Thursday, October 5, 2017

You Are the Champion - Giveaway

With eyes squeezed shut and my heart about to explode, I hit publish on what is now Redemption’s Champion. It was May 15th and God had just done some amazing things in my life. This was my way of stewarding those victories. So, even though I was terrified a blog was launched and here we are 5,000 visits later.

It has been almost five months, there have been more victories and more valleys. I’ve learned that even in the valley I can keep moving forward. I don’t have to stay still and I don’t have to go back.

Sometimes I just need to fight.

I don't mean fight people or circumstances, I mean in the Spirit. I need to stay in constant communication with my Father about my feelings, my situation and myself. I need to hear His heart and His Word in any given situation.

I used to be a quitter. Not a procrastinator, not a straggler or a slow starter - a full-blown quitter. When things got tough or I was scared, I would retreat or quit, just to be honest. It was paralyzing. This blog has been a great way toward overcoming that character flaw.
I believe in perseverance. Don't hear me wrong, it's not because I am good at it. I just believe in it because I see it working in my life. Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
Since I launched this blog I have wanted to quit many times and “You should quit,” has been whispered a time or two, but I’m still here and you’re still reading this little blog. Thank you and thank God.
There isn't enough space or a font big enough to tell you how much I think of perseverance and all the reasons we have to make it a solid pillar of our life. The longer I live this life of faith in Christ, the more I realize perseverance - choosing, it living in it, trusting what id does in your life - is a game changer. Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
Launching a blog can be a big deal or not a big deal. For me, it was a big deal because I was acting solely on faith. It was a big deal because God was teaching me something. It is a big deal because He continues to use it to teach me and grow me up.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
Having this blog has made me braver, more faithful and more determined. I am determined to do what He has called me to do no matter what. I fight the thoughts, the critics, and the naysayers and I say yes to Him, my faithful God. He has never left me and never forsaken me. He has a plan and a purpose for me and it is good.

When He sets us free it is for a greater purpose, there are people out there who need to hear my story and your story. Many are still bound, many are still lost and many are still hopeless. So, I encourage you to be a Redemption’s Champion, proclaim freedom to the captives, show them He still heals, still saves and still sets free.

Another amazing thing about this blog is the people I have met and linked arms with to make this a place to celebrate freedom.

Kelly Lee Blankenship and Jennifer Kenney have offered amazing paintings exclusively for Redemption’s Champion. They will be given away to two blessed winners.

Kelly Lee Blankenship

I am a daughter of God, wife, mom, career woman and prophetic artist. I have always loved art and the Lord awakened a gift of prophetic art in me in 2016 - for His glory. Unsuspected Artist is my ministry where I share my gifts, talents and my love of art.

Healing Waters - Feeling weightless, relaxed, free, natural - not forced, not struggling just refreshingly calm.
Jennifer Kenney

I have always enjoyed art. I began painting and drawing at a young age. I never dreamed that God could take this love of painting and turn it into a ministry. Prophetic art is simply communication with God through art. It is my form of worship. Several years ago God brought women into my life that would take visions and dreams from God and put them on canvas. I simply asked God to give me this gift and He did. I did have to learn that it is not about the art, it’s the message. I had to overcome the fear of what people would think and the worry that it was not good enough. You can go out on the internet and find all levels of prophetic art. My art teacher can turn out a beautiful work of art in just a few minutes, but just as powerful are the stick figure pictures that others turn out. God gives me the pictures in different ways. Sometimes they come all at once. Others come a piece at a time. He always gives me scripture and words to go with the paintings. I am not a professional writer or artist. It always amazes me that the God of the universe talks to me and shows me images. I am to be His paintbrush, to paint His pictures and to share His message with others. A paintbrush has no control, only the hand that holds it. May I never leave His hand!
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world. Mother Teresa
If it seems I am crazy, it is to bring glory to God. His love controls me. 
2 Corinthians 5:13-14
He is our Redeemer Champion! New every morning, crashing over us like a wave, washing away our sins and throwing them deep into the sea. Loving us enough to die for us even before we existed! And even though we are worthless sinners He pursues us and loves us!

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
One of these amazing paintings could be yours. To enter do any one or all of the following, you will receive one entry per item. We are unable to ship paintings outside of the U.S.

1) Leave a comment - tell us why you would love to have one of these paintings
2) Subscribe to Redemption's Champion via email
2) Like Redemption's Champion on Facebook
3) Share this post via Facebook
4) Like Unsuspected Artist on Facebook
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How to Close the Door to Fear

Whether you're scared stiff, shaking like a leaf, scared of your own shadow, have butterflies in your stomach or holding your breath, fear is no laughing matter. It can be paralyzing.

