Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Life Well Lived

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: ~2 Corinthians 3:2 

I had a really weird dream a while back.  Perhaps it was the result of too much cold medicine. Or perhaps it was the result of a rather unhealthy late night snack I decided to eat.  I have no idea. However, the craziness of it did get me thinking....

The dream:
I am on a road trip with a group of people I know very well, whom I have traveled with often. The purpose of our trip is a very special event we are to attend in the town of our destination. We arrive at a nice upper scale hotel and settle in our rooms to go to sleep.  The next morning we get ready and eat breakfast.

This is where all normalcy goes out the window....

After the breakfast we are just standing around outside in the pretty weather and sunshine, doing nothing of great importance.  In fact, to my bewilderment, a friend eventually starts trying to ask me to do something, something that I keep questioning if I am understanding correctly. It appears she is wanting me to water....a little pond? or was it a ditch?  At this point in the dream I have forgotten the actual reason we are there in the first place, but I do remember that there IS a reason and it is important. I keep looking around at everyone doing their own thing, thinking, "What in the world is going on?!"

The next thing I know we are in a vehicle, headed home. At this point I start remembering why we drove the 4-5 hours in the first place, look at the lady next to me and ask, "Is [the event] cancelled?...What ARE we doing?!"  She gives me an "I have no clue" look. At this point the drivers,while still in the destination town, stop at some beautiful scenic place that, despite the fact that I am still in Arkansas (I think), looks like Arizona. They get out with their cameras, so I dig for mine too, still thinking and asking every once in a while, "Why are we here again?!...Are we REALLY going home without even going to [the event]?!...I'm so confused!...."

And that is how I woke up...very very confused. My first thought was, "what an utterly pointless dream!"  But then, as I thought more on it, I realized that some people live their lives like this dream...

There had been a purpose. And that purpose has been forgotten.

How many people have started out with a clear understanding of the purpose God has for them, and they start in that direction.  But then, something happens. Perhaps they start to forget, then they see lots of other people just standing around, and it all begins to seem normal. In my dream, our trip had a purpose.  A purpose that wasn't being fulfilled.  This agitated me, both when I was fully aware of it and when I wasn't. I believe that same feeling is present in everyone that isn't fulfilling their full purpose.

First, every individual on this earth is born with the same purpose: to worship the One who created them. The problem comes when they don't know this or they stray from it. Then, like in my dream, nothing ever seems quite right.

Think about it...if you are "rapture ready" at this moment and God hasn't taken you yet, there is a reason you're still here, and it has nothing to do with your own personal pleasure.

During my dream, at one point, I was asked to spend time doing something that would have been absolutely pointless and a waste of time.  At another point we were simply distracted by something God himself had created. Yes, He had created that beautiful scene for us to enjoy, but our timing was off.

What is the point of this trip called life, if, at the end of it, when you are facing eternity, all you feel like you've done is whatever was popular, whatever was easy, whatever brought the most praise, etc?

In John 10:10, Jesus says, "... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." 

The word abundant can be defined as "superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon, or more excellent."

When I looked up the meaning of the word "epistle" as used in the scripture at the beginning of this blog, it does not just define it as a "letter" as I have heard many people say, but rather as a "composition" in the form of a letter.  A composition is something into which one puts great effort and thought. A musical arrangement is known as a composition. The love expressed through the usage of this word by Paul, the writer of 2 Corinthians, doesn't even come close to expressing how much more the composition of your life is written in God's heart. 

God wants your life to be lived in full abundance and He wants you, as an epistle, to live so fully and with such purpose that the light in you shines on the darkened paths of those around you in such a way that they can't help but ask where they also may find this light.

Perhaps you are one that is on that darkened path.You feel like there is more to life, and you are searching around in darkness, tripping here, stumbling there, reaching out, knowing that somewhere there has got to be light somewhere and a better way to live this thing called life.You're searching for purpose...for meaning. That void you feel was created by the God who made you, and it can only be filled by the God who made you. No drug, no lifestyle, no person, and no amount of money can fill it.  You were created by God and you can only experience true fulfillment through God.

It's quite simple: If you're walking in darkness, turn toward the light

Let Him heal you. Let Him restore you. Let Him direct you.

