Communing with One Who Listens and Responds

Video

As a child growing up in East Harlem, New York, during the mid-sixties, there was much to pray about—heroin addiction, domestic violence, racial tension, poverty and more. But, I didn’t know the Lord then. I grew up as a Catholic, occasionally visiting mass on Sundays and memorizing the Lord ’s Prayer. And so, that’s what I did. I religiously prayed the Lord ’s Prayer every night, for many, many years–believing that God was listening even though I never heard an audible voice.

One night, frightened by the day’s events of violence, I cried out to God in prayer for safety. That night, I dreamt I was in church and I told God, “I want to be where you are!” I was desperate to leave my current life. I began to rise toward the ceiling of the church believing that God was answering my prayer to take me. But, instead, I heard God say, “It is not time yet.” So, I slowly drifted back down to the floor of the church. At best, I woke up knowing that God had been listening.

Over the years, I viewed God as my silent partner. Never quite understanding why I couldn’t hear him or why he wasn’t answering. It wasn’t until years later that I realized I had to accept his finished work on the cross and receive His gift of salvation before my eyes and heart would be open enough to recognize and hear his voice. It’s been a long journey and I still lean in to hear him.

Ministering in the dance during Manhatttan Grace Tabernacle's Sunday worship service in the park

Ministering in the dance during Manhatttan Grace Tabernacle’s Sunday worship service in the park

Hearts Ablaze

The video link at the end of this article, is of a ministry called Hearts Ablaze, where many women and sometimes men gather for a time of intense, intimate prayer to God. In doing so, many are being set free –emotionally, physically and spiritually.

My own experience with this ministry was when I was struggling with knowing whether or not I had forgiven someone from past hurts. The woman of God, Joy Payne, founder of Hearts Ablaze, led us to the altar to pray. She asked us to release any bitterness or forgiveness in our heart to God. I wanted my heart and my conscious clear, so, I went up to pray.

During the prayer time, I said, “God, I forgive the best way I know how. But, how can I know for sure I have forgiven in my heart?” After a few moments, I felt what I can only describe as Velcro being removed from my heart. Something lifted off of my heart. I heard “You are forgiven.” You see, in the Bible (Mathew 6:15), we are only forgiven, when we have truly forgiven someone else. So, God assured me of the position of my heart in this matter. I cried and felt nothing but pure joy! I was truly elated!

Enjoy the video and hear what others are saying about the power of prayer through this ministry and know that whatever situation you are facing – God is listening and responding to your prayers as you commune with Him.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qil0iqoskbgu9g7/Hearts%20Ablaze%20Ministry.mp4?oref=e&n=69948112

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“For a changing time, I need a changing people”

“For a changing time, I need a changing people.”

This was a message I received while worshiping the Lord recently.

Change in Hebrew means to overturn; turnaround; turn back and overthrow.

In Greek, it means to repent and to change the inner man.

That same day on my way to work, I saw an ad on a truck that struck my attention. It read: Imagine what the right light in the right place can do.

Sun burst in New York City. Photo: J. Santiago

Sun burst in New York City. Photo: J. Santiago

LUKE 11:34-36

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

As Christians, we are light carriers and should walk as light givers to enlighten others spiritually and imbue them with saving knowledge. But, if we ourselves are not lit with the light of Christ then what good are we to others?

How do we become a ‘changing people for a changing time?’ What do we have to overturn or overthrow within ourselves to operate with the light of Christ that dwells within us?

Know your ways and motives; but also review daily your sense of heart perspective and how you see things, how you see people, and how you see or judge situations. Because what you see affects your mind, heart, will, thoughts and actions.

Perspective is a powerful thing – it can be constructive or destructive.  It can influence what we know as truth, or it can distort what we perceive as truth. Our misperceptions are often the cause of schisms in the body.

In the natural: Our vision begins when light rays are reflected off an object and enters the eyes through the cornea, the transparent outer covering of the eye. The cornea bends or deflects the rays that pass through the pupil. The iris, or colored portion of the eye that surrounds the pupil, opens and closes making the pupil bigger or smaller to regulate the amount of light passing through the eyes..

In the spiritual and like manner, our viewpoints of one another or situations we perceive with our natural eye, provide or feed that information into our soul and belief structures causing us to regulate the amount of truth we take in (which can be the light of truth) or we can take in misconceptions of truth (which is false light and where strongholds are built).

Now, If we act out on a misconception seeing through the eyes of flesh versus’ God’s eyes, we overstep our boundaries and can hurt the body. Why? Because you went on with your thoughts, your flesh and did not wait to first hand it over to God for his input before addressing the situation to see what He says about the matter.

And, thus we become what we behold. For example, if you believe or judge someone in a negative way then negativity has entered your light. We take in and become what we see to be true (even if sometimes it’s not). For years, you can be a Christian and be full of low self-esteem and believe that reality. But, that’s is not who we are called to be.

Therefore, when your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light.

Do not allow the eyes of flesh to distort God’s truth about a matter or God’s work in matter. Who are we to judge?

Mathew 5:16: Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Not Without Hope

A few years ago, I had the privilege to meet some amazing women in Armenia who were survivors of trafficking and who endured some hard experiences.   Here is a video I worked on following that trip which speaks about one special one survivor but also captures the essence of their cry to be seen in plain sight.

Human trafficking is a $32 million per year industry. Today, $27 million people are in modern-day slavery around the world and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year – 50 percent are children, 80 percent are women and girls.

 

Unchartered Waters: The Reality of Faith

Our unchartered water experiences underscore the presence and reality of our faith.

