Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

We all know them. Those people who seem to almost take pleasure in shoving their gained knowledge into your face and down your throat. It is like you are in some way less because you do not know what they have come to know. They are in the world. And there is a good probability that they are in your family and church. Their knowledge has probably shamed you on occasion. Maybe blatantly intentional. Maybe not. You pair a lack of knowledge with a little (or a lot) of insecurity...and you are the knowledge. lovers. magnet.


Let me just be absolutely clear right now. Knowledge is an amazingly wonderful thing. I am not about to imply that you should stop learning and growing. I am not condoning a life of couch potatoism. <--That is a verb. The act of doing...nothing. Uh, wait. Is 'doing nothing' a verb? Wowza...I need to take an English class! Geesch! >:-/ Hahaha!

The love of knowledge is within you. Maybe not to the same degree as 'those people'. But it IS within you. God created us to want to KNOW. He designed us to not be content with something that causes us to wonder. The subject though...it has to be something that we care about. Something that sparks our passion. Without focused love of knowledge, we would not have professionals. And we need professionals. We need scientists that share what they have learned. We need doctors that have studied what they found fascinating. We need contractors that know the how to and why's of structure. And sometimes we need authors to make things that we have complicated....extremely simple.

My point? Knowledge is not EVER where it was to end in the spiritual realm. To KNOW what is right, is not enough. To KNOW what goes against God's Word, is not enough. To KNOW the answer to save people from eternity, is not enough.

Levi pedaling as fast as
his lil legs will go. It
clearly does not matter that
he is approaching a hill. Can anyone
hear me?!?! SLOW DOWN!
<===================
As a mother of young children, I admit to allowing a certain amount of 'letting my kids figure it out'. (Less of it than my husband...that is for sure!! Haha!) BUT, when it comes to an issue of safety, I am much more willing to scream share my knowledge. They still have the choice as whether to listen. For me to know what they should do would be useless. Them knowing what to do and not doing it would not serve the intended purpose as to why I shared my rant. (Anybody with me?!)

Levi...in a ditch. 
Knowledge. Applied. Now THAT is something! Applied knowledge has a name. Wisdom. If you don't have it...you should pray for it. It is sooooooooooooooo important! Wisdom turns a detail-driven-factual-religious type of person, into a person who has an actual relationship with their Savior. It turns a know-it-all into a spiritual counselor. And wisdom turns a seemingly 'boring stay at home mom'...into a warrior.

1 Corinthians 10: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Wisdom thinks first. Wisdom listens before assuming. Wisdom does what the Father asks. Wisdom speaks from a place of experience. Wisdom believes what is true and not what seems. Wisdom trusts the heart of God. Wisdom never stops learning no matter how young the teacher. Wisdom always knows...there.is.hope.

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Today. Right this moment. I challenge you to pray for more wisdom. You will not be disappointed. I pray that you notice it. I pray that you see how God gives you opportunities to apply your knowledge.  And I pray that you will choose what is always right and true. I pray that it will finally make its way from head to hand/heart. Get going...you have some applying to do! And know that I am praying for you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seeds Require Faith and Action

The seed.

We have all probably read and heard 'The Parable of the Sower' many times. I am just not sure that we all know how often this parable applies to our lives. In my 33 years of life, I have come to realize that the seed represents an unending number of things, specific to each of us. To go along with the countless seeds, there are also an unending number of tactics that the enemy will use against us, to try to ensure that the seeds never root themselves to become secure.


Let's read the parable, spoken by Jesus, just to refresh our rememberers for the point that I am going to make. ;-) No matter how rushed you are, take the time to read it because Jesus took the time to speak it for YOU!

 Mark Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”


Right now, even if it is just in our minds, let's list some examples of seeds that God has given us. 

The seed of Salvation. God spoke to your heart before you knew Him. He may have used a pastor, a friend, a television, His Word, etc. The seed was planted and you had to choose what you did with it. 

The seed of a dream. God gave you a dream or a vision (not necessarily in sleep/dream form) of something He was calling you to do for His glory. The seed was planted and you had to choose what you did with it. 

The seed of hope. In a seemingly hopeless situation, God gave you a sense of hope that you would be forever changed if you allowed Him to intervene. The seed was planted and you had to choose what you did with it. 


