Freedom Moment

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In our church planting quest, we have been visiting churches. One thing I didn’t count on, necessarily, is running into people I know. I’m not sure why.  I grew up in this region and I’m getting “older”.  The older you get it seems the more people you know. I’ve run into several familiar faces. I don’t always recognize people…we’re getting “older” and we’ve lost weight or in my case, gained some weight.  Or a teenage grew into an adult, etc.

Recently, I was recognized by a girl I went to high-school with.  As I was trying to placing her face…I knew it was familiar but it wasn’t clicking.  She told me her name.  That I recognized and then she added, for good measure, “I was the naughty (or maybe she said “bad”) cheer leader.”.  If I was an emoticon I would be the wide-eyed one.  We’ve been out of highschool for many years.  I was completely unaware of any highschool indiscretions she may have participated in.  In any case, I seriously doubt her highschool shenanigans would shock me today.  And more seriously, I ask myself, “How do I see myself? and how would I describe myself to someone from my past? How would I have handled the situation?”

I am not sure.  But I hope that I would not associate myself with my past or my sin.  To the best of my ability, I will associate myself with who God says I am; my best self.

Freedom is hard to come by…it took me a long time to get freed up.  Even recently, I prayed for continual healing.  Reluctantly.  Healing isn’t always fun but it is always good.  Deliverance isn’t always easy but it’s the best thing for us.

I prayed and a day or two later, I am driving down the road and I pass a house that I used to spend time at.  God tells me, “You have a soul tie with that house.”  A house?  Yes,  because  every time I drove by that house I remembered a season of my life that was sinful. Then I thought of the people who lived there and my mind would wonder to “Where are they now?”.  It triggered memories and emotions that were not from God.  I had to break it and let it go.

There are places we have to “break up” with.

I’m going to say something and please don’t take it out of context.  I don’t think I will go to hell if I walk into a bar.  I don’t also don’t want to sit in the bar with my family and eat dinner (too loud, too many TVs and too much bawdy behavior for my babies).  Having said all of that, there are some bars that I have no desire to step into and that’s because they used to be my place of worship…that’s right, I would go every Thursday, Saturday and sometimes Wednesdays or Sundays.  I was there all the time.  I had to stop going because I had made a choice to live my life for Jesus.  There are some things that are acceptable for us to do…the very act of walking into a bar isn’t going to cause me to lose faith in Jesus but it may also not be edifying for me.  And it’s not who I am.

I’ve given this testimony before, I know my parents were praying for me because I had a distinct moment walking back from the bathroom in a crowded bar…I was buzzing and all of the sudden, I had a moment of sobriety when God said to me, “Look around.”  I was surrounded by people who were drunk, making out, being loud and aggressive.  It was as if the lights have been turned on.  Have you ever been in a bar at 2 a.m. when they turn the lights on? The “cool” decor is suddenly dated, gross and filthy; literally very dirty. There is trash on the floors and drunk people shielding their eyes from the light.  It’s not pretty.  Not to mention, the people…that “10” becomes a “6” real fast.  Then God said, “You weren’t made for this.  You don’t belong here.  I made you for for more than this.”   That’s why I don’t go to bars these days…I’ve been there when the lights came on and it’s not pretty.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 12:8

That’s the whole thing about freedom.  When the light comes, you see things differently.  Once you are forgiven, you aren’t who you once were.   You must see yourself in the light.

Here’s an extra nugget…once you have asked God to forgive you for something, believe Him.  He forgave you.  Stop bringing it up to Him over and over.  It’s done.  Trusting that God has forgiven you is an act of faith.  You either believe Him or you don’t.  At times, it is easier to believe in God’s forgiveness for others than His forgiveness for us.   He hasn’t offered anything to anyone else that He isn’t offering to you.

God Bless You!

Importance of Believing the Best about God

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In our church planting quest, we have been visiting churches around our region.  It’s been interesting.  To be honest, it’s not my favorite part of the church planting activities.  I like to be settled and planted…not to be confused with “settled down”. I like a plan.  Every new church means adjusting to what they are doing.

Yesterday we visited Real Life Church. The Hubs loved it. It’s a solid church with good Word.  The message was solid and every point was Biblical and scripture was provided.  (Big high five to pastor Micah Davidson…seriously, when you visit a lot of churches you start noticing things like when the pastor doesn’t use a scripture in his message until 10 minutes into it.)