First let’s read Mathew 14:22-32 when Jesus walks on the water and Peter’s faith is tested:

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”29 “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

In these verses, Peter, in a quick moment is like a young boy in the country jumping from rock to rock to rock over a rolling river in an effort to get to the other side.  Here, Peter dives in boldly from a faith position onto an unchartered path, but takes his last leap onto doubt. What happened?

We become what we behold.

Peter, being summoned by Jesus to ‘come’ is drawn by his faith in response to the one he loves. And, in doing so, the miraculous happened—Peter walks on water!

But, he also loses focus.  The scriptures read: “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid. Since when do we see wind? What was it in the wind that frightened Peter so?

I believe Peter arrived at a place within himself where he recognized the enormity of his faith leap into unchartered waters.  He experienced the miraculous and endless possibility that he could have with Jesus—and that my friend, probably scared him silly.  The power of our potential resides with Jesus.  And, it’s this power that often frightens us.

Imagine yourself walking on water – the real possibility of it. Frightening? Yes. It’s trust without borders and a faith reality—our true potential in Jesus.

Enjoy this beautiful song and prayerfully consider where Jesus may be taking your feet:

When Faith Fails

Perspective is a powerful thing.  It can influence and even ingrain what we know as truth, or it can distort what we perceive as truth. Does that make sense?

Faith in itself cannot fail, but our perspective can cause faith within ourselves to remain dormant.

Capture

When John the Baptist (Mathew 11: 2-5) was imprisoned and sent word through his disciples to inquire of Jesus on whether He was the one whom they had all expected to come, John displayed a moment of lost faith.

Was it his imprisonment that distorted his view of Jesus?

John may have never expected to end up in prison, especially not after prophesying in the wilderness all of those years about the coming Messiah, and encouraging those around him to ‘prepare ye the way for the coming of the Lord.”  John doubted. His faith failed him for a moment, until Jesus sends back a response – with a different perspective:

“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

Was the kingdom of God that John preached in the wilderness different from Jesus’ response—the manifestation of the kingdom? Perhaps.

The bible is clear in its saying “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

In order for faith to succeed and be active in our life, we have to set aside our views and expectations of outcomes and trust God’s sovereign will for our lives, no matter what the circumstances dictate. Our current views are only a part of the picture and not the whole story of God’s will for our lives.

Faith in Motion

As I continue to uncover faith in the next few posts, one thing I realized is that while faith is unseen, we can perceive it and recognize it at work.  We can perceive its movement in various life settings and recognize its deep work in our life’s journey.

So, enjoy the following images, some of which were taken from my previous travels, and see the various types of faith in motion through pictures! And know, that when you feel like “O ye, of little faith” that we all carry a measure of faith that streams through us in layers and dimensions of God’s grace.

Child-like faith

1.-Child-like-faith

Persevering faith

2.-Persevering-faith

Nurturing faith

3.Nuturing-faith

Fountains of faith

4.-Fountains-of-faith

Waiting faith

5.-Waiting-faith

Reachable faith

6. Reachable faith

Filling faith

7.-Filling-faith

Joyful faith

8.-Joyful-faith

Wonders of faith

9.-Wonders-of-faith

Questionable faith

10.Questionable-faith

Carrying faith

12.-Carrying-faithFriendship faith

13.Friendship-faith

Working faith

14. Working-faith

Avenues of faith

15.Avenues of faith

Beauty of faith

16.Beauty of faith

Unseen Faith

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
— Hebrews 11:1

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From one of his sermons on faith, John Wesley stated: “But what is faith? It is a divine “evidence and conviction of things not seen;” of things which are not seen now, whether they are visible or invisible in their own nature. Particularly, it is a divine evidence and conviction of God, and of the things of God.”

By far, this is the most comprehensible description of faith I have read to date. But, when you are facing a trial, a sickness, a financial or personal loss, what comfort does this description bring?

We live in a “got to have it now” world; a world of quick fixes, fast solutions and real, tangible answers. However, faith fits in none of these worldly categories. It’s slow, it’s very patient, and it’s never rushed. It will never respond to our fears or selfish desires.

Our desire for a quick resolution to our problem or a quick end to our sickness is often driven by fear of the unknown, our fate and our flesh requiring the comfort it so desperately longs for; all normal responses and quite understandable, especially when you are not physically well.

So, how do we believe for our healing if it’s not visible?

1 Corinthians 13:12 states, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

We can look in the mirror and see the physical manifestation of a sickness or see the pain and trauma we experienced as a child – and that can bring you down to its level. But, you can also choose to see the divine creature that God created, although not perfected, uniquely formed and made in His image. We can declare our healing as we journey to wellness.

In one biblical account, a woman with an issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34), came into real faith after having spent all she had on many physicians to heal her condition. But, her condition actually grew worse. Arriving at the end of her rope was this woman’s journey to Jesus and where her faith was formed. I know. I’ve been there.

You do all you can in the natural to obtain relief for your condition, but doctor after doctor, medication after medication, herbal supplements, and more, sometimes brings you back to square one with no where else to turn.

Perhaps, it was divinely purposed for this woman to have spent all she had, because God had to be glorified in her midst. God, had to show her something higher above her circumstances.

Faith is seeing, believing and having the confidence in what we hope for, not when something becomes visible. It is what God says about you and not what society, your own thoughts or even sickness may dictate. Faith, always unseen, must be a journey beyond our physical senses. Believe in what has not manifested yet and let faith arise through your journey to healing. It’s not the end result as much as it is the road you journey in getting there. It’s a matter of unseen faith.