How Big is your God?

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Sometimes I am a bit of a nerd.   (I don’t care…I’m cool with it).  Statistics about things interest me.   Since we have worked in foster care there are many stats about children that have been in foster care.  I’ve read the stats.

For example, there is a statistic that children who end up in foster care, will most likely have their children end up in some type of stint in foster care.

There are stats about everything.

There are times when we have to decide that we aren’t going to be a stat.

Maybe your stat is that your parents were alcoholics which statistically, you have a much higher chance of being an alcoholic.

Maybe you were abused…does that mean you have to be an abuser?

A friend of mine, who has adopted children was quoted a statistic.  Her children were victims and she was told they will likely become abusers.

I was thinking about this…what’s different in their situation?

God…God is what is different.

Do not let statistics be the lie you believe.

Our God is bigger than the statistics.  Our God is bigger.  If the God you serve isn’t bigger then you need to take this opportunity to magnify Him.  Make Him a little bit bigger in your eyes!  He can handle you, your situation, your pain, your grief, your anger.  He’s bigger than all of it!

 

 

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Revealing

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Warning…Spoiler Alert for the Wonder Woman movie.  If you haven’t seen it, but you are planning to, then do not read this blog.

I’ve seen the new Wonder Woman movie twice (so far).  I went to see it with some of the women from my church (Woohoo City Chapel ladies!!).  And then I saw it again with the Hubs.  I would watch it again.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while but summer has been busy.  Sometimes a topic will stick with me until I write it.  I had a little “God-moment” (God spoke to me) through this movies.  There is something about superhero movies that stir me spiritually.  The idea of good overcoming evil.… I’m not sure what it is.

Clearly, Wonder Woman has Greek mythology weaved into it’s story.  Having a firm foundation in my belief system (I am a Christian), I would not allow my son (9 years old) to watch this movies…there are some adult themes (I caught some lesbian themes going on)  as well as the mythology and well, although WW is mostly covered there is some scantily dressed women in this one…in any case, I digress.

The movie starts with Diana’s early childhood.  Her mother shows her a sword, and she is told that it is a god killer.  She is told of another “god” called Ares who is the god of war. She is taught that the communities purpose is to protect the earth and humans especially from Ares.

This is the scene….

 

As Diana attempts to strike Ares with her sword, which she believes is a “god killer”, she finds herself weaponless…or so it seems.  Ares tells Diana, “Only a god can kill a god.”  It’s the moment in the film when she realizes who she really is.

My thought was, sometimes you have to come face to face with an enemy to find out who you are.

As a “freedom fighter”, I do not believe the enemy makes us or breaks us.  Our enemy is liar.  We cannot put stock in anything our enemy says about us.  However, it is usually in our darkest hour, during the battle, facing the enemy that we find out who we are, who God is and how strong our faith is.

Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32).

Many years ago I heard a sermon by Stan Mitchel.  He said, “Sifting does not make, it only reveals what’s there.  The good farmer knows that if you throw up the wheat and chaff in a good 5 to 15 mile per hour wind the wheat will fall to the ground and the the chaff will blow away.   The chaff can withstand some wind and if the wind is too strong, even the wheat will blow away.

As believers we go through life expecting everything to “go our way”.  When difficulties come we say, “I’m being attacked”.

Most Christians either love Job or hate Job…or at very least, think poorly of Job.  God orchestrated Job’s story.  God allowed Job to go through trial.  Yes, the enemy was at work, but God allowed it.

At times, God allows us to go through things.  Why?  Because difficulty reveals our character….both good and bad.  The battle reveals our faith.  And through things reveal to us God’s goodness and His character.

 

If you are going through a trial, if you are in a battle…look around you.  What does this fight reveal about you?  Did God allow this battle to call you back to prayer?  Did God allow this to reveal something in you He wants to heal?  Every trial has a purpose.

Romans says, “All things work together for good.”

Something good will come out of this, no matter how dark it looks.

