Waves

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Hey y’all. I have been wondering about all my readers. All 7 of y’all. I have had thousands over the years but everyone has started watching videos instead of writing.

I have made a few videos myself…in between fussing at my kids to do their school work.

We are in a crazy season. Waves upon waves of fear have been released. Perfect loves cast out fear. It’s time to ride the waves of the love of Jesus! Those are the waves we are designed for….

How did we get here?

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Not too long ago, I had many faithful subscribers.  Life got busy (super busy….I got a job…accidently got a job. It has been a God-send and it fell into my lap).  Because of this, I haven’t been writing, at all unless you count salesforce reporting.

I have setup a YouTube channel with some video posts of thought.  Click here to check those out.

Most of my writing is me meandering though a topic and trying not to be preachy.  Haha. Or it’s about my amazing kids. This is more on the path of meandering thoughts.

I’m not sure when it happened.  I think most long-time Christians will understand and follow this.  Somewhere, while I was teaching kids, working on church stuff, serving in my community…Christianity became something so different than what it has been in the past.  I know with my mind that as God brings things into balance.

True Christianity isn’t about what we “do” but about who we are…in Christ.  Christianity is not about ritual it is about relationship with Jesus.  For years, we have focused on our works instead of God’s goodness.  Our works do not redeem us. Only Jesus can save and redeem us.

As with so many things in God’s kingdom as come into balance, the pendulum that swung so far out of balance must swing back in the other direction in order to come back to balance.

In this instance, balance is understanding and living in the place between having that intimate relationship with God and doing the things that reflect that relationship. 

In past, we had to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted in Christian community to the detriment of truth. In the 80s there was a saying, “Fake it, til you make it” or “Dress for the job you want” (both of these were said in regard to success).  The church’s take on this was to look righteous even if you weren’t living righteous.  But “faking it” doesn’t work with God because He knows our inward parts, He knit them together.  (Psalm 139)

In the last 50 years there has been a move toward spirituality.  In the last 10 years or so the church has embraced a move toward the love of Christ to the extreme of nothing being required of us.  We were saved unto good works.  James 2 says if faith doesn’t have works it is dead.  We show our faith by our works.  The pendulum has swung and we have gone from fakery to no outward display of faith….everyone has faith but there is outward indicators.

One of my friends was sharing (on Facebook) about this train wreck of a show on Netflix called “Love is Blind” (I think that’s the name).   Netflix and Amazon video are kind of the devil…they show everything unfit for broadcast television.  There are no filters any more.  (I started watching Designated Survivor when it came out and it was pretty good…then Netflix started making it and every other word f*&*…I had to stop watching.  It’s a bummer).  The premise of the show is you go on all these “faux” dates where you need see the person until they ask you to marry them, you get to see each other, then you meet each other’s families, move in together and get married within a month or something.  It’s a train wreck and like most wrecks, it’s hard NOT to watch.

I watched about two episodes.  One thing caught my attention.  A young woman reveals (and why is it as singles we have to “reveal” our faith? Pretty good indicator that all I’m writing is accurate) that she is a Christian.  The young man she is talking to, says “F*&$ yes, I’m a Christian too.  I have a tattoo on my stomach that says ‘Psalm 19:14’.”

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.    Psalm 19:14

THIS IS WHAT I CALL “IRONIC”.

I know sometimes I do and say things that aren’t acceptable in God’s sight…I know this because the Bible outlines what is good and acceptable.  We do not have to be like the world to win them.  The goodness of God draws people in.  When we lift Jesus up, He draws all men unto Him.

We don’t have to relate to the world in that way to win the world.

We do have to passionately pursue God in every area of our lives.

I do not have any tattoos of scriptures or crosses or anything.  That doesn’t mean I’m not a believer. I also don’t have to “reveal” my faith to new people.  This doesn’t make me better probably means I’m getting old and I don’t care what people think.  I’m going to be “me”. and if you don’t like it, that’s okay.

