Monday, September 29, 2014

Being Followed By A Stranger

            I’m turning today’s blog into a bit of a PSA for listening to the Holy Spirit.  Do you know that the Holy Spirit is awesome?  He is a friend, and he will let you know when something isn’t right.  You have to learn to listen to those feelings.
            As I mentioned before that last week Dan and I were in Indy, and I was going all over the city.  One morning I went to downtown and I walked around the area.  I was taking a picture of one of the monuments and I noticed a couple different people that were a bit odd looking.  Perhaps they were homeless, maybe they were just released from a mental institution, and maybe they weren’t, but something didn’t seem right about these people.  There was one in particular that seemed to stand out.  I realize that many would argue with me here.  Maybe I should have offered some kind of assistance to them, or shown compassion.  I believe in helping people, however I also believe in being led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  Something didn’t register well with me in the situation.  So I quickly walked by.  As I found myself walking back to my car that was a good block away and on the other side of the street, I took a couple more pictures of the city.  But something inside of me made me feel as if I needed to hurry up and get to my car.  It wasn’t until I got to my car and opened the door did I realize that one of these off looking men had followed me across the street and was about 10 feet from me.  I have no doubt he was intentionally following me.  I also have no doubt that uneasy feeling that I felt on the inside was the Holy Spirit telling me to rush.  I don’t know what would have happened had he got to me.  He didn’t. 
            In the simplest of terms, if you don’t feel right about something don’t do it.   The Holy Spirit is God’s breath on the earth.  The Holy Spirit is taking care of you, and you have to learn to listen.  In Luke 24:49 Jesus is referring to  the disciples getting the Holy Spirit and He equates this with ‘Power from on High’.  You have to learn to listen to those gut reactions.  You have to learn to stay sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying.  Often throughout the scriptures the Holy Spirit is referred to as a comforter or a friend.  It never ceases to amaze me when I talk to Christians and they don’t even have an understanding as to who the Holy Spirit is.   He needs to be your friend.  You need to know that you can trust what and where He is leading.  Please dear readers, I pray you get to know who the Holy Spirit is.  If you don’t think you know, then ask God to reveal Himself to you.  Ask Him to show you.  He wants to be your friend. 

            Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Do You Feel As If You've been Taken Out of the Fire to be thrown in Cold Water?

            The last few days I was tagging along with Dan on a work trip to Indianapolis.  While he had to go to training I had a wonderful time seeing various historical sights.  I figured as self-proclaimed history junkie I could use the time to help research a manuscript I’m writing. They’ll be a couple more blogs about some of my adventures next week.

            On my first day I visited a place called the Conner Prairie Museum.  Which is a place if you’re ever in the area, I would recommend.  There are various attractions inside of the prairie along with actors to make it a “real” experience. 

            As I ventured into the Blacksmith Shop I never thought that it would be a place that I would feel God would really speak to me. However God often uses circumstances and things that do not seem expected.  In the picture above this man was creating a striker hand plate for flint striking.  He would put the steel into the fire and bend it more and more.  Suddenly this blacksmith’s words seemed to be words inspired by the divine for my life, and I thought I’d share this experience for today’s blog.”

            “Once the piece is formed, the steel needs to be hardened.  This is achieved by putting the finished piece into the fire until it glows, and then shocking it by throwing it in the water.  It is only then that the piece will be hard enough that it’ll be fit to use.  If the piece is left in the fire too long or too short it will not harden correctly either.  It has to be thrown in the water at the right time.”

            Maybe to some of you this sounds nuts that I felt this was God using this blacksmith to talk to me, but I did. 

            You see that’s exactly how I’ve felt.  I don’t need to go into details.  We’ve all gone through seasons like this.  But I’ve felt a tad shocked.  In the natural I’m not a patient individual…I work on that.    Hearing how the steel is hardened made perfect sense to me.  It was as if God was saying to me, “It’s okay, I took you out of the fire and threw you into the water.  It’s just a shock to your system, and it makes you ready to be used.” 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven


May you learn along with me to trust God and embrace what He is doing in your life.  It may not be easy, but know He won’t keep you in the fire for too long, and perhaps that thing that shocks you is the thing that will make you ready.  It was a lesson I learned in a barn in the middle of several young kids on their school field trip.  Know God has a way of speaking to you in what seems to be the most unusual places.  Know God truly knows where you are in life, and He knows what He is doing in your life.

