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The Fire of Heaven in the Heart of Youth

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I’ve been in a dry spell.  The news all around me takes a toll on a spirit.  Busyness keeps me from digging into the wellspring of Jesus and His Word.  Pure discouragement keeps me from going to Him in prayer.  All excuses, I know, designed by the enemy to keep me from being who I am in Christ and from being productive for His Kingdom.

 

This week, I had the privilege of going to our Brethren Youth Conference with our youth group.  We took 18 youth and 5 advisors.  I didn’t want to go.  In the midst of my busyness and discouragement, going away for a week when there is so much to do was the last thing I wanted.  Even on Sunday, I was still trying to think of reasons not to go, but all week long the Spirit had been calling me to a time set apart with Him.  So with much reluctance, I went, knowing that there was something special waiting for me there.

 

Light bulb moments from the Spirit revealed to the youth!

Light bulb moments from the Spirit revealed to the youth!

 

God is a Good Good Father!  I was reminded over and over this week, when seen through the eyes of untainted youth.  I’m not saying they are not aware of the darkness around them.  You would have to live in complete seclusion not to be aware of the evil and perverseness that prevails all around us.  What I’m talking about, is being untainted by the church and religion.  There is a pureness of faith and worship that those of us who’ve been around awhile tend to lose.  Everyone knows the world is bad, but those of us that have been in the church awhile have been exposed to things that have also tainted our view of Christians and the church.  It’s sad, I know.  We allow the bad actions of fellow believers to twist our view of Christ and who we are in Christ.

 

This manifests in all kinds of ways.  It looks different for different people, because it has affected us in different ways.  It may look like standing in church not singing the songs, or singing with little or no regard for the words coming from our mouths.  It may mean never displaying any source of Christ in our lives outside the walls of the church.  Possibly, it’s a lack of reading the Word or praying.  Maybe it’s just doubting the power and authority given to us by the Holy Spirit and refusing to acknowledge the gifts we have been given.

 

All of these things have manifested in my life at one point or another and sometimes all at once, I’m sad to admit.  This week though…I was reminded, refreshed and revived!  I was reminded that God is Who He says He is, and I am Who HE says I am.  Watching the pure worship of youth pouring out their praise to God refreshed my soul.  Practicing new ways of blessing others, praying for them, and sharing our stories revived my spirit.  For these youth, that are not yet jaded, all of these new ideas seemed like a natural way to serve God.  They soaked it up like a sponge and were eager to try all of these new things.  It didn’t seem weird to them.  They didn’t look around wondering what others would think of them.  For them it was a new revelation, a new way to see God, experience Him and walk out their Faith in a real and tangible way.

 

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12

 

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Pure Worship-hands raised and hearts open!

We really could learn a lot from this new generation.  When the world around us seems to being going straight to Hell, literally, take heart.  There is a new generation of young believers that are taking a bright light into the world.  They have been empowered with tools that will change our world.  A new identity has been revealed to them as Sons and Daughters of God, full of hope, power, authority, and passion.  I witnessed them sharing their stories with each other.  They built each other up with prayer, encouragement, and blessings.  It wasn’t forced upon them.  It was introduced to them, and they grabbed hold and ran with it.  They felt the transforming power of the Holy Spirit inside of them.  Gifts were revealed and used.  Just like you and I, they feel the darkness closing in, but given a light to shine, they are all in!

 

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17

You may not have had the blessing of witnessing the transformation of these youth, but take heart in knowing that it happened.  In a world full of darkness, it only takes a spark to bring the light.  There is more than a spark in these youth…there’s a fire! Do what you can to fan the flames.  Christ may come tomorrow, but if He should tarry, there is hope in the next generation.  There is power and authority given by the Holy Spirit and it is manifesting in the lives of our youth!  Praise God!

This is Why I Run!

  • me at statehouse

Several months ago, I wrote a blog post Battle Cry “It’s Time Christians”.  I wrote of an experience I had with God.  It was a message He gave me during a time of prayer.  After months of wrestling with all He told me that night, some of which was too personal and frankly scary at the time to share, I have been moved into obedience.  It’s taken months for me to come to grips with what He has called me to do.  Honestly, it was a calling I did not want.  As I wrestled though, I went to scripture and found that person after person in the Bible were given assignments they did not want.  Each person dealt with those assignments in different ways, but I did notice a pattern.  Most of them when given the assignment were not eager to be obedient.  It also took them some time wrestling with God and coming to grips with what He was asking them to do.  Moses made excuses, Sarah laughed, Jonah ran, Elijah hid, Peter denied…and I argued.

I’ve had many “conversations” with God over these last few months.  Let me just tell you, we serve a very patient and compassionate God.  He knows our hearts and He knew mine.  He knows my weaknesses and insecurities.  He knows my doubts and graciously walked through them with me.  I still have some to be honest, but I am confident that He is in this with me and will be by my side the whole way.  It is amazing how connected you can be to God when you truly seek Him.  These last few months have been like a roller coaster and I keep leaning in and holding on.  No matter the twists and turns that have come my way, He is keeping me on track.  There have been moments of apprehension, anticipation, thrills and excitement and I know the ride is just beginning.  There’s a long way to go, but I’m resting in the fact that I’m just along for the ride and He is the one in control.