Fear is the most subtle of bullies. You can't see it or touch it, but you know it's there.

I’ve scoured the Internet and know there are plenty of lists to help overcome fear, but those things are of little use when you've lost all sense of reason and fear threatens to immobilize you.

Being proactive and not waiting until the unwelcomed guest, fear,
comes knocking at the door is a great tool for victory.

Spend more time with your Father than you spend with fear. Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” In order to "put your trust in Him" you need to know Him well enough to trust Him and that only comes out of a relationship and relationship only comes from fellowship.
Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Here are some ways I have renewed my mind in the area of fear.

The Bible

When I mention the bible, I am not suggesting you read to the “go to” verses on fear, you know those, but "in the moment" they don’t help. They do little to calm your fears and become empty mantras you recite in hopes that if you say them enough times you will believe them and feel better. Ask God to give you a revelation of His love, His presence and His victory in your life. Read stories such as David and Goliath, the parting of the Red Sea and Joseph. Ask God to illuminate truth and give you new revelation.

David tired of Goliath mocking God and it gave Him the courage to do what needed to be done. Fear didn’t stand a chance. The Egyptians pursued the Israelites and it looked bleak, but God spoke through Moses and encouraged them to trust Him. Sold as into slavery and falsely accused, Joesph was thrown into prison. The dream God gave him was the purpose for His life and nothing that happened to him thwarted that.  Read between the lines, so to speak. It is not always obvious in the passage, but the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you in your situation.

The List

This became popular several years ago with Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts. It may seem insignificant and almost too easy, but it works. It is impossible to be afraid when meditating on all the amazing things God has done.

Years ago I did this with my kids and it changed us. Their lists were simple, "thank you for my water table" and "thank you for breakfast," but it shifted the focus from what we didn’t have or what we wanted to what we did have and what God still wanted to do for us. I still come across my lists and there are several in notebooks scattered throughout my home.

Sometimes it was “I’m thankful for the pain that comes before the healing” or “I’m thankful that His Word is living and active.” Nonetheless, it changed me. How did I know to be thankful for the pain that comes before the healing? Reading my bible and "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10
The Worship

Spend time in worship every day and I mean every day. Don’t wait for Sunday when they turn down the lights at and the amazing worship leader takes you into to the Holy of Holies. You can do this in your car, shower or living room. Worship can be silence. Sit for three minutes and meditate on the love of God, the Holiness of God or just God - He’ll show up.
His presence changes everything and if you think His word or a thankful list
will send the devil packing, just wait until He shows up - the devil won’t even make a sound he will just disappear. 

The Notebook

Keep a journal. Write down your fears and victories. Don't be afraid put down the crazy thoughts in your head. It is a great way to look back and see what God has done. Journaling helps get crazy thoughts out of your head, so you are able to focus on the “here and now” and more importantly on the “things of God.”

The Conversation

Talk to Him. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or rehearsed - be real, be raw. Tell Him how you are feeling and ask Him to tell you how He is feeling about what you're feeling. He cares about this stuff! He will speak to you. I don’t know what He will say, but He will always comfort and always speak life.

I do believe fear is a spirit and one that did not come from God, but you cannot make fear the focus of your overcoming, it has to be Him. Get to know Him better than you know fear. I know you have heard this before, but it applies here.

People are trained to recognize counterfeit money by studying the real thing, not the counterfeit.

Fear is a counterfeit for faith. Study the real thing, Jesus, so when the counterfeit fear comes knocking you recognize it and slam the door in its face. When you become deeply rooted in Him, you will stop opening the door altogether.
Sometimes you don’t know when you’re taking the first step through a door until you’re already inside. ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Interview with the Unsuspected Artist - Kelly Lee Blankenship

Kelly hanging her painting at her first exhibit at Henry Piedmont Hospital
Five months ago Kelly and I met at a Godspa Retreat. The purpose of Godspa is primarily for personal, reflective and quiet time with the Lord. Everyone came together for lunch and Kelly and I got to talking about art. I saw some of her work and was astounded. We exchanged phone numbers and became Facebook friends. In the short time I have known her, God has really poured into her and she is pouring out. When I meet someone this amazing I want to share her with everyone I know, so here she is Kelly Lee Blankenship, the Unsuspected Artist.

