Monday, March 9, 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
WOMEN'S 3 DAY EVENT!
The Chapel is preparing for our first annual WOMEN’S 3 DAY EVENT!
We will have a gift bag for our first time visitors as a token of our appreciation. Each evening we will have a time of refreshments and fellowship. There will be drawings for gifts that will minister to body, soul and spirit! But the best part will be the ministry that each of our speakers, musicians and singers will bring to us!
The weather forecast has been up and down and all around and all I can say is: “Texas”. Unless we have a blow-out of a blizzard, it will be ‘business as usual!’
We thank each and everyone who is going to make the effort to join us. I am confident that no matter which service you attend, that you will be blessed. Our sincere prayer is that after attending the 3 Day Event that you will go back to your HOME, your CHURCH and your MARKETPLACE, equipped with new determination to be a greater handmaiden for our Lord.
Each of the speakers and singers were prayerfully invited to be a part of this event. Our women are spending time in prayer, supplication and fasting as part of the preparation for this event. Many of us need an outpouring, an infusion a new infilling of God’s power and presence. It is easy to allow the cares of this world, no matter how good and noble they may be, to rob us of our joy, and the peace and presence that God desires for us. This is why we are so fervently praying, believing and in anticipation of receiving during this 3 Day Event.
Each speaker is unique, a success in their homes, churches and marketplace. It has not been an easy walk for any of these ladies. But, they have scriptures to share, stories to tell and successes that will encourage all of us to ‘carry on’ in the race that God has for us! No, most of us will never be a lead pastor of a church, nor will we be a CEO of a wedding business. Most of us will not be an owner, operator of a restaurant or any business. Many will not be gifted to minister through a praise and worship team. Others will never be ordained ministers, gifted speakers and published authors. That is OK. That is not the purpose of this event. The purpose is one: for all of us to come away with a new determination to serve more effectively in our own high calling.
As I was praying and seeking God about the event and for each singer, praise leader, each testimony speaker and each guest speaker, I prayed for the ‘just right songs,’ the just right words’,’ the just right ministry’. I am praying for each of our ladies to make every effort to attend at least one of these services. Bring along a friend or two or three! Come all 3 days!
As I was reading, praying, making lists and looking over last minute plans, it seemed as if a rain drop from heaven, hit my spirit, gently, softly, yet so alive and real. I felt that sweet spirit spread throughout my soul and whisper, ‘Tell my women to get dressed up in their best for this event.’ Tell them to make a date with ME and attend this event!’ Make a date with God? Unusual, unique unexpected! Where did this come from?
As I continued to pray about this event, I believe God will meet us, every one of us, at our point of need.
I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me of the wonderful story of Esther.
As I revisited this story in the Book of Esther, I was reminded of how Esther and her people were doomed for destruction. There was great hostility, prejudice, ridicule, and those in high places who were determined to destroy Esther, Mordecai and the entire population of the Jews.
I see the parallel in today’s society. Every Christian tenet we hold dear, every commandment from God that instructs us on how to live a holy, productive life is being challenged. Thousands of Christians are being beheaded, gunned down, burned alive and massacred in the name and mission of false gods. Why the hate, the hostility, the murder and the destruction? Why are Christians and our values under severe attack even as we speak? Anytime God’s people determine in their heart to pursue holiness, be set apart, hold to God’s standard, the enemy comes in like a flood to fill unbelievers’ hearts and minds with evil plots, evil accusations, and evil destruction. I truly believe that those so hostile to the Gospel and all of us, who faithfully stand for our God, are not the real target. No, I believe that the real hatred, hostility and rejection is for our Lord God Mighty Himself. This plot and plan comes straight from the pit of Hell. Unfortunately, satan uses men with hard, stony, thorny hearts to be his instruments of death and destruction.
We often quote Mordecai’s challenge to Esther in Esther 4:14…”who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such time as this?” We forget that Esther was an orphan. We forget that she was in a strange land, and as far as she knew had no other relatives except for Mordecai. We forget how young, innocent, vulnerable she was. And she was all these things! A reminder that God can use some of the most unlikely people, including women, to play major roles in shaping our homes, our churches and our marketplaces! All women have Esther opportunities. Be ready. Be prepared.
You are in a unique position and place right this minute for a reason and purpose. It is vital that you know your place and position! It is vital that you, like Esther, follow God’s instructions. Lives and souls depend on it!
In Esther’s story God had a plan and orchestrated each event, each movement and each decision so that Esther and Mordecai could work as a team. Ladies, another key to our success is in our unity. We must be willing to work as a Team. If you delve into the book of Esther you will see that Mordecai and Esther worked as a Team. Each had a vital individual role and as is so evident, their unity was absolutely vital to their survival. This Team work, Unity, is even more vital in 2015. We must pray for one another, encourage one another, lift one another up, and go the extra mile, giving cloaks, coats, food, and provision when necessary.
There should never be any call for anyone to feel more important, more vital to a mission from God. Esther was quickly reminded, that was why she was where she was, when she was. If she wasn’t willing to be the ‘woman’ of the hour, working alongside Mordecai, following instructions and directions, God would raise someone else up! A somber, sobering thought: be ready, with a spirit of humility and always keep a servant’s heart.
As I continued praying in preparation for the 3 Day Event, I began to ponder on what exactly that word could mean: ‘Preparation; get dressed up to enter into the King’s Presence.’
