Love!

As we explore the specific Fruit of the Spirit, I must emphasize their order in scripture. As we all things in His Word, even the order in which the fruit are listed has purpose. Starting with love communicates the foundational truth that God is love. Jesus’s ministry, life, death, resurrection, etc. all center around His love. The Good News (or Gospel) is all about love. Love is the answer. Love is a choice. Love is a response.

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

2 john 1:5-6 niv

While this sounds simple and redundant for those of us who’ve been going to church for years, let’s not miss the power of this love! Especially since ‘love’ is such an overused word! We love our new shoes, our friend, our children, our husband, and our God. So for clarity, let’s talk about the different types of love.

We have what we call ‘friend love’ or ‘PHILOS’. Yes, this is how Philadelphia got its name as the ‘city of brotherly love’. You’ll see this kind of love when reading about the churches in Act 2 and in Galations 6:10 – ‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.’

Then there is ‘romantic love’ or ‘EROS’. This is a little deeper, more intimate love that can be expressed physically, mentally, and emotionally. God’s design for this kind of love allows marriage to b the closest thing we have on earth to the spiritual relationship of Jesus and His church. Of course since marriage unites to imperfect, sinful people, it’s super messy, and I’m begging you not to compare your husband to Jesus! But if we approach this ‘EROS’ love through a lens of holy adoration, intimacy, forgiveness, and service, the result can be quite beautiful with the help of Christ and the Holy Spirit! My husband and I find benefit in a weekly email from the Gottman Institute – click here to sign up!

One unique aspect of ‘EROS’ is the gift of physical intimacy. I realize this is a hot topic and one that can stir up a lot of pain and shame. Yet I pray regardless of your past, your future is filled with beauty and life in the bedroom. And I pray the Lord brings restoration and intimacy into your marriage. I think this quote and prayer are from Beth Moore’s study, but don’t quote me. 😉

Physical love or sexual intercourse is to marriage what prayer is to our spiritual life.

Every single day I pray to thrill to his touch.

– Living beyond yourself, beth moore

There’s plenty of baggage even within the church about sex and marriage. Pleasing your husband can often be presented as a wife’s duty rather than a joy. I’ve been there and I’m guessing many of you have as well. Yet it breaks my heart how the enemy uses our culture, friendships, and even abuse to distort the gift God intended for sex. So I’m praying with you for freedom in the bedroom! And if you want to spice things up, certain barre moves make for a fun connection! I pray barre expands your confidence and physical intimacy! Barre for the Bedroom, anyone? (Yes, I went there . . . I’d rather we talk about sex in biblical community instead of getting our knowledge from movies or social media.)

Now to the best kind – AGAPE love. This is the love of God. The 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. The love WE ARE INCAPABLE OF! Our action is to respond to this type of amazing love! ‘Agape is expressed through me when I surrender to the empowerment and temperament of the Holy Spirit.’ – Beth Moore. This is sacrificial love . . . ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice’. (Romans 12:1) ‘Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your strength, and ALL your mind. [Then] love your neighbor as yourself!’ (Matthew 22:37-39) I added the ‘then’ because pure love is an overflow of His love in us!

We often discuss love in terms of giving, serving, helping, showing love to others. But I’m learning how we RECEIVE love may be even more valuable than how we GIVE love. Let’s stop to answer two important questions:

  • Do you believe your husband loves you with an ‘EROS’ kind of love?
  • Do you believe your God love you with an ‘AGAPE’ kind of love?

Because the truth is, if you can’t answer ‘yes’ to these, freedom in Christ is going to be fleeting. I’m guessing your husband doesn’t tell you he loves you constantly nor does he compliment your effort, body, love, etc daily. So why do we fill in the gaps or create a story in our heads that he must then not appreciate me, must not be attracted to me, or must not love me. What if we daily loved our husbands in a way that we fully believed they loved us, just as we are today, with an EROS kind of love.