 

Freedom’s Price

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A few weeks ago we wrapped up our first Kiaros event.  Our team of nine put together a Kiaros event for our region.  We modeled it after (in conjunction with Gateway church, in Southlake, TX).

We invested our time (conference time plus many meetings leading up to the event), our personal testimonies, and our money.  I believe our team would agree that it was worth it to walk others into new levels of Freedom.

We will be hosting another Kairos in Austin next month.  Click here to get more information.

Kairos is a free event.  We do not charge for it even though it isn’t free.

Anyone who hasn’t been to a Kairos event might wonder why would invest so much for freedom’s sake.  There really is nothing like the feeling of being free.

Freedom is never free.  Someone, somewhere is paying for it.

I am reminded of something Graham Cooke once said.

“Getting free is not revenge on the enemy.  Revenge on our enemy is when you get free then you reach out a hand and help someone else get free.” (may not be an exact quote).

Here’s the thing….I want revenge on the enemy.  I was held captive for too long.

I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I am free.  I don’t need something like Kairos.”   Honestly, this is where I would roll my eyes a little.  We can all use a fresh perspective on God.  We can all be more free.  None of us are so free that we are in a state of returning to God’s original design.  There is more.

There are things that God has walked me through in order to heal me because I had an urgent need for healing.

Hurting people hurt people.

Too often, we do not desire freedom for ourselves.  It is easier to hold on to our familiar (comfortable) place.  It is much easier to see where others need freedom rather than looking at our own life. Of course we all have blind spots.  There is no denying that it is far more difficult to see the log in our own eyes.

Here are a few signs that you need to pursue some healing in your life:

  • You are holding a grudge against someone (if you saw them at the grocery store would you turn and run away away or say “hi”?)
  • You over-react to some things.  Maybe a song, movie, statement or even a look someone gives you sets you off your emotions. (crying, disgust, etc)
  • You have angry outbursts for minor reasons.
  • You have many failed relationships.  (It may be that you are the common denominator or it could be you choose to engage in relationships with people who are damaged themselves).
  • You engage in a sin-cycle (Some people may describe this a bad habit).  You engage in an activity that is opposed to your Biblical beliefs, you may ask God for forgiveness but you tend to go back to the sin eventually.
  • You are insecure about who you are or about your relationships.
  • You have lost hope that God is good and has good intentions toward you.
  • You have believe your circumstances or people in your life are too big for God to handle.
  • You have lost sight of who God says you are and His plans for your life.
  • You keep replaying events in your mind over and over.
  • There are some things you just can’t let go.
  • You cannot seem to be content.
  • You have settled for survival rather than thriving.
  • You are not thankful.
  • No one can please you. You find yourself criticizing or judging everyone and everything.
  • Drama follows you.
  • Although you are religious, and attend services regularly and even serve in your church, you do not feel connected with God.
  • You are always frustrated.

What will freedom cost you?  

  • You will have to give up self-pity.
  • You may have to over-come some pride.
  • You may not get the attention from others because you are no longer a victim.
  • You may have to trade in your survival lifestyle for a new abundant life.
  • You may not get the accolades of service when you shift to focusing on your relationship with God, rather than being busy doing.
  • You will have to give up your mistrust of God.

As much as I would like to round people up and force a Kairos event on them……that’s not how it works.  Kairos only works if you decide you want to be free and you begin pursuing freedom.

 Freedom will cost you everything you never needed in your life.  
Freedom has a cost, yet, it’s freely given.  

When Visiting Bethel 

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We are still on the road so I am writing this up on my phone.  I’m not a gmfan of blogging from my phone…it’s usually messy.    And takes a long time.  

This weekend we visited Bethel church in Redding, California.  If you aren’t familiar, it is is difficult to describe other than, it’s a revivalist church, it’s a healing church, it’s a worship church; sime of the most beautiful worship music has come out of Bethel.  

