Archive for November, 2011

November 29, 2011

A Day of Freedom

Erin has shared this fresh and tender testimony of God bringing freedom in her life. Thanks to her for building our faith for more of God’s rule and reign, even among our own church family.

As usual, if you have any questions about this or other testimonies, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Erin says below that she, herself is still processing what happened, and if you have never heard of or experienced spiritual warfare you are bound to have lots of questions. Not that we have all the answers, but we have been asking those same questions for some time and have found clarity through Scripture that we’d love to teach to others.

 

THE ENTIRE WEEKEND of our fall retreat flowed perfectly.  The content we were learning and the way the Holy Spirit was personalizing key components and fitting them into what I already understood as well as into places that were missing links was amazing.  On Saturday, during worship, I felt the Holy Spirit surround me in a way I hadn’t really experienced before.  I felt free to drop to my knees in worship and I began to sing my own song…perhaps the Fathers song over me.  “You have nothing to fear, nothing to fear….I have nothing to fear, nothing to fear..My God is Greater.”  I had been internally struggling with much fear after several bizarre interactions in my neighborhood of Chicago –one many would say is “not a good neighborhood”…though God holds my heart in showing me some of what He sees here.  While on my knees in worship I began to weep…a release that I have needed.  It was during that time that a couple prophetic songs and words came through about the very thing I had been singing…we have NOTHING to fear in light of WHO our GOD is!!!!  I felt incredible freedom wash over me in that moment as the Lord confirmed the Word He had been ministering personally over my heart.

I think that set the tone for what that day would be for me–A day of freedom!

After a good full day, the last optional session was for ministry.  I walked in a bit late having put our girls down for naps.  Upon walking in my husband told me they were praying for anointing on people.  I paced the back of the room for a bit, working out what felt like random tweaks all over my body.  I had a shooting pain in my back, then in my ear, then in my head, then in my shoulder…just pinging pain.  I thought it bizarre and had a twinge of insight (given the weekend’s teaching) that there was something not quite right about that.  When there was an opportunity for prayer, my husband and I went up.  I don’t think I had any expectations…I just felt that the Lord had been and was doing something so I wanted to stand with others in that.

As Ken began to ask me what I needed prayer for I felt extremely awkward…and those that know me would know that I don’t feel awkward very often.  In fact, some might say I make it my mission in life to diffuse awkward situations by calling it out or actually creating the awkward situation by being overly silly.  🙂  So it was…awkward to feel awkward.  I drew a blank…I didn’t know what to pray for.  My husband reminded me that I mentioned the pinging pain all over my body…and so Ken began to ask some questions.  Nothing really resonated and I was readily able to say “Jesus is my Lord, I am loved and accepted” so they just began to pray.  Then my husband Dave said, “You know, I just keep hearing ‘alcoholism’…alcoholism runs in her family.”

I reacted immediately.  I don’t know how to explain it…I was fully present in my mind but it was as if God made a supernatural freedom bubble around me that allowed me to crack.  I began buckling over, crying and say, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” repeatedly.  Ken then called on my husband to take authority over this familiar spirit and so as Ken later said, Dave got a crash course in deliverance.  I ended up completely on the floor, Dave said I would squirm away from his hand as he tried to lay it on my head.  My face was on the floor and I don’t think I heard much of what he prayed.  I know he prayed in authority releasing me from the alcoholic history in my family and the resulting shame, feelings of abandonment or loneliness that came from that.  Another friend and elder’s wife, Kathy, came over at some point and joined in praying for me as well.  I began couging and gagging alot…feeling overwhelmed by tears and… relief.  While at one point I was unknowingly squirming away from my husband who was ministering to me, I began to find peace, stillness, and rest and when I turned my head on the floor and opened my eyes I saw his hand and grabbed it.

I am still processing what happened in that time.  While I didn’t actually struggle with alcohol myself, despite my family’s battle I never felt compelled to abstain completely.  Nevertheless, I felt it personally important to apply faith and action to my sure deliverance, so I am taking a fast from alcohol for an unknown long length of time…..allowing God the space to continue working out and to cement some things He has done AND to stand in absolute resistance to a family door the enemy would just love to find a way into again.

What I do know is that I have a quietness in me that hasn’t been there before.  I didn’t know I didn’t have it.  But I’ve been in familiar circumstances where I’ve noticed a stillness where there used to be a compulsion to argue and a quietness where there used to be anger or anxiousness.  I am so curious about all this…but it tastes like freedom and feels like love…and that is more than enough!

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom”.  Praise our LIVING God!

Erin

November 18, 2011

Set Free in Every Way

The testimonies from the church retreat 2 weeks ago are flooding in! If you were there, find a half hour where you can sit down instead of watching Iron Chef  or cleaning the kitchen and type up a short testimony of what God was doing in you or through you during our gathering time in Michigan. We want to share these stories with those who couldn’t be there and encourage the whole body!

Val is a testimony all-star and wrote in to tell us all about NUMEROUS things God addressed for her leading up to, during, and after the retreat. Thank you, Val!

http://www.carmengillisstudios.com/2010/03/springs-toast-to-roses-todd-hunter.html

Painting by Todd Hunter

Shortly after I lost my job in January 2010, I knew I was entering a season of healing and breakthrough.  My first task was to stand on God’s promises and to practice diligently what He’d been teaching me over the past several years – to take every thought captive, replacing fear and negativity with praise, worship and meditation on His word.   He graciously led me to a handful of promise scriptures, and kept me there, day after day, for well over a year.