On that same note, why do we struggle to accept and live in God’s unconditional, abundant, everlasting love? Why do we cling to shame, hang on to hurt, attempt to control, give grace to others but not ourselves, strive to follow all the ‘rules of righteousness’, and keep score of our behavior, our husband’s, and others? We have a tough time believing in this agape love because God’s love surpasses knowledge and understanding (Eph 3:19). But just as love is a choice, we just chose to believe in love! So let’s grab hold of faith, believe God’s telling the truth, trust Him in love, and move forward with His Spirit of Love filling our hearts, souls, strength, and minds.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

Lord, consume us with your love. Reveal its power in this season and allow us to grow and thrive like never before. Free us from our own insecurities, pain, abuse, control, etc that hinder Your love! Fill us with your love so we overflow and produce abundant fruit bearing Your name!

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. . . And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. . . Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. – I John 4:11-12, 16, 19 NIV

Freedom – Too Much of a Good Thing?

We’re kicking off this year focused on the Holy Spirit, His Freedom, and His Fruit! Next week our worship and workout will celebrate His love as the first fruit of the Spirit. But let’s chat before moving forward . . .

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! And what a beautiful gift it is! But while we pursue and celebrate freedom in the Spirit, we can’t overlook or underestimate the individual power of this freedom . . .

It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12 TPT

The Lord entrusts us with a gift of freedom while continually stressing our need to be connected to the Vine. Because while so many of our daily choices may be valuable, they may not be good for us. The NIV translation of the above scripture states ‘I have the right to do anything, you say – but not everything is beneficial.’ While we’re in this season of new year’s resolutions, new habits, new challenges, and forward thinking, let’s seek freedom in and through the Spirit as we press on because what is beneficial for me might not be beneficial for you. And what can easily become my master may not be a struggle for you. I pray we are Spirit-led in ALL things so we may experience true freedom!

What I communicate through Holy Barre is often just an overflow of what the Lord is teaching me, and this truth above has hit too close to home recently in the area of alcohol. Over the past year or two, I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking wine each night. This routine began slowly but towards the end of last year was 2-3 glasses every single night. Of course I felt shame in my nightly numbing, but in my own attempts for freedom, I justified my actions as ‘loosening up’, ‘giving grace’, ‘helps me relax,’ and ‘it’s not a big deal.’ Thankfully this habit was purely my choice, not one of physical dependence, but it was NOT good or beneficial for me, physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

My loving husband had to directly address the issue to initiate my breaking the chains, and it was in our conversation that he shared how alcohol can create this roller coaster of highs and lows. (Too much sugar can often have a similar effect.) Little did I realize the anxiety, imbalance, stress, and even physical symptoms I was feeling were actually a result of the nightly wine. Rather than helping my peace, the wine was hurting my peace.

But isn’t that how the enemy often works? Convincing us something is harmless, might help us, maybe even good, but eventually that thing becomes our master. The Spirit was speaking this truth to me all along, but I continued to use my freedom to chose wine. Removing alcohol completely from my daily life has truly brought freedom as I’ve jumped off that shame cycle, and I’m excited to move forward into this new year with one less chain holding me down.

I’m not going to get legalistic and knock alcohol completely, and I plan to keep Napa Valley on my bucket list as I would still love to visit wine country. But I pray when the time is right, my focus and worship remain on the Vine and the vineyards rather than the fermented grapes in the glass.

So what’s your ‘wine’? What’s your master? What in your life may appear ‘good’ but is not beneficial for you? Are your choices connected to the Spirit and bearing good fruit?

I can’t answer that for you – that’s between you and the Gardener. Maybe conversations that appear to be filled with care and prayer are really just gossip. Maybe working out is too big of a priority in your schedule? Maybe attempts to maintain structure are honestly just an effort to control. Maybe the foods you eat don’t have the nutrients to grow. Maybe the beverages fill your body and/or mind with weeds. Maybe what we watch, read, or listen to block out the Light to thrive.

Continuing with our Vine and fruit analogy, our Gardener gives us the choice where and what to cut or prune. What’s hindering your freedom in Him and your ease in bearing fruit? Let’s grab the shears, cut the chains, and thrive in His freedom! He’s ALWAYS near to guide us!

Before you go, thanks for reading. And please tell someone what is holding you back from experiencing true freedom. Just like grapes grow in clusters in the vineyard, we’re better together and created for community.

Cheers to a new year, new freedom, and new fruit!

Holy Barre 2022

FIRST, LET ME START BY SAYING . . .