I know those are very general...so I will give you a personal specific example of a seed of dream in my life. Many of you that know me, or that have been followers of my blog www.pagesofprayer.blogspot.com ....know that I have three children that have already entered the Kingdom of Heaven and (not so anxiously) await my arrival. You also know, or can safely assume, that the loss of those babies was something that took much time and even more Jesus to heal from. 

After having my third miscarriage God told me clearly that I was to write about my experiences. He told me that there were people that would need to see Him in their circumstance of loss...and that I was going to be His hands. The very first person that I told immediately doubted as to how I could actually do it. Without the money to publish such a book, 'the how' seemed too impossible to tackle. 

That seed. That dream...was plucked quickly from my heart. I chose not to write.

Time passed and the seed was again planted. This time by a mother who had just lost a baby. She sought council from me and I answered her heart the best I knew how. With experience and compassion. The seed rooted a bit deeper this time. After a few more broken, grieving mothers crossed my path... I 'kind of' did as I was asked. It wasn't a book...but it was a blog. I blogged about each pregnancy...reminding myself of the pain of my losses and the joy of new life.

The seedling was weak as I wrote. I had listened...but it was still not absolute surrender to my King. He asked for a book and I gave Him a blog. One took faith and the other took only obedience. As soon as I finished my writing on miscarriage...I once again dropped the dream. A book. That was my calling. That IS my calling. 

Now that I again know...I have the choice. What WILL I do?

What was your seed? A seed of hope? A seed of God inspired dreams/goals? It is not too late to obey in faith. Pick up your cross and follow Jesus! His road leads to prayers answered. Lives changed. Dreams fulfilled. The choice is yours. Will you follow His call...or will you let the enemy snatch your seed?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Failure

FAILURE


Ugh, that word. Failure. The word in and of itself causes the level of stress to raise in most people. It causes their hearts to sink and their heads to droop. Sometimes just at the mention of the word failure, people seem unable to continue to maintain appropriate eye contact.


Failure. 
I know much about you. 
I've been haunted by you in my darkest days. 
I've been reminded of you while laboring/climbing to my greatest successes. 

Failure. 
I'm onto you. 
I will defeat the shame of remembering you. 
How? 
Because of the Great I Am. 

I forget some days in the struggle, that He is within me!
I don't always live like I believe that He gave His life to defeat you, Failure.
But you, Failure. 
You will never be able to forget it!


Many of you have probably noticed that it has been over a year since I last posted. Last September I did a 30 day challenge on my blog, in which I woke up at 5am every day to write. During those thirty days (and for many months afterwards), my family experienced a very personal attack from the enemy who was disguised as fellow Christians. I am not questioning their salvation. (I am not the judge they'd need to be concerned with anyway.) What I am saying is that they allowed themselves to be deceived and used by the enemy.



Since the finish of that post on September 30th, 2013 I have not written.

I still had words. What I didn't have was drive. I still had a purpose. What I didn't have was focus. I heard the unchanging, unshakable voice of God. What I listened to was the taunt of the enemy.

Failure. It has been with me all along. It was failure that I felt when God told me to write for my brother and I did not listen. It was failure that I felt when God told me write for my niece and I did not even try once. And it was failure that screamed the other night when I was with a friend who was in a pit that she had dug by her own choices.

Today, I am celebrating. Today is a new day. At this season in my life I am busier than ever and yet I am choosing to be obedient. God is asking me to be His hands. My passion to write never left. I am picking myself up...failure and all...and I am diving in. I am getting stubborn in my days. I am making time by sleeping less and planning more.

Why? Because the heart of God must be heard! If not me...then who?

I ignored His request even though He never does mine!
I pushed His will out of my chosen area of focus, knowing that He would never have forsaken me.
And I failed Him above all the others that He had placed before me.

The broken.
The confused.
The hurting.
The lonely.
Even though I failed them...what hurts most is to know that God was choosing me to help heal. And I let myself fail by never trying.

Failure has endless faces. Failure is clearly visible on the faces of millions across this world we live in. And failure holds people back from making choices they know to be right. Today that can end. You don't have to be a failure. You don't have to choose the path of your past. It will still call...but you are stronger than that. Say it out LOUD!

