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Surrendered: An Interview with Pastor Sierra Kinnamon

Pastor Sierra Kinnamon has been serving the Church since she was old enough to volunteer in children’s church ministry. From a very young age she has responded wholeheartedly to the call of God on her life that she share the Gospel to the nations. She has served as a missionary in 7 countries, including stays in the United States, in New York City and Las Angeles. Her non-profit organization, One Soma Global Inc., has aided in raising money for supplies in disaster stricken areas, and continues to meet the needs of communities local and abroad.

Following her most recent trip to India in the summer of 2017, Sierra was set in as a Pastor for Victory Life Church Durant, the mother church of a multi-campus church body under the headship of Duane Sheriff Ministries. Now, along-side her team, Sierra pastors two church campuses, Victory Life Colorado Springs,Co., and Victory Life Woodland Park, Co. This past Fall I sat down with Sierra during a visit to Texas to find out about her experience in Colorado.

Q: What is it like to establish and help develop a Victory Life Church location?

A: We have two campuses in Colorado and I oversee the life groups, the grow teams, and Next Steps for both campuses. The newest campus is 15 weeks old and we have about 60-65 people. A lot of what I’m doing there is identifying and developing leaders, while building and implementing systems for ministry.

Q: What would you say is the biggest task you face in your work?

A: The biggest task is that it’s my job to help establish Victory Life culture. [In a new location] you have a whole group of people who have awesome hearts, who want to be apart of Victory Life culture but haven’t seen it before. For instance, how we walk out different things…how we walk out mercy…and everything we do.

Q: What elements are most important in the culture of Victory Life to you and how do you go about establishing that?

A: I think for me it’s been acknowledging relationships. I know, that before I can have a say in anything, that the Holy Spirit has told me, “you have to establish relationship first….You have to let people see your heart.” Definitely the mercy side of things is very important to me. We’re gonna walk out mercy first. We’re not just going to look at someone’s heart and say we know them, but we’re going to walk life out with them.

Q: What has been the impact on the surrounding area having not one, but two Victory Life locations within an hour of each other?

A: Something we’ve been hearing all year is that we’re not just a church in a city but for a city. That’s interesting because we’re so close to Charis Bible College. A lot of Bible students come to the church, which is awesome but Bible school is different than a church. Pastor Duane said it best when he was in Colorado, “you’re sent to Bible school but you’re set in a church.” So really showing people that the church is not about just going and being spiritually fed (like you are in Bible College), but really about pouring that back out.

Q: What is your vision for pouring out into the Colorado community?

A: We haven’t started much outreach but once we’ve gotten our grow teams, Next Steps, and life groups going, that outreach is going to be my big focus. Because again, we have Bible students who come but we also want to make sure people in the community are coming. In the Springs there’s a big homeless population and there’s so much potential for all kinds of outreaches. I’m definitely excited about that.

Q: You’ve accomplished a lot in ministry and maintained such focus along the way. What is it that so motivates you?

A: More than anything, I’m really passionate about establishing the Kingdom of God and His culture. I think that our church is very closely related to that, and we’re very much working our way toward Heaven and Earth becoming one. Because of that, I can be excited about our church culture. I’ve found that if I’m walking in the Kingdom of God and I’m walking out what He carries, and if I’ve tried to model my life after that, then culture is the fruit of that.

Q: Being in a new environment, you’re not with your family but you’re still in Victory Life, not overseas, but you’re in an in-between. What’s that been like for you?

A: Personally the relationship aspect has been the most stretching in this season. Obviously what I’m doing in my job is all new, so I’m learning a lot. Where I’ve really had to trust is, I’ve never struggled making friends or with even the thought of it, but I found that as I was getting closer to the move, I’m like, “man I’m about to be uprooted.” Going from a place where people know you’re heart, know what’s inside of you, and friends who are good to call that out and hold you accountable to that, to then almost completely being taken away from that, and being in a place where you’re starting over, it’s been a really good stretching and growing experience. God has really been saying to me, “do you trust me?”

Q: Trusting in God must really play a vital role in your walk.  How would you describe that?

