Abuse of Spiritual Authority

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Stop abusing those in spiritual authority over you.

We have had our share of spiritual abuse in our family…in the last 8 years not even including before that.  From pastors advising us not to get married to pastors cursing us for leaving their church.  It’s crazy out there in church land.  I’m not trying to bare the nakedness of the church out to the world. Just stating the facts.

We have to show love to unlovely people.   Sometimes the unlovely people are those in positions of spiritual authority.  Have I had many “wins” at doing this …Not so much.  God lets you take the test again and again until you get it right.

A few weeks ago, our pastor was out of town and we had a “special speaker”.  He was talking about “under cover” although really he was talking about leadership.  I found my notes and in my notes I had written:

“Stop spiritual abuse; stop abusing those in authority over you.”

Everyone wants to talk about the spiritual abuse they have suffered at the hands of someone in authority over them but no one talks about the beating our pastors and leaders take from us.

We have all done it….we have “vented” at the expense of someone .  We have spoken negatively over our pastors instead of praying for them.  We have talked about their kids and their spouses and we have put down their best effort. STOP.

A sign I’ve seen…”Have you prayed about it as much as you talked about it?”

Today, pray for your pastor.  If you think of something negative, then pray it out.  God is bigger than that.  God is bigger than all of that.

And the truth is, we reap what we sow.  If you will love the unlovely, then when you are being unlovely someone will have grace for you.

 

God bless you all today.

BTW- We love our pastors and are praying for them…no venting here.

 

Safe vs. Good

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As we step out of a place that has been very safe for us I have had this in my head…a quote from Narnia (C.S. Lewis’ classic book).

Lucy:  “I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.

Of course Aslan represents Jesus.  Is Jesus safe?  Of course He isn’t safe.  But He’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.

There are seasons in our life when we need “safe” but most of the time God’s heart for us is not that we feel safe but that we know His goodness.

Several of our friends who are transitioning to plant City Chapel at Slaughter Creek are giving up their jobs, the positions they have held in at their church(es) for many years, paid positions as staff pastors.  They are walking out of a job into nothing right now.  No back up plan…just,” God told us to plant a church”.  While that is scary as hell for a man with a family it is also just the opportunity for God to show Himself good; to showoff His goodness.

Psalm 23 says, “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”.  It’s time for goodness and mercy to overtake some folks.

I often say, “everyone wants to see God’s miracles but no one wants to be in the position to need a miracle.”  Think about it.  We want to see God heal but no one wants to be sick.  We would like to see an amputee regrow a limb but no one wants to lose an arm.  We want to see a financial miracle but no one wants to lose a job.  We want to see cancer healed but no one wants to have cancer and no wants anyone in their family to have cancer.  We want all the good with none of the risk.

God’s Kingdom isn’t safe.

I’ve often heard…and I believe Ruthanne Garlock said this at the prayer retreat, “God is more interested in your character than your comfort.”  I think of it like this…God is more interested in you learning to trust Him, believe in Him, believe in His goodness than He is in your comfort.”

Do you believe in the best things about God when you are at your lowest point?  

