Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010, It’ll Be Better Than It’s Been!

I don’t know about all of you, but for me 2009 has been both a great year and yet one of the hardest years I have ever faced. On a professional level, I’ve walked through some doors this year that I have been believing to walk through for a lot of years. On a personal level I have felt as if I was running the last few miles of a marathon with fifty pound weights strapped to my feet. Back at the end of 2008, I was prophesied to that 2009 would by a year for me to shine. I’ve seen that word come to pass, but I didn’t expect that in order to shine there would be a lot of darkness I’d walk through.


About two months ago I felt as if the Lord spoke the words to me, “2010, It’ll be better than it’s been.” I know that it rhymes and it sounds good. But I continue to hear these words time and time again.


Two weeks ago I felt directed to go to a particular scripture in the Bible. Thinking it was an odd place to be led to read, I found the verses. On the pages the words jumped to my spirit, and were precisely the words I needed to hear. I feel as if this is what God is giving for the Church as a whole for the start of the new year.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (New King James Version)
“ Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.


I love it with the word of God confirms what the Holy Spirit has been saying through other people. Pastor Greg of Freedom Life Church has been saying “2010, you’ll begin again.” Then I was just in a church in Canada (Grace Ministries in Windsor, Ontario) and there too someone spoke on 2010 being a year for new beginnings to spring forth in the Church. That is exciting.


However in all honesty it’s so exciting to know that God is about to do such awesome things in the church as a whole this year and our personal lives, but just this morning I was complaining to God. I don’t recommend doing that. But truthfully I believe all these things are going to happen, but being as they haven’t manifested yet I don’t want to go back to the old. I want the new, and want to run with it. I’m dreading the thought of having to go back to the same old thing. What I felt God spoke to me was about the Israelites. When they left slavery they didn’t know what exactly they were doing. They knew God said it was time for the new thing, so they followed Moses out of there. As they faced struggles time and time again they argued and complained with Moses wanting to just go back to Egypt because though they were slaves there at least they knew what each day would hold. God was trying to take them into the new thing, but they were constantly remembering the things of old. They held on to what they knew and wouldn’t embrace this new thing. As a result the mindset of slavery stayed with them and that generation never saw the promised land.


God is doing something new in the Church and in all of our lives. I believe that 2010, will be better than it’s been. But we must forget the years of slavery. We must forget the old. We must move past what we can see right now. We must grab tight to the new things. We must recognize that though we may not see that new thing yet, it’s here! God has not brought you this far to let you go back into bondage. He’s bringing you out, and springing you forth. Wrap your faith around you know to be true. Wrap your faith around His word. Wrap your faith around what He is saying to you today. This will be an exciting year! Believe Him! Trust Him! 2010, It’ll be better than it’s been!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

But God, That Doesn't Make Sense?

Recently I have found myself walking through a situation that makes no sense to my natural way of thinking. God has made His will and path before me quite clear, but I’ve been trying to reason it all in my head and honestly, I’m quite baffled by the whole situation. I began to reflect on this. I began to realize many times God puts us in situations that may not make sense to our own way of thinking. Sometimes God will tell you to do things, and it’s easy to think “but God, that doesn’t make sense?”

Isaiah 55:8-11 in the Message Bible says, “8-11"I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.”

Quite often there might be things that God will lay on your heart to do that may not make sense to your natural thinking, but remember God sees a bigger picture. God sees your whole life. God sees the beginning from the end. He knows where you need to be, or what you need to do. His ways may not always make sense to your natural thinking, but that is okay. When he decrees a thing, it brings life and fruit. You may not understand everything, but once you’re sure that you know God wants you somewhere you need to be there.

Think about other situations in the Bible. Do you think it made sense to Moses when he looked out over the Red Sea and saw the pillar of fire holding back the Egyptians. Nope, it probably scared him. But God put those Israelites in such a position that a miracle occurred. Do you think it made sense to Joshua when God told him to march around the Promised Land and sound the trumpets? Nope, if I was planning on taking my land and God told me to march around it, that wouldn’t make sense to me. But God took care of it and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Do you think it made sense that Elijah had the people prepare the sacrifice by pouring water over it, and then he called fire from heaven? Nope, but God showed up and it proved an even bigger miracle because everyone in the area knew how wet the sacrifice had been made. Do you think it made sense to natural thinking that the Messiah was born in a manger? Do you think it made sense to Peter when Jesus told him to step out of the boat? Do you think it made sense to the paralytic when Jesus told him to get up and walk?

Often times God will tell you to do things that won’t make sense to your head? Why? Which are you going to believe: faith in what He says or the circumstances around you?

We’ll all face situations that will make us question. I want to encourage you today to figure out what God has to say in the matter. Make sure you’ve heard from heaven, and then even if it doesn’t make sense to your way of thinking, just do it. Just do what God is telling you to do. Be courageous because God is on your side. He wants you to trust Him.

******I want to extend to all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season from my family to yours. I will be taking some time off from writing blogs. I will write another just before the New Year entitled,“2010, It’ll be better than it’s been!” Have a great couple of weeks! Love you!*******

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where Can You Hide The Ice Cream?

If you’re one of my faithful readers you’ll remember a story a few weeks back about my friends and me sneaking out of the house in high school. Again, not condoning sneaking out, but this makes for a great illustration. I guess you can call this blog part two. There was one night in particular that we snuck out and met up with another group of friends. I really think that it was more about if we could do it, not what we were going to do once we managed to sneak out of our perspective houses. I grew up in a small town and after a certain time there are very few things open. So the plan was that we were all going to sneak out and go eat at Denny’s. In our high school minds this made sense at the time. But shockingly Denny’s was the place to go at 2 in the morning. We drove by the parking lot and it was packed. So having very few options, we opted to go to a Meijer’s. Those of you who have never heard of Meijer’s it’s like a Wal-Mart and it’s open 24 hours. This was when my friends and I were feeling a bit defeated. We’re walking around Meijer’s at 2 in the morning trying to figure out what there is to do. Eventually we bought ice cream and all split it in the back of another friend’s car. The problem didn’t occur to us until we were dropped back off at my parents’ house. . . What were we supposed to do with the rest of the ice cream in the carton? We couldn’t eat it all. We’d have left it in the back of the friends SUV had we thought about it, so he could get rid of it. We stood out in front of my parents house thinking. . .now what do we do. Having grown up in the North, it is not uncommon during the winter months for people to leave milk and such outside because it’s below freezing. So, one of my friends, threw the carton of ice cream underneath a big pine tree in my parents’ front yard. In the morning we snuck it into an outside freezer. .. But then there was proof against our excursion. I was never good at hiding evidence.

Many times we all treat sin like my friends and I treated that carton of ice cream. We think we can just stash it somewhere and get away with it. We try to hide it. We move it around, but nothing is going to work until we get rid of it. Somehow actually getting rid of the ice cream never crossed my mind. Often times people think the same about sin. They don’t think of getting rid of it, instead they just keep trying to stash the evidence places. The only way to get rid of sin, is by confessing and pleading the blood of Jesus over it. Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and what you’re trying to hide has a way of coming out.

Mark 4:22 (NIV) says, “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Meaning? So many people try to hide their sin. They have this concept that they can just keep it hidden and no one will know. They choose not to deal with it. But eventually if it’s not dealt with, it will come out in the open.

Ever wonder why sadly too many men and women of God end up falling into some horrible sinful life style. I can think of countless people I either know or have heard of that have fallen. Why, so often times these people have sin and issues in their lives and keep refusing to deal with it. If you don’t deal with it between yourself and God it will eventually come out in the open.

In Luke 3:16-17 in the Message Bible John the Baptist says this about the Holy Spirit, “ But John intervened:’ I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house-make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

The Holy Spirit has a desire to reveal to you the hidden sins in your life. Stop thinking that you can keep going on hiding it. You might be fooling everyone around you, but you don’t fool God. He sees those hidden things, and He still loves you. He wants you to just admit them. Repent and move on with your life.

