Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Knocked Off Your Feet

You hear news.  It "knocks you off your feet” so to say.  You were not expecting it.  The thought of the news actually happening is beyond what your mind can conceive.   The threat is real.

Is it of Satan?  He often comes disguised as light, as someone or something good to gain entry into your heart and mind. But this news – is not good.  Perhaps Satan is being straight forward, for once, and is trying to immobilize you so you cannot do the tasks God has given you.

Is it of God?  Maybe you’ve been going in a direction that seems good but it is not God’s best for you at this time.

How do you know?

Seek God.  Set aside more time than usual in personal devotion – prayer and fasting.

Ahhh- but maybe this WAS God’s plan to get you to RETURN to Him.  Maybe He wants you to increase your personal time with HIM alone seeking His face.  He alone knows what is coming your way in your tomorrows.  He alone knows how you need to be prepared to meet the challenges ahead.  He alone knows that the only way for you to be prepared is to suit up with His armor of light. 

His armor light  only comes to you through quality time sitting in His presence.

Keep it up.  God will make His wisdom and His presence known to you.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hunger Pains

St Peter’s mission has been called into a season of 40 Days of Fasting.  We’re asking for God to give  us, as a community of faith, direction as to our future; but also enliven many other aspects of our spiritual life such as deepen our faith, our worship experience, to move in our city- just to name a few.

On one occasion when I had abstained from food to use that time for prayer, I was experiencing a lot of hunger pains.  Silly is it not?  I was only missing  one meal of the day but my body was so used to receiving food as certain times of day it started complaining and demanding FEED ME NOW! 

Physical hunger pains tell us we need food.  Jesus, in his 40 days in the wilderness before his ministry officially began, told satan :  "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  (Matthew 4:4)  So what are my hunger pains when I have missed a prayer time of feasting on God’s word?  They are not as pronounced.  Yet, the danger to our soul is so much greater when we fast from God’s word.

May God develop “hunger pains” in my soul when I miss a daily meal at His table.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Killed by the Ordinary Routine

Nothing about our spiritual life is ordinary or routine.  If our disciplines become ordinary and routine – it can mean the beginning of spiritual suicide.

What?  I thought that one had to have routine disciplines to nurture one’s spiritual health!  Yes and no. It all depends our heart attitude as we enter into them.

We can study God’s word daily but not let it change our heart or attitude.  It’s real simple.  Never try to apply what you are learning into your daily life and experience.  If we enter into study just for head knowledge or to check it off our “to do” list we are beginning to commit spiritual suicide.   God’s Word is alive and meant to teach us and form us into Christ’s image.

What about prayer?  It is possible to have a prayer time but never let God speak or search our spirit?  We give a list of people and situations that we want fixed but never exchange meaningful communication with the Lover of your soul. 

What about belonging to a church?  Too many Christians go to the church service and never enter meaningful worship of the Lord of our Universe! 

In recent months, I have met so many people who are passionate disciples of Jesus Christ yet they do not have a church community. They don’t want to associate with people who call themselves Christians, but who are not being transformed into His image.  It breaks my heart,   for their relationship with God would only be strengthened if they would meet with at least two or three in Christs' name.  I've also meet many people who attend church, judge others for not belonging, yet their worship brings them no deeper in their relationship with Christ then attending a civic community meeting.

It is a slippery slope.  We start out entering into our disciplines with great interactions with God.  Our worship time, prayer times and study times actually do bring us closer into God’s presence and His heart.  Our behavior and attitudes are transformed day by day and outsider to the our faith can tell the difference in us.

The  tyranny of the routine and ordinary settles in.  Before you know it, the life giving power obtained in the disciplines has slipped away.  We must have that Life giving power  daily or else our spiritual sickness becomes to us the ordinary experience.  Nothing more is expected.  But there is nothing ordinary about our God and times with him leave us refreshed and restored.

This condition overtakes us subtly.  Before we even notice it, our spiritual disciplines has left us with nothing but a check mark of completion on our “to do” list with no transformation of our inner self.  We’re walking.  We’re preforming the routine discipline.  But we are spiritual dead.