(If you would like to know more about beginning a relationship with Christ, feel free to contact me!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Broken Pieces

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people." ~Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

This verse has been on my mind so strongly lately.  Recently, I have heard stories, over and over again, that reiterate the lesson found within this verse...

A minister falsely accused of a crime, didn't put all his energy into fighting the accusation, but rather accepted that God's will would be done.  Now, having been in prison for years, a church has been started behind those bars due to his not despairing and seeing God's hand, even in such a tragic situation.

A child away from God, wandered much too far, and, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, accidentally killed someone. Now, both him and his nephew, also in prison, have come back to God and many others are coming to know God through them as well.  

These are both real stories that have been shared with me within the last couple of months. 

Granted, every story doesn't climax with someone in prison. (Thank God!) These just happen to be the two examples I felt to share. And every story doesn't  involve literal flesh and blood people causing the harm. Scripture says that, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." ~Ephesians 6:12 

The scripture at the beginning of this blog is from the story of Joseph, and Joseph's story is just that...Joseph's story.  In Joseph's story his brothers are the ones who did him wrong.  God took that and used it.  He used it to the extent that he was able to use Joseph to save the lives of a multiplied number of people, his brother's included. 

Each one of us has our own story.  The negative part of the story is not what matters. What matters is what you are willing to let God make of it.  God can take anything and make something beautiful.  He can take a royal disaster and make it into a royal masterpiece. But you have to be willing to hand it over to him...broken piece by broken piece.

You see, the picture of your future you had formed in your mind?  It's nothing compared to what the master artist can design. As a matter of fact, you will probably not even recognize what he creates as you begin to hand over those pieces, one by one.  

Frustration..hand it over.
Hatred...give it to Him.
Jealousy...let go of it.'s the Lord's.
Discouragement...lay it down.

Piece by piece by piece, watch God make something beautiful. Something others can look at and learn from. Something that can transform other's lives as well. 

Piece by piece by piece.

While at LA Camp meeting recently I heard the song "Healing is Here" for the first time.  Two particular lines stood out to me above all the rest:
You are the God of all power,
And it is your will that my life is healed. 
Yes, it is God's will to allow us to go through tests and trials.  If we continue to persevere,  these will transform us into vessels more fit for his kingdom.  However, it is also His will for our lives to be healed.  It is especially His will that our lives are healed.  The entire point of the sickness, trial, or test  is for Him to receive glory through the healing. 

Whatever your circumstance, it IS God's will that your life is healed. It IS God's will that others benefit through your testimony. God is not blind to where you are or the circumstances that you face. He took Joseph from the pit to the palace, but He didn't do it overnight.... 

He did it piece by piece by piece. One act of obedience followed by another act of obedience.  Back stabbed? No problem, shake it off. Forgotten? It's ok, it's not God's timing yet anyway.

Piece by piece by piece. Trust God. Obey God. And Watch God do what only HE can do. 

Jesus, At the Center

"...And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man..."~Revelation 1:13

During service at my home church Sunday night, while singing the lyrics to this well known Christian song, the Spirit of God began to move in such a beautiful way.... 

Jesus at the center of it all
Jesus at the center of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be
It's always been You
Jesus, Jesus

Nothing else matters
Nothing in this world will do
Jesus You're the center
Everything revolves around You
Jesus You
At the center of it all

No doubt, those going through difficult circumstances were reminded that Jesus has everything under control.  Those who had begun giving up their allegiances to things that are only temporal were instantly brought face to face with the reality that there is only one that deserves that allegiance. I personally was reminded of what I am reminded of every time I hear this song, a message  preached by Rev. Marrell Cornwell that I heard many years ago.  I didn't hear it in a camp or conference setting or even during a church service. I'm not even sure how I ended up with a copy of the sermon in the first place,  but it has greatly impacted my life.  No, I listened to it via headphones while sitting on my back porch on a blistering hot summer day...just me, myself, and I, with an open sincere heart, desiring to let God direct and impact me as much as possible. Though so many years have past since that day, not one has past that I haven't taken time to step back, reexamine, and do what I call "The Candlestick" test.
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death...The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. ~Revelation 1:12-18,20
Jesus be the center of my life
Jesus be the center of my life
From beginning to the end
It will always be
It's always been You
Jesus, Jesus....