Romans 3:23 (NIV) says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” It’s time to deal with those “hidden things” in your life. That sin, just like the ice cream wouldn’t have stayed under that tree forever. Eventually the seasons would change, and it would start melting and stinking and rotting. Please in this day and in this hour confess what you’re hiding, repent, and move on with your life. God loves you. God loves you no matter what it is, and he wants you past this issue.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Please, Keep your Robe on!

I’m going to shift gears a bit for today’s blog and do some prophetic teaching. This is a message that has been on my heart for sometime, but the pieces had yet to be put together. When God is trying to bring revelation to me about something in the word, usually I’ll continue to get that scripture until I get from it what He is trying to tell me. This revelation is a result of years of being baffled about one particular passage of scripture.

Matthew 22:1-14 (NKJ) says, “The Parable of the Wedding Feast

1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

For many years I kept being lead to read this passage and there were something’s that baffled me about it. For the purpose of this teaching I am going to focus on the second set of wedding guests here but I wanted to put the whole section in this blog so that all of you can read the whole passage. This is a parable that Jesus used to teach.

It is obvious that these second set of guests were people who were working and doing things. Why? The servants are instructed to go out into the highways and byways to find guests. These are people that are out of their homes. They are active. These “guests” are doing works.

It did not matter if they were bad or good. They were brought into the wedding feast. The significance of this is that it doesn’t matter of persons past. It doesn’t matter if someone is bad or good before they enter the wedding feast. What matters is when the “king” or God sees them. In the historical context of this, if someone who had a lot of wealth was throwing a wedding. The guests were given a wedding garment to put on. It would have been considered a great insult to the host of the wedding for a guest not to be wearing the garment. However it’s the guests’ choice whether to put this garment on. Why is this symbolic? We have a choice in life to choose Jesus or not. It doesn’t matter of our past. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus makes us white as snow. He cleanses us. Once we accept him in our heart spiritually speaking we put on a robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10 says, “
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

In verse 12 God or the king calls this person “friend.” In every translation I have read this scripture in, God always calls him friend. Why is that significant? This is someone that has known God and walked with him. This “guest” was once a friend to God. What confused me so much is why then if God calls him friend does he then cast him out to hell.

The next thing that I found significant in this passage was also in vs. 12. The “king” or God approaches a person not wearing a wedding garment and after calling him friend, asks the person why and the person is speechless. Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” To be speechless before God means that you are under the law, or the old covenant. When Jesus died on the cross we are offered an eternity in heaven with him, all we have to do is to put on that robe, and continue to live for Him. This wedding guest had slipped out and taken off his robe and now is under the law. Meaning he’s back under the Old Testament and has stepped out of a lifestyle of living under the grace of Jesus’ salvation. This “guest” is no longer under grace, but is bound by law. Also, this person sticks out like a sore thumb. Many people think they can live their lives the way the want and just hide under the radar. I assure you that is not possible. God will be able to spot you out.

I believe this guest is a symbol of a person who was once a friend and a believer of God. This was a person who was out doing the works of God, but then choose to slip back under the law thinking that their works would save them. So many Christians believe a lie of “once saved, always saved.” People that is not scriptural! This was a person that was considered a friend, and this person choose to take off the robe and think it was okay to go their own way.

I began seeking God as to why’s and what’s that made this person take off the robe. Finally last week this is what I felt God showed me. Revelations 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” This is a person that went through all the right moves and all the right hoops, but internally had walked away from God. As a result they’ve stepped back under the law, and end up going to Hell. Matthew 7:22 says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Many people believe they are above what the Bible actually teaches, but Paul himself who God used to write the majority of the New Testament said in Philippians 2:12 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

It didn’t matter of this wedding guest’s past. He had chosen to come into the wedding. God looked at him as a friend. He started to love other things more than God. He walked away from his first love. Sometimes it can be so easy to be caught up in the things of this world. Even pursuing ministry and doing works can sometimes push God aside. Works are good. But it can’t replace the relationship you have with God. That guest choose to take off his robe. The guest chose to take off Jesus. He couldn’t hide in the crowd. God knew. He couldn’t keep pretending that something deep down inside of him had changed and as a result he goes to Hell. God doesn’t want to send his creation into Hell. People choose that path. They choose and as a result of their choice consequences occur.

I know that sometimes life can get to all of us. I’m not trying to bring fear to people in the sense of just because you had an off day that it’ll send you to hell. This guest made a choice. I am trying to get you all to think. It can be easy to be caught up in this life. But you must keep him first. What is your first love? Is it Jesus, or is it doing the works of God? Is it Jesus, or is it going the ways of the world. Is it Jesus?

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Life is too short, and eternity too long to put anything before God. Seek Him first. Return to your first love. He longs for you. Please don’t keep him waiting any longer.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Walking Into a Leprosy Community

My dad tells stories of his time in Vietnam. As a grunt soldier he has often told me of one story in particular. He’d been out on a mission in the jungle to go from village to village. The soldiers were to figure out what village was hiding the enemy and the enemies stuff, and what villages were innocent. One particular day came where dad was leading his troop and he happened to come across this community out in the middle of the jungle. He could tell that it had been painstakingly removed from the other villages. There was a crude fence all around it. He led his men to the door of the compound to see Vietnamese writing on the door. He didn’t speak Vietnamese. He didn’t read Vietnamese. His interpreter wasn’t with him. So he walked into the village. He tells me stories of going through that village. “It was as if the whole community must have been napalmed or bombed,” he says. As he walked into the compound puzzled faces watched him. Several were missing limbs and dad just figured they’d been bombed. Making his way to the center of town dad wondered what were all these people staring at? Why did He suddenly felt as if he were wearing a big purple mask. Something wasn’t right with this village. Eventually dad made his way to the center of town and called his CO on the radio. The eerie feeling in the air was almost tangible.

“Eagle,” He called in the radio. The cackles from the radio mixed with his voice as he explained the situation. Waiting for their Officers response daddy couldn’t help wondering why all these people were staring at him.

The static came response from his officer came back. After a few four letter words were shouted. “Get out! Leprosy Colony!” To which my father and the rest of his men were medi-vaced to the closest base and received a series of three leprosy vaccines to which my father swears are the most painful vaccines he’s ever been subjected to.

Hosea 4:6a says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Often we have this mindset that just because I don’t understand something that would make me immune to it. We think that ignorance is bliss and we mustn’t try to seek anything out. My dad didn’t know that he was walking into a leprosy community, but that still meant he had consequences for his actions. I could be driving on a road and not know there is a cliff ahead. I’m going to fall in that cliff whether I knew it was there or not.

Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” We have to earnestly seek to study and learn about God. We can’t just claim ignorance.

Isn’t it great that we live on the other side of the New Testament? Where it’s not all about the law, but now we under the grace of God. We can plead the blood of Jesus Christ over our situations and we aren’t going to know everything. That is very true but ignorance isn’t bliss. We must know what God has to say on certain matters. We must study the word to show ourselves approved. God loves it when we seek after Him to learn His ways, Proverbs 8:17 (NASB)"I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me”

I love the analogy that Tommy Tenny of “God Chasers” uses. That God loves to play hide and seek with his children. He loves it that we seek him out and esteem him. He loves it when we take the effort to figure out what something means according to His word. He loves it when we value the things He says.

I am in no way saying that we need to set down and study our Bible every waking moment and think we must fulfill every tiny detail. That would be exhausting, and you would never be perfect. That would be living under the law of the Old Testament. But what I am saying is realize that by studying the word of God, you then learn more about God. If the Bible seems boring to you, then ask the Holy Spirit to come in and give you revelation. Instead of just doing your typical devotionals, ask the Holy Spirit where he wants you to study today. Realize there are things in the word that God wants to show you so that you won’t go walking into a “leprosy colony” spiritually speaking. He wants to bring you wisdom and revelation. Spend sometime with Him today. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't drink spoiled milk!

