Friday, March 21, 2014

What Are You Waiting For?

“Let patience have its perfect work in you, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4 (NKJV)

Enduring a situation patiently doesn’t seem to come naturally to us, but it is the way that the Lord works on us and molds us into who He wants us to be. Waiting on the Lord is not about sitting in one place, doing nothing. Waiting is active because while you are waiting, God wants you to remain in faith. And we know faith without works is dead. Our faith, even while we are waiting for direction or clarity, must be put into action. If we are in a situation where it seems as if there is absolutely nothing we can do or we have done everything we know to do, we can always declare God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and our faith is active when we are speaking forth God’s powerful Word.
Just as God spoke the universe into existence, we can speak our desires into existence. Of course, our desires must line up with God’s will. We must speak what God says, which is the highest and purest truth. When the enemy comes at us with lies, we can combat those lies with God’s truth and cut those lies to pieces with the sword of the Word.
So are you in a season of waiting?

Are you believing for transition, promotion, abundance, financial freedom, a spouse, a child?
What are you waiting for?! Speak what God says about your situation! Find a promise in God’s Word and stand on it and declare it until you see your situation turn around!

I will leave you with some lyrics the Lord gave me last week during a worship service at church:
Open your mouth
Let Him fill it
Open your mouth
Speak His Word/
Open your mouth
Let Him fill it
Oh, speak Him forth!

Be blessed!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Created for GREATNESS!

One of the hardest things about living in this world as a Christian is not letting your mind conform to the earthly/carnal/temporal surroundings. The longer you are separated from Kingdom ways, which can be found in the Word of God, the easier it is to begin to think and act like the rest of the world who know so little of God’s ways. We become less and less heavenly-minded and begin to lose our focus on the eternal life that awaits us.
I know that’s why Paul urges us in Romans 12:2 to “not be CONFORMED to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind.”
The Word of God will transform our carnal way of thinking that we are naturally born with, and once we are born again by receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must continue our transformation process because we aren’t “home” yet. Although we are citizens of heaven, we still have a temporary residence here on earth and because of that we are subject to its environment. We HAVE TO renew our mind daily with God’s Word.

I’ve personally experienced instances where I have been pulled into following society’s timeline or approval process, measuring the way I lived my life with the world’s standards and regulations. One instance, in particular, is measuring success or accomplishment by popularity and quantity when using the finances, time, talent, or drive that the Lord has so graciously given us to use on this earth. Often we use them to make sure we advance in this life for ourselves, but God’s plan is to use them to bring Him glory and reach people for His Kingdom. To the world, the more people hearing about the accomplishment, the greater the success and the more difference your life just made by contributing your gifts, time, or finances. The world is all about outward appearance, how something looks on the outside.
But the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

If the world saw a story in the newspaper about a shepherd that left 99 sheep to go after 1 that had gone astray, they would consider it absolutely foolish! “You could have lost even more! Think of all of that business you could potentially lose!” I hear.
Or what about King David (who was anointed the next King of Israel and awaiting his throne) who faithfully served King Saul even when he sought to kill him? “Honor his authority?! That throne is rightfully yours! Tell King Saul to take a hike!”

Or how about a man from Nazareth who changed the entire world forever with just twelve people who gave up their entire lives to follow Him? “You have HOW many followers on Twitter…TWELVE?! LOL I have 6 MILLION…I’m WAY more influential than you!”

Ok, the last example may be a stretch, but in today’s culture, many people truly believe having 6 million followers on Twitter is the epitome of success, “living the dream,” and truly “making it.”
Now, I’m not saying that the Lord can’t use someone to advance the Kingdom who has 6 million followers of Twitter, but why do we think that He chooses to use that person over the one who only has twelve Twitter followers (in the context of influence, of course)? My point is that we must break ourselves free from the mindset that your life only matters when people hear about your accomplishments or contributions to society. The world says “MORE, MORE, MORE = GREAT, GREAT, GREAT.” But God is looking at the motive behind our drive to be successful. Let’s face it, we all want to do something great. But I have to ask:
As Christians, is our success becoming about us, or are we pointing others to Jesus?
Are we using our life’s accomplishments to make a difference in the world even if it just for one person and your name isn’t in the headlines, on Billboards, on T-shirts, commercials, the credits of the latest TV show or movie?
Are we ok with being an “unknown?”
John the Baptist began to lose disciples when Jesus came on the scene, but John knew His purpose on this earth: to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming; to point others straight to the King of Kings so that they can enter the gate of Salvation.
“More of Him and less of me,” John declared in John 3:30. This should be our mindset too as we prepare for the Lord’s second coming.
It is our nature to be self-centered, to long for recognition, to be applauded for our efforts, etc. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting credit for a job well-done, but we should always remember that “we are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Anything we do, we should always give the credit and the glory to the One who gave us the ability to accomplish it and want nothing more than for others to grow and mature into a strong, healthy relationship with their Heavenly Father and Creator. He sees each life as precious and doesn’t weigh one life more important than another.
So to the stay-at-home mom raising those little ones, you are doing great things! You are successful!