If you didn’t read my previous blog post that I mentioned above, let me give a brief recap.  I watched a movie with my husband called “Fury.”  It was a WWII movie about and American tank crew in Nazi Germany.  The depravity of the human race weighed heavy on my heart long after the movie was over.  As I went to bed, I cried out to God in the heaviness of my heart.  As I poured out my questions to Him and tried to understand, I finally asked, “What can I do about all this?”  (Just FYI-Don’t ask God this question, unless you are truly prepared for the answer!)  In the stillness of my heart I heard, “Politics.”

Let the argument begin… “But I don’t know anything about politics.”

“I will teach you.”

“I don’t know anyone in politics.”

“I will introduce you.”

“But, what about my family?”

“I will take care of them.”

“I don’t want them to get hurt.  Politics can be brutal.”

“I love them even more than you do. I will protect them”

Every question, every concern was lovingly answered, but I still wasn’t convinced.  I shared my experience with my husband and with a friend.  Both were very encouraging to me, but also had lots of questions.  As the next few weeks and months went by and the questions and seeking continued, God began to change my heart and my perspective.  I made a deal with God.  I’m not sure if this is allowed…non-the-less, I did.  Here was the deal…If you open the doors, I will walk through them, but if you close the doors, I will stop.  And He did.  The doors that have opened and the people that I have met has been, well…life changing.  I never would have guessed I would be on the path that God has placed me.  The doors continue to open and I continue to go through.  I am walking in obedience; one day at a time and one door at a time.  I don’t know where this will end up honestly, but with God at the helm of this ship, it’s bound to be an adventure.

Me and Amy in Senate Chambers

Over the last few months I’ve spent multiple days at the State House, a building I had never stepped foot in before.  I’ve stood in assemblies of people praying, singing and standing for religious freedom in the atrium of that great building.  I’ve walked the halls, sat in committee meetings, sat on the floor of the House of Representatives during session and learned the ropes of a representative spending the day with my Representative.  I sat in the seat of a Senator in Senate Chambers, as I witnessed the proceedings of the first reading of SB344 and SB100 and prayed for the preservation of religious freedom.  I’ve walked alongside my friend Amy as she has fought tirelessly and lobbied for the Heartbeat Bill in Indiana.  I’ve sat and talked with representatives, senators, councilmen and other candidates not only voicing my opinion about certain bills and issues, but most importantly listening, learning and getting advice.  God has certainly been opening doors and so I keep walking through.    People have even been contacting me and offering to help.  God is good and faithful, there is no doubt about it!

filing papers

So, what does all of this look like for me right now?  I am currently running for a Wabash County Council, At Large seat.  There are three seats coming up for election.  I am one of five Republicans running and there is one Democrat.  Three are current councilmen.  I know I have my work cut out for me.  It’s going to take a lot of time, resources and commitment, but with God on my side I can’t lose.  I don’t mean that I know I will win the election.  What I mean is…if He has called me to this and I am obedient in answering the call, no matter the results of the election, I win!  Will it be easy? No!  Will I get a little stressed out at times?  I imagine I will, because I already have.  The good news is…no matter the outcome, I am walking in confidence that this is the path to which He has called me.  God willing, if I win this election, I will serve for Him.  I will do my best to represent Him in the halls of government locally and who knows, maybe at the State House someday?

As I look into the eyes of my children and all the kids that I influence in my everyday life, I can say with confidence, “ I am doing all I can to preserve the future of this county, state, and great nation for you and future generations.”  I may be but one small cog in a great machine, but I will do my part.  I will fight for my values which are my faith, my family, and my freedom.  If we can preserve our right to live out our faith in all areas of life, promote traditional family values, and protect our constitutional and God given freedoms, then we have done well for future generations.  They deserve to enjoy those freedoms as we have and I want that for them.

girls at state house

Teaching, mentoring and growing the next generation is intertwined in all aspects of my life.  It’s who I am and what I’m called to do.  The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize it until I started examining this new path.  I’m a mom of two girls who are almost twelve and fourteen.  I have been and am currently a host mom of two exchange daughters from Germany.  In my seven years of owning my own business, I have employed and invested in seven girls ranging from Jr. High to college students.  I’ve been involved in our church’s youth group as a leader and helper for the last four years.  Serving on Faith Quest, which is a teen spiritual retreat weekend for the last eight years has given me the opportunity to speak into the lives of countless teens and watch them grow into adults, marry, and have kids of their own.  I can’t think of anything more rewarding that investing in the lives of the next generation.  Now I have the opportunity, God willing, to help preserve their futures in the halls of government and will be able to say with confidence and sincerity, “I did all I could to preserve a good future for you and generations to come.”

So when people ask me “Why are you running for office?” this is my answer.  I am running for office because God called me to do it.  One day in the future I will stand before Him.  When He asks me what I have done with the gifts and abilities He has given me, I want to be able to say, “I was obedient in the tasks You gave me and completed them for Your glory.”  My greatest desire in all that I do here on earth is to one day hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  And this is why I run!

 

In His Service!

I Choose Hope!

 

Hope

When you look around today, as a Christian, it’s difficult to not lose hope.  It’s easy to get discouraged.  The states of our world, nation, state, and even our families are dismal at best.  We are living in a time when things seem totally out of control.  Hate, intolerance, and offense are words heard daily and usually aimed at us.  People have different ways of dealing with all that is going on.  Some people rant and rave, but put no action to their words.  Other people placate and try to be the devil’s advocate.  Yet, still others bury their heads in the sand and hope that when they come up for air it will all be better.  To tell you the truth, I’ve spent time in all of these camps at one time or another.  If we don’t directly feel the effects of those things around us, it’s easy to let someone else fight the battle or deny the battle even needs fought.