When I was in college I was dating a gentleman that lived right beside me in the dorms. One night I’d gone and purchased several single serve chocolate milks and left them in his refrigerator. The next day I was back in his dorm and suddenly I had the biggest urge for chocolate milk. So I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the first one I saw. Knowing I had just purchased three the night before I didn’t question opening up the small carton. A doubt never crossed my mind as I fixed the cardboard spout to my lips and expected a cool chocolaty refreshing drink. Instead, I got a mouthful of a taste that is beyond description. If foul death could be contained in a small single serving cardboard container I had just tasted it. Sour chocolate milk filled my mouth. I gagged, and ran to the restroom to spit it out. Quickly I searched for a cup to fill with water. When finally I could get the taste out of my mouth, I was able to laugh at this experience. The gentleman had several single serve chocolate milks in his fridge and obviously I hadn’t grabbed the one of the ones I’d purchased hours before.

I began thinking about this story not long ago and how it relates to a lifestyle of faith. There are many people including myself who get very eager to do the things that God wants them to do. Sometimes if one isn’t careful they can become like a runner at a starting line. Eagerness is a great thing, but if one isn’t careful it can cloud ones hearing and vision from the Lord. Often times they step out in what they think sounds like a faith step, when really it’s not. You have to be led by God in order to have great victories in God. What am I trying to say? It would be stupid for me to go outside and find the closest pond and think I’m going to walk on the water. Beside the fact and alligator would probably come out and try to bite me, I’m going to get wet. However if God says to me, “Go walk on the water and you’re not going to get wet.” Then that’s an entirely different matter. I’m being led to do what the Holy Spirit wants me to do. Romans 8:14 Says, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

John 10:4 says, “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” As God’s children, his sons and daughters, we must know His voice and follow His leading.

Bill Hamon the founder of Christian International made a great statement in one of his books that have always stayed with me. He talked about how often times when God is doing something in the church it becomes like a pendulum on a grandfather clock. That so often there is a group of people who take it clear to the extreme on one side, and then there are those that take it clear to the extreme on the other side and then there are those that got the move of the Spirit in the middle.

I wanted to bring out this blog because I talk about faith a lot. I believe in stepping out when God is leading you to. I believe in doing mighty and radical things for the kingdom. However just like me grabbing the spoilt milk, so many times people we don’t stop to even question “God, is this the way I need to go?” We just grab the carton and hope for the best.

If you’ve been following my blogs for any length of time you’d know one of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 30:21 “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “ This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.”

We must hear or feel that leading and walk in it. We must allow ourselves to be the followers of Christ, not the leading of carnal feelings. We must be that group of people who find themselves in the center of that pendulum. We must find ourselves in the very center of God’s will. Then and only then will we do mighty victories for the kingdom. Then and only then can we speak to the mountains and say they must move, and they do. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”

People if you want to walk where God has divinely purposed for you to walk, you must remember Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land” God wants for you to have those victories. He wants you to have good success. Allow Him to lead you.

 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Facing the music

I started playing the trumpet in the fifth grade. Initially I had a natural talent for it. Of course, I wasn’t perfect. My dad tells stories jokingly of making me practice in the back of our wooded land, but at first I enjoyed it and I seemed to pick it up quickly. At some point in middle school, our band director decided it would be a good idea to have me and another trumpeter do a duet in a score in for a Christmas performance. As the parents, family, and friends piled into the middle school gym the words “stage fright” were an understatement. I freaked out. I tried to put the trumpet to my lips but the only notes that came out were shrill, wrong, and loud. An entire gym full of people witnessed my trumpeting downfall. Because of this particular incident I had an aversion to playing in front of people all throughout the years I played the trumpet. It was a fear that I didn’t care to shake. I lost my interest in the instrument and though I still played it in bands for many years after this, I wasn’t about to perform especially by myself.

When Dan and I moved to Freedom, one of the first things I felt God wanted me to do was to play the trumpet on the praise and worship team. I fought God on it. I did not want to ever play the trumpet by myself in public again. Didn’t He know the last calamity? To top that off I soon discovered that at that point the praise and worship team had yet to evolve to having things like sheet music. I was expected to make up the trumpet part. That was crazy. I needed musical notes people! The woman who was the keyboardist at the time was one of those people I consider musical genius’. She would try to turn to me, tell me what key something was in, and then tell me what note would sound right. Many times, I remember God telling me what to play. I would merely play the note and squint hoping I’d been right. The situation stretched me. I played trumpet on the praise and worship team at our church for several months. For me it was like walking through a very public maze and having to listen to God’s voice for direction.

Many times in life the things that terrify you, you’re going to have to face. You’re going to have to look at those things in the eye and know that God is bigger than you’re fear. When the Israelites were to go into the promise land in Numbers 13, all but Caleb and Joshua freaked out about the size of the occupants of the promise land. After not everything God had brought them through they thought they could trust Him to figure this one out so they relied on their own abilities and weren’t going to go in. God for obvious reasons get’s annoyed here. As a result, the Israelites don’t go into the promised land. They have to wander around until a new generation is raised and it’s only Caleb and Joshua from the old that make it into the promised land in Joshua 6. Here is God’s word to Joshua before he faces the promise land again. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

When David stood before Goliath, he had ever reason in natural thinking to freak out. However, he knew who God was. He was able to look at Goliath in the spirit realm and not just the physical. He was able to boldly go up to the giant and say in 1 Samuel 17:37 “Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” David knew who God was and He knew he wasn’t dieing that day!

We must be bold people. This is not a time to freak out at the things we see as giants in our lives this is the time to stand firm and know God is good. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Face the things you have to face but do it with boldness. Do it knowing that you have the victory in Christ Jesus. If God is for you who can stand against you! You are on the victory side. Wrap your thinking around that fact. You are an overcomer through Christ Jesus. Think about all the things God has done for you, and know that He is not about to let you down now!

I am thankful that I had to face my fear of playing my trumpet in public. It taught me that God is bigger than my silly fears. It taught me how to trust him even for things that seem so small.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States. Spend some time being thankful. Tell God for all the things that you are thankful for in this life. Take your eyes off of your fears and shortcomings and put them on the goodness of God. For He is able, to do all the things He said He would do.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't loose your shoes!

I took a part time seasonal job this year. About a month ago I went to work deciding that I was going to wear one of my favorite pair of shoes. They were these burgundy wedges that I’d had for probably nine years now, but they were really comfortable. I should have known the shoes had worn out their use when I was in the parking lot going into work and the strap broke. But always trying making the best out of everything I got up to my department and stapled the strap back on thinking that they would at least last me until the end of the evening. We had a customer call in the store and he’d lost something in one of the dressing rooms. I didn’t bother to look in my lost and found log and instead transferred him to the department in which the item was lost. He called back I transferred him again. Long story short eventually while he was holding for this other department I figured out that I’d had his item. I went running through the store trying to find where I’d placed his call. I had no way of getting back in contact with him. Suddenly the insoles of one of my shoes tore off of the wedge. The shoes were flopping around while I went from department to department trying to look for this call. Suddenly my shoes were flopping all over the place. I can only imagine what security must have been thinking at the look of me as I took off the shoes and ran around the store barefoot. Eventually I made it back to my department only to rip off the wedges and wear the insoles like sandals. Strangely it worked for the rest of the night, and eventually the customer got his stuff back. Of course I had to tell him that I cared so much about his items that I was willing to sacrifice my shoes. In the end I had most everyone around me cracking up at this story.

Ephesians 6:15 says, “And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” Shoes are often times in the Bible symbolic of your peace. I love what Pastor Greg Squires of Freedom Life Ministries says about peace. He always calls it an aggressive force against the enemy. When I lost my shoes in the physical it would have been really easy for me to loose my peace. It would have been very easy for me to get all frustrated and yelling at everyone around me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little annoyed with the situation but I did my best to laugh at myself despite of what I looked like and kept going.

Proverbs 24:16a says, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again” I’ve come to the conclusion that often times we might fall and loose our shoes but we must just get up and keep going. In the words of Dory from finding Nemo. . . .just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Romans 14:22 in the Message Bible says, “Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.”