"Love. Must. Be. Sincere. HATE what is evil; CLING to what is good." Romans 12:9

Monday, September 30, 2013

Color Wars (Day THIRTY-30 Day Challenge)

Yesterday morning we had something called Celebration Sunday! We were recognizing all of our church family who have been saved and baptized in our constantly growing little community church. As I was looking on, I could see that almost all of the people who had been baptized were wearing the same bright blue shirt. Each of them carried the same message on the front; 'I Took the Plunge'. As I was taking pictures of the group standing in front of the congregation, God gave me a cool illustration. In the fictional story below, all of those in the blue shirts are going to represent the saved. We are also going to pretend that those that did not have the blue shirts on...represent the unsaved. I'm choosing to write it from the perspective do someone who is lost(unsaved).

The alarm goes off and I wake up. Another monotonous day, sigh, more problems to face. I dress myself all in black because I have little happiness these days. I have nothing to look forward to and everything to fear. I wonder, 'Is this really how everyone feels? Am I missing something?'

I arrive to work and begin the process of waiting for the time that I can leave. I hate being here and I want it to show. I set my stuff down at my station and look up. Here comes the new guy. And WHY is he smiling? What could he possibly have to be happy about this early on a Monday morning. The guy is dressed down like the rest of us but his shirt...it's so bright. Everyone else at work is dressed all in dark, drab colors. It is almost as if our clothes represent our mood. Cold and dark. I find myself annoyed as he walks toward me. I can't handle being/seeing 'chipper' and 'fake' this early on a Monday. I look down as he walks by...hoping he will get the hint.

His feet stop right in front of mine. I can now see his hand stretched out in front of me. I, unwillingly, look up with a face void of expression and shake his hand. For just a moment I feel a warmth radiate through my body. This man's face is kind and gentle. His voice is calming and somehow reassuring. I quickly pull my hand away and cold resumes. I have no idea what he said...I was too distracted. I just knew that it.was.weird.

At lunch I kept my eye on him. In fact, for the next few weeks I did nothing but study him while we worked. I was waiting for the day that he came to work, dark, broken and bitter like the rest of us. It had to come, right? Isn't that what is inevitable in this world? Wait, what is that I just saw? One of my co-workers. The man that works right beside the new guy...now he has the same shirt. His face and his countenance seem different. He seems so...happy. What happened?! We all work the same job, what do they have to be happy about? Instead of asking...I just continue watching. From a distance, hopefully unnoticed, but I am sure watching!

A month or so goes by and I still can't get that first handshake out of my mind. As I mindlessly work I feel a tap on my shoulder. It is my boss telling me that I have a phone call. Instant panic its me like a bus. My gut tells me I don't want to hear what I am about to. My body is numb and drenched with fear as I walk toward the hall phone. It is a familiar voice, but one I had chosen not to hear for a while. I only heard the first few words that came from my mother's mouth. 'Your father is very sick. If you want to see him...today is the day.' I remember the last fight I had with him. And I remember the awful things that I said as I stormed out. I couldn't face him again...

I remember little of how I got to where I now found myself next. I do not remember hanging up the phone or walking. But here I was with tear-filled eyes as I reached out to tap the shoulder of the new guy. I didn't know him in the slightest. I had only ever watched him from a distance. But something from within me was drawing me to him. Something told me that he could help. As he looked into my eyes, his eyes immediately filled with tears and his face showed his evident compassion. Right there, surrounded by a crowd of dark, I poured my heart out to this stranger. 

Several times as I was talking I wondered 'Why am I still talking?!'...but, looking looking at the floor, still I continued. As I finished, he began. He was talking, but his eyes were closed. His hand was on my shoulder and I felt that same warmth I had felt before. He wasn't talking to me at all. He was talking to God about me. I remembered praying with my parents when I was little, so I closed my eyes. My heart felt like it hung on his every word. I clung to them as if my life depended on it. He was praying for my last conversation with my dad. He was praying things that I didn't feel...but that I desperately wanted to. Love. Forgiveness. Joy. Restoration. Peace. A new life.

Just before we parted ways he extended an invitation. Church. Ugh...he was inviting me to church. For some reason, that felt out of my rational control, I agreed. I walked away confused, but a little bit lighter. I didn't feel so lost and dark...and I figured anything was worth a try at this point. In the days leading up to the next Sunday I started to look around as I walked. There it was again and again. That same blue, followed by the same kind smile. It was as if people were being changed. It wasn't just about the color. That was what first caught my eye...but it was far more than that. Something within these people was different than what I had.