From my heart to the heavens
Jesus be the center
It's all about You
Yes it's all about You
Close your eyes and envision those seven candlesticks in your, who or what do you see in the middle of them?  This isn't a "the right answer is..." type question.  This is a "be honest with yourself, there's a lot riding on this" type question.  So who is there?  Is it Jesus?  Is it Jesus and...? This is not a place He is willing to share. Has He been shoved out all together? Who or what is at the center of your life?  Who or what is at the center of your family's or your church's life?  Yes, I said it. Even church's are susceptible to becoming social clubs and thus becoming their own center.  
Jesus be the center of 
Your church
Jesus be the center of Your church
And every knee will bow
And every tongue shall confess You
Jesus, Jesus
So I ask you, Is your universe in the correct working order?   Thus as in our physical universe, if things were not perfectly aligned as God created them, chaos would ensue, so it is in the spiritual realm.  God will only take the reins to our lives when we hand them over to Him, and only by doing that can He align our lives so that they are working in perfect sync with His will, according to His ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
From my heart to the heavens
Jesus be the center
It's all about You
Yes it's all about You.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Gift of a Birthday

"And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life... ~1 Samuel 1:11"
Birthdays are special things. First of all they are our own personal holiday and (here's the best part...) EVERYONE gets one! How cool is that?!!! Plus, they are a reminder that God has let you live one more year. If you're someone who has had multiple near death experiences like myself, this in itself is great cause to celebrate!

Until yesterday I hadn't realized that this is my first birthday to be home in four years! (That's five birthdays.) So, today I am simply thankful to be spending this day with the two individuals who brought me into this world. 

Many of you who read this blog I have never had the chance to meet, nor have I ever even visited the country in which you live. Some of you are old friends and may have already heard this story.  Today I would like to share with each of you a story I heard for the first time just a couple of years ago..a story that's very special to me, because it is the story of how I came to have a birthday.

Many years ago my Mom was a stay at home mom who also kept the books for my Dad's construction business, so, basically, she worked two jobs. On top of that her and my Dad were also very involved in various ministries within the church they attend. Having two sons of elementary school age, free time was very limited.  Therefore, my Mom squeezed in prayer time wherever she could...even while washing dishes.

One day, while washing dishes and praying, she reminded God that in His Word He promised that if we would seek first His kingdom that He would give us the desires of our heart. She then prayed, "God...I want a little girl."  Our pastor's wife had taught her to pray specifically, so she did, stating both inner and outer characteristics she wanted her daughter to have. Like Hannah, she concluded her prayer telling God that if He would give her the desire of her heart that she would give the child back to Him.

Now, many years later, I am glad to say that God did. And she did.

God didn't just give her a daughter, but he gave her a daughter with every single characteristic she had prayed for. Alas, my list would have probably looked a little different than hers...but I digress. 

Some of you out there today are praying for something and you have prayed about it for a very long time. Perhaps it is a child. If you are seeking God's kingdom first, I encourage you, keep praying. If you aren't, stop, get your priorities straight (aka: make sure God's first place in your life), then if you still feel like it aligns with God's will, pray on! Sometimes the answer may not look exactly like what you think, but that's ok, because sometimes it's better.

So, today I am thankful simply to have breath and to be able to be with the two individuals who brought me into this world. I am, however, even more thankful that the One who created and gave me life is with me everyday and everywhere I go.  When my Mom prayed God heard and He answered. When I pray He hears and He answers. And He will do the same for you.

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord..." ~1 Samuel 1:27-28

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Mold

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”  ~Romans 9:20 (NKJV) 

Last weekend  I was coloring a picture with my niece and nephew.  It was quite large, large enough in fact for all three of us to be coloring on it at the same time. While doing this I began to observe my niece and nephew and the irony of how totally opposite their approaches to coloring were.