At the beginning of every year, for several years now, I’ve taken the month of January to do some soul searching.  This year is no different.  I like to look at the upcoming year, set some goals and get back in physical and spiritual shape after the chaos of the holidays.  People may attack the New Year in different ways, but for me fasting and prayer seems a good way to start.  So as I was lying in bed praying and thinking on all the negative things swirling around me, the Lord was gracious.  He put some new thoughts in my head about the situations we seem to be facing.

So this year, I choose hope.

Let me explain.  It is really easy to get wrapped up in all that is wrong in our world; both locally and globally.  It’s human nature to gravitate to the negative.  Any news outlets or social media sites are filled with all that is wrong.  What we as Christians often fail to remember, and what the Lord so graciously reminded me of, is in Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.”  It may look as if we are losing the battle, and honestly, I think we are, but there is hope.  Our God is still on the throne.  Jesus is still sitting at His right hand.  Nothing that is happening here on earth surprises them.  Oh, I do think it saddens them, but They know all things.  There is nothing new under the sun.  They are sovereign and They know the entire plan.  So, I find peace and rest in that.

I also draw hope from those Christians around me that I see doing great things.  I draw hope from the mother of four, who for the last 13 years has selflessly fought on the front lines for religious freedom.  Even in the midst of constant criticism and attacks, she presses on.  I draw hope from a loyal friend who is fighting tirelessly for the unborn, even in the midst of naysayers who tell her it can’t be done.  I draw hope from a small country church whose numbers are dwindling, yet when given the opportunity to sign a petition for religious freedom, nearly every person signed.  I find hope in a county councilman who believes in our county and that we can make America great again by building from the ground up, starting at the county level, building on Biblical principles.  I find hope in that I still live in a school district that is not ashamed to speak the Word of God or sing songs about Jesus in their Christmas program.  I find hope in my children, who see what is going on in the world and can look at things through untainted eyes and clearly know right from wrong.  I draw hope from those who are in seemingly impossible circumstances, yet by the grace of God press on.  God chooses the most unlikely and seemingly under qualified to do great things for Him.  So, I have Hope!

I don’t know what this year will bring to our world, our nation, our state or in my family.  In my plan, the way I would like to see things go; there would be lots of changes for the good.  Luckily for all of us, I’m not in charge, because I would mess it up!  But I know Who is in control and He’s got this!  He’s got all of it, down to the smallest detail.  I plan to do my part.  He does not call us to be spectators.  Actually, the part He has called me to do scares me to death, but I am resting in the fact that in my obedience, He is in control and He will get the glory. I found this verse today and it seemed so fitting.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”  Hebrews 6:10-12

We do not labor in vain.  God sees our efforts.  Our rewards here on earth may be few, as a matter of fact, they may seem like a curse at the time, but I look forward to our eternal rewards which can never be taken.

I have a feeling that this year will be nothing like I expect or want, but I’m going to try to be ok with that.  I know who holds the future and He holds me in the palm of His hand.  We may not win the battles here on earth, but I know Who wins the war!  He is coming soon to take us home, where we will stand in victory.  So, no matter what this year brings, I choose HOPE.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  1 Peter 3:15-16

By living in the strength of the joy of the Lord, I hope that I can share that HOPE with others.  What about you, friend?  Joy and Hope aren’t just for Christmas.  I think it’s time we show the world where our Joy and our Hope come from-JESUS!  Will you choose HOPE, too?

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Choosing Hope!

Where Were You When They Took Our Freedom?

Where were you

Are you a Christian?  I don’t mean the “Ya, I believe in God” or the “Ya, I go to church” Christian.  I mean a true, Bible believing, I live my life for Christ and I stand on His promises-type Christian.  I want to know…where are the Christians?  If you are a true Christian, do you feel it?  Do you feel the shift in the atmosphere?   Do you feel the shift in society, our state, our nation and our world?  Do you feel the great divide that is happening?  I do!  With all of my being I feel it!  And as I talk to other true believers, they feel it too.  It’s scary and it’s invigorating.  Some days it’s downright discouraging and other days it fills me with hope and expectation.

In Matthew 25:31-46, it talks about the final judgment when the Son of Man comes to judge the inhabitants of this world.

Verses 32 and 33 say, “Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left.”

I know these verses are talking about the end of times, but I’m seeing evidence of this happening right now.  All you have to do is look around, pay attention and you can see that our world is spinning out of control.  The news is filled with stories of wars both abroad and at home.  Some of those wars are taking place right in our homes.  Especially here in America, this once great nation, founded on the principles of the Bible, is crumbling at the foundation.  Where once the Bible was the ultimate authority on everything; laws, rulings, marriage, and life; now it’s the voice that screams the loudest, no matter how wrong they are.  It is these things that are being debated that are now separating the sheep from the goats.

It is not my place to judge how you stand on the issue of religious freedom, marriage, abortion, refugees, war, education, taxes, and the list goes on.  It is God’s place to judge where you stand on them.  His Word is very clear.  There are no mistakes, it is infallible.  There is no room for new translations that skew the Truth to be what you want it to be.  Personally, this is where I base my judgment.  It’s not my opinion, it’s God’s Truth, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the final Word.  There’s no room for compromise.  And here is where we separate the sheep from the goats.

