These Man’s Eyes Don’t Lie

I don’t define myself by my failures.

I don’t define myself by my successes.

I don’t define myself by my outer beauty.

I don’t define myself by my clothes.

I don’t define myself by my stuff.

I don’t define myself by my income.

I don’t define myself by my social status.

I don’t define myself by my job.

I don’t define myself by the words that others use to describe me.

I define myself by who He says I am.   All else can and will fade away.

I heard the gentle voice of the Lord in middle of the night when I was having trouble going to sleep.    I was thinking about some comments that were made by friends about me at my birthday party.    As kind as their words were, they are not what defines me.

For years I fell into the comparison trap.  I felt as if I wasn’t really where I was supposed to be in my life because I didn’t have a husband or a family of my own.  Many a friend and family member have I watched get married and have a family.   This is not my story.  God has had a different plan for me.  It’s different than what I would have chosen for myself years ago, but yet I am satisfied with right where I am.

It has taken me awhile to get to this place of satisfaction and completion.   At times I have come into what I thought was satisfaction, but then quickly fell back into the comparison trap. A few months ago, I had a breakthrough in this area.  The breakthrough came out of utter and total despair about the state of being alone.   Yes, no kidding.  Isn’t that when breakthrough comes?!  It often comes when we are the bottom emotionally and have no where else to look but up.   It comes with the cry, “Only You alone, Lord can pull me out of this despair and loneliness.”

And all of this to say, I haven’t always been in this state.  It’s been an up and down journey. However, this time, I believe that so much has changed in my pattern of thinking about myself, that it will be hard to go back to that lowly emotional state.

Let me tell you how and why a revelation of His love for me has pulled me out of that pit.

It’s become a season of love where I have begun to sit with Him for much longer periods of time and just BE WITH HIM.   Not just be in the Word or be in prayer for others, but BE WITH HIM and allow Him to just BE the GREAT I AM to me.   Sit still in His presence and fill up on His love for me.  This is new to me.  I’m used to worship and praise.  I’m used to interceding in prayer for others, and praying in the Spirit.   But just sitting and being still, and bringing nothing but my gaze is not something I’ve done much in my life, and I’ve been a Christian since I was a child.  I’ve walked with Him for many years, but the depth of the relationship has become sweeter and deeper and more full of joy now.  In a more real way than ever before.

I’m so in love with the One who made me and redeemed me and counsels me.   What matters most of all is how He looks at me.   I want to behold Him and become like the One I behold.

Jesus loves me so much that He gave up His life for me.   In his eyes I see who I truly am.  My heart is has become intertwined with His unfailing love and that’s why I am only defined by who He says I am. When I keep my gaze on Him, I remain in the place of satisfaction and completion no matter what I am lacking in terms of my natural life.

There’s no possible way I could explain this in human terms. This is nothing like a relationship on this earth with a human being. There’s no possible way to relate it to a relationship between two human beings. The reason why is because human beings have a sinful nature. Yes, we’ve been redeemed. However, we have a sinful nature, but when you behold yourself in the eyes of Jesus, you are beholding the perfection that is in His eyes. His love is beaming with no condemnation or guile. His love is selfless and kind, and it’s not fragile. It’s not even dependent upon our love for Him.

That’s why you have to define yourself by who He says you are.  Do you understand? Do you understand that He knows the beginning from the end of your life?  Do you understand that He has always known the number of hairs on your head? Do you understand that He is the light of your path? Do you understand that He knit you together in your mother’s womb and fashioned you for a specific purpose that only you can fulfill?  This purpose can only be found by staying close to His heart, by listening to his voice, and looking into His eyes.

I am so grateful for the love of Jesus. Grateful is not even the right word for it. I am satisfied in Him.  These man’s eyes never lie.

 

*Please read Eric Gilmour’s book School of His Presence.  Attending His conference and reading this book has encouraged me to bring my relationship with Jesus to a deeper level than ever before.

 

 

 

Why Singles Should Know Where They Want to Sit!

I am reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey.  It’s a best seller.  He talks about paradigms that we all have and how “where we stand, depends on where we sit.”  What is paradigm?  It’s the way we see the world in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting. It’s essentially a map. A map is not the actual territory, it’s an explanation of certain aspects of the territory.  We all tend to interpret things in terms of the way things are and in the way things should be. These maps actually produce behaviors and attitudes.  And let me tell you as a single, this greatly influence our approach to relationships and dating.

I had a conversation with a group of people and one particular friend on a hot topic.  My friend was a champion on the views put forth in a new book on dating and singleness that she recently read. She seemed to wholeheartedly to agree with the principles that the writer put forth. As I listened, I thought completely along a different vantage point. Her background, experience in life, cultural, family, and church experience has shaped her view. So has all of this shaped mine.

Our stories are totally different. I mean, everyone’s stories are different, but ours happen to be VERY different.  I listened to her and thought honestly that she was agreeing with the writer’s own paradigm about the subject of dating. Her wants, desires, and experiences seem to line up with what he was saying, and she feels his ideas are true.  Not really wanting to get into an intense conversation, I didn’t really say much.   I respect where she’s coming from, and respect her as a person.  She has much faith in her own paradigm.  However, I have a fairly different paradigm at this stage in my life.  It looks nothing like the paradigm I used to have in my 20’s.  Thank God.

