In Heavenly Places

Only God could have taken a dream He placed into my momma heart so many years ago and spoken it into existence by the very one the dream is for.

Have you heard We Are Messengers? This song is not new but I discovered it not long ago. Yesterday was one of those particularly hard days. Not only was I emotionally spent it was a busy day requiring my focused attention. A day where I knew my adrenals were not stress free nor happy. To top it off, my phone was about to ring its last [at least it made it past the proverbial two year mark] and this had me inserting a trip to the phone store of life. Thankfully Holy Spirit kept me from falling down the rabbit hole of self-pity.

Even as I sat on the edge of that rabbit hole, asking God many ‘why’ questions He still chose to be gracious and kind to me as He always is.

Toward the end of the day my son called to check in on me. We talked for and hour and a half. And like many of our conversations my son asks deep theological questions. Questions I have yet to answer for myself. My son is at a crossroads in many areas in his life. We talked about God placing a passion for good work inside us and when that passion comes alive it comes alive! At the end of our conversation my son said something that I told him I would not have expected to hear in a million years. He said, and I paraphrase, “Sometimes I think about throwing in the towel and becoming a Youth Pastor [he also stated no disrespect to YP’s] I think about Ed and Rhonda [the retired Children’s Pastors at our former church] and how they got to teach kids about the Bible. ” I responded, “Did you just say you think about becoming a Youth Pastor?”, and immediately started laughing. Stick with me. I said, “You don’t understand.” To which he responded, “I don’t like the sound of this.” I then went on to tell him that since he was a little guy I always felt he would become a Youth Pastor. And then there was the time after church one Sunday years ago when he ran across the church lawn with his ‘sword’ in hand and his ‘cape’ around his shoulders shouting, “Leviticus Charge!” I told him that Leviticus means, “he the Lord called.”

This morning as I sat down to spend time with God, brushing off the dust of yesterday, I decided to listen to “Everything Comes Alive” and was immediately filled with hope. This song reminds me of God’s goodness. We say God is a good, good Father. Why? Because in His grace, mercy and compassion He gives us gifts that fill us with hope and joy and perseverance even though He doesn’t ever have too. Only God could have taken a dream He placed into my momma heart so many years ago and spoken it into existence by the very one the dream is for.

How has God been good to you? I would love to hear your stories in the comments!

Don’t Stop Now

When my mom opened the door her heart sank. She knew the only reason these men stood in front of her was as bearers of sad news.

The year was 1968. Two men, dressed in their Army uniforms came to our front door. One was an officer the other a chaplain. When my mom opened the door her heart sank. She knew the only reason these men stood in front of her was as bearers of sad news. She immediately thought that my brother, who was eighteen and had been drafted after he graduated from high school and sent to Vietnam, had been killed in combat. But these somber men who carried the news of a soldier’s death had the wrong house. Sadly, our neighbors son was the soldier not coming home.

My mom, devout in her religion, prayed three times a day everyday for my brother until he came home safely but not unscathed. He told us many stories with too many close calls. Stories of how he ought to have died but miraculously survived.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression prayer changes things. I believe prayer does change things but more than that I believe prayer changes the atmosphere around us. Prayer is a very real weapon that can stop the enemy dead in his tracks. Prayer infiltrates the unseen world like a stealth bomber causing ripples in the air not seen by the human eye and shakes up the constant warfare going on around us.

The Apostle Paul was a prayer warrior and an intercessor. He considered it an honor and a joy to pray for others. He knew the power of prayer and reminded others he was praying for them consistently. Paul’s discipleship heart was that all believers know and follow God’s will for their life. Asking God to fill them with His knowledge through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. So he prayed.

Maybe you don’t have anyone praying for you or perhaps you are a part of multiple prayer circles. I want to encourage you that I am praying for you asking God to fill you with His spiritual knowledge and wisdom drawing you closer to Him day by day. I am praying you will hear Him and desire to be obedient to what He tells you and what He shows you.

Prayer is our authority in Christ. Prayer changes things. Prayer changes the atmosphere.