She would take a crayon, any crayon, and start coloring whatever random part of the picture she felt to color at the moment, with no concern whatsoever about staying in the lines.  She would then walk away, do something else for a while, come back, and commence coloring the same way. I began trying to help her. I would point to the puzzle we had just put together, which had a picture of the same characters who were in the picture we were coloring, hand her the correct color, tell her what to color, and attempt to explain to her how best to color in the lines. While she improved slightly, it was clear that she really, at that moment, couldn't have cared less. 

Then there was my nephew...nose to the grindstone. He cared about having the exact color more than I even did and was coloring so hard and carefully that it took him the same amount of time to color just a square inch as it took me to color five times that. While I didn't try so much to explain to him about coloring in the lines, since he was doing pretty good, he began asking me how to do it anyway. He observed very carefully when I showed him, asked me to show him again, then stopped to show me each section he colored, so I could see how well he did. He also sometimes pointed out minor spots where he had went over, saying, "A little's not too bad, right?"

Same birth date. Same home. Two different molds.

I've heard people use the saying, "God broke the mold when he made [insert name]." Sometimes people say this jokingly about someone who is unique in an odd way. Other times it is used in a very flattering way, expressing how special someone is. Well, newsflash, God broke the mold when he made each and everyone one of us...and I mean that both ways.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand..." ~Psalm 139:13-18 (NKJV)
Yes, we are each molded by the hand of God...yet there is another mold the world tries to reshape us into....

A while back, while visiting a friend, she passed off a couple of magazines to me. I don't remember what they were, but they were ones that would fall in the fashion/ beauty category. It had been years since I had actually looked through any of them and I thought, "Sure, why not."  Living in different cultures often leaves me clueless as to what is actually "in style" at the moment in the U.S., which is something I have began to not really care about anyway, but I thought, maybe this will help me catch up a bit.

Well, I was very surprised the feelings that began to come over me as I did something that I had grown up doing all the time....simply browsing through a mainstream magazine, one that was quite "clean" material and picture wise. To my surprise, as I flipped through the pages I felt an anger rise up in me...the more pages I flipped, the more it grew.  As one who studied marketing techniques some in college, I subconsciously dissect advertisements and the approach they are taking to get people to buy's something I can't shut off, I just do it.  Now days these type of magazines are 80% advertisements. So as I looked through it, I saw what is subconsciously relayed to those who fall prey to the marketing: "If you don't wear this this, you're ugly."..."If you don't own this, you're a loser."..."If you don't look like her, you'll never get him." It didn't affect me much in this way, because I've been taught to read between the marketing lines, but it once did.  And most people it still does. And THIS is what made me so fiery mad. Pictures of air brushed, plastic people, many with eating disorders, who are the global prototype to guys as to what they think their woman should look and act like and to women as to what they think they have to look and act like... And it's a complete fa├žade.

The voices of this world. Sometimes they are audible, other times they aren't. Voices attempting to squeeze people into molds they are not made to fit.  There is only one mold for each person, and it was broken when they were born. God made each of use unique. On purpose.

Looks. Personality. Gifts. Talents. You are a priceless masterpiece. You are God's creation and therefore you are responsible to be a good steward of it. One way to do this is by not trying to cram yourself into a generic mold that has been created by industries exclusively for their own material gain. Exercise, eating healthy, and good hygiene are other ways, as well as regularly measuring up your treatment of others by the Word of God, and allowing God to mold you into to the best you that you can possibly be.

Be your own beautiful (or handsome) self, not a cookie cutter image of someone who has forgotten their true hair color, skin tone, and personality. Be the you the creator of the universe created. He's the one who created the beautiful mountains and the gorgeous beaches; I'm quite sure he knew exactly what he was doing when He created you.

 Surely you have things turned around!
Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;
For shall the thing made say of him who made it,
“He did not make me”?
Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”? ~Isaiah 29:16 (NKJV)

 Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And Sometimes the Answer is You

"Joseph had to help several other people's dreams become realities in order to experience his own." ~Rev. Wayne Huntley 

The below is a blog I started a while back that I was reminded of by the above statement. It is a topic I am very passionate about, that I think is so important for this "me" generation to fully grasp:

Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of having some great, deep, God focused conversations with some close friends. When God gives me a thought or talks to me about something, I love very much to hear what others have to say about it and if/ how He has talked with them about the same thing. This is what He has been talking to me about as of late: 

We, as human beings, are naturally selfish. When there are many needs in our own life, it may take special effort to choose to pray for others as much or more than ourselves. However, if we are totally submitted to God, we will remember how important it is to consider other's needs. We seek answers, but are we willing to be the answer to someone else's prayer? 

