WHAT???

When you cannot hear, clearly, the person who is speaking to you…..what do you do?

I know what I do…..I yell back…. WHAT?

A more respectful way to answer would be to say…..”Excuse me, would you please repeat that?”

I am living in a large home right now with a friend.  We both go about our individual busyness, sometimes speaking information the other person needs to know while one or the other is walking away to another part of the house.  When that happens to me I often yell loudly ” WHAT??? ”

It would be better for me to walk to where she is and ask her nicely to repeat the information or request.  That way we would have a face to face conversation and the information would not be misunderstood….because if that happens the outcome is usually chaotic… for instance…”I told you, blah, blah, blah, remember?”…..”No, I didn’t get that message.”   etc……you know the scenario!!

But, what about the message God is speaking to you?  Do you turn a deaf ear and pretend by your own social rules that you don’t hear Him clearly so that you don’t fully understand what He is saying to you?

Since I have been a follower of Christ since a young child I have learned to hear…not saying I always obey…but that’s another topic.  I know the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict and correct so that I will come to repentance.  Then He teaches and comforts me.

Life in Christ is continual learning.    (I was going to say curve….but there are no curves in God’s way.  He is straight….Absolute!)   Yah, I mess up, but God’s still, small voice through the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me to check my motives.  He points out those sins that pull me away from wanting to hear Him clearly.

I really want to HEAR HIM CLEARLY…….don’t you?   Because His Word gives me life, and I want life more abundantly while I’m on this Planet.     Do you?

And God does not change.  It seems that society is changing the basic, God-given life rules.   What’s wrong is OK and right,  what’s right is up for individual interpretation.  BUT GOD HAS ABSOLUTES….AND THOSE DO NOT CHANGE, and the consequences of disobedience are painful.

I cry out to God often with a WHAT???    What is it God….what are you saying to me?  I want to HEAR YOU CLEARLY…..with no outside opinions or philosophies.

I WANT TO ALWAYS ” HEAR HIS VOICE BEHIND ME SAYING, THIS IS THE WAY; WALK IN IT.”   Isaiah 30:21

Ear

Little Shoes for a Big Purpose

AdobeStock_83033132

“What’s the story about your favorite pair of shoes?”

Kind of an unusual question for church, but every week the Question of the Day provokes some interesting getting to know you conversations with those sitting nearby. It’s a tradition at Fellowship Monrovia, where I attend services.

I turned around to chat with the woman behind me, thinking about mentioning the snow boots I bought in college more than 30 years ago and still own.

With a huge smile, she shared her shoe story:

My favorite pair of shoes was my very first pair, when I was 10 years old. I was in an orphanage in Greece during the war, and needed shoes. They traced around my foot on a piece of paper during my birthday in July, and then asked my sponsor in America for the money. That Christmas, I received my first pair of shoes. They were so precious to me! I polished them every night before putting them away in the box. I loved those shoes!

Oh.

Yeah, I had no shoe story after hearing that.

During the rest of the service, I couldn’t stop thinking about that precious Greek lady and her shoe story. I knew I needed to know her.

We met for coffee last week, and through tears she told me of her heart for the Greek orphans, even now. There is no public money available for them. If an orphanage is no longer funded, those little ones are in the street. What she told me is a story repeated countless times in countries around the world.

Meeting someone like this, who has lived a good life because a family cared enough to adopt her is inspiring. Her work now is dedicated to the children in Benjamin House, and she carries on the work that one person inspired in her by providing a pair of shoes.

Small beginnings for very big things. It all started with a pair of shoes for a 10 year old little orphan girl, provided by someone who had never met her.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”   James 1:27

 

By Grace You Have Been Saved

In reading the book of Exodus, I was ministered to by the Holy Spirit as I read Exodus 20:24-26, about the making of the altar on which to offer the sacrifices for sin. God told Moses how to make it, and explained that if they made an altar out of stones, they were not to be hewn stones ,for if they used a chisel on the stones, it profaned the altar.

Why?

It was a type of our meeting with God under the New Covenant made through the blood of God’s Son, Jesus.

We have to come solely on the merits of His offering…no works of ours can be added.

“For by Grace you have been saved, through faith, and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

But, you say, “What about ‘faith without works is dead’?” That’s true too, and Biblical, for if the Spirit of Christ lives in you, He will shine through you, and the works will follow because of Him and not because of you.

How freeing that is!