Here is a link from a song they sang yesterday:  

Many people make pilgrimages to Bethel. Here are some things you need to keep in mind….

1.  Dorothy, you aren’t in Texas anymore (or the Deep South).  The people are nice people but you have approach them.  No one approached us as we stood awkwardly looking around needing help for where we needed to go.  I had to ask about childcare.  They get tons of visitors and I get the feeling they aren’t impressed.

2.  If you want a seat in the main sanctuarty, get there early.  The regulars come 30 minutes early and save seats for each other.  They will let you stand against the back walls during worship and try to grab a seat when it’s time to sit down but chances are you will end up in the over flow room.  

3.  They have four Sunday services.  If you make the trip, go to multiple services.  Different worship teams led at each service and they even played different songs.  My favorite worship time was the 10:30 service, worship was lead by Brian Johnson and Steffany Gretzinger.  On a side note, one of the worship leaders forgot some of the lyrics and told the media team he needed lyrics to the second verse on the back screen.  Everyone chuckled and continued to worship.  Loved this…this happens at every church occasionally and they are keeping it real.  

4. If you can only attend one service, I would go to the 6 pm service.  It’s not rushed so worship is long (over an hour) and Papa Johnson (Senior pastor Bill Johnson) spoke.  After the message, they offer ministry.  They had both a “fire tunnel” and a room to pray specifically for healing.  Take advantage of all the prayer you can get.  We took our kids through the fire tunnel.  They loved it and wanted to go again (I kind of wanted to go again too).

5.  They have childcare for the little ones for ok the services (from what I could tell).  When I picked up my girl from the morning service, they gave me a paper with a prophecy for her.  

I love this!  

6.  There are a lot of young people in attendance.  They are not very churchy. There were both young men and young women climbing over chairs to get to their seats. People would bump into you and not even notice…again, it’s not the South.  The culture is different. 

Main thing to remember….get there early!!! At least 30 minutes. 

Veils

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For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. 10 But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].  I Corinthians 13:9-12 (Amplified Bible)

This has been on my heart for several weeks but I haven’t had a chance to write about it until today.

This past few months I have been in small group that did a book study called, “Experiencing Christ Within”.  It is a very good study and I recommend it.  During this study, we explored how we see God and how we can live our lives to bring glory to Him.

At some point in the study, God reminded me of this passage in I Corinthians about how we see in a mirror dimly (is what the NKJV says).  Back when Paul wrote this, there were not many mirrors.  They were rare.  The mirrors they did have were not like the ones we have today.  They were normally small and for lack of a better description, they were dingy.

I have an antique mirror that is about 150 years old.  While it is is cool it is not particularly great for doing things putting on makeup.  To be honest, even the mirror in my bathroom has to be cleaned to get a good reflection.  It has to be cleaned off or the reflection is distorted.

There is a message in all of this about the mirror.  Have you ever used a small hand mirror to see behind you.  It is very hard to get a big picture using a small mirror; you can only see part of what is going on.

Mirrors are not the real thing….seeing in a mirror is only seeing a reflection of what is real.  And it’s backwards…a distorted view.

Isn’t that how it is with God so many times.  We have an idea about who He is.  We have some picture of Him but it is small, distorted and sometimes all backwards.

We often need our perspective of God to experience an adjustment.

As we were studying this passage, God showed it to me like this….

It is as if we are wearing a veil.   Think bridal veil.  Maybe not white. The material is see-through but it’s not clear.  Most of the time, our veil has several layers; layers of experience, layers of misguided or false teachings, layers of religion, layers of pain, layers of sickness, layers of loss, layers of grief.  Each layer, changes how you see God and His kingdom.  As God heals you, a layer is lifted.  You think, “Wow, I see so clearly now!”, even though, you still have more layers.  God  reveals a new truth to you and a layer is lifted.   As each layer lifts you see Him more clearly.  Our part is to seek to see Him more clearly.

