Thursday, November 17, 2016

Heaven Is Waiting!

 

We  always think about getting to heaven and talking to Abraham, Moses, or Esther. But did you know they're waiting in anticipation to talk to you??  You have the opportunity to experience something constantly that they only got to experience a few times. As a believer, you have the Spirit of God living inside of you, helping, speaking, guiding, counseling, revealing to you perpetually. He inhabits you. The Spirit of God only visited the saints in the Old Testament...occasionally. They can't WAIT to find out from you what it was like to be inhabited by the Spirit of God!  What was it like to have that kind of power available? What was it like to hear God speak to you every day?  What was it like to be guided by Him every step you took?  What was it like to be taught by the Spirit as you read the Bible?  What was it like LIVING WITH THE SPIRIT?

I want to have some GOOD things to tell!!

I encourage you to watch this message by Graham Cooke:



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why God put Moses in the Princess' house

 

How many of us have felt unquestionable empathy with Jochebed, Moses' mother, for having to put Moses in a basket and send him down the river to save his life from the king's edict to kill all of the Israelites' baby boys?  I can't even imagine the heartache. But her plan wasn't without much prayer and forethought.  I think she knew when and where the princess came to bathe. I think she counted on a woman's compassion for this tiny infant. But mostly, she trusted a big God to guide everything!

It occurred to me this week that God had so much more in mind than just having Moses' life saved and then growing up as a prince. If he had grown up in slavery, how hard would it have been for Moses to break free from the mindset of a slave to deliver a nation from bondage?  But Moses grew up in the palace with all of the best at his disposal. He understood royal protocol.  He knew the language. He knew how the kingdom worked and how the pharaoh ruled. God wasn't withholding from Jochebed and Moses...He used Jochebed's great redemptive love to produce a king who could deliver God's people. 

We should never underestimate or question God's amazing plan. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

What happens when we feel "out of control?"


Typically, when we feel out of control, we take control.  We need to feel like everything is safely within our grasp and arranged in perfect order.  This need will be more pressing for those who are fearful or already have a need for strict perimeters in their lives.

I've been observing the presidential campaign these past couple of months--and just life in general.  I've been struck by how divisive things have become so quickly--especially on social media. I think it's because we all feel out of control.  Things aren't normal or the way they used to be.  So we've grabbed the remote control of life and have determined to change channels.  Some have gotten loud, angry, and demanding with their opinions because they've determined the way things should be and everyone is not cooperating to get life back to that familiar place--or to a completely new place.  They feel like they have the answers and want everyone to agree with them.  The problem is...everyone has a different opinion about the way things should be!   Even Christians!!  We all resist being controlled.  We hate being told what to do.  So when someone is shouting at us to tell us what to do or what to believe, we resist them and their message.  But we all still put our opinions out there in hopes of compelling people to conform to us.

I had to stop this week and ask God, "Am I totally off course?  Because things sure feel off balance!"  And I had to remind myself of the basics of life...of the Christian life, that is.
  1. Press in to God and follow Him.  
  2. Hear His voice.  
  3. Read the Word. 
  4. Pursue Truth. 
  5. Be still and know that He is GOD!  
  6. Trust Him.  
  7. Submit to the Holy Spirit.  
  8. Remember God's good plan.
God has an ultimate plan for this world.  Things are going to happen which are completely out of our control.  But we have a choice in how to respond to those things.  The safest place to be when our world turns upside down is nuzzled in right next to the Good Shepherd.  His ways are right and perfect.  He's watching over His sheep day and night, safely guarding and calming them.  We need to press in to Him.  We won't have to convince anyone of anything--except to draw near to this Good Shepherd and hear His voice.  He can be trusted to lead us in the paths of righteousness.  And for all those sheep still out of control, going their own way?  Pursue them in love and bring them back to the Good Shepherd who is Truth.  No wonder Jesus prayed, (in John 17)  asking that we would be one as He was one with the Father.  Unity is a sweet thing.  It's coming in agreement with God which brings harmony between us, His sheep.

"If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another."  Galatians 5:25-26


"Brothers and sisters, if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth."  James 5:19

Friday, October 28, 2016

God's Promise to Abraham--and us!


