Monday, October 3, 2011

Trust, Honor, and Process

I've been involved in a study of the life of David and find myself marveling at his life in many ways.  David was anointed to be King by Samuel at age 15 and yet it was 15 long years before he became King over Judah, and then another 7 yrs. before he became King over all of Israel.....a whopping 22 year wait from the point of his prophetic anointing until the actual occurrence.We can learn so much from David and the choices that he made during this difficult waiting period.  
                                                                                                                                                            David had an understanding of honor.   Imagine the battle that must have gone on inside of him as he knew that he had been anointed and chosen by God to be king, and instead began a lengthy love-hate relationship with King Saul, a man who had once known the favor of God but had it removed because of his inability to obey and choose God's approval over man's.

Initially, Saul liked David and appointed him to be his armor bearer. David, promoted into Saul's inner circle, was forced to live in the shadow of a man whose position would one day become his own.  Saul soon became jealous of the favor on David's life to the point that he wanted him dead.  In all of this, David watched over his own heart and maintained a position of honor.

Honor, in David's life, seems to be fundamentally linked with trust.  David trusted that God would be the one to fulfill the anointing on his life and not himself.  David's life reveals a beautiful picture and example of what it looks like to wait for God's timing, process, and promotion in a person's life.  David was available and obediently walked through the doors that God opened for him, but you don't find David manipulating, scheming, or trying to pry open his own doors. He never violated God's principles of obedience, integrity, and honor as he waited for God's timetable and promotion to come to pass.

If ever we need to heed a lesson from David's life, it's this one.  I think that God is way more concerned with process than He is with the end result.  We seem to be a people obsessed with shortcuts and finding the easy way out of the situations we find ourselves dumped into.  God is looking for those who won't always look for the easy way, but those who have positioned their hearts to obey no matter the cost.  He is watching for those who won't lower the standards or bend them to meet their immediate need.  Sometimes our obedience may look as simple as cleaning up the dirty dishes others have left behind, or staying up when you are tired to finish an assignment that is due, or apologizing to a friend when you shared some hurtful gossip.   Other times it requires a larger sacrifice such as stepping away from a large salary to follow God's leading elsewhere, or receiving rejection from leaders or friends because you chose to follow God in making a very unpopular decision.   

Whatever the case, our days of following God are made up of moments, and it is in the moments that we make our choices.  In the end, it is the choices we make that determines the direction of our lives. It seems God is never in a hurry when it comes to promotion, and our microwave culture struggles with the day in, day out faithfulness and obedience required to see our process through to completion.

Another reason to marvel at David is that he operated out of a place of intimacy with God.  It is worth marveling at because David did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling him as believers do today.  David is a great example of one who "pulled" on his relationship with God to the point that he experienced an intimacy and favor that is challenging to us today.  It is from this place of intimacy that David drew strength to face life's challenges and the moments that defined his life.

The good news is that because of Jesus' sacrifice we have an even greater level of favor and blessing made available to us as God's children.   We now can experience unprecedented intimacy and access to the Father.  You can tell someone who walks in true intimacy because the Father's interests have become their own.   I believe that our Father God is raising up a generation who have known His love and heard His heartbeat. They will be willing to walk in trust and honor, following Him with a tenacity of Spirit, and able to submit to His ways and process.

Those who submit to process will walk and move in greater levels of authority.  Having said "yes" to Him, and  "no" to their flesh and soulish nature, they are able to walk freely and move unfettered in the realm of the Spirit.  Like Jesus, they can say, "the enemy has nothing in me" (Jn. 14:30)  They are free to experience love, peace, joy, and great contentment found in knowing the beauty and goodness of His ways.

          Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and 
          you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Responding to "The Response"

I was not able to attend "The Response", an amazing gathering of some 30,000 believers in Houston, TX who assembled to worship, pray, repent, and petition God for rain. My husband and I were attending a wedding in Ft. Worth, but off and on throughout the day were praying ourselves for a monumental day and visitation of God.

