Friday, December 13, 2013

Adventures From Lack to Abundance

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

"...Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
~ James 4:7-8 ~


Rarely wanting to be home, even as a young girl - she continually longed to 'drift' away into another adventure.  This young girl, filled with romantic, starry dreams longed to embark on new exploits to meet  people she had not yet met along the way.

Along the journey of many irresponsible adventures - she met her beloved husband - a great man - but more of a 'loner' - a free spirit in a '180 degree' way.   Although a wanderer, a nomad of sorts - he was okay with just a few in his life. Nothing against people - but he just loved to be with those he closely invested in.  In 2000, when this couple had their beautiful baby girl, the 'free spirit' that moved this young woman to meet new people in this journey called life - the reality of someone else being dependent on them scared her at first.  As a few years went by, this novice of responsibility, schedule and structure began to realize that her daughter was 'wired' for what she lacked. 

What this mother lacked in understanding; this undiscovered love that gushed forth over her daughter far exceeded what was foreign to her.  That love for her daughter began to supersede her love for adventures.

This woman I speak of is none other than me.

I visit this memory of who I use to be to reveal my gratefulness for what God has allowed me to become and still becoming. As I draw near to Him, He by default draws near to me, because He has been there all along - waiting - watching - anticipating my return.

I've learned on this new venture in life in Him that I determine how close I get to be to The Adventurer of all adventurers.  As I gave Him my everything -which was nothing but lack - He with hilarious gladness made an exchange that no economist would ever even think about - let alone do.

The triumphant victorious reminder today overwhelms me with great joy to think that the true adventures of my life were marked on God's Divine Calendar - March 6, 2003.  That memorable day broke open the capsule of a decade of prayers that were declared by my parents, my sister's and many other people who faithfully prayed for me - were answered.  But it didn't just change my life - but the lives of the generations to come!

That moment, the cataclysmic moment,  when I finally took His extended hand of love and began the journey of Salvation with and through Jesus Christ, discovering the Holy Spirit Who still 'til this day leaves me standing in awe of God's abundance that He desires for each of us to live out with and in Him.

Let Him overwhelm you - He's been ready all along - His love for you is not about you - it is about Him; for He is Love.  Let Him swallow you up in an embrace like no other!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lesson of Repentance

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell
(Written January 18, 2012 - repost)

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
~ Romans 2:4 ~

Slipping back into time, it was 1988; my eighth grade year. My parents experienced grueling frustration as they were continuously receiving reports from my teachers of me carrying on in class, not taking my classes seriously and consistently getting into trouble for being one of the 'class clowns'.

In hind sight, as a parent myself, the acting out wasn't their greatest frustration; it was my overall attitude of not caring, which to say the least, my grades mercilessly reflected.

Meanwhile, during this time, I still remember my wonderful dad. I shake my head in awe as my dad continuously believed in me. He would even say in the darkest times of my life, "Teresa, God has a great plan for you." I can still remember being in the awkward 'skin' of a young teenage girl; it was one of those situations where I sadly could not receive his words because of the inner turmoil stirred by insecurity and unworthiness stemmed from not knowing the value from within. The concerns of what the outsiders thought was more important to me than the ones who loved me the most.

Reminiscing this particular moment my eighth grade year is in regards to my dad (Including my mom and sisters) who never gave up. Although there were times he was justifiably on the brink of seeing no hope in sight, I can still remember that moment in eighth grade as though it were this very moment.

I remember it like this:
Dad set his schedule aside and asked me to come down to the light and airy family room. He brought two chairs and placed them in the middle of the 'love-filled' room adjacent to the red brick fireplace. He had me take my seat as he walked away for a moment into another room. When dad came back, he was holding a medium sized cardboard box with certificate frames inside. He had my full attention as I wondered, "What is he doing?"

Curiosity detained me in the midst of my dad's quiet demeanor. He sat down and now we were practically knee to knee. He looked at me with his soft hazel eyes, framed by his glasses and began to speak life into me. I remember how he began to one by one, show and tell me of his accomplishments backed up by the certificates in his possession. One of his accomplishments that I still remember so vividly was the one in which he graduated number one in his class for morse code in the ARMY. For a moment I was captivated by this untapped perseverance, integrity and tenacity that I had not yet chosen to experience for myself. Looking back, I am still in awe of my dad who chose to possess these attributes even after the setbacks of his own choices and did not allow his original choice of becoming a high school drop out stop him from pursuing the greatness that God placed within him. Dad revealed in his story as he patiently spoke to me how in one moment I could make a choice to turn it all around for good. He was showing me the power of repentance.

This reminder of this teaching moment from my dad with me, reveals a glimpse of how the goodness of God leads man to repentance. It was the goodness of my dad and his love expressed over me that enabled me to finally receive the message of God's rescuing power from sin and myself by turning away from my old ways and clinging to the new ways that God abundantly provided, revealing life and prosperity in my spirit from Jesus Christ. My family believed in God for many years, in spite of what it looked like, they would not allow my actions to trump God's promise as they continued to pray His abundant life to finally be received by me.

Perhaps there are those of you who may know part of my story as it took more than a decade to finally get to the point that I truly knew in my heart I needed to be rescued from one of my greatest enemies ~ myself. This incredible beginning took place on March 6, 2003. Actually, let me back up, interestingly enough, it was five months before my incredible beginning that my dad and mom flew to Michigan to come see us and gift me with a ring that he designed just for me in October of 2002 (He also did this for my sisters who were already following after Jesus).



I remember when I put it on my finger my dad said, "Whenever you look at this ring, say a prayer for your mom and I." I remember thinking, "Yeah right...they know I don't pray." Well, I truly believe that the ring I still wear 'til this day was truly a 'point of contact' from my parents prayers of hope in God over my life to be redeemed and restored back to Him. The moment from my eighth grade year was a defining reminder of discovering the power of repentance; allowing God's Holy Spirit to rule and reign over my life.

I am reminded that my dad took on a glimpse of the perseverance, integrity and tenacity of Jesus Christ which was victoriously revealed at the Cross of Calvary. Death, hell and the grave shook in fear as they surrendered all power to Jesus as God raised Him from the dead!

The reminder set before me is realizing yet again God's glorious power as He sent His Word Jesus to become a mere man to pay the debt of sin as He 'suffered long' even while we are known to be 'quick to quit'.

We must remember when we find ourselves being faithless, get rid of doubt and allow faith to rise up as we remember that He is still faithful even when we aren't (II Timothy 2:13).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

God's Cleansing Power



Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Teresa Criswell

"But WHEN the Holy Spirit controls our lives, HE will PRODUCE this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..."
~ Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) ~

Today's Triumphant Victorious Reminder will allow you to breathe and violently shake off the daunting burdens that we were never meant to bear!  What burdens am I referring to?  The burdens of believing that we are to produce the things that God can only produce - let us remember that we don't produce anything that is of God -  however we are 'displayers' of what He produces - when we allow Him to - and that is the Fruit Of The Spirit - then we realize that it's by God's Holy Spirit that works in us and through us to reveal Who The Father God is - as Landon Schott says, "Making Jesus Famous" through the powerful display of The Holy Spirit's power that was revealed as Jesus' resurrected from death, hell and the grave - now talk about a DISPLAY of God's Supernatural, Miraculous, Wonder-working power!

When we bring ourselves to the indescribably powerful awareness of God's continual, overflowing presence, watch the video below of what we allow Him to do -



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB5aTeq9ZqE


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Like a Perfectly Layered Cake Or A Lasagna

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

"Commit your works to The Lord, and He will make your ways successful."
~ Proverbs 16:3 ~ 

"Lord!  Are you sure?  Homeschool?!?" 
Is this me or is this me being led by what my friends are doing?
 "Wait! This can't be, I'm not meant to homeschool!"  And in that confession, I realized that I was correct. For I am not meant to do anything He has called me to on my own.  Yet when I rely on the strength of God, daily committing my works to the Lord; moment by moment, The Lord reveals Himself in the midst of this class called 'life'.  And in this class called 'life', if we pay attention to The Holy Spirit Who is The Teacher of all teachers, He will prepare us with His instructions as revealed in The Word of God so that we do not fail.

