Friday, December 2, 2011

Growing in Awesomeness

I have this really awesome nephew (I have a lot of awesome nieces and nephews but Gus lives close so I get to see him regularly and experience his awesomeness).  Gus is merely  21 months old but in so many ways he is much older.  He is bigger in stature than the majority of kids his age.  His ability to figure out how to be places and do things that he shouldn't is unmatched by other boys his age.  As far as I am concerned, Gus is brilliant. Now Gus is going to be getting a little brother in a few months.  He will be, I am certain, equally brilliant but he may progress at a different speed, he may grow at a different rate.  Perhaps he will walk later but talk earlier.  Perhaps he will grow at an average rate instead of the early growth spurts.  However this next little guy grows and progresses, he is going to be just as brilliant and just as awesome as Gus... just different.

Our spiritual lives our similar to the growth and maturity of children.  Sometimes people grasp spiritual concepts quickly and grow rapidly in their relationship with Jesus but there are others that may take a little longer.  It may be that someone has been living for God for a long time and they may not be as spiritually mature as someone that has just recently surrendered their life.  Our physical age or even our spiritual age does not dictate how mature we are spiritually.  Perhaps this is a redundant thought but I feel that it is important.  If we are not careful, we can start to show a lack of compassion and understanding toward those that do not progress at rate that we feel they should.  When we show that lack of compassion, understanding for those that grow more slowly, we can sow discouragement and frustration in a fertile heart.  When that discouragement and frustration grows, it does not cause spiritual growth but spiritual death.  We cannot badger anyone to grow in Christ.  It is not possible to shame anyone into a relationship with God.  There isn't anyway we can force someone to become spiritually mature.  The only thing that we can do to help them mature into spiritual awesomeness is to pray for them, love them and encourage them in Christ. 

Jude 1:22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference"

I want to encourage each of us to "make a difference" by showing compassion to those of us that are not quite as spiritually mature as you.  They will reach their own personal state of spiritual awesomeness in God's time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thankful for the Waiting

Earlier this week, I listened once again to a message that Rev. McKemy preached at my church in December of 2009.  He preached regarding the "Weariness of Not Waiting." He spoke how many times we feel that we have gotten weary in the waiting but actually that is where we get our strength.  The weariness comes from trying to force things to happen, trying to fulfill God's promises by our own hand.  When we truly wait on God is when we are made strong.  As I listened to the message, my mind went back to the where I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To be completely transparent, I was a wreck. God had told me to walk a certain path, pray a certain way, and gave me promises regarding that path and those prayers.  I must admit, I did not want to pray those prayers or walk that path and I most certainly did not want those particular promises.  But I did want to be in the will of God so I chose to pray the prayers and walk the path and believe in the promises.  As the months went by and 2009 was drawing to a close, I grew impatient with the prayers, path and promises and decided that I had invested enough time, energy and tears so it was time for all to be fulfilled.  I demanded answers, begged for it all to come to completion and most of all pleaded for God to release me from the heartache of what he had asked of me.  Like I said, I was a complete and total spiritual mess. The hurt and pain that God had asked me to endure was... hurtful and painful (for the lack of better words) and the fact that it was apparent that the promise was not coming in the short-term only seemed to magnify the hurt and pain.  But 2010 came and went, as has 2011, still without fulfillment of the promises and answers to the prayers.  And again because my fondest desire is to be in the will of God, I continue to wait, sometimes patiently and sometimes impatiently, but still waiting nonetheless.   As I sat there working and listening to this two year old sermon, I started rejoicing and wave after wave of thankfulness flooded over me.  You see, even though two years later I am still walking a path I didn't want, praying prayers that God asked me to pray and believing for promises that I didn't choose, I have been strenthened and transformed.  As I thought about how God has seemingly delayed the answer, held off on the promises, it was truly for my good.  If I would have gotten all my answers right away, would I have continued to grow or would I have grown stagnant?  If God would have fulfilled his promises immediately, would my faith be rooted solidly or would I be fickle in my convictions? Would my desire have been for God or would it have been merely for the fulfillment of the promise? Perhaps it because hindsight is 20/20 but I truly am thankful that God hasn't yet fulfilled all that he promised and that he continues to guide me on a path that, though not always comfortable, is perfectly in the center of his will.  For in the waiting there truly is strength.  I am so thankful for the strength, understanding and growth that this waiting has brought to my life.

Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord."

Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint"

And finally one of my favorite scriptures:
Proverbs 13:12 "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Results of the Invisible

Recently as I sat in the library parking lot with my daughter, I looked at the weather vane that is on the museum that is next door.  As we sat there watching it and trying to figure out what kind of bird they had affixed to the top, we started talking about the direction that the wind was blowing.  (That day the wind was coming from the northwest, right across Lake Michigan; hence a very cool and windy day.)  Though we cannot see the wind or where it comes from, we can see what the wind does.  We see the rustling of the leaves, the broken branches, the toppling of trash cans, the waving of the flags but cannot see the wind or there it starts.  We know that the wind is present because we see the results of the power of the wind.  We see barns flattened by the tornado, the trees bowed over from the force of the wind, the waves being whipped up by the gales, people huddled up with their jackets wrapped tightly around them, or boats flung up on shore by the hurricane.  We see the results of the wind all around us so therefore we know that the wind exists.

Though I cannot see my God and Savior, I know He too exists.  I see the beauty of his creation.  I see the love and tenderness for which he cares for me.  I have witnessed and experienced his healing power.  I have felt the sweetness of his Spirit.  Most of all, I have witnessed transformations that have happened to lives when they are surrendered to Him.  Alcoholics become sober.  Liars become honest. The unfaithful becomes faithful. The weak become strong.  The unrighteous become holy.  There is not an end to the beauty that results from God being allowed to truly transform us.  He will give peace where there is confusion and anxiety.  He gives a tender heart where there was anger and bitterness.  When His Spirit comes into our lives, we will have charity where there was selfishness, love where there was hatred, and joy where there was mourning.

So today I may not be able to see Jesus with my eyes but know that he indeed is here - loving me, caring for me, transforming me!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is that My Promise to Claim?

Yesterday I wrote regarding our surrendering and loving Jesus.  I believe that love and surrender go hand in hand. 
John 15:12-14
12.   This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. 
13.   Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14.   Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Jesus clearly states that to love him as our friend we must be willing to do whatsoever he asks of us, up to the of laying down our very lives.  He laid down his life for us, and he is not requiring anymore of us than that which he did on our behalf.  When we truly love God as he requires of us, we will indeed completely surrender. 