Sunday morning(the day after The Response)during our pre-service prayer time, as we continued to pray for our state and nation, I saw 3 pictures. The first was a map of the United States and on the east coast and west coast were large dark clouds rolled up like a scroll. The scroll of clouds unrolled and the two met and clashed right in the middle of the map over Texas.

The second picture was a giant cauldron or black iron pot with a large stirring stick coming out of it. The stick was being stirred around and around. The waters were whirling around also and I heard the phrase, "I am stirring the waters".

The third, and last picture was of a stage, and there were actors being placed on the stage almost like chess pieces. I heard, "I'm positioning my people in place and setting the stage".

The drought, the day of prayer, and so much about the day we live in has had me thinking about Elijah and the Prophets of Baal. In I Kings 18, Elijah challenged all 450 prophets of Baal to place the pieces of a bull on the wood and then Elijah would do the same. He told them to call on their god to set fire to the wood, and then he would call on His God. And I so love these words that came out of Elijah's mouth next....."the God who answers by fire- He is God."

And we know well what happened next- the fire of the Lord came and completely burned up the sacrifice and even the water in the trench around it.

It is my prayer and I know the prayer of many, that our God who came and consumed Elijah's sacrifice will come and consume the sacrifice of praise, repentance, and prayers of so many contending for our nation. We pray that the rains come and reveal His glory to everyone, for we know that He "sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous". (Matt. 5:45)

I feel like we are already experiencing the effects of the "stirring waters" as so much around us is being shifted and re-shifted. It makes me think of the vs. in Heb. 12:26, "once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens". Thankfully, "we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken"! It is time to press in to the Unshakeable One and His Kingdom and hold on for the wild ride that will come as the waters stir and the earth shakes.

Out of His goodness and mercy, the Father has been in the process of revealing His incomprehensible love to His children all over the world. Everywhere you go, stories abound of God breaking through in unprecedented measures. He is truly setting the stage and will go to great lengths to make sure that those He wants and gave His life for, will take their place on the stage.

He is also setting the stage with those He has already equipped for this day and hour. Some who have been hidden behind the stage curtain will be brought forward and commissioned into leadership. They have walked through seasons of testing and been found faithful.

Just as Elijah's servant looked into the distant sky and saw a cloud the size of a man's hand, we are to lift our eyes to the horizon with eyes that see what God is doing.

May our faith rise to the level needed to see His plans accomplished on the earth today. May we press in to the Beautiful One who willingly made the sacrifice necessary to restore us to the Father. And may we, as a corporate Body and adoring Bride, take our place on the stage next to the Bridegroom to display the Kingdom and do great exploits in His name.

"Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, and a heavy rain came...."
I Kings 18:45

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


My mother was a master at using meaningful quotes and funny Southern sayings. Some of this "gifting" transferred to me and I find myself remembering and using from time to time random sayings and phrases from my childhood. One such phrase popped up in my head just the other day and a little research reveals it as a quote from Shakespeare's "Hamlet", of all things. The phrase is, "To thine own self be true". As a child, I never really stopped to ponder the meaning, though I think even then I sensed it's meaning from the different contexts in which my mother chose to use it.

The Holy Spirit has brought this phrase to mind several times lately when I've been faced with difficult decisions. It probably has a different meaning to me than even what Shakespeare intended, but it has caused me to pause and reflect before making decisions on what I truly believe and who I truly am.

When all has been said and done, I am ultimately accountable to Him for the decisions I make and how I live my life. Being true to myself is choosing to live by the core values that I have adopted for my life, believing them to be how He has asked me to live. There are many decisions that I can make that will please others around me.....even well-meaning people. But when the dust settles, I have to face myself in the mirror knowing in my heart of hearts that I have followed Him to the best of my ability, and His voice has ruled in my heart over all the other clamoring voices.

