Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Gate of Hell

As we broke out tonight into smaller prayer circles at Awakening, one of the pastors from another church shared a word and encouraged us in our need to be Steadfast.  Strong activity in the spiritual realm often looks like nothing in the natural for a while.

As we were praying, God gave me a vision of the stationary gates of Hell, that the church is suppose to prevail against  described in Matthew 16:18  New King James Version (NKJV)  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Then He showed me the Enemy, tearing down the walls of the church and building new walls expanding his territory and taking territory away from the Kingdom.  The gates were still stationary, but he is building his fence in the territory of the Church, and we have stood by and let him.  His territory is getting larger and larger and the Church has been standing idly by while he moved his fence one foot at time into Kingdom territory.

The last thing I saw was the Church rising up aggressively tearing down the walls and rebuilding new ones around that stationary gate.  The Church took back so much territory that the walls we built back up were only big enough for Satan and his minions.  

Tonight I felt a call to repentance for The Church while praying. I kept coming back to the verse found in 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 New King James Version (NKJV) If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.

We must repent.  It is time that we tear down the walls he built and take that territory back.  It is time that we repent for our compromises, lax behaviors, and complacency.  It is time for the dry bones to rise and be the Army of Lord and take back what the enemy has stolen, plus some! 

He Called the Church

Tonight at Awakening, a community prayer group focused on praying for the region weekly, and during corporate prayer, I was praying for those things that God placed on my heart.  I have a burden for the lost, children who are abused, families, and marriages.  And have experienced a stirring lately in the real issues in our community today - poverty and homelessness vs greed and selfish ambition, God's definition of marriage vs the homosexual agenda and premarital relations, child abuse neglect, and substance abuse.

After praying for these things, I turned my focus to the organizations and government entities that address these issues in the community.  As I was listing out specific ones, I felt God say "STOP."

I said "God these are great organizations and they are meeting the needs, the government needs the Christian workers to be a light."

To which he responded, "I didn't call for organizations and the government to meet the needs.  I called the Church to meet the needs."

James 1:27  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Psalm 68:5-6 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;

Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Malachi 3:5   “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

Isaiah 42:6-7  “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

God did not bless us, so that we could build bigger houses and have more things, but to meet the needs of the orphans, widows, fatherless, poor, afflicted, needy, families.  So that we could help those who are bound, the foreigners, the blind (physically and spiritually), the prisoners.  

He did not sanction the government and nonprofit and for profit organizations to do this, He told the Church to be his hands and feet.  If the Church in Northwest Arkansas would rise and use their blessings to be obedient to the things that God told us to do, we would not need DHS and the multiple nonprofit organizations in the area because all needs would be met.  As I turned my prayers towards stirring in the heart of the Church towards this, I realized that when we obey, I will need to find a new career!  God let the Church arise!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I  find  it  interesting  how  you  can  hear  something  so  much  that  you  are  desensitized from  it,  and  then  you  hear  it,  as  if  for  the  first  time  and  you  are  just  moved  by  the fact.   My daughter was sharing with me a conversation with her classmates.  A young man came in with a bag of fast food and was eating away.  Another young girl said "I work there."  During the conversation that young lady made the comment that "people come in to place an order, and often times they are spending more on themselves for that meal than she makes in the day."

One would say, she is a teenager with no expenses.  My daughter knew that last year, the young lady was homeless.  This  young  student  was  left  to  fend  for  her self,  and  had  taken a  job  to  support  herself. The others in class were not aware of this fact, and seemed oblivious to the issue of youth homelessness in Northwest Arkansas, which Christian quickly informed them of.

But what sunk in was    "people come in to place an order, and often times they are spending more on themselves for that meal than she makes in the day."   I had a similar conversation with a board member in passing, although we were discussing the United Way presentation and the breakdown of a working family making $12 and hour and the expenses that they have, which after taxes, rent, utilities, phone, transportation, and groceries there was only $51 left at the end of the month for everything else.  He had been taken aback by this figure, and seemed surprised when I said most of the families we work with make less than that.  I had quoted those figures, not really feeling the depths of what it meant.

But today, it sank in.  How many times have I went through a drive through, and spent the money and eaten the food.   The worker selling the food does not even make in a week what it costs me, for my convenience, and even the time that I and or my family would spend eating it.

Our society is quick to condone those on welfare, calling them lazy bums.  Every one of the single parents that I work with is working full time or attending school, or a combination at a full time level.  Yet, almost without exception, everyone of them makes under $9.00 an hour and is supporting a dependent child, some times two children.  Most did not ask to be in the situation, although all got there by poor decision making.