With that said, this morning before our Bible class started, my daughter was led to share what the Holy Spirit was teaching her this morning. She wanted to speak to me on what had happened to her earlier that morning. I asked her if  I could record  her and later transcribe what she said to write notes, in which she gave me permission.  After she spoke, I sat down at the keyboard, hit play to transcribe, and was brought to tears to hear the wisdom of God through a teenage girl. So in that, I wanted to share with each of you.

 

My daughter's words:

"Mom, you know what I realized on why I need to be homeschooled? It's because I need to grow closer to The Lord.  I'm not saying everyone should be homeschooled in order  to get  to know Jesus, I'm just saying for me personally I knew I had to, I needed to be homeschooled. I think God changed my heart because He said, "Wait for what I have in store for you in 8th grade." Mom, if you didn't listen to that voice of telling you to homeschool me, I would be in public school right now just being like a regular 13 year old.

Mom, I know I'm not being homeschooled because of my other school; I'm not being homeschooled because, "Oh, I need a better education"; I'm not being homeschooled because, "Oh, I need to get better at math and I need to have one on one teaching."  I finally realized what it is! God is my Teacher! I didn't realize that in school, I just thought, "Oh, I have like seven teachers".

Mom, you know I just realized all of this today.  If it wasn't for God waking me up this morning at 6:30 I probably wouldn't have gotten that.  I probably would be miserable right now, right here, saying, "I don't want to do this, I'm tired and this and that." But, I was meant to wake up and go outside this morning and see those two red birds flying around and be in awe of seeing God's creation.  After I saw that,  this thought came, "God, This is why You want me to be homeschooled, to be closer to You." Before, I would say to God, "I can't talk right now, I have to get ready.  I don't have time right now, I'm going to be late for school."  You know how dad says it's all the distractions that try to keep us away from God?  Or when you say it's like we drift away from God more and more but we don't even realize it?  But we forget He's right there.  But so many people don't even realize He is there. But when we pray and read His Word we are reminded that He's there and we know we can talk to Him.  He's pleading, saying, "Please talk to Me, I'm right here."

As tears streamed down my daughter's face she continued, "And people are blinded in the world and even in the church, and people are distracted and people don't understand "Why is this happening, why is that happening?"  When God is right there, and I understand a little more, it's so sad and you see people drifting away from God and they don't even notice. But God is right there and all you need to say is, "Jesus come be in my life."  It's that easy.  He has always been there, you just got to realize it. Do you know what I mean?

Mom, I felt led to tell you that, I just wanted to tell you the reason why we're homeschooling.
This is God through me telling you why, so you have more reason why you're doing this.  Not just because I need a better education, not because of what this person or that person says.  Or when people complain and say, "these schools are so bad..." - NO! It's not because of that.  Maybe there are those that have reasons of why they're homeschooling because they want a better education, but mom the reason WE'RE homeschooling is to get closer to The Lord and of course having a better education.  We didn't know why we were homeschooling, we just knew we needed to.  We were happy with our school, but now we know WHY and we have a purpose and we need to remember that every day. I have a fire that is firing up inside of me.

So now when people ask me, "Why are you homeschooling?"  My answer will be: because I have a purpose and the reason is to get closer to God.  Mom, if you have a good foundation on God everything else falls into place, you know, like a perfectly layered cake or a lasagna."

There was so much more she said, but I wanted to share the insight from The Holy Spirit, the triumphant victorious reminder though a 13 year old girl who loves God, loves being a young lady who basks in the joys of fashion, Paris, the Eiffel Tower and just having tons of fun in this life filled with giggles and laughter!

When we begin to  get sidetracked by what others are saying, doing and living, may we be triumphantly and victoriously reminded of Who our Foundation is, our God!  May we remember that everything else will fall into proper place; like she said so eloquently; "a perfectly layered cake or a lasagna".


Friday, August 23, 2013

Who Will It Be?

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

Photograph found via Google Images


"Look," they told him (Samuel), "you are now old, and your sons are not like you.  Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have."
~ I Samuel 8:5 ~

The bantering mantra of 'We want a king' after reading I Samuel 8 has caused awareness to arise.  I have some amazing friends who are doing a study on I Samuel and to hear their insight from The Lord provoked me to want to study even more.

This morning as I read and studied, it was endearing to see the good man that Saul truly was. Saul's respect for authority was definitely to be marveled. Interestingly enough, what Saul was sent out to look for - looking for donkeys, also known as stubborn animals - would be what he would soon rule as king over - stubborn people who had been wanting a mortal man to be king versus The Immortal God.

With all of that, I had to know, what was the initial cause of the people of Israel wanting a mortal king?
Was it truly 'peer pressure', seeing other nations with a king, and they wanted one too?
What was it?
For years I truly thought that it was because they wanted to be like everyone else. Until I asked this morning, "God, Why would they NOT want You as their King anymore?"

So there it was - the cause of the cry was not what many of us had assumed.  In verse five of First Samuel chapter eight, the cause of their concern was not solely their dissatisfaction in God but more than anything it was the fact that Samuel's sons were nothing like their father Samuel.  His sons were greedy for money, accepting bribes and perverting justice. To think that the conception of Saul's kingship was based on 'rightful fear' is quite humbling. The people of Israel knew Samuel was getting older and his sons were nothing like him; actually his sons were somewhat of an echo of even Eli's sons to some degree. As I was reading, I thought, "Lord, can't you see their true concern?"  And then so lovingly I was reminded, "But their concern of the sin of Samuel's sons outweighed their concern to have faith in Me that I would deliver them."

Many times we see what others are doing, which are contrary to God - we allow their words or actions to have the final say - when we forget that God is The Final Word and He Has the final say - but will we allow Him to?

The triumphant victorious reminder today is as though I'm hearing in my spirit, "You either believe Me, Your God and Who I Am or you don't - and whichever one you believe is who will be king in your life.  Choose The King of all kings - choose LIFE (Deuteronomy 13:19)!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Flattery or Encouragement?

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

Mother Teresa who echoed the beauty of our God!

"If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself.  If you roll a boulder down on others, it will roll back and crush you.  A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin."
~ Proverbs 26:27-28 ~

"If you are a thief, stop stealing.  Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need.  Don't use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."
~ Ephesians 4:28-29 (NLT) ~

Have you been given a word of encouragement and you tend to receive it like you're picking up a dirty rag from the floor?  Do you tend to say, "What do they want now?"
No matter who gives you the encouragement, do you tend to err on the side of disbelief?

Many years ago I was so entangled with manipulation and lies to get what I wanted. It was a way of life - lies, lies and more lies.  Most people who knew me most likely ran when they saw Teresa coming.  It wasn't just about telling lies but it was also giving those empty, what looked like 'encouraging' words to get what I needed or wanted.  A very sad way of 'living' or should I say 'existing'.

A few years after being rescued into Salvation by my Rescuing Savior Jesus Christ, I began to learn from Him by God's Holy Spirit and through the Word, to turn from flattery and run to The One Who is Encouragement.

I realized that my former life of flattery was a perverted twist on what I was called to and that was the gift to encourage others.  One particular yet significant day as I was studying a few 'sharp' scriptures in Proverbs on flattery, I began to 'fear' that I was walking in flattery and not true encouragement.  This 'fear' led me to immediately go to my knees and ask God a question that ultimately delivered me from my fears.  The question asked was, "God, what is the difference between flattery and encouragement?"  This is what I heard in my spirit which helped me rightly divide my soul from my spirit, "Flattery's only agenda is to get it's own way, it has no desire to want to help better someone else's life - however Encouragement's only agenda and desire is to help better the life of someone else with desiring nothing else in return." That answer is what has helped me discern when I'm about to walk in Encouragement or Flattery - it's a great diagnostic tool that check's the motives of my heart.

Today's Triumphant Victorious Reminder is to know that when we become aware of our heart's motives, we can then properly walk in the ways of the Lord with great purpose and intention.  Many times it won't be about not going to the person to encourage them, when we originally were about to flatter them, however now we go and intentionally encourage them with a true heart in the Lord, not wanting anything else in return! Remember awareness is the key - we get to celebrate the beauty of awareness - for it is a gift from the Lord by the power of God's Holy Spirit which helps us to discern our hearts! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Life!