Here it was. Sunday. Anxiety almost got the best of me. I thought about going back home, but I was already in the parking lot. I hesitated just a few minutes. I decided to go in late so that I could avoid feeling awkward. They were having some sort of celebration that day. I heard name after name of people coming forward. There was that blue. There was that countenance that I kept seeing. They were all gathered together, proclaiming that they would never be the same. They were making a public statement in hopes that people would keep them accountable? After all of the clapping stopped the people returned to their seats. 


I looked out into the sea of people in that congregation and they were dispersed everywhere. Little pops of color. The people wearing blue stood out over all the rest. You couldn't help but notice them. They were bright and cheery. They looked as though they had something to celebrate. They all had something in common...but what? Do I dare ask them why they are so happy? Do I dare strike up a conversation with one of those 'peculiar' type? Why did they scatter among those who were dark? Why not stay huddled as a happy group? What good are the dark going to bring them?! Wouldn't they be safer to just stay away from those who are not like they are? I have to ask. I have to know...



If we could see each other from the heavenly realm, rather than from our earthly view; I wonder if we each radiate a color? I wonder also if the color could change depending on...our mood. Our faith. Our strength. Our mouth. Our thoughts. Our actions. Our circumstance.

If the darkest colors of the rainbow represented our lives without Christ...and red was an indicator that we were clearly on fire for Him...where would you rate yourself? Not just right this second...but when you first wake up. When you rush around to get out of the house on time. When you see someone you are uncomfortable with. When you are on a mission in Wal-mart and a stranger interrupts and asks you for a favor. When your husband leaves his clothes on the bathroom floor. Lol! (Where did that one come from?!) When someone attacks your character. When someone gossips. When someone hurts your child. When someone proves themselves to be two-faced.

I think this survey is worthy of asking yourself...but I would also encourage you to ask a few people that you confide in. Rate each other. Do not be malicious...but do be honest. If the vibe you are sending is cold and demeaning...wouldn't you want to know? Those feelings that people get when they first see you can help or hurt your witness. Who wants to have Jesus so they can STILL be miserable and void of joy? I can assure you...no one!

If you are on fire though...why and how? What did you have to go through to get to be that red hot mama? ;-)  Why is it so important that you commit to staying that way? Because people are watching! Some with a microscope. Some with binoculars. Some want to be sure they go over you with a metal detector, a fine tooth comb and a little 'religious condemnation' if needed. Others will not get that close to what they don't understand. They will only watch from a distance. Far enough to go unnoticed...but close enough to see. Either way though...when they come to a place where they are out of options; they will know to whom they can turn. They will have seen you be tested and come out stronger. They will see that your color of faith did not fade. It did not waver under pressure. It did change shades, but not how the enemy expected it to. It became even more vibrant and beautiful!

And when those who have been watching you come...you will welcome them with a heart of compassion. You will pray and rejoice with them, because that is the heart that strives to be like Jesus. Your color does not go unnoticed. Your passion is seen and heard. And when people come to their appointed time of a new beginning...they will reach out to someone who has been standing solid and firm within their view. They will spill their life into your path in hopes that they will be like those who are forever changed.

My crowd at work is FULL of color now. I could.not.would.not.shut.up about how that day at church changed me. To be among people of influence with The Answer to joy and life everlasting was what first inspired me. I now boldly proclaim why I have joy. I live what I know to the best of my ability because I see those without hope. I see them watching. And I can't wait for the day that I see them walking lighter and looking more like Jesus. I am redeemed. I am free. I am a blue-shirt wearin' fool...because I now understand the cost. The cross gives me hope and every reason to live like I have something to celebrate.

What about you? In these last 30 days...how has God revealed your true color to you? If you aren't where you thought you were...or are not where you want to be...what will you do? Today I would love for you to pray about finding a partner to war with you. Find a confidant to help you discern. Find a fellow Christian who will commit to pray for you to have contagious joy. Bold faith. Extravagant generosity. Complete humility. And passionate convictions.