Again, I ask…where are the Christians?  There is a remnant.  I talk to some of them almost daily.  There are still those who see the crisis of this world and are willing to stand against the tide and not just apathetically sit in the church pews on Sunday.  I think people have the wrong view of Christ in the Bible.  I think they see Him as passive and weak.  He was anything but!  If you look real closely, Jesus picked His battles.  The only battles He backed away from were personal attacks.  He did not feel the need to defend Who He was, but what He did defend was His Father, the principles for which the Father sent Him to earth and the people who could not defend themselves.  Therefore, I believe we must do the same.  We must fight for the things of the Father, which are written in His Word and for those who can’t defend themselves.  It’s not a fight of hate.  Jesus offended a lot of people, not out of hate, but out of love.

My daughter asked me the other day, “My friend wants to know, if we are Christians, aren’t we supposed to love everyone.  And if so, what’s the big deal about baking a cake?”  I love that she is asking that question.  Jesus often answered questions with a question, so I did the same.  “If you were doing something that was wrong, bad for you, or was causing you injury, would you want me to support you in doing that and or help you stop?  For instance, if I knew you were having sex with your boyfriend (which we do not support, based on our Biblical beliefs), would it be right for me to invite him over and send you both to your bedroom?”  Of course her answer was, “NO!”  This is my point exactly.  We continued to talk about how I give her limits and step in and say “no” when she is doing things she shouldn’t because I love her.

We love people, therefore we don’t participate in things that support or condone destructive, sinful behavior.  It’s really that simple.

A time has come where the sheep and goats are being separated.  There’s no longer time for lukewarm Christianity.  There’s no longer time for pew sitting when the doors are open at the church and living as the world the rest of the week.  There used to be a saying, “Get off the porch or stay home.”  My sentiment is “get out of the pew or stay home!”  I’m not saying that going to church is bad, please hear me.  We need to continue to gather together for love and support and to hear the Word of God.  What I’m saying is… if that is all you are doing, what good are you for the Kingdom?  Maybe that sounds harsh, but the lost are not coming into the church buildings.  The battles for the foundations of our nation, built on the Word of God are not being fought in the pews.  The battle for the lives of the unborn and now the incapacitated won’t be won by sitting in the four walls of a church.

It’s time for Christians to go to the battle front.  The time for apathy and ignorance is over.  It is far too costly.  It’s cost us prayer in schools, it’s cost the lives of millions of unborn babies, it has cost the sanctity of marriage, it has cost the Word of God being taken from the halls of government.  Should I go on?  Right now, it’s costing us religious freedom.  What does that look like?  It means that Christian business owners lose their businesses, our daughters are subjected to boys in their locker room showers and bathrooms, Christians in political offices are removed from their positions or arrested, Christian agencies are forced to go against their Christian beliefs or close, and again, the list goes on.  We can’t fight these battles from the pews.

God has given us the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions(Luke 10:19), not hide in the pews.  Why are we not using it???

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

Please Christians…wake up!  Stand up!  Suit up with the armor of God!  The battle is raging on all fronts.  The battle cry has been sounded!  Where are the Christian soldiers?  Where are the prayer warriors?  Where are the children of God who are willing to stand on the Word of God and not back down?  We need YOU!  I need YOU!  There is power in unity of the body.  This battle is not about you and me.  It’s about the generation we are raising and the generations to come.  If we lose these battles, these children will grow up in a very different world than we did.  They will not be able to live out their faith in the public square, they will not be able to stand up for their faith without persecution, and their rights will be stripped before they ever even had them.

When they ask, “Where were you when they took our freedom?” what will you say?

I see evidence daily that Christ is coming soon.  My very being longs for His return, but if He should tarry, my heart breaks for the world that will be left, if we don’t act now.  Souls are at stake.  Our time is short; we must be living out our faith in real practical ways, not cowering in the pews until His return.  How will He find you?  If you say you are a Christian, yet you don’t see the urgency, might I suggest you may be a sheep following the wrong shepherd?  If that’s not the case…you may just be a goat!

Following His Lead,

“Go to Hell, In the Name of Jesus!”

victory mountain

This past weekend, I was blessed to serve on a women’s spiritual retreat.  I attended this retreat 13 years ago and it was life changing for me.  Unfortunately, I was under the delusion that this was the end of my spiritual troubles.  I truly believed that I had left my baggage at the foot of the cross and now Satan had to leave me alone.  I had experienced God in such real and amazing ways that weekend and being young in my faith, expected smooth sailing once leaving that mountain top.  Little did I know that my enemy knew where I had been and was waiting to pull the rug out from under me, when I least expected it.  Over the years I’ve found that after mountain top experiences, often come the lowest valleys.

This weekend, as we were in the chapel, I was praying for the ladies that were experiencing this weekend for the first time.  I was praying for them to really let go and let God have control of their lives.  I was praying for release of those things that were hindering their walk with Christ.  During that time of prayer, I was reminded of the struggles I had when I returned home from my weekend all those years ago.  I had returned unwarned and totally unprepared to deal with the attacks of the enemy.

So, as I sat and prayed, I felt impressed by the Spirit to share the reminder and give a warning to those leaving this weekend on a spiritual high.  I wasn’t quite sure who the message was intended for, so I shared it with the girl sitting beside me.  She agreed and said she had experienced that before as well.  After the service, I mentioned my thoughts to the pastors.  To which one replied, “So when do you want to share about it?  God gave the message to you, not me.”  I was not expecting to share with everyone, I was simply asking if it was going to be addressed before the weekend concluded.  Next thing I knew they were lining up a time for me to share the thoughts that the Spirit had impressed upon me.  It would be the following morning.