Redemption's Champion (RC): Tell me a little about your artistic journey? When did you know you loved to paint? What forms of art did you start with?

Unsuspected Artist (UA): I have always loved art. I drew and wrote poetry as a child. I played with acrylic paint as I got older for fun mostly. In the past 2 years, I paint with anything that will go in my hand. No one was more surprised than me that I would be doing this today. I still struggle with fear of judgment.

RC: When were told that you were a prophetic artist and what was the setting?

UA: My husband and I were in the car on the way to a Christian concert with our pastor. He said that God showed him I was supposed to be involved in worship and asked if I could sing. I laughed. Then he said it must be prophetic art then. He showed me a video of a worship artist painting in the prophetic and a flame began to grow inside of me. I still haven't been able to get on stage during worship to paint but maybe one day.

RC: You mentioned in one of your videos that when you were prophesied over and told you were a prophetic artist, but you didn’t even know what that meant? It is quite obvious you have figured it out, how has the Lord instructed you since then?

UA: He has shown me that my atmosphere and heart has to be focused on Him. I have a special place in my home that is set aside just for praying and painting. I usually turn on worship music loud (to drown out my singing) and open my bible. Most of the time I have no idea what I am doing and just wait for God to show me images in my head. I have also learned to take my history of doodling during sermons and focus it on what God is telling me through the sermon.

RC: What does the life of a prophetic artist look like day to day? I know you have a husband and children? What is your husband’s name and your children’s names and ages?

UA: I have a wonderful husband, Eric and three amazing children, EJ, Kara, and Laci. We serve in our church and I have a great career. With all that I have going on in my life, often I have to make sacrifices in other areas, like sleep, to focus on what God wants to show me. I end up blushing a lot because of the attention but in the end, the glory goes to God. 

RC: How did your art end up at the hospital where you work?

UA: Since beginning to paint for God I had rarely shown my paintings outside of the church. I was fearful of rejection and judgment.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16
He convicted me that my worship, my painting was my candle. It was made to bring Him glory in and outside of the church. He challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and put His gift in front of the world and share His word. I looked into my local art alliance and joined. I read that they had an art exhibit coming up that just so happened to be at the hospital I worked at. I entered, barely expecting to get accepted, and BAM! God showed up and showed out. Here I was at the exhibit 4 weeks later, youngest one there, with everyone in my family and several coworkers coming to support me. I was terrified but God had different, amazing plans for me.

RC: If someone loves art or just loves to create, where would you recommend they start to develop their gift and talent and discover how the Lord wants to use it?

UA: Take everything you think you know about your ability or what you have done in the past and throw it out the window. Before Christ, my art was meaningless and mediocre. Now it is my purpose. Whether you go to a blank canvas with no plans or with an idea of what you are going to start with, you have to prepare your heart and go to God for guidance. He is the one doing the work. Usually, I look at a painting with surprise myself, like, holy moly Kelly you just did that?!

RC: Does someone need to be professionally trained to do what you do?

UA: Absolutely not. I have taken two art beginner drawing classes in college, they weren't even for painting. I am not a professionally trained artist in any way and typically I have not idea what I am doing. If you hear one thing from me it is to put aside these preconceived notions and perceived requirements because they have no place in the kingdom of God. God only needs a ready heart to make a masterpiece!

RC: What is your favorite thing about painting?

UA: I don't have one favorite thing about painting. If I had to answer I would say three things: 1) to see what it looks like when it's over. I need to know if a painting will turn out perfect or need second take. 2) the process of getting lost in prayer and song. Some paintings take 15 minutes while others take several hours. Once I start I don't usually get up until I am finished or too tired to keep going. 3) I love to see how the paintings touch others. I rarely know who the painting is meant for but when I see the responses from others it is confirmation that I am obeying God in my worship.

You can find Kelly on her website and Facebook.

All of these are for sale on her website.

Great news, Kelly has agreed to do a custom piece for Redemption's Champion. I will be giving it away when the blog hits 5,000 views, stay tuned, we are close.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ditch the Recipe and Trust Your Gut

Smells of Cuban kitchen's past filled the kitchen. Cumin and garlic wafted through the air escaping the lid of the closed crockpot. The black beans were cooked to perfection. Can I just say they turned out amazing. As we sat down to dinner everyone commented on how good the beans were, it dawned me that I didn’t use a recipe.

I have a black bean recipe in a favorite Cuban cookbook, but for whatever reason, on Monday I went by memory and intuition and it paid off.