To the CEO of that multi-million dollar company, you are doing great things! You are successful!
And to that youth pastor with a group of ten kids who you minister to week in and week out, you are doing great things! You are successful!

Just REMEMBER, that success is to advance the Kingdom and win others to Christ…one person at time!
Give God the glory He deserves, not only with your words but with your heart…He created you to do great things!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chasing God's Dreams

It seems that I have been made more aware as of late of the amount of distractions from the things of God and confusion that the media is bombarding our society, specifically our youth. I know that these tactics by the media are nothing new, but as each year passes, it just seems to be ever increasing and less and less salt, light, and truth can be found in that arena of our American culture.

Last night, I was asked to teach children’s church on short notice just as my husband and I were headed out the door to make it to sound check for our midweek service at our church. There was no curriculum planned for the night, and our pastor ensured me that I could speak to the kids about truly anything that the Lord had placed upon my heart. For someone who sometimes needs structure or guidelines, this massive amount of flexibility flustered me a bit, but I trusted the Lord would speak to me if I just inclined my ear if even for a moment. On the way to church, the Lord dropped the topic of dreams in my heart and told me to focus on Jeremiah 29:11 to let the children know that He has big dreams for them that are always for good and to bring them hope and a bright future. As we sat “cross-cross applesauce” in a circle on the floor, I asked each child what they dreamed of becoming when they grew up. The boys wanted to be firefighters and policemen, of course, but I was amazed that each girl in the room didn't have aspirations like that to help others and make an impact in their sphere of influence. No, they didn't want to be teachers or nurses or even mothers (it seems that not many young girls long to be that anymore…); every single little girl told me that they wanted to be either a singer, dancer, or a celebrity. I didn't stomp on their dreams, just encouraged them that they can do anything they work hard to do, but my heart was truly heavy for them.

Why was this response to be an entertainer or someone famous so common among the entire group of little girls?

Are we raising daughters to chase after approval, applause, and performance-based lifestyles?
Are they beginning to sing “I live for the applause” in their hearts instead of “I live for the Lord” or even “I live to help others?”

Do they dream of that fame and stardom because it gives them a sense of purpose or worth?

Does the thought of the response of their fans make them feel appreciated and loved?

If that is the case, then we are in danger of raising an entire generation of women looking for their worth in the wrong place. They will never find it in the applause of their audience or in the thrill of using their talents for all to see with the spotlight soley on them and their amazing abilities that make everyone feel good. There is so much God has planned for our gifts than to make people feel good!

Don’t they know that He formed them in their mother’s womb for a purpose bigger than themselves, bigger than anything the world can offer?

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you…”
Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message)

An opportunity to dream with God- to help Him achieve His ultimate Kingdom plan that all may come to know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and become a part of His loving family not only on earth, but eternally in heaven.

So I ask you, how are you helping raise this generation to find their ultimate Kingdom purpose and find their worth in Jesus Christ alone so that they may receive the Father’s love?

I pray the Lord reveals to you how you can guide the young people He has placed around you. I also pray that the Lord would reveal your worth to you through His Word if you are also dealing with feeling valued or precious or are struggling with desires to seek approval from others thinking somehow the applause of men will fulfill you. You will only find your worth in God’s love. Nothing else will ever satisfy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

To Serve or Be Served? That is the Question!

"Ministry" is from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning "to serve.” At my church, our pastors believe that every member of God’s Church is a minister, so obviously that would mean that every believer is called to serve- serve Jesus and serve His Body. Jesus was the servant of all. In fact, He was the Servant King.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NKJV)
Jesus asks us as Christians to lay our lives down continually, denying our wants and desires, or as the Apostle Paul said to do, “die daily.”
Do we know how to do that?
It is human nature to seek after what our hearts and flesh crave, but we do not have to give into that kind of nature for we have a new nature in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit empowers us to set aside our selfishness and learn how to be selfless like Jesus, preferring others above ourselves. That kind of lifestyle starts in the mind, in the way we think. Not only is the mind of Christ pure and wise, but it is selfless. When we declare that we have the mind of Christ, we are declaring that we can think selfless thoughts and our thoughts will then begin to affect our words, which will in turn affect our actions, which will in turn affect our behavior, which will in turn affect our character, which will in turn affect our destiny.
Who is God asking you to serve?
What do you need to do to lay aside your selfish desires and put someone else’s life before your own?
It isn’t easy, but it is worth it because Jesus promises us that whoever loses his life will find it and find it abundance.
Minister to someone today and find the kind of abundant and amazing life that you’ve always longed for full of so much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control- enough to both to give out and receive! True abundance!