People sometimes use the Bible to support their ideas or paradigm on dating.  I’ve read many different books on the subject.  All of them having many valid points.  Each one of them kind of coming from a different paradigm. Many of them are full of wisdom principles, and many of them are full of opinions based on each writer’s personal experiences.   However, the Bible doesn’t really talk about the actual subject of how to go about dating in terms of:  whether or not we should go on dating websites; go out a lot on one-on-one dates or only do it through community; or make sure we hear from God about His choice of a mate for us.    Our beliefs about all of these things come from our own experiences and worldview.   We all have different needs according to our past, and we all are wired differently in what our hearts can handle in our lives. So, of course, we all have different paradigms!

The Bible does discuss the matters of the heart as a matter of character.   It describes the values and virtues that should govern the life of a believer, that should govern the life of every believer whether single or married.   It talks of sexual purity, honesty, sincerity, unconditional love, unselfishness, honor, respect, etc.    I’ve focused a lot more on those principles in the last years.   I’d rather not argue with certain Christian single’s point of views on all the other matters.  God knows I’ve been pretty adamant about my views in the past.   Healthy discussions are needed in the Body of Christ, but arguing is not really profitable conversation.

How to choose where you sit!

  1. Be fully convinced and in faith in your own paradigm for dating. 

Whether or not you “kissed dating goodbye” or you “date whomever you want whenever you want” it’s up to each person to do what is in his heart to do what is right for them.  Some may exclaim that kissing dating goodbye ruined their lives, while others exclaim that it saved them from much heartache, and they met their mate in the context of community.  (You would have to read Joshua’s Harris book to fully understand this concept.)  Their love story was pure, beautiful, and completely designed by God.    I’m not taking sides with either point of view, and I don’t really feel the need to explain my point of view right now.  However, I do believe that,  “Each one should be full convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5

I am navigating myself through this treacherous territory of my single life with my own “map” for this territory.   Is it ever changing?  Of course.   It’s a beautiful and wonderful life that I have, and I am in a great place right now. My new paradigm is from a vantage point that has brought me more satisfaction than I ever have had in my life.   I have thoroughly thought through it.   I have some very strong convictions that other singles might laugh at or disagree with.  And one of them is that I just don’t go out with any attractive Christian guy who asks me out.  It’s just not gonna happen.  Yes, I pray about it.  That’s cliche for some people, but not for me.   It’s real life.   I don’t want to date and date and date for months and months because everything appears hunky-dory only to later really seek the Lord for peace after I’ve fully emotionally invested myself in the relationship.  That’s an upside down paradigm that made me stand in a hurtful place for more than one season of my life.  Not going back there.   I am fully convinced and in faith that I am sitting in the right place now, and will stand in the right relationship for me at the right time.   It’s about stinking time I got to this point.   I’m healthier, truly happier, and have more purpose and vision than ever before.  How did I come up with this vision, well a whole lot of time consulting the Lord.  So above all else, make sure that you…

2. Consult God on His map for you and where He wants you to “sit”. 

Ask God the hard question….What paradigms do I have that are not your paradigms? I want to see the world essentially the way He sees the world. I want to see experiences and people the way He sees them. I want to not just THINK that I am perceiving things with my spirit, I want to KNOW that I am perceiving things with my spirit through His vantage point, so that my behaviors and attitudes about all things are pleasing to Him.  (Galatians 5: 16-24)   One of my mentors talked about the other night how we should be a people who pray with such great confidence that when we pray, we know – it shall be done. That’s having a paradigm that exists at a higher level, and not just based on what is naturally seen with the human eye.   Covey talks of how we see the world not as it is, but as we are. The Bible says:

1 John 4: 17   By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

For years I read this as – I need to know myself by how God sees me, but that’s only one side of it.   Really and truly when I cultivate intimacy more and more with the One who created me, then I more fully know who I am.   My focus these days is in knowing Him, for this intimacy shapes my personal paradigm.   When I am living in the love of God, then I am truly living and all else flows from that place of intimacy.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Furthermore, if “where I stand is where I sit,”  then I want to make sure that I stay seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.   That takes a lot of effort and time, but it helps to keep my heart in the right place and ready to receive a mate at the right time.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Why The Hallmark Kind of Love Fails

There are several standard plots in Hallmark movies.  They are far from realistic in some ways, though I can’t help watching them often, especially this holiday season.  These movies represent typically a woman longing for unconditional love.  She finds different kinds of love through the course of the film.  We all cheer in the end at what the man and woman both find, and truly it’s an “Awwwh, I want that moment” for most women watching,  but let’s a take a look at the Hallmark kind of love.   

The Hallmark Kind of Love     

  1. It is friendship love that falls short of the deepest desire for enduring true love.   

In practically every plot we see the longing of the woman to be married to a perfect prince, to sweep her off of her feet.  In the beginning of the movie we see that she’s so in love with the idea of marriage, that she stays in a relationship with the perfect guy.  He doesn’t “ruffle her feathers” about anything. He doesn’t challenge her. He is so much like her in his personality, goals, and interests, that there’s really no adventure or tension in the relationship. She’s been with this guy for a long time, not seeing that he is really not what she needs to be with the rest of her life. She doesn’t realize that loving someone and being in love with someone are not the same.  She only really has “friendship love” with her boyfriend.  The boyfriend has to be the one to break up with her, often right at the moment that she thinks he is going to propose to her!! She is mortified.  After the relationship ends, the Hallmark girl is hoping to find true love, but is often a bit jaded, and not sure it will ever happen for her.

2. It is romantic love that is based on feelings. 

When the girl meets a new guy who is nothing like her last boyfriend,  she often clashes with him. He might get under her skin in some ways because he does not totally agree with her on some things.  However, the more she’s around him she becomes more and more attracted to him. They start to develop some friendship intimacy and she is actually kind of taken off guard by how much she starts to like him. He falls in love with her, and she falls in love with him through some really beautiful life experiences. They find that though they are different, they really enjoy being with each other.  Then, there’s some kind of complication that causes her to either run from him or him to run from her. A friend or family member talks them into running back to each other because they know that they have found true love. They talk through their differences, he explains his heart for her, and it all works out beautifully because they both “feel” ooey-gooey after only knowing each other often for only a few weeks! 

