Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Money. No Whammies. . . . and Stop!!!

When I was a kid there was a game show on called “Press Your Luck”. In this game show I remember that there were several squares that lit up around the board and wherever it was lit, when the contestant hit the stop button was what you got. Which usually ended up being money or a prize unless it was the character called a ‘Whammy’. When a person got a whammy this animated figure would come and take all your winnings away.

Many people today treat faith like they do luck. But I assure you there is a big difference. The definition of luck is good fortune: success that seems to happen by chance. The definition of faith according to Hebrews 11:1 say, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is not luck or good fortune. It is being sure of what God has said. It is knowing that despite the circumstances around you that God is truly God and no one can talk you out of it.

In Matthew 14:22-33 there is the story of Jesus walking on the water. All the disciples in the boat start getting all freaked out because they think Jesus is a ghost. So Peter in typical Peter fashion speaks up (probably before he thought about it). He says to Jesus “if it’s really you then have me come out on the water.” Notice he’s the only one in the boat that has enough nerve to get out of the boat. Jesus responds to him with a simple, “Come.” He didn’t say that only Peter should come. But yet he’s the only one that does. So Peter steps out of the boat and walks to Jesus. It isn’t until he looks around and realizes what he’s doing and thinks about it, and sees the wind, does he start to freak out. When he takes his eyes off Jesus and onto the wind is when he begins to sink. Of course the rest of the story is that Jesus doesn’t let him drown and picks him out of the sea.

Many people approach faith like luck. It’s like they start to step out of the boat and close one eye, cross their fingers and try to think happy thoughts. Their almost expecting to see a “whammy” to come through and hit them on the head. That isn’t faith people.

One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” If you want to please God with your life. If you want to make your life count then you must stop wishing, and hoping that what you believe is true. You must step out in FAITH, and know it is. It’s time to rise up and be the sons and daughters of the Most High. It’s time to be all He’s called you to be.

I went out to Pastor Arthur’s grave yesterday. After spending some time there I got to thinking. I remember a poem somewhere about making the dash count. That the dates on your tomb are just the beginning and ending on this earth and making your dash count for the kingdom of God. It’s time people to rise up in FAITH. Step out of the boat, and make your life count. It’s not ‘pressing you luck’ to make it count, but it’s living a triumphant lifestyle of faith.


Monday, July 27, 2009

But, What Did God Say?

In the hours spent reminiscing of Pastor Arthur stories over the last few days I got to thinking of this story and thought it would be fitting to share it with y’all as a blog this morning.

A little over three years ago Dan and I were in the process of selling our house and buying a new one. For four years of going to Freedom we’d lived an hour away and the concept of being only a few minutes was refreshing to us. (Seriously we spent four years napping and lunching in the back building in between Sunday services, but that’s for another blog) The day came for us to close on our old house and buy this one, but I got a call the bank for the closing decided to wait for the next Monday but they assured me we’d close. My grandparents and my mom came down in an RV to help us move. So after a lot of discussion back and forth the seller of this house agreed to let us move our stuff in their garage and we’d just postpone the closing. Believing there wasn’t an issue all my electric and phone got transferred over to the new house.

Monday came. Long story short the bank kept stalling. I couldn’t close on the other house without selling the old one. All of my stuff was in a house that wasn’t mine and the sellers of this house were getting angry. We had no where to live, and while most people would check into a motel we didn’t. My grandparents parked the RV in front of the new house, and stayed in the driveway. Technically illegally we stayed on a futon mattress on the new houses floor.

It was the night of the first night while we’re here illegally that I called Pastor Arthur. I was freaking out. By this point I was convinced they cops were going to come and deport my husband. (He wasn’t a citizen at the time, but did hold a green card by that moment) I was making no logical sense. Pastor Arthur listened to my wild fears. I could tell he’d had a long day because it had taken him a bit to call me back. I could hear it in his voice, but he simply responded, “But what did God say?”

Eventually our realtors worked out a deal. We rented this house back from the seller for two weeks until a different buyer bought our old house and we were able to close on this one.

Jesus had a very similar moment with the disciples when he calmed the storm. Luke 8:22 says, “One day he and his disciples got in a boat. "Let's cross the lake," he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" Getting to his feet, he told the wind, "Silence!" and the waves, "Quiet down!" They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.”

