Rising from the Ashes| By Ashley Siliezar-Kinchen

“For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29

It was about 8 years ago that I woke up to a screaming sound at 12:28 in the morning. It was my brother who was yelling that the house was on fire. It took me a while to understand what was going on because I was half asleep. I immediately took action and called 911 and woke up my family to evacuate. Believe it or not, despite how hard the fire was on our family, it was an answer to a prayer.

Have you ever prayed for something small and God transforms it into something much bigger? I am sure we have all experienced God in our own special way.

I have encountered God’s greatness in such a personal, yet supernatural way that it hardly seems real at moments.

In the years leading up to 2011, I lived in what seemed to be a storm of my own making. A troubled past coupled with resentment and bad decisions made me a cold person.

However, my father continued to bring my brother and I to church every Sunday. Life for me started to change because of this. But there were still times that I felt alone, like God could not hear me.

I would think, “Am I doing this right?” or “Can he hear me?”

I would think that that maybe He was upset with me because it seemed like some people around me had God’s direct hotline. However, no matter what guilt I felt, I knew that He always loved me and that guilt was the enemy trying to put distance between me and God.

As it turns out, God never abandons his children, and He had always heard my prayers. I did not know it then, but God was planning something that would change my entire life.

“Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” John 13:7

When my house caught on fire, I remember everything being such a blur. However, in the midst of it all, I remembered to grab one thing – my bible. At that moment, nothing else mattered, other than my family being alive.

When we stepped outside, I watched my mother drop to the ground and scream at the top of her lungs. It was painful to watch my mother drop to her knees as she saw everything crumbling in front of her. It was painful to see everything that I have ever known, burning in front of my eyes.

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7:7

My thoughts were racing all over the place, but the only thing I can remember thinking was, “How can this happen?”

But then it hit me. I had to prayed to God to light a fire in my heart for him. Fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. I prayed for God to bring me closer to him. My heart was yearning for God’s love. That is exactly what God did.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

The day we lost our house we lost many things. We lost almost all of our belongings and even some of the memories that we made as a family in that house. But as the phoenix rises from the ashes so did we. Although it was painful to see our belongings burned, God always protects and provides for his children. God provided us with amazing people that helped us get back on our feet. He provided us with an even more beautiful home, and most importantly, He kept us safe.

He did not burn down the house to punish but to free me and bring me closer to him. The fire that burned my house down lit a fire inside of me. I yearned for God even more than I did before. Nothing can ever put out that fire.

Warfare Advantage| By Chelsea Verdin

“Swiper no swiping!”

I can hear the voice of Dora yelling as she catches a sneaky fox trying to hinder her mission. And in the midst of my chaotic, busy life, I can hear myself yelling it to my very own enemy.

In John 10:10, it says that the enemy’s main objective is to steal, kill and destroy.

Like Swiper, our own enemy runs rampant throughout our journey trying to hinder the mission that has been set before us by Christ. Using specific tactics, he slides through our lives stealing our peace, killing our joy and destroying our hope. Not only does Christ fully know us, but the enemy has studied every aspect of our lives in order to initiate a successful attack on us.

In the Bible, David knows too well about attacks from the enemy. Anointed to be King as a child, he went his whole life attacked by people, situations, and his own consequences. In 1 Samuel 30, we find David and his men returning home to Ziklag after being kicked out of Aphek. They enter their city to find it desolate and destroyed. The Amalekites who had been on a raiding spree, stole everything from their camp and kidnapped all of the women and children. Nothing was left to be salvaged. Out of anger, David’s men sought to kill him, but David sought the Lord. Instead of staying bitter and depressed, David went straight to the altar and got into the presence of God. With God’s favor and permission, he and his men went after the Amalekites and fought for everything that was taken from them. They redeemed what had been stolen and gained the rations that were raided from other camps. Not only did God grant them favor to redeem their own lost good, but He blessed them with the bounty from other camps.

Several years before, David had spent his time alone in a pasture with sheep before actually stepping into his calling. This, I believe, is where his foundation and heart after God was developed. And when he was beside Saul fighting, calming him, and running for his life at times, I believe he never forgot what was promised him. His focus was sometimes misplaced as we learn about his mistakes, but he always went before God with a vulnerable heart and repentance. He had a warfare advantage over his enemies because He knew the Victor. This is how we fight our battles. This is how we redeem what the enemy tries to destroy. We stay focused on the Victor instead of becoming a victim.

So many times the enemy will use our anxiety, our fears, our failures, past, addictions, limitations and doubts to keep us from walking into what God has called us to. Each of us have a purpose, gifts,and inheritance that God has chosen for us. When we open doors to the enemy’s taunts, we are allowing him the opportunity to invade our camp.

He can’t steal our purpose, or gifts and definitely not our inheritance as children of God. He has no authority to take what has been granted ours by the King of Kings. We don’t have to ask him to kindly give us back our peace, our joy, or our hope. We have all authority and power to storm the enemy’s camp and demand back what he has taken from us. It takes knowing who you are, Whose you are and what has rightfully been promised to you. It takes courage and will to fight.

Friend, you may have had a rough year, month, week, day even and felt like nothing could be redeemed, but I’m here to tell you that you have all power and authority over the enemy and his schemes. Your fight isn’t over.

“I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13