Who doesn’t want to feel ooey-gooey and in the euphoric state of being in love?!  We all do!  We all want that, but that kind of love is nothing like the love of God, which never, never, never, fails.

Why do we need the unconditional love of God?

  1. His love is committed to us for eternity. 

Since I’ve watched so many of these movies I have begun to realize how many analogies there are to our relationship with Jesus as the lover of our souls. We have often been mesmerized and “in love” with the world or a person, only to find the world or the person dumping us or letting us down and leaving us. We feel as if we will never find anyone who will truly love us.  However, the love of God is committed to for eternity.  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.  We are yoked to Him in covenant when we have made Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord of our lives.  Covenant is not broken even with death.  He doesn’t break His covenant of love even if we run away from him for weeks, months, or years.  He is always waiting with open arms.   That’s a powerful love.

2. His love transforms us into better people.  

The love of Jesus will come running after us, even if we are running from it.   He is not like any other lover.   He is gentle, kind, and has many qualities that we don’t have. He challenges us with new ideas and new ways of looking at ourselves, our lives, and other people.  He even “ruffles our feathers” a bit because we don’t always think that what He thinks is right, but we can’t help but be intrigued by His suggestions, ideas, and sense of adventure!  When we begin to give our heart to Him and open up to Him, and start trust Him, then His love transforms us.  

3. His love is always present, every minute of the day and night. 

In every human relationship we can not always be with that person.   They are not present every second of the day.   Well, His love is always near.  After Jesus died, God sent the Holy Spirit as our counselor to live on the inside of us.  He is present at all times to teach us all things we need to know.  To comfort us, support us, calm us, give us joy, every minute of the day – and EVERY TIME we call out to Him.   What kind of person can be there for you like that?! No human being on the face of the earth can or ever will be able to do that.

There’s been some seasons in my life when I think I got so focused on the cares of this world that I stopped connecting with the love of God.   And sometimes when things weren’t going right, just like the Hallmark girl, I ran from being in the presence of my Lover and no longer was listening to what He had to say to me every day.    I’m not currently in a relationship with a man on this planet, so as a single I have to stay connected to His love, or I become lonely, hopeless, depressed, fearful, and even angry.    Oh, but when I do stay connected with that love, I look at my singleness in such a different way, and I am fully alive, fully aware that I already belong to One who gave up His life for me.

He’s waiting for you!

Maybe you’re the Hallmark character who has run from The One who loves you. Maybe you are in a season where you are upset with your first love, Jesus.  He is waiting for you with open arms. He wants your heart again. His love for you is everlasting and unconditional.   You may need to start wherever you are, even if your life is a mess because you have left Him out of the picture.  This time really give Him your whole heart and soul.    He will never leave you or forsake you.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

 In the movie I watched last night the couple at the end had to re-introduce themselves to each other.    Maybe you need to say, “Hi, Jesus, it’s me _________________. I need you in my life.”

He’s waiting for you.  Your First Love is waiting.  And this man is full of unconditional, agape love.  He never ever gives up on you. He keeps no records of your wrongs.  This man has written your name on the palm of His hand and knows how many hairs are on your head.   This man gave up His life for yours.  This is way better than the “Hallmark” kind of love.  No comparison, period.

Jeremiah 29: 11‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Song of Solomon 2: He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

Song of Solomon 7: 10 I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.

Dairy-Free Butternut Squash Lasagna!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You won’t know this is dairy-free, I promise!  It’s creamy and delicious, and has way less saturated fat than if made with milk and cream.  I love pretty much any dish made with butternut squash.  It’s such a creamy and yet sweet vegetable that God created for us to enjoy.  When looking for a perfect fall dish, this is a absolutely perfect!