Which brings me to my next scripture, Romans 8:28 “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.”  We hear the first part of that scripture quoted time and time again when people are going through difficult times but they fail to read on to the phrase that the first phrase is based upon.  All things, good and bad, work for good.  Whether it is a sickness or a financial set-back or blessing, if we are given glory or abased, it will INDEED work together for good… but only to them that LOVE God.  The promise of it working for good isn’t given to every person but only to those that love and follow hard after God.  We learned in John that when we truly love as we are commanded, we give up our very lives so my question is, can we claim the scripture of all things working together for good if we are not completely surrendered to God’s will?  If we are still seeking our own desires, pleasures and conveniences, do we have any part of that promise?  If we love our own way more than we love what God desires for us, will the ups and downs of life really work for OUR good?  Taking the scripture at its word, I would have to say that things will NOT work for our good if we are seeking our way more than God’s.  If we do not seek the kingdom of God first, we have no part of the promise of things working for good.  Things will indeed work for the good but ONLY to those who truly and completely love God and are willing to lay down their lives for him.  So can you claim the promise of Romans 8:28?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Surrender

Yesterday I wrote about how I was going to surrender the battles that I have been fighting to God and let him take care of them as they should be.  As those words were being typed out, I thought about how big and important surrendering really is.  I also thought about how difficult (and perhaps rare) true surrender can be.  My definition of surrendering to God is essentially, you choosing His will over your own.  As I think of all the people that were written about in the Bible that were surrendered to God, I feel certain that surrender is more than just dressing a certain way, speaking a certain way and or leading a sinless life.  A completely surrendered life involves so much more.  Abraham had to leave his family and all that he knew because he was surrendered to God’s will.  Noah built an ark and was ridiculed for many years because He chose God’s will over his own.  Daniel had to face a den of lions because he chose God over the king.  Mary chose suffer shame and birth our Savior.  The disciples chose to be tortured and killed rather than deny Jesus.  There are two significant instances that symbolize true to surrender most clearly to me.  The first is when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his promised son.  As I think about Abraham, I believe that Abraham wept many tears but because he was completely surrendered to the will of God, and loved God truly, he could not refuse Him.  He probably wondered why God would ask such a difficult thing but those questions did not deter him from complete obedience.  That is true surrender.  The other person that amazes me at their willingness to surrender is Hosea.  God told Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife.  Because of Hosea’s love and surrender to God he takes Gomer to wife.  But that isn’t enough, God also commands Hosea to love her.   How difficult that must have been but Hosea loved God so therefore he loved and surrendered to that which God called him to.  Time after time Hosea had to go to the auction block to redeem his wife that he loved, from a life of prostitution.  Yet through all of the heartache, all the pain he was totally in love with and surrendered to God. 

Time after time God has called his people to surrender everything to Him.  Sometimes we tell him that we are surrendered but He quickly finds out that it is merely lip service because as soon as he asks us a difficult thing, we turn aside to our own way.  When we develop a true love for God, we will indeed surrender completely to his will for our lives.  Once we have learned to completely love and trust our Savior, we will indeed follow where he leads… regardless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Two Cents? Not this Time.

Exodus 14:14  “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

What a wonderful but difficult statement.  I am so glad that God is going to fight my battles.  For the King of all kings to stand up for my defense thrills me beyond all words.  To know that this is a battle that I do not have to fight because God is fighting it brings me great comfort.  The difficult part is: “and ye shall hold your peace.”  According to the Hebrew, peace in this particular instance means “to be silent.”  Perhaps being silent isn’t hard for any of you but for me, when I know how things should be, I just feel the need to put in my two cents.  But it has occurred to me that I have been fighting this particular battle, without success, for a very long time and I am now officially so weary of this battle.  So therefore I am determined that I am going to surrender this battle completely to God and let him deal with it as it should be dealt with.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Feelings... nothing but feelings

Good Morning and welcome to a new week.  Last evening a friend texted me inquiring about my well-being.  I tried to walk the line of telling the truth yet speaking in faith.  As I thought of how I would respond, a bit of the fog of despair lifted and I saw clearly how this precious walk that I have started on is not based on whether I am “OK” or horrible, it doesn’t matter whether I am weeping or laughing.  This walk isn’t based on how I feel at any given moment but instead  is based on the Word of God, which never changes.  God’s word is solid, secure, reliable and consistent, it does not change with a person’s mood or any particular situation. So though I have my mountaintop experiences, moments of heart-break, times of trials or euphoria; my walk never changes.  You see, I made a decision that I would walk the path that God chose for me; regardless of what that path included.  If that path was lined with shade trees and flowers or if it went through a barren land, I would walk it.  As I walk that path, my feelings might get a bit involved and I may cry out that the path is too hard, too painful and leaves me too broken but really, it will not keep me from following where my Lord calls.  This path I follow isn’t about whether it is easy or hard.  It isn’t about what people say or don’t say.  This path isn’t about being sensible or logical but rather about following my Savior.  There is only one feeling that matters in this walk and that is the love that I share with my God.  The love that took him to a cross.  The love that caused him to reach for me when I was so unfaithful to Him.  The love that overlooked what I deserved but instead showered me with mercy and grace.  Our love and devotion one for another is the only feeling that really matters.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My List or God's?

I have had a lot of discussions lately about lists.  Lists of our desires: dream house features, companion characteristics, next new car requirements, etc.  Perhaps it is a list of a dream wedding (as my daughter is getting married, we have this kind of list in abundance), a dream marriage (2.3 kids, live in West Virginia, in a four bedroom ranch), a dream career, a dream life, etc.  Some lists are short term list of a kitchen remodel and some are long term lists of a five year plan, ten year plan and so on.  I would guess that we all make these kinds of lists, whether just mentally or on paper.  I have lists too.  I have “To Do” lists, packing lists, dream vacation lists, etc.  Several months back I believed that God was going to provide me with a “new to me” car, therefore I made a mental list of the desired car’s characteristics.  I was very conservative with my list and had only 3 or 4 requirements but I did have an additional list of desires relating to the more frivolous features.  When I started looking around for a car, I looked at cars that matched my list.  I searched within a 3 hour radius of my house for the car that would fulfill my desires.  But doors kept closing, either the cars were already sold, they would not negotiate on the price, or they ended up not being as advertised.  I must say, I was quite disappointed.  It was a Friday evening as I sat on my sofa in deep depression that there appeared to be roadblocks everywhere I turned.  I KNEW that God was bringing me a car so why couldn’t I find it.  As I sat on that sofa feeling a whole lot sorry for myself and desiring for someone to share in my misery, I called my brother.  During the course of our very short conversation, his words made me realize that the list I had made of my car and the list that God had were two different lists.  It was possible that God desired a car for me that I would NEVER have chosen for myself.  Once I was able to pull my eyes off of my lists and the closed doors, it was then that God brought me the car that was perfect for me.   When I went to test drive the car, to be completely honest, I didn’t love the car.  I did feel that it was the right car for me but it was definitely not a car that I would have EVER chosen for myself.  Because I did feel it was the car God brought me, I bought it even though I really didn’t love it.  Right after purchasing the car, I took off on a very long trip with this car.  Over the course of the 2 ½ weeks, I realized that the car that GOD chose for me was far superior to anything that I would have chosen for myself and was very thankful for all of the closed doors and the missed opportunities.  Now each day as I sit at my kitchen table and look out at the car that God brought me, I realize that I really love that car.  I love the looks.  I love the comfort.  I love power.  I simply love my car.  All the while knowing that the car matched God’s list of requirements and not mine. 

So when I think of the other lists that I have made, either on paper or mentally, I realize that if I will just submit those lists to God, He will far exceed anything that I could come up with.  Perhaps it is because I am a single person of a certain age but I do have a list of characteristics that I would like to have in the man that I will marry.  I believe my list to be noble and does not lean toward vanity.  But then I think about my car and I realize that I would rather God chose my husband, whether he matches my list or not, because God’s choice will far exceed anything I could think to put on my list.

I believe the same thing regarding a job.  I could make a list of requirements for a job: pay, benefits, etc. or I can just surrender my will to God’s and let Him choose the one that is right for me for right now.  Perhaps the pay will be less than what I am used to but I know that there will be a purpose and I will love it because God deemed it to be the right one for me for this moment.