I thought, well, in preparation for church I get out of my farm work jeans; I take off those old ratty clothes. I hang up my old comfortable jacket. I remove my old faithful work boots. I hang up my old sun beaten hat to use another day. I pull off my much worn gloves. They have their purpose, place and position: working on the farm. These are not clothes to worship my King in!
I usually try to dress in my ‘church’ best. I am mindful or try to be, that my clothes are clean, pressed, not too tight, not too short, not too low…modest. If I put something on and feel the least bit, self-conscious….then I know that is not the outfit for me. I guess many might point a finger and say ‘legalism’. Perhaps…perhaps not…I just developed the mindset to dress my best in going to worship my Lord.
I know we have developed into a ‘dress down’ society. Schools have adopted this; many places of business, even churches embrace it. However, it is evident, especially in schools that sloppy shirts, pants sagging down the backside, too tight, too low, too high clothing makes a statement. Attire can affect our attitudes, actions and our acceptance. Ask any prospective employer about first impressions regarding attire! Yes, I am ‘old school’….to me, mindful attire is part of my ‘reasonable service.’ Let each person work out their own salvation and their own wardrobe ….as long as it lines up with the Word.
This attitude towards dress helps me in my overall preparation for worship. It helps me keep an aura of respect for God’s house and His people. No, I don’t worship the building and I certainly don’t worship the people. But as I stand before God with hands raised, or with the Word open ready to bring a message, or feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit to bring a word….’thus saith the Lord’ , I feel prepared.
However, I found as I continued to pray and mediate on this thought, that there had to be more to this whisper. And there is. The dressing that the Holy Spirit was directing me about was not just the physical, but the spiritual! I guess I had thought of this from time to time. I had certainly experienced it. How many times has my worship and praise and receptiveness to the Word been hindered because I had had words with the Preacher, with children or at odds with someone in the church. Even if we take the time to apologize, make things right, the cloud of self-doubt, failure, discouragement has settled over our spirit. That is certainly part of satan’s aerosol. We can make such painstakingly effort to dress on the outside, all the while the inside is tattered, torn, tacky, tasteless and even trashy!
How does this happen? My youngest son, Tim, who is our Associate Pastor, preached recently about ‘Seeds”. He explained even the tiniest of seeds can take root and grow into something grand and glorious for God or grotesque and gruesome for the enemy.
It is mighty hard to sing praises unto the Most High God when one has bitterness, doubt, gossip, dissention and discouragement filling the crevices of the heart. Those seeds are like weeds; they seek and search the fertile ground in which to grow and eventually consume us.
It is hard to be dressed to come into the King’s presence when one has been partying with the girls or boys all night on Saturday night or in reality any night. It is difficult to feel the Presence of the Holy Spirit when one is dressed in the filth of immoral sexual relationships or pornography.
Tim also pointed out in a recent sermon how the enemy will take these failures and sins and make them into something that is larger than life. Satan whispers ever so cunningly, “how can you serve God when you are a rank sinner yourself?’ He whispers ugly somethings into our spirit and we believe them. We become defensive, justifying our failures and thus begin to avoid the Church and avoid God’s people. God whispers ‘sweet somethings’ into our heart…’you can make it, you will not fail, you are mine, I died for you.’…Unfortunately, many times it is the lies we believe. We make it too much about ourselves! Satan tells us ‘everyone is looking at us, judging us, talking about us.’ Really? Seriously?
One of the most misquoted, misunderstood and misused scriptures; 1 Samuel 16:7 ” Do not look at his appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as a man sees: but the Lord looks at the heart.” Yes, He does.
So, as we get spiritually dressed, spiritually fit, spiritually ready to come into the Presence of the King for this 3 Day Event, let’s take some pointers from Esther:
· Esther had 12 months preparation in beauty treatments, oils and fragrances before being summoned into the king’s presence. We don’t have this luxury. Most of us are blessed to get a quick shower…a real luxury is a 15-20 minute undisturbed soak in a tub. Perhaps, Esther goes on record for the longest bubble bath ever. But, we do have something far more valuable and precious! We have the anointing of the oil of the Holy Spirit. This anointing can cleanse inside and out. We arise with a new attitude, new grace and new freshness –head to toe-ready to stand before our King. So as we prepare to come into the Presence of our Lord, let the Holy Spirit cleanse, refresh, renew and revitalize us. Let the anointing of the Holy Spirit wash away any spots, grime or soot that can be picked up as we move about our daily duties in the home, the church or marketplace. Let us be washed whiter than snow so that our spirits are clean and fresh; our hearts are pure and lovely before the Lord. Let the Holy Spirit strip away and cleanse us from any discouragement, discord, dissension or gossip that would like to cling to us and keep us separated from God’s precious Presence! Dress for Success!
· Make a date with God. When I first had this drop into my spirit I thought…wow…a date?
Why not? We dated our spouses and probably various others before choosing our lifetime spouse. If we are wise, we will continue to go on dates with our spouses to keep the love warm and comforting. We kindle the fire with that special time without the children, the confusion, the clutter and the chaos of life. We turn off the cell phones (or should) to make sure we have our spouse’s undivided attention. It is proven that relationships need nurturing; they need to be maintained; we need to be in places and a position so that the ‘first love’ we have with our spouse is rekindled on a regular basis. Likewise, with God! How we need to have a special time, date night, time to meet and be pampered with the love and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Esther’s beauty treatment and beauty pageant was not just for King Xerxes. Her preparation was so she could meet her God. She represented her people; past, present and future. She had obeyed Mordecai’s instructions, his timing and his directions. He being a servant of God, listened to God’s directions. He relayed them to Esther. Her heart, mind, body and soul had been prepared to go before the king. She could in all confidence do this because she knew she was actually going before her God. His Presence flowed all over her and the King recognized that Presence and was in awe of it. He granted her favor. He loved her. She could not fail for she had been covered and completely immersed in the Presence of The King!