Ingredients

2 medium-sized butternut squash  or 3 cans of butternut squash puree

1  tsp of cinnamon

1  tsp of nutmeg

4 cups of coconut and/or almond Milk

1 – 1 1/2 pound of ground turkey meat

1 tbs of fresh sage or 1 tsp of dried sage

1tbs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme

3 onions

2 tbs of Nutritional Yeast

2 tbs of Tapioca Flour or All-Purpose Flour

Oven-Bake Lasagna Noodles

1 tsp. of salt

1/2 tsp. of pepper

1 – 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil

1 package of vegan mozzarella-style cheese shreds

Steps

  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.  Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.   Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt and drizzle on coconut oil.   Lay on a greased pan with foil liner and bake for 45 minutes.  After they cool a little, scoop out and put in your blender. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and one cup of almond or coconut milk.   *If you want to skip this step then just take 3 cans of butternut squash puree, and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut to it.   Then, blend in blender until very smooth.  You might need to add a little bit more coconut or almond milk to make it more smooth and less clumpy.   Put aside in a large bowl or glass measuring pitcher.
  2. Brown ground turkey meat and one diced onion in the skillet with the 1/2 tsp of salt, the sage, and the thyme. Set browned meat aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Béchamel sauce: Put three cups of coconut or almond milk in the blender and 2 tbs of nutritional yeast and blend well.  Sit aside.  Add grapeseed oil or coconut oil to a medium sized pot and adding two diced onions or one large onion to the pot.  Cook so transparent.  Add tapioca flour to onions, and stir well.  Add blended coconut milk and nutritional yeast, and salt to taste.   Let this bubble for a few minutes in the pot on medium-low.  Be careful to stir it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.   Then, turn off burner.
  5. Assemble the lasagna now! Grease the bottom of your glass rectangular dish.  Take a soup ladle and spoon about half of the Béchamel sauce on the bottom.   Lay down probably 3 – 4 noodles on it.    Pour about half of the butternut squash mixture on it top of noodles.   Put half of the ground turkey on top of that.  Put 3 – 4 noodles on.  Put the rest of Béchamel sauce on top of noodles. Put more butternut squash mixture and ground turkey, and then top with about half of the shredded vegan mozzarella cheese.    You can honestly layer any way you want.   This way worked for me.
  6. Cover loosely with foil.   Bake in oven for 45 minutes on 350 degrees.   Take out and remove foil.   Turn oven up to broil.  Add the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top.  Put back in oven for 3 – 5 minutes to make the mozzarella bubble and brown a bit.
  7. Let sit for about 10 minutes before eating.

Recipe by Cynthia Lowa

I never measure exact measurements for herbs and salt and pepper.  Feel free to just play it by ear and salt and season to taste!

Learn A Lesson From a Cucumber!

I couldn’t help but think of so many practice spiritual and life lessons today that I learned while picking cucumbers!  Yes, I just said picking cucumbers.

First thing I noticed was that in the places with the most vines covering the ground, were the highest number of hiding cucumbers.   In fact, the most giant, plump cucumbers were usually there. Seriously.  They were beautiful.

I said to myself as I was picking,  “That’ll preach!”

I’ve often felt overlooked at times in my life.  To be really honest, it’s currently a feeling that I have been overcoming myself.  However, I know that my Father God has been hiding me in a place where I can develop and grow to my full maturity, AND THEN be “picked”.  I might feel insignificant and invisible, even to God at times, but I am not.

My Father God has a purpose and plan in every season.   I believe in this season He wants me to stay in the “shade” a little longer, hidden from the “pickers”!  In the shadows, I have had to be willing to allow Him to change me and “ripen” me to be ready to be used by Him whenever and wherever He sees fit.

If you feel like you are in the shadows today, don’t despair.

In the shadows I pray for you as Paul did in Colossians 1:9 – 12 that …

You are being filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

You are walking in the manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects.

You are being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

You know where we really should be hiding?  We should be hiding in the secret place with Him.

Psalm 32:7  You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

This puts a whole new perspective on being in the shadows.  Who cares how long you have to hide, when you are abiding in the secret place with Him?!  This will make you stop complaining, and start being grateful for the time to hide with Him.  It has certainly done that for me.  I have had to make a choice to abide in the secret place with Him where all peace and hope is found.

Romans 5: 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character,hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been pouredout within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

So essentially this means…….

Tribulation =  perseverance = proven character =  HOPE.

When you get the point of “proven character”, basically, what this is saying is that – it will be hard for you to be disappointed EVER.  That’s really a character trait that we all want, isn’t it?!

I’m not talking about being numb and not wanting anything any more. I’m talking about knowing that every dream will come true in God’s time, beyond a shadow of a doubt!   I’m talking about dreaming big while being in the shadows, yet being totally satisfied in your intimacy with Him.

So, you may not be receiving that promotion that you want right now.  If you have the right attitude and submit to the process,  you will get so strong in character that it will be hard for anything to sway you or disappoint you.  When you do finally come out of hiding  you will KNOW YOUR GOD in a way that you didn’t before.  That is, if you truly make the choice to pursue more intimacy with Him!!

Do you sense I’m about to get up and start dancing?!?!

You will discover WHOSE YOU ARE, AND WHO YOU ARE!

You might have to serve in positions that are not your favorite.  You may have to do things that your flesh doesn’t necessarily love doing.  All the while you will be going deeper and deeper in God.

Totally on the flip side of things, there was another thing I noticed when picking cucumbers today. Many of the kids started munching on the smaller cucumbers.    I munched on one myself, and thought they were delightful, too. The small ones were tasty, too!  For some reason, I thought maybe they wouldn’t be, but the indeed were tasty.

You may feel like a little cucumber, totally not ready at all to be picked, but God may want you to get “picked” right now!   Can He use you?  Yes?!

(“You’re comparing me to a little cucumber,” you say. “What is a Veggie Tale story in the making?!?!”)

God may want to use you right now as unqualified as you may feel.     Yep, it’s true.

God may also want you to wait and let you develop and hide you and ripen you for the appointed time when He will cause you to be noticed and brought in the light!  And boy oh boy when you finally get picked, you are not at all the same person that you were before.  If you had been picked way before that, it might have been a big disaster, because as the saying goes….your talent will take your where your character won’t keep you.   Now you will have “staying power”, as I call it.    Yow will remain (hopefully) in that newly appointed position in the light because your character will be fully developed.

And furthermore I couldn’t help but notice something else…

A lot of the kids picking the cucumbers today were not willing to really, really look hard at the ground, but just kind of grabbed the ones that were easily visible.

I see this like…we may be overlooked by people who are just looking for talent and noticeable gifts,  but those who are looking for quality and depth, will look harder, and look more at character.  God can cause you to be highlighted and all of a sudden seen and chosen.

Isn’t it true that a larger more developed cucumber will most likely have many, many more seeds that can come from it  than a smaller cucumber!   In a fully developed cucumber, is the potential to produce more of its kind. A LOT MORE OF ITS KIND.   A smaller cucumber, can’t always produce a lot more of its kind! But a bigger one can!!

What did God say in the very beginning when He created man?