A: I was reading a book and the author was talking about how trust is developed in dependency and intimacy, and those two things are all I have right now. I have to be dependent on God, he is my best friend. I’m intimate with Him and trust can’t help but be formed in that. I have a new appreciation for family and for church family. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be but relationships take time and you can’t rush them. That’s been the most challenging aspect, but I know it’s what I’ve needed to grow. And in visiting my home in Durant, I felt this awesome sense of ownership of our campuses in Colorado. So, now I really have two places of home.

Q: What would you most like to see unfold for your campuses?

A: I think for me, I’d most like to see the leaders that need to step up, step up and take ownership of the church. [Many people] have awesome gifts but it’s about plugging in and seeing your gift develop. I know in my own life it was serving and doing whatever was needed that opened every single door for me. It was never saying, “I have a call to ministry so I’m going to do ministry.” It was, “I have a call but I’m going to serve where needed.” I want to be good at building and training those leaders.

Q: How have you walked through the process of building and training leaders so far?

A: Something I’ve been doing every time I meet with a new life group leader or grow team member, is asking them, “what are your spiritual gifts? What are the things inside of you?” Because I want to lead in a way that calls that out and helps set them in the right place. I want to see people take ownership, grow the church, and be for a city. I want to see communities connect to and find a home in the church and feel welcomed.

Q: Do you have any advice for young women who feel called to pastoral ministry?

A: Be willing to do whatever is needed and the work of the ministry, but also confident of who God is in you and His faithfulness. I know I never have to make a way for myself because He’s a really good dad who wants to see my gifts grown. I also trust that He knows the perfect timing. He’s not going to give me a leadership opportunity that I can’t handle. He’s not going to put me in a place that I’m not ready for.

Q: How have you walked out seasons of waiting?

A: I remember seasons where I felt like I have so much in me but I’m in a season of hiding, or I have so much in me but I’m not using it all. Even now, what I’m doing is details and administrative stuff and I know that’s not my end either. There’s still so much more in me but it’s a matter of saying, “in this season I trust that You’re developing me exactly how I need to be developed and Your timing is perfect.”

Q: Lastly, what does surrender to Jesus mean to you?

A: Saying yes, no matter the cost!

Take Away:

  • Before you can have a say in anything, let people know your heart
  • When you walk in the Kingdom, you set the culture
  • Trust is developed in intimacy and dependency
  • Serve whereever there’s a need
  • Be confident of who God is in you and His faithfulness
  • Know that in the right time, God will open the right doors
  • Surrender to Jesus means saying yes, no matter the cost

To partner with One Soma Global Inc. visit https://www.facebook.com/onesomaglabal/

A Lesson in Encouragement

I work as an Inclusion Aide in Special Education in an Elementary school,  which just means I get paid to laugh. I love the kids I work with. I love that they teach me to laugh at myself and daily give me a lighter view of the world. Throughout my short career,  I’ve had the privilege of spending hours and hours observing and engaging in relationship with children.  I especially glean from their interactions with one another.

One little girl, Savannah, is so enthusiastic. The books her teacher reads, the videos her class watches, her teachers instructions, her peer’s stick figure drawing, all blow her away, evoking her most expressive “Wow!” “Woah!” “That’s awesome!” “Did you see that?!”

She’s a fount of encouragement. She’s the voice you’d want cheering in your congregation as you preached. What I like most about Savannah is not simply that she is innately encouraging, but I see working within her, a recognition of quality and sensitivity to the efforts of others. When her peers, or her teacher for that matter, present quality to her, she applauds it. “Good job Ms. S!,” she shouts to her teacher.

Today Savannah was coloring in her fire station workbook. She pulled out a freshly sharpened color pencil and brought it within inches of my nose. “What color is this Mrs. Weatherly?”

“Aqua!” I replied. Her eyes lit up and she let out a screechy giggle.

Immediately, she went to coloring her fire station dalmatian pup, aqua. When she had finished she was immensely proud of the work she’d done. I told her it was fabulous and she beamed, but sometimes approval means more from your peers. So, she showed her work to those at her table.

“Dogs are black or brown, not aqua!” the first girl said. Disappointed, but not deterred Savannah took her masterpiece to the neighboring table.

“That’s wrooooong!” another girl declared. Savannah sunk.

“It’s pretty,” I heard her say under her breath.