Just Keep Swimming

I think most of us have seen the movie “Finding Nemo” when the character Dori sings “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” In the movie “Finding Dori” we learn why she sings that song. She is a small young fish and sings the song with her parents when she is learning how to swim and she continues to sing the song when she is facing her fears.

We all have fears that we must face. Whether we are a small fish, a child, or an adult, we all have fears. “If you don’t look at fear as your enemy it will one day defeat you” (Havilah Cunningham). You are either driven by fear, or overtaken by fear. What will it be for you? If you let fear defeat you, you will not grow or become the person God made you to be. You can either step forward into growth or step back into safety. What will it be for you?

There is a spirit of fear that wants to dominate everything in you. It is Satan’s way of stopping you from doing the powerful things God created you to do. Will you let him stop you? Will you let him win? What happens when you face fear? What if? What would you become? You will not know unless you do it, unless you take action. It will not be easy. Facing what you are afraid of is NOT easy, but you will never know who you could be or what life has for you if you don’t.

I was asked why I go on so many trips, and do so many activities and adventures. And my answer is this, there is so much on this earth to experience and so many places to go, why not try to do as much as possible?! I said yes to an 11 month Christian mission trip to 11 different countries. I was scared. I was afraid. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I did it anyway and I am here to tell you I do not regret going one bit! I am so happy I was obedient to God. I grew in ways I would have never if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone and face my fears.

Our job is to be obedient and say yes to the opportunity in front of us even if it scares us. There is anointing that comes when you obey God. And when we obey the supernatural will happen. And I experienced just that. God gave me an anointing over my life and I experienced miracles, and went on many adventures.

I have run and finished a half marathon, completed a triathlon, hiked Half Dome in Yosemite, training now to hike Mount Whitney (the tallest peak in the continental America), went shark cage diving, laid with tigers, rode an elephant, went on a safari. I’m not saying this to brag of all the things I’ve done. This is a result of saying yes to an opportunity, facing fears and going for it. I accepted the challenge of training, of leaving the country for a year and in return I was able to do all this and more! 

Are you going to “just keep swimming” or are you going to let fear defeat you? It’s up to you.

finding-dori

Which Son Are You?

Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is living and active. I love when I hear a teaching on God’s Word that makes me realize this all over again. It is such a beautiful thing to ponder when God uses an anointed teacher to reveal His truth in a fresh new way.

We all know the story of the prodigal son. In fact, it may have become boring, common, predictable, and just so much yada yada yada to our ears. I heard Troy Murphy, Chaplain for the Green Bay Packers, speak recently on the scriptures found in Luke 15:11-32, and God used his words to rock my world. I’ll give you one highlight, but it’s definitely worth watching the whole sermon here.

We have the two sons to consider, the prodigal son and the older brother.

Think about this: when the younger son asked his father for his inheritance, we see no mention that the father argued with him, or told him what a mistake he was making. He gave his son the inheritance. In the same way, God won’t disrupt our wandering. We don’t have to go off the deep end to be a prodigal. In fact, we all could be prodigals in some way. A prodigal is not necessarily a desperate, horrible sinner, but someone who wants to pick and choose what he wants from the Father, and then live life on his own terms.

Ouch. Guilty.

The older son is the obedient one, but boy oh boy does he have an attitude problem! I’ve done this for you. I’ve done that for you, and you’ve never done ___________ for me! This self righteous attitude says I want something from God, but I have to do something to earn it. Then, God will OWE ME.

Ouch again.

If there is anything to take away from this, it’s that we are all both prodigals and older sons at some point. Both are dangerous places to live, but in a sense, the prodigal is actually more desirable than being the know-it-all-do-good-live-by-the-rules son.

Why? Because of verse 17: “When he came to his senses...”

The Bible says the prodigal son came to his senses and ran back to the father, and we see that the older son remained bitter and refused to join in the celebration. Sadly, we see so many Christians choosing to be the older son, even when they witness the compassionate heart of the Father welcoming a prodigal back home.  It makes my heart sad for them.

And then I think of all the prodigals wandering the earth, experiencing hardships that may lead them to that point of coming to their senses, and it makes me so happy we have a father who will celebrate us when we come to our senses and run back into his arms!

Father and son having fun together in sunset ocean on summer holidays

Luke 15:11-32 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

 

But you promised…

God has given me promises and sometimes I think, “Are they ever going to happen?”

I have been in 2 weddings this year and I just went to a third wedding this past weekend. These weddings have been of very dear friends of mine and I am over the moon excited for each of them to marry the love of their lives. Each couple has put God first and he is at the center of their relationship. It’s a beautiful, yet rare thing to see in this world. But this is how God intended marriage. Marriage is a gift given to us by God to be a representation of his love for the church. We are his bride and he is the bridegroom. Marriage on earth is a taste of what it’s like between us and God.