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell



c. 1980 Stevens Family (L to R: Dad, Joanna, Mom, Mary Kay & Teresa)

2012


Dusting off the old VCR - placing it on the entertainment center - plugging in the proper components and finally ready to watch none other than the old family home videos from 1986.  The setting took place in the family room downstairs, adorned with that 'ever so charming' brown shag carpet and paneled walls sitting on the floor in front of the artificial Christmas tree as my sisters and I eagerly opened presents from mom and dad.


Watching the video, I noticed something I hadn't 'seen' before - and that was the subtle flirting between our parents as us, their daughters, ages 12 and younger were in our own world opening those presents we eagerly anticipated to receive.  As I sat on my couch, the atmosphere permeated with charming nostalgia.  The lack of worries we had as our parents bore the brunt of balancing and blending our lives along with dad's hard work, was nothing short than seeing and recognizing the evidence of God's grace on our parents lives as they beautifully enjoyed us and one another.

As I watched the old home movies I was reminded that in the midst of working hard, the hustle and bustle of life -  it is never too late to enjoy your spouse, your children and your family.  Sometimes we have to be creatively intentional in how we do that as some husbands/dads travel, perhaps there are wives/moms who work and/or travel, but no matter what - instead of regrets let's begin to experience contentment.

Today's triumphant and victorious reminder in all of this:
Remember your kids will vaguely remember how the bills were paid - although important - we want their greatest memories to be how their parents enjoyed one another, speaking respectfully to one another, laughing with one another - when stressful times came they knew how to laugh in the middle of it all and with intentional adventure they explored the world within their living room, kitchen, front yard, back yard, taking a walk or just sitting on the porch and enjoying one anothers company.  Moment by moment when we feel inundated with life, let us inundate life by enjoying it! Let us reveal our grateful hearts to God and make lasting memories with His creative power!





Monday, July 22, 2013

Are You Asking, "Why?"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by The Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

"Jesus said to the people, "I Am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
~ John 8:12 ~

God is Here!
Make yourself aware to His presence that is already here.

Most of us reading this have recently asked God, "Why Lord?" And frustratingly enough you haven't got the answer. However, as you notice the "Why question" toward God doesn't provide solutions?  We realize instead it attempts to accuse and cast judgement and plays the blame game on Almighty God.

When we ask God, "Why?" or "How could YOU let this happen?" We unintentionally say, "The enemy has the final word."  In the midst of our unintended declaration, this is causing awareness that we don't really know Who God truly is and we walk into the trap of another lie that leads us deeper into the abyss of darkness, no longer becoming AWARE of the LIGHT of GOD which is JESUS Who is the LIGHT OF THIS DARK WORLD.

Today, let's triumphantly declare this statement, "God I don't know WHY this has happened, but the enemy, the circumstance, death, divorce, calamity, and hell itself does not have the final word in my life!  God, this is what 'they' say, BUT GOD! WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THIS?  What am I to learn in this?"

The learning process is to find out to an even greater degree WHO GOD IS and WHO WE ARE IN HIM! When we choose to partner with HIM and HIS TRUTH as He is TRUTH we will come to an even greater understanding that even as heaven and earth will pass away, HIS WORD REMAINS FOREVER!

Actively get into God's Word by FIRST asking the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study the Word of God!  The Holy Spirit is THE ONE WHO ENLIGHTENS and REVEALS WITH WISDOM HOW to study the Word who beautifully reveals GOD HIMSELF!  The Holy Spirit is the TEACHER of all teachers, the INSTRUCTOR of all instructors, so in this, we must begin and continue to read the Word of God by His Spirit not our own intellect!  We don't want to read the manual of SUPERNATURAL FREEDOM AND LIBERTY through the eyes of slavery and captivity (our own intellect), we MUST read the manual of SUPERNATURAL FREEDOM AND LIBERTY by the Holy Spirit of Truth WHO IS FREEDOM AND LIBERTY!

As we become triumphantly and victoriously aware of God's presence in the midst of this life - let's reveal THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD WHO IS JESUS!  Remember it is not our light that people are in awe of; it is the LIGHT OF GOD WHO IS JESUS that causes people to bow down to the KING OF all kings and LORD of all lords!  The pressure is off of you to perform and now just BE as His yoke is easy and His burden is light and easy!

Scripture References (New Living Translation Tyndale):
Mark 13:31, "Heaven and earth will disappear, but My words will remain forever."
John 14:26, "But when the Father sends the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit - He will teach everything and will remind you of everything I Myself have told you."

John 8:12, "Jesus said to the people, "I Am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
Philippians 2:1-11, "...so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Matthew 11:30, "For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Revised...The power of God revealed through Intimacy

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

Photograph from Google Images

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
~ Galatians 5:22-23 ~


This season of my life has been filled with opportunities to learn like never before from the greatest TEACHER of all teachers and that is by the Spirit of God through His Word. 'Opportunities' to utilize His Word through situations that would attempt to knock us out cold!  I have come to this amazing revelation that Satan does not have the power to steal our joy - however, he does have the ability to deceive us.  How does he deceive us?  By convincing us that God's joy, God's peace, God's love is gone because he stole it from us and all the while he takes us off course as we believe his lies and as a result no longer walk by the Spirit of God Who reveals the Word, Who provides life!  With Satan's many deceptive tactics he can use anything from offense, rumors being spread about us, circumstances, the busyness and distractions of life, anxiety, fear, death, etc. to take us off course. When we allow the deceptive liar to continue to talk to us, we end up forfeiting the promises of God by forfeiting ourselves of what the Spirit of God desires to produce in our lives and that is God's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!  Again!  This is what the Spirit of God produces in us as we become aware and and realize that it is by God's Spirit that is within us that we are able to operate in His fruit!  It is not by what we produce, but what the Spirit of God produces in us and through us. 

I plead with myself and each of you to remember that Satan is crafty and subtle in his tactics. The majority of the time he comes into our lives and makes us feel bad about things that have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, causing us to be unaware of his tactics.  And he does this when we least expect it.  Don't focus on his craftiness, but begin to focus on the face and Names of God!  It is no wonder The Holy Spirit warned us as recorded in I Peter 5, to "be sober and vigilant, watch out for your great enemy, as he is seeking whom he may devour"!  He is so crafty that he even gets other believers to devour one another...this only echoes Satan's kingdom and that is death. This is an incredibly raw question, but I'm going to ask it anyway - "Are we going to allow spiritual 'cannibalism' to take us over because of unnecessary offense which causes division and strife and only ends in destruction?"  We must take every thought, insinuation, and speculation, and take it captive, bringing those things to the obedience of Jesus Christ!  Even if those thoughts are good ones, it does not  necessarily mean they are GODLY ones!  We must handle situations according to God's Word and His Word alone, not according to our experiences, whether good or bad or our own opinions - as our opinions do not set anyone free, but only by the Word of God!  We must allow Him to have the last word in our lives! 

As we begin to become intimate with God and become familiar with the Promise of His Name and Who He is we become incredibly humbled. The power of God's Promising Name as He IS The Great I Am!  He is Provider! He is Protector! He is Shield! He is Refuge! He is The Strong Tower! He is The Rock of Ages! He is The Everlasting Shelter!  He is the Mighty Banner!  He is The Covering!  He is The Husband!  He is The Father!  He is The Mother of the motherless! He is The Commander of the Armies of the Heavenly Hosts!  He is The Maker of the Heavens and the Earth!  And His names go on for eternity.

As we remember and are constantly aware of God's Names we realize that this life in Him is no longer about 'wanting' to do what God has commanded - but finally DOING and BEING what He has commanded!  Think about it - I can 'want' to do what is right all day long - but 'wanting' to do what is right doesn't get me anywhere. For instance, I can 'want' to climb Mt. Everest - and guess what?  I'll be in 'want' all the days of my life and still not even attempt that climb.  We cannot be only 'wanters' of God's truth...but finally doers, partakers and partners of God's truth with action.  In addition to this, we can 'try' and 'attempt' to partake and partner with God on our own intellect, by our power and our might but this will only leave us frustrated and walking along the dead end path.  It is by the Spirit of God that we are able to be and do what God has commanded!
The Triumphant Victorious Reminder today: we can only live this life He has commanded by His Holy Spirit!  It's all about relationship through intimacy with the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit of God - The Ancient of Days! 

