Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My God in adversity

A couple weeks ago I was in church listening to a sermon about how much God wants to help us, and how He has answers for us in difficult times.

So far so good...

The man speaking was very encouraging because I could tell he knew that he knew how much God loved him. I enjoyed hearing hiis heart, but I couldn't help noticing as he went along... every example he used was about how God turned around a terrible situation and made him successful.

I like those stories because I like it when God intervenes in difficulty and challenges and 'saves the day' so to speak--especially my day.

A work situation turns around financially and I end up saving lots of money...
Someone I love who is sick gets healed...
A canceled flight turns into an upgrade...

Awesome stories. Love it.

But I guess I haven't experienced that so much lately and I was hoping he would touch on what is not so extraordinary about our lives.

A person who loses a job...
A person doesn't get healed...
My canceled flight turns into a couple of days of delay...

Where is God in those situations? Now what?

I guess lately I am more impressed with how we deal with unmet expectations, disappointment and even failure. Where is God in that? What can God do with that? Has he left the building??

Cause that's the place I live. That's the world we live in.

A friend of mine was discouraged recently, having problems learning Hebrew to the point of wondering if he should give up on his class altogether, and a 'friend' on his facebook had the audacity to write as an 'encouragement'saying: "Where is 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...?'"

When I read the comment, I thought of how our 'victorious Christianity' leaves no room for failure. It leaves no room for disappointment. We are either overcoming and winning some way or we are not doing it right at all.

But maybe, just maybe... overcoming is not so much about SUCCESS as it is about finding Jesus wherever we are, in whatever misery we find ourselves.

I'm not saying we shouldn't pray for an upgrade on a plane or that we should stop asking God for healing when it doesn't happen all at once. I would never say that. I am believing God for a full healing of my neck even though I have not seen it yet. And I travel a lot--and I am always claiming "surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life" wherever I go when I travel and it usually works out great. But how about finding God when things go terribly wrong.

I will give you a not-too-serious example of something God taught me ages ago.

More than 20 years ago I had my first experience with God preparing me for less than ideal circumstances. We were traveling to Singapore as a YWAM outreach team and I was praying on the plane and having time with God. I had this clear sense God said to on the plane as I was reading Oswald Chambers'good devotional My Utmost for His highest-- what if your luggage doesn't arrive?" Now I know this is not a big deal for some people but I was buying my clothes at XL stores at the time so even by western standards my size was hard to find--and this was ASIA where the people were miniature compared to me! So this was no little thing. I'm also a girl let's face it-- we worry about what we will wear...

I thought hard about this question. What would I do? And I made a choice. I will still trust you, God. That was my response. i will be thankful in all circumstances. And I had this sense of foreboding as the plane landed...

And sure enough...we arrive in Singapore and the luggage conveyor belt was going round and round with everyone else getting their luggage except for me. We waited and waited but it never came. I had suspected this was what would happen. God wanted me to know He knew about it--He was not surprised. Would I trust Him?

So I was stuck in a country of tiny people with only the clothes on my back. Somehow, I decided to trust and thank God in the midst of this. What I remember was feeling so much gratitude and so much thankfulness in my heart the whole time that I almost didn't care if my luggage EVER arrived. I felt so good. It was literally as though God had injected me with drugs because I was stupidly happy, like in that 'in love' sort of way people get when they can't stop smiling.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The context of that scripture is 'endurance.' The Bible is nothing if not PRACTICAL. Our God knows we are going to face difficulties and struggles and mishaps and He promises to meet us IN THE MIDDLE of it all. He doesn't promise to solve every problem right away but to provide joy inexpressible in the midst of adversity.

My husband and I just moved to Berlin over two months ago. We sent off our container ahead of us with all our household goods and were hoping for it to arrive within five weeks. It took seven. And it cost us a whole bunch more money than we thought it would. But God was faithful enough to ask me to 'let go' of the extra costs in advance. I could hear Him whispering to me: What are you going to do if it costs more than you thought? I know that voice, I thought to myself.

In all things, give thanks.

I knew even if God didn't do it cost-effectively--He would still get it done. And I knew He could afford it, too. I am not a millionaire but God wanted me to remember that HE IS. It was a test for me in the midst of injustice, incompetence and the unfairness on the part of the companies we were dealing with--but God had His eyes on ME. What would I do? How would I respond? I couldn't control any of it but I could control whether or not I would believe in God's provision for me.