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Are You Too Afraid to be a Parent?

            This morning I started to read the story in John 9 about a blind man who Jesus had healed.  It an awesome miracle story, and is the one about Jesus spitting in the mud.  (I always thought Jesus healing with his spit was odd.  As a side note to this I learned by going to The Holy Land in Orlando that the reason Jesus spit in the ground was because the Jews of the day were going around saying that when the Messiah came he’d be so anointed even his ‘spit’ would have healing.  Jesus was fulfilling their own words when he did this. I have always found that a cool bit of history) What jumped out at me about this story is what came later.  The high priests of the day were all up in arms because this man was healed on the Sabbath, so they called the parents in to testify that their son had been blind since birth.  Their reaction can be found in verse 20-22
20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus  to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) (ESV)
            I read this kind of in jaw dropping shock and surprise.  Their reaction is not what I would have thought it had been.  Their son was a beggar, and had been blind since birth.  They are more worried about the possibility of being kicked out of the synagogue than they are the fact their son had just received sight.  You’d think they’d be jumping around excited.  One would think they’d ready to join the Jesus caravan themselves, but instead they feared what could happen to their family more.  I don’t want to come across as being too hard on these parents.  I’m sure they were probably in a measure of shock here.  It would have been a lot to take in.  But I just kept thinking how their son needed them to defend him in that moment, and it wasn’t like they didn’t but were willing to put themselves on the line either.
            I started to think of my own children.  Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet.  While I’ll be the first one to say that my parenting has never been perfect, I want to be one of the first people to run toward the defense of them.  That doesn’t mean their perfect either, and I’d tell them if they weren’t.  What I’m saying here is that we all can’t parent out of fear.  Our children need to be more important to us then what the world thinks.  Our children need to see that they have their parents in their corner even when it’s not convenient.  As a parent of a teenager now, I can also add that they need to know that even if they don’t like your choices ultimately you have their best interest at heart. To continue on this line I hold ‘spiritual parenting’ in the same regard here as physical ones.  Raising children in the Lord is a huge challenge, and those kids too need to know that you’d come to their defense if the need arose. 

            We have to make the choice in our lives to defend what is right, and stand up for those who need it.  We will never gain ground if we fear man and society more than we fear God. According to Proverbs 31:8-9, we must be a voice for the voiceless.

            Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!
*Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to get to hear Leigh Ramsey founder of the She Rescue Home and the ‘It’s Not OK’ campaign speak.  Her organizations helps reeducate and house girls rescued from the sex slave industry in Cambodia.  I’d like to recommend you check out her website and organization.

**Also next week I’ll be tagging along with Dan to a work trip, so my schedule will be a little off.  I’ll not be doing a Monday/Wednesday blog, but there might be one that pops up on Friday.  J  Love y’all.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Broken Arrows

            As many of you know I’ve recently discovered archery and have found I really enjoy it.  Last week my parents blessed the girls and I will a really cool higher powered bow.  The step up in bows is kind of like the difference between trying to stand with a walker and running a mile.  The new bow is quite awesome and has a whole lot of power.  Learning how to use it, has taken us a bit of practice.  The above picture was the result of one of my escapades as an arrow was launched into the woods and landed in a fallen tree.  The shaft of the arrow cracked, and I broke it.
           After I found the arrow and was walking back through the woods towards the house, I really felt the Lord drop into my spirit that many in the body of Christ look just like this.  They have become broken arrows.  They are wondering why they aren’t being used to hit the goal, but by looking at the picture above you and I both know that arrow isn’t going to be launching anywhere unless I throw it.
            Life can wear people down.  People can get discouraged, find themselves launched in a tree and broken.  However, God has a way to make all things new.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  Once you are living for Him, He makes you a new creation.  Even if you are in the Kingdom of God it doesn’t mean you won’t go through things that can hurt.  HOWEVER, call upon the name of the Lord.  He has a way to put right what seemingly has gone so wrong.  God wants to be able to launch each and every one of His arrows to the fullest of potential.  You don’t have to be a broken arrow any longer.  Allow God to put you back together.
            Cry out to God and let God heal what has been broken in your life.  Sometimes you may need some serious one on one prayer time with God.  Maybe you need some good solid Godly counseling, or maybe a conference.  (I just came back from one this weekend, it was awesome!)  Whatever you may need let God lead you in that direction.  You don’t have to go through your life being a broken arrow.  God can heal and put right what has been wrong.  God can and will turn all things around for His glory to those that love the Lord. (Romans 8:28)  You have to give the situation to Him, and you have to trust Him!
           God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God Led You Here, So Why Does it Seem You Encountered the Opposite?