Genesis 9: 7“As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”  

Do you think this was just about fruit in the natural?? God was also talking about our lives as “fruit”, to be “picked” by the world.

There are lot of reasons to rejoice that you are in the shadows right now, even though part of you just REALLY, REALLY wants you to be seen.  In fact, God desires that you get over the desire in your soul to be seen and noticed by people.  He wants you to get over the desire for the praise of man.   He wants you to be able to step into the light just to glorify Him.

Learn a lesson from the cucumber –  whether you are “small” or “big”, He is faithful in every season of your life and you are created to be a blessing to others, period.

The Transformed Life!

Romans 12: 1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good pleasing and perfect will.   (NIV)

 

So let’s look at just these two verses.  How are we able to offer our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God? According to these Scriptures we cannot offer our bodies as living sacrifices if we are not being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

What happens when our mind is renewed by the Word of God?   We are able to stay conformed to Kingdom principles and not the pattern of the world. Without the renewing of our minds, we will not be able to test and approve what God’s will is. We will not be able to distinguish what his good, pleasing him and perfect will is.  Our lifestyle choices will not reflect Kingdom principles or the wisdom of God. We are walking as carnal people allowing our carnal nature to dictate our decisions living on this earth.

What would be an example of conforming to a pattern of the world?    Doubt and fear is a pattern of this world.

  1. Doubting God will take care of us.
  2. Doubting that we have received our healing from an illness.
  3. Doubting that God is going to fulfill his promises for our lives.
  4. Doubting God’s provision for our needs.
  5. Doubting we can be delivered from an addiction.
  6. Fearing the future.
  7. Fearing calamity.

When our default is immediately fear and doubt to circumstances and adverse facts in the natural,  then what does the Word say about what is going on in our mind?….Our mind is not renewed in that area.

When a feeling of fear or doubt comes up in you, what should you do then? Get your mind renewed in that area. Find a Scripture or two that applies to the fear or doubt you are dealing with specifically and meditate on it, study it,  and declare it. Allow the seed of the Word of God to take root and choke out all of the lies you have believed about God.

When you think of the maturing and growing and transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly do you think that they look very very much alike? No!   We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our habits, defaults, and our attitudes will look nothing like they used to when we are truly transformed!

Let me put this in perspective. For years I struggled with really bad acne on my face. It was a source of great insecurity. I was tired of being anxious and insecure about my face and wasn’t understanding why I was not receiving healing from the Lord from the acne. I could make all the diet changes I wanted to make and still the acne was really an issue. I took several scriptures and began to declade them over myself every day.  It took some time for my mind to be completely convinced that I was healed by the stripes of Jesus, but I finally saw the transformation in myself. Where in the past one large pimple would pop up and I would possibly get angry, upset, and distressed, now I would just continue to speak the Word and tell it to dry up and tell my hormones to go into balance. Finally, one day I realized that my face had been clear for many months and from that time on my face has pretty much always been clear with only minor disruptions rarely!

One other thing that I had to deal with in terms of receiving my healing from acne was learning to walk in my identity as a child of God. Often times the spiritual root to acne is self-rejection. Sometimes we have a difficult time walking in our identity as children of the King of Kings. This little demon of inadequacy can jump on us and affect our bodies. For me the result happened to be acne. For others it can be a range of different physical ailments.  I began knowing who I was as the daughter of the King, and that changed everything!

The good news is that you can be so sure that as you are renewing your mind to the Word of God and being transformed that you will no longer look like the person you used to look like in the physical, in the spirit, and in your emotions!  Your default and knee-jerk reaction to what you see in the natural will be faith instead of fear and doubt and negativity!

When All That He Is, Meets All That We Are


1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

2It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.

3It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.   Psalms 133:1-3 (NAS)

 

For some reason this just stood out to me today in my devotion time.   The part about the precious oil coming down upon the beard and coming down upon the edge of Aaron’s robes.I went to the Jesus ’17 Conference in Orlando on Saturday night.   As probably several thousand people worshipped and praised and just soaked up the presence of God, asking Him to not pass us by, to get to know Him in a way we haven’t before…the glory of God fell.   I can totally relate to the oil running down all the way from his head to his toes, for that is essentially what the glory of God feels like when it is manifest in a place where a congregation is corporately worshipping the Lord and crying out for more of Him.

When we first started the service, I didn’t feel very connected to the Lord.  I felt tired.  I felt expectant for a move of God, to a certain degree, but I felt tired from life.  Overwhelmed from just allowing the pressures of life to bother me.

There came a point in the service that Michael Koulianos was just talking about all of the crazy things that are mentioned in the Bible that many Christians from various Christian circles judge, criticize, and reject as something that God wants to do or does do in this time.   He mentioned men’s bones rattling and great prophets being struck down on their faces for hours, etc. and how that was all “Bible”.   I began to think about the Red Sea parting.  Paul getting bitten by a deadly snake and him shaking it off.   People being raised from the dead.

And what do we want now as the Body of Christ?  Do we want to please religious people and go on with just experiencing one side of God and not crying out for revival in this nation and revival in our hearts?

I don’t.  I want revival.   I want to see this nation turn their hearts to the Lord.

He longs for us to cry out for more of Him.  To know Him in a way we never have before.   To behold Jesus like we never have before.

I needed it that night.  I need it every day.