And I chose to thank Him for it before I ever saw it on earth. I'm grateful when God provides a miracle to solve my problem but even if He doesn't, I am grateful He gives me the strength to face difficulty confidently. I can face it knowing my God will make a way. It might not be my way, and it usually isn't. It may not be in my timing. But He is providing and I can have peace and rest in the 'in between' stages of when it's not here yet.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I can face difficulty and disappointment.
I can endure the waiting.
I can trust in God.
I can enjoy His presence when I don't understand.
In the midst of adversity, He is with me.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Marriage or Career?

Did I choose a carreer over marriage and family?

This was a question that haunted me the winter of 2011 going into my sabbatical of 2012.   Those few months were what I can only describe as a mid-life crisis. Life hadn't turned out the way I thought it would and I kept asking myself "How did I get here?"  

I was feeling alone and lost. I questioned everything--even whether I had ever heard God about anything I had done up to that point. Almost everything made me cry in that season; I was in such an emotional upheaval. I was aware of TIME and getting old and my parents' aging process. I was aware of the loss of my youth.  I was aware of my alone-ness. I felt like I was upside-down, underwater at night trying to get my bearings. Nothing was making sense.

I persevered... and out of that time, my sabbatical eventually led me forward. I needed to find my passion again. I stopped trying to serve everyone else' ministry and did only things that brought me life.  Out of that I pioneered the Burn 24-7 in York and a prophecy course with a friend of mine at our church. Things started to get more clear.

It was out of that season I became more convinced that my life didn't have to fit into anyone's box. I think that was my main conclusion coming out of that season. Isn't it interesting how much we compare our lives with the 'average,' but average has never really been my goal.

I know now that I was asking the wrong question when I was encountering my crisis five years ago. I think it's ok to question everything but to make it as simple as choosing one over another was too simplistic. My life has been made up of a million little choices, and there are some values undergirding my process. 

I didn't choose a career over marriage. 

I chose PURPOSE and meaning in life.  I had never been concerned that my life was different to so many others.  Even now it remains out of the box.  Most people my age have kids. I don't. A lot of people have houses and cars and retirements. I don't have much. 

The most important thing for me, I  realize now, is that I need my life to mean something for eternity.  I crave knowing that what I do and where I go is in the heart of God. 

I know this with sharper clarity now because since getting engaged...the question on the edge of my heart has been "where are we going?And "what now, Lord?"

You would think I would just enjoy a time of 'marital bliss," but I am not one to sit still for too long. I like taking breaks and resting but I want to know what is coming.  I know we are working on our marriage right now as well. This is no small thing.  We are doing lots of fun things together and I make sure we have quality time but if Michael didn't have a kingdom mindset, this would never have worked. I should add marriage is much harder than I thought it would be, and I am grateful for the time to process it all. It's a lot more fun to have someone there for you all the time and someone available-- family.   At the same time, it comes with all the inconveniences that family brings! Just because you're married, doesn't mean you don't get cranky in the morning. It also means that you can't just 'check out' any time you want. It's an adjustment at 47 but it has also brought some surprising clarity. Why was something I've wanted for so long not enough? 

I've been feeling uneasy lately, like I'm wearing the wrong size shoes.

When I drove to Pasadena house of prayer a few weeks ago for a retreat day, God was speaking to me.  The name of the university first captured my attention: William Carey... missions!  It was like a small explosion went off in my heart:  a longing again to be in the nations.

When I stepped into Mott Auditorium where the house of prayer is held, I found myself crying as I looked at the maps on the wall. The team up the front were praying for Iraq and I joined them. I felt like I was home.

I didn't choose a career over marriage-- I chose God's call above all else. I chose listening to His voice and this drive for intentionality and purpose in everything I do.

I don't know why it took so long to find a partner in life, but it did.  All I know is that this was never meant to be an 'end' but just a part of the journeying God has us on.

What I choose is God every day. I choose His will. I choose His voice. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to be in His will and walking with Him. No other person can do that for me than the one who made me.

Life is hard--whether single or married-- and the other thing I know for sure--is that two of us is also not enough. 