Connor-Veiled-Woman

Some veils are different than bridal veils.  Sometimes our veil is like a plastic bag, it distorts our vision and smothers us.  A distorted view of God can suck the life out of you; it can kill you.  Sometimes the enemy hits you so hard and slaps a piece of Suran wrap (plastic wrap from your kitchen) over your face.  First you get the wind knocked out of you then when you go to breath in, you can’t catch your breath; it’s suffocating.  It happens.  Miscarriage, rape, lose of a spouse, loss of a child, lose of a job, lose of a house, church split, loss of a parent, divorce…all of these things can skew your perspective of God and cause you to lose your hope in God.

plastic wrap

When your vision of God is askew you lose hope.  Loss of hope leads to depression, bitterness, suicide…it’s a dark, dark road.

Get your vision adjusted and God gives you hope. A little bit of faith and a dash of hope can change everything.

Sometimes the veils are thicker in some areas of our lives and thinner in other areas.

We can have complete faith in God for our provision but in the area of Him healing, we are veiled.  We believe in God for salvation but the idea of an abundant life is veiled.   We have faith for others but have a veil seeing God’s goodness in our own lives.

It’s time to start taking the veils off.  It’s time to see God in all His goodness and all His glory. It’s time to see Him for how big He is.

Reminds me of the lyrics to a song that P.J. Cooke used to sing at Promiseland in Austin…

“I have made You too small in my eyes….. Be magnified Oh, Lord.  You are highly exalted…”

Bishop Joseph Garlington said in a message I heard, “Magnify the Lord?  How do you do that?  How can you make God any bigger than He is?  You can’t.  You can make Him bigger in your eyes.  You can make Him bigger in your life.”

It’s time to lose some veils. It’s time to adjust your perspective of God and realize how very BIG He is.  He’s a Big, Big God.   When your perspective of God is that He is big and holds the world in His hands, you realize that your problems aren’t all that big.  He’s got this….whatever your “this” is.

Prayer:  God, where I have made you small, please lift the veil off of my vision.  Help me to see how big you are.  Where I have lost hope, please lift the veil.  Please give me hope. Where I have lost faith, God please restore my faith in You.  Please help me to see you clearly.  Help me to put my faith in You.  You are bigger than any problem I have and any problem that could possible come my way.  You are a big-big God.  You are powerful.  Please help me to trust You.  Please heal me and adjust my thoughts to Your thoughts.  Please give me peace.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

It’s all Skittles…or is it Oranges? 

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This Sunday was “Kid Sunday” at City Chapel.  Pastor Eddie, our children’s pastor preached a illustrated message based on Matthew 6:33, which says:

 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 

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He had a jar and filled half way up with skittles and said, these are all the fun things in life; all the things that we enjoy doing “for fun”.  We can fill up on them but no matter how much we may do them we cannot get full.  Overall they may be tasty but they are full of sugar and no nutrition al value.  

He then took out some meandering oranges and put them in the jar on top of the skittles. The oranges represent kingdom things that God desires for us.  Things like living for Him, reading our Bibles, praying, going to church, etc.  while the oranges are sweet and tasty, they also provide vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need.

As he put the oranges in the jar, many of them did fit because the jar was already halfway filled with skittles….

You see where he was going with this?  

If we fill our life with only fun things, we will not have room for the healthy things.  

He then emptied the jar And started over putting all the oranges in first…yes they fit.  Then he added the skittles and all the skittles fit.  

When you put God first; His kingdom first All the other stuff will be added to your life.

That was the message.  

The past few weeks our church had a fun(we always have fun stuff going on) activity sort of raffle sort of contest/challenge thing going on.  To encourage us to spend more time together, we were asked to go out to eat with other church members and take a picture hashtag it #thechurchthateatstogather oh, and hang onto our receipts. At the end of two weeks they put all the names of the partipants into a drawing and whoever’s name was drawn would be reimbursed for their meal.  Most Sundays we eat lunch out because mama likes a day off from cooking.  Let’s say we actively participated in the challenge thingy.  It was over last Sunday.