"Listen to the solemn vow the Eternal One has spoken: “Because you (Abraham) have done what I asked and were willing to give up your son, your only son,  I will reaffirm My covenant of blessing to you and your family. I will make sure your descendants are as many as the stars of the heavens and the grains of sand on the shores. I reaffirm My earlier promises that your descendants will possess the lands and sit in the gates of their enemies, and from your descendants all the peoples of the earth will discover true blessing. All this is because you have obeyed My voice."  Genesis 22:16-18 (emphasis mine)

Who are the descendants of Abraham?  Israel, for sure.  They are the direct physical descendants of Abraham.  But believers in Jesus Christ are also descendants--spiritual/faith descendants.  We've been grafted in to the family tree!  (Romans 4-11)  So the eternal promise made to Abraham is also our promise.  What is that promise?
  • We will be many.
  • We will possess the lands.
  • We will sit in the gates of our enemies. (where legal and binding decisions are made)
  • The earth will discover true blessing because of us.
Claim your inheritance!  Abraham lived by faith.  This promise was made because of his faith.  We need to believe these things are ours--by faith.  There are lands to possess and rule over.  In Genesis 17, where God originally makes the promise, Abraham is told that nations and kings would descend from him...and they have...and will.  He's also told his descendants would be fruitful.  We will make legal and binding decisions in enemy territory.  There is a whole earth which needs to discover true blessing because of us. 

Abraham's part of the agreement was that he and his descendants must keep God's covenant throughout the generations--and He promised to be our God forever.

That's a pretty sweet deal!



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Propaganda or Truth?

Dalai Lama's Palace

I don't remember the year exactly, but around 1999, Andy & I went to Lhasa, Tibet to visit a friend and to look for opportunities to help people.  Tibet was a closed communist country and we were required to have a "guide" the entire time we were there.  The guide did actually give us tours, but they were also placed with us to make sure we weren't detrimental to their country.  Before we went, we were even told to assume our motel room would probably be "bugged."

One day, Andy was with the guide touring the Dalai Lama's palace (I chose to forego the climb) and I was out touring the city with our friend.  All of a sudden, a voice came over the loud speakers placed around the entire city.  Since my friend could speak Tibetan, I asked her what they were saying.  Her reply was, "Oh, just a bunch of propaganda."  I was kind of stunned.  It wasn't my first time to be in a communist country, but it was my first time to be confronted with propaganda being blared so blatantly.  Her words never left me.

I came home and began paying attention to what was going on around me in the good ol' USA.  Were we being fed propaganda and weren't even aware of it?  Remember...this was 17 years ago.  I began noticing then that newscasters weren't even trying to be objective anymore.  More recently, I've been paying even closer attention.  Not only are we being fed propaganda, but great diversions are being created to get our attention elsewhere so people can change the direction we're going while we're not looking.

I encourage you to be aware.  If a herd of sheep are resting quietly in a pasture and a small dog runs into their space--they'll all react in fear and take off running together.  Ewes have even been known to abort their babies in a situation like that.  Don't be like a sheep and run with the mob in fear.  Take a quiet seat and observe.  And while you're watching, ask God to reveal truth.

A good question to ask the Father is, "What are You doing?"  And, "How can I agree with You?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

UNLEASH THE POWER!



Imagine that you were Satan and you could see the potential in people's lives.  What would you do to stop them from becoming all God meant for them to be?  Would you...

A.  Prey on their weaknesses
B.  Lie to them
C.  Inflate their ego until they depended on their own strength
D.  Throw obstacles in their way
E.  Debilitate them
F.  Intimidate them until they were fearful
G.  Bring disunity among them
H.  All of the above

And when would you try to stop their understanding of the power of God in them?
A.  At birth
B.  During the innocence of childhood
C.  When God came to live in them
D.  During the troubled teenage years
E.  Throughout their lives
F.  When they became more powerful
G.  When they developed strong, godly relationships
H.  All of the above

Satan certainly knows God's power--better than we do, actually!  And he understands what is available to us when we make Jesus the Lord of our lives.  He doesn't want us affecting the world around us.  If we were Superman, Satan would place kryptonite everywhere we went to make us powerless...and Superman's power is nothing compared to God's power in us.  I want to share my recent situation to help you understand how I discerned Satan's strategy.

I was very discouraged.  I'd become introspective, as I am prone to do, and was asking questions like, "Is my ministry effective?  Are people being significantly changed because of my ministry?  Does what I do really matter?"  I was even asking the wrong questions.  I was so tired and vulnerable, my guard wasn't up to keep the enemy from taking me to the pit of despair.  I was convinced there was no fruit in what I was doing.

