Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Invisible People

Many years ago, when I had been attending a church for several years, a new woman began to attend. Because I had been there for several years, I knew every one who came regularly. We had laughed and cried and prayed together, taken care of each others' children, shared meals and coffee. We knew each other well. We were friends.

When this new lady came, I was not interested in having a new friend. I was satisfied with my place in life.

One of my close friends immediately befriended her, pulling her into the church and making her feel comfortable. I watched her and was still not interested. And I recognized that I was doing it.

Finally, after several months I began to get to know her. She became a friend.

I would find out what this felt like a few years later when we moved across the country. We began attending a large church and went week after week without anyone attempting to get to know us. In their defense, some people spoke warmly to us and it was a large church. They could have assumed someone else had befriended us. Some people have lived in the same place all their lives and don't know what it feels like to not know anyone or have any friends.

I showed up at the women's ministry one morning and sat at a table alone. All the other women knew each other and were standing in groups, talking and laughing. I finally stood up and went over to one the groups and stood with them. No one spoke to me and I remember one lady looking at me like I was rude to come and stand with them. And I knew how she felt.

After a year of no one including us, we stayed home for about a month. The pastor's wife called me one day and asked me why we hadn't been there. I told her that no one talked to us. She assigned someone to us. *smile* That family would become our best friends and we are still close friends 20+ years later.

I learned my lesson. But more than that, one day the Lord spoke to me. He told me that everyone is important to Him, that everyone has a gift or talent that the Body of Christ needs to be complete. Everyone has something valuable to say, if we will stop and listen. Because He's no respecter of persons, He has shared His heart with all of us and for us to hear His heart, we will have to value and listen to each person. Or the Body is not complete.

1 Corinthians 11:23-34 talks about  discerning the Lord's Body as we come together for communion. This passage warns us that if we do not value and discern the Body of Christ, we drink judgment upon ourselves and many of us have become sick or weak because of it.

Look around your church or your place of employment. Do you esteem everyone equally or is there someone that seems to be invisible to others? Maybe they're not attractive or popular. Maybe they won't elevate your status. May they just don't appeal to you.

And then realize that they're precious to God. They have a story. They have an importance to God and to the Body of Christ. They are Somebody. Look at them and see them. See them through God's eyes and love them.

love and blessings~

Thursday, September 29, 2016

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Many, many years ago, I stepped out to do something that God had called me to do. The result was not perfect and it was criticized. I went away believing I had failed - failed God, failed myself, let everybody down, etc.

Years later I heard someone say, "Well, it doesn't have to be perfect the first time you do something. You learn and you get better." And I had this moment of clarity and realized that the critical words that I had heard years before had bound me up. I had believed them. And they were not necessarily the heart of God.

When our children learn to walk, or learn to do anything new, we never expect that they will do it perfectly the first time. And neither does our God.

We learn by trying. We learn by obeying. And God knows we will not always get it right. But as we humble ourselves and try again, we get closer to the goal.

It takes courage to step out and try something new. It takes faith and courage. And God sees that and cheers us on! And we may stumble. But it takes faith and courage to get up and try again.

And I think sometimes God appreciates that we tried more than we can imagine.

Think of Moses when God told him to go and talk to Pharaoh. Moses was afraid and asked for Aaron to go with him and speak for him. And Moses didn't succeed the first time he told Pharaoh to "let my people go." What if Moses had walked away thinking that he hadn't done it right? Where would we be now? ;)

Moses was not 'the expert' in freeing the Children of Israel from bondage. He just obeyed. And don't you know he learned a lot along the way. And now he's our hero.

Wait on God. Make sure you don't get out ahead of Him. Be patient. Let Him prepare you. But when He gives you the go ahead - try! Just try! If you mess it up, come home and give it all to Him. Let Him refresh and direct you. If you get wounded, let Him heal you. Forgive.

And then try again.

And realize that we're all doing exactly what you're doing. We're learning how to walk with God - how to do the things He's called us to do. Because none of us have ever done them before. We all have to start somewhere. And as soon as we get comfortable with what God has called us to do, He moves us forward and asks us to do something new.

That's life.