And I, my friends, I pray for new ministry opportunities for you all. I want this world, your household, your workplace, your communities to be set ablaze. I want the many traits of Christ to be evident and free flowing! I'm praying for you because my ministry has me right smack in the middle of it all. I see lost. I see broken. I see deceived. But I believe for faith, restoration and healing to come soon. I proclaim it!

I LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you for your support during this challenge. I definitely picked the right word. Thirty day CHALLENGE! Wowza! Oh, there were trials. There were bumps. There were bruises. The enemy tried hard to quiet my voice...but I will not be silenced. Will you?!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Aborted Vision (Day TWENTY NINE-30 Day Challenge)

I want you to think right now of a vision that God gave you at some point in your life. I'm talking the type of vision that was maybe a bit intimidating to you. Or maybe it even scared you a little to think of what God would require of you. Or maybe it just seemed too far fetched to ever really happen. When you had one of those types of visions...what did you do with it? Did you pray and wait on God...or did you immediately abort it?

Do we tend to accept or abort these visions? Do we pray or play God on our own? 
A man that I know had this option when someone else cast a vision into his path. The pastor of the church he attended at the time, asked him to pray about doing a church plant. There was a little community church that needed some life and passion brought back into it. His immediate response was to abort the vision. He hadn't been saved for as many years as some and I'm sure there was a sense of inadequacy. I'm sure fear was involved. I'm sure the enemy had his whisper behind every doubtful thought that entered his head. But he agreed to pray about it.

That man is my Pastor. I'm so thankful that he did not abort God's vision for him. This community needs a man just like he is. Passionate about the lost. Stubborn for convictions he believes in. Feisty when he needs to be. Humble enough to say he doesn't know...and then to figure it out. Willing to believe for big things...even in small communities. Willing to cast God's vision for others to see and get excited about. 

Who would have missed out if he had aborted this vision without genuinely praying?



-The 86 people that got baptized on August 18th of this year. (Two of which were my own children, one grandma-in-law, and two of my husband's cousin's children!) =)
-The many many salvations that he has been a part of personally...but also the ones that happened through other ministries within the church that he committed to bringing back to life.
-The man who was delivered from being demon possessed.
-The people who have been healed from sickness, disease, infection, virus, bacteria, illness, pain, depression, etc.
-The lukewarm who decided not to stay that way and became fired up because of his evident flame of faith.
-The people who come every week. The broken and bruised. The tired and weak. Those lost and without hope. Who leave encouraged. Inspired. Joyful. Secure. Filled with new hope. 

-My own family would have missed out on new ministry opportunities, new friendships, new salvation, a new body of believers to war with and for, and blessings ga-lore! =)
-Last, he would have missed out on the greatest, most difficult and most fulfilling ride of his lifetime. 

I am so thankful that he prayed. I am so thankful that he was willing to be stretched and strengthened in his faith. Because every area that he is weak, God is strong! Where he lacks...God was already preparing him warriors/friends to fill in and help him uphold and feed the flock. I am so thankful to be a part of a team that pursues God's vision no matter what! The enemy can whisper. The enemy can scream and slander even. But God! God's vision is still clear in my pastor's mind...and he will relentlessly cling to and pursue it. And we have committed to do whatever God asks to make vision...reality. We easily follow a man with such audacious faith. We follow because we pray for his steps, and we trust the Heart that guides his.

Back in August, the leadership team of our church was blessed to be able to go to 'The Global Leadership Summit'. It was an amazing two days of intense leadership-oriented knowledge and challenges. The application...ugh...not as easy as the note taking. Bill Hybels was the first speaker and boy he just dove right in. His message was by far one of my favorites! I found it interesting that without knowing before hand; my favorite speakers from that summit where all pastors. I learned the most about the type of leader I aspire to be from them! 

Pastor Hybels was talking about this idea of aborting vision. He charged us to NOT be the type of leaders that Fed-Ex our God-given visions back to heaven with a cowardly note that says...return to sender. Or no thanks. Or send someone else. Instead he challenged us to be willing to pray Joshua 1:9. He said to pray it AS MANY TIMES AS IT TAKES! 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Can you boldly proclaim that verse, as often and as many times as it takes, to move forward toward the vision God has given you? My challenge to you this week is to pray, fervently and passionately, about a vision that God has given you at some point in your lifetime. Pray if it is still His will for you to complete? AND tell someone that you trust to pray with you. 