The power of God - released through intimacy with Him!

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

Photograph from Google Images

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
~ Galatians 5:22-23 ~


This season of my life has been filled with opportunities to learn like never before from the greatest TEACHER of all teachers and that is by the Spirit of God through His Word. 'Opportunities' to utilize His Word through situations that would attempt to knock us out cold!  I have come to this amazing revelation that Satan does not have the power to steal our joy - however, he does have the ability to deceive us.  How does he deceive us?  By convincing us that God's joy, God's peace, God's love is gone because he stole it from us and all the while he takes us off course as we believe his lies and as a result no longer walk by the Spirit of God Who reveals the Word, Who provides life!  With Satan's many deceptive tactics he can use anything from offense, rumors being spread about us, circumstances, the busyness and distractions of life, anxiety, fear, death, etc. to take us off course. When we allow the deceptive liar to continue to talk to us, we end up forfeiting the promises of God by forfeiting ourselves of what the Spirit of God desires to produce in our lives and that is God's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!  Again!  This is what the Spirit of God produces in us as we become aware and and realize that it is by God's Spirit that is within us that we are able to operate in His fruit!  It is not by what we produce, but what the Spirit of God produces in us and through us. 

I plead with myself and each of you to remember that Satan is crafty and subtle in his tactics. The majority of the time he comes into our lives and makes us feel bad about things that have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, causing us to be unaware of his tactics.  And he does this when we least expect it.  Don't focus on his craftiness, but begin to focus on the face and Names of God!  It is no wonder The Holy Spirit warned us as recorded in I Peter 5, to "be sober and vigilant, watch out for your great enemy, as he is seeking whom he may devour"!  He is so crafty that he even gets other believers to devour one another...this only echoes Satan's kingdom and that is death. This is an incredibly raw question, but I'm going to ask it anyway - "Are we going to allow spiritual 'cannibalism' to take us over because of unnecessary offense which causes division and strife and only ends in destruction?"  We must take every thought, insinuation, and speculation, and take it captive, bringing those things to the obedience of Jesus Christ!  Even if those thoughts are good ones, it does not  necessarily mean they are GODLY ones!  We must handle situations according to God's Word and His Word alone, not according to our experiences, whether good or bad or our own opinions - as our opinions do not set anyone free, but only by the Word of God!  We must allow Him to have the last word in our lives! 

As we begin to become intimate with God and become familiar with the Promise of His Name and Who He is we become incredibly humbled. The power of God's Promising Name as He IS The Great I Am!  He is Provider! He is Protector! He is Shield! He is Refuge! He is The Strong Tower! He is The Rock of Ages! He is The Everlasting Shelter!  He is the Mighty Banner!  He is The Covering!  He is The Husband!  He is The Father!  He is The Mother of the motherless! He is The Commander of the Armies of the Heavenly Hosts!  He is The Maker of the Heavens and the Earth!  And His names go on for eternity.

As we remember and are constantly aware of God's Names we realize that this life in Him is no longer about 'wanting' to do what God has commanded - but finally DOING and BEING what He has commanded!  Think about it - I can 'want' to do what is right all day long - but 'wanting' to do what is right doesn't get me anywhere. For instance, I can 'want' to climb Mt. Everest - and guess what?  I'll be in 'want' all the days of my life and still not even attempt that climb.  We cannot be only 'wanters' of God's truth...but finally doers, partakers and partners of God's truth with action.  In addition to this, we can 'try' and 'attempt' to partake and partner with God on our own intellect, by our power and our might but this will only leave us frustrated and walking along the dead end path.  It is by the Spirit of God that we are able to be and do what God has commanded!
The Triumphant Victorious Reminder today: we can only live this life He has commanded by His Holy Spirit!  It's all about relationship through intimacy with the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit of God - The Ancient of Days! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Seasons and Change

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell


"There is a time for everything..."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ~

Rags to riches; riches to rags.
Pain to comfort; comfort to pain.
Tragedy to triumph; triumph to tragedy.

Roller coaster living.
Have you experienced this?  In this life, seasons of change are inevitable and unavoidable.  Of course in the midst of it we can do everything in our power to resist by kicking and screaming, but in the end no matter how much we attempt to fight the subtle or suddenly moments of change, by default it occurs.  Change faithfully does just that...it changes. 

However the comfort I have found in the midst of these facts is TRUTH that overrides and supersedes the seasons of sadness and pain - The Truth being found in the PERSON Jesus Christ revealing the Father God so powerfully by the Holy Spirit.

Whatever season you are experiencing in this very moment, the point of the season is not to embrace or reject the moment of pain or rejoicing; instead we must embrace, cling to, hold onto and look to The Only and Very One Who is Faithful to never leave us nor forsake us.  It is in our best interest to look to the Author and Finisher of our life and faith in HIM.  In these seasons of overwhelming change, whether it be great or greatly difficult, may we be constantly reminded to cling to our 'Ever Present Helper' in time of need. Intentionally being aware of God's Holy Spirit that is already near.

Stop.
Listen.
Do you sense that He is near?
Call on the name of Jesus and when we begin to say, "Thank you" or "God, why?"  May we say instead of the 'whys', say - "Where are you in this moment?"  Experiencing the glorious light of His presence, being overwhelmed that the God Who continuously creates, causing resurrection life to occur, is the very ONE Who also eagerly awaits for us to choose Him in every season.

May we be triumphantly and victoriously reminded to no longer 'misplace' our faith in 'things to get better' but intentionally place our faith in the Faithful God Who willingly blankets us with His strength to bring us through and whether we see 'things get better' or not we remain in the mindset of knowing that He is Ever Faithful!

As we go through the season of difficulty by Almighty God's great power in Jesus name through prayer, declarations of Who He is and hungering after His Word, we will experience a refining to our character and life which is to purposefully reflect and echo the glory of The King of all kings; the God of all gods and the Lord of all lords...for remember!  There is no one like HIM...no  NOT ONE!

Scripture References:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
John 14:6
Deuteronomy 31:6-8
Hebrews 13:5-6
Philippians 4:13
Revelation 17:14
I Samuel 2:2 (Hannah's declaration as she praised and prayed to God)




Saturday, May 18, 2013

Squirrel!

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

II Timothy 3:16-17

Photograph by Google Images















Furry, cute and springing to action; he leaps from the ground onto the horizontal fence posts.  The adorable little critter and his sudden moves to his sudden moments of playing 'freeze'; it's truly a reminder of those moments when I feel like him - this squirrel.

Do you ever have those 'squirrely' moments?
You're accomplishing something with this adrenaline like rush.
As you brace yourself to do the task at hand, suddenly you pause and say, "Wait!  What was I doing?"

We can get like this with the things of God and even the Lord; at least I know I can.
I'm 'gun-ho' on wanting to have that intimate time with Him and then suddenly those thoughts interrupt:
"Did I shut the stove off?"
"Those dishes are piling up..."
"If I don't do the laundry now, it's going to pile up even more"
"When am I going to have time to...
"I need to work out..."
O the squirrel thoughts come hurling in driving us NUTS (That punn was definitely intended)!

As we realize the busyness of life can consume us, may we sit back as children of God, no longer 'attempting' to manage time, instead utilize the time we've been given and allow those moments with Him to consume us so that we can begin overflowing in Him. As we ask Him, "What do you want me to be a part of today?" Let's be silent as my friend says for about 30 seconds and wait on the Lord.  As we practice and exercise being 'silent', the more we can discipline ourselves to wait and listen to His heart.  Whether we are led by the Spirit of God to the Word of God or He downloads us with a picture or a thought as He speaks to us may we begin to ask,  "What do I need to learn today?"  "Help me to be sensitive when a test comes my way so that I pass and not fail."