Marriage is a beautiful thing and something I strongly desire to be apart of. I am single at the moment but I think, dream, and pray for the man I am going to marry.

In 2013, God gave me a vision of my wedding day. I saw myself radiant and I was looking up into the eyes of my husband but I couldn’t see his face. All I could see was myself and light shining brightly all around us.

In 2014, God told me attributes about my husband and what our relationship would represent and told me to pray for him every day.

In 2015, I wrote out everything I want in a husband, prayed over the list and made room for God to add to it. I sealed the list in an envelope. I stopped praying for him every day and only when I thought of it.

In 2016, God gave me a new perspective about marriage and another promise to hold onto. He told me that this marriage will not only be for me and my husband but for so many others around us. This made me look at the bigger picture. It’s not just about me. It’s about so many others. With all of this in store for the marriage I will have one day, I am willing to wait as long as God intends. He has a master plan and sometimes we get stuck on the little things and never take the time to step back and look at the bigger picture. I will continue to pray for my husband.

God gives us promises to keep our focus on him. He tells us what we need to hear at the time to keep us on track. He has a plan behind it all. And I know one day He will cross the paths of my journey and my future husband’s journey and it will be unlike anything I could ever dream or imagine. I tell this to you as an encouragement, especially to all the single ladies and men out there. God knows. He has a plan. Someone of you will be married to someone here on earth. Others of you have a marriage with Christ (this is to all). He is waiting to take your hand and have a relationship with you.

Give God your heart and he will fulfill his promises to you.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you an oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways.” Deuteronomy 28:9

You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.” 1 Kings 8:24

(There are over 3,000 promises in the Bible.)

God's Promise                   Marriage

ALL SAINTS EVE

That’s right…..November 1st is All Saint’s Day, so Halloween is the opposite of that…an evening where witches, ghosts and zombies are glorified!

It’s fun for little children (and adults) to dress up in cute costumes, but the glamorization of the underworld is not funny.  Evil, demons, witches and Satan worshipers are real.

Be aware!  Be wise and cautious.  Think about it……….

Deuteronomy 18:9-13

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let not one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

IMG_2983a

God is in the Details

There are some crazy stories in the Bible, aren’t there?

If you grew up in church like me, you were puzzled about many of them. One in particular I remember was found in 2 Kings chapter 6 about an ax head breaking off the handle and sinking to the bottom of the river. It was borrowed, which made no hope of retrieval even worse, I suppose. But when the man who lost the ax head went to the prophet Elisha and told him about it…

The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed Elisha the place, Elisha cut off a piece of wood. He threw it into the water at that place and made the ax head float. Elisha said, “Pick it up.” The disciple reached for it and picked it up. (2 Kings 6:6-7)

End of story.

Cue my mother, Gladys. Great preacher that she was, and confused child that I was, I have a beautiful understanding of this passage these days. It wasn’t because of a sermon she preached, but a real life incident where God showed himself to be the same God today as back in the days of the great Kings of Israel. Many, many years of hearing the story told over and over again has solidified my belief that God cares about the details of our lives.

I remember her being so excited about planning a series of outdoor meetings one summer in the church parking lot, calling it “Brush Arbor Days.” This was in the early 1970’s – the beginning years of the Jesus Movement, and since we were in Southern California and had access to these things, she booked a few bands out of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, along with some gospel singers from Los Angeles, set up a stage and chairs in the church parking lot, and planned several nights of summer revival for the community.

As you can imagine, this involved needing a lot of sound equipment our little church didn’t own, so it was borrowed. One night, as things were being set up, the crew noticed a box of microphones missing. Without missing a beat, my mama recalled the scripture in 2 Kings 6 where God floated a borrowed ax head and got a group together to begin praying to float the ax head. They prayed fervently for those stolen microphones to float back to our little church before it was time to return them, or have to pay a big price. And you know what? That box was left at the church steps with an “I’m sorry” note. I can only imagine the story from the other side – how did the thief know that box must be returned?

For the rest of my life, I have remembered this story about the time God floated the microphones. God cares about the details.

Just last week a friend sent me a text asking me to pray for her daughter whose laptop had been stolen at school. Her request was that her daughter would learn through this experience how God works in the details of our lives. As I prayed for this situation, my mind returned to those microphones so many years ago, and the story in the Bible about the ax head floating to the top of the river.