That night, long after everyone else was in bed, I was praying and writing the words the Spirit laid upon my heart.  I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to turn out, but figured if the Spirit spoke, I should listen and obey.  The next morning, when the time came I was shaking from head to toe, totally scared out of my mind, but confident that God was in control.  As I began to speak, the Spirit took over.  This is the message He gave me…maybe not word for word, but something like this.

“Ladies, we have had an amazing weekend thus far.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve spent the weekend in the lap of Jesus, my Savior.  We have be truly blessed.  We serve a wonderful God and this weekend, I believe we have walked on Holy ground.  There is still more to come, but soon we must leave this sacred place.  We will leave this cocoon and return to our worlds.  I don’t know what you are returning home to.  You may be returning to family, friends, work, school… life, but we are also returning to the adversary of our Lord.  Trust me…he knows where you’ve been.  He knows what you have done and he’s not happy about it.  He knows what you’ve learned and the power you have been given, but I guarantee he is banking on you not using it.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”

There is power in knowing our enemy.  He knows us, he knows our weaknesses and he will exploit them.  But guess what girls…our God is bigger!  He’s greater and He wins!!!  And the same power He used to raise Jesus from the dead is in us!!!

In Luke 10, Jesus and his disciples had been traveling and spreading the gospel.  He appointed 72 other disciples to go two by two ahead of Him into every town and place he was about to go.  In verses 17-20 it says, ‘The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Girls, He’s given us the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions.  Use it!  When Satan brings up your old junk that you dealt with here and left at the feet of Jesus…Use it!  When Satan stirs up dissention in your marriage and family…Use It!!  When Satan tries to steal your joy, ’cause you know he will…Use It!!  Get ready for the battle ladies.  It will come.  He loves to try to knock us off the top of that mountain.  Some of my biggest trials, temptations, and personal defeats have come shortly after a mountain top experience, such as a BWOC weekend.

But when that time comes and Satan tries to do what he does best…you have the authority to get all up in his business and in the name of Jesus tell him, “Get out of my house!  Get out of my marriage!  Get out of my job and get out of my head!!!  I am the daughter of The King!  Your time is short and I know the end of the story!  MY GOD WINS!!!!”

And all God’s people said, “Amen!”

You may not have just returned from a spiritual retreat or been on a mountain top experience, but our enemy is the same.  He comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  You too have the power and the authority to tell him where to go.  Use it!  Don’t let him steal your joy.  Our God is greater!  It’s high time we as Christians and children of The King, stop living in defeat!  It’s time to tell Satan to “Go to hell, in the Name of Jesus!”  The battle has already been won!  Praise Jesus!  Let’s start living victorious!!

Living in Victory,

Climbing the Mountain of Discouragement

mOUNTAIN

It’s been a while…but I’m still here.  I’ve been discouraged.  Do you ever get that way?  In the midst of living life and doing God’s work, there are things that just bring discouragement.  I’m there.  It’s not just one thing, but more like a host of things.  I know God is still good and He is faithful.  I don’t doubt that, but in the midst of the outside forces pushing in around me, I get discouraged.  Like most of you have probably experienced, our Christian walk is full of mountains and valleys and the roads in between.  I feel like I’m on that road in between.  I’m not in a dark valley, where I have been before, feeling hopeless and defeated.  I’m not on a mountain top where I feel like I’m basking in the presence of my Savior and no one can touch me.  I’m in between.  I’m on the road heading up the mountain and I’m tired and the top just seems so far away.  Ever been there?

God has been doing some amazing things in my life and giving me opportunities to stand for Him.  I’ve been given speaking opportunities and chances to gather with other believers and stand for our freedoms.  On those days, I feel like I’m on the mountain top; mostly.  I’ve found though, that when you are doing what you are called to do and being obedient to Christ, it comes at a cost.  The cost is a target on your back.  We have a real enemy in this world and he knows his time is short.  And because his time is short, he is aiming for the biggest threats to his agenda.  So if you want to be left alone, continue doing nothing.  If you are like me and you also see that time is short and you are not willing to go down without a fight-get ready!

Discouragement comes from so many different places but I will lump them into three categories.  These are the places that seem to be getting to me.  First is the world.  That includes the world as a whole, our country, our leaders, people in society; basically those outside of your personal realm.  Then there is relationships.  This is the sphere of people that have a direct influence on you and your everyday life.  Lastly, would be circumstances.  Those would just be those things that happen to you and are usually out of your control.

So first, I want to talk about the world.  Holy cow!  What a mess we are in!  It is nearly impossible to turn on your TV, radio, or social media and not be bombarded by the depravity of the world.  It’s downright depressing.  Besides the all out war to see who can be the most corrupt, there seems to be very few sources that are reliable, and don’t have an agenda, to get the truth from.  There is always two sides (or more) to every story, but it seems that what we hear is very one sided and very, very wrong.

2 Peter 3:3 says, “First of all, you must understand in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.”

Boy does it ever feel like as a Christian, people are constantly scoffing at us?  It’s everywhere!

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Phil. 4:8.

Really?  Seriously?  Where are these things in our world?  People in our society don’t even seem to know what these words are, let alone how to live them out or think about them.  And there in the world lies my discouragement…

Then there is relationships.  We all have those people in our lives that have the gift of discouragement.  The funny thing is, they don’t even seem to realize it.  They can be friends, relatives, coworkers, even fellow church members, but these are the people you can’t get away from.  They may even be well meaning in their actions, yet still manage to bring uninvited discouragement.  When I was thinking about this the other day, I was trying to think about Jesus and what He did in those situations.  Two came to mind.  The first is in Mark 3.  Jesus was in full swing in His ministry.  The crowds were constantly following Him and He didn’t seem to have a moment’s peace.