My family moved to Arkansas, from Missouri, when I was quite young. Overtime we have developed friendships with members of the church in Rogers as close as that often found between real family members. One day one of my mom's best friends told her that she knew why God had sent us to Arkansas. My mom asked her why. Her simple reply, "Because...I prayed for a friend."

At one time I would have described the time I worked at Tupelo Children's Mansion as feeling like a year of being "in limbo". While God had indeed led me there, at first I felt very out of my element. I also knew it was only supposed to be temporary, due to God having already dealt with me to an extent about what was to come next... returning to global missions. While I was very much aware of all these things, there was one thing I was not aware of until later. Before my coming there had been an urgent need and many prayers had  gone up for God to send help.  And so He did, in the form of someone with very little experience, but with a big heart and a sincerity and commitment to do whatever needed to be done.

God's next appointment for me was indeed an answer to others' prayers as well...Amazing missionaries who had far too many responsibilities for any one couple to be able to carry out on their own. I wasn't the only one who was an answer to prayer for this huge task...Nope. for this big task God sent a whole team and is continuing to do so.

I write regarding my own self only because it's through these personal life experiences that God has taught me over and over again this one thing: Just as God answers our prayers, sometimes He uses us to answer other's prayers.

There are many people in large churches, where lots of people share their same special ability, that complain that they never get to be used.  Meanwhile, there are probably hundreds of both home and foreign  missionaries praying for God to answer their prayers by sending just one person with that ability....

They may be praying for you.

Everyday many people out there are realizing that that peace that they seek is not found in alcohol, in prestige, in drugs, in riches, or in relationships...and they are questioning "Where IS it found?"  Everyday, many people out there are crying out to God, that, if there is a God, He will answer them....

Sometimes that answer is you.

We are blessed to be a blessing.

But what about when we aren't feeling especially blessed?
....Are we still willing to be someone else's blessing?

Years ago Missionary Rodenbush when asked about why he had been willing to leave a well established church in Texas he had been pastoring to become a missionary to Africa, stated, "Many people were willing to pastor my church, but not many were willing to go to Africa.”

Everyone is willing, yeah, even waiting in line, to have their prayers answered, but how many people are willing to be an answer? ....Are you?

Joseph helped make other people's dreams realities when he was still in prison and while he was still estranged from his family. He did this simply because He was a child of God, God had given Him special abilities, and it was the right thing to do; not because He knew making their dreams realities would lead to making His own dream a reality. Though it did.

So, next time you pray, I encourage you to ask God, "Lord, who can I bless?  How can I be a blessing?" You may be surprised to whom or where your path may lead.

Like a light in the darkness a song in the night,
Just the right words at just the right time,
Tomorrow today you may be someone’s answer to prayer.

The very moment we are willing to say who “I am”,
We step out of our happenstance will into his perfect plan,
Where nothing’s left to chance or to whim,
 People to People is where it begins,
To be His voice of hope,
or the touch of His hand.
~Alex Edmonds "Answer to Prayer" Lyrics

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Living Proof

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:19

I've heard it quoted many times, usually jokingly, but oh, how much truth is found within these few words: "Everybody wants to see a miracle, but nobody wants to be one."

According to Webster's Dictionary a miracle is: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs; an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.

From life and observation I have learned the following:
Everybody wants to see God move. Everybody wants to see God do awesome things that prove His glory, but nobody wants to actually have to endure any kind of hard situation, be it emotional, spiritual, physical, or financial, in order for that glory to be shown. Yes, everybody wants to see a miracle, but nobody wants to be one.

On the flipside, through personal and second hand experience I have also learned that:
Every missionary that chooses to embrace their calling and obey God is also, simultaneously, making an unspoken, yet understood, commitment to "being a miracle".  