Do you have issues with jumping to conclusions? 
Then practice in not being quick to respond, instead being quick to be silent as you immediately go to God and ask Him what He says about that situation.

Like most, do you have issues with being kind to unkind people?
Then practice saying, "God bless you" over people that you see in your mind.  This helps to release offense and unforgiveness and catch on to the supernatural love of God for that person or those people.

The triumphant victorious reminder today is that God equips us on how to walk out in obedience...now it's up to us to utilize the equipment that He has provided, revealed in His Word. 

May the 'squirrely' moments be transformed to being still and knowing that He is God.  Take the 'squirrely' worries of your life and cast them on Him and say, "I don't know what to do with this, but Lord you do...so thank you for showing me what to do, how to do it and when to properly do what needs to be done in this situation."  Ask God to allow the Holy Spirit to rest on you revealing to you the spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, Counsel and Might, Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).  For when we begin to Know the Lord for Who He really is, the fear and awe of the Lord comes over us to execute Holy Counsel with Great Might, Understanding with Wisdom how to walk out what needs to be walked out by the Holy Spirit of God!



Sunday, April 28, 2013

God's Royalty Revealed In the Midst of A Verbal Slap

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell 


"Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who persecute you and pray for those who spitefully use you..."
~ Luke 6:27-38 ~

True story...

So how's this one for revealing God's royalty in the midst of a verbal slap?

The setting of this story is on a college campus involving one of the girls I get to encourage whose name is Rebecca and another young lady whom she did not know, who had some mean, choice words.

"I need to talk to you! Take your sunglasses off because when I talk to you I want to see your eyes."
Rebecca shocked, took her sunglasses off, thinking to herself, "I think she has the wrong person."
"You're a fake 'B with an ITCH' and I see you walking on campus all the time so happy and I see you're full of sh*%. There's no way someone could be THAT happy all the time".
Rebecca's confused response, "I think you have the wrong person."
She quickly replied, "O no! I've noticed you for a long time; I'm a good judge of character, there's just no way you could be that happy; you're so fake."

Rebecca a little set back from the 'verbal punch in the face', then the next moment, God's grace and compassion arose within and out of her as she responded with God's love. With kindness she responded, "I'm sorry you feel that way. My name is Rebecca, we haven't formerly met." The girl confused and shocked, extends her hand as Rebecca gently shook hers while noticing her fingernails, complimenting her.



Now if this isn't a test...The very next morning, as Rebecca was driving home from her early class she noticed this same girl from the day before walking in the somewhat cold temperatures with shorts on. As Rebecca pulled over, concerned for this girl being cold, pulled her car over, rolled down the window and asked if she could give her a ride home. Her response, "You're offering me a ride?" She got into Rebecca's car and they had a casual conversation, when the girl asked, "Why are you being so nice to me?" When Rebecca responded, " I'm CHOOSING to be nice to you because that's my character." They arrived to her apartments and Rebecca dropped her off and said it was great visiting with you.

Later that day Rebecca received a phone call from one of her friends who said, "That girl who was spreading around to other people that you were fake, just told me what happened and said as much as she wants to hate you, she can't because of the kindness you showed her."

To hear this from my spiritual 'little sister', I was incredibly pleased with what I heard, she walked out Luke 6:27-38 and Proverbs 25:22. As I encouraged her and let her know how pleased God was, she looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and in all seriousness said, "Well any Christian would do that."

Moral of this Triumphant Victorious Reminder: 

As followers of Christ, let us not disappoint this young believer who truly believes any of us would forsake offense and INSTEAD be a doer of God's Word and honor someone else, even in the midst of dishonor.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A $1 Necklace?

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written By: Teresa Criswell




"Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful."
~ I Corinthians 1:27 ~

It was about a year and half ago.  Ann had a great, pressing thought, "Go into the store and you will find some great deals." She warred with her thoughts, thinking, "Yeah right", yet she walked in anyway; and as though she had a shopping epiphany - there her thoughts were confirmed - right before her were 'deals galore'!

She found three beautiful necklaces; $1 each - yes - $1 each! The price and the necklace were a beautiful contradiction, to say the least. Ann thought, "Wow! I know if I received these necklaces as a gift, I would really like them. These will make great gifts!"

After making her gorgeous, yet, more than affordable purchase, she walked out of the store, and began to crave an ice cold frappucino, filled with java chips and a pump of raspberry topped with whip cream and chocolate syrup. The very moment she craved it, she knew it was meant to be...LOL! Right there before her, stood none other than...you guessed it...a Starbucks!

Upon ordering her amazing drink, she walked over to the condiment station to grab a straw, when she 'heard', 'felt', 'knew' in her spirit, "See the blond girl in the corner? Give her one of those necklaces." Ann feeling a bit awkward, yet saying to herself, "Really? Well, okay." Still standing at the condiment station, she gently opened her shopping bag, carefully opened the tissue wrapped necklace, peeling off the price tag and folding the tissue paper gently back over the necklace.

As Ann was about to approach the young lady, she noticed that she and a gentleman seemed to be in a deep conversation in which it almost moved her to turn around and say, "Maybe not." Simultaneously as she was tempted to walk away, she knew what she must do; interrupting their conversation she gently said, "Excuse me, I apologize to interrupt." The man turned with a puzzled look, then a smile as she with a smile and yet hesitancy said, "That's fine." Ann continued, "I know this seems awkward, but I feel led to bless you with this necklace, God bless you." As Ann was about to walk away, the man seemed dumbfounded. He asked slowly, yet with a gentle smile, "What moved you to do that? This is so amazing, we were just talking about this very thing. What you have done means more to her than you know."

Ann, choking back tears said, "My husband and I have been blessed; not extravagantly, but we have been blessed and with all that is going on in our community and in this world, I must reveal the God kisses as much as possible."

He shook his head in amazement and said, "You have no idea what this means." Ann also shaking her head in disbelief, placed her hand on her chest and said, "I'm going to cry." She couldn't believe that God was allowing her to be a part of such a moment.

In that moment, Ann leaned over, introducing herself, as she found out what the young lady's name was. Ann couldn't believe what was happening next. She was led to squat down to this young woman's level seeing her eye to eye and proceeded to say, "May I pray with you?" When the young woman replied with gratitude, "Yes", Ann gently said, "You do not have to tell me what is going on, for God already knows", and she proceeded to pray, declaring that which the Holy Spirit knew which was beyond significant.

Ann told me that as she opened her eyes after praying over this young lady, she witnessed this handsome man; muscular build, with a barbwire tattoo on his left arm, had tears streaming down his face.

He was moved by God in this experience that Ann got to be a part of, and I got to hear about; and what did God use? Yes! None other than a dollar necklace.

This testimony of God's love through a small monetary thing moved me to know, that He wants His message of Love to be spread; especially in ways that we could never imagine. I am reminded of God's unfailing love and how truly NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING shall separate us from the Love of God!

I am reminded that what we may think is insignificant; God's ways will 'mess us up' and show us His powerful greatness even through the smallest things that we would deem insignificant and unusable; He not only uses but reveals His great love through what we call nothing in His everything!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I get to call him, "Dad"!

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

 
Do you know who I speak of?
This person I write about is quiet and bold;
A man of few words, yet his actions speak louder than any given shout.

Brave and courageous; gentle yet stearn.
He says what he means and he means what he says.
Integrity and noble character is in his DNA,
He is witty yet observant, clearly faithful without dismay.

Compassionate and merciful and has no qualms when telling the truth.
This person I speak of is a man you may or may not know, he is my dad a man of little reproof.
Today is his birthday and I get to be called 'daughter', yes this is so.
Daddy, as I write these words I cannot help but see,
the imagery of Jesus Christ unfolding upon your life as you live out that you have been set free.

Dad, I remember all those years ago the twirls, the laughter, the fair discipline and more!
I remember how you helped me write and do my homework patiently; your words of wisdom filled my ears as you would read that amazing Book called the Bible every night before we were all set to snore.
You even made learning fun and even helped me 'Ace' a few spelling tests; do you remember helping me become the fastest multiplication girl in my 5th grade math class?