I crave community. It's not easy to find here. I keep inviting people over. I keep sending texts and trying to connect with people but we live in an individualistic society. I heard in a recent Tim Keller message that 80 percent of Americans believe they can have a spiritual life outside of community.

I have been feeling STIRRED for months.  So I contacted some friends I have in Berlin in June...just days after getting engaged. I wanted to know if they had room in their communal house for a couple like us? I didn't hear back from them right away but when I did they said they were encouraged and felt like it might be right and "let's keep in touch..."

So that began my journey back to Berlin which is no longer on my own...but with my wonderful husband who has been a beautiful gift.

As I said before...it's not easy but it's all worth it. It's not easy leaving a comfortable place but I must be honest--my discomfort here outweighs any discomfort in leaving. God has called me to the nations. That has not changed.  What is so fantastic is that Michael's first major in college was music in missions.  God has created him with a desire to go out as well--and he has an adaptability that is remarkable. He fits wherever he is because God made him that way and that's why God brought us together.

Talk about not fitting into a box--I call Michael my "Rebekah" because he is willing to go to a place he has never been. He has never been to Germany but he feels it's God's will to go with me there--just like when Rebekah left everything to follow Isaac's servant in the Bible to a place she had never been. His trust in God is beautiful.

So I have hope today in what God can do. And I have more of a 'settledness" as I process all these things and the path that has led me to this place.  

I feel like I came back to the USA to find a husband. This is in line with a word I got from a friend (even though we teach not to prophesy about marriage!) where he had an impression my husband was based in the USA-- and he cited the story of Isaac getting a wife from his home country. So you see why he is my Rebekah :)

So here we are... ready to leave everything behind and to set out to Berlin, Germany which is one of the hardest places I've ever lived--so hard I told friends and family I wouldn't go back without a husband.

We have to raise an outrageous amount of monthly support, and finances to move and go into this unknown, but God knows our needs. I keep looking up and I find what I need from heaven. Yesterday I cried out to God again in the Pasadena house of prayer. I cried through my worship slot "God I look to you...I won't be overwhelmed...give me wisdom to see things like you do, " and "you split the sea so I could walk right through it...my fears were drowned in perfect love."  Jesus remains my anchor and my hope and my all in all. 

God is able to do more--no, IMMEAURABLY more, than we think or imagine.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What I've learned from my Singleness

A couple years ago I wrote a blog post called  "Single and lonely?" that captured the hearts of singletons like myself everywhere-- mainly because it was a brutal look at me and what it means to be single as a Christian in the church.
(you can find that on my October 28th post in 2013)

After several failed relationships--mostly beginning in my late 30's when I had an epiphany about my solitude and celibacy-- I met Michael Dimmitt on January 29th this year. We got engaged June 2 and are getting married in 29 days on September 3.

I have always known that I would get married quickly after meeting the right guy. It's just how I'm wired--too much passion and not very patient-which is WHY it's been so hard to wait for the right guy!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. What I want to share with you is what I've learned from my many mistakes along the way in this incredible and long journey...

1)  Marriage is not the end, it's a new start.

I didn't have this problem when I was younger-- I was too focused on getting to know God better and trying to seek His will for my life. But as I got older, and the community of people in my age group thinned out-- I began to think the thing 'missing' in my life was a romantic relationship. We can get fixated on this and begin to believe this is the 'answer' to that emptiness or longing. 

As women, there is a part of us that wants to be taken care of by another. But truthfully, we need to learn our own self-care in God. We need to learn how to receive love and purpose from God. We also need to know who we are--what our gifts are--what special part we have in God's plan--apart from a relationship. This is just what it means to be human and alive, and we need to enjoy it for as long as we have it, and live our lives fully and completely.

We need to bring a full and thriving person to the table when we join our lives with someone else because we get to share our full selves with that other person. 

So it's important to keep being the best possible you that you can be! It's a time to get out there and travel, go to parties, ride our bike, take long walks, and discover ourselves. ENJOY YOUR LIFE AS A SINGLE! 

2)  Don't settle for second best.

