Him to silence the voice of the enemy and only allow His absolute truth to fill your mind and your heart.  I pray this prayer on a daily basis, “Father, Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.  Help me not to fall.”  If you truly love God and others, decide to get real with yourself today.  A life of secrecy will lead to an act you’ll regret.  Also, please consider going to counseling.  If there are children involved, they need to be included in parts of the counseling.  Divorce is never just about two people.  The legacy you leave to your children and grandchildren will pay a high price for this broken covenant.

I do want to mention, that after talking with my friend again she has kept in contact with me.  Our fears of loss and separation cannot be the foundation on which we make our decisions.  I had to ask myself the questions, What’s the greater risk?  Do I risk sharing my perception and possibly seeing my friend’s marriage saved, or do I stay out of her business and risk witnessing a family shattered?  I did my best to place myself in her situation and think about what I might want; then I chose to share my thoughts with her.  Of course, these decisions need to be made through prayer and with a pure heart.

It was others sharing their struggles that helped open my eyes to my own faults, and for this I am forever grateful.  Warren and I had a lot of lessons to learn and would still be learning today if he were here, but I thank God we had 9 1/2 wonderful years together as a solid team.  Just the other day I was reminded of our great adventure as a husband and wife as I flipped through old photos.  I do believe he loved me more than I ever realized.

Thank You God for turning the mirror on myself to reveal my own selfish pride and for giving me the courage to face it.  Thank You for setting me free from these chains.  Continue to change my heart to beat in-sync with Yours; place in it a passion for the life You have for me.

Shannan Parker

‘The Perfect Mask’ -Nov. 01 ‘2009

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