The most influential part of me and my sister's lives was knowing you prayed every morning and night.
You may not have known for many years that went by, but we knew you would kneel at the chair in the early morning before the sun would rise.
Praising and praying to God to cover your family with His love and His care.

You are a man of great integrity, but most of all, you are my dad.
'Twiggy', 'Jojo', and 'Mikey' are your 'three stooges'; your daughters who know they are blessed.
We are blessed beyond measure to have such a patient dad and most of all a loving husband to our beautiful mom!
You were and remain a great example from when we were little until now how we learned to realize "we are worthy and valued" by God Almighty Himself. 
Thank you for validating the gifts within us, along with our mom, allowing us to see how easy it is talk to
Almighty God and to never in our hearts or mind  'put God on a shelf'.  But to praise Him and thank Him every chance we get so we will never forget who we are without Him!

You taught us to love Him and trust Him with this amazing, loving and no one is better than Him fear.
The Great I Am who wants us to trust Him so that He can direct us on His path with very little tears.
Thank you for causing us to know Jesus and forsake religion at all cost,
for you knew the Freedom Fighter as you met Him in 1976.

You are a living legend in terms of a man, but most of all you reveal the Eternal Legend our Jesus, The Rescuer who showed His love for us in unimaginable ways!
Again, happy birthday dad, you may never know the lasting impact you have made as you have allowed the Lord to rule and reign in your life.

Love you sooooooo much,
Twiggy

Friday, March 29, 2013

God's Seed, jesus christus

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

The earth opened up and received God's amazing SEED.

God's seed would produce a plant called,
Abundant Life - jesus christus
Exclusive - This miraculous, unique plant's thick, long, vibrant petals of colors are a standout in any garden. However you will find that it cannot be planted with any other seed, for the vibrant life of this plant causes the other plants to die.  Sweet flavor yet bold, strong yet never overbearing. Thrives in heat and the colorful petals have names never heard of or seen before.

The names of these majestically, vibrant colors?
MENDED HEARTS
LIBERTY
EYES OPEN
MOUTHS TO SPEAK
WHOLENESS
DELIVERANCE
ABUNDANT LIFE

The rare fragrance?
AMAZING, RELENTLESS ETERNAL, PASSIONATE LOVE

Medicinal purposes are produced by the colors within the petals:
MEND BROKEN HEARTS
SET LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES
BLIND EYES OPEN
MUTE TO SPEAK
WHOLENESS IN SOUL
RESURRECTION, ABUNDANT LIFE

What kind of light does this plant need?
PRODUCES IT'S OWN LIGHT; BRIGHTER THAN A MILLION SUNS

The exposure to this 'PLANT':
causes the greatest sign and wonder to take place ~ GOD'S ETERNAL LOVE to be implanted into the hearts of anyone who ingests.

To receive the description of God's seed was fun...but let's think about this...

As Jesus, the SEED WILLINGLY died on this EARTH, NEW LIFE AWAITED! 
As hopelessness filled so many hearts of those who followed Jesus within those first 72 hours,
ABUNDANT LIFE ~ JESUS ~ came forth from the tomb by GOD'S SUPERNATURAL RESURRECTION POWER.

The resurrection power did not stop there...THE POWERFUL RESURRECTION OF JESUS CAUSED OTHER TOMBS TO OPEN UP.

I am triumphantly and victoriously reminded that God's Resurrection power is not just powerful, BUT CONTAGIOUSLY POWERFUL.  How do I know?  Because I am a life that was dead and I too resurrected on March 6, 2003 and have continued on the journey of Salvation with Jesus Who has introduced me to so much more than His amazing rescuing power.  Will we continue the journey of Resurrection Life?  .

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Set the record straight...

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

"Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you?  Even the sinners do that!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful?  Even sinners do that!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful?  Even sinners do that much..."
~ Luke 6:27-38 ~

Many fists flail in the air as they make sure the 'sinners' know what they are AGAINST.  
Even sinners do that. 

Or how about that moment when I walk in to a store and am treated poorly by an employee.  Indignation rises up and in my heart I say, "I'll show them!  I'll go elsewhere!"  But wait!  Even sinners do that.  In that moment, perhaps God is making me aware, "This is your mission field.  GO and display what they lack...take hold of MY GRACE."  We may not be able to love them with our own love within our own strength, however with God's beautiful sign and wonder of His grace we can display a life of love to especially those who lack what TRUE LOVE TRULY IS!

What about the Proverb that says, "Any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight"?  
Even sinners listen to a one sided story and can believe it. But what are we to do?  It doesn't matter how much character and integrity someone has, if we hear something, and whether it is believable or not, we must take it to the Lord...He will settle it or lead us to see the WHOLE story of that particular matter.

As I lead up to this morning, I was led to Proverbs 18.  In this leading, I heard in my heart more than once, "Set the record straight."  
I thought, "What?"  
I heard it again, "Set the record straight."  
So before I go any further, has anyone heard about the huge commotion of the CEO of Starbucks statement, supposedly made to Christians?  Has anyone done the research on what actually came out of Howard Mark Schultz, the CEO's mouth?  

Now on a side note, does he openly support gay marriage?  Yes.  
Do I agree with his support?  No.  
Now please!  Before you stop reading this, if you are in support of gay marriage, I want to make this point very clear, my stance is not based on my opinion.  My stance is only based on what God purposed and planned from the beginning, to be fruitful and multiply.  Furthermore, as God is not for homosexuality, He is also not for lying, gossip, murder, beastiality, molestation, incest, adultery, someone who sows discord, coveting, idolatry, rape, being rude, prideful and the list goes on.  

With that said, do we know what God is FOR?  He is not for sin, but HE IS FOR PEOPLE!  God is all about and FOR TRUTH; ABUNDANT LIFE; FORGIVENESS; BEING A HERALD OF THE GOOD NEWS; PEACEMAKERS; HEARTS THAT REVEAL CONTENTMENT; WORSHIPING HIM. THE ONE TRUE GOD; BEING KIND AND MERCIFUL; AND REVEALING HIS LOVE WITH HONOR AS WE ESTEEM OTHERS HIGHER THAN OURSELVES, SERVING ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE.  

Going back to what I heard last night and into this morning; that soft voice within my heart saying, "Set the record straight."  In addition to that word, as I began to get ready, I heard, "I have called my people into the world, so GO! Don't turn around because they are not for what I Am for.  Teresa, they are in darkness and you carry MY GLORIOUS LIGHT."  As I heard these words, tears rolled down my face as I immediately thought of Jonah.  He did not want to go to those barbaric people.  They were filled with sadistic wickedness; had no respect for human life to the point of feasting on the flesh of humans, they were beyond barbaric...and yet God still called Jonah to go to them, because of God's goodness leading them to repentance!  Although I can clearly see why Jonah did not want to go, his opinion didn't matter...it was God's relentless love for the people of Ninevah.  I then asked myself, "Am I like Jonah?"

In this awakening, I was led yet again by that voice, "Set the record straight."  So, I somehow found a video of the CEO of Starbucks address to the shareholders to find out what was ACTUALLY said. 

Here are Howard Mark Schultz's words verbatim as I transcribed, per the video what he said before the closing of speech:
“...Not every decision we make is an economic decision.  Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year.  I don't know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last twelve months.  Having said that, not every decision we make is an economic decision. The lens in which we make our decision, is through the lens of our people. We employee over 200,000 people in this company and we want to embrace diversity; of all kinds,” said Schultz.   In addition to this statement, he further said, “If you feel, respectfully, if you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it's a free country, you can sell your shares at Starbucks and buy your shares elsewhere.  Thank you."

After watching the video, sadness filled my heart for him.  He did not attack Christians.  However, I must say many, including many Christians attacked him.  I sit here in tears how the Lord must be saying, "What are my people doing?"  I said to spread my good news to ALL, not to only those we want to spread it to...but TO ALL!  Jesus message was to His followers to give to the world and Paul's message was to the church.  We cannot confuse the two messages!!!!  We are not addressing someone within the church...we are addressing someone in the world.  Today, I saw Howard Mark Schultz with God's compassion and He showed me the gift from God of great influence.  In that moment I was convicted to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send His loving, ministering laborers into his life, not bash him.  I am sick to my stomach that I fell for this rumor.  I am reminded of what my earthly father says so often, "Did you hear them say it?"  And if my answer is "No".  He then proceeds to say, "Then don't believe it until  you know for sure because it can ruin peoples lives."