I wanted to scoop her up and explain that sometimes people don’t recognize the beauty that is so obviously within in you. That you have to receive approval from God alone. I wanted to shield her, to protect her. She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t shown the same courtesy she so readily bestows to everyone else. I sat there feeling as deflated as she. I told her again what a great job she had done and then it was time to clean up.

There are times in my life I have been guilty of the same treatment those little girls showed Savannah. And there are times I have been Savannah, eager to please and to celebrate a job well done but swiftly rejected by those with whom I thought to celebrate. We all have to learn the hard way that approval comes from the Father. We have to know in our heart of hearts that we are “accepted in the Beloved,” Ephesians 1:6.

At the same time, I wonder. Can I, in my day to day be more like Savannah, quick to recognize the quality in others and eager to applaud it? Can I be sensitive to other’s efforts and join them in their celebration of a job well done? I understand that the gift of encouragement may not come so easily to us as it does to Savannah, but my prayer is that we not allow any excuse or insecurity within ourselves keep us from learning love.

One of my favorite passages says in Romans 12:10-15 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord…Rejoice with those who rejoice.”

In other words, be like Savannah.

Room for Earth-Shakers

“I don’t want to be just one thing.”

Can you relate to that statement?

I don’t want to be just a worship leader, or just a mom, or just a graduate. I’m more than the sum of my achievements and I refuse to live in a box. I need room.

You are more than the sum of your achievements too. Did you know that? Have you lived aware of that today? It’s so very easy to forget. To forget that you’re not on this planet to impress anyone.

Isn’t that so freeing?! You don’t have to hide behind your resume! You don’t have to hide behind or desperately grope for a title! I say, if you want to label me, label me God’s girl. Being His is the only shoe that fits. It’s the only one big enough.

You are His too. Wear it proudly and forget to care about the labels, the titles, and the recognition. Do what you do because you’re heart beats wildly for it. Love because your heart burns with God Presence. Labels don’t stick to wildfires and peer recognition doesn’t satisfy an earth shaker.

Tending Your Dreams

This summer I was encouraged to invest in myself. After years of dreaming big and still seeing so little fruit in certain areas of my life, disappointment was beginning to contaminate my thoughts of the future. Invest in myself? What, like get a pedicure?

I realized in my tunnel vision I’d allowed my heart to neglect other dreams while in pursuit of this one. Because my heart was broken over the one, I’d found myself distancing myself from people and from my passions. I could sense the distance from my heart and home increasing and knew something had to be done immediately. After all, what of the dream I’d held for so long of family? Was I going to let this one assault on my career keep me from pouring into and enjoying the loves of my life?

I began to simplify my schedule and become intentional about my time with my daughter and with my husband. Saying “no” to others has never been my strong suit but when there is something as  precious as family on the line, you rally the courage. Since doing so, I’ve felt my daughter’s little heart beam in the knowledge that she’s captured my attention. And the response in my husband has been similar.

You see, they were my first and dearest dream. It’s funny how once we’ve attained a dream, we tend to neglect investing in it with the same fervor we did before it was in our possession. I realized that investing in my family was an investment in myself. A human being pouring into their dream is deeply fulfilling, whatever that dream may be, but especially if it is fulfilling for others.

On this journey of investing in myself I also began to search out those passions which had laid dormant, allowing myself to engage with and revive them. I’ve found a new vocal instructor and am taking lessons again.  I’m drawing, and decorating, and taking care of myself. And I’m doing these things for no one’s benefit but my own. And it feels good. And unsurprisingly everyone around me benefits from the change in my attitude and the releasing of my gifts.

Don’t be afraid of investing in yourself on your journey. It will not detract from your destination. As long as you know who you are in Him and what you are about, no time invested in growing yourself and tending your dreams is wasted time. Even if they do not seem to pertain to the end you have in mind, every element of who the Father has created you to be, is valuable and worthy of attendance.

So, in the waiting, release your gifts and explore your dreams. Leave no rock un-turned in the quarry of your passions. You may be surprised at what you find there. You certainly won’t be disappointed.

Laying Down

Last year I was determined to cultivate a space for worshiping in my home. For me, that meant purchasing a new rug.  I wanted to be intentional about designating this rug as my special place before that Lord. It’d represent for me, a season of intentionality. Now, when I sit down on that rug, the Father and I both know it’s a sanctified and special time between us. Much like going on a date with your spouse, sitting down on my living room floor, Bible in hand and heart open, has become my space for practicing intentional intimacy with the Father. It’s what I call learning the art of laying down.