I heard myself crying out the prayer for God to not pass me by, just as Michael said, even though I at first wasn’t feeling a single thing and felt borderline numb.   I just began praying in the Spirit in tongues during the service.  I did this for awhile, while other people were going to the altar to surrender their lives to the Lord.   And then all of a sudden a wave started coming over me….It was like I was laughing and crying at the same time.   It was a belly laugh up out of my spirit that felt like it was releasing junk from my soul.   And while I was laughing and crying all at the same time I started hearing the Holy Spirit release words of deliverance over me.   There were several things I don’t even think I realized that I needed deliverance from, but it was like He was snapping His fingers and things were just breaking off.  Every tie that bound.  Every little and big weight that had been trying to press on my mind and steal my faith in the promises of God in my life.  Every little lie that had been trying to make me into an anxious ball in the last few weeks, just fell right off.   It was like a cathartic  counseling session in which I didn’t even have to tell Him or anyone what was bothering me, it was like He went – zap, zap, zap, break, break, break, release, release, release!

I have been so very honored to have had quite a few of these types of encounters with my Jesus in my life.   I’ve grown up in this.  I mean meetings where the glory of God was so thick, I felt like you could cut a knife through it.  Once I encountered that, I didn’t want to go back.  You will pass up all kinds of other events to go these places where you know hundreds of people are all going to be crying out for the same thing.  That’s my life.   And just when I  think it can’t get any better in the presence of the Lord, He brings me into a whole deeper level.  Into a new dimension of His glory.

What is the glory of God? You may be asking this question if you have never experienced it before.   Well, I’m not going to do a Bible study for this today, but I am going to explain to you that really the manifest glory of God is like when Jesus steps in the room and walks down the aisles and every person wanting to be touched, gets touched.  Healed from physical sickness. Delivered from mental illness. Released from chains of all kinds.    It’s when all that He is contacts all that we are.

I’ve heard Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Texas talk about how the manifested glory of God can be compared to when a millionaire is present in the room and just sitting there, and when that millionaire is not only present in the room, but is handing out gifts to every person waiting for a gift.  Expectation is the key to encountering God in this way.

Michael Koulianos, who headed up the entire conference,  talked about being obedient to do whatever God wants you to do to really encounter Him in a way that you never have before.   Whether it’s giving up sleeping so long every morning to be with Him, or laying down a job or a relationship, or a position in ministry, there’s generally something we have to surrender and sacrifice in order to get to that place where we encounter God in the way that prophets of old did.   And even so, we really can encounter God in a way that they never have, because we now also have grace.  We don’t have offer physical sacrifices to the Lord to pay for our sin before stepping into His throne room.  We can just enter in because the shed bled of Jesus confirmed His covenant with us, allowing us to enter His presence any time of the day or night.   Yes, sometimes we very much need to repent before we can enter the glory, but if repenting for every sin was the key to entering the glory of God, we would never enter it.    We often don’t know what we need to repent for until the Holy Spirit unveils every hidden place in our hearts that has shut Him out.  We have to expect and want Him to do this, though.

When you encounter His glory, you will not be the same.  You really will not be the same person. I have felt so much fatigue for several weeks and Sunday morning I woke up a different person!  And today, Monday, the world felt completely different than the last several weeks.

We don’t have to go to a huge congregation of people to come into contact with all that He is.  We can experience it in our very own prayer closets as we surrender to Him and come with great expectation.   It’s in the presence of the Almighty God that troubles vanish and hearts are mended.  Vision is given for life.   Purpose is birthed. Wisdom is poured out.  Healing is manifested.  Miracles take place.

Dear God,

I want more.  I want so much more.  Bring on the oil, Lord, may it drip down every day from my head to the edges of my robe, so that I can go forth and bring hope, healing, and the Truth about You that I have found in your presence into the world that so desperately needs it.   Set me on fire so that all everyone in my path feels the warmth of Your love and power.

Flee the darkness.  Run to the light.  

Blink: The Revival is the next installment in the Blink series of shows, written and directed by Jeffrey Smith.  It follows the story of Dr. Bailey Parker, a psychotherapist who, after a traumatic fall, has a near death experience that causes her to question everything she believes about life and the afterlife and sends her on a terrifying quest to answer those questions.  I had the privilege to act in the film and play the role of Bailey Parker!

With a script based on actual events, Blink: The Revival brings to light the sobering reality of the brevity of life and the possibilities of eternity using unparalleled drama, film, live action, special effects, dance, and cutting-edge technology.   It is only recommended for youth over the age of 13 and young adults!

The desire to create and innovate was instilled in Jeffrey Smith from a young age, when his traveling minister parents encouraged his talents in music and songwriting.  By age 17, he signed his first recording contract with a major record label.  Jeffrey developed into an accomplished recording artist and producer with four national releases and over 1,000 completed songs in his catalog. He has written music that has been recorded by a variety of Grammy-winning artists.  He is currently producing and directing his first feature-length film, Southern Gospel, and his first book Jesus First, Jesus Always will be published this fall.

 In 1998, Jeffrey Smith merged his extensive music background with his love for production to create and write the show Blink, with the goal of showing how quickly life can come to an end.  Originally mostly a stage production, it has evolved into a unique hybrid of live show and movie that incorporates every creative tool to tell true stories.  Jeffrey scored Blink from top to bottom with original music that gives the show an epic cinematic feel.  Blink is now a live multimedia experience that fuses all facets of the arts, including dance, drama, live score, stage production, and film, to communicate powerful truths about eternity.   Over the past twenty years, Blink has been shown to sold-out crowds, nearly 175,000 people have seen the production, and 50,000 individuals have made decisions to follow Christ.

Flee the darkness.  Run to the light.

 

Unlimited Potential in Every Seed

“Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. Genesis 1:11 NKJV  http://bible.com/114/gen.1.11.nkjv

Seed only produces after its kind. Seed is the guarantee and promise that there is a future. No seed, no future.