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'” vs. 21

I’m sure they had the best of intentions.  They truly thought that He needed their help and they went to provide it-uninvited and unrequested, I might add, non-the-less.

This is how Jesus responded, “A crowd was sitting around him and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’  ‘Who are my mother and brothers?’ he asked.  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.'” vs. 32-34

Sometimes you just have to look around and see who is really on your side, let them in close, and keep the rest outside.

The other story that came to mind was Jesus and His relationship with Peter.  Peter was a good guy, but boy was he ever putting his foot in his mouth.  Again, he had good intentions.  He was one of Jesus’ chosen disciples, after all, but old habits die hard and Satan was still able to use him on occasion.  It happens to the best of us.  On one particular occasion in Matt. 16, Jesus was explaining to the disciples that He was going to suffer and die and on the third day be raised from the dead.  This obviously did not sit well with Peter.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’  Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” vs. 22-23

Peter did not realize the words he was saying were a “stumbling block” to Jesus.  Like Jesus, there are so many times those closest to me say things that make me want to say, “Get behind me, Satan!”  And there is where relationships cause my discouragement…

Finally, circumstances.  As the world turns, life goes on and things happen.  When things start happening out of our control and start piling up, it leads to discouragement.  What I have found is that it doesn’t have to be big things.  Most of the time, it’s not big things for me.  It is the everyday busyness, stress, messy house, lack of sleep, running on empty that gets me discouraged.  It’s in the tenth time of telling my kids to pick up their mess.  It’s in the argument I have with my husband, where we can’t seem to find common ground.  It’s in the things at work that just don’t seem to be going as planned.  In the midst of those things, it’s hard to see the good.  It’s hard to remember John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may find peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

And that is why in the midst of circumstances I find discouragement…

Though I’m in a time of discouragement, I know I won’t stay there.  God has work for me to do and I will do it, because that is what He called me to do.  I will still have bad days and tough relationships.  It comes with the territory.

Matt. 5:11-12 NLT says, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

So, I will lift my head, pull up my big girl panties, and put a smile on my face, because “If God is for me, who can be against me?” Rom. 8:31  If you are there too, climbing the mountain of discouragement, will you join me?  Keep pressing on.  Keep fighting the good fight.  Keep looking up, because our redemption draws near!  Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!

Blessings in the Battle!

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel

Do you ever feel like a hamster running on a wheel, running as fast as you can, but never getting anywhere?  In today’s fast paced world, you would be an oddity if you said, “No.”  I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time now.  I look at my schedule and shake my head.  There doesn’t seem to be any open spots for anything, but I look at what I have to do and there just doesn’t seem to be anywhere to cut.  It’s not that anything that I’m doing or have scheduled is frivolous or a waste of time.  They are all things that need to be done, so I keep on running.

However last Tuesday, I finally hit a wall.  You see, for the last year, we have hosted an exchange student from Germany, Tessa.  It has been a wonderful experience and she became my third daughter.  On Monday, she left to return home to Germany.  The week before we went camping for the week to spend some quality family time together before she left, without all of the distractions of home and everyday life.  It was a wonderful week, except for the constantly reoccurring thunderstorms.  But as anyone who camps knows, preparing for the trip and unpacking after the trip are both a lot of work!  We returned home on Friday evening in yet another thunderstorm, so most things were left in the camper until we could unload in dryer weather.  Saturday was a whirlwind.  We had to unpack, do laundry, make food for a carry-in after church on Sunday, and did I mention I was having an open house for our exchange student after the carry-in and I had to go set up and decorate.  Also, in the mix of the day, I had to go to the post office to pick up a package from Tessa’s mom before the post office closed and go get groceries to restock the fridge and pantry after being gone for a week!  Needless to say, I was burning the candle at both ends.  Sunday consisted of a day of church, the carry-in, open house and then finishing packing Tessa for her trip home, with lots of goodbye’s all day long.  It was a late night getting her ready to go and an early morning the next day taking her to the airport and sending her off.  It was exhausting emotionally and physically.

This brings me back to last Tuesday, when I finally crashed.  I cannot remember the last time I purposely scheduled myself a day off with nothing to do and Tuesday was no exception.  I had an appointment that I needed to go to, but had failed to write the time down on my grooming calendar, so I didn’t schedule any grooming appointments for the day.  When I checked the time, it wasn’t until 4pm.  God works in mysterious ways.  He knew I needed to rest.  I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  I ended up cancelling my appointment and vegged out all day long.  Usually, I would feel guilty for sleeping in and then curling up on the couch with a good book for the day, but that day I felt no twinge of guilt.  God had called me to a day of rest.  He had orchestrated it, because He knew in my humanness, I wouldn’t have done it for myself.  I needed that day of rest more than anything.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1

I wrote all of this long story to say: God calls us into times of rest.  Sometimes we just need to take a break.  Even God rested on the seventh day after creating the world and all that is in it. Genesis 2:2-3 Why do we allow society to feed us the lie that we don’t have time to rest, because there is too much to do to take a break? It’s simple really.  We have an adversary that knows if he can keep us running, he will wear us out and we won’t have the energy to do the work God has for us.  When we are worn out and tired from a life of stress and busyness, we are much less effective at serving God.  I believe God was speaking to me loud and clear on Tuesday, when He told me to rest.  Matthew 11:28 came to mind that day.  “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

So, if you’re like me and you have been running on the crazy hamster wheel of life, maybe it’s time to take a rest.  You will be far more productive in your walk with Christ if you do.  Your time of rest may not look like mine.  Maybe yours is longer than a day.  Extroverts may need to recharge with others, where introverts, like me, need to be alone.  It doesn’t really matter what it looks like, it’s just important to take time to recharge.  If your batteries are on empty, God can’t use you to your fullest potential.  He desires so much more for you than a life running on empty.  So, take time to rest and see what great things He has for you!