It made me think about how careful I am sometimes to follow rules, do things step-by-step and refer to instructions even when I know how to do something. At what point do we just trust that we know?

It can happen in our spiritual life too. I’ve read the scripture, have hidden it in my heart, but I check one more time just in case. I ask just one more person to make sure I understand. Those things are not bad, do not misunderstand me, wise counsel is imperative, but when they interfere with our faith there is a problem. We can become religious or ritualistic in our attempt to get it right apart from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes tried and true instructions can interfere
with being led by the Spirit of God.

Trust what He has deposited in you.

Trust what He has spoken to your heart.

Trust what you have invested in relationship with Him.

Trust the Holy Spirit to give you what you need when you need it.

I knew the black bean recipe, I didn’t need to look it up. I could trust my gut.
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
When He pours it in, it will pour out, I don't have to muster it up.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33
Traditions can be amazing, but we have to be careful that we are

following Him and not tradition for tradition's sake.

When we seek Him and His righteousness, we can trust what He is saying to us. Go ahead and make that apple pie or macaroni and cheese without checking the recipe and you just might be surprised with the results. After all, when we do our part the results are up to Him.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What Wikipedia Can't Tell You About Attracting Hummingbirds

It was as if fall made an early appearance a few days ago. The temperature was perfect as I sat on the front porch swing drinking apple crumb donut coffee. It was quiet. Then I heard the familiar murmur of hummingbird wings. There was one, then another and another. I counted six in just a few minutes. They were so close, I probably could have touched one if I was faster. I marveled at the amount of hummingbirds in such a short time. I didn’t plan to attract hummingbirds, I didn’t even think about them when I was planting my garden.

I recalled the countless, red hummingbird feeders in my past and the hummingbird food (homemade and store-bought). Hung in the perfect location according to Google. Stars aligned, wind blowing out of the east and a full moon, but no hummingbirds. I have never successfully attracted hummingbirds despite my best laid plans.

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Hummingbirds and I just weren't connecting until He taught me to cease striving. It isn't about the hummingbirds, it is about the Lord and what He wants to do apart from my best laid plans and attempts to do anything. I am a planner, I like lists and knowing what to expect, but more and more He is drawing me away from that and into faith and hope and trust.

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

Hummingbirds are attracted to certain colors and certain flowers, but I didn't orchestrate what attracted them, it was their nature, it was how God created them. It was His influence on my heart to plant what I did, where I did - I had no idea what I was doing.
When my husband and I got married he had an enormous garden bed in the backyard, it was at least six feet by 20+ feet. It was begging for a garden. When I told him I wanted to start planting there he said, “No, I am going to put in a butterfly garden.” He had all the books, knew all the plants he needed, but had never done it. It was overwhelming, maybe even too overwhelming. So, I asked if while he was waiting to do this I could put some stuff in, he said, “Yes.” You know what happened? We had butterflies, lots of them.

There are many things I’ve wanted and still want to do in my life, but sometimes I give up because it seems overwhelming or impossible. It seems like way too much for me to do and it usually is. It seems too taxing on my already busy schedule. But, I am learning if I seek the Lord and do only what He is instructing, He brings the fruit, the rain and the hummingbirds (and butterflies).

Planning is not bad, neither is preparation, but doing either instead of just simply living in an intimate relationship with the Lord is futile at best.

Today, He asked me to be quiet and I mean completely quiet, not even worship music, which if you know me is a stretch, a big one. But, I did it and you know what happened, God showed up just like those hummingbirds and I did nothing, but be quiet like He asked.

By simply loving the Lord and spending time with Him I have reaped a greater harvest than I ever dreamed of. His economy is multiplication, growth and fruit. We know obedience is better than sacrifice, but sometimes God just honors effort.

If you Google “how to attract hummingbirds” you will get exhaustive results and you will be exhausted trying to accomplish the 101 ways to attract hummingbirds. A hummingbird finds what it’s looking for by instinct - the same with us, but our “instinct” is the Spirit of God.

I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 The Message

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Love Never Feared A Mess

Katie McClain - Wife to one who has loved me into loving myself, mother to two littles who are their own inexhaustible universes, daughter of multiple parents who adore me to my core, friend to some of the most authentic humans on the planet, sister to two organically hilarious siblings, accountant sometimes, writer at other times, deep thinker at all times, exercise and food junky, and a simple girl who is daily tripping up and falling into deeper depths of love with Father, Son Spirit, self, others and all creation!
guest post by Katie McClain
So they tell me I was the “easy” and “good” child compared to my siblings. By “easy” and “good”, I think they meant compliant, rule-follower. My siblings are what some call the “strong-willed” child. I think that’s the politically correct term for non-compliant. For the most part, rules, to them, were meant to break or at least challenge all the way to their boundaries.