The disciples were freaking out, and Jesus later goes on to nicely rebuke them for their doubt and unbelief.

Many of you are facing storms right now. Your facing winds and waves that you never thought you would. Some of those storms are physical storms, some financial, some storms are like tidal waves weeping over the passing of Pastor Arthur and they don’t know where to go from here. But I’ll ask you the same thing he asked me that night as I cried in the phone to him. “But what did God say?” What did God say to you about this situation? God is truth and he doesn’t lie even if we don’t understand everything all the time. What did God say in the midst of your storm.

I encourage you to get back to where you know what God has said to you. He causes peace to come to the storm that is raging around you. He tells the winds and waves they have to subside. Be at peace to day and know that God is God. Remember what God has said over your life. We serve a faithful God. Allow Him to calm the storms around you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Honoring One of God’s Generals

Many of you have heard the story of how Dan and I got to Freedom Life Church almost nine years ago now. Long story short, I had always known that it was very important for Dan and I to be in the right church during this season of our lives, and there were things God needed to impart to us and wherever we were to go. I knew that these people who were supposed to shepherd us for that time were praying us there too. Even longer story short I heard God tell me to go to Central Flordia. On a Monday we left Ohio, on Tuesday we arrived in Florida, and through a series of events on Wednesday we were at Freedom. Pastor Arthur got up on the platform took one look at Dan and I and began to prophesy to us that we were right where God wanted us to be. He began reading our mail as they say in prophetic churches. He knew these things by the Holy Spirit. In the years following Pastor Arthur and Debra have come to mean so much to us. It has been our privilege and honor to serve them through the years. Freedom was started in there living room 19 years ago. Today it averages about 300 and growing.

Pastor Arthur Lee was one of the most amazing men I have ever had the privilege to know. His bold faith and encouraging words were always in abundance. He was more to me than a pastor, he was a friend, and a he was a spiritual father to me. My children called him "Poppy". He always believed the best in me. He always wanted His "children" to go further than he could go. There are few people I would say that I would have jumped in front of a bullet or a speeding car for, and Pastor Arthur was one of them. He never backed down from a fight. Formerly an ex gymnast and bull rider, He taught me so much about life. He helped raise me spiritually.

Many have talked to me this morning wanting to know where God is in all of this. I tell you people He is with us. As I sat on the couch this morning weeping for the loss of this beloved man I thought, "We're moving forward. Because he put too much in all of us to back down now. Pastor Arthur lives forever in heaven, and the seeds he's sown in us will bear fruit." I could almost hear Pastors voice in the background saying, "That's my girl! Hiya!"

1 Thesssalonians 5:12 says, "And now my friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsiblity of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appriciation and love!"

In the short 49 years of Pastor Arthur Lee's life he has built a legacy. It spans cities, states and several countries. His spiritual children are forever changed by his life and his love. We will move forward because we have both a Father in heaven and a spiritual daddy looking down on us now cheering us on. Yes, I'm hurt and I'm mourning. But, as sons and daughters we will go forward and pick up his banner. We will move on. Because it was an honor to serve him all these years. His was a life well lived for the glory of God.

*This picture is of Pastor Arthur and Debra holding my youngest daughter after she was born. Please keep Pastor Debra and the family in your prayers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Get rid of the Eeyore Mentality!

An old friend of mine used to have a saying, “Life sucks then you die.” If he’s reading this I hope he knows how much I love him and I pray for him. But that kind of attitude is not how God wants you to live. The character of Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh series is another good example of a negative character. He was always moping around as if he was convinced if it rained it was only on him. The world was out to get him, and ‘no matter’ it was all gray anyway.

It can get very easy to get wrapped up in that kind of negativity. In fact Elijah did out in the wilderness. He was all alone and kinda got the “I’m all out in left field and every one left me syndrome.” But as a child of God you must realize that God has a abundant joy for you, and wallowing in your own self-pity will get you no where.

Nehemiah 8:10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Have you ever wondered why you don’t feel strong, and your tired all the time. Perhaps could it be your attitude. To quote Pastor Greg Squires of Freedom Life Church, “Attitude will determine your altitude.” Bad attitudes are like weights that hold you down and won’t let you fly into the things of God.