How can I speak with such knowledge?  I've experienced it first hand as I am sure you have.

May God awake us again and revive us! 

With the psalmist, let us pray daily “  23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139: 23 and 24.

If you would like prayers for personal spiritual health, transformation and revival, let me know and I will pray for you by name.  Pray for me as well.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of our Holy Spirit be with us this day and forever more.

Monday, August 19, 2013

When Friends Fight

I've had a close friend since I was three years old.  I moved into the house across the street at that age on Demouy Street in Mobile.  We connected and have been friends for all these years.  That’s 57 years at the time of this writing! Remarkable!  When we were little, we would to get in some big fights.  One could tell the serious ones when toys began to pile up in the middle of Conti.  Both of us would gather the toys of the other left at our house and put them in the middle of the street – praying that a car would come by before the other saw her toy – and destroy them.  Quite vicious I believe for such young children.  But because we loved each other beyond measure, soon our squabble would resolve and we would be inseparable again.  (As far as I can recall, our toys were never destroyed by the cars.)   I think that the squabbles made our relationship stronger not weaker.   Today, though we can go years without talking, when we are able to connect, we pick up from where we left off.  It’s great to have a soul friend like Debbo.  They are a rare breed.  I have a few friends like that – Debbo was the first.

Throughout the years, I've had disagreements with a few people I called friends.  It is normal in any healthy relationship because God created us each differently.  But, today, I am pondering a few things about friendship.   I've learned the hard way that all people I used to call friend were the type of friend you can safely disagree with , observe a cooling off period then return to work through and resolve the conflict.   By safely, I mean you can trust that they will still respect you, honor you and not try to involve third parties by swaying them to think negatively of you as well.  Instead, they turn on you by talking to others about their side of the situation and facilitating gossip that harms.  They really were not the type of friend that I thought they were in the beginning.   

Just last week, I was shunned by a person I thought was a friend.  She was not close, but still I enjoy who she is.  I've never had anything but respect for her.  We've never had a disagreement.  But she is friends with a person that continues to have nothing to do with me after several years.

I expect that she has listened to one side of the problem and not the other.  Actually, I know that to be true because I've never been contacted.  So assumptions are made and connections severed.  They are severed at least for a little while; for we will be reunited in glory.

In glory, I am sure we’ll  look different because neither one will have any more sin.

I am saddened by lost friends – or at least the ones I thought they were friends in that season.  In this season of my  life, I know that they were never true friends.  Today, I ask God again to heal the wound of rejection and pray God’s blessing on each one I have offended –knowing or unknowingly.

But I also celebrated the people in my life who are the true friends,  the Debbo’s – and you know who you are.  It is sad but true, we never really know our true friends until we walk through the trials of conflict and see what happens on the other side.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Take a Walk or Take a Hike

In my younger years, when I told someone to take a walk or a hike, it meant that I wanted them to get away from me.  But these days, should I tell someone to take a walk, what I mean is that I want them refreshed so that they can stay close and continue to care for their loved one.

When our loved one is seriously ill in a hospital, we want to be by their side 24 hours a day – 7 days a week just in case they need us or their health deteriorates.  We want to be by their side and to let them know they are not alone.  This desire is praiseworthy. Yet, at the same time we, ourselves, must be intentional to take extra care of our own health.  We must make time to take routine walks and eat nutritious food. 

When I visit patient rooms and I notice a caregiver who has been constantly by their loved one side, I will say – “When was the last time you took a walk?  Have you eaten today?”

            “Oh no, I can’t.  Sally is helpless right now and needs me”  

            “Yes, I understand, but if you do not talk a walk – get fresh air- you – yourself will physically decline.  Then , when you are ill, you will have lost your strength and stamina and will be no earthy good for Sally.” 

Likewise, it is just as important for the followers of Jesus Christ , those of us you are desiring to be “Emmanuel Connections” in this world, to take a walk and sit a spell with Jesus Christ.   Take a walk in solitude with Him.   We must feed on His presence daily – or we will not have the strength or ability to do what God calls us to do every day.