My point that I’m trying to make people, is stay consistent in life. No matter what happens. If your shoes fall apart and you’re sure someone in security is watching its okay. Just go with it. Enjoy your life. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember who you are and who is inside of you. The greater one is in you that He that is in the world! Life is too short to get all worked up and bothered about things that happen. Be at peace!


 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do you feel stuck in a window?

When I was in high school my friends and I used to sneak out my parents house by climbing out the top story window and down the TV antennae. Why we didn’t just go out the front door I’ll never figure out, but it made sense at the time. Once a good friend got half way out the window and got scared. She was trying to make it to the TV pole and wasn’t too sure about leaving the house. She started to freak out and yell at us all who were already waiting for her on the ground. To which we were trying to shush her because we were trying to sneak out and be as inconspicuous as possible. Finally after a lot of convincing she made her way down the antennae. I was thinking about this story laughing the other day. We were pretty loud. I’m NOT condoning sneaking out, the story is just a funny memory. :-)

Life can be a lot like feeling like you’re stuck in a window. We go through a series of transitions and sometimes it can feel like your half in the old and half in the new. Having that feeling of being stuck can be scary and frustrating, because you can see the new on the other side, but your feet are still in the old.

There are some important things you must remember in these times.

1) Trust God and don’t get scared! In Exodus God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt to bring them into the Promised Land. After everything God had brought them through they still didn’t really trust God. When they saw that there where giants in the land they freaked out and refused to take their land. All but Caleb and Joshua refused to trust God. As a result God got ticked and the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and the only two people that saw the Promised Land out of that generation was Caleb and Joshua. You have to know that things may come at you. But you have GOT TO step out into the unknown when you know God has called you to. You have to trust that everything God has brought you through is not to bring you to destruction. You have to go forward and trust God! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2) Its okay to remember the things of old, and remember what God brought you through, but don’t cling to it so much that you won’t let go. God is a God that likes to bring you into new places and higher levels. All too often people get so comfortable where they were that when it comes time to transition they don’t want to move their feet from the places of old. It’s not easy choice to make. But if you want to move on with God you’ll push forward. You’ll find the grace and the inner strength to move forward. You must continue to declare to yourself, “That you’re not going back; you’re moving ahead, you’re moving forward.” Philippians 3:12-14 in the Message Bible says, “I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running and I'm not turning back.”

3) Rejoice for what you can see. Rejoice because God ordained the times and the seasons for your life. Rejoice and be thankful for the land he’s brought you through and the land He’s bringing you to. Choose to at peace with what you know He is doing. You see yourself on the other side of this. You can see out the window. You know that the tides have changed over your life and you are about to step into destiny that God has prepared you for. You’re years of preserving have gotten you to this place and you know you’re stepping into a divine time. Philippians 4:4 in the (NKJV) says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Ecclesiastes 3:1 says in the Message, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:”

Be excited people. God is doing something in his people in this hour. Be excited that the years you’ve labored for the kingdom have not been in vain. Be excited because the window is open and you can see out the other side. Be encouraged that thought it has felt as if this season would never pass, you will find that suddenly like a bomb are about to explode all over and you will see the promises fulfilled over your life. Don’t quit. Don’t give up! Know that He is God. Encourage yourself and go read Hebrews 11 today! God comes through for His people.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poop-a-palooza at McDonald's

I had been in desperate need for some hair help. About a month ago, I was finally able to make my appt with Judy. It was to be last Thursday. I was excited. I saved money. I had the perfect morning planned. I figured out that in the hour between taking my oldest daughter to school, and my appointment that I would take my youngest daughter to McDonald’s for the morning. Somehow, in my head I thought I am doing a good parenting deed. I am taking this child for some mommy time, and nothing could possibly go wrong.

I had my time all planned out. It was going to be a perfect morning! Everything was going to work out great. My youngest was very excited to find out that mommy was going to treat her to a McDonald’s breakfast, and let her play on the playground. So we have our breakfasts, and she was playing. I am watching the time, and we were doing well. At about ten minutes before we had to leave, my daughter comes down from the slide telling me she has to go potty. So I take her in the bathroom, and she does not go.

I tell her, “We have ten more minutes and then we’re leaving.” I let her run back up the slide again.

She comes right now and says in her sweet 3-year-old voice, “Mommy I have to go potty.” I take her back into the bathroom. . .she’d pooped. It was all over her underwear, down her jeans, in her socks. I tried to take off her jeans and poop goes flying on the floor. I start panicking. I’m looking around for paper towels. . .evidently this particular McDonald’s bathroom is trying to go eco-friendly because all I can find is hand sanitizer. I started trying to use toilet paper, and freaking out in the process. Then I realize, this kid has been potty trained for months. I have no change of clothes for her or nothing in my purse to put poopy clothes in. Then, I look at the time. My appointment! I’m going to be late! I hate being late. This is not the day I planned! As best as I can I tried to clean her up, get the floor semi-clean, and figure out how to grab her clothes so no poop is exposed. I was very grateful she had a long shirt on so I leave her bare butted and go speed walking out the McDonald’s to my car. I get to my car, try to buckle her in, but there is still poop remnants up her legs. I’m trying not to gag. I get in the car, get home, call Judy to tell her I’d be late and throw my daughter in the bathtub.

“I’m sorry mommy!” My daughter said softly after I calmed down.

In all the day worked out. My hair turned out great and it really wasn’t that big of a deal that I was a few minutes late. Yes, having a kid with a poop-a-pooloza in a McDonald’s is stressful. But I was all frustrated and worked up over the situation when really it all turned out okay. . .

So many times in life, we flip out, flesh out, freak out, and stress out over the small issues. When really they can’t be helped. Things happen.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;” We say we love each other but how do we really treat them when they tick us off? Do we grumble about them or do we suffer long and continue to be kind with them.

Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

It is very easy in moments like the one I had to “flesh out” but when you find yourself in the midst of them, take a moment and breath. Remember that you are living according the Spirit. Instead of going into a full-fledged flesh attack we’re you completely panicking remember pray for peace. Remember to show love. Remember to think eternally. In my situation Judy may never remember or care that I was ten minutes late, but my daughter might remember how I reacted to stressful situations her entire life.

I’ll admit that on Thursday I had a bit of a minor freak out. I was reminded of a valuable lesson. I apologized to her, and it all worked out in the end. But I might throw a change of her underwear and a plastic bag in my purse just in case of a repeat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Honor the Veterans!

About nine years ago I was working selling high-end jewelry. There was a man who came into the store who wasn’t my customer. I happen to overhear him mention to my coworker that he’d been in Vietnam. So I waited until his sale was being taken care of and I went over to shake his hand. We got to talking. Turns out he’d been in Tet Offensive. I studied this Marine before me. He was a large man that looked like he was still pretty tough. But the mere mention of Tet Offensive mixed with me shaking his hand was too much for his emotions. He broke down in tears. He politely took his purchase and left the store. His tears and brokenness have always stayed with me. It’s a reminder to me as to why I do what I do. The Veterans have lived circumstances that only Jesus can heal.

After I wrote my first book “Come, They Told Me” the way I looked at Veterans changed. This yet-to-be published book based on my father’s tour in Vietnam struck me deep to the core of myself. I may never walk in a rice patty or be a grunt soldier but walking “a mile in their shoes” made me realize how amazing the sacrifice men and women make every day in the armed forces. I will never forget when my best friend finished reading the first draft she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and asked me, “Why didn’t they tell us this in school? Why didn’t we ever know?” I didn’t have the answer for her.

Many years ago I felt as if the Lord put it on my heart to go and thank any Veteran I come in contact with. My husband and kids are used to me doing it by now. I always shake their hand and tell them thank you. The words may be simple, the gesture uncomplicated but the impact is lasting. Many veterans have never been thanked. They risk their lives, their comfort, their homes, and their sanity for others. The least we can do is to say “thank you.”

Isaiah 53:12 (NLV) says “I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.”