#bestealth

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Leap of Faith

“Dad,” I said, “I want to go to Teller School. I want to learn how to become a bank teller. This school teaches all the basics of becoming a bank teller and they even help with finding a job! The only thing stopping me is the cost and I don’t have the amount needed.”

My parents were depression aged kids, they grew up in an era in our country where a large percentage of people lost their jobs overnight, businesses closed and money was tight. When my grandparents immigrated to America from Italy they landed in Rhode Island and bought a farm that included the upper end of a lake. My dad and uncles worked hard on their farm and had a milk delivery business. My dad use to tell us stories of how he was still delivering milk by cart and buggy, sharing the road with new fangled automobiles, during the early part of the twentieth century. His savings account was cash ‘hidden’ in between the mattress. For the longest time he didn’t trust banks, likely a carry over mentality from the Great Depression. Asking to borrow money took a huge leap of faith on my part!

I’d like to say that because I was the youngest of five and the only girl, his sweetie and thought I had him wrapped around my pinkie was persuasion enough for him to say yes.

I’d like to say that because I was the youngest of five and the only girl, his sweetie and thought I had him wrapped around my pinkie, was persuasion enough for him to say yes. Okay, that may have been part of the reason but as I reflect back I believe my dad saw the value in investing in what would turn into a career of three different jobs within the industry of finance using the skills I learned at the Institute for Teller Training. And, I paid every penny back!

Leap of faith. We hear others say, “I took a leap of faith and applied for that job, asked that person out for coffee,” or whatever else requires a leap of faith. I can’t recall ever hearing someone say, “I took a leap of faith and believed in Jesus!” But Jesus is exactly where faith comes from. It is His gift to us. As we continue to surrender ourselves to him He continually renews and grows our faith so we can know what He prefers. Faith is God’s divine persuasion which guides us to make choices that help us live inside His perfect will for our life.

May God’s divine persuasion grow exponentially within you as you continue to stay connected to Him and you begin to live the abundant life in all areas that Christ came to give you.

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Words of Blessing and Wholeness

“Hey!,” was the text I sent to my best friend recently. She responded, “Hey, how are you? Do you have a few minutes to chat?” And this started an actual verbal conversation about life and catching up with each other.

Since my best friend and I are, well, best friends, we use a casual form of greeting one another. But, how would you feel if you knew that the way others greet you or you them carried more than simply the words of the greeting?

Paul was in the habit of greeting others with, “The grace of the Lord be with you, or the grace and peace of God be with you.” Whenever I read Paul’s greeting there is a certain amount of joy found in his words. I often wonder did all ancient Israelites greet one another this way? Was it a cultural thing at the time? Or, was this something Paul and a few others practiced?

Paul spoke the truth of God’s word and actually delivered the gift of a blessing through his greeting. The Greek word for grace is Charis and it is God’s favor and kindness brought to us through Jesus. It is God extending Himself and bestowing a blessing on His creation by the nearness of His presence.

Peace is God’s gift of wholeness when all essential parts are joined together. This reminds me of our wholeness in mind, body and spirit joined together in harmony with Holy Spirit as we continue to seek Him, read Him, learn about and from Him.

Could it be God’s gift of wholeness through His peace contains healing? That these two words that are not oft spoken in greeting in our current culture could be the beginning of healing?

What would our world, our spheres of influence, our communities look like if we chose to greet others in peace and grace? Would colors seem a bit brighter? Would traffic seem a bit lighter? Would our days seem a bit less laden because we speak the truth of God’s favor, kindness, blessing and wholeness to each other.

Today I say to you grace and peace in the name of Jesus. May you experience His wholeness in all that you are and all that you do. May the blessing of the nearness of His presence cause you to want to be even closer to Him.

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Doing Right or Living Righteously?

Several years ago I heard a well known Christian influencer say every word of God should be taken literally. While I presume to understand the sentiment behind this statement to be that if we believe the word of God is the inerrant truth we would then apply all of God’s word to our life.