Psalm 68:3 says, “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Be joyful always;”

Some years back I will never forget a confrontation I had with my husband. I had gotten another turndown I was ticked off. He listened to me cry and then promptly got up and said, “I love you but I need to go for a few minutes. All you want to do is have a pity party for yourself and I’m not about to listen to it.” He promptly walked away and watched TV on the couch. When he said that to me I realized he was right. I was having a ‘pity party’ I’d gone into the woe is me attitude and I was dragging him down. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to comfort ones who have are having a pity party but for me in that moment I needed Dan to say, “I love you but I’m not listening to you.” Have you ever heard the phrase “misery loves company?” It’s not Biblical but it’s true. Sometimes if you’ve found yourself being dragged down with your attitude you have to take a look around those you’re around often. Are the people you’re around negative people? Maybe you need to readjust your friendships a bit. Or be on your guard from negativity when you are around certain individuals.

Certainly you can find at least five things that make you happy. Certainly you can find at least one that makes you smile. In the times where you want to yield over to act like Eeyore or you feel that you’re that character from peanuts that only you the storm cloud is following you can bring up that one thing that makes you happy. Maybe you can even find a couple scriptures, write them on note cards and meditating on them over and over. Your mind is pretty singular. When it’s focused on one thing and can’t focus on another. Now you might have a much of random thoughts but to be focus on something means that it’s singular. It has one focus. One clear vision.

Remember today that God loves you. He will never leave you or forsake you (Deut 31:16). He is not up there trying to have it rain on you. His thoughts and plans for you are good (Jer 29:11). He is up there cheering you on, and wants you to succeed (Joshua 1:5-10)! You might be in a nasty season, but the good things about seasons is that they are just that a season, and they will end. Eventually you won’t always be where you are right now. So cast your cares on Him. Because He loves you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

As a prophetic and vision driven people one of the hardest challenges, in my opinion, is to be able to see yourself at point B and still have to live in point A. God’s timing is never our own. It can get very frustrating in the waiting time. For myself I never expected for things to take as long as they have. I often say that it’s true “you can do All things through Christ that strengthens you,” but maturity in the Lord has taught me you don’t get there over night.

Some years back after the birth of my first daughter God gave me a revelation one day. I think I was frustrated over something she was doing and I said to the Lord, “Yup you really knew what you were doing when you didn’t have any children on the earth.” To which I believe I heard God chuckle and respond, “I have millions of them on the earth.” That got me thinking. Would it be possible if we treat God the very way our children treat us? “Daddy!” As we stomp our feet, we cry, “Let me be done!!! Are we there yet? When are we going to be there?! How much longer is this going to take? Can’t you see I’m waiting here? I can’t set here anymore! I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue then you have to stop!! I won‘t talk to you anymore!” When I was a kid my dad wouldn’t stop the van unless he needed gas. If you think about it God’s got millions of kids doing that to Him all the time.

Here’s what the Bible says. Philippians 4:6 in the NIV says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 in the Message says, “David continued to address Solomon: "Take charge! Take heart! Don't be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; he won't walk off and leave you in the lurch. He's at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. You have all the priests and Levites standing ready to pitch in, and skillful craftsmen and artisans of every kind ready to go to work. Both leaders and people are ready. Just say the word." Psalm 34:4 in the Message says, “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.”

God knows your frustration. He wants you to fulfill your destiny in life as much as you do. He is not a God that would shake it in front of your face just for him to move it. But getting frustrated and throwing a fit is not going to get you any faster. When my kids throw fits, it makes the ride so much more unbearable and I usually start ignoring my kids. I’m not saying God ignoring you, but I am saying frustration does move Him. Faith does. 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.”

Would you rather be known to God as the one that’s throwing a fit, or be known as His child of faith. Be at peace today. Be at peace and know that the One who called you Is Faithful, and He will see you through what He started.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes, Sometimes You Have to Eat the Brussels Sprouts!

My kids are usually good vegetable eaters, but about a month ago I decided on some fresh Brussels sprouts. That didn’t go over well. My youngest looked at them and without even batting an eyelash looked up at me and said, “My grandpa told me that you had to feed me cereal.” To which I laughed and she still had to eat one.