Today in the United States is Veterans Day. I know these blogs are going all over the world now, but in every country I believe there is some form of a holiday for honoring those who have served their country. I’ll get on the phone and call my dad. “How is my favorite Veteran?” I’ll ask. In his voice will be memories I’ll never truly grasp or understand. He’ll laugh, and ask about his grandkids. I’ll go on about my day. Maybe I’ll see a few Veterans whose hands I can shake. I’ll pray for the old high school acquaintance who is in Iraq realizing he won’t see his family this Christmas. I’ll take a deep breath and sigh. I’ll thank God for the freedom I have that’s been granted to me first by God, and second by the soldiers. Freedom in any form is never free. Go and thank a Veteran today! Their worth it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How bad do you want to fulfill your destiny?

This week is a real important milestone in my family’s life. Nine years ago, Dan and I put everything we could fit in our car to move across country from family and everything we held dear. I was only a few weeks pregnant with our oldest daughter, and I puked part of the way here. Why do you ask we left? It was because I heard God tell me where we needed to move. So we did. Next to asking Jesus in my heart and marrying my husband, this choice still stands as one of the more defining moments in my life.

In those nine years, we have been through a battle to stay where we know God has wanted us. For four years we lived an hour from our church and most Sunday afternoons you would find myself, my husband and oldest daughter picnicking in the back building of church and napping there because it was too far to travel twice in one day. For about a year and a half my husband had several jobs, the work would run out, and he would have to find another. I have testimony after testimony of our time here. Repeatedly we faced struggles to get us outside of where we knew God wanted us, and time and time again, we had to choose to stay planted in the will of God. I do not say all these things to puff ourselves up. We have not been perfect, but we chose to step out of the boat and God has met us on the water over and over again. He has been faithful.

I heard TD Jakes preach a while ago about getting olive oil out of an olive. That olive has to be pressed and squeezed. That in order for the olive oil to come out that olive has to give up everything. Any successful person will tell you that you do not get to success overnight. But it takes time, and patience. It takes persistence. In order for a solider to get decorated as a soldier he/she must first got through warfare.

Prior to that fateful decision nine years ago, I just kind of thought that things were going to happen right away. I never thought of the cost involved. Luke 14:28 says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—” I was that person. But after beginning the “tower”, numerous times I have had to ask myself what am I doing? Is this all worth it? The answer is yes it is. Luke 18:1-3 talks about a persistent widow. Her persistence pays off. And the judge in that story is not even a just judge. How much more is God going to bless you because He is just and He loves you! He sees your tears. He sees your heartache. He sees the cost you have paid to fulfill what He has for you. It is so worth it folks. Psalm 30:5b says, “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.”

People we must start thinking eternally, and not just what we can see in the moment. We must stop making or thinking that our circumstance right now will last a lifetime. Take your eyes off your circumstance and put them on Jesus. Realize that God moves in times and seasons, and He knows what He is doing. Daniel 2:21 says, “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.” Understand today that God is a good God, who wants you to get to your destiny more than you do. He desires for you to fulfill the very thing He created for you. The idea of Him seeing you do just that, makes him giddily excited.

As I enter this week as the official beginning of my ninth year here, I am excited. It has not been easy, but God has been faithful! Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” I have not arrived completely yet, but God is faithful. I believe there is some reaping in joy that is about to wash over the church as a whole, and God is about to do such a great thing. Whatever your going through, whatever the circumstance figure out what God wants, and stay firmly planted there. Be excited saints, God is not done yet. He is on the throne.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

But what if I fall on my butt?

I was speaking to someone the other day. This girl had just recently made a recommitment to live her life for God and she was struggling with doing what she knew God wanted her to do. It was the age old struggle of “What if I just can’t do it? What if I look like an idiot? What if I fail?” The internal turmoil she was facing is nothing new. I’ve heard these excuses a lot in the kingdom. We think if we wave the fear flag that it will excuse us from doing what we know God wants. Sorry to tell you it doesn’t work that way.

Let me tell you a story: When I was a cheerleader in high school, I experienced first hand an embarrassment that taught me a lot. The one part of cheering that I worked very hard in was my jumps. Toe-touches, pikes, double-nine’s, etc I had a lot of power in those jumps. I had heard in years past it had earned me the nick name of the ‘jump queen’. However, I didn’t know what to do with that power. My toe-touches got to the point where I had so much power in them that several times I hadn’t yet learned how to get my feet under me stable and when I landed inertia wasn’t my friend and gravity took over. I landed on my behind. You might think, “Well big deal.” The big deal was that I did it several times in front of stadiums of people. We had a cinder track that we cheered on and the black cinders would leave marks on my tush. In a time in most everyone’s live when socially awkward might as well be tattooed on their forehead I experienced first hand the kind of embarrassment that would make most people crawl in a barrel and hide. When the jokes and taunting from my peers stopped I figured I could cry and give up, or learn how to not fall. So the next week I went out on that field to cheer and fell on my butt again. Eventually I learned how to handle the height on my jumps but it took me time to retrain myself on how to land.

What is the point I’m trying to get to? Who do you fear more? God or man? I assure you that I got through the embarrassment of falling on my butt in front of so many leaving a black mark on my rump. I got through it and I lived to tell about it. So what if you mess up and fall! Get up and keep trying.

Joshua 1:7-9 says “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 12:30 says, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”

If God is telling you to do something then so what if you mess up and get embarrassed. God knows what he’s doing when He tells you to do it. God knows what is inside of you and what He’s trying to get out. IF you fall on your butt then get back up again and keep going forward.

Many people keep using this excuse and they never actually take the steps of faith they need in order to fulfill what God is saying, but yet they go around secretly blaming God for not moving them forward the way they think He should.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Matthew 8:26 says, “But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

When people are afraid in the Bible Jesus always questions where their faith is. If the fear of man stops you from doing what you know He’s told you to do, then where is your faith? If the fear of failure stops you, then where is your faith? God wants desperately for you to step out in faith and trust him beyond what you can see. He will meet you there. If you fall on your butt, so what. Get back up and keep walking toward Him. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll be stepping into the plans and purposes of God and He’ll get you to where you need to go. But you have to start stepping toward Him. You have to start trusting Him beyond what you know. You must take the steps of faith, and trust Him.

Proverbs 24:16a (New International Version) says, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again”

So, get back up and keep going!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Do you feel like you are stuck in current pinned to a log?

When I was in high school, I went canoeing with a youth group I used to attend. (If you have not figured out by now I really like to canoe and kayak and if I did not have to deal with the pesky wildlife of FL, I would go more often) We were canoeing along in the water. The person that was with me and I got in a bit more speed than the rest of the bunch and we had pulled away from the group. Somehow, we got caught on a log, and the boat flipped and followed the current and left us there. I immediately went down under the water. The boat was gone, and fear struck deep inside of me. I have always been a very strong swimmer but in that moment, I was scared. I looked at myself struggling under the water and thought of a million movie scenes I had seen of people drowning. I finally got myself wedged between the current and a nearby log. I did not know what to do other than to wait until someone came boating down the river. Fear held me to that log. I was not about to let go of it. It seemed like hours I waited for help to come, but really, it was only a few minutes. When someone did finally come by and assess the scene their response was a quick, “Why don’t you try to let go of the log and swim. It can’t be too deep.” If I could have smacked the person, I would. Didn’t they realize I was scared here? Finally, I mustered all the courage I had. I was going to try to swim. Once my friend and I released our grip to the log we found out the water was only as deep as our chest. As anticlimactic as it was, it was kind of comical at the time. We struggled and fought in the current to find out the water wasn’t that deep. Once we made our way down the river and found our boat I realized I’d been taught a valuable lesson. People we freak out too quick over things and jump to worse case scenario’s.