Don’t mistake me and believe that a person cannot make their own choice in a vehicle, house, spouse, job, etc. and have the blessings of God.  My point is merely that God’s list is far superior to mine and takes into account every eventuality.  I truly would rather have God’s list and not my own.  So it does not matter what your list is regarding, if you will truly and completely surrender that list to the Creator of the world, and trust Him, what you will receive will far exceed all expectations.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No Way

No Way!!  Said with a bit of disbelief.  We have heard that statement regarding numerous things in our lives.  By the doctor, there is no way that he/she can make it through the night.  Or, "there is no way this pregnancy can last."  Or, there is no way that your child will live and thrive into adulthood.  There is no way that you will get the money for that.  There is no way that God would tell you that.  There is no way that he can be redeemed.  There is no way that God can use that person.  There is just NO WAY.  Then when the child is born and thrives, when that wretched sinner is redeemed, when the cancer is gone... we hear the same words expressing shock - NO WAY!! Our only response can be "WAY."

Today as I was driving into town, I got thinking and totally forgot that I was going to stop by the drug store to do a bit of couponing.  Due to my forgetfulness I had to take a bit of a longer route to the store and in doing so I passed a church sign that read: "God makes a way when there is no way."  It not only encouraged me but it reminded me of all the impossible "no way" situations and the "there is NO WAY God told you that" moments that I have in my life.  Perhaps I am a bit naive or simple but I DO believe that there is a way, even when it seems impossible.  I have made the decision to take God's Word exactly as that and believe it when it says, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27) "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37) "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27).  So when God gives me promises that seem so far outside of possibilities, I will just believe Him.  When the doctor's report is grim and without hope, I will believe in the possibilities of my Savior.  When my life's situations seem dark and impossible, I will remember the words of Jesus that tell me "All things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blessings... Great and Small

Have you ever had a great need?  A need that only God could fulfill?  Perhaps it was a financial need of several hundred, perhaps a thousand dollars?  Or maybe it was a great healing that you needed?  Perhaps it was cancer or an auto-immune disease.  When God satisfies that need or gives you that great healing, wow are we ever thankful.  We tell everyone how God caused the cancer to disappear or how money $1,000 came in the mail unexpectedly and at the exact right time.  Years go by and we still talk of those big wonders that God has done... but have we forgotten about the small things?  Those little things that we ask for that perhaps seem insignificant when compared to being healed of cancer or God providing you with the money to save your house.    The God of the BIG blessings, the God of the HUGE miracles is the same God that cares about our small needs, concerns and hurts.  Many times we think of God as the one we go to when we don't know where else to go; perhaps when the doctor has given us a grim report or the bank is calling our loan.  But when we merely have a headache, we go to the store and buy a pain reliever.  If we need $50 to pay our light bill, we call and make arrangements or ask a relative for a loan.  Some how we have gotten in the mindset that we shouldn't bother the great big God of the universe with a trifling headache or a $50 light bill.  But I submit to you that this God that spoke the world into existence, the One whose voice thunders and roars, the King of kings and Lord of lords... this same One cares about every intimate detail of your life.  He isn't the God only of the BIG things but he is God of EVERYTHING.  There isn't anything too small for Him. There isn't a need too insignificant, too trifling that he doesn't care. 

I Peter 5:7 "Casting ALL your care upon him; for he careth for YOU."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heritages... Yours to Have and to Give

Good Morning (Afternoon).  I am so thankful for my family.  My family has a wonderful way of encouraging me.  Perhaps it is because they ask me a question that causes me to delve deeply in the word of God, or it is when they share the thoughts and/or sermons through which God ministered to them, or perhaps it is just them giving me the strong word of "get your big girl pants on, suck it up and keep moving on."  My family...  I have laughed with them (and sometimes at them). I have cried with them and on their shoulder.  As eclectic as my family is, I wouldn't trade them.  I am very thankful for the heritage that my parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings have passed on to me and my children.  It is through that heritage that I have learned to have a love for God's Word and a desire to seek his face.  Another thing that gives me great joy is that a heritage isn't just something that was done in the past but is very current happening.  It is through my efforts to be faithful to God, my teaching and speaking of God's Word to my children that I pass on a heritage too.  My children do not have to just rely on the heritage that my parents have passed on but they can look at me and know that, though I am not perfect, my heart seeks the will of God.  It is through our everyday faithfulness, our daily devotions, our efforts to rise above our temptations that will inspire our children to develop their own relationship with God.  I know that my kids see every one of my flaws, they know of my short-comings and my weaknesses but I pray that they also see my willingness to be honest about those things and my sincere desire to overcome them though the strength of Christ.  I do not believe that heritages are about being us perfect but always striving for a deeply intimate relationship with God.  So today I ask myself, what heritage am I passing on to my children?  One of devotion or one of selfishness?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peace or Fear... Your Choice

Job 34:29a “When He giveth quietness, who can make trouble?”

I recently took a long desired trip to Newfoundland.  I had diligently sought the Lord about the rightness of the trip and the timing.  God worked things out so perfectly for me to go and I was incredibly excited.  It is just shy of 1,800 miles to the ferry in Nova Scotia and I set off with a deep peace in my heart.  After a mere day and half of driving (30 hours), I arrived in N. Sydney only to discover that I did not make it in time for the last ferry of the evening and the next ferry was sold out and I would have to wait a whole day in this one place.  There for a few minutes (okay, maybe an hour or so) I wondered if perhaps I misunderstood and I wasn’t supposed to go at all but then I prayed and the peace of God was renewed.  My unplanned time in Nova Scotia was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a wonderful family and visiting the Fortress Louisburg.  When it was time to catch the ferry the next evening, I arrived at the dock quite early without intending to do so but God’s hand was in that too because I met a wonderful young lady who was moving to Newfoundland without any family or friends and I was able to bond with her and her children.  As I traveled over the land that I love so much I had such a wonderful peace and joy at being exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment.  As I started heading out east, enjoying the beauty of the mountains and sea and thrilling in the wonder of being where I was, I continued to have this wonderful, divine peace.  After having traveling approximately 3,000 miles from home, I reached a place that I had long looked forward to visiting because the name of the community was exactly how I felt – “Heart’s Content.”  As I visited with some wonderful people at the drug store, the post office and the telegraph station and hearing their dismay at a female traveling so far alone and them telling me of all the horrible things that could happen… my peace starting leaking out of my heart through the hole that fear caused.  When I left there and traveled to St. John, I was too nervous to stop off at any other little communities because I just KNEW that my car was going to break-down, have a flat tire, I would fall off a cliff or some other calamity.  By the time that I reached Kristi and Bennett’s house, I was full of fear and my peace completely dissipated.  So I did the only thing I knew to do and asked for them to pray for me that God would restore my faith and peace.  I also determined that I would reject the fear that is not of God and claim the peace that only comes from Him.  As I settled back into God’s peace, I was once again able to enjoy the wonder of being exactly where I was supposed to be.

Today I woke up with peace from knowing that I am in a journey of God’s making.  He said, “Arise and go” and (perhaps with a little bit of help) I arose and went.  God spoke to my heart this past weekend about the direction that he desires that I take and I have actively pursued that direction.  He has assured me time and again that he is in control and will take care of me when I put him first.  I do know these things in my heart and mind so when a phone call comes, or someone says something horribly hurtful, why do I allow my faith to start leaking out?  How is it that the smallest thing can lay waste to every bit of faith in our heart?  This is the act of the enemy of our soul to use fear as a weapon against our faith.  It may be a small little hole that he pokes into our faith but pretty soon, if we do not lay claim to the peace that God has given us, every bit of our faith will flow out until we are left with nothing but fear and doubt.  So when fear comes, get a firm grasp of 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  Claim that which God HAS given you and reject that which is of the enemy; for “When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?”