The Call.

As Christians, we are called to walk on this earth as Jesus walked on this earth, and in an even greater way (see John 14:12). He came down from heaven, wrapped Himself in humanity, and left His thrown to bring His glory down so that all men may learn to walk as He did and help bring more people into His Kingdom. He died on the cross, took the keys to death, hell, and the grave, rose again, and ascended into heaven back to His thrown where is making constant intercession for us as our High Priest. But He didn’t leave us alone; He made sure that we had the same power that conquered the grave within us and gave us the Holy Spirit to help us walk as He did. In addition to being the Son of God, Jesus walked this earth as a Healer, as a Deliverer, as a Teacher, as a Servant King, as a Priest, as a Shepherd, and as a great Friend to all.

When we become born-again believers, we begin to feel a stirring within us to love Jesus and love people like He did. We are able to love because He first loved us, as 1 John 4:19 tells us in the Bible. In Him, everything is possible because He is love and love never fails.
Although I called upon the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior, acknowledging that He died on the cross to wash away my sins, when I was 16, I have really only been a serious and active born-again believer for the last five years of my life. I have been through a tremendous transformation over the course of those five years (you can learn more about that in my book The Vessel: From Marred to Honorable, which will hopefully be available in Winter 2014), and it was just within the last year that I truly started to understand my purpose and calling and how the Lord wanted me to walk out that purpose in the earth.
As believers, we all have the same calling, but many different talents and gifts that we can use to walk out that calling. We are all called to love the Lord God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and love others as we want to be loved, not so that they can feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but so that they can meet the Man, Love Himself, face to face and come into a relationship with the Father through Him. When we acknowledge what Jesus did for us on the cross, He gives us the right to be called children of God. That means you are a son or a daughter of the Most High God! God loves family because He is the One who created it; He wants us all to be a part of His family not only here on earth but in heaven for eternity. Our job as Christians is to tell others about this awesome truth, even other Christians who may not know! The earth is longing for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed, meaning, we receive the revelation that we are God’s children and we begin to take dominion and authority that the devil has tried so desperately to completely steal from us! But He has already been defeated! Praise God!
Now back to what I had mentioned before, we all have different talents and gifts that God has given us to reach and draw people into His Kingdom. That is where the creativity of the Creator comes into play. All of us are completely unique in our personality, character, behavior, abilities, finances, influence, etc. To try to copy and imitate anyone else is cheating yourself of God’s awesome creativity to be activated in your life. Be who God has created you to be and don’t try to put yourself in a box!
With that said, I believe there are three ways we can fulfill our calling and purpose to love God with our heart, mind, soul, and strength and love others how we want to be loved:

1.      Worship God

2.      Edify the Body

3.      Reach the Lost
Within those three ways that we fulfill our calling, we use our unique personality, character, behavior, abilities, finances, influence, etc exactly how God is asking us to. None of those three ways are more important than the other. In other words, if God is asking you to fulfill the call as a Pastor/Teacher, it doesn’t mean that He views how you grow the Kingdom by edifying the Body more important than how a born-again business man reaches the lost by telling his unsaved co-workers about how Jesus changed his life and how Jesus will do the same for them. Or that God views a teenager reaching the lost by leading a fellow student through the prayer of salvation more important than a young couple edifying the Body by leading a Bible study at their college and career discipleship group at their church. Whether saved or unsaved, you are reaching people and drawing people closer (by Jesus being lifted up in our own lives) into the Kingdom of God.

Yet, we can’t reach anyone or draw anyone if we are not worshipping God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Worship isn’t confined to music and singing, or dancing, or painting, or the first 30 minutes of our church services. Worship is a lifestyle of loving God by choosing to say “yes” to God and “no” to our own selfish desires daily. Through acts of constant obedience, we are giving God worth and valuing His will over our own. When we worship God, He pours into us and then asks us to in turn pour out to others around us, again, saved and unsaved alike. Every single soul is important to Father God and He always desires more of us, whether we know Him and have been a Christian for 50 years, 5 minutes, or do not know Him at all and still need to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Jesus didn’t tell us to go and make converts; He told us to go and make disciples. If you are a Christian, and want to reach the lost, don’t just stop at leading them through the prayer of salvation, continue ministering until they are a part of the Body of Christ, in which they will continue to grow closer into the Kingdom by being edified by possibly someone else who is supposed to use their gift of teaching and encouragement to disciple and watch them mature and grow into who God has created them to be in His family. And please, don’t forget to live a life of constant worship through obedience to the Father. He will pour into you, as you pour out. Live, move, and have your being in that overflow.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Riding Waves