Most people have heard the story of Peter stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus. If you haven’t read it then here it is. Matthew 14:22-33 reads, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Notice that Peter is only one of 12 disciples. So out of 12 of them only Peter is gutsy enough to get out of the boat and walk on the water. I’m sure all of them could have walked on that water that day. But fear kept them all bound fast to that boat. Fear will stop you from going forward to your destiny in God. Fear will keep you bound to the place where you’re at. Fear will paralyze you in the kingdom. The “what if’s” can dance in your head like a marching band to their own cadence. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

So often times I’ve heard this story preached about how Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. That is a very valid point. But Peter got out of the boat!! That’s faith! Now when he saw the storm and circumstance he began to question that faith and that’s where he lost it, but he got out of the boat!!

I want to encourage you today. Get out of the boat of fear in your life, and step into firm faith. Step into the things God has for you! Step into your destiny! Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” You want to know what makes God excited? It’s when you trust Him. It’s when you believe Him above you think. It’s when you trust Him above what you think you know. Yes, even Peter began to fail, but God was right there to catch Him. He didn’t let him sink. Once you know that you know something is God’s will, and you’ve talked to your pastor and everyone knows its God then step out. Walk boldly out in faith. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”


I have always said that I want to do what ever I can to live my life in such a way that I have no regrets. I want to be able to look at God one day, and be able to say that I did what you called me to do. I may not always be perfect but I stepped out and trusted you. Live your life in that same way. You have a destiny and a purpose on this earth and God yearns that you step out and fulfill it. To quote Kim Clement a mighty prophet of God, “You’re never going to know unless you step out of the boat.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Build-A-Jesus*

*Thank you to Lottie Rigeaux who came up with this idea and gave it to me for a future blog some months back.

If you have ever been to a Build-A-Bear, I am convinced they have got to be one of the coolest toy businesses these days. I wish they would have had those when I was a kid. You go in and can pick what type of stuffed animal you want. Then you have it stuffed but only after you can kiss a little heart that they’ll put in for you and any sound effects. Then you pick its name and can fluff it. Then like a monument to individuality there is a wall of outfits you can pick for your new friend. It really is a child’s dream come true.

Many people treat Christianity like a Build-A-Bear. It’s like their in the store and they think they can choose a little Jesus doll and make him into what they think He should be for them. They like the whole salvation thing but they think the concept of sin is antiquated so they choose not to include that into their doll. Maybe they’ll take the grace outfit but only when it suits them, and well let’s loose fruit of the spirit outfit because really it today’s world they don’t think it’s important anymore, after all Jesus did live 2000 years ago.

Jesus and the Bible is not a smorgasbord that you can pick and choose what you think is important. You can’t just come up with your own religious form of Christianese. Revelation 22:18-19 says, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Many people in the world are making Jesus into their own little dolls. Matthew 24:4-5 says, “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Then their trying to pass off their doll as the true Christ when really it’s just what they have picked and chosen from the word. It’s so sad that so many get deceived because they really don’t know what the word says so they hear something that has a whole lot of opinion mixed with a little word and they buy it hook line and sinker. You must know what the Bible says. You must guard yourself from being deceived.

John 10:9-11 says, “ I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

Believers, we must take God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for who He is and not who we think we want Him to be for us. We must accept that He knows more than we do. When he might say in the word something isn’t okay, that isn’t to hurt us. It is for our protection. There have been many a time in my walk with the Lord that when I didn’t understand something I have continued to ask the Lord to explain it to me, and eventually He brought understanding to me. We cannot continue to only serve and believe in the parts of the word that we think we need. It’s time we start believing and know Jesus for who He is and stop trying to make him into a little doll we can carry around for our own purposes. We must accept all of Him.

There will be a day that we will all have to stand before the Lord and give an account for our lives on this earth. Call it checking out at the cashier in the store if you will. I don’t want God to examine the Jesus I brought to Him to hand it back and say, “I’m sorry but that’s not me.” The Bible says that many will call him Lord, Lord on the day of judgment and unfortunately to many his response will be, Matthew 7:23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you feel like your digging a well with a post hole driver?

I recently reheard a story of my families past that got me thinking. My dad was telling me of helping my grandfather and great grandfather dig a well. He and my uncle were expected to dig this well with a post hole driver. I actually had to Google images to see what a post hole driver was, looking at them made me realize how ill equip using one would be to dig a well. My dad laughed as he told me that they went down inch by inch. At what seemed like a snails crawl. Several times they thought that they would hit water to find out it was only a pocket and they had to dig further. Finally, after hours they struck water.

I remember many years ago setting in church feeling all annoyed because things in ministry were taking longer than what I thought they should. Pastor Arthur spoke a word from the pulpit about how Navy Seals are sometimes trained to maybe only move an inch a day and it’s so the enemy can’t see that their getting closer and closer to their mark. However, eventually they get there.

Sometimes in life it can feel that you’re getting to the things God had told you at the pace of the post hole driver. When really you want to get there now, you have to realize that the process teaches you more along the way than you may realize.

Do you remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? The hare eventually wins the race because he stays steady and consistent. It is the same in the Kingdom of God. Those who endure shall reap the harvest. Those who are consistent. Those who are stable. Matthew 24:13 says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Mark 4:16-18 says, “ These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word” Notice here that the ones who do not have roots are ones that do not endure. You must go deep to dig roots in your walk with God. Sometimes you may feel like your digging with a tablespoon but even if its that slow, constantly doing that will eventually get you to where you need to be in God.

So often, we think we just cannot endure anymore, and we just cannot go on. I promise you though God has not given up on you. God is a consistent and faithful God. He is patient with you. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

I am convinced that if left unchecked frustration can become a wedge between you and God. I assure you that God is faithful! He has given you the grace and ability to do the things He has called you to do. Do not allow your frustration to linger between you and God. Realize He is getting you right where He needs to even if it‘s only an inch at a time.

If you do not give up, you will see the promises! Eventually my dad and my uncle struck water with that post hole driver. They were consistent and did not give up. Don’t you give up on the things God has for you today. Your harvest, your breakthrough is right below the surface and God’s about to bring you to the other side.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you trying to dry clean a dead cat?

While my grandfather was here over the last weekend he shared a story with me that is hilarious, but I can defiantly teach on. I thought I’d share it with you today and my take on it. There were two neighbors. The first neighbor had a cat and the other a dog. The dog never got along with the cat and one day to the horror of the second neighbor the dog came home carrying the dead cat in its mouth. The cat was a mess. It was dirty and its hair matted. So the neighbor washed the dead cat up, dried it with a hair dryer and brushed its fur so that it was clean. In the night he snuck over to his neighbor’s porch to put the dead cat on the mat in front of the door. He didn’t want to admit to the neighbor that it was his dog that had killed the cat. The days went by. The owner of the dog didn’t hear anything much about the cat from his neighbor and the suspense was eating at him. Finally several weeks later the neighbor decided to ask the cat owner what happened to his cat because he hadn’t seen it over on his property lately. He’d prepared his speech to make his question sound as nonchalant has possible. To which the neighbor responded, “You know the funniest thing happened with that cat. It died. I buried it and it show up on my back porch dry cleaned the next day.”

People treat sin much as they do the dead cat. They don’t want to admit to the sin in their lives so they try to sugar coat it. They try to dry clean it and make it look pretty because they think just maybe they might get away with the act. It’s like we try to deceive ourselves and the world around us by thinking just maybe if I smile really cute they won’t realize what is really on the inside. No matter how many times that neighbor tried to wash and dry clean that cat that cat is still dead.

1 John 7-9 says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The more we try to lie to ourselves about our sin the more we have a door open to deception in our lives. God wants for us to just confess it, repent and move on with our walk in Him. The more we try to lie to ourselves thinking we’re going to get away with the sin the further we fall. I always say that I believe most of the battle of getting rid of sin in our lives is admitting to ourselves that we have this sin that we need to get rid of. Because once we’ve stopped trying to sugar coat it we can see that it’s there, let it go, and change our action.

Jeremiah 25:5 says, “They said, ‘Repent now every one of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.”

Serving the Lord does not mean your perfect. But we must be humble enough before God to admit your sin. If you want to move forward from the place you are now, and step into what God wants for you you’ll stop trying to lie to yourself about those little things in your life. You’ll stop trying to dry clean the dead cats and just accept their dead. Repent before the Lord. Admit to yourself that it’s sin. Turn from your ways, and go forward in the things of God.