There are things in life that you must do because that’s what God wants you to do whither you like it or not. Right after college I had two different job possibilities opening up for me. One would have been an internship in my field. It had no insurance but I was young and I could have worked something out, and the other was a job selling high end jewelry. The Lord spoke to me to take the jewelry job. I wasn’t too happy about that situation, but later it worked out to be a total God thing. Because of that job when I moved to Pittsburg after I married Dan I could just transfer, and in the craziness that happened later and we were unexpectedly pregnant I had prenatal coverage. God knew that I needed to take the one job because He saw the end from the beginning, and knew in the instance of my decision where I would be a year later. It even worked out later that I got a chance to work a little job with that other internship as well.

When Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane He wasn’t very thrilled at God’s plan and purpose Luke 22:42 says, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Can you imagine if Jesus would have said , “nope I’m not doing that!” Of course not, we’d all be headed to Hell if He did. Jesus choose to allow himself to be beaten and brutally murdered. Jesus prayed in the garden for God’s will to come forth and He did. He had a choice.

There will be times in your walk with the Lord that you have to get to the conclusion that if you really gave your life to God, then you must allow Him to steer you where He knows best. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." God is the author and finisher of our faith. He knows the beginning from the end. He looks at where you’re at now and sees you 20 years later. If we’re truly going to trust Him with our lives we must trust that God has good plans for you. He has good plans for His children. We must trust that He knows what He’s doing despite of what you may see right now. You must trust that His purpose and destiny for your life is bigger than what you may realize. You must learn to truly trust Him as your God and know that He is on your side. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is your rear guard!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Let me see the junk in your trunk!

I currently teach a kids group at our church for children between the ages of 1st-5th grade on Wednesday evenings. About a month ago we were playing the game telephone. I was trying to make the age old point about gossip. That most times, by the time it gets back to you it’s not what started and it’s always taken way out of context. My husband started the phrase, “You’re momma wears combat boots.” Of course the phrase seemed very innocent, and by the time a dozen kids got the message I think it turned from, “your mom has poop” a few times, to “She has boobs.” The exercise made my point.

Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” and 1 Timothy 5:13 says, “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”

It’s sad today but, is oh so true, that one of the top five reasons people don’t go to church regularly and get involved is because of the other churchgoers. I would say that is just an excuse, but it is a legitimate annoyance. It’s all too often that churches become their own circles of inner cliques and gab sessions. I make it a point if there is something I’m up too, that I think our pastors would like to know or would eventually get around the church, I tell them first. That way if somehow the rumor mill gets going they’ve heard it from me, and are not surprised when it comes to them blown out of proportion.

Luke 6:42 says, “How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”

We must start looking at ourselves if we want to see revival in the church. We must stop looking at our brothers and sisters in the Lord with judgmental attitudes but begin to pray for them if you see issue in their lives. I ask you which one is going to work to help the church, praying for the person or running your mouth about them. Running your mouth sows seed of strife and division. You will reap what you sow. I believe choosing to pray when you really want to talk about them is showing love. We must guard our mouths if we want to see revival break forth. We will have to give an account one day for every idle word we speak (Matt 12:36).

I’ve been in many a situation when I have chosen to say something, and I’ve chosen to remain silent. It’s a choice. It’s not one where you ever perfect, but one you constantly have to make. I encourage all of you to think about that the next time a good tidbit comes your way. Choose to sow seeds of life to your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Choose to bless them. Choose to love them no matter what their doing. I leave you with the age old words of Thumper from Bambi, “If you can’t say anything nice. Don’t say anything at all.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

“The Russians are going to take over Mexico and then they’ll be right there!”

When I was in the 6-8 year old range my sister found me in my room crying. I was really upset. After a lot of persuation I finally told her what was wrong. With tears in my eyes I wailed, “The Russians are going to take over Mexico and then they’ll be right there!” Then the story came out. We’d been learning little bits about the Cold War in school. This was before the fall of the USSR. The teacher evidently had told a room full of kids that the Russians were eventually going to take over Mexico so they’d be close to the US. At least that’s how I remember it. I always was a kid to freak out over things and this was no exception. By the time I got home I was thinking of where I would go and hide in case of a Russian occupation. It’s become an inside joke to my family when I get overly worried about something to just say, “The Russians are going to take over Mexico.” The Russians didn’t take over Mexico. The USSR fell marking history forever. My fears were unwarranted and unnecessary.