This Sunday, a large group of us went to Pei Wei.  I posted on Facebook that we were going because I dislike cliques  and always want others to feel welcome to join us.  I seriously dislike cliques…in high school I took turns eating lunch with different cliques except the druggies because I was afraid of going to jail. Anyway….that’s another story.  I grew up in to 80s and we “just say no” (thank you Nancy Regan). 

Back to lunch…

We were laughing so hard.  Mostly talking about our kids and life.  We were having fun. We stayed way too long.  I said at one point,” we should hashtag this…#itsallskittles.”  We laughed more.  We were rolling.  

As I thought about the lovely day I had today, about how our worship service was sweet…Holy Spirit, sweet, and lunch with dear friends and our small group…my cup runneth  over.   I realized, it wasn’t skittles at all….it was oranges all along. 

Just One More

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The Hubs and I watched Hacksaw Ridge last week. Great movie….not for kiddos.

As with many movies, there was one line that hit me.  One line that took my breath away.

In case you haven’t seen it, let me setup the backstory.

The movie is a true story about a young man, Desmond Doss.  He is a Christian who does not believe in violence but he volunteers for the the army during World War II.  After standing up for his beliefs and he insists on going to war as a medic without a riffle or a weapon of any kind.  His unit is assigned to Okinawa, Japan and their assignment is to take Hacksaw Ridge.  They aren’t the first unit on this assignment.  Many have gone before.  The fighting is intense and gory and chaotic (I was able to close my eyes or I might have experienced some PTSD…the movie was intense to watch).   During the battle, the unit seems to make some progress although it cost many lives only to be ambushed at sunrise.  The unit retreats.  As they are descending the ridge, Private Doss hears an injured man calling for a medic.  He goes back into the carnage.  As he rescues one soldier, he finds other soldiers who are still alive.  He begins bringing them to the ridge’s edge and lowering them down.  He keeps going back and finding the injured.  He begins to  pray….”give me just one more.”   Over and over, he prays, “Just one more.”  and he goes back into the trenches to rescue another man.  Even during his rescue, the enemy is going through the same trenches killing off anyone they find alive.

If memory serves (which is super questionable at midnight) Private Doss saved around 70 men who would have likely died without his intervention.  He was the first man to receive the Metal of Honor without firing a shot.

As I watched the scene of Private Doss praying, “One more..just one more.” and leaving potential safety to go back into the danger I couldn’t help but think of my Christian journey.  I wondered what would happen if we all prayed, “God, just one more. Help me reach just one more for You.”

What would that look like?

How would God answering that prayer change someone’s world?  Or change the whole world?

In addition to the movie, I am currently in a women’s Bible study.  We are working through the book, “Experiencing Christ Within“.  I haven’t finished the study but basically it is about trusting God completely and living our lives for His glory, in everything we do.

There are many of us that rarely get beyond our own bubble.  Sure we go to church but we do not consider that the same hope that God has given us is available to others and that we may know someone who needs God. We may be the person who can sow those seeds of hope in their life.

If we want to restore hope and wonder to the world we have to start with our neighbors and our family and our co-workers (I’m always witnessing to my subordinates – I homeschool so that means my kids).

I’ve been thinking about the prayer….”just one more” and today at our Bible study I wrote a note in my book, “God, please help us to restore hope to people.  Help me to be a restorer of hope.” The prayers are really the same…I want to help others experience God’s glory.  How can I help restore hope to others?  How can I help connect others to our Mighty God?

First pray…”just one more” then wait and listen for God to show you the opportunities He has for you.  Then do…do what He leads you to do.

It might be something super awkward like buying someone’s groceries (have you ever asked the person behind you if you could buy their groceries…oh my goodness, it’s awkward) or giving someone a hug or maybe something simple like talking to someone who is lonely.

“One more…just one more.”  Until Jesus comes back, keep going.