Resting in Him,

Lorissa

Developing Hunger for the Word

This week I found some old journal entries and was amazed at how relevant they still were to my present situation, so I decided I would share one…

8-20-07

Recently, I have earnestly sought to know God better.  This has included knowing His will for my life, spending more time in God’s Word, and praying for a new closeness to God.  God has blessed me immensely just for asking.  I am amazed at the things He has revealed to me in such a short time.  I am grieved at the time I’ve wasted by not asking earlier.  Since becoming a Christian in my adulthood, I’ve often looked at other new believers that were on fire to learn more about God and mature believers who seem to have an open, direct line of communication with God.  I was always jealous and yearned for that spark they had.  It was as if God had given them something that I hadn’t had the honor of being privy to. 

What was it that had given other believers this one-on-one connection to God that I so desperately desired to have?  In the not so distant past, I believe I stumbled upon the answer to that question.  What I found was that it had been there the whole time!  I just had not earnestly sought to find that relationship.  I read the Bible because that’s what Christians are supposed to do, but as I read, nothing seemed to make much of an impact.  I would find myself going longer and longer periods without reading because I just wasn’t getting into it.  It was another thing on my “to do” list and it seemed to be the easiest thing to eliminate on a busy day.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to enjoy it.  I saw other people with an insatiable hunger for the Word, that were being fed by reading it, but I just wasn’t. 

Then a friend bought me a book for my birthday.  It was a study on David by Beth Moore and I made a conscious effort to do the study.  It required me to answer some personal questions and write a prayer.  I found that I really enjoyed the study and I was getting something out of it.  Though at first, I was not consistent, the more I did it, the more I looked forward to it.  After doing the study for a while, I started looking back at the things I had written. I discovered something amazing.  It was that connection that I had been looking for and thought that I didn’t have.  It was right there in my prayers.  I could see the desires of my heart and now looking back, I see the answers that God had given.  If not for being recorded in that book, I may have taken for granted all the answered prayers.  I wouldn’t have remembered what I had talked to God about.  Therefore, I wouldn’t have been able to see how He had carefully taken the time to respond to each one.  It was totally amazing!  Right there, in that book, as if God had taken the pen from my hand, He had written in my prayers what He desired for me, the person He wanted me to be, and what He wanted me to do. 

Those prayers ignited that fire that I had so longed to have and envied in other Christians.  It gave me a hunger to know God more and spend more time with Him.  It also has given me the desire to share what I’ve learned with those around me.  I want to shout from the mountain tops “Look what I’ve found!  come and see!”  I’ve started reading God’s Word and getting it.  I look forward to what He has to show me and teach me.  I’ve seen how He puts what He wants to teach me in His Word and then shows me the same thing in the world around me to reiterated what it is that He is teaching me.  It’s awesome to see Him everywhere and know that He sees me right where I am and will gladly meet me there if I just ask.

Even though this journal entry was nearly 8 years ago, I still see God’s sovereign hand in it.  He has not changed, even though I have.  There are still dry times when I get busy and don’t make study a priority, but in the fruitful times, this journal entry is so true!  The farther along I go in my faith journey, the fewer dry times I have.  I see God’s hand more and more everyday.  

So if you are struggling to find that spark, find a study that speaks to you.  It may be the boost you need to start a closer, more intimate walk with God.  You will be amazed at how He will speak to you and reveal more and more to you everyday!  Journaling will help you see God working in your life, as you go back and review the answers to prayers.  It’s always a faith boost when you can see His hand at work!

Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I will close with a prayer written in my book on the study of David…

Lord, open my heart and reveal those things in me that keep me from hearing Your voice and tapping into Your power.  Show me the areas of my life that I need to recognize and change, so that I may freely communicate with You.  When I am in those dry spells, please give me the still, soft reminders I need to reconnect on the intimate level I so desire to be with You.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Still Seeking,

Lorissa

The God of Little Things

Last week, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in the little things.  Often times, we think that God is too busy for the small details of our lives.  We feel silly or like we shouldn’t pray for those little things that only matter to us.  I used to think that way, but God has shown me over and over that He cares about every detail of our lives, and sometimes we miss out because we are too afraid to go to Him about things we think are insignificant.  In Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Our God is in the details, because He made the details. We just have to look around to see it.

My husband has been gone for over two weeks on a trip for work, so my life has been a little busy, to say the least, trying to keep up with everything going on at home.  Tuesday evening, I was in the middle of one of my trips running kids to different activities and noticed that one of my diamond earrings was missing.  I never take these earrings out and a little twinge of panic came over me.  I instantly began to retrace my steps of the day in my mind and tried to remember the last time I knew I had it in.  These earrings have sentimental value to me that means more than the monetary value, which made it even more heartbreaking that I had lost one.  You see, my husband is wonderful in so many ways, but romantic gestures and gift giving is not one of his strong suits.  He is also very frugal and doesn’t like to spend money on unnecessary things.  So, when I received these earrings as a gift from him to celebrate an important honor in my life, I was thrilled.  I was so touched that he had gone through the trouble to get me something so meaningful to commemorate a special occasion; without me telling him or giving any hints, I might add!  All that to say, I had to find this earring!