Last summer I had a dream.  This wasn’t anything new; my dreams have long been insightful and prophetic, and I can track my mental, emotional and spiritual growth through them, going at least as far back as high school.  This one was especially troubling however, and as I prayed for interpretation, God revealed that He (and therefore, I) was ready to tackle the two biggest, most impactful issues in my life, issues that have plagued me for the past 40 years.

The first had to do with familial relationships.  As I was praying about it, the Spirit put a phrase into my head, a phrase that I had never heard.  I looked it up on the internet, and sure enough, there were books on it.  Though none were written by Christians, I ordered three of them and read voraciously.  Two were of no real help, but the third enabled me to understand and name the issue before me, which in turn enabled me to take a stand against it, binding spirits and praying for release.  The results weren’t outwardly dramatic; I just woke up one day and knew that I was free from that particular curse, and soon after I began to see the outward manifestation of that freedom.

The second issue raised in my dream, related to walls of self-protection, was not so “easy” to address.  I cried out to God, meditated on scripture, bound spirits, focused on God’s word and promises, prayed continually – and made very little progress.  I had minor breakthroughs: greater understanding here, a new level of forgiveness there, deeper revelation of God’s love and grace; but something was holding me back.

Over the past two years a number of wonderfully prophetic words have been spoken over me, many regarding my job situation. (Three people told me almost the exact same thing: “Your future is secure.  It will be like turning a corner, and … surprise!”)  A few others told me very specifically that 2011 would begin a season of great favor.  Two others told me that my hands and touch would be used by God to bless people and bring them a sense of God’s presence and peace.  And just recently, two more told me that my husband was coming soon.  (This one in particular was interesting because one person told me this on a Saturday, and while I was happy to hear it, I thought it was more likely their own desire to see me married than a true word from God.  On Sunday, a woman at church pulled me aside and told me that almost a year ago she felt God saying that my husband was coming, but she didn’t know me well at the time and hadn’t felt comfortable telling me back then.  But that day she felt she was supposed to share it.  Talk about a second witness!)

For a long time I’ve had a sense that I would not go back to work until the final BIG issue had been dealt with.  Over the past couple of months I’ve been asking God about that, because I need and want to work, but I didn’t want to circumvent His plan for me.  I also reminded him that if the prophecies spoken over me about 2011 beginning a season of great favor were true, then time was running out!  A few weeks ago, He told me very clearly that while I was doing all I could do, scripturally, to face this issue, it wasn’t going to be enough.  I needed deliverance.  Just that knowledge brought me great relief.  The next Sunday I went forward for prayer, but either I didn’t articulate my need well, or the two people praying for me didn’t fully understand the concept, because I was not delivered and I went away very frustrated.  If I couldn’t find help from my brothers and sisters at CITC, I wasn’t sure where I would find it.  Until the retreat.

When Ken told us he was going to teach on spiritual warfare, my ears perked up.  Halfway through Friday’s session, I knew this was my time.  By the end of the Saturday morning session I was telling God I was His new Jacob wrestling with the angel – I would not let go/leave that place until I had received my blessing/breakthrough!  I also told Ken over lunch that day that I was going to be first in line for prayer, and that I’d push people out of the way if I had to.  He laughed and said he liked my spirit.  I’m not sure he knew how serious I was!

Ken started by asking those who felt God had called them to help set captives free to stand.  I stood, and while Ken prayed, I felt a burning sensation in the palms of my hands.  Remembering the prophecies about my touch, I went forward when called, and was quickly slain in the Spirit.  It was a marvelous experience, confirming things I had already started to experience since the prophecies were spoken over me (a friend’s release from grief, my mother’s healing, two other friends’ freedom from spirits of obsessive thought and confusion).  But as I returned to my chair, I said to God, “This is fantastic, but it’s not why I came here, and I will not leave until I’m set free.”

As Ken began to call out specific people for prayer, I felt like a little kid.  In my mind I kept begging, “Pick me! Pick me!” As I waited and wondered, God gave me a new word related to my issue, one that I hadn’t really thought of before.  While I assumed He had already revealed the deepest level of it to me, this took it one step further, and I was surprised.  But I said to Him, “Okay, let’s go for it.”  So when Ken called me out, I was excited and relieved, and only a little bit scared.  Someone asked me later if it was embarrassing to stand in front of 70 people in that way.  I had to say no, because looking into Ken’s eyes, I have never been more aware of God’s love for me, and have truly never felt safer.  I knew that God was working through Ken, that I was safe with him, and that as a result, I was safe in front of my CITC family.

When my session ended, I knew I was free.  I also knew that while some of the stuff related to my issue would take time to work itself out, there were some things that would manifest immediately.  I even shared with a friend that if I went home and didn’t see a change – that day – in one particular behavior related to food, I would know that there was more in me that had to be addressed, and I intended to go up for prayer at church over and over and over until it was done.  (I wasn’t telling God his business here; He had been revealing this stuff to me over time and I knew that taking this stand, and sharing it with a trusted friend, was part of His plan and desire for me).  Anyway, it’s been five days now, and I can happily (ecstatically?) share that this first change has indeed manifested, and I know I am free.

Of course, God being God, that’s not all.  In the few weeks prior to the retreat, He was already working, starting to bring about the fulfillment of the other prophecies.  I already mentioned my hands.  Then there is the fact that after months and months of no interest at all from prospective employers, I am now actively interviewing for four (count ‘em, four) great jobs.  And last week I actually had my first date in literally years!  It’s clearly time for a new season in my life, and I am anticipating amazing things to open up for me over the next few months.  Praise God was His goodness and faithfulness and power, and thanks to CITC for being an integral part of this marvelous process.  YES!

-Val

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