In any case, he was speaking on the end times. I didn’t really notice that was the topic because he wasn’t using scare tactics. Here’s the thing, they gave us a sheet of paper with the bulletin that had blanks to fill in and I get very focused on filling blanks in…it’s the rule follower in me wants to be sure to fill them in correctly; I don’t want to miss anything.

He posed the question “Are you looking forward to the end?” and then went on to describe that Jesus is preparing a place for us.

Earlier this summer, the Hubs took off for a week and headed to Alabama to attend an ARC event on church planting.  The Hubs only takes off work for a day here or there or maybe two days at the most…why?  because he is paid based on commission and when he is out for say a week, it effects his next four paychecks.  Why?  because they schedule out their sales and things get rescheduled and it’s just the nature of the business he is in.  I cannot think of a time other than our wedding when he took off from work for more than 3 days in a row.  It doesn’t happen because it is a huge sacrifice for our family.

Having said that, we have had at least 3 checks that were small compared to what he normally brings home.

The kids are growing like weeds and I didn’t exactly budget for clothes because we normally have some extra income and I pic up what the kids need.  Both of them had growing spurts recently and with the change of season, they both were in need of clothes. Like most people, we have friends who give us cloths and we give clothes to our friends. But we haven’t been given much recently so I decided to clean out the closets and have a yard sale we would have some spending money to go on a field trip.

Naturally, I have a pile of clothes at the top of my stairs and in my room that need to be removed from the house.  I posted some of the nicer things online in yard sale groups in our area.  I’ve sold a few things.  Saturday morning, was going to be the big day.  I was going to pull the stuff out of the garage and do a yard sale.  My alarm didn’t go off.  Then when I woke up, it was nice and dark in our room.  I didn’t want to get up.  The Hubs said, “It’s raining.”  Rain equals no yard sale…I’m not that hard core.  I didn’t  know if it was good or bad.  I didn’t want to get up but we could use the extra spending money.   Bummer.

I prayed about it later.  I rarely pray about our finances.  We always seem to have enough.  It is not a topic I like to focus my prayers on. It seems self serving since we are so blessed.  I would like a new purse (a Coach crossbody…hey it’s almost my birthday) but really, asking God for a designer purse seems selfish.  What I should be praying for us that we would be completely debt-free.

Having said that, I asked God about it.  I felt Him say, “If you sell all this stuff to get the money, then you did it and not Me.  You aren’t the savior of your family, I am.”.

How often have I tried to be the “savior” of my family or of a friend?  Often.  It’s not my calling in life to “save the day”.

I release myself from having to do solve our problems or figure it out.

I have to believe the best about God.  That He is for us and not against us.  I have to believe that He has the best for us.

Many years ago, I wrote this blog, “What is Your Testimony?” The ides is, we all have a life testimony.  We may have more than one life message.  Over the past three years, as we have gone though seasons of healing and freedom my testimony has changed too.  Yes, I still believe that “God works through our prayers”.  But more importantly, my testimony is “God is good.” At His core, God is good.  He has the our best interest at heart.

Yesterday, Pastor Micah was reading from John 14:1-2, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”  and from I Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  He uses the New Living Translation.

The New King James Version  of John 14:1 says it like this, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

Believe.

As the pastor was reading this, I thought, this is why we have to believe that God is good.  It is so important for us to believe that God is good and that He is good to us.  Why?  How can we believe that God has good things for us in eternity if we cannot trust and believe in His goodness for us right now?

We must begin to trust God in our here and now.  Or there is no way we can believe and trust Him with our forever.

This is why we sometimes have trouble in this life…to teach us to trust God.   No,I do not believe God sends trouble our way.  At times He allows it in order for us to turn to Him.  He allows us opportunities to turn to Him; to trust Him.

It’s time for us to be more and more aware of God in our lives. It is time for us to put our trust in Him rather than our finances, our intellect or hard work.  Anything other than God that we put our trust in will be tested.

Think about it…so many people today trust their health to an organic diet or some other special diet.  We believe our jobs or our companies take care of us financially.  We believe that one special person can be “our everything” and will always be there for us.  None of this is TRUTH.

God is good, it is only when we place our trust and faith in other things and other people that we are disappointed.  Those things will not and can not secure our future.  God is our only secure future.