Sometimes if we haven't dated for a while, we can get 'mystical' about who and how we meet our partners. I think I did this with my last relationship. This guy came from nowhere and the way he pursued me was so amazing that I immediately jumped to conclusions about him being "the one." Oh, and about 'the one' kind of thinking-- you need to let go of it.  It's very hard to hear God about romance. It's something that becomes more clear over time and prayer and asking people around you what they think as well.  Someone asked me if the last guy I dated was 'the one' and I told them I didn't think that was a helpful way to look at it. It's a life choice that God makes with us but he doesn't force us into anything. We make the choice with God. 

It takes a while to get to know people. We can't make those kind of 'Mr. Right" judgments in the first few weeks. As quick as it was with Michael and I,  we went through quite a process. I had lots of questions for him about who he was, where he was going and how he got to where he was. I wasn't taking anything for granted after my last experience.  Everyone puts their best foot forward in the first three months of a relationship. But no one can maintain a facade. It's important to 'do the time' and let the relationship simmer before making any huge decisions or giving our hearts away.

An important side-note for you radical Christians:  we can't settle for someone who isn't as much after God as we are. We can love and appreciate how God made a man for who he is but we don't have to marry them if they are not as on for God as we are! Sometimes as women we want to have compassion for the guy who is 'not quite there' spiritually. But if we have to drag them into prayer or to Christian events-- I would say it's time to say 'bye bye.'  This will not change. Either they have a heart after God now or they never will. And remember--you are seeing their best face now. It's not going to get any better than it is right now so don't settle for less than all God has for you. Trust me-- I have lived this and made the mistake of thinking the guy would change or grow in God. God has someone better for you than the guy who is mediocre to lukewarm in their faith-- just like He had someone better for me.

3) There is nothing wrong with you.

As time goes by and you're not married--it's easy to think the problem is with you. There was a subtle lie in my family that no one would ever love me unless I was thin.  It's probably true that there are fewer men who would be attracted to me as a heavier woman-- but what you believe about you is probably the most important thing about you! If you are confident and growing, that is a very attractive quality! 

There is someone for everyone. I am so in love with Michael because he has everything I value most in a man. He's smart, kind, fun, interesting, strong--and we have so much in common! I also find him physically attractive and he feels the same about me. I have yet to meet a guy where our interests are more aligned.  And yet we are very different and compliment each other. Michael is way more people-oriented and less time conscious. I am all about the task and he is all about the people.

You are a wonderful masterpiece and God can bring someone into your life that sees that! Don't believe lies about you. They only rob your joy and make you feel bad about you. God says you are beautifully and wonderfully made. It's time to believe it. 

Here's the thing. If you don't stop believing lies now, they will only affect or sabotage any future relationships.  Even with Michael...I have had to do some deep cleaning of lies I believe about myself that are preventing me from receiving his love! These lies don't disappear when you meet someone...only you have the power to change them in God. It's better to do it now and enjoy peace with God and greater freedom in our relationship with Him--and greater love with others.

4. Don't stop growing in God and in community.

I am never more aware that God is the greatest love of my life than when I am in a relationship because it is SO clear that my guy cannot meet all my needs. God is there to be the helper, comforter and friend. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can meet our deepest needs and make us more like Himself. Don't neglect your intimacy with God because it's the only way to deal with loneliness! Worship is an important part of my life for connecting with God in intimacy.

And He is also faithful to put the lonely in families. We have to remember God has a place for all of us and a way of meeting our needs for connection and family even as singles. We just have to keep growing-- stop complaining and start cultivating relationships. Go to home groups, find a prayer partner, invite a friend out to lunch...get a mentor in your life and keep growing into the person God wants you to be! 

I learned a few years ago to surround myself with wonderful people. Because I have moved so much, I am always on a hunt for older women who can speak into my life and families I can connect with--and girlfriends I can share my heart with.  This is something I have to be active about. It rarely comes to you on a platter--it's something you have to go out and ask for and GET. We can get really passive about this and think everyone else has a wonderful life and friends and family--but self-pity never helped anyone. We need to put the 'woe is me' attitude to rest and get moving.

5. Don't stop asking God for a mate.

One of the most frightening things I have heard from single women is "I gave my desire to God to be married and left it with him..." and those people who say such things are all STILL SINGLE even in their 60's and 70's.

I am not going to stop asking God for anything. The bible says 'ask and keep on asking....knock, and KEEP ON KNOCKING...!" Don't give up. There is something to be said for perseverance and bringing our desires to God continually.  The righteous cry out and the Lord hears!

He hears you!