The book of Esther is a story of a young orphan girl, who found favor with God and man. But it is much more. It is a story of two servants of God who led their nation into freedom, who were honored by God and the king and who were given greater authority, privileges and responsibilities because of their faithfulness and obedience. All because Esther was willing to make a date and get dressed to go into the Presence of the King. Are we ready for the time of preparation so we can spend time with the King and bask in His Presence?
Let, us likewise, take some time and get dressed, make the date, Friday February 27 7:00 or Saturday February 28 6:00 or Sunday March 1 10:45 and come into the Presence of the King! See you there!
Spend some time in preparation for this meeting. Don’t just come out and expect God to shower you in His Presence if you have not let your heart, mind and soul be prepared to receive this wonderful, Seed, this ‘treasure chest of DNA’ that He has reserved for you, me, all of us!
Please take some time and meet our speakers and singers!
Friday evening 7:00 : Pastor Ruth Christman: www.whitestonecelebrations.com
Paul and Kathy Miner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gZpk4yUxMM
Saturday Evening 6:00 Teresa G. Lusk: www.teresalusk.com
Debbie Prom: www.legacychurch.org
Sunday Morning March 1 10:45: University, Waxahachie, Texas Dr. Adonna Otwell. Professor at Southwestern Assemblies of God
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Directions…can’t live with them….can’t live without them!
Directions….I find that I can’t live with them….or can’t live without them.
I often think what did people do before GPS and the little gal on the phone who gives us directions? Did we wing it? Did we actually talk to a live person and write down each turn and each landmark to ensure that we would indeed arrive at our destination?
I find that I have a very unhealthy love….hate relationship with directions! It could be directions for arriving at a desired place at a desired time. It could be directions on how to operate a coffee maker, food processor or a sewing project. It takes time, effort and patience to read directions. Without directions we can have disasters. As Preacher often says, “when all else fails….read the directions.” He often quotes this after a bumbling, bubbly mess I have concocted for dinner. Directions.
I tend to try to skip the directions and wing it. Ouch….as Dr. Phil often asks, “How is that working for you?”
Well, to be brutally frank and humbly honest, it does not work.
I was reminded of this fact just a few days ago. I got to my destination and meet son, Tim to assist with a project he was working on. I had not been to this particular place in several months. I focused and kept my thoughts on target: arrive at destination, on time. I was so proud of myself when I pulled up at the right place, at the right time. I even did a stint of braggadocio: ‘Tim, I arrived and did not get lost or turned around.’ That puffed up, prideful feeling should have been an indication that a fall was right around the corner. And it was!
After the assist, I got back in my car to carry on to my next destination. What should have taken a mere 5 minutes or less ended up taking me 45 minutes. As I got in my car to make my way to my next stop, I was obviously feeling snug and satisfied and began to daydream about the rest of the day and how very organized and on schedule my day was going.
Almost immediately I somehow turned too quickly and the sights seemed a little unfamiliar…but sometimes that can happen, well at least with me. I came to an unfamiliar traffic light and the area still seemed unfamiliar….so I had to make a decision: right or left. Hmmm… This seemed like an easy fix and I should have been back on course in no time. Did not happen that way at all.
I had my trusty little phone with me which has an app that features a little gal whom I can summon for directions. I must admit she is pretty good, pretty accurate, spot on. She has escorted me on many a little trip and brought me right to the door of my destination without one hitch. Well, maybe one or two, but she does get me back on track and quickly!
Now, mind you, she can be bossy! Several times I have been in the far right lane and should have been in the far left lane and be prepared to turn left. She starts telling me: turn left in 30 yards; then turn left in 20 yards; then turn left in 10 yards. Problem is I am caught in traffic and I could NOT possibly get into the far left lane, even with her prodding. So, I cut my loses and pass the turn; by now she is adamant: make a U turn at the next left turn! And to appease her, that is exactly what I do. I make a u-turn.
I don’t especially like it when a phone outsmarts me, out thinks me and well-it just too big and bossy for its ‘britches’….as we say in Kentucky!
And as usual she was right. When I do make the U-turn as she instructs, I am back on course.
Not this particular day. I did not even consult ‘little miss direction.’ Nope, I thought, ‘self, you got this.’. So I took a left turn after consulting my very rusty, untrusty compass. That compass is my intuition. I should have known better, this compass has failed me many times. Hmmmmm… I did not have it….at all.
So I took the left turn and began merrily driving along. I was still pretty confident and all the while I was still planning my day and I felt I had everything under control. I began looking for the cross street that would eventually take me to my destination.
Now, two things bug me tremendously about Big D streets. Did I say TREMENDOUSLY? Whether I am driving or I am sitting on the passenger side, I am tremendously bothered by our street signs. Now I wear glasses and have since 8th grade. I must wear them for distance and now for close up reading…anyway, I have corrective lenses and still cannot read most street signs! They are too small! I squint, I squint even tighter, screw up my face and still cannot see the street sign. I do not know who these signs were designed for, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one who has trouble seeing these signs…oh, BTW, gasp when there are no street signs!