Now, being a missionary myself, I would like to claim that we all make that second commitment with a skip in our step and an excitement and anticipation of the possibilities of all the amazing things God is going to do, because, well...He's just gotta!  He made the plan, so He's gonna back it up right?  YES!!!  Now we know it's time to watch Him show off. Sit back, grab the popcorn and's SHOWTIME!!!! (Oh wait a minute..."faith without works is dead"...But that's a different blog for a different time....)

Yes, I would like to claim that's how it is and maybe it is that way for some. I know I personally have came a long way. However, when the next mountain looks higher than the last, by human nature it is easier to focus on that fact, rather than the fact that the mountain before that last one was smaller, and the mountain before that one was smaller, and yet God has always taken me over or through each them. And each time, my faith has grown. But, I will admit, I have never literally spoken the words, "God, I want to be a miracle!", that is, not until the stage was already set for me to need one, then it has been spoken more in the form of the words, "God, I NEED a miracle."

In the story of the feeding of the 5,000, the following conversation occurred between Jesus and His disciples:
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. ~John 6:5-6
When God asks you to do something that seems impossible, He is proving you.  When you find yourself or a close relative with an incurable disease, He is proving you. When He asks you to give and you have no idea where it will come from, He is proving you. This list could go on for a while, but the point is: There IS a reason for your dilemma...and that reason is for His glory to be shown...through your proving. God wants to work; He has a plan in place. The provision is activated by your proving...when you prove He provides the proof!!!

According to Webster's to "prove" means: "to test the truth, validity, or genuineness of."

Want a financial miracle?
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. ~Matthew 3:8-10
Want healing?
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. ~James 5:14-15
Want  deliverance?
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. ~James 5:13
No, I've never asked to be a miracle, yet, thankfully, I have been blessed to be one, many times.  Having made a commitment to God to minister in what is considered the most expensive city in world has not been an easy thing. My flesh wants to know the hows, yet my spirit has had to learn to trust Him, on a whole new level, to provide every need necessary. And miracle, after miracle, after miracle I have seen Him do so, in ways I never could have imagined. Before I began this journey my pastor encouraged me saying, "God's finger will never point where His hand won't provide."  That has been my motto for the last year and that is now becoming my testimony.

A week and a half ago, it appeared that within a few more minutes my Dad might no longer be with us. Yet, as I laid hands on him to pray and began interceding for him in tongues, my father, who couldn't even speak at the moment, and who could barely breath, also began speaking in tongues. At that moment I felt that peace that passes all understanding sweep over the room. (Phillippians 4:7) After receiving oxygen, all vitals showed normal, and later all tests came back normal.

The world jokes: Everybody wants to see a miracle, but nobody wants to be one. 

But God says: "Prove me."


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Because He Lives

"And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen..." ~Luke 24:4-6

"Jesus died and...and He rose again!!!"  These six words, proclaimed by my 4 1/2 year old nephew to my entire church, were the highlight of my Easter.  Not because it was cute, though it was. Not because I felt chills go through me, though I did. But because of the tears it brought to mine and others' eyes, tears that I don't think we ourselves even understood....yet they came. It wasn't until later that day, that I would fully grasp what exactly had happened in that moment.

So why was my nephew asked to say that, randomly, right at the end of the children's program in the first place?  Because he had been saying it in his classroom, and, lucky for us, his teacher had caught it on video. She asked him to repeat it and tell it to the whole class. "Jesus died and...and He rose again!!!" I type it that way, because that's how he said it each time. "Jesus died" (looking one direction, somewhat calm demeanor, look of sadness) "and"..."and he rose again!!!" (straightened body posture, animatedly looking the other direction, amazed, excited look on his face, with a "you have GOT to get this!" sound in his voice) 

Later that day I found out how Easter day had begun at my brother and sister-in-law's house, who are the parents of this nephew and his twin sister. That morning when my sister-in-law woke up, my niece was already standing there, waiting. She asked if it was Easter. My sister-in-law affirmed that. Then my niece said, with sadness in her voice, "Jesus dies today...."  When my sister-in-law told me this my heart almost broke.  Apparently somehow in the midst of bedtime stories, Sunday school classes, Reaching Our Kids classes, one on one Jesus talks, etc., she had apparently not fully understood that Jesus didn't just die (and definitely wasn't about to die), but that He rose from the dead. Having talked to Him everyday, in prayer, she understood the fact that He was alive. So imagine the sorrow in her heart to think that He was going to die! My sister-in-law, of course, reexplained to her the truth about the resurrection.  I'm guessing at some point my nephew was either part of this conversation, or that my niece passed on "The Good News" to him. 