My hope is, that you will know that I believe by the Holy Spirit that I carry.  That I accept that you are on your journey and that God has a plan for you.  I don’t condemn your use of inappropriate language or inappropriate/crude talk.  (If you do it in front of my kids, I will say speak up because that’s not okay with me).  I hope that my love speaks loudest and that my works follow the love I carry.

Freedom doesn’t mean anything goes. Freedom means, you can be who God says you are.   Having a standard that you live by isn’t confining…it’s freeing.

Earlier the Psalm 19 passage it says it this way (Passion translation):

Every one of the Lord’s commands is right; following them brings cheer.  Nothing He says ever needs to be changed.  The rarest treasures of life are found in His truth.  That is why I prize God’s word like others prize the finest gold.  Nothing brings the soul such sweetness as seeking His living words. (9-10)

God’s standards of living bring sweetness in our soul.  Isn’t that what we all want; What we are all seeking…sweetness in our soul? It’s kind of a trick, we seek the sweetness, the peace, the love and the answer is Jesus. He’s all of those things and once His Spirit infiltrates us, we enjoy the sweetness.

Seek His word for the standards you should live by.  Seek Him about it.  If there is anything you are having trouble following…ask Him about it.  His ways are easy and His burdens are lite.  If something is hard or troubling, seek healing in that area.  God is good…more than anything He wants to show you; reveal to you the depth of His goodness.

How do You Trust Him?

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Life has entered turbo speed with kids in school and church planting and working…haven’t written as much as I have wanted to.

This past week, I was driving over to Abilene (about 2 hours away from us) and as is my habit, I was listening to podcasts on my way.  I follow Shawn Bolz’s podcast and I have listened to every one.  Basically, he interviews inspiring people asking them about their “God journey”.  Every episode is inspirational.  This particular episode was with Harmony “Dust” Grillo.  Click here to listen.

Let me start this by sharing a little of a testimony.  Many moons ago, I met a girl (we eventually became friends) through my sisters who was a stripper.  She attended high school with my sisters. This is a few years after we all graduated high school.  I’m not clear on the details of how she came to our church.  I think she was hanging out with some church guys (they were not yet men but they should have been…seems to be the way things go these days) who weren’t really on a Christian journey at that time but they all grew up attending church and were close friends.  Again, I am not sure about all the details but it was shady.  Yes, I said it.  They were going places and doing things they shouldn’t have been doing.  She came to church and as we are prone to do,  the sisters adopted her and tried to “fix” her.  We loved her (our heart was in the right place). I still love this woman.  She is smart, funny, charismatic…someone I like hanging out with.  At that time, we knew about deliverance but we knew very little about inner healing.  In hindsight, God had been walking me through so much inner healing but I didn’t have the tools to make it simple for others.  My answer was simple, “pray more, pray often, pray harder”.  God does answer prayer so it’s isn’t a bad method it just doesn’t work with that well with unchurched people because they do not understand what that means. After a few months, we told our friend she had to stop stripping and get rid of all her stripper stuff and start dressing more appropriately, etc…all the “church girl” answers.  She did what we suggested.  She tried.  She got baptized.  She attended church regularly and hung out with us.  She was involved.  I’m not sure it stuck.  I am still in touch with her but I’m not sure if she attends church.  I always want to know why the “God relationship” sticks for some people and not for others.  If I am involved in helping others, I want to know “how I can help others in a better way in the future?”.

Back to Ms. Grillo’s story.  She has a background as a stripper and “call girl” (I haven’t read her book and I may be using these terms loosely).  I do not want to tell her whole story because you should listen tot the podcast. How she came to the Lord is funny and sweet.  She wanted to get a boob job.  She was scheduled to get new, bigger boobies.  One of her coworkers (also a stripper) told her not to do it.  The co-worker told her that she got them, attended a ballet class, felt ridiculous and had them removed.  She canceled her boob job and joined a ballet class.  This woman had been molested and used by men her entire life…she didn’t go into details but ran away from home at age 13 because her mom’s boyfriend was molesting her.  At the ballet class, she met a young Christian woman who became her friend.  The young lady did invite her to church but the friendship was never contingent on her attending church.  She started attending church on Sundays….even changed her stripper schedule to be off on Sundays.  BUT SHE DIDN’T STOP STRIPPING.  The church welcomed her and loved her on her JOURNEY.  She said she actually began practicing abstinence while she was still stripping.  Eventually, she describes a moment of walking into work and feeling naked for the first time (the Holy Spirit).