A month has passed since Paul and I experienced a pretty emotional and tragic event in our lives. I chose not to disclose the information publically because we truly wanted to heal privately, as many choose to do when they are going through a difficult time. But it seems as if the whole experience is as fresh now as it was 4 weeks ago and my heart is heavy for those who have had to endure such sadness as we have recently. I process information and experiences by sharing my heart through writing, so that is what I am deciding to do.
We lost our precious baby at just 6 weeks along in my pregnancy. I carried that child for two weeks before ever knowing that the baby was with Jesus and not going to be a part of our family here on earth. Our faith in Jesus Christ is what has been our anchor through all of this. Having an eternal perspective definitely helps you put one foot in front of the other when you are going through a storm. God’s overwhelming love and amazing grace has overshadowed us and carried us. We have felt His arms hold us close and we are thankful. We are also so grateful for the prayers of so many friends and family who have continued to lift us up.

As someone who doesn’t like to admit weaknesses, not out of pride, but because I constantly declare Philippians 4:13 over my life, I have had a hard time realizing that it is okay to grieve and it’s okay for grieving process to take time. I have heard the grieving process described as “coming in waves” and I can definitely attest to that. Grief becomes a danger when you allow those waves to pull you under instead of rising above and riding those waves with the grace and strength that the Lord pours out for us. Just because you have God’s grace and strength to endure difficult times doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to face sadness or grief. Just like all attacks from the enemy, the Lord gives us the armor to withstand whatever is thrown at us, as well as a firm foundation beneath our feet. Jesus promises us in John 16:33 that we will have trouble in this world, but He also promises us that we are safe because He has already overcame the world. Whatever you are facing has an expiration date. You won’t have to live with that trouble forever; it cannot overtake you, unless you let it.

So take heart! Stand firm on the foundation of your Rock, Jesus Christ. Let nothing shake you because you have been made an overcomer through Jesus’ victory on the cross. Sadness and grief will come, sometimes like a tidal wave, but you have an anchor of hope and His name is Jesus!  He gave you the power to walk on those waves and He will not let you sink. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

I am praying for those who are going through a time of sadness and grief, especially around this Christmas season. Lift your eyes up to the hills where your Help comes from.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sneak Peek to "The Vessel: My Process on the Potter's Wheel"


In the Bible, specifically Revelation 12:11, it proclaims that the Accuser of the brethren, Satan, has been “overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of [a people’s] testimony.” This is a promise from God that boldly declares that Satan no longer has power over those who believe. Through and because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can live as overcomers. Most Christians grasp the first part of this verse, but as a fallen people, most don’t want to be reminded of a sinful past, let alone tell others about it. But it is the Blood of Jesus AND our testimony that puts the enemy right where he belongs- under our feet, and not the other way around! For the past three years, the Lord has been stirring my heart to release the word of my testimony. The enemy has tried to keep me in shame of my story and silence my voice for too long and I believe with all that is within me that now is the time for me to testify for my Lord Jesus! Every single story that tells of God’s marvelous transforming power in our life deserves to be shared because He is forever worthy of all of the glory that story brings!

I am about to share mine with you. In recounting my story, I have searched my heart, my memory, and my journal the best that I can, and relied on the Holy Spirit to do the rest. I have chosen to remain very open and honest as write the words in this book. Although this is my personal story, many people have contributed to the events that have taken place on my journey. I have avoided using names where doing so might cause someone hurt or embarrassment and that is not my intention whatsoever. My hope is that King Jesus would receive His glory and touch your heart as you see a life delivered from the power of darkness and translated into His Kingdom.

 There were many, many, many times when I tried with all of my might to take the pen out of God’s hand to write out my own story, but I am here today to tell you that there came a day when I surrendered that pen and my whole life and gave it to the rightful owner, Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. The surrender of my own will and submission to the Lord did not happen overnight. It was a process that I had to be willing to endure no matter what the cost. There was so much in my heart that the Lord had to pull out that He never intended for me to live with. As each page unfolds, you will discover how God transformed me from hardened, marred clay stuck in a deep pit of the filth of life and sin and molded me into a beautiful vessel of honor for Him to flow through and use for His plan and glory. I boast of this transformation not because I am good, but because He is! He redeemed my soul and miraculously changed me from the inside out. I write all of this only to tell you He will do it for you, if you just learn to yield your life to Him. Surrender it all over to Him and let the great Potter mold you into a vessel that seems best to Him!