Saturday, April 30, 2016

Testimony...

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





As the Holy Spirit flowed, I was learning even more as a mouthpiece of His message of faith through last night's Girlfriends 2016 Women Conference in Belton.  One of the many reminders while speaking and sharing my testimony of waywardness to redemption, was in regards to how my incredible parents prayed prayers of faith for over a decade over me, even in the times when they didn't know if I was dead or alive. The reminder that came forth was when we pray by faith, it doesn't mean we don't recognize the "facts". Think about it, my parents knew the painful, hard hitting facts. They wept and were distraught especially when they heard what people were saying about my lifestyle - but PRAISE GOD, my parents even in those moments did not allow those "facts" to replace God's TRUTH in changing how they prayed. They continued God's declarations of faith; they echoed His Truth and perhaps the faith declarations; the echoing Word of Truth spoken went something like this, "Teresa is a daughter of The King, she is as a graceful pillar carved to beautify a palace - she will gather women together and share of the goodness of God. She is no longer wayward but now redeemed as she will live and declare the works of the Lord..."

Oh how our prayers of faith in the midst of trying circumstances are unshakeable even while we may shake with everything in us - yet even still - if and when we focus Who our faith must be in, we begin to get excited again in Him as we remember WHO IS FOR US - more so than who is against us.

As I think upon that evening, it was so sweet as my mom came to surprise me as I was invited to be the guest speaker for this beautiful women's conference - and upon that moment, receiving the microphone, and going up to the platform - it was divinely incredible to watch my mom get to see the prayers of her and dad's faith unfold right before her eyes...as I shared God's testimony of my story - I witnessed her at many times closing her eyes and sensing she was even in that moment interceding for me as I declared the testimony of God's character and faithfulness.

I am reminded of a glimpse of God's victorious mindset...If you've been stolen from in any way - whether the financial realm; or perhaps life ending in death; to health being compromised with sickness and disease; from marriage being severed by separation or divorce; from anticipation of giving birth to the suddenly news of a miscarriage; or longing for your wayward son or daughter to come home; in the midst of mourning; God has equipped us with HIS victory by His grace that allows us to rise above the ashes even while tears stream down our face and in His strength proclaim with HIS WORD, "Oh no! The enemy won't get the satisfaction that he stole from me - instead I now sow/give that moment back to You Father as a seed; I release those people and moments to You as I KNOW YOU Father take every evil thing and turn it around for YOUR GLORY and I will partner with YOU Lord as I know I will receive a 30, 60, 100 fold return in Jesus name to share the greatness of YOU LORD yet again; for I will not be kept quiet even as I wait - FOR MY HOPE IS IN YOU LORD and in this hope that I have in You, my strength shall be renewed - I WILL run and not be weary; I WILL walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31)!"

Scripture References:
Psalm 144:12
Proverbs 18:21
Romans 4:17
Psalm 45:10-13
Book of Hosea
Isaiah 60 and 61
Romans 8:31
Matthew 13
Isaiah 40:31

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prayers of Faith...

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

"Without faith it is impossible to please God."
~ Hebrews 11:6 ~

Have you ever been in awe of a child's imagination?  The world of colors and wild adventure - no boxes, just open skies, open atmosphere...creativity revealed in pictures, words, movements, songs and so much more.

(Photo, courtesy of my sister, Mary Kay McCall)


Imagination geared to The God of PURE imaginations is one of the tools to walk by faith in HIM!