I just want to encourage you. I sometimes have lamented that I met Michael so late in life...I am about to turn 47 and Michael is turning 52 today. I sometimes say "we are so old!" and he reassures me that we have a lot of good years left.

But here we are... God has saved the best wine for last. This is not the 'perfect' relationship. We have to work on stuff--both of us individually and together--and we are bringing a lifetime of hurts and painful experiences to the table. But we are here. And God is faithful to provide, and I am delighted with God's provision.

Will you believe God for his provision for you?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A message to Christians: Why I am not for same-sex marriage

In light of the recent supreme court ruling in the USA and the waves that have reverberated around the world, I would like to share some deep pain in my heart that has been growing for quite some time.

I am not signaling out 'homosexuality' as a particularly bad sin. I think sexual sin across the board is all pretty hurtful to everyone(1 Cor. 6:18).

I want to talk to Christian right now--and to the church. I want to talk to people about why I am not giving my support to same-sex marriage and why I think this is a big deal right now. I want to talk about what we believe and what the implications of supporting this issue means and how we got there.

Ever since the recording artist and worship leader. Vicky Beeching, made her confession several months ago that she is gay this has been stirring within me. And after Tony Campolo has given his support of same-sex marriage, I feel I have to share some of my thoughts and with more clarity than a facebook status.

I'm not upset with gay people or feel particularly like this is the worst sin. I just believe that it is a sin. What concerns me is that many Christians are now saying it is not a sin. What  concerns me is that we are saying it's ok to be in a sexual relationship with the same sex as long as it is within the confines of a marriage.

Already as a young woman, I sympathized with gay people. I was angry at Christians for saying AIDS was a punishment for homosexual sin. I loved my gay brother and gay friends and I didn't want them signaled out. I have never felt 'better' or 'superior' to anyone who struggles with homosexuality. I am only too aware of my own sinfulness. I believe all of us are sinners and have fallen short of God's standards. There is none of us who can claim to be good enough for God. That's what is so beautiful about God's grace. However, each of us has to come to grips with our own sinfulness before a gracious and holy God at some point, and we have to acknowledge that God's word is true. God calls us to holiness and to walk worthy of the calling we have which means we are all in a process of leaving sin behind.

For many in the church, we are no longer doing that as far as homosexuality is concerned.

Somewhere between all the hate that came out towards gay people in the 80's and 90's  and the continual media bombardment of the gay agenda--a polarization has occurred. And when you combine this with the impotence of our churches around the world, we have begun to let a lie seep in.

From where I'm standing, I see that we have allowed the world to tell us that homosexuality is an orientation. That God made people that way. And if God made people that way and they can't change it, then we would be unloving and unfair to ask them to change it or to repent of it.  I was in Berlin a few weeks ago and the German placards of a demonstration taking place in front of the Brandenburger Gate stated "sexuality is not a decision."

From everything I have read, science has not proven that there is a homosexual gene. We live in a fallen world and each of us has a sin nature, but God didn't make people that way and he certainly has given us the power to overcome sin. We are able to refrain from sin, but only with the power of God.

I don't want to minimize the feelings that gay people have about this. I believe it may feel like there are no alternatives.  I know it's a long hard road to overcome. However, I am talking to Christians right now... God doesn't ask us to do anything He doesn't give us the power to do. One of the reasons God calls us 'overcomers' is that there are things we need to covercome. Some of us have more to overcome than others.

One of the big reasons that I love teaching in Discipleship schools in YWAM is that I believe that a lot of churches don't provide in depth discipleship of how to really live the Christian life with abandonment. I think it's easy to coast along in the church--especially when we see each other once or twice a week and have little accountability for how we live and work.  I think this issue is only high-lighting a bigger problem in the church. With all the tv, movies, internet and entertainment-- the world has been discipling the church for a long time. Within a YWAM setting, everything is exposed and it's hard to hide issues. That's why I love our programs. We believe in a God who can change and transform people. We teach and live that.

Since working with churches the past 10 years, I see that it's much harder to get that transforming message into churches that meet only on Sundays or for a mid-week fellowship. It's not impossible, but I think our leaders have shied away from giving a clear, transforming message in favor of 'political correctness' and diplomacy.