In a culture where behavior is mistaken for identity and compliance is mistaken for connection, I began to believe my “good” behavior is what made me good and acceptable, and my compliance is what made others (including God) want to connect their heart to my heart. Unfortunately, the inverse became my belief as well: If my sibling has bad behavior, that makes them a bad person, and if they’re non-compliant, I must not let my heart connect to theirs.

There, the separation in relationships begins. I began to relate to people out of separation rather than union until their “good” behavior made me feel safe to unite with them. In my separation, the older I got, the more I began to feel superior to the ones who couldn’t make a “good” decision to save their lives. The distance created by superiority becomes greater and greater as we begin to compare our behavior with others’, judging ourselves “good” and others as “bad.” Isn’t that the whole reason we were never supposed to eat fruit from that tree? Judging never united anyone, and separation always kills.
“…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Gen 2:17 NIV
For years, I adopted the common mentality and accepted the ignorant affirmation of others that I was the “good kid” and my sister was the “bad kid.” It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties, after much heart damage can be done and after insecurities can be amplified and exploited by ignorance, that I received sight for my unconscious blindness.

My sister and I had soooo much more in common than I thought! As a matter of obvious fact, we were more united than separated both in our goodness and in our heart wounds. Not only did we share the original declaration by Creator God over ALL humanity as His “VERY GOOD” creation (Gen 1:31), we shared the same personal insecurities and starvation for acceptance from our parents and every other relationship we’d encounter.

The only difference between her and me was that we went about our pursuit of belonging and acceptance in different ways: I thought doing everything everybody told me to do, when they told me to do it and how they told me to do it was what made me acceptable and loved. That also meant that when I didn’t do something “right,” I immediately felt rejected and unloved by both myself and others. My sister naively and correctly thought she should be accepted no matter her behavior, and because she wasn’t, her life was spent for years just proving to everyone by painful behavior that they would indeed reject her—“Just watch!”

Both of us, in the self-rejection caused by our perception of disconnect and separation in our most intimate relationships with parents, God and others, embarked on lives of self-sabotage, and we’re still overcoming!

The redemption in any relationship manifests when the blindness of separation, hierarchy, superiority and inferiority is displaced with eyes of unity and Love that have to conclude “Oh! I am one with her! I am one with him! I am one with them! Nobody is “good” while others are “bad!” We are ALL good in our innate identity, yet we exhibit “bad” behavior out of our wounds, fears and insecurities. We are both created in the image of the same God. We are both hurting! But we are both being made new!”

We were never created to be compliant creatures who follow rules in order to be invited into Love. We were actually created to be in intimate relationship where behavior creates messes but where Love (not judging between good and evil) was enough to clean them up.

Love was never afraid of a mess.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

God Never Falls off the Wagon

In an often chaotic and unpredictable world, we can trust an unchanging God. He is not susceptible to mood swings, addictions or bad behavior. In any situation He is trustworthy.

In the midst of uncertainty, we crash into His stability and we are changed.

“Falling off the wagon,” is an idiom used to describe returning to a plethora of addictions or compulsions. It can happen to any of us in a host of areas, it is not reserved for just drugs and alcohol.

I don’t know about you, but it is comforting for me to think that even when I fall off the wagon, He doesn't.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
We are prone to bad decisions, emotional outburst and even temper tantrums, but none of those affect His person, personality or behavior. He stays the same.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
How does it affect your heart to hear that in the midst of your chaos and uncertainty He remains completely stable and unchanging? It is meant to bring peace and foster relationship and trust.
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Numbers 23:19
He is faithful because He cannot deny Himself.

I know many looking for that type of stability, I’ve been there myself looking for security, safety in stability in all the wrong places, people or things.

He is our “safe refuge.”

Do not be discouraged by what circumstance you find yourself in. He will do what He always does comfort, save, heal and deliver - it is who He is.

Problems and conflicts will demand your attention and your solution, sometimes even demanding you “fall off the wagon” to cope with the problem of the moment, but I say, “Don’t!” Look to Him who does not “fall off the wagon” even when you do, He will catch you or pick you up off the floor and dust you off, clean you up and set you back up where you belong - in His faithful and loving arms.