FOR AN AMAZING 2021! IT WAS QUITE A YEAR, BUT I PRAISE THE LORD FOR THE GROWTH, CONNECTION, COMMUNITY, AND BRIGHT LIGHT OF THIS GROUP OF INCREDIBLE WOMEN!

AS WE LEAD INTO A NEW YEAR, I’D LIKE TO SHARE MY PERSONAL VISION FOR HOLY BARRE 2022 AND HOW I PRAY THE LORD MOVES IN US AND THROUGH US. THE SPIRIT IS CALLING HOLY BARRE TO SHIFT OUR FOCUS AND SETTLE INTO HIS FREEDOM. SO LET’S HAVE . . .

WHICH WILL MEAN . . .

AND THE RESULT, I BELIEVE, WILL BE . . .

OUR FOUNDATION MUST REMAIN IN GOD’S WORD, AND THESE SCRIPTURES WILL SPEAK LIFE INTO THIS NEW YEAR! I ALSO LOOK FORWARD TO HOW GOD WILL USE THESE TRUTHS TO REVEAL HIS POWER AND PASSION FOR US ALL OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS . . .

EVEN MORE, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CONSIDER YOURSELF A MEMBER OF HOLY BARRE, HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IN THE COMING YEAR! DETAILS TO COME . . .

AND I INVITE YOU TO BE A PART! WE ARE FORMALIZING VOLUNTEER ROLES, AND I WOULD LOVE FOR YOUR GOD-GIVEN CONTRIBUTION IN ANY OF THESE AREAS . . .

LASTLY, YA’LL KNOW I LOVE JESS CONNELLY, AND THE SPIRIT USED THESE STATEMENTS RECENTLY TO LIGHT A FIRE IN MY SOUL, BURNING EVEN BRIGHTER!

SO ARE YOU READY FOR MORE?! JOIN ME IN 2022 AS WE BURN EVEN BRIGHTER!

He Will Be Called Prince of Peace

This week we complete our four-part series covering Isaiah 9:6 and celebrate our Prince of Peace!

The peace of the world vs His peace beyond understanding

So let’s break this down . . . Jesus is a Prince (just as much as He is a King) because He is God’s Son. And He, only He, brings true peace!  There is no plan, law, process, body, relationship, home, job, bank account, trip, what am I missing?! . . . that brings true peace.  Because Jesus’ peace is one beyond understanding.  It’s one of love, joy, and peace which bears patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Just like 1 Cor 1:3 from last week states, ‘grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus.’ It’s a peace that stirs us to exhale strife and inhale Spirit. Just stand (or lay or sit) and breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. We worship. A Wonderful Counselor. A Mighty God. An Everlasting Father. A Prince of Peace. Because for to US a child is born, to US a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. To US.  To YOU. To ME. To US. Inhale. Exhale. Prince of PEACE . . .

As you breath, with your eyes closed, picture the scene from Luke 2, beginning with. Verse 13 – ‘Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth PEACE to those whom His favor rests.’

Scripture: 1 Cor 1:3, Phil 4:7, Gal 5:22-23

Here’s the full workout to finish out our four-part series . . .

He Will Be Called Everlasting Father

Regardless of the variety of relationships with earthly fathers in this audience, our Lord Jesus is our Everlasting Father.  Whether you’ve experienced pain and trauma in regards to your father or has been the given the gift of being a ‘daddy’s girl’ here on earth, I pray you have an intimate relationship with your Everlasting Father.

Last week we prayed Ephesians 3:14-15, which reads, ‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.’ Colossians 3:17 reminds us we bear the name Lord Jesus and reflect God the Father. Jesus also clearly states He is the way and the truth and the life, the only connection to the Father. Yet as His children, He does not desire works and performance but is our Everlasting Father to provide ‘grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’. (1 Cor 1:3)

We’ve all had seasons when we’ve hugged someone not wanting to let go.  This same picture and feeling comes to mind as we let our hearts and minds imagine an Everlasting Father.  One Who loves unconditionally.  One Who keeps no records of wrongs. One willing to lay His life down for you.