The second big bug that bugs me tremendously is small address numbers on buildings…or lack thereof!! I am amazed at how business after business does not have their address number loud and up front so persons of interest, like myself, can see them! There should be a law! There should be rioting in the streets! There should be a major protest!
So for me, double wammy! Can’t see street signs, there are no numbers on business and some houses…what is a poor, older, can barely see person, like myself to do? HA…get lost…that is what happens.
Anyway, here I am driving along; I have decided-I made a conscious, deliberate, rebellious decision, NOT to consult my ready at hand direction gal. When I get in this mindset, somehow I am convinced that if I drive far enough, believe hard enough and squint hard enough, I will arrive at my destination. Who am I kidding?
Note to self: does not work like that.
So, I kept driving, all the time, not quite in panic mode, but that little nag in my head, kept saying, ‘this does NOT look familiar.’ Soon the nag turned into a sing song…’this does NOT look familiar.’
Finally, the nag screams in full force, ‘THIS DOES NOT LOOK FAMILIAR.”
I had been driving for 20 minutes and should have come to my turn to get back on course 18 minutes ago. That should have been my first indication that something was not right. But, no, stubborn me just had to keep driving.
I glanced at a street sign that I could actually see and thought…hmmmm…that is familiar! Ha! Ha!
Oh, it was familiar all right….two cities away from where I needed to be. When I saw the sign “Welcome to Allen,” I shouted. “Allen!” How did this happen? I had stubbornly driven several miles, two cities away from my destination! This severe error in judgment took several minutes out of my planned schedule.
So now I had no choice! I pulled over, pulled out my phone and typed my destination in the app I fondly call ‘Miss Know It ALL.’ I decided to follow… the directions. I listened to every detail she spewed out. My mouth was filled with a big bite of humble pie. Hard to chew; impossible to swallow. She monotonously gave me direction after direction and guided me to my destination…..45 minutes later...
Note to self: heed the directions, ask for directions, obey the directions, when it feels ‘off’, it is off. When nothing looks familiar, beware. Just because I thought I could ‘make it right’…did not make it right. I was wrong, way off course and there were consequences: time lost, gas wasted and eating humble pie is hard on the body and spirit.
So, as I arrived at my destination, I was frustrated to say the least. I did not ever admit to son, Tim, that although I had easily arrived to meet him, I did not easily arrive at my next stop. If he reads this, he will chuckle some, perhaps. He has an excellent sense of direction: I have NO sense of direction. I am one of those poor, lonely souls who someday will be lost in the parking lot for 40 years trying to find my car amongst the sea of other vehicles.
Anyway, after this event, I made note to self: ‘lesson learned”…(I hope), now, just exactly what did I learn from this?
I learned that even after all these years and as familiar as I think I might be in an area: follow directions.
Likewise, spiritually: FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.
Too often we think we know more than God and His Word. Often we forget or just refuse to consult the Road Map, The Way, the Light, and the Truth. We reason and justify our disobedience. Unfortunately, there are consequences, some more serious and deadly than others. God does not bless a mess. And like I had to do; often we have to go all the way back to our starting place and do things His Way.
The very best set of instructions we have as human beings, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren, neighbors, employers, employees and as children of God, is the Bible.
The Bible…how many of us sang that little song: ‘The B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B I B L E!’
In looking back at this little incident of my little direction challenge, I thought how often do we try to wing our life without the best roadmap, the most accurate set of instructions, and the only true source of information. Just like the little lady in my phone, God’s Word is ready at hand and available to help whenever, however, wherever. But, as I experienced, we have to avail ourselves to those resources. Winging it: BTW, FYI ‘winging it’ comes from the late 19th century and it was first defined in 1885 “playing a role without knowing the text.” See the parallel? Make the connection. Connect all the dots? I did. Playing a role without the Word…….
Wow, does that make me sit up and take notice! We, as Christians think we can ‘wing’ this Christian journey by ‘playing a role and not know the text-the text being the Bible…the Bible being our roadmap, our set of directions.
So, big note to self: Use the Guide, Read the Directions, Listen to Instructions, Observe the Road Signs. Heed the danger and warning signs. Just because we hope we can make our destination without proper directions, does not mean we will. Trust me, as they say….’been there and done that!’
Dr. Phil, it did not work for me….nor will it for anyone else!
Now…if I can just find those glasses……
Thursday, January 22, 2015
We had another tremendous service on Sunday! Pastor John Miner did an excellent job on our Sunday School lesson: Hold Human Life Sacred. Sunday was Sanctify of Life Sunday, which marked another anniversary of the day abortion was made legal. Or tragically: the day murder became legal.
It is unbelievable that our country allowed this; and it continues to be an accepted, everyday practice for millions. The womb has become the most dangerous place in our world today. Tiny lives created in the image and likeness of God, yanked, torn and tossed into garbage cans as if those little bodies were of no value. They may have been of little value to the mother and father who chose this, but they are precious in God's sight. I like to believe that a special squadron of angels is assigned to these tiny little lives, hovering over them as they are ripped from the womb and then gently carry them to the arms of Jesus. There He kisses their tiny little faces and welcomes them into the Joy of the Lord.