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

God's Plan... Arise and Go...


Good Morning and welcome to another beautiful day in which to serve the Lord.  Recently I went to Tennessee to visit my sister and to see my niece who was here from Germany.  I had a really great time with my family and was amazed (though I shouldn’t have been) how God REALLY DOES cause all things to work together for the good.  It seems that as we go through life, if we pay attention, we can see how God puts us at particular places at particular times to encourage us, teach us, and/or direct us.  I firmly believe my trip to Tennessee was in the center of God’s plan as things happened there that, though seemingly unimportant to those around me, inspired me and encouraged me to continue to seek God’s perfect will and plan for my life.  The first thing that happened was my sister volunteered me to go to the Tennessee church campgrounds to attend a Summons to Sacrifice seminar.  Though there may not have been an outwardly show of how much this meant to me, it really stirred my thinking about intercessory prayer and God’s call to the church to prayer.  I also went to a Home Bible study with my brother-in-law so that my sister could stay home and visit with her girls.  Though it was just an ordinary Bible Study, I walked away from there inspired and determined to share God’s Word more perfectly with my harvest field.  I don’t know about any of you but though I have a pretty good understanding of the Bible, I have been a bit intimidated about doing a home Bible study in case they asked questions that I could not immediately answer.  But after going on that Bible Study with Paul and seeing the excitement of Flora at hearing the Bible explained to her, I realize that I can’t allow my inadequacies keep me from being 100% willing to share the Gospel to the hurting. If those inspirations weren’t enough to make my whole trip to Tennessee worth it, God spoke directly to me through Pastor Phillips.  He preached two sermons that were so fantastic that words fail me.  The first one was, “Finding Your Miracle at the Bottom of the Barrel.”  The second sermon was a Bible study entitled, “Purpose of the Wilderness.”  I am not certain how much the church charges for CDs but I strongly recommend that you get those two CDs.  If anyone is interested, please email me and I will put you in contact with the church.

Bro. Phillips in the “Finding Your Miracle at the Bottom of the Barrel” said something that reinforced to me that God is in control (if we let him).  He was speaking about the prophet Elijah and how God had sent him to the Brook Cherith to save him from certain death by the hand of Jezebel.  There Elijah was able to drink from the brook and God sent the ravens to bring him food but then the brook dried up and the ravens quit coming.  It may seem like a tragedy but it really isn’t because it was merely time to move on.  I Kings 17:8-9 “And the Word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.”  As you can see in the scriptures God did not view the lack of food and water to sustain Elijah as a problem.  He didn’t see that it was tragedy or a situation in which Elijah should become discouraged or find God unfaithful.  The lack of food and water in that place was just a sign that it was time for Elijah to ARISE and move to the next step in the plan.  When we are seeking to find and stay in the will of God, when it seems that tragedy or hardship comes, we must start viewing things through the eyes of God.  God isn’t dismayed at apparent hardship because he knows that it is merely another step to the place that he is taking us.  We must quit bemoaning the closed doors and arise and move forward to the next thing.  Closed doors aren’t signs of God’s unfaithfulness but rather traffic signals to keep us on the path that God has for us. 

I know that I did not do that portion of the sermon justice but I do pray that it encourages you to start viewing your situation through the eyes of our Savior.  When we do that we will see things completely differently.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Can I Be Excused Please?

Last evening I was over at friends' house and their son kept asking if he could be excused.  He had decided that he was done eating and he desperately wanted to be excused to go play (or simply get away from the boring adult conversation).  He asked, even as he was inching up off of his chair and scooting back, only to be told no and he would start the process over.  Finally after much ado about eating the last bite of his hot dog, he was finally given permission to leave the table.  It was quite funny and reminded me of not only of when my children were young but also when I was young and just wanted to escape the table so that I would not be in hearing distance when the call went out to do the dishes. 

We, as a society, are continually asking to be excused.  We seem to have an excuse why we can't work, can't study, can't be respectful, can't be holy, can't live a life above reproach...  If we do not want to do something we can think of as many excuses necessary to escape whatever task, job or duty that we find unpleasant.  Sadly this same mind set has entered into the church.  We find all sorts of excuses as to why we can't be of a use to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Perhaps we find things wrong with the church that we attend that keeps us from being a witness... the church is too small, the church is too big, the preacher is too boring, the services are too long, the services are too traditional or maybe too "wild."  It could be that the church is going through a transition and we use that as an excuse as to why we can't birth a new babe into Christ.  Perhaps the people we go to church with provides us excuses as to why we don't invite the hurting into the house of God... they are hypocrites, they are too poor, too weird, too rich, too snobby, too holy, too unholy... the list can go on and on.  As long as there are people there will be excuses. 

Maybe it is more personal reason excuses as to why you can't work for God.  I am too old and used up.  I am young and have no experience.  I have committed too much sin in my past.  I was raised in a God-fearing home and have no testimony of redemption.  I am too sick, too busy, too poor, too shy, too nervous, too dumb, I am handicapped, I am bed-ridden....  There is no end to the creativity of the excuses that we offer in an effort to get out of the task that seem less than pleasant to us or that will keep us in our comfort-zone. 

I submit that God has not excused us.  Sarah was 90 when God called her to birth a nation.  Josiah was eight years old when he was called to rule a nation and he did RIGHT in the sight of the Lord.  Rahab, a harlot of a heathen nation, was called to provide safety to the spies of Israel and God saved her.  Moses was slow of speech and God called him to be His mouth piece.  John the Baptist was called to preaching repentance and he was a man who was a bit different in dress and habit the the average in society.  Paul was persecuting the church and yet he was called to preach the gospel.  Thoughout the Bible we read time after time how no one is excused from Kingdom Work.  There is no reason that you can submit to God that will excuse you from doing that which he has called you to do.  God would never call you to do something of which you are not capable, with His help.  So lay down the excuses, pick up the burden that he has called you to, and step out in faith and follow him.  Whether he has called you to intercessory prayer, feeding the hungry, outreach, being a friend, preaching, teaching, Sunday School, singing... don't offer excuses, just do it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

God's Time

Sunday… what a wonderful way to start a week.  Being unemployed right now, instead of my week starting on Monday it now starts on Sunday… which is probably the way I should have viewed it when I was employed... live and learn.  I am so incredibly excited because I have such a beautiful life.  This extra time that God has given me is full of potential and hope.  It also has given me a bit of time to devote to finding God’s will for my life… today.  As the minister was speaking this morning there was something that sparked my heart and mind about what I should during this time of unemployment.  There will become a time shortly when I will have to go back to work and I will not have the same opportunity.  Wow, the possibilities that have been given to me.  I am so blessed. 