Everlasting means forever, beginning and end, eternal, with no limits of time.  He was and is and is to come!  And not only that, but He’s our Daddy!  Our Abba, Father! And in the purest form of a father, He’s ready and willing to guide you, protect you, show you how to guard your heart, empower you with truth to overcome, teach you what’s right and good, and spiritually hug you when you just need someone to listen. Just read through Romans 8 . . .

Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-15, Colossians 3:17, John 14:6, 1 Cor 1:3, Romans 8

He Will Be Called Mighty God

Some theologians refer to this title as the Mighty Warrior.  I love that imagery, directly following Wonderful Counselor.  Our Lord Jesus cares deeply about us just as much as He fights mightily for us!  He is our Rescuer and our Redeemer.  He’s strong and powerful and victorious over death!  Don’t let His humble birth and childhood skew His heavenly reign.  The song Marching On by Rend Collective is a favorite in Holy Barre. ‘The battle belongs to the Lord and no one else. We’ll sign hallelujah for all hell to hear. Shout out Hosanna above every fear. Strongholds will crumble like castles of sand. We are marching on. We’re marching on!’

It’s important to note that while we visually see a Mighty Warrior God and even grasp some tangible nature to His power, our Lord looks at the heart. So when we talk about strength and might and power, we’re not referring to bulging biceps and chiseled abs. Nor is this workout’s goal to help you develop your own physique. ‘For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ (I Tim 4:8)

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians beautifully and boldly states the power and might of our God through Christ!  Read through this powerful passage, absorbing the truth in your own soul while also using it as a weapon to fight for others! Friends, we serve and love and worship as Mighty Mighty God!  He’s drawing near as our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and any other form of power you need!

Scripture: I Samual 16:7, I Timothy 4:8, Ephesians 3:14-21

Here’s a worship-filled workout celebrating and honoring our Mighty God!

He Will Be Called Wonderful Counselor

During our four-session series this Christmas season, we’re focusing on Isaiah 9:6. And we kick things off with celebrating Jesus as our Wonderful Counselor! Before jumping in, here’s a scripture flow to this true and powerful verse:

He will be called Wonderful Counselor – Dec 2-8

Imagine sitting down with your Counselor, one who knows you better than you know yourself and provides more comfort and peace than you’ve experienced. You’re casually resting on a nice couch. Soothing music is playing. And maybe incense or a candle adds to the calming session. Your Counselor asks, ‘how are you?’.  He asks about your day, your week, your family, your work, your struggles, your victories, all of it.  He then asks, ‘How did that make you feel?’ And you take a deep breath, asking yourself the same question.  As you start to attach an emotion to whatever is on your mind, your Counselor just nods with a smile. ‘I know. I’m sorry. I’m here. I want to help. Let’s talk more.’

The story of Jesus connecting with the Samaritan woman at the well is such a beautiful example of His being our Wonderful Counselor.  Despite her sins, society’s stigmas, and culture’s traditions, He guided, counseled, spoke truth, and changed her life in such a way she had to share her experience with others!

Thankfully our generation appreciates the value in counseling. Yet our God gave a Wonderful Counselor through Jesus as well as the ultimate Helper through the Holy Spirit.  So get cozy and comfortable. And start talking and praying and sharing. He can handle ALL THE FEELINGS. I promise.  He desires to connect with you so deeply and relate to you so intimately that He came to earth!

Scripture: Psalms 73:24, Psalms 119:35, Job 12:13, John 4:4-42

Here’s an aligning worship-filled workout . . .

Read. Meditate. Pray. Move. Worship.

This week we celebrated the amazing milestone of YouVersion (the Bible app) reaching 500,000,000 installs! Rather than attempting to articulate the impact of this history-making, world-changing event, I encourage you to watch (or listen via podcast) to this message from Life Church. And also keep in mind that the Word is alive and active, so this milestone is just the beginning of the spread of Jesus and His love to the ends of the earth!

In addition, this past week’s focus in our Armor of God study was the helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit. I love how God doubled our emphasis on His Word by aligning our study with what He’s doing through YouVersion, and I encourage you to take time this week to join us for our 50-minute full-body workout! Just grab your light weights (and ball if you have one for the end).