Dare to be different.  In our world, to make time in the 24 hours He gives us to be with Him may make others think you are wasting time or you've become a Jesus freak – one of those radical Christians.

Do it anyway.

Order Her Book Here
Sarah Young’s devotion for today (July 20) is right on (as she is so many days).  Jesus reminds us through her:

“Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world” Devotional in Jesus Calling for July 20.

“Do not feel guilty about taking time to seek my face; you are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you; I made you in my image, and I hid heaven in your heart.” Page 200 in Jesus Lives by Sarah Young.

Just do it.

                   Take a hike or even a short walk.

                                   Sit a spell today – and every day – with Jesus.  

                                              Only then will you have the stamina to meet the day.

Pray that I will do the same.

May God’s peace and blessing be with you my friend in Christ.  I am so glad we are on the Jesus Journey together.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ballerina In Training

The beauty of the moves of a premier ballerina leave me breathless.  The amazing actions of a dedicated follower of Jesus, leave me awe struck.  Both people were not “zapped” with the ability to move in such a manner.

The premier ballerina dedicates her whole life to training and preparation.  Eating the right foods and daily exercise is a must.  Going over and over the same motion thousands of times until the master says it has been accomplished with precision is routine in her life.

It is also true with a dedicated follower of Jesus.  We dedicate our lives to training and preparation.  Learning God’s ways and His word, practicing the ability to notice His presence, to hear His voice and to see His moves in the ordinary routines of the day – is a necessity. It takes practice, practice and more practice.  Over and over again we practice listening for His voice, doing what we hear Him say.  Sometimes we fail but we get back up and try again.  Other times we hear Him right; we celebrate and are amazed that He choose to use us.  Then we return once again to the practice. Though God may choose to “zapp” one with some supernatural ability in any given moment for any one of His purposes, for the most part, He is our Master in the routine, training us moment by moment in the daily things of life.

This morning, I was washing dishes.  It’s a routine.  Not something I enjoy but is just a task that needs to be done.   God has been choosing to meet me there for training these last several days.  During this time as I normally think about the current joys, difficulties and concerns, the Holy Spirit, my Counselor, has been training me in new ways of thinking.  As He allows me to become cognizant of old thought patterns that are dishonoring to His name, He reveals their fruits: anxiety, bitterness, and the like.   He teaches me, and I practice a new way to think which brings honor to His name.  This way of thinking leaves me in peace and with a tranquil spirit.  He even gives me practical lessons on hearing and following his voice such as stopping to attend to another task.  Being willing to do any task as God directs, and using that dedicated time to Jesus-Life training is absolutely necessary to be ready for the “superior” performances.    The dedicated follower of Jesus must use each and every task as preparatory training.  This will enable one to be prepared on a moment’s notice.  In a blink of an eye on any given day or time, God can choose to use His people in powerful ways.  His Spirit and power will flow through amazing actions that leave the onlookers awestruck at with wonder of our Living God.  Yes, God just did that!  He used an ordinary person like me – like you – to perform the unimaginable. 

Premier ballerinas train everyday preparing for the day of performance.  They may have a date of a specific performance or they may have just finished one.  Regardless, they are intentional, dedicated and undivided in focus, never leaving training for another day.

We, too, need to be no less diligent.  Come along with me, dear one, into the training camp of God.

Now- let’s go practice, my fellow sojourner, the ways of Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Miracles of Ordinary Time…

Sometimes I relegate miracles to only the monumental ones. You know the ones I have on my mind: The miraculous turning of loaves and fish to feed thousands and for the blind to receive sight. Jesus came, he touched, and lame people walked and even the dead were brought back to life. Yet, I am reminded that our God does more miracles that go unnoticed. That is, of course, unless God Himself brings it to our attention. And that, my friends, is what He did with me on one specific morning. You see, I needed (although I was not aware I needed it) to understand how my belief about how God operates in our time sphere was shortchanging His power. I did not even realize I was doing it. God taught this to me through the miracles of ordinary time.