I have been told by many people that I am one of the most patient people they know.  I have been told by one person that I am very, very impatient.  I have trouble reconciling myself to the latter because I also feel that I am patient but I also realize that there just may be a kernel of truth in their statement because I do desire God to do a quick work.  My niece explained my  version of patience quite well… impatient patience.  I will wait as long as it takes but I may be looking at my watch continually throughout the process.  I will wait on God but I will remind him… “God I know time isn’t important to you but we have deadlines down here so…”  Of course, I do follow that up with a prayer of… “but God I do desire your will and timing more than anything else BUT it would be great if your timing were right NOW?”  Just this year God taught me a tremendous lesson regarding His time.  So many times we get so eager to see those promises fulfilled in a way and time that we expect.  We believe and have tremendous faith in the word of the Lord and we KNOW that he is going to do that quick work that we desire.  We want to see our loved ones living a life of holiness and on fire for God and we want it done RIGHT NOW!  After all, how can NOW not be God’s will for someone to live for Him?  We need another car and we want God to work that out RIGHT NOW… because after all He knows we need to go to work.  We need a job and we need it RIGHT NOW because after all, His word says that a we should work and support our families.  But God’s time is definitely not our time.  I know how you are probably feeling regarding that statement because every time someone reminds me of that very true statement I, with a bit of annoyance and clinched teeth, say “yes, I know THAT.”  It is not a feel good statement but it is 100% true.  God’s time is better than our time.  It could be that God knows that our loved ones will have to reach the very bottom of the barrel in order for them to commit to Him completely.  God may know that the car that is perfect for us isn’t for sale yet or the job that we need isn’t yet available.  Sure he could bring us just any car or just any job but wouldn’t you rather have the car and job that is the one He desires for you?  Wouldn’t you rather your loved one be completely sold out to Christ rather than sitting on the fence?  In God’s time there is blessings that exceed our expectations.  In God’s time there is fulfillment for the void.  In God’s time there is joy unspeakable.  In God’s time there is a culmination of all that we had hoped and longed for.  In God’s time there is perfection.  God’s time is not easy, especially when you see your loved ones taking paths that you know will lead them to destruction.  His time is difficult when you can’t see how it will ever work out or be as he promised it to be.  But if you just stand patiently and wait on Him… You absolutely will not regret it.  I know from personal experience that the blessings that come in the fullness of God’s time will far exceed anything that you had ever dreamed.  So rest easy in the faithfulness of God and trust in His timing. 

Have a wonderful week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Waiting for YOUR Pitch

I am a terrible softball player, actually I am not athletically inclined at all.  I run slow, prefer a stroll over a walk, and lets not even discuss my hand-eye coordination... or lack thereof.  Regardless of how terrible I am, I have been known to play a game or two of softball.  It is a lot of fun for a bunch of people of varying ages and skill level to get together to play ball.  While playing the game there are a lot of things that you hear, "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher" or "Catch It" or "Run" or "Good Job" and the list goes on and on.  One of the things that you might hear your own teammates yell is, "wait for your pitch."  It is the batters job to throw pitches that appear to be right where you want them but then they will fall to the right, left or drop off at the end so they are too low.  Many times the batter is good enough that causes us to keep swinging at pitches that are not in our ideal swing range.  So that is when our teammates call to us to wait for the pitch is needed, to remind us that if the pitcher doesn't want to make us walk then he will have to pitch us a couple good ones.  When we do remember to wait with calm confidence on OUR pitch, and we get our swing right, we can make it out of the park.

Living life with Christ on our team is very similar.  Many times we take whatever is offered to us first that seems to meet our need instead of waiting for the perfect thing.  This, I believe, is especially true if we have had a couple of strikes already.  When we have need of a job, and we have had a few interviews and no offers, and then because we are feeling desperate we often times take the first job that is offered instead of waiting with calm confidence on the one that God wants for us.  This is similarly true for a companion, perhaps you have waited a long time and now there is someone who seems to fit even though God hasn't told you that he/she is the one.  Perhaps it is a house that you are looking for and finding the right one has proved to be difficult, so instead of allowing God to bring you the right one, you settle for the one you can get.  This philosophy is true for all things in our life, as there isn't anything too small that God is not interested in.  If we but wait on him, he will fulfill that of which we have need. 

Perhaps you are in a position of being down to the wire with needing a job, needing a house, car, etc. and you don't think this hold true given the limitations of time.  I know what you mean because I have experienced that very thing personally.  I have also experienced the wonder of having God come through at the exact right time because I continued to wait on him.  I know, without a doubt, that if we truly wait on God, he WILL come through at the right time.  It may be at 5:00pm on Friday, just when you think it is too late, rather than at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon but God will not let you down.  So bring your petitions to God, trust him and wait for God's perfect plan/will to unfold.  Don't settle for those things that are not perfectly in His will, that will in turn get you distracted or cause you to strike out so that you are unqualified for the perfect will.

"Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land..." Psalms 37:34

Monday, August 29, 2011

What an Awesome Journey...

Good Afternoon and welcome to a wonderful Monday.  This past week has been a week of enlightening.  I have learned how fast and far news travels.  You could share information with one person and pretty soon ten people know it (or variations of it).  (I wonder what motivates people to be bearers of news.)  I have also learned that selfish people are not very pleasant to be around... it made me strongly aware of the need to be a giver and not a taker. 

God is so fantastic.  I am always in awe of how he uses different ministers to give you the perfect word for your situation.  Things very specific that you haven't mentioned to anyone seemed to be have been revealed to the minister in great detail so that they could speak a direct word of the Lord to you.  Words seem to fail me when I try to tell of how wonderful God is to me. 

Sometimes as we go through life we get busy with the business of life and forget about the more important things like devoted, fervent, intercessory prayer, fasting, Bible Studies, outreach.  We do spend our time doing those things that are good and needful (in the physical) but we allow the very busyness of doing good keep us from the most important.  The past few days I have felt that God is calling me to rededication.  Part of me wants to say... "but God, I am not doing anything bad/wrong" but the other part sees how some of my fervency has turned to routine and my passion has become medicrity.  The very awesome thing is that God has given me time to reignite my passion and fervency by allowing my job to be taken away.  This may sound crazy but I can't help but believe that this time of unemployment is a perfect time to rededicate myself to the cause of Christ. 

I am so excited about what God is doing in my life that I can hardly contain myself.  I know without a doubt God has his hand so gently yet strongly on my life right now.  He is guiding me, giving me joy, comfort and wonderful peace.  Right now I do not know what my future holds but I do know that it is going to be wonderful because God is firmly in control.

So to respond to some of the rumors that have been swirling around... yes, I am unemployed... no, I do not need your pity or sorrow but rather rejoice with me that God has found me worthy of this trial.  God is good... ALL THE TIME!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Blocks and Closed Doors