It is time that as a society we rise up and offer a helping hand, not a hand out to those trying to improve their situation.  If companies can record record breaking profits, those should be distributed to the front line workers just as much as the top level executives to help improve the life of the working poor.  I mean what is a fast food company without a server, and what is a department store without a retail clerk and what is an oil company without the sale clerk at the pump.


Last night I was watching Olympus has Fallen with my husband and I started thinking about it from a spiritual perspective.   I became overwhelmed by the picture that played out before me.   As a nation, we have allowed small compromises to spiral out of control.  We are oblivious to the fact that we have allowed the enemy in to our inner circle, and he is causing division.  We have sat back watching as the enemy storms our gates and we allowed them to over take our nation.

As Christians, we have the ability to fight against the enemy.  All around us, people are dying needlessly.  We put forth some effort, but because we have not made God our primary focus, we often end up being destroyed and taking others down with us.  The fact is that we have the ability to defeat the enemy.   It is time that we put our primary focus back on God.  We need to pursue the enemy, take back the territory that he has stolen and take back those he has held captive.  We must, even if we have to stand alone fight with the soul purpose of reclaiming that which belongs to the Kingdom.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ministering where they are

My pastor has said “the truth either offends or transforms you.”  It is my experience that sometimes it is in the delivery of the truth that offense comes.  When you go to people where they are, it is the living Word ablaze in your life that ministers to them.  The Word must be planted deep inside of you, so you can minister truth and walk as a light in darkness.  I want to share two stories to illustrate why ministering to people where they are at is so important. 

I met a young man, and with passionate anger he made my heart sad. His anger was pure and raw. Had I been the object of his anger, I would have been fearful. Two years later his words still ring in my ears, and tear at my heart. He told me of his plea to save the life of a girl. He told of the heart that went empty to a church only to be judged for her outward appearance. That one life pulled on the lives of all around it.  One person's negative attitude, towards someone hurting and broken, destroyed her already broken spirit and damaged the lives of others reaching out for help that day. He had worked for some time to convince this small group that God held the answer. And in a moment his work, and the work Christ died on the cross for, was discarded by a judgmental attitude of a "Christian." 

Had I tried to “preach” a message to this young man, he would have shut down, and I might have been the object of his wrath.  Instead I was able to minister to him where he was, and break through his hardened exterior and minister God’s love. 

The second is of the life of a teenage boy that was discarded by a dysfunctional family, used by his friends, angry at the world, and found his way into a life of illegal activity.  His heart’s desire was love and acceptance.  He started attending a youth group and opening his heart to the fact that Christ just might love him and accept him.  God was working on him, breaking through the hurt exterior.  He would take a few steps in the right direction, and a step back in the wrong.  As he confessed, I would tell him you can’t keep doing that, God can forgive that, He loves you.  I would try to point him to people who had done those same things that were used mightily of God.  He was not a Christian, at times he seemed to be the devil himself, but I could see God working in him.  Then in an instance, the work Christ did on the cross, and the work the Holy Spirit had been doing in his life was destroyed when he was told by a youth leader that God had given up on him.  He sat in my car and cried for hours, nothing I could say would console him or convince him that she was wrong.  His life spiraled out of control and he is now sitting in adult prison.

Had I judged the teenager for his actions, it would have been easy to write him off.  He had done some terrible things, but I know God loves him and has a destiny for him that he couldn’t see.  I know the seeds planted in his life are still there, and I pray God sends people to him to that can continue tilling the ground in his life.

TD Jake's once said “Whatever makes you angry is what your called to change.”  The Church is suppose to be the hospital for hurting people, emergency, trauma, long-term acute care - whatever is needed to heal completely. Christ came to heal the brokenhearted; not turn them away. He came to set the captive free; not make their burdens feel heavier. He came to lead people out of the darkness; not push them deeper into it.

The sad truth is that most churches no longer reach out to help those that are hurting. We are okay with the slightly injured, but the time, energy, and love that is needed to bring healing to lives of those hurting - most find it is easier to push them away and judge their behaviors as not trying.  We refuse to invest the time to help those lost through the layers of pain and hurt to minister the reconciliation and salvation Christ died to give them, but that they are too hurt to accept.  Christ can work instantly in the life of a nonbeliever, but sometimes it takes work to bring in the harvest.  Here are steps to Ministering to people where they are:

1) You have to be on Fire yourself before you can attract people to the light or heat of God.
You can not give something you do not have.  You have to be set ablaze by the Holy Spirit so you can be guided and directed in word, action, and timing as Jesus describes in John 16:13 and John 14:24.  You have to immerse yourself in the Word so that the Holy Spirit has something to draw. I know many struggles with not being able to know the exact scripture reference, if you need the reference God will give it.   Hebrews 4:12, John 8:31-32 and Isaiah 55:11 say it is His Word that it is living, sharper than a two edged sword, the Truth sets people free, and His Word will not return void. 