Here's an example of what I mean by this.  I have to believe my parents did this over me as they believed in God, no matter what I did - they believed God more so than what they saw me doing. I truly believe this is how they prayed for me...may this bring encouragement and may your soul be refreshed as it aligned with the spirit of who God intended you to be - for your spouse to be - your children - your friends - your acquaintances - those you pray for:

This is a glimpse of what "prayers of faith" look like and what we get to declare over our sons/daughters - when the naysayers ask or people we know who care, yet pray what they "see" instead of what God intended - this is how we get to speak...for the sons and daughters are depending on our prayers of faith, not the prayers of frustration or prayers that curse them with a woeing doom...instead it's prayers that reveal the fear of the Lord that cause our prayers to line up with The way Jesus prays to The Father.
Example of the prayers of faith that I believe my parents prayed while I was astray...
Friend/Acquaintance: How is Teresa?
Can you imagine if my parents responded: We are so glad you asked as I'm not going to share what is going on in the present moment as this too shall pass - however we will tell you who our Teresa really is - 
Teresa is a woman after God's heart, she is doing the purposes of God as she binds up the broken hearted, she comforts those who mourn and she's proclaiming liberty to the captives and declaring that the prisoners WILL BE set free! If you could see her, she is as a graceful pillar carved to beautify a palace and her mind is so renewed with the understanding of Who God is that she is walking out the unfolding beauty of her knowing of who she is IN HIM! Instead of searching who she is - she is searching after Jesus and now knows who she really is as she knows she doesn't belong to herself, she belongs to God and God alone!

Oh, if you could see her, you would be moved to tears as she gathers the women together to see God and go to Him as little children who know they can trust Him with all their hearts and with everything they have! She has this new way of thinking like Christ as every diagnosis of this fallen world has disappeared and the diagnosis of God is being revealed in her very life - it's amazing how she is now addicted to God and pursues Him with a passion that causes others to want to come to God! The Holy Spirit arrested her spirit and now her soul is lined up with His plans and purposes and she wears this crown of beauty and drips with this oil of joy that has a fragrance you can't stop smelling and she has this new wardrobe of praise and her ONLY STRONGHOLD now is her Everlasting Father as He is her future and her hope - the events of her life do not hold her hope and future - instead it is God who does and now her every moments and events reveal Who truly is her hope and future!! Oh my! We are looking forward to you meeting our daughter as you have already met her two beautiful sisters!

And in this faith declaration as this I BELIEVE HAD TO HAVE BEEN somewhat declared over me - no matter what they "saw" in the natural, dad and mom were not moved by me and how I was behaving, instead they saw God's glory in my life and that's what they held onto and declared and as we do this - watch what others will see as we begin to pray like this...each of us will see with the "God compassion" and even when we speak to the daughters who are not lining with the destiny of God "yet" - we can say, just as I remember my dad saying things like, "Teresa, this is the REAL YOU..." - and this will one day cause our children, our spouse, our friends, our family members to walk out of sin and shame and into the very ONE Who delivers them out of selfish desires and into Himself who is selfless.

Tears stream even now as this past Friday (Passover) at Daughters of The King, God so sweetly reminded me of where I was without my awareness of Him all those years ago and in this He reminded me of who prayed in faith over me and how to pass it along to the ones who need to hope in our God.

I just know this is a small glimpse of God's heart and Kingdom perspective of how to pray over the ones who are wayward as God does not call them "wayward" but "found, redeemed and reconciled to Himself" and this moment of remembrance caused me to have a more softened heart.  

Yesterday while in our corporate, family gathering at REACH Church, as Pastor Chris Gilkey spoke to never give up and I also remembered as pastor spoke that My Jesus, my Champion declared life over me when many others saw me as rebellious, hopeless and an aimless wanderer - this series that pastor is teaching has brought me to a new place of remembering - remembrance of the goodness of God is so key, isn't it? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

40 Years Ago...

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



Persistence. Perseverance. Tenacity. Never give up.

It was in 1976, on a Tuesday evening yet another knock on the door. It was like clock work. Every Tuesday night for a couple weeks, Ray and his counterpart were on their Tuesday evening "visitation" route as a particular couple's home was part of their route every week for the last few weeks.