I am triumphantly reminded by the Spirit of our Amazing God Who is relentlessly after the hearts of every person in this world:
"Outrage does not bring change to hearts...it's the outrageous love of God that does. The loudest shout is the life that lives OUT LOUD THE LOVE OF GOD. Not our perspective of what 'we think' God's Love is, but GOD'S JUST AND RIGHTEOUS LOVE. I am learning that the greatest SHOUT in this life AGAINST something that hurts the heart of God is to live out what HE IS FOR; bringing glory to the Creator of life, purpose and multiplication. If I am FOR what God is FOR, then I have a great mandate to shower my spouse, my children, and the world what the honorable, relentless love of God looks like ~ revealing my honor for and to GOD!  With that, I can know that in due time, repentance will come forth. With honor I can humbly present the heart of the Lord to those that need to hear...and I pray that others will with honor and humbleness present the heart of the Lord to me when I must hear how I can change for His great glory."

Monday, March 11, 2013

God Who Is Love Covers

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell


"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."
~ I Peter 4:8 ~

"For a prosperous man is generous. He who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed."
~ Proverbs 11:25 ~

Betrayal. Infidelity. Adultery. Anger. Hopelessness.

"Lord, what is his password?
I need to know.
God, what is it?"
"Where is he?"
"Is he with her tonight?"

She finds receipts of purchases for this woman and her child.
The boiling hate of betrayal rises up out of her and towards him.
When she sees him, it is as though he can feel the weapons of every kind shoot like bullets from her eyes with disgust and shame.
Angry words stir up even more dissension.
The atmosphere filled with hate and anger.

Respect evaporates in an instant based on what he has done many times over.
Love evaporates in an instant based on the justified, condemning words she has spoken towards him.

In the midst of this war, their precious son, confused.
In his own turmoil, he asks himself,
"Did I do something wrong?"
"Why won't they laugh at my jokes anymore?"
"I want to laugh, but this house won't let me!"

Suddenly, she hears the whispers of the Holy Spirit, "Love covers a multitude of sins. The embrace of a wife covers the sinner. I forgave you and you received much forgiveness; now you must give freely what you have received much of."

Her fists clenched in anger as she screams, "God! Have you turned a blind eye to my pain?" Have you not seen what he has done? He is with another woman? Have you seen and heard the dialogue of these two? Everything I dreamed of, it has been shattered!!! God, why didn't you stop it?"
She hears the still small voice, "My daughter, I have also seen what you have done and I love you with My everlasting love. Daughter, he must see Me through you. I am faithful even when you were and are faithless. You are filled with my faithfulness from my Holy Spirit, now let Me pour out of you....I have never asked you to do anything I have not already done."

As she hears these words, she weeps with uncontrollable anguish.
She knows truth, but everything in her wants to do the opposite of truth.
Vengeance is easier; explosion is easier.
Pride revealed as self wants to manifest...yet, humbleness must be revealed through strength under control.

The power of hate that wants to spew out of control is controlled by the power of God's love, manifesting true humility.

The Spirit of God speaks to her heart yet again, "I am your Husband." "I am going to take this sin he has committed and use it as an opportunity to teach you what it is to have a husband who longs for you so jealously. As I teach you, he will learn from My respect through you how to be a husband I have called him to be, as you arise to become the wife I have called you to become. Remember Hosea, My prophet. Do not seek counsel based on what you want to hear; seek My Counsel, for you will hear what you need to hear. I will Restore; but you must do as I say."

Her head and eyes look up. This new found confidence rises up out of her and she says, "I will Arise out of this depression. My son and my husband need me. My husband is a soul who is in desperate need of Jesus." As she cries out she realizes her heart has shifted from selfish human love transformed by God's genuine love.

The Holy Spirit continues to comfort her as she hears, "My daughter, when your son is in the room, overtake him with a hilarious embrace. Kiss him, love him. Look into his eyes and tell him what a gift from God he is to you. He longs to laugh...let my joy burst forth bringing my strength in the midst of weakness."

"My daughter, tell my son, your husband how you appreciate his hard work. Embrace him."
"But God, what if he rejects me?""Focus on my acceptance of you, not mere man's rejection. Remember, he is not rejecting you but rejecting Me. Be my vessel. I will restore."

"God, what if I can't take it anymore?"
"Then, My daughter, I will reveal that My grace is sufficient for you. My grace will allow you to soar above what you can not walk through in your own strength. You cannot handle this burden alone; but I can and already have."

To see my friend walk out in God's strength is beyond admirable. It is truly seeing royalty at its finest. I am in awe to write a glimpse of her story as the testimony of God continues to unfold in her life, she is falling in love with The Lover of her soul, Jesus Christ. I asked her for permission to share God's testimony through this trying time...and without hesitancy she said, "Yes, share!"

As God allowed me to stand with her, I felt inadequate.
I told God, "I have no idea what she is going through. I am not qualified to pray with her, nor stand with her."
That is when the Lord pierced my heart.
It was as though I heard God say, "You will give Counsel from the Almighty Counselor.
Do not speak what you you want to speak, for when you hear what has taken place you will want to advise her to do what she wants to hear. You must arise and follow My lead, not your lead or the world's in this situation.
No more pleasing man with what they want to hear; but you must please Me and tell yourself and others what must be heard. Boldness shall arise. It is not something you summon on your own strength...submit to Me, abide and live in My Word and the counsel revealed in boldness will bring refreshment as My boldness is driven by pure, genuine love."

Scripture References:
I Peter 4:8
Proverbs 11:25
Ephesians 5:33
II Timothy 2:13
Isaiah 60:1
I Thessalonians 4
I Corinthians 12:9
Acts 4
I Timothy 1:5

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Focus on The Refiner

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

"When trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
~ James 1:2-4 ~

"Noooo.  Please noooo."  The sweet little boy winced and cried as he was incredibly frightened of the shot the doctor was about to administer into his little arm. As panic could be seen rising up in his little face, suddenly it was as though I could hear the most calming voice say, "Tommy, look at mommy.  I'm right here.  You are okay sweetie. Don't look at anything else. Tommy look at me honey."  As he allowed his mom to coax and calm him, his focus on mom remained constant as the shot was administered.  Although he experienced the stinging pain, it was immediately interrupted with the doctor's voice saying, "Well, look at that!  You're all finished, brave young man."

As I saw this illustration in my mind it substantiated what I saw in my mind earlier this week. All I can say is it was perhaps like a ticker going across my mind the following words:
          "Do not allow circumstances to define you; instead allow God to refine you." 
As I was excited about the cool 'ring' to this quote, the more I realized the meaning, reality set in as I realized the refining process is incredibly painful.  So with that, it was as though the Lord gave me explanation to the latter part of the quote.  I believe the Spirit of the Living God was sharing a whisper of hope with me, and here is what I 'saw':
        
         "When I refine you, do not focus on the refining process, 
          focus on Me Your Refiner and you will see 
          that I Am your 'Ever Present Help' in times of lack, 
          in times of abundance and everywhere else in between. 
          I Am The Lord Your God."

The triumphant, victorious reminder in the refining process is that we remember that we are not alone.  When we finally make ourselves aware to His presence, although what we are going through may be more painful than we could ever imagine, the remembrance of knowing Who is with us trumps all pain because we are reminded that He is right there.  

Today, listen to His calming voice say, "Look at me daughter.  Look at me son.  You are okay, I am right here.  Don't look at the fire, look at Me Who brings you through the fire."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Compassion leads us to see...

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation."
~ Psalm 145:9 ~

It's morning rush hour traffic. Her mind is racing; consisting of a checklist of the deadlines that must be met.