Abortion, murder of babies, is used to cover up sin: selfishness, greed, guilt, adultery, fornication. Babies conceived in lust and in the heat of illicit affairs, prostitution, one-night stands, sex outside of marriage. are considered 'evidence'. Evidence of the sin. Man in his attempt to cover his sin, uses this murder/abortion to sweep the evidence away. But God sees. And like all sin, He has the last say, the final word and the ultimate judgment which all will undergo one day.
Preacher preached a sermon: Fulfilling Your Destiny. It was not planned, but he built on the foundation that Pastor John had laid in Sunday School. Because of sin those millions of aborted babies will not fulfill their earthly destiny. Who knows the mighty men and women of God that were tragically destroyed before they were able to breathe their first breath. How many great scientists, teachers, doctors, world leaders, were never given an opportunity to fulfill their destiny? Who knows, perhaps one of those murdered babies would have been the one to find the cure for cancer. Something to think about and weep over.
Preacher reminded us that God has a plan for our lives. It is a plan that will bring good and not evil. It is a plan that will bring freedom and not bondage; it is a plan that will bring life and not death. This is why abortion is such a tragedy. I Samuel 49:1 reminds us that we are known and receive our destiny while still in the womb! He knows us, watches over us as our bones are knit together. He sees our organs as they form and fall into the proper place and the rhythm of life. He rejoices when our tiny little heart takes its first beat. He knows. He speaks over us, "This is the one!"....and He anoints us with a great destiny.
Once we arrive on earth and are placed in our parents' arms, every force from Satan and every obstacle on earth will attempt to separate us from our destiny. Parents do the best they can but they are human and can set children up for failure. It could be addictions, it could be generational curses, it could be birth defects, it could be mental, physical disabilities, it could be accidents, it could be being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could be anything that tries to destroy us from fulfilling our destiny.
But, God gives us the power, puts us in places and positions so that someone will come along side us and assist us when we stumble and fall. I was born into a family that was under a generational curse of alcoholism, addictions to nicotine, drugs and many other unspeakable sins. But, God had a destiny for me. I did not just fall into my destiny. But He used a neighbor who lived across the hill to take an interest in me, spend time with me, invite me to church and faithfully take me to church. She was an instrument in my destiny. She did her part; it was now in my hands. I had to be willing to go to church, even when it seemed like every force would try to stop me and discourage me. I had to open my ears and listen to the Word, even though I did not understand it. When Pastor's father was preaching, I always thought, 'why is he yelling so much.'... I had to open my heart, my mind to God. So even though I had a destiny I had a part to fulfill, which only I could do.
Tragically many who have a destiny to serve God, get sidetracked, detoured and tangled up with the cares of this life, the lusts of this life and the sins of this life. Instead of fulfilling their destiny and reaching out and helping others fulfill their destiny, they make their testimony and ministry null and void. If one is blindsided, drunken, body ravaged by disease due to poor choices, committing adultery AND refuses God's deliverance, they have no witness. God's plan is not...'do as I say not as I do'....but we, His called and elect, have a high standard of accountability!
As Preacher reminded us, alcohol is deadly, nicotine and other drugs distort, destroy and deaden us to our destiny. We are so like Esau, willing to trade our birthright, our destiny, for the pleasures of this world.
So note to self; be sober, be vigilant, beware, be on guard...we have an adversary whose main purpose for existence is to keep us from our destiny!
So with that in mind we must be mindful of our DECISIONS. Every day we make decisions, countless decisions. Some of those decisions are insignificant; what to eat, what to wear, what newscast to watch, which route to take to work, what movies to watch. Or are they?
We must keep in mind that there are consequences for our decisions; sometimes even those that seem so small and insignificant. Eat the wrong foods or too much, drink and drive, go on a interviews improperly dressed, watch questionable movies; can have an impact on our Destiny.
Other decisions can be more deadly and impact not only our Destiny, but the Destiny of others.
Decisions to run that red light, go beyond the speed limit, pass when it is unsafe, text and drive, drink and drive and so on.
God has a Destiny for us! Our decisions day by day has an impact on us fulfilling that Destiny. So be wise today!
We have an Advocate who is cheering for us. We have a Helper: the Holy Spirit who will lead and guide, but only if we have ears to hear and a mind to receive. We have a God in Heaven who created us and loves us and wants only the best for us.
So, in view of all these great witnesses…we can ‘carry on’ and stay on the path for our Destiny!
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Seasons: from the wise words of Solomon
“There is an opportune time do things; a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A time to plant, and another to reap,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time love and a time to abstain,
A time to embrace and another to part,
A time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace….”
There is a Season and as they come and go those Seasons make up the sum of our lives here on earth.
Seasons come and go. And in that coming and going our lives change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Those of us, who are getting a little older, are aware of this more than ever before. Our life closely parallels seasons.
We are born and grow and thrive. We have great plans, goals, dreams and visions of what we want from life. We learn, we do and we have so much energy; we are full of life. This parallels the Season of Spring in our journey here on earth.
Soon we finish school, marry begin our families and careers and are in the heat of making a life and a living. Hence, we are in the Season of Summer in our earthly journey. Too soon it is time for children to go out on their own, time to prepare for retirement and reap the harvest of all the good work that has been done in our younger days.
Then, too quickly, our Season of Winter arrives; gray hair, tired, worn, broken and diseased bodies. Death awaits us; this is the cold, hard cruel facts of life.