So what was it about his proclamation in church that had brought tears to our eyes?  I think it was the sincerity and freshness with which it was spoken.  "Jesus died..and..and He rose again!!!"  Maybe, just maybe, that was his first time to finally understand finally understand that not just a man, but our Savior, the Creator of the universe, came to earth, as a man, to die for us, and rose again....Our Savior LIVES!!!

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." ~1 Corinthians 15:55-57
This brings to mind the lyrics of one of my favorite hymns: 

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Worth the Wait

So, normally sappy is not my writing style, but this blog will be one exception...For those whose faces distort into a sour face just at the sound of the word "sappy", this is your chance to turn back now...You have officially been warned.

 Lately I've been going through all 13,769,046 pages (or so it seems) of paperwork that I have accumulated through the years, in an effort to get rid of everything I don't absolutely need. In the midst of this chaos I came across something I'd written back in 2007, when I was doing mission work in Lithuania for the summer.  It's not a devotional, like I normally write on here, but rather it's simply words from the heart of a single missionary about something she just happened to observe one day and the impression that it made on her. It's about love....real love.

"I'm sitting here at the Vilnius bus station, waiting to leave for Riga.  When I first arrived at the platform, where I would eventually catch my bus, my attention was drawn to a certain young lady and young gentleman.  For the approximately thirty minutes that we waited for the bus I could tell that, as far they were each concerned, the other person was the only other one in the world. 

As they stood, holding each other close, I wondered what their story was. Was he leaving on just a short trip? A long one? Did he even live here? When did they meet? How did they meet? While I knew none of these answers, from where I was sitting I could see in her eyes that she truly loved him. 

It didn't end there. As we loaded the bus, she stayed by his side until she couldn't any longer. Then, for about thirty more minutes, she stood outside his window.  They both just looked at each other with sad eyes, every once in a while mouthing, no doubt, words of endearment to each other.  Every once in a while, when another bus would pull up, she would move out of the way, then move right back to the spot by his window. As we pulled out to leave she was standing there waving until the bus was out of sight.

A lot of times I get asked the question, "What are you waiting for?" Or, of course, "Who are you waiting for?" While I may not know who, I definitely know what I'm waiting for. I'm waiting for that kind of love.  Love in which I'd almost rather die than have to leave the other person.  A love where we can just look at each other, not a say a word, and yet a thousand be spoken. A love that, were it taken away, would hurt to the same extent that it felt good.  Most of all, I want a love in which I can give all of my heart, knowing He will give me back the same."

While  I wrote this years ago, my perspective still remains the same. I still believe that special person will indeed be worth the wait.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grace in Disguise

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." ~Genesis 6:8

Often when we think of the story of Noah we think of the verse above... how Noah found grace in God's eyes, how Noah and his family were spared the fate that so many other people had fell victim to, by their own choice.

Rarely do we think about what grace looked like on that ark on the 23rd, or on the 32nd, or on the 39th day. Rarely do we think about the fact that grace is not always pretty when living through the preliminaries, especially when we don't yet realize they are simply just that....a beginning, not an ending.

The Bible says in Genesis 7:24 that "the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days." 150 days living with a bunch of stinky animals....Imagine how gross those stalls must have been!

The smells...the claustrophobia...5 months!!!

Oh, but then consider the alternative.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. ~Phillippians 4:11
Calvary was very ugly. It's hard for us to even comprehend the brutality that occurred on that day, but it was even worse for those who had walked with Jesus day in and day out, who had to stand by and witness God in flesh being treated worse than a criminal.

If  only they could have truly understood then, what we are so blessed to understand now.

Circumstances in your life may look bleak. You may feel like you have "drawn the short straw" ...possibly multiple times over. Know that His grace is sufficient. He trades beauty for ashes and makes all things beautiful in His time.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. ~Isaiah 61:3
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9