            A few weeks ago I was reading the Bible and feeling a tad sorry for myself.  We’ve all had those moments.  God specifically led me to a story about Jesus that can be found in Luke 7:11-17 I’ll paraphrase what happened.  Basically Jesus is led to go into a city called Nain.  Jesus goes in and encounters a widow and the parade of people going by him because they are leaving the town to bury her son.  Jesus prays and the boy is resurrected.  It’s an awesome story, and quite frankly signs, wonders and miracles always make me excited.  However when I read this story that day, I really felt the Holy Spirit empress upon me to look up what the word or city “Nain” means.  I’d like to confess here that I’m always so very obedient as soon as the Holy Spirit tells me to do something.  Sadly I’ll admit here I was like, “Really God? What does it matter what Nain means”. 

Reluctantly I looked it up online, and as soon as I realized what God was saying to me through this. . . well, I had one of those moments when I started preaching to myself.  I got so excited and honestly could have preached to a stadium at that moment.  In fact I’ve been sharing this revelation to several since God gave it to me, and I thought today would be a good idea to share it with my reader.

Wait for it. . .wait for it. . .Nain literally means “green pastures or pleasant”.  Why is this significant?  Jesus was going into a place that was supposed to be filled with life.  God led him there.  Instead he runs into death.  How many of us have found ourselves in the exact same place in our walks with Christ?  God led us into a place that we thought we’d be exalted, greeted with fanfare, and like in a scene in a cheesy movie a chorus line would break out.  We thought we’d walk into the room, and automatically signs, wonders, and miracles would follow.  However instead of seeing this at first, or even in a small period of time we encounter what seems to be the polar opposite.  It feels as if death and destruction is all around, and it can be a real difficult season because it is not what you thought for what you signed up.  It can be easy at this moment to think God left you, or that really He didn’t leave you in this place?

However the story doesn’t end there.  Jesus doesn’t get all depressed and start blaming God.  He uses the authority is father gave him, and resurrects the dead.  He drives death out of the situation, because after all this is a place of green pastures.  It’s a place of life.  God uses him to bring the life into Nain.  He couldn’t look at the circumstances in the moment; He had to use His authority!

When God calls us to a place, we can’t take the situations at face value.  We have to see through anything thrown our way, use our authority and drive death out! God brings life.  The enemy brings death.  Jesus gave us authority over death!  God doesn’t lead you into death and barren lands.  He wants you to live the abundant life!  Speak to the death and destruction in your life.  Speak life to the visions that are on your heart.  God’s will can and will thrive in your life. Call the dead to come alive.  Circumstances will change, maybe not overnight….but they will! You just have to trust Him.  Hallelujah!

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Your Daddy Didn't Raise a Wimp...Stand Your Ground!

Last year I ended a business relationship with an individual.  It was a hard choice initially to make, but the easiest explanation I can give is that the spiritual fruit in his life was rotten. I could no longer be caught up in his lies. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  As much as I know without a doubt the partnership needed to end, I still have issues of fear whenever I hear from him. He manipulates and I’ve often joked that I’ve suffered from PTSD at the result of this relationship. Perhaps I need to stop speaking that because there is power in words.  I know this kind of control is NOT from God.  I’m working on overcoming all of this.
There was a volcanic eruption last week as a result of tremors from this business relationship, and I was barraged with unsubstantial threats and false allegations against me.  I knew his claims had no merit. I know God is bigger than whatever man throws at me.  I know that I’ve been righteous through this matter.  However having to deal with him sent me into a bit of a panic attack.  I started to shake and cry, and I was embarrassed at myself for going into such a place. 
Many of you have heard me talk about my father.  He was a grunt soldier in Vietnam, and has lived through an amazing about of circumstances.  When I talked to him about all of this, his response hit me.  He said, “Ann, I didn’t raise a wimp.  Stand your ground!”  While there was more to his response verbatim that was what he responded. 
The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was so right.  My earthly father didn’t raise me to be a wimp, and neither did my Heavenly father.  This fear wasn’t coming from God, and I was letting it get to me.  Dan and I ended up taking it all to prayer.  I know God has this situation in His hands. 