God established the Law of Creation that operates by the sowing of seed. Either God or the Devil will grow the seed that you sow.  It just depends on what seed you sow. For example, sow judgement, criticism, and condemnation will come back to you. The Devil will multiply it.

Sowing seed is intentional, purposeful, and directional.

One of the biggest problems with believers is they want the seed for what it will do FOR them instead what it will do IN them.

Manna and quail ceased for the Israelites in the wilderness when they came in the Promised Land. There they would be sustained by what grows.

Words are seeds. He brought forth the world through words.  Mary got pregnant and conceived Jesus through words.

When God wants to do something great in a person, He sows seeds in them.

“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.” Mark? ?4:14-17? ?NKJV http://bible.com/114/mrk.4.14-17.nkjv

The Devil comes to steal the seed of the Word in our heart!  He knows the power of the seed in us.

The seed will also represent and reproduce the character of where it is sown.  Seed that doesn’t go into good ground produces no fruit. The seed is at the mercy of the condition of the soil. The condition of your heart.

Do you have some plowing to do?!   Do you need to break up the stony ground?

You might say,  “I’m just trying to control my mouth.” Change what’s in your heart, and that will change.

The miraculous comes from the seed. It’s the guarantee of a continual supply.  The potential of what’s in a seed is unlimited. The harvest is always greater than the seed.

God will sow in you, but you will have to cultivate it to make it become real in you so it becomes real through you.

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” II Corinthians? 9:6 NKJV http://bible.com/114/2co.9.6.nkjv

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”Galatians 6:7 NKJV   http://bible.com/114/gal.6.7.nkjv

It’s not even about the size of the seed or your faith, it’s what you do with it.  God gives you a seed, and you have to sow it not just keep it.

It’s always the same principle…sowing and reaping.

“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,”  II Corinthians 9:10NKJV http://bible.com/114/2co.9.10.nkjv

Don’t eat your seed. It’s HAS to be sown by you to grow.  God will sow in us, but not for us.  Sowing puts the creative power of God to work in your life.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9? ?NKJV  http://bible.com/114/gal.6.9.nkjv

So there’s a progression of a multiplication for you, in you, and then He sows you!

“Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”  Matthew? ?14:19-21? ?NKJV?? http://bible.com/114/mat.14.19-21.nkjv

The boy gave what little bread and fish He had, and God multiplied it to feed 5,000.

Seed sown in me establishes my progress…..That’s God’s Word, His wisdom. His counsel. 

Seed sown by me establishes prosperity…..That’s my time, my talents, my gifts, my service, my money, my love, and so much more.  

My life sown by God establishes my purpose….That’s all of me that He needs for a specific purpose in His destiny for me.  

“Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”  Psalms? ?92:13-15? ?NKJV?? http://bible.com/114/psa.92.13-15.nkjv

Shut the Poser Down!

 

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 KJV

One of the items on the Devil’s (The Thief’s) main agenda is to steal your ability to hear.  When we hear the Word every day through our time with Him, believe, act on it, stand on it, and walk in His wisdom, that is being alert of his agenda!  You are a threat to the Devil when you hear the voice of God all the time…and respond.

There are other voices trying to call out over His voice.   The Devil, our Enemy wants us to hear him, because if we hear him and listen to him, then he’s got us!

8Be of sober spirit,be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  1 Peter 5:8

Satan walks about “like” a roaring lion. Satan may roar like a lion, but he is in a cage. He is a poser. An intimidator. Close him down.

Just remember the Lion of Judah roared his way out of the grave on the third day. Silence the Devil’s voice that calls for your defeat!

Will the “thief” put thoughts in your mind?! Absolutely! Daily, weekly, and every time you turn around he tries!  Reminding you of your past, your failings, your sin, your mistakes, your weaknesses. However, Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah,  says that your past doesn’t determine your future.  His plans are to prosper you and bring you hope.  He is a God who came to move mountains of impossibility in your life.  He has given you the keys to the Kingdom.  The Kingdom is righteousness (right standing with Him), peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit!

YOU ARE FREE!  LIVE FREE!

 

The Arts Transform Kids’ Lives!

I had the amazing honor of creating the curriculum and being an acting instructor in this online arts curriculum. It…

Posted by Cynthia Lowa on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Grace In the Midst of Foolishness!

1 Samuel 25 recounts the story of Nabal, Abigail, and David.   This story happened after Samuel died, and before David was crowned King.   I couldn’t help but practically weep over the grace that Abigail walked in as I read this story today, and how it propelled her to protect the destiny of the King David of Israel, and the entire nation of Israel’s destiny.   Hold on to your seats for this one!

Nabal was a rich businessman with three thousand sheep and a thousand goats.  Super rich.  He is also immediately described as being harsh and evil.   While he was shearing his sheep in Carmel, David was in the wilderness and heard about Nabal shearing his sheep.   He told his men to go up to Nabal and give him a peaceful greeting and tell him that his men have been near by him and haven’t messed with him, stolen anything, or insulted him in anyway.  David told them to tell him basically that they were in good spirits and kind of wanted to party and feast with him, and did he want to do it.  I mean, after all, he was a very wealthy man. At this point, David probably thought that Nabal knew who David was!?  (David was the best friend of King’s Saul’s son Jonathan, and worked for King Saul.)  Maybe that’s why David thought he would give it a shot.

It was actually an honor that he was requesting to feast with Nabal.   However, when David’s men came to Nabal with the request, Nabal sneered at him and basically assumed that David’s men were just off doing their own thing apart from their master David. It seems like he accuses them of goofing off on their own.   Then, he goes on to imply that David means nothing to him, and he wasn’t going to be generous to a stranger.