Through the years I have reflected upon this statement and often wondered how this would look with many of God’s commands in the Old Testament. Certainly, we don’t have to offer daily sacrifices because Jesus death and shed blood took the place of this daily requirement. And not many of us have free open range where we raise sheep, rams and bulls for the sacrifices required by the ancient Israelites. Nor do we hold fast to the many festivals they were to celebrate.

So how is it we are to take the word of God, the entire word of God literally and apply it to our life practically? It is an issue of our heart. When we are staying connected to Jesus, especially through reading and studying His word, we are engaging with Him in dialogue. His word, which is literally Jesus Himself, is alive and active and if we allow Him the space He will transform us by the power of His Spirit. He begins to show us that the sacrifice is no longer what His shed blood has already covered [the sacrifices of the Old Testament] rather our sacrifice is offering our will to Him like the sweet fragrance of the perfume offered by Mary as she washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Do you practice righteousness? Do you know how to practice righteousness? Has anyone ever walked alongside you and modeled righteousness to you?

The words of 1 John 3:10 above can seem harsh at first glance but when we dig deeper and learn the original translation we find that anyone not practicing righteousness is not a child of God. Do you practice righteousness? Do you know how to practice righteousness? Has anyone ever walked alongside you and modeled righteousness to you? This is why choosing to be discipled and then discipling others is so important. One aspect of discipleship teaches us how to approach God’s word and begin to understand the marvelous things He wants to show us and how to apply them to our life for righteous living rather than taking His word out of context.

As a believer in Christ you are to be like Jesus [your character matching His]. The only way to be like Jesus is to spend time with Him and as you do your will becomes His will and you learn to love not only your brothers and sisters in Christ but a world population with an inherent desire to simply be known and loved.

Show His love to the world—stay connected to Him.

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The Cost of Yes

my heart was racing with every turn of the page and I couldn’t—NO, I wouldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word.

My husband was working the midnight shift and the kids had been in bed for hours. I was not sleepy, and as is my habit, I love to read before bed. This night I was reading a page turner that a new friend had given to me. We had moved into our new community a few months before (the same as my new friend) and our girls had become friends in their kindergarten class. My friend loves to share Jesus with whomever God causes her path to cross (she has the gift of evangelism) and when we first met she began to talk with me about Jesus. She encouraged me to read the book she handed me. It was a novel about end times and is the first book in a series that seems to never end! As I think about this now I giggle a bit because it seems a strange choice to encourage one to read but Holy Spirit had prepared my heart and knew exactly what I needed to read. I have read many of the books in the series but this night my heart was racing with every turn of the page and I couldn’t—NO, I wouldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word. That was 17 years ago.

When I had come to the last word it was late into the night, but I somehow had more energy than when I began reading. However, since it was quite late and the next day was a school day for my children I turned out the light and began my nightly prayers. Only this time I told God I didn’t want to be left behind, I wanted to spend eternity with Him and I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples

Luke 14:33

I look at these words of Jesus and wonder why we stop short in sharing the gospel message. It has been my experience over the years the message preached is of His love, grace and forgiveness. Please don’t misunderstand me this part of the gospel is an amazing gift! But Luke 14:33 and verses like it seem to be left out of teaching what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. In Luke 14:33 Jesus says we must give up everything—surrender all to Him.

As Pastors, Elders and leaders; as the Bride of Christ are we afraid to include this part of the gospel because we think it would cause many to not want to follow Jesus? If this is the case then we have forgotten Holy Spirit’s job, Who, as a dear friend reminds me, is very good at His job! He prepares hearts to receive Jesus—to receive all of Jesus, all His words and all His teachings.

I am reminded of the parable of the sower and the farmer who drops seed on rocky places which spring up quickly but wither in the sun because the soil was shallow. This person receives the message but soon falls away. Could it be some of those who receive the message fall away quickly because they are not hearing a complete message? And could this also be a ploy of the enemy, who wanted to be God, whispering in the ear of the Bride, “Did God really say?”

Yes, God really said. We are to disciple and be discipled and as disciples we have to be willing to surrender all to Him.

Will you pay the cost of your yes?