As a pastor, I want to reach these desperate women who have fallen into a lifestyle that is killing their souls.  I want to reach people who have lost all their self-value.

I know in this scenery, I’m the church girl. They probably believe I have no way of relating to their lives.  We all lose sight of our value at times.  I may not have fallen into the sex industry….but for the grace of God.

Shawn Bolz added to the conversation describing some ministry he did when he and his friends went to the streets and how he met some high school friends walking the streets.

Both of them talked about letting people go on their journey with God.

I wondered about my friend.  Did I love her well? Did she know God’s love through us? Did she understand how much God loves her and how He wants to be known by her?  Does she know?

The thought crossed my mind….wow, we really have to trust God to be the Holy Spirit to these people.  We have to trust that God is working even when we do not see with our eyes what is going on.  We have to TRUST HIM.

Here’s the shortage.  It’s hard to TRUST HIM with others when we are not TRUSTING HIM in our own journeys. We have to TRUST HIM with our spiritual walk; with our finances; with our kids; with our marriage; with our situations….

Our lack  of trust in winning people who are far from God is an indicator of where our trust level is in our own lives.

If we want to win others, if we want to see the lost saved and changed then we have to increase  in our faith and our trust in God.

TRUST HIM.  He is for you.  Oh, and that friend you think is soooo lost…pray for them, sto trying to control them; pray and trust God.  He’s big enough to handle them and their situation.

 

Old School

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A crazy thing happened this morning.  I went to a coffee shop I frequent (there aren’t many places around here to sit, have a good coffee, free wifi were I can read or write…I come here two times a week).

As I drove in this morning there were more cars than usual.  I recognized a local pastor.  I came here to read a revival book, write a blog on prayer (ezekielregiment.wordpress.com) and drink coffee (of course).  I came inside, picked a little table near a plug but not directly downwind of the air conditional (I rarely get cold but I’ve had to switch seats before).

Today I was writing about praying for spiritual leaders.

The whole church team, sat down at a large table right beside me.  The pastor sat about five feet from where I am sitting.

They seem to be planning some kind of conference.  I hear a worship leader explaining that he’s going “Old school; Very Old School….like songs he grew up on.”  He was seriously under 30 year old.  He’s not thinking, “How Great Thou Art.”  He’s going to be singing “Shout to the Lord” and “I can Sing of Your Love Forever.”  (not that those aren’t “old school” but someone maybe needs to sing “Amazing Grace”).  His reasoning was there are too many new worship songs and no one knows them so they won’t worship to them.  (insert eyeroll….worshipers worship, it’s what we do, if we know the song or not.  And now days we have so much access to new materials that if we don’t know it, we will look it up…rant over.  He doesn’t want to learn the new songs).

I’m not even going to go into the flaws of all of it, except to say, we don’t need another conference….we need a prayer room. 

When it comes to “Old School” whether it is Christian circles or secular what it’s really about is the familiar.  Any time I hear Air Supply, I think of my cousin Trent and listening to Air Supply at his house when I was maybe 13 years old.  We liked Michael Jackson too, through in some George Strait and Lional Richie….we are Texans, we are diverse).

When it comes to “Old School” as it relates to my Christianity, it is more than just looking back.  Those “Old School” songs were so popular for a reason.  They defined the season the church was in at that time.  Matt Redman wrote a song (I believe it was Matt Redman), “Heart of Worship”…lyrics were “I’m coming back to the heart of worship….it’s all about You, Jesus….”  And we had been singing about Jesus for so long but not singing to Him.  That song refocused many of us.

Sometimes “Old School” is a song that got you through…it helped you find your way back to Jesus.  Mercy Me had one, “Bring the Rain”.  That song still moves me…one line, “Bring me anything that brings You glory.”  That has to be some of the most bittersweet words ever written….through being single, miscarriage, through adoption, through it all….I will serve Him in sunshine and rain and if it brings Him glory, then bring it.  That’s a tough prayer. It helped me remeber it’s not about me.

