Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Changing Of The Seasons

I have been reflecting on something in the last few days and I thought I would share it with you today.

I have been hearing a lot in the kingdom of God through prophetic people that the seasons have changed. However, that is the thing about the prophetic. It always sees into the future and if your looking at it through the eyes of what you are seeing now it can make you one frustrated individual. God does not share His words with people to frustrate them. In fact, it is quite the opposite. God shares His word to bring encouragement. To say, “I know you’re not seeing this yet, but let me tell you I can see you down the road and this is what I can see!” I think of it like a person with binoculars and a megaphone. God’s word and the prophetic voice is to bring encouragement and hope.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 (KJV)
Despise not prophesyings.

OR I like it in the Message version too.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 (MSG)
19-22Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

People often get this idea that if you despising prophecy then that only means not letting the prophetic word to flow in both the church and in your life. That is one truth to this, but I believe this scripture has another meaning. I believe it’s also saying when you hear a prophetic word over and over again and it’s telling you the same thing over and over again….and you’re not seeing those circumstances change, not to let the prophetic word get you all frustrated and grumpy. Don’t use the prophetic word as an excuse to say, “But God you keep telling me this and nothing is changing.” You have to refrain from using God’s word against Him as if you are a three-year-old throwing a fit. Be bold and encouraged that what He is saying is true! Rest in Him. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you!

I believe that we are in a season of the church where things are changing. But just because you haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean it’s not true. When the day passed last week for it to be summer, while it might have been summer on the calendar we may not see the fullness of summer for a few weeks. Summer is here. The calendar said so. The manifestation of summer will continue for the next several months.
It’s like the picture of the apple blossom. The flowers are on the tree. You may not be able to pick the apples yet, but the change is here.

Daniel 2:21He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

Be encouraged today, and not frustrated. When God says the season is changing, He meant it. God has awesome plans for your life, so get excited.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Outdoor Chapel

I grew up going to a Lutheran Church in Waldo, Ohio. In Fulton, Ohio there is an outdoor camp. Lutheran Memorial Camp has such a tender place in my nostalgia of childhood. Though I only went to camp there a few times: we went there as a church about once a year, various times we attended the infamous apple butter festival, my sister went there, and I have been to a few conferences and gatherings there over the years.

Not far from the main building there is an outdoor chapel snuggled in the woods. I actually put a picture I was able to find online of it. It required some digging to find. Sadly, I don’t have one of my own. This chapel has such a special place in my heart. Why? I am not very sure. I can remember making my way out there to pray at various times I had been there. As you can see it is rustic and dirty but there has always been something I have loved about it. It was a place I could sneak away to and know I could have a moment with God.

It is easy to be caught up in the craziness of life. You do not need to find an outdoor chapel to have a moment with God. But it is important to find moments that you can sneak away from all the chaos of life. I myself can sometimes forget this in the midst of errand running, getting gum out of hair, texting, and pursing passions.

When Jesus was on the earth he was always trying to slip away from the disciples and his daily activities to have moments alone and in prayer.

Matthew 26:36[ Gethsemane ] Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

Mark 1:35[ Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place ] Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Luke 5:16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Jesus understood the importance of finding quiet times before the Father. Jesus knew that in order for him to accomplish what He needed to do he had to find the time to slip away from the chaos.

I encourage you to find your own outdoor chapel. Find your own places where you can slip away and spend time with God. I may live clear across the country from Lutheran Memorial Camp, but Jesus lives on the inside of me. I can talk to my Father in heaven no matter where I am located. If you have asked Jesus in your heart, then you can too. Take the time to seek after God. I promise you, it is worth it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

He Called Me A Wimp!

At some point in my early growing up years, I had an accident on one of our kitchen benches. These benches were brown vinyl covered cushioned metal frames. They stood on metal legs that met in the center and formed a stand. The accident was my fault. I was standing on one of the benches by the window and honestly, I am not sure what I was doing. Could I have been climbing on the window? Playing with the piece of green clay that’s permanently part of the kitchen d├ęcor? Dusting the windowsill? It was probably any one of those things though probably not the dusting one. The bench wasn’t stable, I was flipped up as it wobbled and landed on it‘s side. In mid air, as gravity brought me to the ground, the base of the bench that stuck out and caught my abdomen. As a result, I had an odd shaped stomach abrasion that could have been a lot worse than what it was, but it looked ugly. It was probably a miracle I did not impale myself on the bench.