Good Morning and welcome to a brand new chapter; a chapter of faith, a chapter of hope, and a chapter that I am allowing God to write.  I am so very, very excited about what God has in store for me.
I had a need/desire for a new car.  My need was for a basic entry level car.  I was not looking for anything more than a very basic car.  Comfort, looks, or anything other than “well-running” really wasn’t on my list of criteria.  I only needed a small car that would last me 8-10 years.  My need wasn’t great nor was my expectations.  After what seemed like a torturous delay, God finally provided the means for me to purchase a car so the search was on, even as the words out of my mouth were, “God will bring me the right car to me.”  In my search there were continued roadblocks.  Everything cost more than I was willing to pay or had something wrong with it.  My frustration and disappointment grew and grew because I felt like God was withholding from me the very thing that I needed and that he had promised.  Door after door closed in my face and my faith eroded even as my confusion grew.  Finally I just stopped because I didn’t know what else to do.  As I stood there with tears running down my cheeks looking at all of the doors of opportunity that were tightly closed, my brother spoke words that caused me to get my eyes off of the closed doors and turn my eyes towards the one that God had opened for me.  It was then that I saw how God not only fulfilled my need but gave me so much more.  He provided a car that exceeded all my expectations while continuing to keep it in a range that I could afford to maintain.  He provided a car that gives me comfort, security and looks.  The more I drive this car the more thankful I am that God closed the doors to the lesser blessings that would have merely fulfilled my needs but never exceeded them. 
As we walk through this life we have needs, desires, frustrations and joys.  We pray regularly that God would direct our path and show us His will for our lives.  We are so sincere and we really believe that we mean it when we pray those words.  But then a need arises and we seek him to fulfill that need.  In the midst of praying about our needs, desires, dreams, we get an idea of how he is going to fulfill our need.  We get preconceived ideas about the way in which he will bring us fulfillment; all the while still believing we are seeking his path.  As we are asking him to take care of us, we see a door up ahead and within that door is the very thing that will fulfill our need or our dream.  We are so excited and thank God for the answer to our prayer but then, just as we are about to reach that fulfillment, the door closes.  We stand there in front of the door weeping, frustrated and perhaps a bit angry that God would withhold the answer to our prayer.  As far we could see that very thing that He allowed to be cut off from us is the perfect solution, the perfect answer.  We stand in front of that closed door with our faith in a tatters and us crying out to God, “why?!?”  Why would God cut off the very thing we need?  We are confused, frustrated and we continue to stand in front of that closed door lamenting what we believe could of and should have been.  What we don’t do is continue to walk the path that God has put us on and trust Him.  If we could just bring ourselves to turn away from that closed door and lift our heads, we would see another door just ahead.  We would see something within that door that will not only fulfill our need but exceed it.  So when a door closes, don't lament and allow your frustration to grow, but rejoice that God is going to give you something even better than what you had first believed and keep walking.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not Only Restored but Enhanced

Nebuchadnezzar was a great and mighty king – God even acknowledged that to be true.  But he had a problem of taking the credit instead of giving the one true God the praise and glory.  God came to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream telling him that he would be driven from dwelling with man and would eat grass with the beasts of the field.  Nebuchadnezzar continued on his path of self-glory and one year after the dream he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”  And true to the word of God, that very hour Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men and did eat grass with the oxen and his hair became as eagles’ feathers and his nails like bird claws.  It is obvious to me that God caused him to become crazy, insane, loony, mucho loco, however you want to describe it.  A sane person is not put out with the beasts of the field to eat grass.  Say I were an advisor of the king and he went wacko, he would be a total write off in my book.  We would install another king and move on.  If that king tried to come back to be re-installed as king – I would probably recommend that he be locked up – for his safety and those around him.  After all, what kind of respect can a man that was eating the grass with the oxen get?  Again as the king’s advisor, if asked about the possibility of him once again being the ruler of a great kingdom, I would tell you that there was no chance of restoration, no opportunity for redemption, absolutely none.  But God had other plans.  After a time, God came again to Nebuchadnezzar and restored unto him his understanding and reasoning.  It was then that he gave God the glory and praise.  Not only did God restore unto him his understanding and reasoning but also his honour, the glory of his kingdom, his counselors, and his lords.  Not only was all restored but EXCELLENT majesty was added to him.  Even his advisors who had written him off as a lost cause regained their respect for him.  The wise men of the kingdom sought him out for his brilliance.

I believe God reminded me of this because of things that have been weighing quite heavily on my mind.  There are things that I have been praying about and I have often wondered, “can it really be as God has shown me?”  “How is it possible to redeem and bring life out of a past that was filled with bad choices and poor decisions?” “Can a reputation really be restored?”  This story of Nebuchadnezzar tells me that God can redeem and bring life out of anything.  If he can cause the wise men, counselors, princes of a mighty kingdom to seek the council and wisdom of a man who had just gone insane, he can bring honor to any person who seeks to put God before all.  If he can add majesty to a man who ate grass with the cattle, he can restore a reputation.  It doesn’t matter what has happened in our past, what poor decisions we have made or even what people think of us, when we put God first and give him the honor and glory, he will restore unto us everything that we need to be an effective worker in his kingdom.  The key is, like with Nebuchadnezzar, to give God the glory, praise and honor and to put him before all. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stood Up!

How many of us have been stood up?  You are supposed to meet someone and they never showed up.  Or perhaps they say they will call and you wait but they never do.  Perhaps later you find out you were stood up because someone offered to buy a round at the bar and they would have rather had free beer.  Maybe someone went into the hospital unexpectedly and they rushed up there and forgot to call.  Or you were stood up because they didn’t have the courage to tell you that they didn’t really want to meet you in the first place.  Perhaps they never called because they didn’t really want to talk to you but didn’t know how to part without saying, “I’ll call you later.”  Regardless of the reason– whether legitimate or not, whether we understand the reasoning or not – there is a certain amount of embarrassment and pain at showing up and no one meeting you. 

Perhaps you were the one doing the standing up.  Perhaps it was an emergency that kept you from meeting them.  Maybe you really meant to call but you just got busy and forgot.  Or could it have been that you just didn’t know how to say that you weren’t interested in developing/maintaining a relationship. 

I got thinking about this because of something a friend said to me when I asked her to pray for me and related how I felt that there was a wall between me and God.  She asked me if I am still reading the Bible and talking to him.  I said “yes” because I was still talking to him a little and reading his Word to a certain degree (while looking for reasons for the wall) but I could see how my meeting times with him were shorter, less frequent and my mind was elsewhere when I did show up.  The more I got thinking about it the more I realized that I had allowed my feelings to be hurt because he was not talking to me in the same way.  I had allowed my praying frequency and fervency to be swayed by the cares of life and the spiritual growth that had become unbearably painful.  In the midst of that pain, I quit showing up.  I envision God showing up at our usual meeting time and place and after a while when I didn’t show up, turning aside with his head hung low in grief and walking away.  How many times has he showed up to commune with me but I allowed my hurt feelings and growing pains to hinder me from meeting with him.  How many times has he sat waiting on me to show up so he could share words of wisdom, understanding and enlightenment but I failed to put aside earthly distractions so I could hear him.  How many opportunities did I miss of being able to minister to him and him to me because I didn’t show up.

It is my desire to have that intimacy with God that only comes from intimate conversation, honesty and “showing up.”  I don’t ever want God to walk away from our meeting place brokenhearted because I failed to meet him there. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yeah but.... Faith

Recently I had conversations with two different men who are, in my opinion, quite knowledgeable about the word of God.  I reiterated my yesterday’s thought of God is only limited by our faith and how many times our faith is based on how we see situations through our limitations.  One of the men expressed his frustration about a couple situations in which he has no power, no influence, and yet he feels strongly that there needs to be a change.  I told him that he should pray and allow God to work the change.  His response was, “I have spent 30 years praying and the situation is the same.  I have kept my mouth shut and now I just can’t hold my peace any longer.”  Though I understood his frustration, I reminded him that he has no power to make the change, no influence or authority to make it better or different and it has to come from God.  I told him that God can work a miracle in any situation, whether it is a physical illness, financial situation, or a desperate spiritual situation.  It all comes down to whether we believe and have faith in God’s limitless wisdom, power and resources.  His response was, “yeah, but…”

The second man that I spoke with last night had a similar story.  The physical, financial, etc. situations were frustrating him.  There isn’t enough money to make ends meet and his heart is grieved at the roads of belief and doctrine that people are deserting in order to follow another way.  My response was to pray and allow God to work it out.  We, within our own power, are limited and do not have the ability to MAKE someone stay on the right path nor do we have limitless resources to mend all of our financial situations.  It all comes down to whether our faith is in God’s limitless abilities, power and resources.  His response was, “yeah, but…”

You see I have a new slogan, “There are no “buts” in faith!” and these men’s conversations went against that very principle.  Because these conversations were contrary to my newfound understanding of faith and God’s power, I found them to be quite disturbing.  Am I wrong in believing that we need to get a firm grasp on having faith in God’s limitless power?  Am I wrong in believing that I need to strengthen my faith in God’s limitless wisdom?  Am I wrong when I say that God’s only limitation is directly tied to our limited ability to believe and have faith in His limitlessness?