Now, I don’t mean physically laying down, though I highly recommend it during moments of worship. I’m talking about the laying down of your heart and life before the Father on a regular basis.

At the beginning of my semester at Charis Bible College, we were worshiping when I had a vision. In it, I saw myself falling face-first at the feet of Jesus. Falling. In slow motion. And even though I knew that the impact of my face to the floor was coming, there was no hesitancy, or fear, or struggle. I simply fell. In fact, there was an overwhelming sense of peace.

Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “naturally, when falling, you’d do whatever necessary to avoid hitting your face. You’d lean toward either side, backward, or you’d catch yourself if possible.” As He spoke these words, I watched as at the very moment my face hit the ground before Jesus’ feet, the ground gave in like a pillow. Then He spoke, “[falling face-first] won’t hurt like you think it will. The only pain will be in wishing you had fallen sooner.”

I realized in that moment the Lord was issuing an invitation into greater intimacy, as His words so often do. He was inviting me to lay down those vulnerable places, the places in my life I often try to protect from the impact of His grace, out of fear, a lack of understanding, and a resistance to discomfort. But vulnerability is uncomfortable. If it weren’t, we’d be better at it. Opening up before the Lord, relinquishing our plans, being honest with Him about our thoughts and motivations is a painful and uncertain process. But it is the process that releases His victory in our lives and it requires practice. Laying everything down until you’re so in love you’d do whatever he says do, and go where ever he says go, is a process.

Often times we want to do what God says and go where he says because we want God-results in our lives. That’s an excellent desire! But we can easily begin to desire the benefits of sonship apart from relationship with the One who’s made us sons. We simply don’t have the time or patience enough to figure out how to hear from and interact with God, so we settle for what He can do for us, missing out entirely on our inheritance, which is God Himself. However, this too, is an empty pursuit. Life is found in knowing and being known by the Father, and this begins at the feet of Jesus.

There is an art to laying down, to falling in love with the Lord’s feet. It is what John the Baptist understood when he spoke the words, “I am not fit to untie his sandals. ” And yet, at the word of Jesus, John baptized the Son of Man.  It is what the woman with the alabaster jar understood when she washed the Lord’s feet with her hair and tears. It is what compelled her to pour upon his feet that perfume of great price, even in the face of those who would scoff and accuse her of wastefulness.

If you will pursue a place at Jesus’ feet, beyond your own hang-ups and the hang-ups of others, with less regard to time spent than love exchanged, and if you will pour out the perfume of praise and adoration (especially when it’s costly), you will come to know true and lasting fulfillment. You’ll wish you’d fallen sooner. Your life will be a testimony akin to Isaiah’s, proclaiming, “beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring the good news.” Let’s be a people that practice surrender, and like Mary, find our home at the feet of the Teacher.

Small Beginnings

I was putting away dishes this week when a revelation the Lord has been working to impart in my heart seized me and finally began to sink in. I’d been living in my home for the passed 2 1/2 years, just passing the days here until I can finally purchase my dream home and life really begin for my little family. But in that moment of putting those dishes into the cabinet I finally saw what the Lord has been trying to speak to me for weeks.

Home has always been high on my list of priorities. Cultivating a space in which my family feels inspired, at peace, and a sense of belonging has been a dream kept at the forefront of my mind since I was a little girl.

This time last year we were expecting our daughter, and I remember the nagging worry I felt about not being able to give her all that she’d need. We currently live in a one bedroom home. I can’t think of the square footage off the top of my head but I’m sitting on my couch in one corner of my house and with the bedroom door open, the corner furthest from this spot is not too far away. We live in a tiny home.

You can imagine the anxiety I felt at the thought of bringing a newborn into such a small place. It’s amazing though what love does. When she came into our lives, having space was the last thing on our minds. We wanted no space. Being as close as possible was the only appropriate response to having so much love placed in your arms. There is truly a multiplying power at work when the love between two people creates a little life. Love exponentially increases.