There was a time when I quit a very nice (say “safe”) job in Texas and moved to Alabama (say “no job”) because God told me to.  The first year was…let’s say “not great”.  My electricity got turned off and I had credit card companies calling me.  Some days the only people I talked to (because I had no friends) were the credit card people (Yes, I’ve discovered Dave Ramsey).  I was working at a temp job while praying for a real job in my field. You see, I was a system analyst who worked on computers but Mobile, Alabama isn’t exactly a techie mecca.   I continued to pay my tithes.  I got my check, paid my tithes and paid the rest of the money to the electric bill but the electric company wouldn’t turn it back on because it wasn’t the full amount owed.  It would take another week for me to get the money to get the electric turned on.  I laid on the floor in my semi-dark apartment (early evening) and cried out to God (say “threw a tantrum on the floor”).  I asked God, “Did you bring me out here to die?”  and He said, “Yes.  Some things have to die.”  Not exactly what I wanted to hear.  What did it grow in me?  Two things.  1. I am so sympathetic to people who have had their electricity turned off.  They can come shower at my house.  2. I do not give them money to have their electric turned back on because I don’t want to interfere with what God is doing in their lives.  Through all of that…I learned to trust in Jesus.  (Yes, those are song lyrics to a Andrew Crouch song…it’s old school but rings true).   BTW. a few DAYS later I found out I got a job as a software trainer and God turned things around for me.  To this day, I know He did it and not me.  And several years ago, just a week or so before Christmas,  my boss walked in and said, “The bank called in our loan so don’t come to work next week, we cannot pay you.”.  We didn’t worry.  I prayed and I told the Hubs, “God’s got this”.  And He did.  The Hubs got a raise, I didn’t have to work and a few months later, God sent our boy and I was able to stay home with him.  Because goodness and mercy follow me and over take me.

Following God is not safe but it is very good; the ultimate adventure!

Listen for His voice, step out of your safety zone and see what goodness follows.

All In

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The other day I was listening to a message from Ruthanne Garlock.  She described a message that her husband John Garlock used to preach.  It was about not turning back from the gospel.  At the end of the message he would have the congregation write in the front of their Bibles something like, “I will never turn back from following Jesus”.  (I cannot remember the exact phrasing).  Ms. Ruthanne said she heard the message many times about John growing up on the mission field and making the decision to be “All in”.  At some time during the 80s (that’s the 1980s for you younger folks), she had penned the words in the front of her Bible.  When he passed away in 2005, she was struggling with what she would do…she was already a writer and speaker but she felt lost without her husband (he died quiet suddenly at the age of 80 having just returned from Africa on a missions trip.  

I am a writer.  

Here’s the proof….

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All the journals I’ve written over the years.  There is all kinds of stuff in these babies. Some of it is funny and I roll my eyes at it now.

Around 2004 I started writing this in the front of my journals….

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No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regret.

I have no idea where the quote came from but I think it has some military background.  

When it comes to God, I will reserve nothing, I will not retreat and I will not live a life that I will regret.  I am “All In”. 

There is no other option but God.  I’ve wanted to quit a few times but where would I go?  What would I do?  Psalms 139 says:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

Seriously…there is no other option.

Likewise, when God leads us to make change in our lives….it’s not optional.  We are “All in” what ever He directs.  Sometimes that looks like change.  

Our family is in transition right now.  We have been serving at a lovely church and we have been in a healing season…in a safe place. 

Several months ago, some of our dear friends came and told us they were going to be launching a church in our area along with a couple we know, who will pastor the church.  Instantly our hearts were drawn to get involved.  We have a chance to do what we weren’t able to to with our current church which is participate in the launch; the planting of a body of believers.  As we have always felt called to plant a church, we wanted to serve at a church being planted.  

We prayed.  

And we prayed.

Then we began to receive words of confirmation that we were to join the launch team for the church plant.  

The Hubs met with our pastor and shared his heart about what we were going to do.  

It was with a bittersweet heart that we attended our last “official” service at our church this week.  Bitter because there are many friends there who we will miss seeing every week.  And Sweet because we are so very excited about our new venture.

May God richly bless all the churches in our region with a spiritual awakening like we have never seen.  May we bring glory to His name!

 

 

 

When You Walk into the Room

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I know…I am posting in spurts.  I love writing but this season, I have to be very inspired.  I am taking my Texas Real Estate classes and that is taking a lot of time…besides the babies and our plan to homeschool our son this year.  I’m sure homeschooling is going to inspire some “Momlog” posts.

In the meantime, here is a song I’ve really enjoyed lately.  It’s time for some of y’all to update that playlist.  Just in case you don’t know who you are…if you are still rocking out to “Shout to the Lord” (you don’t need to delete it) it’s time to update your music.  I rarely purchase an entire album but I have enjoyed Bryan and Katie Torwalt’s album.