The following questions from Pastor Hybels, were a couple of the hardest for me to answer. I want you to answer them right now. Please don't just think about them. Don't just move past and forget. Give God a few minutes and answer so that you won't be content with just knowing. I want you to admit where you are and be passionate about NOT STAYING THERE!

Read these questions with a heart soft and willing to admit. Answer them with a heart plyable. Mold able. Changeable. 
 "Just because no one knows, or ever knew, about a vision you aborted...is it okay? What if your vision/your new ministry...is someone's ONLY hope? And when you stand before God and give an account for these things He asked you to do...what will be your excuse? What could you say to Him?!"

Be courageous my friend. Stand up and fight for  these dreams God has given you. They are not silly. They are not too far fetched. God says..."I have immeasurably more for you! You can not measure what I have because your scale is not mine. Trust MY vision above what you imagine. I am God. You are man."

Today...begin to dare to dream big. Tell people your vision. And do not be a squelcher of other believers visions! Just believe God is God and He knows better than you. Let Him to His job...He is MUCH better at it!! =)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's My Promise, is it Yours?! (Day TWENTY EIGHT-30 Day Challenge)

Do you ever have a day when you wake up and just aren't feelin' it? You feel unsure about most areas of life. You doubt if you are in the right job. If you are doing enough. If you are sleeping enough. If you are giving enough of yourself..or maybe too much. Maybe you should quit everything and start over! Yeah that's it! Clearly the most 'rational' 'thing' 'to' 'do' would be to run away from ALL that you've poured yourself into. (Vanesa presses huge, oversized sarcasm button a few (hundred) times!!!!!!)

What could you do on days like those? (Besides give up and give in?) What do you need on days like those? Maybe all it would take is just a voice of encouragement! Maybe just a kind word to help you see how loved and appreciated you are. "The lips of the righteous nourish many..." Proverbs 10:21

Or maybe...that verse is for you to live out FOR others? Are you tired of giving of yourself to bless others? Do you feel as though you don't have an ounce to give some days? It's okay to admit. Our feelings are something we feel entitled to...but that doesn't always make them right. On the days that you are focusing on how exhausted you are. On the days that you start out by saying you have nothing left to give...who are you passing by? Who was in your path that day that was also on the verge of giving up? Did you even notice them? If not you...then who?!

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 There you go...that verse should cause you to sigh with relief? Are you in children's ministry? Are you part of a worship team? Are you part of a small group? Are you a parent? Are you a prayer warrior? Keep refreshing those around you with acts of kindness and words of encouragement because God will send someone to refresh you! =) It is written in black and white in The Book inspired by God. 

The Bible has PLENTY of promises that we don't see active in our lives. Does that make them untrue? NOPE!! It could mean, though, that we aren't standing on God's promises. It could mean that we aren't believing that they are for us, in this day. It could mean that we aren't living as though they are true. It could mean that we aren't expecting God to fulfill them. Or it could mean that we don't even KNOW them. That we aren't searching His Word for promises that we can proclaim. Start...today! Find a promise in God's Word and underline it. Date it. Write it on a postcard. Speak it boldly. Look at it often! Then let someone know. It doesn't have to be me...but it can be! Ask someone to keep you accountable to believing what God has for you.

"God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; He has blessed and I cannot change it." Numbers 23:19-20

How refreshing it is to know that God fulfills His promises! Sometimes I willingly but unknowingly put God on my ridiculous little scale of knowledge. I compare Him to what I see. What I have seen. Or what I know to be true because of my three decades of 'experience' here on earth. If I have never seen a person healed...I guess it isn't for us. If I have never seen a man delivered of demons...I guess he will just have to suffer. If I have never seen a once barren woman holding her child...I suppose her dreams will die with her empty, aching heart.

THAT IS WHY GOD REPEATS HIMSELF! (For the thick skulled!) That is why God gives us soooo many promises to stand on! That is why He says meet with one another. Commune with like-minded. Love as He loves. Praise Him no matter what you see. Because His promises ARE for us to cling to! They are for us to proclaim and not waver from. God knew how we would be. He knew we would doubt. So He FILLED the Bible with repeated promises. I double-dog-dare you to find one that speaks straight to your core...and to live like it is yours. ;-)

Here are a couple of promises that will not only help inspire your days...but also will overflow onto those around you. Don't you want to be the bright point in a person's day? Wouldn't it be fulfilling to meet someone who's heart is heavy and leave them uplifted because you have the key to all joy and life?! Let's stop accepting drama in our days...but instead live like we have a reason to. 