I'm not saying it's easy to change this issue, and I believe some people may even struggle with same-sex attraction for the rest of their lives. But when was the Christian life ever described as 'easy'? I agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said  "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." Does that sound easy? If anyone wants to find their life, they need to lose it. It's not an easy road God has called us to. But God has called us to live counter-culturally.  It's a narrow way we have to walk.

13"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  Matthew 7:13e

I've been single now for 45 years. Do I enjoy being celibate? No way. Would I like to have sex? Absolutely! Is it difficult to remain pure..? YOU BETCHA. But is it impossible? No, it isn't. And I'm not going to tell you I haven't failed. I absolutely have.  However, I am not practicing at failing. I'm not staying in sin. I keep getting up. I keep walking. I keep pressing on towards the goal of knowing Jesus in every aspect of my life. I am not willing to give up because it's hard.

There are amazing stories of God changing people's desires from same-sex to opposite sex. And I am sure there are many people still struggling. 

It's like the issue of healing. We pray once and if someone isn't healed we give up. Where has the perseverance gone? Where has the proven character gone? The bible says to ask and keep asking...to seek and keep on seeking. We are in a battle here to live and walk in the truth. We give up so easily. It's the same with seeing the power of God in all of our lives. I believe that this issue is one that need healing, too.

Some people have equated the issue of homosexuals in the church with the issue of women in ministry. I think this is a terrible comparison. When has women teaching up the front ever been described as a 'sin' anywhere in the bible? I realize that Paul's letters leave a lot of room for discussion on this issue.  One of the reasons for the debate, however, is that there are plenty of exceptions of women leading people in the old and new testament. However, you find no exceptions made for homosexuality anywhere in the bible. It is only ever described as sinful. The comparison is weak.

Some people have equated this sin with some of the old testament laws that have somehow faded away. That could be a possibility if Paul wasn't so clear on this issue throughout the new testament. How are you truly proving this scripturally?

I believe the real problem is that we are experiencing friends and family who are struggling with same-sex attraction and we want to be loving and accepting but we have no answer for them. We don't know how to pray for them. I remember feeling that way with my brother who was gay. I didn't  know what to say to him.  I was still learning what it meant to know the power of God in my own life.

 How can we give what we don't have?

I really wish that my brother was still alive because I feel like it's taken me a long time to get a hold of the power of God in my life. I am in no way perfect but I have tasted and seen so much more of God that I can never go back.  My brother passed away 15 years ago and I so wish that he was alive today, because I feel like I now have the faith to pray for him and to support him with the truth in ways i didn't have back then. He was never at peace with his gay lifestyle. We had several conversations but I have faith now in the power of God that I didn't have back then.

I believe in the power of the gospel for salvation not just from hell but from the power of sin in our lives. Salvation is not a one time event but the saving power to live the way God has called us to walk.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone  who believes...  Romans 1:16

And it's not just power, it's also love. I stand on his word and I am amazed at His compassion--which is why I don't stand in judgment of the world or the supreme court decision.  I want to love people, but I think that our love has become incredibly weak. We want to 'free' people even if it means they are hurting themselves--freedom even if it means they are about to walk off a cliff.  If we knew the love of God in our hearts and inner man the way the apostle Paul describes we need it...we would long for His holiness. We become empowered to change. Everyone is saying we need to love people right now. I agree. But the love of God is radical. It changes me. I can never be the same again when I encounter Him who IS love.

I look at my own relationship with my boyfriend right now. I love him, but loving him has brought up all kinds of insecurities and issues and problems. It has made me lean into God to know how to love unselfishly and with the light of God. Being in a relationship has brought a lot of happiness but also a lot of pain. It's a love that makes me die to myself. It reveals the selfishness in my own heart. It changes me. It making me more like jesus. it doesn't give me license to live the way I want to no matter what the consequences or repercussions. Real love brings change. 

I believe we have entered an age where we know too much and understand and apply too little.  Paul wrote to Timothy that in the last days difficult times would come and he lists all the terrible things people would be doing and believing. We are there. I am sad to say we are 'holding to a form of godliness"  although we have denied its power...  (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3‬:‭5‬ NASB)

We are to avoid such men as these. I am grieved in my spirit. Not because the government is ungodly or homosexuals have rights. I am grieved at a church that has lost her integrity and her faith to believe in Almighty God.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Growing in the prophetic part 1-- learn to seek

We spend a lot of time--too much time-- in the church comparing ourselves to one another.