At the same time, a good friend was walking through something so BIG and so traumatic that I stepped in to encourage her--even in my sorry state. In that moment, it was so easy to see what Satan was doing to her.  You see--she's a very powerful woman and she was asked not to attend a meeting--a meeting which she should have attended and had every right to attend.  I told her, "It's actually a compliment from the Enemy.  You're too powerful!!  You change the atmosphere when you walk in a room and you command the situation.  Now take that info and use it wisely--change the atmosphere with the authority of the kingdom of God!"  And she did.  Later, she told me that she'd been intimidated until she saw the truth--and the truth set her free.  She walked into that meeting with peace, confidence, and the power of God.  And God did amazing things in her situation!!

What I told my friend became a two-edged sword God used to pierce my heart about my own situation.  And I saw this truth:  SATAN FEARS OUR POTENTIAL.  He fears us understanding and unleashing the power of God which is in us.  So he's constantly on the offense trying to destroy us, our faith, and the promise of God in us.  I GOT IT!   Satan was using a different strategy on me (discouragement) than he'd used on my friend (intimidation).  He was trying to stop what I was doing for the very same reason--I WAS changing the atmosphere.  I was unleashing the power of God in me by doing the very things He'd created me to do--by fulfilling the purpose He'd given me.  It wasn't through big things--it was through every-day-things.  I'd been waking up every morning and asking, "What's right in front of me that I can do today to bring the kingdom of God to earth--to love, encourage, bring life, and share Jesus?"  THAT'S what Satan wants to stop--he wants to stop us from bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  ("Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...")

Examine your life.  What is Satan doing to stop you from changing the atmosphere around you?  Maybe what you're walking through is nothing but the enemy's "kryptonite" to stop you from bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  Say NO to the enemy!  And press in to TRUTH!!  DO kingdom work--love, encourage, bring life, and share Jesus-in the way God created YOU to do it!

Unleash the power of God in you--
change the atmosphere around you!  
God wants to 
BLOW.YOUR.MIND. 
with what He does!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Be Kind



You've surely heard some of these sayings:

  • "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."  
  • "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."  
  • "Be ye kind one to another."  
  • "Being kind is more important than being right."

Why kindness?  I believe our culture is moving in a troubling direction.  With the accelerated use of social media, people are feeling freer and freer to voice their tactless opinions as they hide behind their phones or laptops.  It's so much easier to be blunt and say what you think when you know you won't have a face-to-face encounter.  And if someone disagrees with you--or even verbally assaults you--you can remove them from your account with no remorse because, more-than-likely, you'll never see them again.  You feel safe...and right.

When Zach was about 6-years-old (which means I was in my early 30's), I asked him if he wanted to go to Walmart with me.  He asked why I was going (surely wondering if there was a prize involved).  I told him I had to take some things back to the store.  He quickly said, "NO!  I don't want to go with you!"  His reply was so quick, so curt, and so emphatic, that I asked him why he didn't want to go.  I'll never forget his reply.  He said, "Because you're mean when you take things back to the store."  Wow!!  What an explosion of truth from the mouth of a child--my child!  I had to stop and examine my life.  Was I mean?  Probably.  I think I actually approached people with defensiveness.  I wanted to be in control of a situation to avoid rejection or disapproval--which I constantly expected.  I wanted needed to be right.  It became a defining moment in my life.  I purposed I would never intentionally be mean again and I began pursuing kindness.

When you feel right, you come off as judgmental, accusatory, condemning, self-righteous, egotistical, and snobbish.  And when you approach people with that attitude, they're going to be defensive and you'll never achieve your objective.  I didn't realize it, but my mean attitude was getting me what I feared most--rejection.  What a cycle!  I learned that I could be right...or I could have a relationship.   Not both.

Kindness changes everything.  EVERYTHING!  You become more approachable--you even look kind.  People are more willing to listen to you.  You're more apt to get kindness in return.  And people want to be around you--kindness promotes relationships!

Looking back, I realize God had to break through some pretty stubborn resistance in my life and He knew His most powerful and effective tool would be one of my kids.  It was like running head-long into a mirror and seeing my heart the way God saw it.  But in His incredible grace, He offered me the chance to change and grow and I determinedly drew a line in the sand.  The only way I could have any lasting change in my life was through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I had to let Him have control and allow Him to transform me.  Becoming kind was a process.  But fruit-growing always is.

Be kind.  Teach your children kindness by instructing them but especially with your example.  They're watching...I have concrete evidence!