Don't worry that you've fallen behind. Just do the first thing you know to do to catch up. I don't know if God has a Plan B (or C or D?) but I know He knows us better than we know ourselves and so nothing surprises him. Not even our hesitancy.

Start today. It won't be perfect. Maybe it never will be. But start today.

love and blessings~
PS - I wrote this to myself.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Being Content

I've had the wonderful blessing in the last couple of months of meeting with a group of believers for fellowship and worship in their homes. We've spent time worshiping and sharing our hearts and faith with each other and I have been so blessed and encouraged. The other night, one of the sweet women that are part of this group said something that has changed my life.

She said, "I'm just happy with my life. I'm happy being "C's" wife, I'm happy living in Big Rapids. I'm happy with whatever God is doing."

And I realized something.

I had been discontent. And that was not OK.

Twenty years ago, we lived in Auburn, Alabama. We attended an Assembly of God church and the Lord had led me to start a worship dance ministry and to sing in the choir. While we were attending there, the Lord brought 'revival.'

The Holy Spirit fell on our church. We began to have church 6 nights a week and we would stay until midnight, praising God, dancing at the altar, laying on our faces before God and moving in the Spirit. It lasted for five months and over 700 people were saved. The students from Auburn University were preaching Jesus from the street corners. It was amazing.

I saw God do things during those 5 months that I had never seen before and have never seen since. The Lord would show me a couple of years later that my obedience to start the worship dance ministry and to dance on the altar while in the choir were one of the keys that brought the revival. He would also remind me that He had told me to say the words to a song in a medley that we were going to dance to before we danced and this released the revival.

The words were, "Cast out your nets all you fishers of men,
                           In the power of the Spirit, revival begins!"

I was able to go back and watch video of myself introducing this dance medley and then watch as the Holy Spirit fell on our church!

I have never been the same. God wrecked me in those 5 months and I still have not recovered. I have pressed in, pushed forward, interceded, sought God and contended for break-through since that time.

But when my friend spoke those words - "I'm just happy where I'm at"- I realized that I had also been very discontent.  The Lord had asked me a couple of months ago - "What are you looking for in a church?" and I had answered without hesitation, "I want that revival again! I want to see You move and see people healed and saved and delivered! I don't want a meeting! I want YOU!"

And I have realized in the last couple of weeks, as I have given my heart and life over to God once again and repented of my discontent, that it's good to pray and intercede for break-through. I am a warrior and it will always be who I am. But at the same time, I have to trust God and rest in His Sovereignty and wisdom. I have to trust Him that even though I may feel that all I do is move forward into the wilderness and dig up the dry ground, that God sees me and knows my heart.

And I have to submit my life and make peace with the fact that I may never again experience a move of God like I did, but my prayers have made the way for others to experience this wonderful blessing.

I've found a new peace in the last couple of weeks and a fresh joy. I hadn't realize that I had taken on a false burden and now I've laid it at the feet of the only One Who is able to carry it.

Philippians 4:11 ...I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

love and blessings~

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Father's Eyes

Lately, I've been taking stock of myself.

I feel like I'm able to look at myself more honestly lately than I ever have in my life. I am able to look at my weaknesses and my bad patterns very clearly and then make a clear decision on whether or not I'm going to change.

I think several years ago this would have been too painful for me. I hid myself from myself. I glossed over my weaknesses. I purposely ignored my failures.

This morning, I was thanking God for the strength He's given me lately to do this and God surprised me again with His grace.

He told me how much He loved me~how precious I am to Him. He reminded me that He has always seen my weaknesses but He sees my strengths and mostly He sees me the way He intended me to be. He sees my potential. And He never wants me to forget that. He wants me to always see myself as He sees me. He wants me to remember that we're not done yet. And He appreciates that I'm always wanting to improve and become more like Him.

As I was thanking Him for letting myself see myself honestly, I was thinking of writing it down for all of you. And when God began to speak to me, He told me, "Tell them this!"

"I love YOU so much~You are precious to me. I have always seen your weaknesses but I see your strengths too. Mostly I see you the way I intended you to be. I see your potential. And I never want you to forget that. Always remember the way I see you. We're not done yet. And I appreciate that you are always wanting to improve and become more like Me"

            Love, Your Father

Have a wonderful day!

love and blessings~