As we celebrate His Word and its power, I want to remind us all, myself included, that it’s most alive in us when we not only read it but also meditate on it, pray along with its truth, and live it out each day. Maybe that’s why Paul closes the Armor of God description with a call to pray. Or why scripture states to pray without ceasing and to meditate on His word day and night. Join us for our upcoming YouVersion reading plan, When Women Pray, that begins Monday, November 15. While the Bible is alive, let’s make it alive in our hearts, bodies, and lives as well!

‘To meditate on His word’ just means to contemplate, process, ask, listen, pause, breath, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal. But rather than just reading His word to absorb the knowledge, as if studying for a class at school or a business meeting, let’s dive deeper. For you it may be praying as you read or reading more slowly or picking one word or phrase on which to focus or just pausing and listening or singing along. The Spirit is alive and active as well and longing to connect with you through His Word. Hence maybe why the Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit.

As you read, meditate, and pray, I invite you to move as well. Whether it’s moving your heart and lungs with deep, deep breathing or it’s moving your body through stretching or even a workout. Engaging your body ignites your mind and heart, resulting in a fiery movement deeper than just calories burned.

I invite you to move with me through this simple scripture flow of Psalms 51:10-12. Or the next time you’d like to go on a walk or run or hop on a bike or elliptical, listen to the Revelation Wellness podcast. And Holy Barre and Revelation Wellness workouts are always available for free as well!

The result of reading, meditating, praying, and moving is worship! And as Alisa Keeton says, worship brings wellness! Let’s continue to burn bright, better together!

This Monday, November 15, join Revelation Wellness for night of Prayer & Worship! Click here for all the details!

November

My son correlates the Thanksgiving holiday with giving away his toys. Part of me giggles each time he says it, but I also appreciate the relationship he’s learned about thankfulness and giving. I’m sure his association is tied to the memory of my having both children donate lots of toys and such over a Thanksgiving break. While my main motive was to clear out space for the abundance of items they’d be receiving from family for Christmas, I did pray their seeing the excess of toys in our home and learning how many kids only have a few would initiate a child-level sense of gratitude. We also talk about how so much of this stuff doesn’t really matter or have value that lasts. Regardless, every Thanksgiving I now provide empty boxes and trash bags and ask my children to separate, sort, and release tons of toys. And it’s a time of thanks and giving.

In a recent Revelation Wellness podcast, Alisa Keeton challenged listeners to do the same thing. Yet instead of tangible stuff, she challenged us to take empty boxes and trash bags into our hearts and minds. Separate, sort, and release the items that fill our thought closets and feeling drawers and ultimately don’t have lasting value . . .

As we kick off a new month, which happens to contain Thanksgiving, let’s do some giving away (or even throwing away or maybe straight up burning at the altar) of worthless stuff that’s just taking up space. I’m not sure what junk that might be for you, but examples might be anxiety about holidays, feelings of not being enough, shame from past choices, worries about health issues, addictions to sugar or social media, obsessions with to-do lists, struggles in relationships, debates about masks or vaccines, desires to physically look a certain way . . . or maybe there’s too much ‘good’ stuff that it’s preventing any ‘great’ stuff from taking up space.

Let’s keep the Main thing the main thing. Let’s clean out our hearts, souls, bodies, and minds and fill them with everlasting truth of Who He is, Who we are, and Who He’s called us to be! As this month goes on, a simple soul check question is to ask yourself if what you’re currently thinking about will matter in 1,000 years. If the answer is ‘no’, take a deep breath, grab the trash bag, and throw the thought in! If the answer is yes, then keeping marching on and ask for His Spirit to help!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

When we breath out junk and breath in Jesus, we’re living equipped, empowered, engaged in the Armor of God. We are marching on as holy and victorious soldiers and moving forward in the powerful rhythms of His grace. We are armed and dangerous.

We are armed and dangerous in He alone. Ultimately, we stand firm in Jesus and are equipped by His Spirit. This month we are studying the Armor of God. I invite you to check out this page and follow along on Instagram.

Don’t believe the lies, which lead to shame, that you need a new plan or a new diet or a new exercise calendar or a new method to bring control or comfort into your life. Believe the truth that you just need Jesus and His Spirit today. Invite Him into your thought closets and feeling drawers.

For November, we get to thank God and give love! In response, let’s keep marching on, removing anything that hinders us, and keeping our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls free and firm in Christ alone.