One of my favorites off this album is this one:


 

Feeling Stuck?

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We have had some years of “feeling stuck”.  

Several years ago, God gave me this scripture as a “family scripture”.

Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. -Isaiah 58:11

Basically, I felt God tell me that we will build a foundation for generations…we get to help people establish a firm foundation in Christ Jesus.  And that we will get to help repair breaches and even safety to the streets.  God reminded me of this, this past weekend at the prayer retreat.

It was in a moment of grief.

On the way to the retreat, I adopted a young lady (yes, I adopt people…I adopt kids, dogs-although I am trying really hard to turn that into a foster situation- and people of all ages) on the bus.  It’s funny but she was sitting next to me and she was carrying a purse that I also own (I knew she had good taste).  She was brave (signing up for a retreat where she didn’t know anyone – I would TOTALLY do that).  Turns out she is a young mother of two boys 3 and under.  And she was so hungry to learn about prayer.

As the retreat started, they mentioned that there were about 180 women in attendance.  As I looked around I would estimate that 2/3 of them were 50 and older.  I love older people!  They are rooted and grounded.  They are solid.  I met Ruth and Irma and wanted to hang out with them and hear their testimonies.  Miss Ruth started speaking to me in Spanish (I’m not even a good “Tex-Mex” Spanish speaker), I had said, “No habla espanol.”  I loved these two ladies, we ate several meals with them and had a chance to pray with them.

Our little group of five…it was four, one of my sisters, Judy, Candace (who I have written about) and Jennifer (my friend who is leaving next month to become a missionary to Macedonia)  but I made everyone adopt my bus buddy so we were five.  We are in our 30s…except for my 25 year old bus buddy and myself.  I’m 29.  haha.  No comments on that please.  Mom, Dad, I’m talking to you.

There may have been 10 women under the age of 30 and one looked forced to attend and two were leading worship.  

I was praying and asking God, where are the young, praying women?

Let me backtrack a little.  Several weeks ago, I started re-reading for the 10th time, Cindy Jacobs’ book, “Possessing the Gates of the Enemy”.  There are study questions at the end of each chapter but after reading chapter 1 the only question ringing in my spirit was, “How do we convert worshipers into intercessors?”  Why?  Because the next generations heading our way are great worshipers.  They have a passion to praise Him.  They love music and the arts.  However there are few intercessors.  There are people who will pray for themselves but who is standing in the gap for someone else?

Reminds me of Ezekiel 22

29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

I love the worship that is coming out these days but where are the pray-ers? 

Back to the prayer retreat…

The woman who spoke at the Prayer retreat is a pioneer and giant of the faith.  Her name is Ruthanne Garlock and she is in the DNA of a little place called, “Christ for the Nations”.  She has written a series of books on Prayer.  She has missions in her blood and has written so many books on prayer and spiritual warfare.  And she is a grandmother of the faith.  I admire her greatly and pray that when I am “old” that I will continue to burn with a consuming fire of faith.  She didn’t mince words.  She didn’t sugar coat things. She was funny.  She was insightful and she is a full on woman of God.  

I’m pretty sure one reason the generations coming up aren’t interceding is because there is no respect or places of honor for our elders.  That’s another post.

Back to the word.  

God reminded me that we are called to lay foundations for many generations.  I could not remember where the scripture was found.  I was turning that over in my mind itching to look it up.  Incidentally, we had no service on our cell phones at the retreat center (some people did but mine was nil).  I had limited access to my Bible app and the search features on it are not great.  Normally, I used Biblegateway.com but again, no service on my phone meant no internet.  It’s good to disconnect.   I had to go old school and use my concordance.  Thankfully, I took my Thompson Bible that has a concordance.  After giggling with my girls and being asked to break our “prayer meeting” (someone used some sarcasm on us), I was laying in bed looking the scripture up by FLASHLIGHT!  We sure where roughing it.

