Who Surrounds You?

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I am trying something “high tech” here. Lance Wallnau posted this picture along with a good word.

Lance Wallnua post

Lance Wallnua post

Click the link at the top of the page to read his post.  It is a Word.

Even without Lance Wallnua’s words, the picture itself stirred me.  If a lion runs around with common house cats for long enough, she might forget that she’s a lion.  When you lose sight of your identity all kinds of crazy begins to happen…mostly, depression.  How do you overcome…go hang out with some lions.  Lions are a rowdy bunch.

I’m not roaring because I’m a woman…I’m roaring because I’m a lion.  I’m going to find some lions who are tired of hanging with alleycats and we are going to get our roar on.  And from where I’m standing that means I’m getting back to the heart of prayer.  If you want to pray, call me or text me or email me.

Wonder

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According to Webster’s  wonder = “something or someone that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.”

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend one of  Rick Pino’s events, Heart of David Worship Festival.  I went to hear Dr. Cindy Jacobs speak.  Rick Pino is a phenomenal worship leader…a prophetic psalmist.  He spoke a word over our city that said, “God is restoring wonder to this city.”

The word wonder isn’t a word I use much or that has in the past had much significance to me.  However, of late, it has become important.  So when he spoke this word…I snagged out of the air and agreed wholeheartedly.  Why?  Because, our friend Harry Flemming is planting a church in our far-south Austin area.  The church…City Chapel at Slaughter Creek.  The Church’s mission statement is simple yet so in line with God’s purpose in Austin, “We are here to reflect the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ and join Him in the renewal of our city. “

It is my deepest desire that God restore wonder to me personally and to my city.  I am convinced that God has an incredible outpouring and indwelling of His Spirit in store for Texas and that it will begin right in the heart of central Texas and pour out to every corner from Orange to El Paso from Laredo to Amarillo.

Let’s be amazed, surprised and blown away by the beauty of Jesus!

Perspective

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So much of life is about perspective.  We went camping for the 4th at Palo Duro Canyon.  It was beautiful.

The Hubs, one of my sisters, my two nephews and my two brother-in-laws went on a hike.  A long hike in the desert in a canyon and we started at 10 a.m.  We are now calling it a “death march” (yes, we are a little dramatic).  The hike was 6 miles, round trip and it there was some rough terrain involved.

The Hubs and I got separated from our group.  It’s a rather long story.  As we were on a long stretch, now after midday, I was looking up at the side o the canyon. It looked like a mountain…a beautiful mountain.  I knew we were in the bottom of a canyon.  I began to think how many times in life that we think we are at the foot of a canyon but in reality, we are in a deep canyon.  How many times that we minimize our sin or our situation saying, “I am in a valley” or “I’m just approaching a mountain” but the reality when it sets in is that we are 1000 feet in a deep hole.  Because the hole it big, it doesn’t seem like a hole.

I think depression is a canyon.  It sneaks up on you.  You think you are down not realizing you have been losing hope.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”  Before long, your heart is sick.  Explains a lot of heart related health problems.

There is hope in God!

Repeatedly in Psalms, the psalmist tells his soul, “Hope in God!”  (Psalm 42, 43).  There are times when we must tell our soul…HOPE IN GOD!

The psalmist acknowledged that his soul was down.  He acknowledged his loss of hope.  At some point we have to recognize we have fallen into a canyon so we can climb out of it. Is it time to tell your soul to “hope in God”?

 

The “New Evangelism”

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I would like to take a poll (someone call the Barna Group) on how many believers share their faith or evangelize and what that “evangelism” means today.

Barna did do this study.

The other poll I’d like to take is “Did you get saved through Facebook?”

Seriously. Maybe three people would respond “affirmative” to this question.

These days, many of us (I’m including myself in this statement) feel that if we share inspirational quotes or scriptures or a link to our church we are “evangelistic”.