We evaluate where we are and where others are and we measure our spirituality and giftedness by what we see around us.

This doesn't encourage growth when we end up feeling like we fall short.

I remember when I first started leading worship on guitar I was incredibly insecure about it. I used to compare myself to every other guitarist around me and felt absolutely inadequate. Then one day I got a prophetic word from one of the speakers in my YWAM school who told me "You're comparing yourself to others and God wants you to stop it. It's a sin."

I'd never seen it as a sin but it was certainly a wake up call. It also brought a lot of freedom to my life because up to then I had felt paralyzed by the comparisons. For my own sake, I needed to stop. The comparison was not leading me to step out but to stop in my tracks.

The truth is there is no growth without stepping out.  This is why we need to stop comparing ourselves and get on with what God has given us already. We may not be as gifted as some others but if we will use whatever little we do indeed have from the spirit, we can actually increase in our gifting.

We need to look at what we do have, not what we don't have.  What seed have we got in our hands? There is more seed and more fruit that comes after we've sown what we do have...but if we don't sow it.. then we never see what could have grown. And God wants us to grow in spiritual gifts!

Otherwise, why would He have called us to "earnestly desire" spiritual gifts? (1 Corinthians 14:1)

When I look at where I was two years ago, I'm amazed at the amount of growth, but it didn't happen overnight and it didn't happen without my challenging myself. I made a choice to take up every challenge given me. I've tried to say 'yes' to every opportunity to prophesy. It's not been comfortable or easy but I've been determined that I want to grow. I know there is no short cut to this.

Here are some scriptures about our part to play:

3Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 4Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.…   Psalm 37

There is a personal cultivating of our gifts faithfully.

"..you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you..."  Eph. 3:2
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)
Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.  (1 Cor 4:2 NLT)

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. (Matthew 25:23)

So I think the question we have to ask ourselves is "How am I doing with tending to what God has given me? Am I sowing what I have?"

A few weeks ago our associate vicar decided we were going to have 'prophetic evangelism' in the church for the tour de France (yesterday).  I was both excited and uncomfortable with the thought.  It's something I've never done before but a part of me thought "How hard can it be? It's the same principle...just leave out the Christianese."  So I began to organizing for it and the closer we got to the date, I found my excitement was overriding any fear I had at first.  We did this yesterday and though it was mainly Christians who came forward, it was a lot of fun and a stretching experience. God met us as we stepped out.

I find that many times we are waiting for God but I believe God is waiting for us.

He's waiting for us to pursue, to earnestly desire, to ask, to seek, to knock... to seek the Kingdom and His righteousness.  There is a huge part for each of us to play.   We often act like spectators in our own stories, waiting for permission to to be invited in. But this is your life and your story with God.

So why not do some asking, some pursuing, some seeking and knocking today?

God is waiting for you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pray it doesn't rain

Stepping out in faith involves risk.

But I think God loves when we believe and trust Him. It's gotta put a smile on His face when we take him at his word and we stand on it.

Last week we had planned an open-air worship time intermingled with evangelism/prayer ministry on the streets. But as the time drew near for our outreach, the weather forecast was depressing and dismal.

Every time I looked online-- and I looked almost hourly--it was predicting rain. Even the day before I told my neighbors "I'm praying it doesn't rain tomorrow..." and they said "You're wasting your time...it's going to rain...!"  It was already raining and it didn't look good.

But that night I wasn't going to give in.  We had a five hour Burn worship and prayer time at St. Michael le Belfrey that Friday night before our outreach.

I stood up in front of  the congregation that night and said "Listen, the bible says that Elijah prayed it wouldn't rain...and he had a nature like ours...and it didn't rain for years--not that I want a drought over here--but I would love for us to pull together our faith and believe God can stop the rain for our outreach!"

So we prayed.

And sure enough...when the day rolled around, it was looking a little ominous but it cleared up...and it was looking really beautiful during our outreach! God did it.

Not only did we worship on the streets and evangelize, but we offered prayer to people who were passing by. Several people came forward for prayer. Some on our team even got the names of people and what they needed prayer for.

I received a beautiful e mail from someone we prayed for on the streets.