And you know what? God floated that laptop. He cares about the details.

 

Where’s Your War Room?

I’ve been doing it wrong.

Prayer, I mean.

Don’t misunderstand. I pray. Life’s bumps and bruises have taught me to pray without ceasing at times, that’s for sure. There’s a place for whispering prayers constantly as you go through your day. But I had neglected to remember there’s more. So much more.

In her book, Fervent, Priscilla Shirer explains, “If all we’re doing is flinging words and emotions in all directions without any real consideration for the specific ways the enemy is targeting us and the promises of God that apply to us, we’re mostly just wasting our time.”

Ouch.

She continues, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. It is kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some ploys aimed against me lately. Big ones. I found myself feeling the need to pray harder, but not really knowing HOW. Then I was at a Propel Women conference and heard some talk about a movie called War Room. Huh. It stayed at the back of my mind until I noticed it was playing at a local theater recently. And I did something I’ve never done: I took myself to the movies. Alone. On a Tuesday afternoon.

I went with an open mind and a willing heart. And God met me there. He used a movie to teach me an important lesson: big needs require big prayer, and big prayer requires intentional strategy. I grew up in the church and I’ve never heard this concept presented in this way before, with detailed specifics and ideas. We are doing battle with unseen forces. Powerful forces, yes. But they are defeatable forces… if we are smart about it.

 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

Photo credit: David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films

Photo credit: David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films

We are often blindsided by this kind of opponent. We just don’t see the attack coming. And when we are in the midst of the battle, too often we just fling little prayer arrows here and there in a feeble attempt to get some traction and keep the enemy at bay. It’s what I did.

I was doing it wrong.

When I picked up that copy of Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, the subtitle made me steel in anticipation: “A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer.” I’m studying. I’m preparing for battle.

The enemy better watch his back. I’m coming for him.

(Guys, don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes a woman needs specifics about how to pray for our unique situations… you should check out The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, producers of the War Room movie.)

THE BIG PICTURE

Sometimes when we get photos sent to us on Facebook, Instagram, cell phones, etc. the images are not clear——-it’s like, you had to be there to really see and experience in person what was really going on, whether it be good or bad. If there is more to the photo that is cut off or not complete, or what’s going on in the background is blurry, then the viewer is deceived as to where the photo was taken for whatever reason.

But God sees THE BIG PICTURE of our lives, not a blurry distorted image of today, but a complete picture from our conception to death and beyond. In fact the scripture tells us God has always known us!!!  He knows what is going on in your life right now for your good, but also what could be for your demise down the road.

We must trust God with the discipline that comes upon us from Him. God knows us better than we know ourselves. When we are going through a difficult time and we are asking God for direction or deliverance we remember God has promised to do what is best for us. Because He knows us, our personalities, our weaknesses, our strengths, He promised that He would not allow more trials on us than we can bear. (I Corinthians 10:13)

God knows when His answer to your prayers, whether yes or no, will have the greatest impact on your life and those around you. That’s where faith comes in. I have to know that “He is perfecting that which concerns me.” (kjv Psalm 138:8)

If God doesn’t do what I want, when I want it, I think He doesn’t love me, or that He is so busy with the major problems of people all over the world He can’t possibly care about my frustrations and needs.

REPEAT……THAT’S WHERE FAITH COMES IN !!!

God allows trials in our lives so that what surfaces are those things that He is pruning in us…..things called to our attention we need to deal with. (I Peter 1:3-9)

Don’t let the limits of your understanding limit your faith. Nowhere in scripture does it say we understand God’s ways. He is Sovereign. But, His ultimate goal is to conform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus the Christ, and your disobedience of that equals consequences. You won’t be sinless, there was only One who was without sin but in all ways was tempted like us.

As the scripture in James 1:13-15 states, “each one is tempted by his own desires and enticed, then when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

So….how do we get that strong faith that God really sees the BIG PICTURE of our lives and everything will turn out for our good? By studying and knowing His Word. Faith is practical. Desire is not sin, but the seeking of it is. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it……..and that will bring victory!  We all have inclinations to sinful thoughts and  behaviors. “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9-10

Expose your mind to the truth of God’s Word. God has never changed…..His Word has never changed, nor will it ever!!!  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”(Romans 10:17) And be careful not to listen to wrong voices, false doctrines and modern philosophies.

Stand on this Word in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Yay……I trust God with what He sees in the BIG PICTURE of my entire life, knowing that He only allows what is best for me!!!   PERIOD!

lamp-light1