We have a sign above our stove that says, “love grows well in little houses.” Each home that Tuck and I have lived in has been tiny. There has never been room enough to escape during an argument. Never room enough to enjoy hobbies apart from each other. Never room enough to miss the little idiosyncrasies of the other. And because there has been so little space between us we have unearthed the trash and the treasure in one another.

I can’t imagine not having had this time of living close. I don’t know that Tuck and I could have made it this far if the space in which God placed us had allowed for distance between us. Every sigh, every word spoken under our breath, the sound my face makes when I smile (yeah it’s a thing), my attentiveness to the movements my very quiet husband makes, all became a part of an exchange between us that forced us to deal with one another. It’s the best thing I could hope for any couple willing to put in the life-long work it takes to cultivate a stellar marriage.

Though our daughter is about to be a year old and sleeps in the kitchen, I’m falling in love with our home all over again. I know we won’t always be here so I want to appreciate this house for the life that has unfolded here, the love that has grown well here, which seems to have been absorbed in the laminate floors I can never mop enough, and the walls we painted grey last year.

I’m finding the little nooks that have daily spoken “home” to me so that I can remember when we are in our 3 bedroom home one day, the conversation we had with this house, the life we lived within its dry-walled arms. I encourage you to treasure the small stuff in your life while they’re small.

“Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10

In Step with the Father

I took a bit of a sabbatical from blogging. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t miss a month of posting and yet, February breezed by with no posts. I was disappointed in myself for fizzing out so quickly. But the humbling process of getting on the same page as Holy Spirit has been so healthy and encouraging to my soul.

Last December I started conducting interviews with women whose stories I hoped to share on my blog site. I began mapping out future stories and was so pumped about all there was to glean from these amazing women, but as I sat down with my notes and interview recordings, I began to feel overwhelmed.

I realized I hadn’t structured my interviews in such a way that would allow me to easily share our conversations. I’d hoped to provide detailed Q&A’s with my readers and instead, heard such richly detailed stories that so stirred me, I got swept up in them. The impartation that took place in those meetings has changed my life, but when it came to my trying to culminate those interviews into bite-size blog posts, I was completely in over my head.

My 3-month blogging streak came to a screeching halt. I labored over those interviews for months trying to decide upon a template that would best present the information while honoring the women who shared their time and life experience with me. It’s funny how something so small, immobilized me. All writing ceased. I stepped on the Father’s toes, so to speak. I’d been experiencing a flow in my blog writing, like a dance. I felt led by the Holy Spirit and I was seeing fruit and then BAM! A single mis-step and I was on my face.

I’d already advertised the coming interviews on my social media accounts and now I couldn’t deliver the goods. I was disappointed to say the least. Have you ever been on a roll and then found yourself sunk? Have you ever taken a word from the Father and tried to make it happen prematurely? The Father breathed an idea in my mind and I took it and ran. There, I found myself in a sea of pressure to perform beyond my ability to perform. I jumped the gun. Ever been there?

This week the Lord sat me down and simply told me to breathe and try again. Getting in step with Him is not as hard as we sometimes make it. If you’ll only wait a moment and let Him lead, you’ll find yourself dancing again.

If you feel you’ve hit a wall in an creative or ministerial endeavor that you know the Lord placed upon your heart, then I encourage you to push pause. Wait a moment. Hear Him. And try again. Maybe it’s not time for some aspects of your vision to unfold but don’t allow a failure to stop the flow of your purpose being released in the lives of others. People need you to do what God has called you to do.

Deeper

As a kid I loved to nab one of the few pair of goggles at a pool party so that I could dive down deep into the water. Below, all of the laughter, conversation, delighted screams of children splashing were instantly muffled and distant.

As you’re introduced to this new space beneath the surface, everything you know about breath and balance above the surface are changed. I remember being mesmerized by the strange quiet and the way the light shone through the endless blue and how everything slowed down. 

Losing track of time I’d emerge from the water, made anxious by the thought I may have missed something going on at the party. Why didn’t everyone want to dive in? Isn’t this what we came for?

I believe in life we are often reluctant to fully surrender to God because of what we may miss. We are made anxious by this need to follow the crowd and as a result we often sacrifice depth for relevance. But what could be more relevant than time spent diving deeper and deeper into the Father’s presence?