However, the death on the outside of our bodies is not the true story. We as Christians are being groomed and prepared on the inside for the eternal life that awaits us. Soon we will be exchanging this old, worn body for our new glorified body. To die in this life is gain in the next. That old beaten body is exchanged for the new body we will have once we pass from this life to the next. It will simply be like changing old, worn out garments, the rags of this earth, and taking on a robe of righteousness. Our Savior will welcome us…”well done my good and faithful servant…enter into the JOY of the Lord!”…
No fear in death…the sting and fear are gone because of the wonderful love and sacrifice of our Savior!
Here on earth we experience and for the most part enjoy four seasons. We have our glorious, beautiful Spring. Spring is always welcomed and filled with new life, new growth, and new possibilities. As a matter of fact, most of us have our seed catalogs, our garden planners and ideas formulated during the cold of winter. We eagerly look past the snow, the cold, the deadness all around us and see by faith the earth once again restored upon the arrival of Spring. We are ready, so ready for the next Season!
Then it finally arrives. Spring regenerates us. The warm sun thaws our weary bodies and nourishes our weather-beaten souls. Spring is a time of preparation for the other seasons ahead. Those garden plans jump off design boards and become a reality. Those flower bed dreams are mapped out and fresh new flowers planted. Those scheduled vacations and outdoor activities are put on calendars, reservations made and the countdown begins.
It is in glorious Spring that we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. It is a great time. It is New Life on the earth, in the earth and inside each of us. All of us have to admit, there is just something refreshing and renewing about Spring.
However, if we truly embrace the Season of Spring a great deal of backbreaking, long tedious days of intense labor is required. No pain…no gain; if we don’t do our part, the Season of Spring and the opportunities it offers are lost. The best laid plans mean nothing unless we take action and work while it is …well…Spring!
To quote an old Scottish proverb adapted from a Robert Burns poem,
‘To a Mouse’:
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”
Meaning: even with the most detailed, laid out plans, things will go wrong and there will be challenges. Give up? I am the first one guilty of laying out my plans and dreams and seeing the labor, the cost, the time and too quickly lay them aside for another day. I shudder to think of the opportunities and rewards I have missed because I did not press in and press on.
To have a successful Season in Spring we must simply meet each challenge so that the goals can be obtained. Too often we are our worst enemies, our worst critics and our worst stumbling blocks. We war in our minds, our spirits and our souls speaking words of defeat and discouragement. We are prone to self-robbery and self-destruction. We forfeit spiritual peace, sacred joy and heavenly hope and settle for ashes. But, as we turn to God and His Wisdom,..”out of those ashes we can arise!
We must have the courage and discernment to listen to God, heed His voice, look to Him for our direction, find favor in Him and walk in a New Season. It is time to look at what is hindering us and simply… ‘let it go and carry on’.
Then it seems too soon we slip into Summer. Summer has it merits. It is during summer that those gardens, flowers and plans come to life; but only if we have done the needed preparation in Spring. Summer is a time of intense growth and for us in this part of the country: intense heat and intense sun. It is during Summer we get to taste and see the fruits of our labors from our gardens. We can pick those beautiful flowers and make bountiful bouquets to fill our houses and to share with others.
When it seems we can no longer bear the brunt of Summer’s beating, bruising and burning heat, then awesome Autumn arrives full of color and beauty.
Fall, Autumn, brings the falling of leaves, falling of temperatures and a time of harvest. If vegetables and flowers have not been picked, preserved and put away, they will succumb to Winter’s blast and fury. Therefore, it is a time of final gathering of those vegetables, picking the last of the flowers and doing the necessary work to prepare for the next Season: Winter.
Ah, Winter, my least favorite of the Seasons. To me it represents a sad time, a barren time, a time to mourn. Winter represents death; death to the flowers, death to all my plants and death to the beautiful leaves on my trees. It is a time of snow, cold, wind and rain. Days are dark and dreary. This can bring a depression, a down-ness to our emotions and souls. At times, everything seems harder in Winter! Any outdoor chores seem twice as hard. Bundling up to get to our cars to do the necessary errands, go to work, go to church, seem more difficult. There is less sunlight, less outdoor time, less reason to celebrate. Or so it seems.
However, we should not be deceived by appearances. Winter is a time when great things are happening! Yes, you read that right! Underneath all that appearance of death there is great life, rejuvenation and building going on. Those trees that surely must be dead, are not! Deep under the ground life is pulsing through those roots. They are digging down deeper and farther than they have ever been before. They will be stronger for the next coming Season. Those flowers that cast that their seeds into Autumn’s breeze, will live again. One flower produces hundreds of seeds with the possibility of thousands and thousands of more flowers. All lies dormant, still and quiet until God in His timing whispers…’time to arise and live’. Another Season begins! And so comes another Season and another and another. Are you listening and waiting for those gentle, sweet words from Him,…’time to arise and live…a new Season begins!’
This past Sunday at the Chapel was just one of those days. The service was Powerful, as the Presence and Peace moved into our Worship. We have had anointed services for several weeks at the Chapel. We have been sweetly ushered into His Presence week after week. But, this past week was life changing, life challenging and life charging. Here in the midst of cold winter January, our church has experienced a recharging and refiring in anticipation of this next Season.
God graced us with several prophecies; words of comfort, challenge and expectations of change. As I ponder and take into my spirit those words, I am amazed and thrilled how all four utterances built upon the previous one, line upon line and precept upon precept. It was almost as if God was speaking to us with a plan, then a passion, then a purpose and then a position. As we are entering a new Season, we need to be passionate about the changes needed, the Holy Spirit wants to give new meaning to our life and our Lord wants us to TRUST Him like never before.