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
It was my choice whether I allowed these attacks to get to me.  God already has victory over anything the devil can throw my way.  The same is true for you.  God hasn’t given you the spirit of fear.  Your Heavenly father did not raise a wimp.  Do not allow the enemy to rear his ugly head and manipulate you.  Stand your ground and stand strong!  You are going to watch how God turns your situation around.  You are not a victim.  You are an overcomer!

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Regrets I would have. . .

            Today when I turned on Social Media I learned of the very sad death of someone that went to high school with me.  It’s not that I knew him well.   I honestly don’t think we ever had a conversation, but maybe we did.  It’s been a few years.  This young man was in a grade ahead of me, but our entire high school was only about 350 people.  While one didn’t know everybody in the school one probably knew of everybody.  In high school I remember he was quite the athlete.  We rode the same bus from school.  This young father and husband died while competing in a triathlon over the holiday weekend.  His death stunned me for a moment. He was 37.  It’s not that I do not realize we all will face that day in our lives.  It’s the whole circle of life thing.  But this man was young, at the height of physical fitness and from what I hear had a wife and two young children.  It is very sad.  Please pray for the family.  In the last few years to my knowledge there have been at least 3 deaths of people I knew from school.  In fact just before we left Florida another person I knew passed away.  He was in his early 30’s and was in a tragic car accident.  He too left behind a young son and fiancĂ©.
            Perhaps it’s the idea that when you’re young you never think about the end of your days.  Then suddenly you wake up one day and realize that life is so dang short, and in this earth we all will face death unless Jesus returns first.  This young man’s death got me to thinking about my own life and any regrets I would have in it.  I know that God has a lot of plans for my life, I’m not checking out any time soon.  However I want to live my life to the fullest while I’m here.  As my church vision reads I want to:  experience love, experience community, and experience the good life to the fullest.  Most of you who have read my blogs for any length of time know that Dan and I go out of our way not to have regrets in life.  But like all of us I would have few.

1)      I would regret not seeing the plan and purpose of my life fulfilled, and the very least I have a fabulous husband and kiddos that still need me. . .plus everything else on my heart.
2)      I would regret that often in life I have taken things way to seriously.  There are times that while I’m quick to make a joke, I forget to laugh myself.
3)      I would regret that sometimes I am so quick to get from A-Z that in the middle there are moments that are precious.  Sometimes my own determination makes me miss precious moments.
4)      I would regret that sometimes I get distracted by the small things.
5)      I would regret a few moments in my life that I didn’t react in the manner of dignity and class that I should have. 
6)      I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I can’t say I really “regret” those because I believe any sin in my past has been washed in the blood of Jesus and isn’t there any longer.
I guess thinking about all of these things makes me realize how I can embrace the now more in my life.  It makes me reflect how I can stop and smell the roses a bit more…However in all that said, there are so many things I wouldn’t regret.  I’ve tried for a lot of years to live my life ready if it were to end tomorrow.  There is something on the inside of me that has always driven me to live like that.  Perhaps it’s the fact I should have died in a car accident when I was 2 ½ and I figure that I’m going to make the best out of the time I have on this earth. 
I honestly believe that too many people live their lives backwards.  It makes them bitter and mournful people.  They are always so hung up on their regrets that they forget that as believers they need to fix their eyes on Jesus. 

Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
            Life is just too short to fix your eyes on what is behind you.  There is too much to be done.  God put us all here for PURPOSE!  It’s not just about living and dying, but it’s about REALLY living for a higher calling and purpose.  It’s about coming to the fullness of what God has for you on this earth and sucking the marrow out of life!

James 4:14 (ESV)

14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
            So many people get to the end of their days with a mindset of all the things left undone and unsaid.  I’ve heard stories of people going to their graves carrying vendetta’s and still refusing to share a few precious moments with a loved one because of who hurt who and when. How tragic is it that some families live and die over feuds that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  I guess I want us all to remember that life is short, live without regrets, pray hard, and know that Heaven and Hell are eternal. While this lifetime will end, that one will not.  You are not promised tomorrow (Matt 6:34).  Make sure you are living in the knowledge of that fact.  Live without regrets. 

            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!