 I’ve realized that there will always be something else to do instead of worship. There will always be tasks to perform and people to see but we can’t live satisfied with surface level revelation of the person of God and miss the beauty of the depths of His heart. We must learn the rhythms of daily surrender.

In the Waiting

Naturally, entering into this new year felt like stepping over the thresh hold of an entirely new realm of possibility. I love new beginnings. Fresh Start is my middle name. I have come into this new year positioned for the impossible to be made manifest in my life. I’m carrying a word from the Lord like I’ve got gold in my pocket, a promise that’s sacred and priceless and…I don’t know what to do with it! Anybody been there? Anybody carrying a promise from the Father? I stepped into this new year believing it was delivery time, only to find that I’ve merely entered a new trimester. Anybody waiting? I’m in the promised land but there are giants here and the land is uncultivated.

When you’ve waited, what does waiting some more look like?

I’ve been decluttering my house today. There are tied up bags and boxes everywhere. Every surface of my house is occupied with odds and ends I can’t remember ever having had a purpose for owning. What’s funny is I just did this about a month ago believing I had finally gotten rid of all the excess only to find hidden junk in just about every nook and cranny of our tiny house.

The site of it all, piling up around me, made me feel anxious. Why is this stuff still here? I thought I’d already taken care of it. 

Our hearts are a lot like that. One day we make room for Jesus only to find that a week later He’s become cramped by the junk that we should’t have been carrying. Junk like doubt that leads to hopelessness. Junk like frustration in His process. Junk like disinterest in His presence unless I get something for abiding in it.

All the junk has led me to return again to the place of laying down. When I thought I had already laid down everything there was to lay down, I lay me down again. Instead of having a heart that demands the promise, I desire to have a heart that is continuously laid low. To have a heart that seeks to relinquish every space to the Father, so that He may have full authority over what fills each space of my heart.

The Lord is saying, when the promise has come, will you? Will you still come to abide in my presence?

It’s easy to begin to fall in love with the wonderful things Jesus reveals to you, losing site of His face. It’s easy for a person with a heart for giving, to use times of worship for receiving songs, prophetic words, a message to preach, a post to share, or a blog topic to write, rather than for heart-to-heart connection with the Father. Often, relinquishing control of such moments means our reputation is sacrificed on the altar, but this is the price we must pay to live captured.

As I scooted around the boxes on my bed tonight to find a place to sit and type, I heard the Father whisper, “permeate.” He wants to permeate every space. So the answer to the question, “now what?” is, now you soak. Now you soak in the presence and forget the promise for a little while. Go again to that low place at His feet and love it there again. Love that lowly place like you did when the promise of high places was light years away.

Seeking direction for this new year, I prayed for a fresh vision concerning worship. The Lord showed me an operating room and a person laying on a gurney. I heard Him say, I want to perform open heart surgery. I believe the Lord deeply desires to address those needs within our hearts that have gone long ignored. He knows that in order for our hearts to have space to receive His promises, they must be free from the clutter, cleansed of the corrosion that sin and pain have wrought.

I used to feel condemned that I could not spend more time in the Father’s presence daily. I have since been made free of condemnation, and if you’ve beaten yourself up for not spending more time with the Lord, know that you’ve been made free too. I have also discovered that I cannot live life to the full if my heart is empty of time spent soaking in His presence.

I know that you are eager for the promises of God to be made manifest, as I am. And I believe that what is being made manifest in the lives of God’s people is big, loud, and powerful, but let us not miss this quiet invitation to surrender. Allow the Lord to permeate every space as you give Him access to the hidden places of your heart. Allow yourself the freedom of being captured once again by the face of Jesus.

She Laughs

Proverb 31 infamously describes the super woman every Christian lady aspires to imitate. She has been studied in small groups, spoken of at conferences, written about, and meditated upon as the perfect picture of Christian feminine power, but if I’m being honest, I share little resemblance with this spiritual giant. I’m not all that resourceful, I’m not the greatest housekeeper, and my entrepreneurial endeavors are dwarfed by her successes. However, I’ve come to discover our heroine’s secret power and it is this, “she laughs with no fear of the future,” Proverbs 31:25

One day last year I was doing my hair, thinking on all there was for me to do that day and how overwhelmed I was, when those old familiar voices came rushing into the room saying, “look at you, you’re nobody and you have nothing to offer. You’ll never get ahead. You take one step forward only to take 2 steps back.” Have you ever heard anything like that? As I looked at my face in the mirror I could see my soul sinking into oblivion.