First, the word was SEASON. We as a church and as individuals are entering a new Season! It is going to be a Season of change, a Season of challenges, a Season of Hope and a Season of Reaping! This is so very exciting.
The next word was about CHANGE. We were challenged to take a good look at our lives and to address any issues that stand between us and God. It is necessary to take an inventory of things we need to ‘let go’. Mindsets, attitudes, prejudices, habits, obsessions, even possessions need to be cleaned out, thrown out and never to be picked up again. Anything and everything needs a good hard looking at: negativism, judging others before knowing the whole story, petty gossiping (and it is all petty, folks), bitterness, and meisms. How often do we catch ourselves uttering ‘me’ or “I”. I don’t like, I don’t think, what about me, I want, I can’t, I don’t want to….and so it goes. If we want a newness and freshness in our lives, especially in regards to a new Season, work must be done to dig out, root out and throw out junk.
Often we hold on to ‘stuff’ that keeps our hearts from fully focusing on the Savior. We try to walk along the path, just close enough to glance His way and yet keep a foot in the mindset of the world. We must guard against gossiping a little here, drinking a little there, smoking a little smoke here and there, lying a little here, cheating a little there and insist on continuing to live a lifestyle that does not line up with the Word nor bring any glory to our Lord. Folks, none of us have a ‘free, get out of jail, or free I can do it my way’ card! We can fall into the trap of justifying anything we do or say. But, that does not make it right. I often think of when we will stand before God, and have to account for those things we continued to do that are not His will or way. We will stand speechless and ashamed. But that is neither His will nor His way and certainly not His plan for our lives!
We were also challenged to open up and to flow in the Holy Spirit, give heed to the leading of the Holy Spirit, allow the Holy Spirit to be a minute by minute part of our lives. We can ask the Holy Spirit to assist in the clean-up, shape-up and stand-up process. Perhaps you are holding on to habits, attitudes and hurts from the past? The Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit can flow in and flush out those things that can keep our eyes downcast with guilt, shame and hurts. The Holy Spirit is a vital part of our lives! Jesus made way for the Holy Spirit to be poured out. If you do not have the infilling of the Holy Spirit, pray that this be a part of the New Season in your life; to be filled and overflowing with His Presence.
The next word that came was ‘to trust Him”. Believe in Him. Know He is our source, our reason, our help in stepping into the next Season. Far too often we seek every council, dig into every other source and consult others’ advice, when we simply need to call on the name of Jesus.
As I thought more on the service and the words received, I found myself comparing and contrasting the Season we are anticipating for our church and families with the Seasons here on earth. Our Lord uses so many parables and parallels in nature to teach us. We can make the connection and see the principles He is trying to relay to us and make the connection a little more easily.
Just like the Seasons we have here on earth, there is work and effort required. In Spring if we expect to get any kind of fruit, any kind of vegetables, any kind of flowers, there is work. There is a time to dig out, root out, throw out, and let go of things that will hinder the planting and growth. Weeds creep in, peebles and stones somehow appear in the garden and flower beds. This is called preparation. It is necessary and vital. This has to be part of the planning and process.
Likewise, the Lord challenged us, that as we move into the new Season, we must allow the working of the Holy Spirit to root out, tear out, move out. It is time to let those old things, those hindrances, go.
It is time to work. It is time to pray and plan and purpose in our hearts that this Season is going to be like no other. It is time to work in unity, hand in hand and have a mind to build. I know our church is cozy. We have formed relationships, friendships and fellowships within our body. That will continue. So don’t have fear of change and losing anything we enjoy now. Don’t have a mindset to fear others who God sends into our Church. I feel God is preparing this minute as part of the preparation time, families, youth, singles, children that are to come join our family here at the Chapel. Let’s open up our hearts, our hands and our arms to receive them. We are entering a new Season and will need to get out of our comfort zones and begin to look upon the Harvest-the Fall Season we will move into soon.
Just like the Spring Season and planning, preparation and planting-we have been doing that at The Chapel as we pray, fast, praise and trust Him. We must continue to do that at the Chapel.
Then comes a time to reap the Harvest. As the church grows, we must continue to grow spiritually. God desires for more of us to be ready for Leadership. That office of Leadership requires greater responsibility and accountability. God is ready to do the preparation work, through the Holy Spirit for all of us to step up and step out into Leadership. We can do this…it will not come easy, it will take a lot of sacrifice and work, but there is no greater privilege than to be placed in His service and ‘carry on’.
This ‘carry on’ has become my little catch phrase. I feel the Holy Spirit dropped it into my spirit one day when I was having one of those times when I just wondered if I was where He wanted me and what next? What comes next? I felt the words, “carry on” flow sweetly and serenely into my soul…
So let’s do this, let’s ‘carry on’ and do whatever our hands find to do. Whatever task, position or place you are laboring in, do it with EXCELLENCE! Study and be prepared, be on time and ready with a plan, have a purpose and be fully presentable as an ambassador for Christ, even if it is just the Nursery, cleaning the church, switching out light bulbs and so on. It matters, it all matters in the work of the Lord.