My mom was not impressed with my kitchen acrobatics. Somehow, she did not believe I could have a future in the cast Cirque du Soleil, and rushed me to the doctor’s office to make sure I did not have any internal injuries. The pediatricians’ office that I went to growing up was in a clinic where it was several pediatricians in one practice. Mom was not picky; she just wanted me to see someone. We took the first available opening.

The doctor came in the room in his white jacket: heard what I did, and managed to suppress a few giggles to himself. As he managed to look at my wound and tried to clean it, I flinched. Maybe it was pain, maybe it was a surprise at how cold antiseptic always seems to be, I do not know but I flinched.

“You’re okay. What are you a wimp?” The doctor was joking. However, I did not think it was funny. My pride had been hurt and he now had the audacity to call me a wimp. Maybe in some people’s mind that was not such a bad thing. However, in mine it was. I could have been impaled on a piece of furniture and he dared called me a wimp! I will admit I had a lot of randomly odd accidents growing up and this group of doctors knew who I was, and probably laughed over coffee before going home some of my crazy adventures. He was joking, but I didn’t care for his sense of humor.

However from then on out, I did not like that doctor. He had called me a wimp, and I did not appreciate that! In fact it was offensive to me, and no matter how many times I saw him he was not my favorite doctor.

Psalm 103:6-18(MSG)
6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he's rich in love.
He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
Men and women don't live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God's love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.

Life is really short, and grudges are kept too long. Seriously? What is the use of you holding on to something that really doesn’t mean anything that happened years and years ago. I had to let go of my aggravation of the doctor calling me a wimp. So what? I had a moment of weakness and I flinched. I can’t hold onto that forever. It’s just not worth it. You have to let those things go. I know this sounds small and little but to me I was really mad at that doctor in that moment. The emotions were very real to me at the time. If you don’t let go of those little things then you start getting bitter and it can turn to unforgiveness. You have to choose to let things go. You can’t hold onto offenses and things that bug you, but let them go.

Life is too short to be bitter. Choose to leave those things in the past. You can’t change the things people do or say to you, but you can change you, and how they affect you. All those things can become like weights to you if you let it. Choose to let go of the weights. Choose to soar above those things. God has awesome plans for your life, so get excited.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In The Gymnastics Pit

Before I got into cheerleading tumbling, I was into gymnastics. At the same gym I went to for both there was what is called a pit. A gymnastics pit is typically a huge rectangle of foam. The dimensions vary but typically a gymnastics pit is about four feet of foam in depth. In the gym I went to they used one where it was put into the floor and was about even with the floor. The thought behind this piece of equipment was that you could practice a stunt, and while you were learning it you had a nice landing. But once you were in the pit movement wasn’t easy. It was kind of like being stuck in a huge pillow. It was awkward getting out of the pit, and it took a lot of effort. While that pit made the smallest of people feel cumbersome, it served a purpose. It’s purpose was to protect you in training so you wouldn’t get hurt.

Sometimes it feels in the kingdom of God as you mature that you can be in this pit. Deep down you desire to just get to the place where you can see yourself. But instead you’re still practicing in the pit. Frustration can set in, and instead of learning you can start building up bitterness for the fact you’re still practicing in the pit and it seems many are running out on the floor doing a perfect round off back handspring back tuck. You long to try all the things you’ve been practicing but instead you feel as if you’ve been grounded to the cumbersome pit. Deep down you’re not sure your learning anything.

1Peter 2:2 (AMP) 2Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,

There are seasons of growth and maturity in the kingdom of God. While it might get frustrating when it appears others are passing you in their seasons, you have to realize there is a purpose for the pit. It’s to protect you. It’s to teach you in a safe environment how to do what God is training you for without you harming yourself or the people around you. If I tried to do a stunt on the floor before I was ready I could not only harm myself but I also could harm the person spotting me.

Philippians 1:6
Amplified Bible (AMP)
6And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God knows that it can get frustrating practicing in the pit over and over again. However He sees the end from the beginning and He sees you in those seasons of the pit, but He also sees you performing a perfect pass without the need of a spot. He sees you in your destiny, and that routine if learned right and practiced right will be exactly what He saw you doing all along.

Be encouraged. Training seasons are never wasted time. But they are critical to where He is calling you. They are for your benefit and those around you. Be encouraged that the season you are in, is a good thing and you will see the fullness. Visualize yourself in that place. See it in your mind. You won’t be in the pit forever. He is faithful. God has awesome plans for your life, so get excited!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Are You Walking On The Water?