Then, like a hand reaching out to draw me out of deep water, my spirit rose up within me and I boldly declared over myself and to any enemy listening, “I will never quit! I will never stop worshiping. I will never relinquish the promises of God. I won’t stop. Ever.” This went on for several minutes and as each declaration left my lips I saw the strength of the Lord wash over me and my countenance was changed into that of a relentless champion, and do you know what, I began to laugh.

Your greatest weapon of spiritual warfare in this life is your joy. When we begin to speak and think from a place of victory rather than identifying with defeat, we make way for joy to flood the soul. What could be more deflating to the enemies of our soul than for us to counter each attack pronounced upon us with genuine laughter? Does any other reaction speak more exuberantly of the transforming nature of knowing who we are in Christ? What could be more satisfying than to lay waste with laughter the very enemy who tries daily to lay waste to you? Joy diffuses the fiery darts of Satan and makes a mockery of him as much as it gloriously displays the goodness of the Father.

Joy is as beautiful a mystery as the Holy Spirit himself, but it is a treasure he labors to help us uncover. Because I saw the word J-O-Y so often in the culture, on bracelets, t-shirts, stationary, you name it,  I found that the word itself held little meaning to me. I couldn’t pin down what gave it relevance, but in as much as the subject eluded me, I was drawn to search it out and discover its application in my daily life. The book of Nehemiah says, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Having a proper understanding then, of what Biblical joy is and how to walk in it, is paramount. These few things that I have come to understand concerning the joy of the Lord have emerged from my own study and are in no way exhaustive.

One of our greatest misconceptions about joy is that it is an emotion. Though joy effects us on an emotional level, Biblical joy is not an emotion. Joy is not natural, it’s supernatural. The joy of the Lord is indeed meant to transform our mind, will, emotions, and personality in a profound way but joy itself does not come from any of those places. Joy comes from Holy Spirit. It is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22).  And because it comes from Holy Spirit, it cannot be fabricated. That’s one reason why we shouldn’t pressure others to exude Christian joy when they have no revelation of what joy really is. This is both foolish and insensitive on our part and can be detrimental to others. I mean, you try living a life with a smile on your face when you’re broken within. Maybe you’re there or you’ve been there. The last thing you need is someone telling you to “wear a smile anyway.” Christ didn’t call us into a life of “fake it ’til you make it.” He has called us into a life of exuberant joy.

If we could really come to understand by revelation that joy isn’t an emotion nor is it altered by any circumstantial experience we face, I think we could experience a lot more freedom in the body of Christ. I know I have felt pressure over the years to appear happy, smiling, and content when I was anything but on the inside. If it can be manufactured, it’s not joy, it’s just uncomfortable. Joy is the very nature of Holy Spirit spilling over from the inside of you. And like Holy Spirit, you always have access. Joy is not something we are reaching for. Joy is the seat upon which we have been seated in Christ Jesus already. Not one day. Now.

Picture it. That moment at the end of a boxing match. You know, when the bell dings and the referee is holding your fighters glove high in the air. The crowd is cheering. He’s won the fight. And because he’s won, you’ve won. Nervous anticipation gives way to exhilaration. That’s what takes place in the spirit when we identify with Christ’s victory over death, hell, and the grave. Our fighter has knocked the socks off our enemy. Our opponent is shouting threats at us but he’s on his way down to the mat. The fight is over. It’s already won. This was the joy set before Christ, that we would identify with his victory and live a life transformed by that identification. He fought the fight but we receive the title. Champions. That’s what we are. When we live from his victory, we counter every attack with joy because we know we win!

So how do we access joy? How do we get more of it? How do we identify with the victory we’ve been freely given in Christ? Proverbs 31:26 goes on to say, “she opens her mouth in skillful and Godly wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Open your mouth. Fill it with the word and the let ‘er rip. It’s not enough just to read the word. You’ve got to speak it! Boldly declare over yourself who it is that you are and whose you are. And do it every. single. day.  Identify with Christ’s victory over every enemy that tries to put defeat on you and you will find yourself laughing.