Friends

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“When we’re dealing with low gift and low anointing people you have individuals like Cain and Esau. They don’t have the sense to recognize an opportunity. Cain is the firstborn after the fall and he has the opportunity to set the tone for everybody that was not born in a perfect environment, but he squanders his gift because he allows avarice, jealousy and pride to destroy someone he should have been partnering with. So now his resume doesn’t show any qualitative development and growth. He becomes the founder of a system that is exploitative.”  -Bishop Tudor Bismark

Read this quote on Facebook the other day and thought of someone who seems to, for lack of a better phrase, not like me.  My usual response to people who aren’t a fan is to really not care.  I’ve had several experiences of people who didn’t like me who later became very close friends.  I kind of grow on people.

The Hubs wasn’t a big fan when he first met me….in my defense, he was the youth pastor at our church and he was constantly hanging out with young people and doing goofy things….like getting his hair highlighted….No…just no.  I believe that was one of our first conversations.  I liked him  just fine…not a fan of the highlights but I liked him.

So there is a person I met recently who hasn’t taken to me.  I am convinced (because I feel God showed me this) that this person is called to be an intercessor in our church.  Right now, I’m heading up the prayer group.

I don’t want to be a low level thinker.   I don’t want to miss God-given opportunities to partner with some one because I’m jealous or walking in pride.  I just don’t.  It’s not worth it.

Of course now, I am going to have to win this person over.  And I will, because mostly, I don’t go away and I don’t give up.

Is there someone in  your life you are meant to partner with who maybe you have overlooked, downplayed or just looked down on?  Maybe reconsider.

God is Excited and You will Reap

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Lot’s of changes have been happening in our family.  My posts have slowed down because I am homeschooling now, so my days are full of filling my son up with knowledge and hopefully some wisdom.

The boy is beginning to show an interest in God and the Bible.  In fact, yesterday he came to read me something he wrote…it was about loving people (It didn’t really make a lot of sense but it was his “playtime” not school so I  just listened).  He ended it with “Matthew 6:44″ (I was pretty sure Matthew 6 doesn’t have 44 verses).  I looked up “Matthew 6:44″ and sure enough, there are not that many verses in Matthew 6.  I asked him about it and he told me he made it up and that he made up another scripture.  I did tell him that we can not “make up” scriptures…it doesn’t work that way.  I do like his interest.

He has been coming up with some stuff lately.  As most 6 year olds do, he will tell me things out of the blue and not at all related to the conversation we are having.  A few days ago, we had this conversation:

The boy:  Mom, God is excited about the things that I am excited about.

Me:  (in my head:  Wow, that’s pretty good)  Where did you learn that?  (hoping he learned it at home)

The boy:  From Pastor…(trying to think of his name)

Me:  Pastor Harry?

The boy:  No, the children’s pastor….(still thinking)

Me:  Pastor Eddie?

The boy:  Yes, pastor Eddie.  He said God excited about the things that make me excited.

I’m excited about about a church that that is teaching my son that God loves him.  Of course, we have seen the hand of God on my son’s life.  God took him from a dangerous and godless situation and placed him in our home.  I credit that to the prayers of his fraternal grandmother who is a praying woman.

In addition to homeschooling, we are also working on a church launch team for City Chapel. We are very excited about all that God is doing in our church.  Last night, we had a Launch Team Service.  Our pastor preached about Elijah and the widow with her two sons, who filled empty vessels with oil to pay her family’s debts and to live on; the miracle of the empty vessels.  He said our responsibility as a church isn’t to get the oil…it is to bring all the empty vessels we can find into the house so they can be filled.  God performs the miracle of adding the oil.   Then he challenged us to write down the names of 10 people we know who are empty and need filling and then pray for them daily.

I’m a praying person and I’ve done similar challenges.  There are some people who have been on my “list” for years.  I am tired of praying for them.  Yes, I wrote that.  There are some people who I’m getting weary of praying for.   I was praying and talking to God and I said, “Father, there are some people who I love and I want them to know you but I am tired of praying for them.  When I get tired I don’t do it.  Would you give me the 10 you want me to pray for because if you give me the list, my spirit will be stirred about it.”  Truthfully, it’s kind of a lazy prayer because I’m not disciplined to pray for the people around me who need to know Jesus.  Then I heard God say, “I’m excited about what makes you excited.”  And then one of our weekly memory verses came to mind (A scripture I memorized as a child and then my son memorized recently for school), “Do not be weary in doing good for in the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.” (Galatians – NIV)  When I was a kid, I learned it like this, “Do not be wearing in well doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not.” (KJV)  Basically,  stop being a quitter.