Of course, on the other end, the couple knew who it was as they had a routine drill of their own. Whenever the couple heard the knock on the door, they would slowly get on the ground, crawl on all fours to make the outsiders think no one was home.  The only problem? Ray knew they were home because one, their car was in the driveway and two, he could hear the floors creaking as they tried to quietly move away from the front room.  If I remember the story correctly, Ray would knock on the door, hear the creaking sounds and then say something like, "Gerard! I know you're in there...today is the day of Salvation." I laugh as I love this man's persistence - it was like the Holy Spirit through Ray compelled him to not give up because of the calling on their lives and even the lives of those who were not born yet.

After a few visits of no one answering the door...this particular evening, after Ray's persistent attempts to see another person come to Jesus, Gerard finally opened the door to his home along with his wife Nan and their two year old little girl.  That very day changed the course of this family's future. Not only did Gerard open the door to his physical home - but he opened up the door of his heart to Jesus. From that moment, Gerard and Nan went on to have two more little girls...they taught their three daughters about this God who loved them so much that He sent His willing Son to die for them so that they could live a life with God.  This incredible couple brought these young ladies up in the Lord as Ray had been their pastor for a number of years. These young women remember being brought up with beautiful families that did life together, broke bread together and fellowshipped often - they remember all the gatherings - the fellowships - the going out to eat at Godfather's Pizza and then years later God would lead Gerard and Nan out into the unknown - yet so known by God.

Through all the ups and downs - the challenges of life and even their oldest daughter who would stray away from all that she knew, including this God that seemed so far away as she was more in awe of the world than in awe of the One Who loved the world - even in this, it led this beautiful family to trust God more - they became a family that stood united - no matter who walked away, they would stay faithful to this amazing God Who seemed to pause the world that evening in 1976 just for them. It was as though they could never forgot and could't turn their back on God just because their oldest daughter did.  They prayed for her, they loved her from afar, not knowing if she was still alive as months would go by before they ever heard from her.

Who is this family that I speak of?  It's my family...you see, in 1976, our lives changed forever because a man who was touched forever by God had to share this touch with others. God's love is persistent - His love is unchanging and His love never gives up!

I am so grateful to God for Ray Pew, whom I still refer to as "Pastor Pew" - he will forever have a place in my heart...you never know who you'll get to introduce to Jesus - you never know the lives that will be forever changed...but just know this - God's heart is for the lost and broken - He doesn't give up and His love is what must be received so we can freely give to others from this boundless love that is far more reaching than we can ever imagine!

What happened to Gerard and Nan's daughter?  Well, that daughter is me...and there's a line that my middle sister would say on a consistent basis whenever she spoke to me...before we would hang up the phone she would say, "Teresa, remember you can take a million steps away from God...but take one step back and He is right there."

Well, in 1993 Teresa walked away from all that she knew - and almost 10 years later, in October 2002 her mom and dad flew to see her and her family to deliver a ring that her dad designed just for her as he did for her other two sisters.  As her dad gave her the ring, he said, "Whenever you see this ring, say a prayer for mom and dad." Of course, didn't dad know better?  He knew she didn't pray...and yet 5 months later, on March 6, 2003, their daughter would surrender her all to Jesus and never turn back as later she realized that the ring was a prophetic point of contact to say, "Welcome home daughter...welcome home!"

Be persistent with God's persistence...His persistence is moved by His eternal love that is unchanging and the only thing impossible to God is to give up - He doesn't know how - He is faithful even when we are not!

Bless you today and if you are a family member or friend who hasn't given up yet on a loved one to to be saved and forever changed - don't give up now, instead remember this promise that Paul reminded the jailer from Acts 16..."You and your household shall be saved!" Don't be moved by their mess ups - just be moved by the message God has in the midst of their mess.  As my sister would say, "Teresa, you're living out your testimony!" And wow...she wasn't kidding!



Monday, April 11, 2016

Schemes...