I don’t know who came up with the phrase “you control your emotions, your emotions do not control you,” but it’s something I use in my house often. If your not careful worry and fear left unchecked can become like a runaway train.

Matthew 6:25-32 says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow now reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in worry. When my oldest daughter was first born I wasn’t sure how we were going to take care of her. Finances were very tight and I remember God even saying to me through a prophetic word that He’d take care of her. But that didn’t always make it easy. However, every time we had a need it was somehow taken care of. I got formula check after formula check in the mail. Someone provided a crib for her. It was miraculous. But I confess, I still worried. We were really tight. Finally one day I remember the Lord ask me, “Are you fed today? Are you clothed today?”

It is really easy if you listen to all the news reports these days to start freaking out a bit about the economy. I try avoid hearing all the negativity. If you’re not careful you’ll find yourself over into worry. But I ask you today what God asked me, “Are you fed today? Are you clothed today?” You have to do what God puts in front of you to do, but beyond that trust in your God and choose not to worry.

It is often I find myself back in that place asking myself “Are you fed today? Are you clothed today?” Continue to renew your mind. What has God said to about this situation? What do you know deep down to be true? Because if you’re not careful you’ll end up thinking that the “Russians are going to take over Mexico and then they’ll be right there.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Are there bricks in your backpack?

Sometime ago I was going through a season where I was incredibly frustrated. Things weren’t going how I’d planed, and I kept telling the Lord, “I just can’t do this. I just can’t do this.” As a result I had a dream where I was back in my hometown and I was across from the mall. I was going to walk to my mom and dad’s house which would be quite the walk. It’s about a 10-15 minute car ride. As I was going to start walking I put a pile of bricks in my backpack, and started on my journey. I remember thinking in the dream why would I put bricks in my backpack. That’s making an already long journey even harder. That’s when I felt the Lord reveal to me that by my negative words and attitudes I was putting bricks in my “spiritual backpack” making it harder for me to get anywhere.

For years I’d known that God wanted me to write my first book and I spent years frustrated about it. I kept saying, “I can’t do it.” A few months after Dan and I first came to Freedom, one of the pastors then began to preach on the power of your words. I had never heard of the concept up until that moment. But as she began to preach she began to feel that there were some in the congregation that night that had been speaking out against the very call they’d known God had for them. She was saying the very words that these people had been saying were causing detriment to the very plans of God and the frustrations they were having were because of their words. She began to call forth for ones to repent. I knew that I was one of those people. I went down to the alter and repented. In the car God dropped in my spirit how to start that book, and within two months I had a first draft written.

We have to realize that our own negative words can hinder us. Our own negativity can cause a rift between us and God‘s plan. Contrary to what people sometimes think God does not go against your own will. You can never fulfill what He called you to do on the earth until you yield your will to Him. He does not force Himself on people. He wants people to accept his plans and purposes and just trust Him.
Words are so important. God formed the world by His words. In Genesis 1 it says that God spoke and it was.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Meaning? You’re words are like seeds. You’re going to plant either seeds that bring life to the things God called you to do, or bring death. You’re going to harvest either crop by the seeds that are planted. You can choose to speak life over what God is telling you to do, or choose to speak death. When I had that dream with the bricks in my backpack I was telling God I couldn’t do something He told me I could. My words were weighing me down, and making me slowly want to give up.

Psalm 37:30 says, “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.” I could list scripture after scripture about the Bible speaking on taming your tongue and watching your speech. I encourage you to open your Bible and begin to do a study on this. There are so many scriptures on this!!!

So what am I saying to all of you today? I’m tell you to watch your words. I’m not telling you to get so religious that you need to be the word police and if anything bad comes out of your mouth to go say 12 praise Jesus’. No, But what I am saying is spend some time reflecting today what is coming out of your mouth. Are you’re words glorifying what God is doing, or are you put bricks in your spiritual backpack. This is a lesson I’ve had to come back to on numerous occasions. I have not arrived in revelation, but I’m learning. When your speech lines up with what God has said, you can get a whole lot more accomplished. Maybe instead of you walking with bricks in your backpack, He can carry you to where you need to go.