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12:25

"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:4

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24

Your choice, be a weight or a weight-lifter. Be a crusher of spirits or a healing nurturer. Do you want to look like Jesus? And I don't mean with the amount of hair you can grow. (Ahem...that may or may not be, but definitely is, a slight slam on my husband's current hairy nature.) If you really want to look like Jesus you will speak as He spoke. With passion. With life. With hope. With promise. With conviction. With truth. With love. With power. With tact. With compassion. With purpose. With promise.

Talk as He talked. Believe as He believed. Live as He lives. He is not dead. Be alive as He is alive!




Friday, September 27, 2013

Get Your Praise On (Day TWENTY SEVEN-30 Day Challenge)

Every time my kids and I drive anywhere together...music is almost always on. As of recently...we are usually rocking bands such as LaCrae, Toby Mack and Capital Kings. They are all super upbeat and fun. To some who hear us drive by, it might seem a little odd to hear Christian dance, hip hop or rap coming from my sweet minivan; but  I can assure you that my kids don't care at all. Lol! The smiles on their faces...and the lyrics they are singing makes it worth a few eye rolls. ;-)



Even though lately we've been listening to a lot of music that makes us all want to dance...I love that my kids can still appreciate true worship. I know that I've mentioned one of my favorite songs before...but I am going to again. It became clear to me in the last few weeks that maybe my kids aren't 'the norm'.  Haha!! I mean they really aren't normal, but I'm thinking maybe they are more 'peculiar' than I realize. 

I'm going to go King James on you for a moment. Stay with me. ;-) "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 ( Just so we are clear...because I wasn't...'shew forth' means show out into view.)

What does it mean to be peculiar? By definition it can have several meanings. Some of them include; special, unique, eccentric, uncommon, unusual or odd. What does it mean for us, as Christians, to be peculiar? The definitions that I believe the author is referring to in the passage above are; 'distinct from all others', 'distinctive in nature or character from others'. 

WE AREN'T SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE THE WORLD!! (All caps means I am screaming it right?! Lol! There is a difference between screaming in anger and screaming with passion. I am passionate about that one...not bitter! I just want to be sure you got my point.) We aren't supposed to talk like them!  We aren't supposed to live like them! We are supposed to be peculiar! We are supposed to show, so the world can see, ourselves praising Him who has given us freedom from eternal death and suffering! You  have something to celebrate. It is not just your day...but your forever! We are not above the lost, as in high and mighty, but we are different. Or at least we should be!

My oldest son has gotten the chance to play DJ with my MP3 player a few times over the last couple of weeks, while we had some friends of his in the car with us. He deemed himself in charge of finding music suitable for everyone. He played a few silly dance-type songs, a little rap and then.... (Here is where it got peculiar, in a good way.) Aiden turned to his friend and said in an excited voice...'Do you want to hear an awesome song? It is so so good! It is one of my favorites!' Of course they did...his song selection had been slammin'! His DJ skills were clearly right on track.

If you haven't ever heard the song that he played next...take the time now to watch the video. It is so so good, in my opinion as well. So good! The song is called, 'The Great I Am'. It starts off quiet and slow...and it builds. I remember well the first time my children and I ever heard it. We were driving home at night and I turned it way up. (Probably to try to hear over their loudness!) Everyone.got.silent. (In a van with four young children, I gotta tell you, THAT NEVER HAPPENS! <-- Passionate about that one too? Haha!) Seriously, my kids and I couldn't help it though. The words of this song brought a hush over us all. We worshiped God that night, in my minivan, in complete silence. We didn't have to say or sing a word. We were there in His Presence...and I will never forget it. We couldn't help but to just listen in awe of the lyrics. As I listened for the first time, I had tears falling down onto my cheeks. The song ended and my oldest son, who was probably around the age of 6 or 7 at the time, says to me, 'Wow, THAT is a powerful song Mom. I cried a little when I was listening to it.' Peculiar! (But also totally amazing that he can discern the power of God put to music!)