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



Based on the goodness of God and His wisdom - God has reminded me in my mess ups the reason we are called to "confess our sins one to another" - it is to remain in unity with the Holy Spirit of God - and when we do this, we know it comes with a call to pray for one another and even have the ability to pray for one another's healing (James 5:16).

Notice, it does NOT say, "confess OTHER people's sins to one another" because that is called, Gossip and it brings division amongst one another.

What does division actually do? It dismembers; cuts off limbs; mutilates...this is what happens in the spirit when we get caught up in division of any sort  - we end up taking the "ax of the enemy" and dismembering and mutilating others.

This picture in and of itself is alarming and will help us to not fall prey to the schemes of the enemy - his scheme is to get us to stand on his side of the courtroom to accuse others because he knows the great law of sowing and reaping and he would love nothing more than for us to reap havoc in our own lives because our point of view on others was not God's. Yet, just know this - the enemy will even make us feel as though we are in the right so we feel better about our "self-righteous" stand - oh! But this is when we can say, "He got to us too late because I know what God says..."

Let each of us be watchful and if someone begins to gossip about someone's marriage, divorce, addictions, wayward children or other personal matters, immediately stop it as you cover them as well as the one they are about to talk about - covering them with the mercy of God as God's grace empowers you to stand in Truth. Remember, the person who is about to gossip may not know it is gossip, as they may be new in The Lord and truly concerned for the individual's well being...that is where we get to come in and offer a teaching opportunity - and here is a way on "how" to do that...

"I need to interject as my spirit is not at ease with where our conversation is going. I so understand your concern, and I have been where you are - yet I have learned that God's concerns must trump our own as I am reminded of what God's Word says in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let corrupt or foul communication come out of our mouths - only that which is good to the use of edifying and encouraging so that the result brings grace to those who hear it."

I know I need this reminder on a daily basis - the enemy does not care if we are new or seasoned in the Lord - many times he will use situations that would draw a "convicting opinion" out of us which will only help his cause because we can easily justify why we have "the right" to accuse them.

Here's another reminder that trumps that "self righteous" thinking from Luke 6:27-38, "Jesus said, "If you're willing to listen then love your enemies..." Jesus continued by saying HOW to love them - "Bless those that hurt you, pray for those that use you and bless those who persecute you."

This is humanly impossible - but with the reminder of God's Love we have freely received - when that reminder takes place- it's like this "lid" comes off and His love runs freely through us - His grace empowers us to do above and beyond what we could ever do on our own. Isn't He amazing? He has equipped us! Yes He has!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Do We Add To The Chaos Or Do We Bring Peace?

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



When you walk into a situation...do you add negative insight to an already difficult situation? Or do you provide an atmosphere of hope? A safe place for others to thrive?

As we ponder those personal questions - here's how to activate God's faith, hope and love...be aware of God's character - how He is immovable and unchanging - no matter pop culture or circumstances or even other people's annoyances or shortcomings - just because we recognize those things does not mean we were ever meant to focus on them.  

This is a Triumphant Victorious Reminder that God is not moved by our ever changing moments of despair or joy - nor is He moved by our current status - He is not even "fickled out" by our upbringing or lack thereof - nor is He moved by whether you worked hard all your life or if you are just plain lazy...He is compelled by Himself because He is faithful and is the God of integrity and character and in this He has purposed to infuse His character and integrity  into our being so we may exercise His ability through our lives to receive the mandate to spread the Gospel of the Good News with not just our words but with our lives, displaying the Kingdom of God which is Righteousness, Peace and Joy!

Let's go...let's go in His peace - the Shalom of God that causes nothing to be broken or missing in Jesus name! What about those moments when we see things broken and missing?  We have the opportunity to change from mere sight to vision by doing something - and that "something" is utilizing our faith in God that "calls those things that be not as though they already are..." - now that's the life in Him we get to live with victory to spread hope and joy into others!

Scripture references:
Psalm 91
Micah 6:8
Galatians 6:9
Romans 4:17