I don’t think I am (you can reply to this email with your thoughts on my rightness or wrongness) because you see – MY God took nothing and created the universe.  MY God balances the oxygen levels on this earth exactly right to sustain life.  Not just those HUGE things but MY God also gave me a job, my children, and strength of mind and body.  I don’t know about YOUR God but my God knows what tomorrow holds and can guide my today to prepare me for that tomorrow.  I am not saying that this is something that I have a firm grasp yet but God has recently opened my understanding regarding his limitless power, wisdom, resources and influence.  When I see a situation through my limited vision and can’t see any way that it will ever work out, I just have to give it to God and he, in his infinite power, will transform the situation.  Speaking of transforming, I have in the past struggled with the thought that I will never be able to be transformed into a vessel that is COMPLETELY usable for his service.  But He is showing me that through my limited abilities, my limited strength it would be impossible but with his limitlessness – ALL things are possible.  When we have reached the point of not knowing what else to do to remedy a situation, the doctor’s report is dire or our influence has failed, it is then that we need to open our hands wide and give it to God and allow Him, in his limitless power, to take care of those things we just can’t.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Limitless God

The sons of Anak were a race of giants greatly feared by the Israelites.  When the spies made their report about the Promised Land, it included to specific references to the Anakites: first, an observation that was true “Moreover we saw the children of Anak there” (Numbers 13:28); second, an interpretation that was false “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31).

For forty years these giants had stood as a taunting symbol of the nation’s disbelief. So formidable were they that the nation had coined a saying, “Who can stand before the children of Anak!” (Deuteronomy 9:2). But Moses assured the Israelites that God specializes in dealing the Anakites.

Where are you facing “children of Anak” in your life? What impossible situation seems to stand squarely in the way of your spiritual progress?  God’s word to Israel is also aimed at you: “The Lord thy God… goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them” (Deuteronomy 9:3).

When your heart is filled with faith, there is no room left for fear.

So many times we look at the troubles or the situations that we are facing and we feel hopeless.  We wonder: how in the world is this surmountable?  How will we ever get past this?  We can’t seem to see any light or anything positive about the situation.  So many times we judge the hopelessness of the situation on our own capabilities instead of God’s.  We look at the situation through the eyes of someone who has limited strength, limited wisdom, limited knowledge, limited resources, etc. instead of looking at it through the eyes of our God who is limitless in strength, wisdom, knowledge and power.  He also has limitless resources as everything on the earth is his.  Regardless of what the need or situation, God CAN take care of it.  Throughout the days that Jesus walked on the earth he used variations of the phrase, “as your faith is so be it unto you.”  That tells me the only thing hindering us from tapping into God’s limitless power and resources is our faith.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Dream or an Interest?

One person with a dream is equal to ninety-nine who only have an interest.

That is the quote that I came across in my Bible reading yesterday.  This seemed to stand out to me as significant as I hold within my heart a God-given dream.  As I drove to church I pondered this quote and how it can be compared to real life.  Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech has the famous, “I have a dream” line.  Dr. King’s dream caused him to actively pursue a world in which there is equality among the races.  His dream pushed him, even in the face of danger, to see a world in which his children could be educated alongside children of other races.  He didn’t have just an interest and a wish for a different world but he had a dream that caused him to seek the changes needed to make a more equal society.  He knew his dream would not just be handed to him but it meant hard-work and living a life that was consistent with that dream.  In the end, he may not have seen that dream come to fruition but that dream was so strong that it was imparted to many other people and it has become their dream also. 

Do you wish your church was different?  Do you wish your life had more spiritual purpose?  Do you have an interest in a God given calling?  Do you desire to have a different life?  When you allow these wishes to become strong and vivid dreams, then you will pursue them with a wholeheartedness that will cause them to come true.  If you dream about a different church, perhaps you will go to the church and pray at each pew, at each chair, and for each person.  If you dream about a revival in your city, perhaps you will pray and fast for your city.  If your dream is a calling from God, perhaps you will seek his face more fervently, you will read his word more closely, and listen more intently.  Maybe your dream is to have a different life, perhaps for that to happen you will lay aside the weights that keep you mired in your current life.  Whatever your dream is, pursue it with a fervency that will cause it to come to fruition.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Courage

Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty (Merriam-Webster)

One does not use courage when everything is perfect and running smoothly.  There is not a need to be courageous when there isn’t danger or trouble.  I was finishing up Deuteronomy yesterday evening and then reread bits of it before I went to bed last night and then again this morning.  I kept coming back to the Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”Then as I started reading Joshua and came across more scriptures of the Lord telling Joshua to be of good courage.  Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever though goest.”  God was not telling Joshua, everything was going to be easy and that their enemies would willingly turn over their lands but that he could take courage and have faith in the fact that God would go with them and deliver them from the hand of that enemy.  Regardless of the trouble that may come their way, God would not forsake them.  I believe that God is telling us that yet today.  Though the tempest comes, though trouble may surround us, perhaps it appears that the enemy is stronger than we – Be Strong and of a Good Courage for God is with you and will not forsake you, fear not nor be dismayed. 

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord.

Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.

Take some time to read these scriptures also.
Joshua 10:25, 1 Chronicles 22:13, 1 Chronicles 28:20

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Solid Foundation

While talking about Luke 6 and a man building his house upon a rock or upon the earth my pastor said, “building a house without a foundation is faster.”  Spiritually speaking, I could pray and read my Bible for a couple weeks and then feel that I have put in enough time and I am ready for a mature ministry.  I could go without sinning for a month and figure, “Ok God, pour it on me because I am ready for my calling and purpose.”  But it isn’t that way.  We must take the time and effort to remove the saplings of ego, brambles of sin, thistles of bitterness, and the sod of self and dig down into our very souls so that we can build our ministry, our calling, our purpose on the foundation of Christ.  There is a lot of stuff in our life that we must dig out in order for us to make sure our foundation is solid and sure.  Building our ministry on that foundation isn’t something that is easy or without personal expense but comes at a very great expense.  We must give up ourselves, our time, our pleasures, our food, whatever is in the way of building on that sure foundation.  We must MAKE the time for devoted prayer, devoted Bible study, devoted praise; even if it is at the expense of dinner with friends, scrapbooking, sleep, etc.  We have to set aside food occasionally to strengthen our faith through fasting.  If we truly desire a strong, mature ministry, we must root out anything that could undermine your foundation.  Developing that mature ministry takes concentrated effort, it will not come through mediocrity, half-hearted prayer, occasional Bible reading.  When we pour our whole heart into serving God and building the ministry that he called us to, he will pour his whole heart into bringing us great fulfillment – in this life and the one to come.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Focused on...