My husband and I were walking around York and came across your prayer ministry table outside the church. We are both committed Christians. I have been in somewhat of a wilderness for the last year and went for prayer for my neck and shoulder. Your three ladies all had words that someone would come for these complaints. More important to me than healing was what has happened to me since. Something broke in me and my fire is coming back. Although the neck and shoulder still very painful what was important to me was to know that the Lord cared and loves me enough to mention me to three different people!

It makes it all worth it to know that God is touching lives.

There was a tourist who stumbled across our worship time from Kansas City. He was remarking about the strong presence of God in the city--and he is also someone who regularly goes to the IHOP prayer room in Kansas. So many people said it was encouraging to have worship on the streets.

Another man who is a believer struggling to make his acting relevant to his Christianity said he also came into contact with someone who was preaching him the gospel from our group and he was really encouraged to see us using our music and worship on the streets.

For me this kind of ministry is the fulfillment of something I've had on my heart for years. I've always wanted to mix worship and evangelism. I'm so grateful that my church has given me the green light to do this here in York and that we have so many wonderful people who are willing to step out into this ministry.

We will be doing more outreach this summer: May 31st, June 28th, July 19th-- 1-3 pm on the forecourt of St. Mike's. 
You are welcome to worship our great God with us!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The one who calls you is faithful

A couple of years ago I took a group of people around the nation on what YWAM calls a Trumpet Tour.

In such tours we visit churches and encourage them into ministry and missions, and it's almost as though we're sounding a trumpet in the spiritual realm, calling people to serve God in the great commission.

One of the 15 or so churches we visited was the Round Church in Cambridge.

I felt our night in Cambridge was one of our weakest moments as a team. Most of our set up arrived late and we were scrambling to pull things together last minute. However, I do remember the worship was really good-- that people didn't seem to care about our lack of set up or good sound--they worshiped from their hearts. I was encouraged by that, even though it felt like we were teetering on the edge of a precipice.

So I was chatting to a friend of mine from that Trumpet Tour team who is now based in Cambridge. He told me that when he was asking about the spiritual climate of Cambridge before he moved there, the YWAM'ers were telling him that everything seemed to shift spiritually and open up in the city after a trumpet tour came through town a couple of years ago.

"Really?" he said, "I was there that night!"

When he told me this story I was both astounded and greatly encouraged. We really have no idea of the fruit we're leaving behind in our little acts of obedience.  Sometimes we get to hear about it later, and some of us won't ever get to hear about it until heaven...like so many in Hebrews 11 who believed and trusted God without seeing the fulfillment of all they believed:

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13 NASB)

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV)

God doesn't tell us when or how--only that He will make a way.  He walks with us through it all and sometimes the only answer we get is His reassuring presence.  There is often a lot of pain involved as we struggle to believe and to persevere in the promises we have.  And though we know He is true to His word--it doesn't always work out the way we are thinking or in the time we are thinking, does it?

A dear friend prayed for me today as I have been working through some of my own challenges.  My confession of faith is that I won't stop believing...though the fulfillment tarries. I trust God.

This led us to talk about how we get spiritual authority.

Spiritual authority is something that often comes in persevering by faith. When we believe in hope against hope... and when we keep believing in the midst of suffering.  There is no short cut in getting that spiritual authority.

I'm grateful to hear about some of the fruit of our trumpet tour. It's fantastic to hear how people can see that we made a difference. But there are so many areas where we keep persevering even though we have seen no change.  We keep praying, we keep believing... and yet we have yet to see the fullness of what we have asked for.  We have no idea if we are making a difference.

Sometimes we're persevering through illness, believing for healing...sometimes we're asking for peace in a relationship... reconciliation where none seems possible... praying for a loved one who has walked away from God... and we don't see any change...yet still we pray...yet still we believe. yet still we trust in God.

I was listening to a sermon about suffering and having 'indomitable' joy in the midst of sorrow.  Unconquerable, unquenchable.  I think to have this means that our ultimate joy comes in knowing we are loved by the most precious person in the world-- that no matter how we lose our footing or our place on this earth, we have a seat beside the maker of all things in heavenly places.  It means that no matter what is taken from us and how we suffer-- we know that our greatest desire remains with us always because He remains with us always.

It means that through the tears, we have hope.

He, Himself, is our hope. Thank you, Jesus.