A few cars ahead, a young marketer sits in his car as he rehearses in his mind the presentation he will be presenting in just a few hours while he drives to the airport. He feels the pressure of needing to "land this account." He hopes he will be effective. His hands sweat as he begins to feel the anxiety take over, meanwhile his stomach turns in nervousness.

In the meantime there is a car next to him with a man that is wondering helplessly, "How am I going to pay the bills this month?" He feels utter hopelessness. He is still in shock as he remembers just a month ago he was working. He worked at the company for years and then just like that, he was released from his job. His eyes glazed over as he imagines the faces of his wife and children as they depend on him to make it through today. The burden is too heavy. He has to be strong. He can't even think about not making it.

A few miles down, driving down the exit ramp is a woman who just lost her husband. It was sudden. She didn't even get to say, "Goodbye". Anger, utter hopelessness, sadness, despair, pain and deep sorrow annihilate her whole being. Her whole life seems to be over. She thinks to herself with guilt, "I thought we had plenty of time." With everything that is in her, she weeps. She can't feel her own hands on the steering wheel; numb with pain and sorrow.

At the light ahead is a young man who has a ring box with an engagement ring in his shirt pocket and he is planning the way he will propose to his beloved fiance. He is so in love with her. He cannot imagine life without her.

So many different scenarios, with precious souls involved. How do we become more aware of those around us? Many times it is about us reaching out on purpose.

Perhaps, while frequenting the grocery store, there is a particular person who is a cashier that seems to have a permanent scowl on her face. Instead of  a normal reaction, such as getting offended or upset,  perhaps we could give an encouraging word, a compliment and/or maybe ask, "May I give you a hug?"  Even if they say, "No", at least that act of kindness will be forever etched into their memory as hopefully one day they will realize they are worthy.

No matter the endless scenarios of how life treats us; we must remember that the world will most likely not come into a building that we call 'church'.  However we can as the church reach out to our world.

It may seem small and insignificant to us; but it could be the most important thing we may ever do in that person's life.

May we be led by God's compassion. As we are to be vessels of honor, set apart and useful for the Master prepared for every good work (II Timothy 2:20-21).

A great reminder via YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzmWqZS1QSU

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Love isn't Love Until it's What???

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Written by: Teresa Criswell

Image from Google.com
I saw these words in my mind the other day as though it were a three-dimensional sign,
"Love isn't truly love until it's challenged."

"Do WHAT Lord?"  It was as though I could hear the adorable character from 'Different Strokes' say, "Whatcha talkin' about Willis?"

Hmmmmm...Love isn't truly love until it's challenged?

I was thinking, "Now come on!" But at the same time I thought, "To love the loveable is incredibly easy." Of course it's easy to love great people, they are like beautiful flowers; I could smell and adore them all day long.  But what about those who are like a prickly cactus? 

It's quite interesting to see both sides of this.  We often think in judgement over those who rub us the wrong way...but what about us? Have we considered the possibility that we could be 'rubbing others the wrong way'?  To some we may be like a flower whom they really adore and admire; but then to others we may be like a prickly cactus. 

With all that said, you may be asking, "Teresa, what is the point?"  Well I'm glad you asked.  I am finding and continuing learning what LOVE does and is, which is so beautifully revealed in I Corinthians 13:4-7, but I am also learning the HOW to truly love.  Of course our Jesus is the greatest example; as He also challenged us with the following, "If you are willing to listen AND obey, I tell you, Love your enemies." SCREEEEEECH...WHAT THE HECK????  Love my enemies?????  And as though I can hear Him say with a patient smile, "Teresa, I'm not finished. Yes.  Love your enemies and let me tell you how:
DO GOOD to those who HATE YOU.
PRAY for the happiness of those who CURSE YOU.
PRAY for those who HURT YOU..."

Notice for every hate, curse and hurt; God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit reveals the equipment of how to partner with Him and watch those hates, curses and hurts be turned around for His glory...and in turn we get to also be vessels of honor who ECHO what HE is in the business of doing...turning every evil, vile thing into a testimony of WHO HE IS!!!

Although we may not have the ability to love our enemies on our own strength...we have the ability through Christ Jesus as we are reminded that we can truly do ANYTHING THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES US STRENGTH.  And we can also be triumphantly and victoriously reminded that it is not by our power or might but BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD WE CAN DO WHAT HE HAS CALLED US TO BE...AND  THAT IS VICTORIOUS IN HIM!

As we welcome the operation of walking in true love over those who hate, curse and hurt us, let us also pray for others to be able to operate in God's love over us.  Let us be in continual remembrance of God's True LOVE; for even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!!!  Now that is love that was truly challenged.

Scripture References:
Luke 6:27-36
Philippians 4:13
Principle of Who God is as revealed in Zechariah 4:6
Romans 5:8





Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Hem Your Day With Prayer..."

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the oak tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash had been threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "Mighty man of valor, the Lord is with you!"
~ Judges 6:11 & 12 ~


I specifically remember that moment several years ago as I walked into the kitchen. The beautiful picturesque window beheld such beauty as the golf course was surrounded by beautiful trees; leading down a hill as if I could see for miles. Something caught my attention as the rays of the sun peered through the large windows. The light of the sun reflecting none other than photographs on the breakfast table. Curiosity led me closer as I realized that the faces in the photographs were family; my sisters and their families, my family, dad and mom and others as I could clearly see fingerprints revealing the evidence that someone had touched each face over and over again. There on the table was the Bible and the photographs along with an adorable coffee cup, decorated with a beautiful quote, "Hem your day with prayer so that the day does not go unraveled."~ Anonymous.

These photographs that captured my attention belong to my parents.  Mom has pictures of each of us, her children, our spouses, her grandchildren, dad, herself and others. It's amazing to see the pictures of what I would call my beginning. It started with my parents, who begat three daughters and each daughter married as we altogether, at the time, had 7 children.

It is amazing that she prays for three generations every day and prays for the generations after her grandchildren. She touches each face as she lifts each person to the Lord and covers them in prayer by faith calling forth those things of God upon each of our lives. It is amazing to know the steadfastness, love and investment she makes over her family on a daily basis in prayer. It blesses me to know that we are covered, saturated and drenched in the prayers of my mother unto Jesus Christ who is at the right hand of the Father.

As she prays over three generations it leads me to a smile as those passages in the Bible that are many times so frustrating to read. Mentioning a few, such as Genesis 5, Numbers 1-3, and I Chronicles 1-9. Attempting to read all the names that I have no idea how to say; I have even said to myself admitting this to God, "Who cares....", yet through those 'boring' scriptures it reveals that God is so into the generations. I heard it said once by a well known pastor, "When God looks at us, He not only see us, but He sees the generations after us." It is a WOW and aweing thought to attempt to comprehend.

This leads me to see that without faith it is impossible to please God. Why? Well, first of all because God is Faith, and He also utilizes faith on our behalf. We in faith have to remember that there are people connected to us that are not born at this moment. Maybe future children, future grandchildren. Nonetheless, God knows them at this moment, before they have been formed in their mother's womb (Psalm 139).

Think about this for a moment...when God saw Gideon (Judges 6), this man who was trying to hide the wheat in the threshing floor to keep whatever was left from the enemies; the Midianites that were taking all of their resources, the angel of the Lord comes to him and says, "The Lord says of you Gideon that you are a mighty man of valor."

I have to confess that when I have read that, I laugh. The reason is because where he was in that moment was FAR from a mighty man of valor. Yet it is so powerful to see God speak in faith over Gideon what He was destined to become. He didn't speak over Him what He saw in that moment, instead He spoke His divine purpose and that was 'a mighty man of valor and courage'.

Can you imagine if God spoke over us what He saw at this present moment? Some of us would be doomed. Yet, because of God's Eternal nature, He knows what is to come before it happens; however to know that He calls us to do things that He has already purposed us to do is truly incredible.  

Just as my mom so passionately prays over the faces that she has intentionally placed before her every morning, I am reminded to hold close to my heart and pray for the ones that will one day walk this earth who will one day be living out what she has prayed.

At this very moment, I am triumphantly and victoriously reminded to "Hem the 'scene' of hope in God today with praying and echoing His Word so that the 'scene' of hope in God tomorrow does not unravel."