David was very angry, so he took up his sword and about four hundred of his men, and went towards Nabal’s place, ready to probably just attack Nabal’s house and/or take some stuff that they needed.

And then comes Abigail, Nabal’s wife.   She quickly has her servants get a bunch of food and wine and carry it out to them on donkeys. She didn’t even tell her husband Nabal what she was doing.   David was armed and pretty pissed when she met him on the path in the hidden part of the mountain.

Can you imagine being Abigail?  Meeting a pretty angry warrior of a man with four hundred men ready to attack your household, and running out to meet him before he makes it to you.   Talk about a fearless woman of grace wisdom! She was certainly protecting her entire household from bloodshed, (no doubt there were entire families that were servants in her household), and covering her foolish husband’s butt.

She kneels before David and says that he shouldn’t blame Nabal, but her!    She tells David not to pay attention to her foolish husband’s unkind and haughty words.   She tells him that the gift that she is giving is him is because he is fighting the battles of the Lord.  She knew this!  She obviously was very aware of what calling and anointing was upon David. She even blessed him with an amazing statement.

28”Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29“Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundleof the living with the LORD your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30“And when the LORD does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler overIsrael, 31this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord,both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the LORD deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”

Abigail knew he was going to be ruler over Israel.  How did she know?  Maybe this was just an insight from the Lord.  Maybe she was prophetic?!  She also gave David a bit of a correction by saying that David was not going to avenge himself, and therefore the Lord’s protection would be upon him.

David wasn’t really in the right frame of mind either.  There is no mention of David being told by God that he should go and attack Nabal.  So, essentially Abigail was also protecting David’s calling and anointing, even before he was crowned King.  I mean, Abigail pronounces this great blessing upon him.  It’s like she see in the spirit what is to come.  She moves so swiftly without a moment’s hesitation.   God used her to protect the destiny of the King of Israel, thus protecting the destiny of the people of Israel.

Who knows what would have happened if she had just been sitting at her house, being super annoyed by her husband’s foolishness and evil ways and became bitter and consumed by greed.  Many a wealthy woman has allowed wealth to corrupt her spiritual senses.  Not Abigail.  She was in the middle of a probably very bad marriage, with a man who was only out for himself and not serving the Lord.  Who knows if Nabal had always been like this. He could have once been a devout man of God who allowed the wealth to corrupt him.    She was not corrupted!  She didn’t allow the wealth to corrupt her.   She doesn’t appear to be in any bitterness, though she does state that Nabal is evil.  Another option for her would have been to just run when she heard the news about David and his men coming for her house with the sword.   Then, her evil husband would have died, and she would have been rid of him that way!  But nope!  Sh protected everyone!

I want to walk in this kind of grace.  Grace in the midst of other people’s stupidity and foolishness.  Covering others, when they don’t deserve it.  Protecting the destiny of others, even when my own reputation is possibly at risk.   Honoring others that I am in relationship with, even when they are selfish and mean.

The Holy Spirit must instruct us on how to honor others and operate in grace, when it’s so very difficult.  This powerful story is so relevant to me as a woman who wants to be used by God in whatever way He desires.  You never know when God is wanting to use you in the midst of other people’s foolishness. Get bitter, or get better!

More to come  on the rest of Abigail’s story. It turns out better than she could have possibly imagined!

If You Want the Cat, Don’t Call the Dog

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (NASB)

I am at home overcoming a cold today. Notice, I did not say “I have a cold” because I do not wish to possess it. It is not mine. It does not lay claim on me. I speak from a position of victory, not defeat. If I want the cat, I will not call the dog! Metaphorically speaking, this means, speak what you want, instead of clinging to what you don’t want to keep.

“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed.”     1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

This doesn’t mean that I have to lie! I might say, “I am overcoming some pretty intense cold symptoms, but I know that the healing power of Jesus Christ is working in my body.”

There are some phrases that I have removed from my vocabulary.

“I don’t know what I am going to do.”
“I don’t know how I am going to do it.”

This is what the Word says as to how we should look at circumstances in which we FEEL like our brain doesn’t know what to do.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”   John 16:14 (NASB)

“You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.” Exodus 4:15 (NASB)

So, our spirit knows what to do. The Spirit of Truth who resides on the inside, knows what do.

This is my new language:

“I know The Holy Spirit will show me how to do this, even though I feel overwhelmed.”

Is it easy to change your language?! Nope. If you’ve been saying things like this your whole life, it takes time!

Stop staying, “I think I’m catching a cold.”
Do you want to?! Don’t call the dog, if you want the cat!

Stop saying, “I have asthma.” Or “I have diabetes.” Or “I have allergies.” Or “I have migraines.” Or “I don’t sleep well.” Or “my allergies are really bad today” or “my acne is so very bad” or “my —-itis is awful.”

Change it to: “I’ve been battling asthma pretty badly, but I know I’m healed by the stripes of Jesus.” “I’ve been battling allergies pretty badly, but I know I’m healed.” “I’ve been battling migraines, but I know the healing power of God is working in me.” “The acne on my face is getting so much better in Jesus’ Name.” “I believe I am receiving the full manifestation of my healing from…….., and the same power that raise Jesus Christ from the dead IS quickening my mortal body!”

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Romans 8:11  (NKJV)

Will this make a difference?! Yes, yes, yes! All the difference in the world! I’ve lived this! I am believing God for healing from certain physical ailments, and I am seeing a major difference in my body!

I don’t care if the doctor has given you the worst report ever, watch what comes out of your mouth. Speak from a position of victory, and not defeat!