This is from Websters:

Definition of EVANGELISM

1:  the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ
2:  militant or crusading zeal
I do not know of anyone who has been won to Jesus Christ from my Facebook posts.  Unfortunately.  A few people may have visited my church but actual salvations…..not so much.
Churches in this modern age do need to have a social media presence.  But churches cannot rely solely on Facebook to reach the lost.
Hang in here with me…I’m preaching to myself.  I’ve been considering volunteering for a child advocacy organization but I don’t really want to go into the homes of strangers who have had their children removed from their custody…why?  because it could be dangerous, it is probably dirty and it will definitely be sad.   Yes, all my mission-minded friends are saying to themselves, “She needs to go on a missions trip and she will ‘get over’ that…”  Sure that’s true.  I believe that missions starts at home.  Let’s not get into that discussion.  I get a little fired up when folks have to leave home to win a soul when all we have to do is drive out to east Kyle to see some of the saddest mobile home communities around and we sure aren’t going door-to-door out there.  Just sayin’.  Please understand, where I’m going here.  Most likely, I am not going to reach east Kyle mobile-home residence with my cute post on Facebook.  It’s unlikely.
My first point is Facebook cannot be our sole method of evangelizing.  I’m not certain it is much of an evangelism tool at all.  It’s more of a “get ‘em in the door” tool.
My second point is…and I know this may not go over well… Inviting someone to church is not evangelism.  It’s always easier to invite someone to my church than it is to talk to them about God.  I really have little problem bringing “God” into a conversation, where I start to sweat is talking about Jesus.  Hey, I’m being transparent here.  Most people believe there is a God.  Most people are open to “God” but Jesus…well, He may be offensive. Jesus…He’s the real deal.  He’s the one.  He is everything.

If we are going to spread the Gospel message we must begin to share Jesus with real life people.

We have been talking about sharing the gospel in our Lifegroups.  It’s not that complicated.  , Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”   You do not have to be a Biblical expert you just have to know Jesus for yourself and share what He has done for you. 2 Corinthians 3:3 says it this way,”Clearly, you are a letter from Christ…This ‘letter’ is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.”  Your “God story” is being written. The story is useless unless you share what God has done and is doing in your life.

So what’s the challenge?  Please comment if you actually do this.  Write down what Jesus means to you and what He has done in your life.  You probably have many testimonies of what God has done in your life.  I know I do.  I have testimonies I share with singles, testimonies about financial issues, testimonies about adoption, etc.  Jesus has been incredibly…looking for a good word…wonderful in my life.

I would love to hear some of your testimonies.  Please write them in the comments.  If you write them down, it gives you a plan so when you do come face to face with someone who needs Jesus, you have the words to speak.

What I’m listening to

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I wrote a blog yesterday but I didn’t post it.  Sometimes I write and then I let it settle and revisit it and tweek it.  Sometimes I don’t do this but I should.  I wish my mouth had an edit.  Pretty much what comes out of my mouth is my brain racing from 0 to 90 in less than 60 seconds.  That’s another blog.

I try to listen to at least one sermon a day (sometimes two and sometimes more).  It’s not because I am somehow Holy (I am Holy because He says I am Holy) or Holier than anyone else…I just need more of God than most people (at least that’s how I feel about it).

I have a Podcast app on my phone and there are several churches that I download and listen to.  I listen to Bethel (I really love Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton) , The Hills (John Ragsdale out of Nashville), Gateway Church (Robert Morris) and sometimes I listen to Promiseland San Marcos, Covenant Church (Dallas area), Life Austin, and Lifechurch.tv (Craig Groeschel).

Recently, The Hills wasn’t working in my podcast app so I got behind.  Last week, I figured out how to download it and listen.  I started listening to the series “All In”  (I had listened to some of Promiseland San Marcos’ messages on “All In” too…great messages).  Seriously good stuff.  Pastor John Ragsdale is rocking this series.  Check it out here (where I tracked it down) and enjoy.

 

Shame on

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There are often times I think people should have some sense of shame.  Have you ever seen pictures from that website, “People of Walmart”?  People, save some that skin for someone special…as in not me and my family.  That’s just a little rant and also why I am willing to pay a little extra and shop at Target. (snobby, huh?  This is probably going to be a super offensive blog…if you are sensitive you should stop reading now.)

I’ve hesitate to write this blog for a while because I wanted to have a chat with my dad.  He reads my blogs and often comments.  Hi, Dad.  I hope that I don’t embarrass you.  (I had a short chat with my parents the other day and I forgot to tell them something important…I will save that for a later post).

At the last Kairos event we attended, they had a session on “shame”.  One of the speakers said something interesting.  He said that conviction is good and guilt is okay.  We should feel some guilt over some things but shame is always bad. Shame is bad because it attaches to our identity and tries (and often does) to define us.  The only identity we should have is who God says we are.

So maybe those Walmart shoppers could just have a little guilt over those atrocious fashion choices.