If I look back, way back….there are songs I sing my kids from my childhood. This is “very Old School”…  “Coming down, down down, coming down, down down, the glory of the Lord is coming down.  When the saints begin to pray for the Lord to have His way, the glory of the Lord is coming down.”  What a reminder to me….pray.

The truth about “Old School” when it comes to Jesus is, we aren’t longing for an old song we are longing for an old feeling; the feeling of the Spirit of God upon us.

We want to do “all new” things (seriously, the same worship pastor talking about small groups – or something – says he doesn’t want to see any of the same old group. He wants new ideas and new groups) and get see God move.  I was in my 20s.  I understand dreaming. I thank God for people in their 20s…they have the energy and passion to push us.  Yet, we know as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”  There is not a completely “new” way of doing something that is going to move us into the glory of God. There is no “new” plan for revival.

If we want an “Old School” experience we cannot sing an “Old Song” to get there…new songs will work fine.  “Reckless Love” moves me every time I hear it.  God is giving us new songs.  If we want an “Old School” experience we have to do an “Old School” thing….PRAY; most of the time we need to do two things, REPENT and PRAY.

If we want to see God move on us, in us and through us, we have to get back to the prayer room.

When I was in my 20s, we prayed.  There was a season of prayer in the 90s that drew us in.  We didn’t learn prayer as a discipline, unfortunately.  Life has disciplined us…things happen drawing us back into prayer.  The subject of our prayers is mostly self-centered.  It’s time to expand those prayer more…praying for our church, praying for our places of employment, our cities, our nation….

Now many of us are looking for God in an old song but He is where we left Him on our knees.

Taste and See

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Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Psalm 34:8

This could almost be a Momlog post because it has been spinning around with me because of a situation/conversation I had with my Boy.

I was picking up some items from a sweet lady, Ms. Dotty.  They were business items as she was closing a bounce house business and we are working on opening one. She was gracious and had set aside some books for the kids as well as a few extra items for us.  The Boy started asking her for things she had not offered.  As we carried some items out to the car, I told him (yes, I told him, it was NOT a suggestion) to stop asking for things. When we went back in, he saw a Playstation (he doesn’t have one) and he said excitedly, “A playstation!!!” (NOT asking for it…what is it with kids and technicalities?) He started “not asking” for a lot of stuff. No, she didn’t give us the playstation.  She had two 11 year olds at home and she was taking it home.

On the way home, I thought about how to explain to him how rude it is to ask people for more than they are willing to give.

As I considered the situation, I thought about why I wouldn’t ask…

Our discussion went something like this… (I did address the “not really asking” thing too)

Me:  Do you know Ms. Dotty has two girls and was taking that gaming system home to them.

B:  Oh.

Me:  Do you think she maybe wanted to give it to you?

B:  Maybe

Me: Do you think she wanted to say “yes, you can have it”?

B:  Maybe

Me:  How do you think she felt having to say “no” to you?

B: Bad  (we have to really delve to have any emotion expressed other than good, bad, or mad)

Me:  She probably did feel negative about it.  She was very generous but by asking her to give something she had other plans, she probably felt sad and that could leave a bad taste in her mouth about us.  No one wants to be around people who do things that cause them to feel bad.  We want to leave people with a good taste, or positive feelings about us.  (I told him about the scripture that says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

A few days later, we had another discussion about tastes.  This time, he was being willfully disobedient to me in the car and I got very irritated. I may have yelled.

This time the discussion went like this…

Me:  Do you think I have a good taste in my mouth about you right now?

B:  No.

Me:  Do you have a good taste in your mouth about me right now?

B:  Not so much

Me:  This is not the relationship I want us to have with one another.  I want us to leave a good taste with each other.

That’s the thing.  Whether it is with those close to us or strangers we always have the opportunity to leave others with a positive experience or a negative experience.  We all have the opportunity to exercise grace, mercy, kindness or love.

Sure, there will be times when no matter how hard we try someone isn’t going to like us most of the time that is more about their journey than ours.  We can only do what God leads us to do.