Earlier in this week, God was reminding me that we reap a harvest for things we sow for years and years.  Because seeds produce in multiplication…one kernel of corn sown reaps thousands of kernels of corn.

I have often considered my parents and our family.  My sisters and I all serve in our churches, we are all giving and we are raising our children to know the Lord.  How is it possible that my parent’s children and their spouses and their children all have relationships with God?  I want to know because I want to see some of the same results.  I’ve found that my parents sowed seeds many years ago.  They took us to church, they taught us the Bible at home, we listened to a lot of Chuck Swindoll on the radio while eating breakfast, they tithed no matter what their finances looked like and they loved us.   What ever we put our hand to in ministry will be banking in their heavenly accounts because they sowed a seed into something; some ones they were excited about.

In these years, when we are teaching our children about the goodness of God, we may not see the exact results we are hoping for but eventually, we will see a harvest.

Because God is excited about what we are excited about and He has promised we will see a harvest if we do not give up.

So I’m adding my loved ones to my list and I will sow those prayers again and again.  They cannot run away from God.  If they go to the depths of the see or to the mountain top…God is there.

I’m excited about reaping.

I’m expecting a harvest.

God is good!

The Latest Boogie Man

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ISIS

Everyone’s talking about it.  We live in Texas and information has come out that ISIS is in Mexico planning car bombings in America.  I have no idea if this information is accurate.

The thing about organizations like ISIS is they play on fear.  They do whatever they can to get on the news.   Fear is NOT of God.

They are just the latest boogie man.  They are the latest Nazis, the latest Al Qaeda, the latest.  I remember in the 80s we were afraid the Chinese were going to be parachuting into the U.S.  (probably watched Red Dawn too many times).

I’m not saying that there isn’t a reason to be concerned…

The first scripture I ever taught to my young son (he was almost 3 year old) was  2 Timothy 1:7, “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (we acted it out and everything).  We do not tolerate fear in our house because fear is not from God…it is always demonic.  I’ve had some fearful seasons of my life, especially with fostering and concerns about protecting our babies.  I’ve battled this thing.  Whether it is on a big scale or a little scale, it is not from God!

I believe that news networks perpetuate fear.  Think about it, they have to fill 24 hours a day on these stations…it has to be catching news…the more dramatic the better.  They are by nature sowing fear into the hearts of America.  Turn that crap off and read your Bible.

Remind yourself that our God is BIG!  Magnify Him.  Make Him bigger in your life!  Have some faith man.  I believe God has His hand on America, not because we are good.  We aren’t good.  We sacrifice our unborn, we produce more pornography than any other country probably (I have no idea if these is true…but if we aren’t the ones producing it we are surely the ones consuming it….I have only one things to say…Shades of Gray).  Like everyone else America needs a savior.  We can turn to the One who can save us.  Our God is bigger than Islam.  Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb.  Everyone sees the Lamb but there will come a day when the Lion will roar.

If your are feeling creeped out by ISIS just sing this song….

And pray. 

I love this song because it is simple and it sticks with you.

There are no boogie men out there who can take on our God.  All we have to do is turn back to Him.

And those are my thoughts about ISIS.

 

Family Reunions

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This past weekend, the Hubs and I traveled “out to west Texas to the town of El Paso where I fell in love with a”….nope…not much love there.  Kidding. We love our family but the area is a bit sad to say the least.  The plan was to attend the family reunion for my husband’s family.  Apparently they have it every 2 years (I think more like every 7 years since we have been married for 7 years and this is the first year we were invited to attend).

Much of the Hub’s family live in El Paso or in California in the L.A. region.  It’s a very large family.  Which means, I had not met many of the them.  They were basically strangers.