Ask yourself what sin have you tried to sugar coat and dry clean before God? What are you trying to hide .Jeremiah 17:10 says” I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” While you may think you can be fooling everyone, you’re not fooling God. He sees what is going on. Search your heart today. Admit to God in the areas you’ve messed up. Be honest with yourself, and those around you. No matter how many times you may try to wash and dry clean a dead cat “sin” it’s still dead. Call it what it is. Come before the Lord and repent. Make a vow that from this day forward you will go forward and leave that dead cat and never pick it back up again. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

God Can't Keep His Eyes Off Of You!

When my youngest daughter was only a few days old I remember a particular moment. I watched her sleep and couldn’t believe that she was my daughter. I was in awe of the creation of her. I had been trying to spend some time with the Lord at the time, and finally I said to God, “I’m sorry I’m not getting into prayer like I’m trying to, but I just can’t take my eyes off of her.” I heard the Lord respond to me, “It’s okay, because I feel the same way about you. I can’t take my eyes off of you.”

I don’t think many people realize how much God loves us as His creation. Many people have this deceived concept of God that He’s some big guy up there waiting to just slap people or drop a piano on them the minute they make a mistake. That view isn’t true. God loves us. He delights in us. He thinks we’re awesome.

John 3:17-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

God does things out of love for his children. He’s not up there trying to point a finger at you. He loves you. Jesus did not come to tell everyone they were sinning. He came so that we could have a chance at Heaven. His motivation was not to tell the world they were a bunch of evil people. His motivation was saying, “Hey I love you so much I want you to come to Heaven to live with me one day! I love you!”

Zechariah 2:8 says, “For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”

God sees you. He knows the in’s and out’s of you. You are his child.

Remember that “The Father Up Above Is Looking At You In Love!” If you’re thinking today that God is mad at you, or that you have walked outside of his love. That’s not true. His eyes are on you. He loves His creation. He loves you so much that He cares about every little thing in your life. Remember He can’t take His eyes off of you!


 

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will you act like Cain?

Yesterday in my time with the Lord, I felt very strongly to go read Genesis 4:1-15. In it is the story of Cain vs. Able. I suggest you go and read it for yourself. I’m going to paraphrase. Basically God is pleased with Able’s offering and not Cain’s. I’ve heard teaching done on this as to why, and for the sake of this teaching I’m not getting into that part of this story. Just that God was pleased with Able and not with Cain. Cain get’s angry and jealous of his brother, and so he kills him. As I read this story it was as if a Holy Ghost 2X4 of revelation smacked me upside the head. Cain and Able’s are happening all the time today in the church as a whole.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Matthew 12:34 says, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

 

What’s my point here? What I see happening in the church is that people are seeing ones that God’s favor is upon them, and instead of questioning themselves as to what is wrong with themselves their “killing” their brother and sister in the Lord by talking bad about them and spreading gossip.

So what is God’s response to Cain’s sin? Genesis 4:11-12 Basically, Cain has cursed himself and no longer what he put’s his hand to will prosper.

Let’s recap for a moment here: Cain is jealous of the favor of God on Able’s life, He kills his brother, and as a result he loses the favor of God on his own life.

Isn’t great that we live after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection? If you’ve “killed” your brother and sister in the Lord it’s not too late for you. You can repent, and get right with the Lord. The favor of God has not left you forever. If you want to be back in right standing with God just repent and move forward.

It amazes me how jealousy and strife spring up in the church when people start getting blessed. It might be easy to look at your brother and sister in the Lord and wonder why they are getting all this favor of God and your not, but get your eyes off of them. You don’t know what that person went through to get where they are today. You have not walked in their shoes. You just want their end result. It’s easier to pass judgment on an individual when you can do it from the comfort of your own space. But to get what they have you have to shut your mouth and go through the process of what God has in front of you. You cannot continue to “kill” your brother and sister in the Lord and expect to get blessed. What is so sad to me is sometimes people think it’s okay to spew gossip if you don’t even know the person. An offense against God’s people is still and offense against His people whether you know them or not.

Matthew 12:36 says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”

In short in the words of Thumper. … If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Are you acting like you Father?

When I was growing up, my dad had a phrase he used to use on me all the time. It was the classic, “If you don’t quit your crying I’m going to give you something to cry about.” I hated that line as a kid. I was always looking at my dad like, “duh, if I didn’t have a reason to cry I wouldn’t be crying.” It is funny how when, both time as an adult, and having your own children can put things into perspective. I have found myself often saying that to my own kids. Today I think the phrase is pure genius. I mean really how is it that kids can whine over the littlest of things. It is funny but during your adolescence, you think that you are nothing as your parents but the older you get you realize that you have become similar to them on many levels. Don’t get me wrong. . .break the bad habits, but what I’m saying is that you realize as an adult that they really did know what they were talking about on many things.

It should be the same with your heavenly Father. The older you get in the Lord you should find yourself acting more and more like him. The more you have grown in him and spent time with him you should see yourself using some of His phrases. You should begin to see yourself the way He sees you.

John 14:7-8 in the Message translation reads, “Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!" What Jesus is saying here is that because they had all seen Him, they have also seen the Father in heaven.

Are people seeing God in you, or are they seeing the “father” of this world? Are they seeing God in you, or a fleshly nature? If you have asked Jesus in your heart, you are now God’s representatives on this earth. What are people seeing in you?

Leviticus 20:26 says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” You have been set apart from God. You have been bought with a price. Find it no coincidence that sometimes you do not fit in with the world. For you are not a child of the world, but a child of the most High God! That’s okay! That is a good thing!

I had to laugh recently I was talking to my mom, and she was telling me about getting mad at her as a kid because I didn’t fit in with a particular crowd and the way I saw it at the time was it was her fault for raising me in such a way that I thought differently. I had to laugh at her reminiscence. I’m sure the story true. For years, I tried to fit in with what certain people thought I should be and to act. Finally, a day drew where I was tired of playing the game. I was tired of not being true to the person God had created me to be, and almost as if overnight I began to step into the person that I truly was. It was who God created me to be on this earth. I stopped pretending. I stopped trying to fit in with a particular crowd.

Folks, we have to stop trying to fit in with the world. We’re not on this earth to be like them, but to help bring them to Jesus. If they don’t see any difference in you then how will they know they need what you have? You have to make a stand for righteousness. You have to make a stand for truth. No, it’s not easy. However, when you spend that time with your Father in Heaven you will begin to act more and more like Him. You will begin to realize it doesn’t matter what people may say or think about you. What matters is if you made your Daddy in Heaven proud. Did you act like Him in this certain situation? May it be a compliment to you if someone persecutes you for your faith. For it’s not you that they don’t like it’s the Father inside of you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Excuse Me, But Your Vague Indifference Is Showing. . .

I have noticed a growing trend in our society, and I see it seeping in the church more and more every day. It alarms me. I’m talking about as a culture we’ve stopped truly caring for each other. Sure, we pretend we do. We go to church put on our plastic smiles and pretend that we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord. But deep down we are so concerned about our own issues that we really don’t care. We’re faking it. Understand that I put myself in this category too.

I’ve often made this comment about corporate America “that it used to be that when we saw our boats leaking we genuinely wanted to fix the boat and improve it. In today’s culture we want to just throw the weaker ones out into the water and make the boat lighter.” We’ve stopped genuinely caring about our fellow man, and instead only pretend to when it meets our needs. We have become a society who stereotypically will watch a train wreck and never think of the peoples lives at stake. We’ve become so desensitized to the world around us that we don’t care about individuals that are not in our inner circle.

Jesus had genuine compassion for people. Matthew 14:14 says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” He had compassion and the signs, wonders and miracles began to flow. Philippians 2:1-3 says

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Folks it is grieving to see how little people care about each other anymore. There is a commanded blessing in unity (Psalm133:2), without genuine compassion how is the church ever going to step into it’s place in this end time generation.

