Saturday, July 31, 2010

Before You Were, God Had a Plan.

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. ~Jeremiah 1:4-5

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.~Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. ~Isaiah 49:5

One of the kids here at The Mansion had the privilege of going to Chili this summer on an Apostolic Youth Corp trip. Every year the General Youth Division sponsors a child from here to go; this year she was the lucky one. I've been in charge of watching her dorm a lot lately, which has provided ample opportunity for her to ask the many questions she has had for me regarding her desire for future involvement in missions. I've came to the conclusion that if this were the only reason God brought me to TCM, to speak encouragement, advice, and direction into this young lady's life, that in itself would have made it all worthwhile.

Today, while looking through her pictures from the trip, my mind took a trip down memory lane...I received my calling to the mission field at the age of 16, and God dealt with me specifically about Europe when I was 21, but my first mission trip, when I was 17, was when I decided that every decision I made there after needed to be in alignment with and in preparation for what God was calling me to do. It wasn't a trip to Europe, but to Trinidad, a country not too extremely different culturally nor geographically from the one this girl I've been mentoring went on, but very different from the place God would later deal with me about.

In this blog, I usually try to steer clear of sharing things God has spoken to me specifically, but, I believe what I am about to share may be important for someone to hear, therefore, I am going to be a bit more transparent than I am normally comfortable with.

Recently God spoke a word of prophesy to me during a service that "There was something I've known possibly my whole life, and that God didn't want me to question it anymore." I knew immediately that it was talking about the calling God has placed on my life. I believe anyone with a calling involving leaving everyone and everything you love and are familiar with is going to question it at least a little. They're going to make sure they have understood 100% correctly. Why else leave it all unless God has truly spoken?!

So, I embraced the point of the message and determined to obey it, but the part that lingered with me was the "knowing it my whole life"...Had I? Was this possible? In my finite mind the "calling" happened at 16. In my finite mind.

A few weeks later, I realized that, while that was when I submitted to God's will, His will, the specific path He had desired for me to walk down, had been in His whole life. I realized this during a message at Louisiana campmeeting, that Bro. Graham preached. He talked about how when Jesus called Phillip, He was already thinking of Nathaniel: "Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." ~John 1:48 In Bro. Graham's message he was making the point that, from the time we are born, God has a specific destiny for us...Who was God thinking about when you were born? At the end of the message he asked a few questions...the first one: "What country were you born for?!"

When he spoke those words, it was like, for the first time ever, my entire existence, every year of Bible quizzing, every year of Bible school, exchange students whom I would always "just click with" during high school and college, my first memory of a church service being that of a missionary to China speaking...It just ALL made sense. In one simple sentence,a man who, coincidently(?) had chaperoned that first mission trip I attended, had explained it all.

I don't believe God all of a sudden decides "Ok, this is what I've decided..this is what I want you to do...", but, rather, from the time you are born, the process has already began; it's simply a matter of, when He speaks and lets you in on the plan, if you choose to obey.

In conclusion, I would like to share The Message's version of Psalm 139:13-16...which I have already shared in the NIV:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons in Cheek Turning

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~Mark Twain

I have been staying at my aunt's house in TN this weekend. It's 3:00 am on a Saturday morning and I am wide awake with the thought I am about to write about weighing heavy on my mind. I just went into the living room to look for paper I could write on only to find my aunt sitting there in a chair reading her 3:00 am. :-) I would like to claim it was God that woke us up at this odd hour of the morning, but I'm pretty sure her dog barking outside woke her up, and her yelling at said dog is what woke me up. :-P Anyway, for better or worse, here are my 3:00 am thoughts.
Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~Matthew 5:9-12

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. ~Matthew 5:43-48

Since I have been keeping this blog I have had various people email me, sometimes with words of appreciation, and others asking questions, seeking advice. One such time the advice requested was regarding how to deal with someone in the person's church who had hurt them and continued to do so.

My advice? Pray for them. Every day. Indefinitely. At first, I told the person, you will feel nothing or it will be painful, but, eventually, you will feel a transformation inside and soon will be able to speak the words with sincerity.

Prayer will always change you in a positive way, and often it will change the other person as well. However, sitting and trying to watch a rose blossom will only frustrate you. Release the person into God's hands and remember that God changes people on his timetable, not yours.