Before I begin to share with you the details of this story I want to remind you that it is not unheard of for God to do such miracles. Joshua had such an experience which is recorded for us in Joshua 10. Now what I experienced was not as dramatic as Joshua but it is exactly what I needed at that precise time. God deals with each one according to what our needs are. I don’t know how He does it but He does. Anyway back to the story.

The background to my lesson is this. The hospital chaplain who I assist was going on vacation. The hospital only has one full time chaplain and I volunteer two days a week for about 3 ½ hours. Each week we try to visit each new admission at least once in the 215 acute care facility and at least once a week for those who are staying in the 49 bed long term care hospital. We are available for prayers, spiritual direction and support for patients, volunteers and staff. It’s no small job. Anyway, the last time Brother Dennis was out for a couple of weeks, I tried to come in to help out on other days in addition to my routine. Wow – I was worn out! Plumb tuckered out. With an early morning job four days a week, plus Emmanuel Connections projects plus work to start St Peters --- WOW. Like I said – but it bears a repeating- I was plumb tuckered out!

So, I’m sure you can understand that when Brother Dennis told me I did not have to try to come in extra time while he was out, I quickly responded with an AMEN! Yes sir, I LIKED that plan. I would stick to my normal days and be on call in case of emergency. Yes, I can do that. No problem.

BUT something changed. As it turns out, my plan was NOT God’s plan. He chose to make Himself clear through a miracle of ordinary time.

It was Friday. The last day of my 4-day work week at the Country Store. On those days I get up at 2:45 am so that I can be at the store no later than 3:20 to start cooking an array of tasty breakfast morsels for the starving – and I mean STARVING construction workers as they pass through the village on their way to the plant in the neighboring county.

God gently woke me that Friday. As I rolled over in my bed glancing at the clock, my eyes fell upon the bright numbers… 3:00 am. OH NO! I forgot to set my alarm! I had to rush – and rush I did. As I was dashing to the car, another car passed by slowly. Not many drivers on the road in our area at that time of the morning yet I kept on my way. As I was nearing the store, the other driver pulled into the parking lot. I kept right on, passing by the store. Finding a place to turn around, I did so and returned to the Cabin where I could watch from a distance. The driver appeared to be working on his car. Was he washing the windows at this hour? I just wish he would move on! Seconds ticked away and they seemed like minutes – even hours! How LONG is he going to stay? I have to get into the store and start cooking or there will be no morning biscuits ready when the store opens. In this day and age, I just cannot go open the store with a stranger nearby. What if he was one with evil intentions? No one else was awake that hour to hear me if I needed to yell- even if I could yell. Just as I was about to call the owner, the man drove off. Thanking God, I hurried off to the store to start the morning duties. WOW I was really late. It was 3:40 by now. 

Although there was no way I would be able to complete all the cooking before the store open, at least something would be ready.

Rather than use my mental energy agonizing over not having enough time, I kept my focus on God asking Him for His peace. I kept telling God, “I know You are with me and although I will not be able to present my work as complete when the time comes to open, it would be alright.” I just kept slowly and methodically completing each task as if I was on schedule from the beginning. I began thanking God for everything accomplished… coffee made, corn dogs finished…90 biscuits ready… What? Before the doors opened – everything was finished! Everything! I could not have done that in my own strength. God had done something. I am not sure how exactly He did it – but everything was ready for the store to open.

I was speechless because I KNEW something extraordinary has occurred. Then His voice within me said…”With me all things are possible. I have control of time. In my strength, you won’t grow weary but tasks have to be at my bidding and my timing. It is I who accomplish it through you.”

All I could do was to ponder in amazement over what has just happened.

There was a reason God chose to teach me that lesson on that Friday. He just doesn't do such things for fun. He has a purpose. He needed to teach me that I was limiting His power.

My next Divine instruction was to call the Hospital Chaplain and tell him I would come in each day while he was gone to visit the critical care units at a minimum. If God showed me how He can work through me with ordinary cooking tasks – how much more would He do through me with the sick, the hurting and those in need. In His strength and power – my energy level will be able to sustain me. If trying to do it in my own power, I would not be able.

The Task Ahead of You...Is Never Greater Than the Power Behind You