Focus… As we are going through our spiritual walk our focus should be on God and his will for our lives.  We should and do focus on speaking with Him on a regular basis.  We focus on letting him speak with us.  We focus on reaching our harvest field by sharing the love of Jesus with everyone.  We are so excited by the wonderful change that God has worked in our lives, we realize the beauty of His salvation and we want everyone to experience it.  Since our focus is on the right things, God shines clearly though us.  Our visions and dreams are clear and focused on God's will for our lives.  Even when troubles come our way, we do not lose our faith because we are focused on the right things. 

As it is so many times in life there comes a time that someone hurts us, someone betrays us, someone offends us and our focus changes.  Perhaps the other people haven’t done anything to us personally but we see them living a life that is not pleasing to God but yet they are esteemed, they prosper and we allow our focus to change.  We still with our whole heart love God and are so thankful for all that he has done for us.  We still desire to see the whole world on fire for Jesus but there is a part that keeps watching the people around us, there is a part that is focused on something other than our Savior.  We still come to church and worship and pray but our worship isn’t with our whole heart because a part that is focused on something different.  This part of us that is focused on something else depletes the faith, the passion, the fervency that we seek to gain through our worship, prayer and devotion.  Because our focus isn’t wholly where it should be the picture of our lives become blurry and we start losing our way. 

God did not intend for us to live in a way that is out of focus and without clear direction.  God gave us a wonderful tool to use so we can remain focused on the right things.  He also gave us very clear direction on how to use it.  II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.”  The tool of a sound mind, that is not manipulated by the enemy but rather is strong and focused on the right things, is how we overcome when the enemy seeks to lead us on the wrong path.  God gave us a sound mind, a mind that has the ability to focus on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report.  When we take the effort to use the tool of a sound mind to focus on these things it is then that God will come clearly back in focus.  With our focus is centered on God and his will our life will regain the balance and the faith that we need to continue on the path that He desires for us. 

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethern, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Being a Success

Success… How do you define it?  Is it being financially comfortable?  Is it have a certain type of career?  Is it socializing with certain type of people?  Perhaps it is having a house on the right side of town in the right type of neighborhood?  Maybe it is holding a visible position in the church?  Maybe it is defined by looking a certain way, having certain material goods, or driving a certain car?  Maybe it is having certain habits or NOT having certain habits?  What is the definition of success in your life?  How do you measure success in others?  How do you treat others based on your measure of their success?  What do you think of yourself based on how you define your success?

I believe that true success is only measured at the end of our life.  When we stand before God, will he say “well done, thy good and faithful servant” or “go away, you worker of iniquity.”  It matters not what we drive, what style we wear, what our job choices are but rather whether we listened and obeyed the call of the Lord.  Our success isn’t determined by whether we are called to be a conference preacher or a janitor but rather whether we do it with an attitude of a servant of the Lord.  Success isn’t defined by whether society (or your church for that matter) defines you as a nobody but rather whether God finds your fruitful and productive in his kingdom.  Success is based on our listening, our obedience and our surrender to the will of God regardless of our desires and feelings. 

There are so many times that we feel so unsuccessful based on how society perceives us but when God looks at us and sees that we are willing to do whatever he asks, regardless of inconveniences, regardless of what others say about us, even regardless of how we feel or think… He finds us a success.  My desire is to be considered a success in the eyes of my Lord Jesus, regardless….

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Passion Required

I was speaking with someone a while back and I told them how I felt that God called me to pray and intercede on someone’s behalf, encourage and speak words of truth.  I was quite distressed that God had continued to ask this of me and they didn’t quite understand why it would distress me.  They referenced a scripture in John where it says, “I mention you in my prayers” and told me that I didn’t need to bury my face in the carpet.  I would say that very few people that I have spoken to regarding what I feel God has told me to do understands why it distresses me so much.  But the thing is, God didn’t call me to be half-hearted and just mention this person in prayer when I get around to it.  God told me to intercede, to be fervent, to be zealous in speaking truth, spare nothing and hold nothing back.  The very definitions of these things do not mean half-hearted, easy, convenient.  I can’t be zealously obedient to God without an investment of my heart, soul, mind and time.  I do not think it is just me that God has called to be zealous and fervent.  If God has called you to do something, He didn’t mean for you to do it when it was easy, convenient or after you get done doing what you wanted to do.  He doesn’t give you a ministry and then say, “when you get around to it, will you go preach the word?”  God doesn’t say, “once you have grown bored with your current lifestyle and find a little bit of time, will you pray for your neighbor?”  God doesn’t always ask, in fact seldom asks convenient things.  God doesn’t ask for easy things.  Sometimes… MANY times… MOST of the time, God asks hard things.  God asks for an investment of your heart, your soul, your tears, your love, your desires, your time… everything.  Being fervent in your desire to fulfill the ministry that God gives you requires ALL of you… not just what is left over after you have your way.  So what has God told you to do?  Are you pursuing it fervently or only as your lifestyle allows?  Are you being zealous in your pursuit of God’s will or are you more zealous to fulfill your desires and God’s will comes second?  Though being fervently in God’s will sometimes means fighting battles that you don’t want to fight, doing what you don’t want to do or weeping when you wish you could rejoice; it also is a place like no other.  God’s perfect will… is a place that, though seemingly contrary to everything around you, there is a sense of purpose and rightness.  It is my desire to get and stay in God’s perfect will. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Developing Spiritual Muscles

How Human Muscles Grow:   Your muscles grow when they recover after heavy stress that you put on them in the gym. Your body 'thinks' that you were running for your life from a lion and barely escaped, and it builds some extra muscle to make sure that you can outrun that lion the next time he finds you! The same story in other words: when you stress your muscle to the limit, it develops micro-injury. When it repairs the damage, having enough time and material, it 'overdoes' a little, to prevent you from having that 'micro-injury' in the future.

To put it short, if you want your muscle grow, you should give it as much stress as possible in the gym, then you should provide it with everything it needs to recover and grow, which is time and food.

As you have heard me whine and complain about for a while now, I feel under tremendous amounts of stress right now.  I feel that there are spiritual battles on every side and am spiritually, emotionally and physically stressed.  When I read the above comments regarding the growth of muscles I could not help but to make a parallel with our spiritual life. 

This concept was quite exciting to me and I have wanted to write about it for a while now but the words wouldn’t come.  But the more I thought about this, the more I tried to put the words together, the more strongly something more came to me.  Our desire and God’s desire is for us to grow and become ever stronger in our relationship with Him so He allows stresses to come into our life.  During the stress of the battle, during the trial, our faith muscles are NOT growing.  It is AFTER the stress that our faith will grow IF (and I can’t stress IF strongly enough) IF we feed our faith with God’s word and allow ourselves to really get refreshed in the Holy Ghost.  During the stress period, we are going through a time of getting “micro-injuries.”  Injuries that with the proper rest (the Holy Spirit which is our rest and our refreshing) and nutrition (God’s word), will cause use us to grow and be strong in our faith.   If we come out of the stress of a trial or battle and do not lose ourselves in God and his word then our faith will not be strengthened but rather weakened and prone to fear and anxiety.  Just like it is important to feed and rest our physical muscles after working out, it is absolutely vital that we do the same thing spiritually with our faith muscles.

So when you are in a fight on every side and it seems that you are just barely getting out of the battle with your spiritual life intact, know that these battles will only increase your faith muscles.  And then once you have gotten out of that battle, lose yourself in the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to surround you and to fill you.  Take the time to really bask in the presence of the Lord, during the battle but especially AFTER the battle.