All week long I searched.  I looked in every possible place I could remember being in the days before I recognized it was missing.  I searched parking lots. I searched vehicles.  I searched businesses.  I searched the house, the shower, the closet, the garage…you name it, I searched it.  Days had passed and I prayed every time I would search for it.  I prayed whenever it crossed my mind.  My husband would be home in a few days and I prayed with all my heart that I would find it before he returned, so that I wouldn’t have to tell him I had lost it.

One evening I was taking a shower and again praying about my earring.  I was searching the drain one more time, just to be sure and I was reminded of a conversation I had had with some friends earlier in the week.  We had been talking about how so often God calls His people to remember in the Bible.  He had people build alters to remember what He had done.  He would tell His people to remember the times of His faithfulness.  We talked of how Moses reminded God of His promises.  And so, I began to remember and was reminded of two specific times that God was faithful to hear and answer my prayers for something small and insignificant to the world, but very important to me.

The first instance was several years ago when my oldest daughter was about five.  We had gone to Disney World that year and she had gotten a pair of Tinker Bell earrings.  They were her prized possession.  She loved Tinker Bell and it was her favorite souvenir.  She wore them constantly.  We had gone to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a family gathering.  My parents live next door and my dad had made a train out of old plastic barrels and pulled them behind the four wheeler.  They rode that train all day long.  Shortly before we left, Hally came to me in tears of panic.  One of her prized earrings was gone.  She had lost it somewhere that day and could not be consoled.  The search began.  The probability of finding that earring in the acres of grass that the train had driven was slim to none.  We split up and began to search the property.  We searched and searched to no avail.  Finally, we decided all hope was lost and we needed to leave.  The look on my daughters face broke my heart.  I sent up a silent prayer to God.  “God, I know it’s just an earring, but to Hally, it’s a big deal.  I know it seems impossible, but please let us find her earring.”  We gathered our things and began to leave.  As we were walking through the garage going to our car, there on the floor was her earring.  She was ecstatic and so was I!!  Many prayers of thanksgiving went up to God!  It was a small lesson in His faithfulness in the small things.

Another instance came to mind as well.  The year after Hally was born, I went on a Christian women’s weekend retreat.  In many ways I was still a baby Christian and had only been walking with the Lord for about two years.  I was struggling with many things in my life and had no interest in going on this weekend, but God is faithful and He met me there in a very personal way.  The ways I experienced God that weekend are countless, but one experience came to mind.  It was a couple of days into the weekend and I was wanting to take a shower.  There were two showers for about 15-20 women and getting into the shower was hard enough, but hoping for hot water was near to impossible.  It was late at night and I was the last in line.  It had been a long couple of days and I longed for a hot shower to soak away some of the junk I had been wading through.  As I finally stepped into the shower, as I suspected the water was freezing cold.  In desperation, I cried out to God.  “If You can turn water into wine, surely you can make this water Hot!!!  Burning Hot!!!”  As soon as the words came from my mouth, I could feel the heat returning to the water.  Within a few seconds, the water was so hot I had to step to the side out of the spray and keep turning it down until it was cool enough to step back in.  Tears were streaming down my face as this was my first miracle.  It was my own, personal, miracle.  It was God showing me that He cared, even about something as insignificant as a hot shower.

So, as I stood in my shower remembering, I again cried out to God.  I reminded Him of the times He had been faithful in the little things of my life.  I asked Him again to help me find my earring.  “Father, I remember Your faithfulness.  I know that You care about the things that I care about.  You know that this is just an earring, but to me it’s important.  I don’t want to have to tell Jeremy that I lost it when He comes home, so if you could let me find it before he comes home I would be grateful.”  I turned off the shower and got out, continuing to pray as I went through my after-shower routine.  I went into the closet to get my pajamas on and I bent over to pick up a few things on the floor.  As I leaned over, there on the floor of my closet was the front and back of my earring within three inches of each other!  It was unbelievable!  Not only had I looked in my closet, but had been in and out of that closet multiple times a day over the last few days and never saw that earring.  Again, the tears began to fall and praises to my Father in Heaven went up. 

Everyday, I’m reminded that God is in the details.  I see it in the way He works out my crazy schedule so that everything gets accomplished.  I feel it in a song that I needed to hear at just the right time.  I recognize it in the beauty of creation all around me and the intricate details of every living creature.  I cherish it in that ten minutes of down time He gives me in the midst of a crazy day.  Just look around and you will see Him in the details of your day as well.  And when you do, say, “Thank You!”  The more you do, the more He will show Himself to you.

My friend, is there something in your life that you are afraid to ask Our Father in Heaven?  Do you think it is too small or too petty to ask for?  I want you to know that Our Father is a personal Father.  If you have children, you know what it’s like when something is important to your child.  It may be something totally insignificant to the world, but to them, it is everything.  Our Father knows what is important to us and He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that God is a genie in a bottle and will grant us our every wish, but when our desires are pure, He takes delight in giving them to us.  Our God is in the details and He is faithful in the small things,  so trust Him, because He cares.  All you have to do is ask. 

Blessed in the Small Things,

Lorissa