This may be a growing trend in our society, but as a church at large we must choose to be different. We must make a stand and make ourselves truly care for each other. People need to see Jesus in us. They need to see that we love them despite what they look like or the times they feel the need to continue to bug us with problems we feel are small and mundane. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (NIV) says, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” God is coming back for a unified bride. Choose to love each other. Choose to care!

We as the church can no longer plead vague indifference. We must unite tighter than we have ever before as a church. We must come together and raise a standard. Because I’m telling you right now that we are approaching a season in the church where we must be a united front. People need to see our love for each other, and see that we’re different. If miracles, signs, and wonders are going to flow in our churches it starts with a revival in our lives. It starts when we choose to cast off ignorance and put on compassion. It starts when we allow God to teach us how to love each other. It starts when we get our eyes off of ourselves and our own circumstances and allow God to flow through us as a body. Purpose in your heart to love people today. An old friend of mine used to always say that “Christians are supposed to love the Hell out of people.” Are you loving the Hell out of people, or are you merely pretending to care?

If I come across as a little harsh, I don’t mean to. But I’m righteously angered, and I know that there have been times were I myself have missed it in this area. We must begin to truly care for each other, and stop pretending to.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I fell through a window!

The day before my last day of fifth grade I was waiting outside after school for my sister to come and pick me up. We’re just under six years apart and since she had her license she would pick me up after school. I was bored, and she must have been running late. The middle school had a submerged first floor so the windows of the first floor were ground level. There are times when you’re bored and you don’t think anyone is watching that you can choose to make stupid decisions and this was one of those times for me. I decided to step down into a cemented off small pit in front of the art room window and wait for her there. But I didn’t stop there. I thought no one is watching. . . I wondered what would happen if I leaned up against this window. The next thing I knew I was in the art room. Shards of glass laid around my body as if confetti. My head throbbed because I’d landed directly on it. No one was in the room and I looked at my hand to see blood already beginning to form in cuts from the glass. Managing to get myself up slowly, I walked through the boiler room to find a teacher in the hallway. When my sister finally did show up she was annoyed because I wasn’t waiting for her out front until she found out I was hurt. All in all beside the broken window I just ended up with a really badly bruised head for awhile.

There are times in life where you can feel as if you’ve waited and waited for the things of God to manifest, and because you haven’t seen them do so you can make some unwise choices. It’s easy to reason in your head, “Well, I haven’t seen anything yet. So what difference does it make if I make a bad choice?” I promise you it does make a difference!! You do not know when God will return. You do not know when God will put you in a place where he needs you.


Matthew 24:43 says, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”


Matthew 25 The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins says,“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

The devil wants to lie to you. He wants you to think that its okay you can go off and make unwise choices. He’ll try to tell you it won’t matter, but in 1 Peter 5:8 it says,” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We must stay on guard. We must stay on alert. We must not think that just because we don’t fruit from our labor yet that it won’t happen. We must not thing just because Jesus hasn’t come back yet for his church in the end times that it won’t happen. I assure you that one day it will. The day will come where He will show up for you, and you need to be waiting for him. If you’ve gotten off course some where then repent and get right back to where God wants you. You need to be alert! You need to say, “I’m right here!” You need to be like the five gals in the virgin’s parable who were prepared. Because the time is drawing nigh, and “I was bored” is not going to be a suitable excuse in the eyes of God. If you keep putting it off you may not have an opportunity later. Be on alert!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's worth it!

When I first started to try to get published, I remember the night that I got my first turndown. I had gotten two in the same night. I was a crying wreck. Dan did his best to console me. I had never planned on the turndowns. I just figured that when you were doing what God called you to do it would work, and it would be easy. My naiveté makes me laugh now. I remember Dan’s words though. He said to me that one day I’ll be able to appreciate it so much more because of all I had to do in order to get to the place God had for me. Going through the process is hard. However, I believe that it will all be worth it! God called you to be in that place, and the struggle is worth it!

In the movie “An Officer and A Gentleman”, there is this scene where the commanding officer is trying to get Richard Gere’s character to give up. He puts him through this very difficult weekend and finally Richard Gere looks at him and says, “I can’t quit because I’ve got no place else to go.” I’ve thought about that scene often in my walk to push forward in what I know God has called me to. I’m not at all trying to say that God is trying to get you to quit because that is not his character. He wants you to fulfill you’re call. However, through situations, circumstances, and the enemy it can feel like that may be your only alternative.

The disciples went through a very similar situation. Many people were walking away from Jesus. John 6: 66-68 says, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter says pretty much the exact same thing as Richard Gere did in the movie. He’s saying, “We can’t quit where else would we go?”

You’ll find in your walk with the Lord that thought quitting may sound tempting when you really think about it, you can’t. You’ve seen too much in the kingdom, you know too much. If you give up now you’d just end up miserable. Being outside of God’s plans and purposes makes you miserable. It’s not worth it to give up. It may seem tempting, but that’s just the deception talking.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God has given you all the abilities you need to fulfill the call upon your life. His grace and ability inside of you is enough for you. You can do this!

You have to stop thinking of your alternatives. Pastor Arthur used to always say there is no Plan B in the kingdom of God. What he meant by that was that you can’t focus on the ‘what if’s’. You can’t keep thinking “worst case scenario”. However, you must push forward in what you know God has said and what He is doing. You must earnestly seek after Him.

You will find yourself on the other side of this situation one day and will see that all you’re laboring and all your fight has been worth it. You will find yourself rejoicing and so grateful that you didn’t give up when you were tempted. I always say that one day I want to be able to face God on Judgment Day and be able to tell him. I did everything I could to see His will fulfilled on this earth. I promise you this, the fight, the tears, it’s all worth it! God sees your heart. God sees the things you’ve done behind the scenes. I promise you, it’s worth it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shaking means, It's Harvest Time!

As a kid growing up in Ohio, I grew up with an apple orchard not far from my house. Having an apple orchard around that region was common for we all knew that was where “Johnny Appleseed” once labored. Who surprisingly most people do not know, is that he did more than just plant apple trees, he was a missionary. Every year at this apple orchard, they would have an apple festival. Because I knew the owner’s, for two years I worked at this apple festival. What did I do you ask? Well I dressed up in a giant foam apple costume and got to dance around as I shake people’s hands. You would think dressing up like a giant fruit of a loom character as a young girl in high school among my peers would be traumatic, but it was a fun day job. I have always loved harvest time. Being able to see a harvest come in, and know all the labor and toil was worth it is a beautiful site.

Jeff Ferguson (Voice of Freedom Ministries) taught an excellent message at Freedom Life last week about God shaking the church, and I have been thinking a lot about that message as it relates to apple trees. God is taking the church at large through a season of time where it feels as if we have all been shaken. I can speak personally, where I feel that this year has been some of the best times so far and some of my hardest. I believe that there is a shaking going on the church at large.

Why do people shake apple trees? Well, most of the time it is because they want the fruit that is on those trees. Did you know that is how you know if an apple is ripe or not. If it comes off the tree easily then it is ripe. Yes, sometimes rotten ones are in there too, but if a tree is shaken that means it is being harvested. Yup, both the good and bad are harvested together.

As a believer, we are like trees and we have fruit. Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.” The Bible says in Matthew 7:16 (NIV) “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Meaning if you are a good tree in the kingdom, you will produce good fruit and if you are not so good, your fruit may stink.

I believe that we are in a shaking season in the church as a whole. I believe many are growing weary in that shaking, but cheer up. When it is shaking time . . . That means harvest time is here.Galatians 6:9 (NIV) says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

God is going to look at your fruit, and be able to tell if you are ready for the next season or not. What will your fruit tell Him? Is it rotten, or is it full of life? Matthew 29-30 says" 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

Be encouraged today. God knows what you have been doing behind the scenes that no one else knows. God has seen your tears and He knows your heart. Be encouraged that he will bring you a harvest for which you have labored. Be encouraged today because harvest is happening sooner than you realize.