So with that thought of ‘carrying on’…let’s join hand in hand, pray for one another, encourage one another, help one another, be less critical and judgmental of one another and step into this New Season!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The Drop Out
Back to school. Yes, once again the calendar has brought us to that time of year when we prepare our children and grandchildren to go back to school. For most families, at least for many parents, this time is celebrated with shouts of glee. The summer has been long and hot. It may have been a challenge to keep children occupied and entertained when met with the frequent whine, “I’m bored”.
For working moms it can be especially challenging due to the new summer schedule of juggling childcare. Instead of dropping children off to go merrily into the scheduled classes at school, children are dropped off at babysitters, day camps, and summer programs. Sometimes children are entrusted to relatives and friends. Often children are left to their own devises at home. So, when school bells ring and children bemoan the return to school with set schedules and assignments, many parents let out a sign of relief.
Summer can be a stressful time with added burdens to schedules and finances. Then parents are thrown into a flurry of activity and hustle and bustle to scramble to get the just right clothing, uniforms, shoes, school supplies and backpacks.
We do all this because we know the value of getting a good, solid education. We realize to succeed a child must be able to read, do math and develop those reasoning skills for problem solving. Our little ones must be trained in the 3 R’s and beyond. They need to be trained socially, mentally, physically and be fit, ready and prepared to be a functioning, contributing force in our society. This is a big challenge. It is a big assignment for all involved. We want to equip them with the best tools for this challenge. It is what a good, caring, concerned parent should do.
This is why it can be so devastating when children drop out of school. Most states have requirements for children under 18 to encourage them to ‘be cool and stay in school’. However, in spite of these incentives and encouragements, many children drop out of school before they are adequately prepared for life. Facts clearly reveal that dropouts will have limited employment opportunities. Dropouts usually end up with minimum wage employment and struggle in life just to survive. Another type of dropout occurs when the child is still physically in school, but their mind and spirits have ‘left the building’. They go through the motions, but heart and soul are not in the educational process.
But there is another type of dropout. All of us are capable and may have experienced ‘dropout’. Perhaps we have signed up for a class, an activity , a club, an organization, only to quit or drop shortly after signing up. As I was pondering on this inspiration note, I realized that the term ‘dropout” is one of those unusual terms we use often in our society. What does it mean? Who does it describe? Dropout is most commonly associated with school. But also refers to: “someone who drops out of conventional society or one who abandons an attempt, activity or chosen path”. This is the official definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Dropout. Most of us finished high school-some by the skin of our teeth and the hair on our chin-e-chin-chin. We did it! We finished! Some went on to college and secured yet another degree. While others took one or two classes and then dropped out, gave up, abandoned the endeavor. It could be for a variety of valid reasons. But when it is all said and done…a dropout is a dropout.
Dropping out of something we signed up for can give us a twinge of regret and guilt. We ask questions like, “what would my life and career be like if I had only finished that course, that degree, that training.” It is compared to leaving the battle before the victory. Or like leaving the ballgame in the 7th inning when it appears the home team is losing; only to find out the team recovered and had a big win in the 9th inning. The big, “What If”.
The most tragic and disturbing incidents of dropout occur in the Kingdom of God. Nothing is more gut wrenching and devastating than to hear news of someone who once fought a valiant fight, had a close relationship with God, but walked away. It is a slippery slope, a dangerous, dark path to travel on. Hebrews 10:31 reminds us: “it is a fearful thing to turn one’s back on God the Creator and Jesus His Son and deliberately and consciously reject their love.”
But, it happens. It happens more than we may think. It happens right in the church. Too often folks still physically come and warm a pew. They show up for Sunday Morning service, only to go through the motions, counting down the minutes and seconds until they can flee from the Presence of God and His people. Most know the lukewarm, backslidden state they have allowed to envelope them. Others coast along, knowing something is not quite right, but keep going through the motions, to keep up the appearances. But God knows.
A good example of this dropout condition and its dire consequences can be found in the book of
1 Samuel 15:22-23.
“But Samuel replied: (He was talking to King Saul)
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
Saul got too big for his britches. He let pride; self-assurance and self-importance slip in, creep in and slowly weave into the very fabric of his soul. He no longer honored, respected or truly obeyed God. He took matters into his own hands, thought he knew best. Even in this passage of scripture he lied to the prophet, lied to God and in essence lied to himself. God is not mocked. Saul’s slippery slope led him to take his own life. His disobedience and rebellion resulted in his two sons being killed. Saul left a legacy of being the ‘Ultimate Drop Out.” He will forever be remembered for his disobedience and arrogance.
So the lessons learned? Think things through. Before abandoning ship too soon, think about the challenges of the situation. Weigh the consequences. Stand and take the sure, steady pathway instead of caving in and pleasing the flesh. Flesh is weak and wicked. Flesh thinks and feels for the moment. Flesh wars with the Spirit. Flesh must be put in its place; conquered and mastered. Flesh must die for Spirit to win.
Don’t be a drop out! Stay and be a winner, a person who finishes what they start. Be a person of integrity and honor. There are eyes looking, watching and observing you as you run your race. If you stubble, get up, shake yourself off. Brush off the attitudes and mind sets of this world. Carry on. Run on.
It is not a time to drop out, it is a time to run, run with diligence and run with all your might, power and strength. As you cross the finish line, you will be met with a great roar of the many witnesses watching your race. But the best reward will be the sound the voice of the Lord proclaiming the sweetest words you will ever hear, “Well done, my faithful child, enter into the Joy of the Lord!”