The root word for "integrity" means "whole, complete, or undivided". Likewise, a person of integrity is whole, complete, and undivided in words, deeds, or standards. A person of integrity is the same in any given situation. We feel safe around these people because we can trust that they will not sway from their convictions. There are no double standards or double mind or hidden intentions. They are the same at home with their family as they are with their church friends or business associates.

James has some strong words about this in James 1:8 where he says that a "double-minded man is unstable in all he does". Being around a double-minded person is like riding a rowboat in a stormy sea. You never know which way you will be tossed or turned and there is no anchor that settles you into firmer ground.

Jesus modeled integrity and being true to Himself so beautifully. Though He was totally God, He was also totally man and experienced the gamut of human emotions, but He never swayed or veered from who He was or what He came to do. He so fully lived from His heart, loving those around Him unconditionally, yet also being willing to give a stern rebuke when words spoken by some of those closest to Him violated truth as He knew it. He wasn't willing just to allow the wrong mindsets reflected by their words to go unchecked to make them "feel good". He was not a people pleaser. He spoke the truth and trusted that His Father would take care of the rest.

Our integrity has to be based on something or we can become a standard unto ourselves. For the believer, the Word of God and an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit is the basis on which our integrity is built. We should remain accountable to others, but the Holy Spirit is wonderful at holding up the plumb line at which we are to line up our lives. If a person is unwilling to submit to this ministry of the Holy Spirit, then Jesus is not truly Lord of their life.

Calling Jesus "Lord" has become so cliche in the Christian community that we have often forgotten it's true meaning. The truth is that He is Lord whether we acknowledge it or not. Our choice is whether or not in our day to day life we will choose to submit to His Lordship. Following His leading is often choosing the narrow road or the "road less traveled". If we compare ourselves with others we will usually find we have lots of company and we may be tempted to think we are doing just fine in our choices. But sometimes, He requires an unpopular choice and you may find yourself walking away from the crowd. Though not always immediate, the fruit and reward of following His voice always pays off. Choosing to walk in His Lordship naturally produces integrity.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

--William Shakespeare

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Cheerleader

Today as I worked in the yard I heard nearby the gentle cooing of doves. I hear them often, but some days I notice them and other days I don't at all. I was reminded that it is so easy to drown out the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit. He doesn't shout at us, but speaks in His still, quiet, voice much like the dove. What He has to say is so important to our well-being. His words bring peace, joy, and life. Jesus' own words describing the arrival of the "Counselor" gives us a big clue as to His importance.

"It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." Jn. 16:7

Can you feel the excitement of Heaven over the arrival of the Holy Spirit? Jesus is the Father's gift of love, but so is the Holy Spirit. He is called the "Gift of the Holy Spirit" and for good reason!

On June 8 it will be one year since my Mother passed away. Last Sunday was Mother's Day, and it was such an odd feeling to not be shopping for gifts and picking out the perfect card to express how much she meant to me.

I've had lots of time to reflect on my relationship with her and gratefulness has surfaced time and time again as a life well lived has left it's mark on me.

Through my involvement with Sozo, an inner healing ministry, I have learned that mothers play such an important role in the lives of their children as they nurture, comfort, and teach them. If those roles sound vaguely familiar, its because they are also part of the job description of the Holy Spirit. Our relationship with our mother can help or hinder our relationship with the Holy Spirit as we tend to view the Holy Spirit through the grid of how we have experienced being nurtured, comforted, or taught by our mother.

A few months after my mother's death I was feeling a little down in the dumps and found myself wishing I could just pick up the phone and call her. I realized right then that my Mother had been my personal "cheerleader". I could always count on her to encourage and uplift me, and I knew she was always on my side even if I didn't deserve it. In whatever difficult situation I found myself, she was consistently there cheering me on with wisdom and grace. As I was in the midst of this thought, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, "I want to be that for you".