I wasn’t exactly excited about the trip.  Not because of the family reunion but because of the family reunion.  Let me explain.  It wasn’t the strangers that I wasn’t sure about meeting.  It was our immediate family.  We have issues (who doesn’t?).  Over the past few years, any time we visit, it has been exhausting.  Some drama has played out or some uncomfortable incident has occurred. For example, last year when visiting for my brother-in-law’s graduation, I had to keep a very close eye on my children because my father-in-law was allowing a felon (not related to us) to live in his house.  It was stressful. We have had situations in which the Hubs and I end coming off as being “the bad guys” even though we were actually being the hero they need….not the hero they wanted but the one they needed (It’s a Batman quote).  Let’s just say that before we ever left for this trip the situation was bathed in prayer.

The day before we left to travel to El Paso we received a text message telling us my father-in-law was in the hospital being observed for some heart issues.  I think your dad being hospitalized warrants a call but …   Once we arrived and visited him, I teasingly told him he was trying to “get out” of attending the reunion.  There may have been some truth there.  One of my sister-in-laws has fallen into some very bad things and made some poor choices.  His fear…that people would be talking about it.

Families are funny…not in a “haha” way.  We hide the truth from the people who love us and who would be willing to help.  My family has done the same things over the years. I have one cousin who has been in and out of jail for an ongoing drug issue.  We definitely would have helped my aunt but she was so ashamed she didn’t tell us what was going on.  Shame is so binding.

The reunion was nice. My father-in-law attended and had a nice time with his family.  I had the opportunity to meet some of the Hubs’ cousins who I had not met yet.  They were so sweet.  There were games.  The food was good.  They had prizes.  The only thing that could have made it better was if it was at the beach.

In reality,  my father-in-law is the youngest sibling in his family so his kids are the youngest and we were the family with the youngest kids.  Which means we spent the majority of our time chasing our 1 year old and niece and nephew around.  But it was fun.

I’m not one to miss church on Sunday.  It doesn’t feel like Sunday if I haven’t been to church…throws off my whole week.  In the past, when we have visited El Paso, we have attended a Spanish speaking church.  Which I admittedly do not get much out of since I do not speak Spanish…I try sometimes but no.  I understand a little but not much.  This time, the rest of the family opted out so they could sleep in.  We decided to attend the church Dennis attended when he was growing up.  They have English and Spanish Services.  I enjoyed the service…great music and a good message that was both Biblical and relevant.  The church is Living Water Christian Center.

When we walked in, many people recognized the Hubs and stopped to talk to him and meet us.

It was also a family reunion.

The Hubs and I have been walking through the healing process and the whole “Freedom” thing for the past few years.  Part of that healing has been understanding that perception isn’t truth and admitting that sometimes our perception of a series of events isn’t entirely accurate.  At times, it is accurate but we still have to forgive and love.

I’ve also learned that there have been times when I have held offense against someone for a perceived wound by a family member.  In other words, if you hurt my family, you are the devil.  Yes, I have my own brand “drama”.  WE HAVE TO BE HEALED OF THOSE THINGS TOO. I once had to forgive someone for a snarky comment on Facebook that my sister took offense to…I was being supportive of her.  It’s kind of funny, healing, deliverance, and freedom are hard enough for ourselves but then we also take offense for others.  It is too much.  But don’t mess with my kids because that will cause issues…for both of us.  I still have a ways to go.

Everyone at the church was unbelievable kind and even asked after the Hubs’ dad and said they wanted to pray for him (as he has been sick).  They reached out.

Although, I am all about looking ahead to what God has for you there are times when you need to go back and visit a past.

My friend, Charlie used to describe churches as tribes (like the children of Israel).  We are all a part of a tribe…the church you grew up in is your tribe..it’s your family.  That’s why when churches fail or fall short of expectation or even worse intentionally hurt you it’s devastating and can shake your faith. There comes a time when you have to return to your tribe.

I feel that visiting the church brought more healing and more freedom to the Hubs.  He is freeing himself from bad definitions, from offenses he held because of his family, he is realizing that these people are not the devil, just people who are imperfect but they love Jesus.

We enjoyed our trip although we are still trying to catch up on our sleep…1 year olds do not sleep well away form home.  Our time with family was relatively drama free.  We were able to love on our niece and nephews.  The Boy got to know his cousins a little. We ate some Chico’s Tacos.

I’m undecided about which reunion I liked better…the bio family or the church family. I had fun at the family reunion but there is something about being in the house of the Lord that ignites me.

 

 

 

 

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.