The account for Peter and Jesus walking on the water can be found in
Matthew 14: 22-32 (NIV)
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I have heard many a lesson preached on this passage of scripture but something in the last few days has been mulling around on the inside about this story that I wanted to share with you today. I have heard it preached that Peter at least had enough faith to step out on the boat. I mean Jesus said “come” and any one of them could have. That point is very true. Peter was the only one that stepped out of the boat and for that I can say, “Yeah Peter”. Obviously this story is a good reminder that when you take your eyes off of Jesus and put them on circumstances and storms it is only then you sink. Jesus had mercy to reach down and save Peter, but when they got back to the boat Jesus knew it was his doubt that was making him sink.

But what suddenly occurred to me about this passage was a new angle. Peter is often known in the Bible for being the kind of person that speaks first and then thinks. Peter really did not think about stepping out of that boat and walking on the water. Jesus said “come” and so he did. He did not really start thinking about what he was doing until after he was out on the water. That is when it occurred to him, “What have I just gotten myself into?” “That wave is huge! How am I going to get out of this?” It was then doubt and fear started to hit him, and it was then he started to sink.

I am a lot like Peter in several ways. I have often found myself in trouble for talking or acting first and then thinking. I am quick to jump into a situation. I realized that for me the issue with several things we have stepped out in our lives was not the getting out of the boat part. I knew God told us to do things and we did it. But it has been the choice to continue to walk on the water even though circumstances do not seem as calm as I would like them to be for the choices we have made.

Faith is not a one-time choice and then you are done. Faith is a constant choosing to be stable in what He has said.

James 1:2-8 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Keep choosing to move forward in what you know God has called you to do. Do not be double minded. Do not be rocked by what circumstances say or appear to do. Step out of the boat to go forward in what God is saying, and KEEP walking on that water! I do not care how big a wave might look, Jesus is always bigger. He’s there walking with you. Be encouraged!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Had A Moment!

Last night I had this crazy nightmare and I’ll be honest I woke up in a bad mood. Dan and I were a little short with each other while getting around for church. I didn’t renew my mind. Then I had to go to church and serve in the nursery where I always joke that’s my form of birth control (I’ll totally admit my bad attitude regarding it, I’m working on reminds me I’m not a candidate for the Dugger lifestyle as much as I do think the Duggars are cool) I came home only to continue my bad mood, cry, flesh out and throw a nasty fit. Dan and I got into a worse fight that I would say was 99.9% my fault. I had an all around bad morning that pretty much would have been averted had I woken up, praised the Lord, and renewed my mind. I’ve repented to God, Dan, and the girls. I’ve had a brownie so the chocolate fix has kicked in, and now I’m relaxing with a cup of my favorite Pomegranate Green Tea. While I always preach you need to control your emotions, you can’t let them control you….today I kind of missed that boat. I’m okay now. It is well.

I don’t want to ever come across as having the perfect kids, perfect marriage and perfect life. Strangely people misunderstand the life of the believer. I’m not perfect. I mess up sometimes. I say things I wish I could take back, and today had an attitude that stank. I often jokingly pray “Please God if my children ever feel the need to write a tell all book about me, don’t let them remember today.” Serving God doesn’t mean that your life will be void of issues. It just means that you’ll have the tools to stop what your doing, and soar over the issues. It means that you have the assurance of heaven, and know that you are not of this world even if you had a worldly morning.

Isaiah 40:31(NIV)
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Sometimes you may not feel like you have the strength to continue to do the things in your life that seem to bring you down. But that just simply isn’t true. God says if you would hope in the Lord you would mount up with wings and begin to soar.

Romans 3:23 (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We've all had moments that we aren’t proud of in life. But we have a choice. Are we going to stay in those moments or are we going to put our trust and hope in God and begin to soar like the overcomer we’ve been called to upon the earth.

Romans 8:31(NIV)
More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Through Jesus we are more than conquerors. We are victorious. We are overcomers. As my dear late pastor, Dr. Watson from Marion Christian Center used to say, we are soarers. We are eagle Christians.

So if your morning, week, or year has been like mine was this morning, now is the time to rise up and soar over the issues of life. Take those negative thoughts captive and begin to hope in Christ Jesus. You have the victory! So fly with it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is A Bumble Bee Pillow Pet!

A few years back my youngest daughter saw a commercial for pillow pets. She was instantly in love and just had to have one.

Christmas was a few months away so I asked her, “If you were to get one, which one would, you want?”