This, of course, wasn't really the advise the person wanted, but I told them that it's what I do, and I have found that it works. I also encouraged them that, in some situations, it also helps to avoid the person a bit for a while, until things cool down some, but that this is unhealthy if it goes on for too long. Passiveness and "stonewalling" are both very unhealthy ways of dealing with any situation. (I've learned this from personal experience and also from my studies as a Communication Major.) It tends to magnify, rather than shrink issues and leaves both parties "stuck in a rut" so to speak.

Why "turn the other cheek?
Why treat those who treat you like dirt like royalty?

1) Because the Bible says so. (I could stop here & this be enough, but I'll go on...)

2) Because it feels good. No, not at first, sometimes there's a sharp sting of pain when you first do it or when they come back & "slap you" again--But, after that, the realization that you have taken the higher ground &, despite possible responses, chosen to be more like Christ will always feel good in the long run.

3) Read Matthew 5:9-11 again. Notice a pattern? "Blessed..." God will bless your efforts!

4) "..That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven" ~Matthew 5:45
"Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" ~Acts 10:24
God is not a partial God & we are not allowed to be either. There's one other alternative to being a child of God & that is not an alternative I ever intend to consider, which brings me to the last reason...

5) "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ~Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiveness is not just words, it must be words put into action, or it is a lie...
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ~Matthew 7:12

God is Love and we, as Christians, must strive to be more like Him, even, and especially, when it involves "turning the other cheek".
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. ~Mark 12:30-31

Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you:
Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness. ~H. Jackson Brown

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Tangent: diversion from an original purpose or course

Tonight I heard someone use this word, a word I rarely hear used in this way, and immediately it brought back major memories...Memories of my last 2 years of college & a certain professor that I shall never forget. By the time I graduated I had taken at least 3 or 4 of this professor's classes. On the first day of each of them she would warn her students that she had tendencies to go off on tangents while speaking, and to feel free to raise our hand & yell "tangent!" to remind her to get back on topic.

Now, you would have to understand the personality of this particular teacher. She was a very sweet lady, but was the true definition of a geek. (I'm not being mean. She would even stake claim to this description.) To add to the "geekness", she also lived in the country & had things like pet donkeys, goats, a bazillion dogs, etc. So.....when she went off on tangents, normally no one was going to bring her back, because they were often down right entertaining. However, there were a few times, for example while reviewing for tests we'd be taking the next day, that one of us would do as she said and yell out "tangent!" Usually, she would apologize and then return back to the original topic.

When I heard this word used today though, it brought another thought to my mind. Tangents aren't just diversions in conversation. They can also happen in life. I am thankful for all the ministerial opportunities I have had. All the opportunities I had during Bible college..The mission trips I have participated in...The chance to work at TCM. However, over the years there is something that has greatly pricked my heart: The many people that have told me, "I had felt to go to Bible school, but...". Or "When I was younger I felt God calling me to the mission field, but..." Or, "Working at TCM was always a dream of mine, but..."

"But..." This word breaks my heart. Grant it, many of the reasons have involved something I still desire for my life, getting married & having kids, but I don't want that at the expense of getting off track of the path I know God has destined me to be on. If He decides to bless me and let that be a part of it, it will happen, and it will be God ordained, but I believe that dating someone without the same burdens or desires as myself will lead me straight to a lifetime of saying "but"; therefore I have chosen not to do so.

I don't know, I guess I'd rather have many more "ands" in my life than "buts" if possible. Rather than say, "But I didn't go" or "But I changed my mind", I would much rather have the chance to say "And then God supplied" or "And then God opened that door".

Tangents. Have you ever been on one? Are you on one now? What has God spoken to you about? Did you marry before you had a chance to begin what he was speaking to you about? Have you ever spoken to your spouse about it? Share your dreams & visions with that person. You never know how God may have in the past or may even now be dealing with him or her.

Perhaps you are single. Learn to hear God's voice and to understand what direction He wants to take you. Then commit to only dating people walking in that same direction. Also commit to doing all you can to prepare yourself for whatever He has spoken to you about.

I'm not talking about just callings such as being a missionary, pastor, music director, etc. It could be that God has dealt with you to be a doctor, nurse, military chaplain, etc. Or maybe you are already on a career path and content, but there's a gnawing you continually feel, perhaps to assist at a soup kitchen, help a widow in need, or be a father-like figure to a fatherless child.

Some tangents may take a while to recover from. Others are simply a matter of making a decision, then acting on it.

May you do a better job at living a tangent free life than my professor did at giving a tangent free lecture. God bless.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. ~Proverbs 4:25-27