There are many times when we leave a good tastes about us, we are leaving a good taste about Him.  That’s what it is really about even with our kids, leaving others wanting to know the God we know…sigh.  That is what I need to work on or perhaps that is where I am being worked on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Vs. Fire

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On Sunday mornings, we try (we really, really try) to get to church early and pray for the service.  Admittedly, I am not an “early” person.  My husband says I have fully embraced the Hispanic culture who are known for “getting there when they get there”.  Two Sundays ago, we were early…we were so early that we couldn’t even check our kids into their classes yet.  That’s fine because when I was growing up, my mom took us to the prayer room with Cindy Jacobs wrote in her book, “Possessing the Gates of the Enemy” (book on intercessory prayer), “Prayer is better caught than taught.”  In other words if you want a more dynamic prayer walk, get around some people who pray well and listen….  I grew up going to prayer the room and I have wanted my kids to be more exposed to prayer (we pray with them and for them daily).

This particular Sunday, I felt so led to pray for spiritual rain.

Zechariah 10:1 says:

Ask the Lord for rain In the time of the latter rain.  The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.

We live in Texas.  We have had one of the longest, hottest summers I can remember and it’s only June.  The grass was beginning to look like hay (*golden colored) and our ponds and streams were beginning to whither.  In the physical, we needed some rain.  We needed a washing…washing the dust out of the air.  Our parched land needed refreshing.  We needed soaking rains, not hurricane rain (which causes serious flash-flooding here).

I began to pray for spiritual rain.  I found myself praying that God would send refreshing rain that would wash us, soak us and begin to push things out of our lives that are slowing us down and hindering us from God’s will and presences.  That’s the thing about water is it a powerful force.  We do have flash floods here and flowing water can push a truck off the road.

Often in scripture, water represents the Holy Spirit.  It is fitting because the Spirit can bring refreshing.  It pushes things out that do not belong.  It is cleansing. It is powerful.  It can move us into new places.

When the service began, we sang two songs about fire.

Yes, the Word says that God is a consuming fire.  Honestly, I questioned myself a little about the whole rain prayer.  One of the most important aspects of the church is unity and felt out of step with where we were going that day.

Why call down fire when we can have rain?  Fire consumes everything.  EVERYTHING; a purging.  I kept thinking about how physically dry it has been here, how miserable, how hot…we have the conditions for fire or we have the conditions for rain.  Rain brings refreshing.  Rain turns things green.  Both fire and rain can clear everything out but with rain there can be less debris.  On the other hand, ash can fertilize your field.

Sometimes we need fire and sometimes we need rain.

What is your season?  Sometimes, I need rain.  I need the refreshing that comes.  I need a soaking.  Jesus, bring the rain.

 

The kind of friend I want to be…

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A few weeks ago, while spending time with friends, the conversation got gossipy and a little catty..catty towards a church. I participated in the cattiness. (James says “confess your sins one to another and you shall be healed.”…amazing how so many “secular” ideas has Biblical roots, “confession is good for the soul.” I am confessing here.)

The thing is, one of my friends attends that church.

That church was a place of healing for me. I dedicated my kids at that church. I have recommended that church to many people who didn’t want to drive to Austin to go to church. I had some frustration with that church but in general it’s a good church.

(It’s never okay to talk poorly about someone’s church)

For days after, I felt the sweet gnawing of conviction. (I thank God for His Spirit which brings conviction…).

I wished my friend had told me to cut it out. I’m not sure how I would have handled it.

I want to be the kind of friend who can be told, “it’s not cool to talk about my church.” (Or my family, or my friend…etc).

I want to have friends who love me enough to tell me when I am being “uncool”. It’s hard to be that friend. As I thought about it, I realized, I have been in the exact scenario…and I didn’t speak up.

I want to be the kind of friend who loves you enough to call you out. (General announcement here: it’s not okay to talk badly about my church.)

I want to be a better friend. I want to be a better friend; a real friend.

I did apologize to my friend. She forgave me (I think). I hope this leads us to a deeper friendship. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.