“The Bumble Bee! The Bumble Bee!” From that day on whenever she would see that commercial she would ask us for one. I figured she’d eventually find something else she wanted so for a month we watched her ask us several times for a bumblebee pillow pet. Finally I went ahead and ordered a pillow pet for both our girls. We had the surprise waiting for weeks if not months in my closet for her for Christmas. But all the while my daughter kept asking us for one every time she thought about it. I have to hand it to her. She was persistent about that pillow pet. When the day came that she finally got her gift, she was beside herself with jubilant elation. For a good six months after Christmas that year every time she saw the commercial she’d run and get her bumblebee pillow pet and hug it tight. She’d thank us for it again and again.

While God is not a sugar daddy, he does love to bless his children with the desires of their heart as long as their not contrary to the will of God. Here’s a parable about persistence that Jesus taught.

Luke 18:1-5 (NIV)
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

This judge was an unjust judge. How much more will God listen to you when you pray, because he wants to bless his children?

Matthew 7:7-12 (NIV)
Ask, Seek, Knock
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The problem I find often arises in the waiting time. Just like my youngest daughter she had no idea that we’d already gotten her the Bumble Bee Pillow Pet, and all those months she kept asking us for it as if we hadn’t heard her all the hundreds of times she’d asked. I believe there are things God is so excited that He’s about to release to His children. We need to start trusting that He’s already taken care of it. We need to trust that He’s just waiting for the right time. We need to start thanking Him for those things we know we’ve prayed and believed God would bring forth.

Your Christmas Morning will come! So get excited and be grateful that He’s already made a way! Start thanking Him now, for the breakthrough may only be moments or days away.

*In an exciting special note. Southern Writers Magazine interviewed me for an upcoming issue. I have no idea when it’ll run, but I’ll let you know when I do. He is faithful!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Marshmallows Can't Be Substitued for Eggs

Some months ago my family was over at dear friends of ours home. The Ferguson’s are the founders of Voice of Freedom Ministries, and it is an honor to call them our friends. We were roasting marshmallow’s in the back yard when another friend kept talking on and on about gourmet chocolate. So Natasha decided she was going to make brownies out of a mix she had. However, she soon discovered as we all set down to play Monopoly the card game, there was a small issue. The issue was she was out of eggs and didn’t know about it and thus was going to have to abandon the thought of the chocolaty goodness of brownies.

What followed will probably go down in jokedom between the families for all time. Natasha tells me that if I write this blog I have to make it perfectly clear that she is a good cook. She is. The idea wasn’t hers, she just choose to listen to me.

We were brainstorming what you could substitute for eggs. I knew applesauce can sometimes be substituted. After several thoughts I said, “Well you have marshmallows. Those are sticky and would hold something together. Maybe you should try marshmallows.” After some debate back and forth the idea was hatched. Could marshmallows be substituted for eggs?

I can affirmatively answer no to that question. The brownies expanded like a helium balloon while they were in the oven. They didn‘t set, but turned into a tasty gloppy mess, which eventually we used as dip for pretzels. However as the glop hardened it was kind of reminiscent of hard tar on a road. Tasty hard tar but it was funny.

Many people find themselves trying to do the same thing with the word of God. They don’t really know what the word says so their trying to substitute what they think it says. Maybe their using ‘common sense’, the voice of a well known talk show, or old wives tales and they think those things are gospel. But it may not be the word. It may sound like a good idea, but you can’t substitute something else for the word it just won’t work.

Hosea 4:6a “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge”

You can’t use ‘marshmallows’ to substitute ‘eggs’. It doesn’t really work in the natural and it certainly doesn’t really work in the spiritual. You have to study the word of God and find out what it really says on the matters of life.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life so get excited!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Playing In The Rain

As a little girl, I can remember with a giddy pleasure getting to swim in the rain. My parents have a pool and we were allowed to swim in the rain as long as it was not thunder and lightening out. In those moments, there was almost a majestic glory. It was a simple pleasure but swimming and dancing in the rain brought us to giggles and shrieks.

As an adult, I find that those days of playing in the rain seem to be fading. When it is raining now I find myself getting grumpy at the audacity that the weather decided to mess with my plans. I find that I am more irritated.

It rained horribly this afternoon and my youngest daughter and I were out running errands. As I tried desperately to dodge raindrops, I found her giggling.

“You know what mom?” she giggled, “If it rains during this summer it will be the best summer ever!”

She reminded me of something very important today. I cannot spend my life just going through the motions of it. I have to remember to appreciate the little things. I cannot be caught up in the web of paying bills, running errands, and being stressed, but I need to be caught up in small joys that only things like a good rainstorm can bring.

Matthew 18:3 (NIV)
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:5(MSG)
"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

Rain can sometimes get in the way of what you think you need to get done. However, remember without rain, you can’t have rainbows. So remember to play, dance, and sing in the rain.