I know I had been comforted by the Holy Spirit many times in the past, but somehow I had missed seeing Him in this way. For the next hour I poured out my heart to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to comfort and encourage me in a way that I had not known before. I was drawn into a new place of intimacy with Him as I saw and experienced Him as my "cheerleader".

We often think of a counselor as someone you make an appointment to see and the visits are rare. Not so with this Counselor! He is forever with and in us. With life giving words He is forever cheering us on to walk in the fulness of our Kingdom identity and destiny. What an awesome and amazing gift He is!

Holy Spirit, I receive the gift you are for me. Thank you that you speak with wisdom into my life and keep my feet from stumbling. Thank you that you love me unconditionally and call out the best in me. Thank you that you comfort me and quiet me with your love. Thank you that you empower me and place your passion within me. You are truly amazing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Heart Check

I finally did it. I joined a gym. Now I actually need to start going. I opted to find my way around the gym without the help of a trainer. There are lots of buttons and gadgets that I'm starting to get the hang of, and one of my favorites is the elliptical machine. If you choose to grip the handle bars, it somehow is able to tell you your heart rate and if you should slow down and take it easy. I just find that amazing.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a similar gadget to tell us our spiritual heart health? Prov. 4:23 tells us, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life". Sounds serious to me.

Our spiritual heart effects us more than we realize. Life flows out of our heart to others and unfortunately death can flow as well.

There have been days where I stopped and realized that I felt "dead" inside. Another way to describe it would be "hard". I had only to dig a little deeper to discover that somewhere along the way, my heart was violated and I had made a decision to harden my heart or shut down the flow of life through unforgiveness or bitterness.

Our enemy loves to entice us to fall into his web of offense and the result is a hardened heart that is unable to feel and experience the life flow of God's love.

Fortunately, as believers we have the wonderful Holy Spirit living inside of us. He is, in some ways, like the sensitive handle bars on the elliptical bike, constantly giving us feedback to steer us away from harmful actions or ways of thinking. He gives us information on our heart health, and for ears that will listen, directions to avoid the pitfalls that shut down the flow of life to and from our heart.

If you've ever been ensnared by unforgiveness, then you know that it can become much worse than the actual offense itself. Learning to guard your heart before ever allowing the unforgiveness to take hold is a key to walking in freedom. We must learn to value a healthy heart and a heart in which life can flow, more than we value being right or being justified when we have been wronged.

The dictionary defines a wellspring as "a source of abundant and continual supply". Our heart was created to be a source of abundant and continual supply of the life that flows from the heart of God. This life flow is worth protecting.

If you feel that you are trapped in a web of bitterness or unforgiveness, take a moment and cry out to God. Humble yourself and repent for allowing unforgiveness to enter your heart. Ask Him to cleanse you and make you clean again. Then open up your heart to receive the life flow from His heart to yours.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Clarion Call

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts. 4:13

Just recently I was having a 'heart to heart' with the Father and telling him how unqualified I feel for the things He keeps calling me to do. He wasn't too impressed with my pitiful "I can't" party, but instead reminded me of who I am, and more important than that.....who HE IS. Then He reminded me of a verse that He spoke 15 years ago to me that began to transform my thinking and how I saw myself. It's become a sort of 'life verse' to me, repeatedly calling me to change the way I think.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world, and the despised things - and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

He loves taking the 'are nots' and doing something magnificent through them just to show off His awesome glory and power. Inside of every 'are not' is a treasure waiting to be released and displayed for His glory!

I think we get hung up on our weakness, but scripture doesn't ever tell us that we are strong in our natural selves. If we are looking for that, or waiting for that before we move forward, we will always be disappointed. In fact, 2 Cor. 4:7, says that "we have this treasure in jars of clay". And the reason? To "show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us".

This is the message of Acts 4:13. When God's power shows up in an 'are not' like Peter, who cowardly denied Jesus 3 times, the world takes notice. I think many times we feel that our weakness is too much. Too much for Him? What are we thinking? He's the Creator of the Universe! We view ourselves through our natural eyes, but this whole transaction is nothing natural. It has to be supernatural!