Or how about the week that my middle son, Titus was in the nursery at our old church. To help time pass the nursery workers were asking for song requests that the group could sing together. One child asked to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Another wanted Mary Had a Little Lamb. Titus though, at the age of 3, he asked for The Great I Am. Peculiar!(And also amazing to me! They are listening...no matter their age...they hear you!) And when the woman who was working in the nursery that day told me that story, she ended by saying, 'You can tell which child is the worship leader's son!' Haha! I absolutely LOVE IT!

Why are my kids peculiar? I'd say it is a double whammy. Yep...that's what I said. A.double.whammy. Lol! You see, my husband is not only the Worship Pastor of our church; I am also one of the lead worshipers. That is not at all a prideful statement. Please please please know that. I am simply saying that I am not up there performing. I am not just trying to be a singer leading songs. I am a worshiper who leads BY worshiping. I am not above. I am not exalted. I am someone who has gone through times where I didn't want to sing...and now I must worship whenever I can. I owe Him that at the very least! I know what God has given me victory over. I worship because I can not forget how faithful He has been to me! I will never forget!

"Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty Heavens. Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness. Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre, praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute, praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord."  Psalm 150

Do you have breath? Then you know what to do! You must set the example. The world is watching...begging someone to live what they know. Your kids are learning from you. It matters not so much what you say...but what they see you do. In your home do they see you worship? In your car do they hear you pray and praise? Is worship kept sacred for Sunday mornings? Because we can't handle that type of pressure. Your church can.not.be your only source of worship! When you have gone allllll week without singing praises to your King, who is responsible? When you come empty and leave disappointed, who is to blame? It surely is NOT your church. Do you know that 'worship is a lifestyle...not an event'? Is that what your life proves to be true?

God gave us a pretty HUGE miracle this week in our family. **Disclaimer...The following should not in any way give any one the impression that my husband is anything other than invincible as he believes he is. Haha! (Kind of like when Mario gets a star on any of the Mario video games) It proves only that God's protection is over him...and NOT that he is a weakling. End of disclaimer** ;-)

Wednesday my husband came home from work and I went out to give him a hug. Immediately I could tell by his face that something was wrong. Keep in mind that he has a extremely dangerous job. There isn't a day that goes by that my kids and I don't pray for the safety of he and his dad in the woods. Our team of horses was pulling a log as Eric had instructed them to do. He was beside the cart watching as the log they were pulling t-boned a tree that was laying in their path. Eric, thinking it was just a log that would move out of the way, gave another command for them to continue on through the obstacle. They began pulling the entire tree with them which knocked Eric over. He was then dragged along, with the tree eventually ending up on top of him.

What stopped it? Finally the tree that was dragging him ran into a tree that was still standing. He had a close view of this tree. The sound that it made when it stopped all motion was not only heard but felt. Less than a foot away from getting his head crushed...Eric lay unable to move. He was unsure if anything was broken. He had no function in either of his legs. BUT GOD!

In August of 2011 God gave me this scripture for Eric. "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; He protects His bones, not one of them will be broken." Psalm 34:19-20 I showed the verse to Eric and he still holds on to that promise.

Eric is sore...but he is blessed! That first night was a rough one for him pain-wise...but he can feel. The feeling in his legs was quickly restored. The nausea from the intense pain left as he slept that Wednesday night. I praise God that He gave me the promise of protection over my husband. I praise God that He reminded him of it when he hobbled into our house that afternoon. And I praise God that He was faithful to that promise. No bones broken. Not even a bruise or scratch.

I laughed as I responded to this question posed by one of the men from our worship team, "When a worship leader falls in the forest and nobody else is around to hear, just what kind of sound does he make?" My answer..."The worship leader still praises God because his head was not smashed between the trees less than a foot from it! =) God is good!"

NO matter your circumstance...you have reason to praise. Set the example for the world around you...and set the bar high! Imitate Christ always...and watch how it changes your view of God's faithfulness. Watch how it strengthens your faith. Let it mold you to be a more noticeable and effective warrior. Heaven will be an eternity all about praising and worshiping our Creator...I suggest you learn to love it now! ;-)

"May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me Your decrees. May my tongue sing of your Word, for all Your commands are righteous." Psalm 119:171-172