During the session on guilt I thought, “This doesn’t really apply to me.”  I’ve gone through some things.  Made some bad choices.  Made some good choices.  I’ve hurt.  I’ve healed.  I don’t feel shamed…I have shared my story with many other people to help them heal.  Then I realized…I have have been physically healed and I have not shared that testimony publicly.   I have been healed in my soul and I haven’t written about it in my blog or in a book format.  I have shared privately in ministry situations but I have kept it private.  Why?  The Holy Spirit began to reveal that I was carrying some shame.  You see, the reason I have not written about these miracles is because I have been ashamed for my dad to read about them.

My parents are wonderful people; godly people.  My dad has been a police officer, a firefighter, a deacon and and an elder.  He serves in the prison ministry at his church among other things.  He knows what goes on in the world.  He is half German…the German people do not stick their heads in the sand…they stoically accept the ugly truth.  I never in my life saw my German grandmother get “fired up” about anything (I must get my “fired up” side from the Czech side…although my friend James tells me I am ” very in touch” with my inner “black woman” so maybe that’s it…hey…he is a black man, he is allowed to say that if he wants.  It’s not racist if he says it.  The Hubs says it’s my “inner Mexican”….he is Hispanic so he can say that.  Everyone agrees that I do get “fired up”.  I’m digressing).  I should not think that my foolishness and things that have gone on in my life would shock my dad.

During that session, I wrote a note to myself to talk to my dad.  It only took me 6 weeks to do it.  I was very “fired up” about talking to him at first but that fire ebbed a little as I played out in my head how the conversation would go.  It wasn’t his reaction I was gauging it was the the “starter words”.  You know those first few words.   I hate the phrase, “We need to talk…”  I run away when and hide when people say that (mostly because it usually means I offended them in some way and now I have to endure a confrontation and apologize…it has happened.  By the way…to all my African-American friends and my Hispanic friends…I’m sorry about that previous comment.  Please don’t confront me.)  The more I thought about it the harder it got.  Then I talked to one of my sisters and told her about something that had happened.  I thought I had talked to her about it years ago…and she was shocked.  (She’s a little dramatic…get’s it from my mom’s side…the Scottish people I believe….really, I am just trying to include everyone in my remarks tonight…again, please don’t confront me.)  This made me realize that I may not have been as transparent as I had thought.

When I did finally talk to my folks, it was as they were leaving my house late one night after a riotous round of Mexican Train (I promise I am not racist).  We stood out on the front porch (so much for that conversation in a public venue so no one could act crazy…seriously, they would never respond that way.)  I think I started something like this, “Hey I’ve been wanting to tell you something…”  And the words flowed out.  I’m rarely at a loss for words.

Dad was quiet.  Mom wanted to know why I hadn’t told her.

The thing about shame is when you turn the light on the shame gets turned off.  Shame is only “on” in the darkness.  Once things are brought to light the power shame held is loosened.

I didn’t tell them EVERYTHING. Don’t do that to anyone.  DO NOT go dump everything on them at once.  (My mom is dying to talk to me now because she hates not knowing.  I’m sorry.  I really shouldn’t torture my momma like this.  She will be over this weekend…we will talk more).  Start somewhere.  Here’s the thing, you can’t change your past.  It happened.  It’s history.  It’s not who you are.   It never wasn’t who you are…it was just your identity crisis.

I often go back to a Graham Cooke quote.  “Revenge on the enemy is getting delivered and healed and then helping someone else get delivered and healed of the same thing.”

How can you get your revenge if you are hiding?  I hid some things so well that most people in my family didn’t know, even my sister who I share (I thought) everything with.  Being transparent requires us to flip on the light and turn off the shame.

We weren’t created for shame.  Hebrews 12 (beginning of the chapter) says that Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame.  As I was writing this I realized that Jesus carried all of our shame to the cross with Him.  If He took to the cross then why are we still carrying it around? My final thought…

My friend, Kimberly is currently working on a writing project about shame.  Check out her blog here  http://dailygraced.blogspot.com.

Some Random Thoughts

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The Hubs and I were talking about Jesus’ message the other day.  Jesus didn’t travel the country preaching the Cross.  He had not yet been to the cross.  He taught the Kingdom.  (Read the book of Matthew). He sent His followers out to preach the gospel and heal the sick (Luke 9)  The disciples’ “good news” must have been Jesus; just Jesus.

Interestingly, Jesus also told His followers in Luke 9:23 that to follow Him we must take up our cross….this was before He ever went to the cross.  He must have had an inkling that He would die on a cross.  That must have been a nightmare; knowing you would die on a cross.