 I found the scripture in Isaiah 58 which most people know as “the fasting chapter”.  As is my custom, I like to read the context of a scripture (lots of things have gotten confused when reading out of context). As I scan up, I find some If yous. That means…”If you” do this then.  

And here is the nugget.

Isaiah 58:9, “If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness….”

Immediately, I felt two things…First thing is we have to seek freedom.  We have to seek to remove the yoke from our necks; active participation.  The Second thing (because as you have witnessed in this post, I’m a question ask-er) I asked, “What is the yoke?”  While each person struggles with different things, I felt clearly that the yoke the church is facing today is yoke of religion.  We have replaced Jesus with a form of godliness…Paul described it in 2 Timothy 3 as “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof”.  We profess Jesus Christ but do not believe/have faith in His power.  He’s just a guy from a long time ago who died and maybe rose again and said some cool stuff…it’s not enough.  We have to forget religion.  There is NO POWER in religion.  There is power is Jesus; He is LOVE, He is WORD, He was flesh and dwelt among us.   

If you have been feeling stuck, it’s time to take off your yoke, get FREE, stop pointing fingers at everyone else, deal with your stuff, speak life and start to live in ALL the promises of God!!!  

 

 

 

Stop trying to recreate your first Kiss

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This blog probably isn’t about what you think it’s going to be about.

We attended a prayer retreat this weekend and on the way back we were having some deep conversations. I was trying to describe how, as Christians, we often choose certain songs based on how God moved in a season of our life.  Some songs are special to us because that song was playing when we first connected with Him and gave our lives to Jesus….I would have to go way back for that.  

My sister, in the back seat says, “We have to stop trying to recreate our first kiss.”  There was a pause as I processed that, that was exactly what I was trying to say.  Just in case she didn’t come up with it herself, I asked, “Did you just come up with that?  How did you think of that?”  She said, “Well, it’s sort of from the movie, ‘Hitch’.  Hitch tells Kevin James’ character that the first kiss important because it may be her last first kiss.”  

The church does this often…God moves us on a certain song and we add that song to every service for 3 years.  My view of the church is it is organic.  As the body of Christ we should be growing and changing…we’ve had an “ugly” stage and now we need to move on to a “beautiful” stage.  There should be songs that move us in certain seasons but we cannot hold on so tightly to what God did that we miss where He is taking us.

Everyone in the car is a married and we all agreed that there are aspects of our relationship with our husbands that have improved with time.  While the first kiss was sweet and special and earth shattering at the time, we all know our husbands so much more intimately now than we did when they first kissed us.  That saying, “I love you more now than when we got married.”  It may seem trite but it’s true because now I love the real him not the him I thought he was…in other words…now I know him and I love him.  I thought I knew him and loved him, but I didn’t know anything.  It’s true.  If you still love who your spouse is today then you automatically love them more than when you married them because your love is more unconditional.   It’s the same with Jesus.  You think you know Him at that first kiss but you have no idea.  And if you are busy recreating the first kiss you are going to miss all the great things He wants to show you now.  

Isaiah 43:18 says it like this, “

“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”

Thinking about this scripture it makes me think of wells.  In Genesis 26, Isaac redug the wells that his father, Abraham, had dug.  The enemy had filled those wells up with earth (dirt).  There may be a time for redigging wells but then in Deuteronomy 6:11, God promised His people wells they didn’t dig.  And then in Isaiah, rivers in the desert.  Why are you redigging when you should be looking for some wells you didn’t dig or some rivers in your desert season?  

We have to stop returning the last place we felt God move…He isn’t there any more.  I recently had a word from God and He told me, “I’ve been with you all the time.  It’s not about going back to where you last heard me.  It’s about making contact here and now.”

It’s not about the first kiss.  With God, it truly gets better and better.