So what is my place in all of this? The key is found at the end of the verse...."these men had been with Jesus". My place is just to "be" with Him. I've spent too many hours of my life 'doing' when I should have been 'being'. Someone wisely said that we are 'human beings' not 'human doings'. I love that!

If I hear anything at all, I'm hearing a clarion call coming from the Father's heart to come and 'be' with Him. He really wants to hang out with us. And it is in the "being" with Him that we are transformed.

For whatever reason, sometimes we settle for less. We get infiltrated into this natural world around massive amounts of mediocrity and start thinking that this is normal. Then, a Peter or John walks into our life and we see that there is something different and that there is real love to be encountered and real power to be demonstrated. (see Acts 4:14)

Once we see and touch and taste the more, we are ruined for anything less. At least I have been.

I'll be honest, I've tasted some of the more and it's really, really good stuff. But, I want so much more. Way more.

Father, deliver us from mediocrity and mundane abnormal Christianity. Touch us with your love, then touch us with your fire. Reveal Your glory in us that the earth might be filled with the knowledge of Your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Year of the Lion

They will follow the Lord; He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children will come trembling from the west. - Hosea 11:10

I love this time of the year and that each new year brings with it a story yet untold. I love the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. It has been my practice for many years now to ask God what it is that He wants to do in my life for the new year and then set my personal goals to coincide with what I hear Him saying.

New Years had come and gone this year and still I had not heard anything. It had been an unusually busy holiday season for us and we had just returned from visiting our daughter in Turkey. Then two weeks ago during Sunday worship I felt I heard Him say to me, "It's the year of the lion". We had been singing a song by Amber Brooks called "Like You Promised", and in the bridge of the song it says,

You come like a father, You come like a brother
You come like a lion, fierce like no other.

You violently chase me down to embrace me
Engulf me in who You are.

Here's Amber singing "Like You Promised":

I began to realize that He had been sending me other "lion messages" and I was just now beginning to understand. Even as I was working on this blog, a friend, out of the blue, posted a beautiful picture of a lion to my facebook page. Go figure.

A couple of months ago we were in California visiting Bethel Church where they have a beautiful prayer house (The Alabaster House) and gardens. I love spending time there and have always been drawn to a majestic lion statue that sits on top of a hill in front of the prayer house. I took a picture of the lion over a year ago and it was stored on my phone along with lots of other pictures. In November we were visiting there again and I glanced at my cell phone one day only to realize that the picture of the lion had mysteriously become my screensaver. I have no explanation for how this happened. Call me crazy, but I like to think that God put it there. I know that when I saw it, something happened inside of me. It was as if hope, promise, love and adventure had all come wrapped in this picture of a lion.

So, what does it mean for it to be "the year of the lion"? I keep thinking about the Chronicles of Narnia and how the people of Narnia were waiting for Aslan to come. They knew that when he came everything would be different. He was the epitome of hope. In Narnia, it meant that everything that had been frozen for years would began to thaw and once again experience light and life. In the Kingdom, it means that Jesus has come to redeem, restore, and bring us into His glorious light and life.

I don't know about you, but I have areas in my life where I need to see the lion come. There are things that could use a good dose of His light and life. But more than this, I just want to experience more of His fierce love. I want a lion hug.

What does it feel like to hug a lion? I imagine that it would be a strange combination of scary, fun, fierce, tender, and fuzzy. I would love to find out! A few months ago I was drawn to this ad that I saw on a friend's facebook page. It so reminded me of what it's like to receive a hug from Him. The good thing is that there are no bars between us.

So, how do I prepare myself for the "year of the lion"? I'm still thinking on that one. But I'm going to be watching and expecting, and I believe that one day soon, just like in the song, He will violently chase me down to embrace me, and engulf me in all that He is.