To be on fire you must stay prayed up so that you will be sensitive to the leading of the spirit.  Jesus stayed connected through prayer and it is important that we do the same.  The Holy Spirit will always guide us of when and how to minister if we are willing to listen.  Pray for wisdom, knowledge and the discerning of spirits – God will increase these as you need them.

To be on fire you must stay hot.  The churches in Revelations chapter 2 and 3 were compromising, corrupt, luke-warm, and lost their first love.  God rebuked them.  When you are truly ablaze for God, the World notices.  When you start to let that flame smolder or it goes out completely, they notice more.  You can not be an up and down Christian, it damages your testimony and impacts those in your sphere of influence, and your sphere is bigger than you think.

To be on fire you must what God has given you.The Bible says in Col. 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  So we must use what God gave us to reach the lost. Like in the parable of the talent s in Matthew 25:14-29, we have been entrusted by God with talents, and with a commission to reach the World.  If we are not using our Talents for Him, we have buried them in the sand.   We must use what He gave us, to make more in the Kingdom.

2) You must get close enough to the lost they can ignite.
We have talked a lot about the flame and being set ablaze for God.  It sounds amazing, anointed and powerful.  The truth is though no sane person runs to a fire to burn.  They might be drawn to it by the heat or the light, but they have to be close enough to feel the heat or see the light first in order to be set ablaze.

We must go to where the people are for them to be attracted to the warmth or the light so that they can ignite with fire.   
We have to do as Jesus did and move to their need.  Often times we want to minister in a way that meets our need, in a place that we feel comfortable and in a time that fits our schedule, we are a people of convenience.  Jesus on the other hand went to where the people were, He didn’t drive in his air conditioned car, he walked, miles each day.  He ministered first to the physical need, not just their spiritual.   He ministered in a place that was not always comfortable, and was moved by compassion even when he wanted to be doing something else.  You can read of few examples of this in Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34.

When you get close enough remember you don’t control who is ignited.
When Jesus met their need, he showed the Light and the warmth.  Jesus was responsible for being obedient to step out and for maintaining the intensity of His flame.  That is our responsibility also.  Whether they ignited with fire depended on the condition of the recipient’s heart and the working of the Holy Spirit.

The 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19 that were healed all received the same physical need being met, the Holy Spirit was at work, and yet only one was ignited. 

When you get close enough also remember sometimes flame smolders until the condition if right before it sets ablaze
Just like in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, it is our responsibility to sow the seed, to be the light and the warmth in the dark world.  We must get close enough to let our flame touch the life of others.  God will send other people along to fan the flame, or call you to keep coming back to minister and fan the flame until it is set ablaze.

Saul of Tarsus had been touched by the flame.  He had been enraged by it so much that he sought to put out the flame of those he came in contact with.  It wasn't until he was on a trip to Damascus that that flame had smoldered enough to ignite by God and his name to Paul.

3) There is no soul that God doesn’t want to set ablaze
Flesh compares sin, God sees all sin as evil.  Sin separates us from God whether it is a “white lie” or the rape of a child.  They are both evil in the eyes of God, and both make us as filthy rags in his site.    

     Romans 3:23 We need to realize that we all fell short
     Romans 5:8 God was patient with us and loved us while we were still sinners.
     2 Peter 3:9 God is not willing that any should perish 

We have been called to reach the world.  Remember in Matthew 24:40 and 45 Christ said “If you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me, and what you fail to do for them, you fail to do it for me.”  Never discount one.  You might not be called to be the next Smith Wigglesworth, Billy Graham, or even Pastor Cass Hill, but you could be the person that is called to pour into that life that will reach millions.  If you don’t use your talents to reach that one, millions could be lost. 

I don't know how God can handle the evil that some people have went through, but I know that in my sin state God saw me the same as he does the person that has been through things that I can not even fathom occurring and the same as the person who did those evil things. We need to realize that God didn't clean people up before he accepted them. He accepted them and in that relationship people were changed. As fishers of men, we have to stop trying to clean the fish before we catch them.  He loves them right where they are, and we are called to do likewise.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Keys to Success

Luke 16:10-12 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?(NKJV)

 I believe most people want a better life for yourself and for your family.  If you want something different in life you have to be willing to do something you have never done before. 

I want to share with you three things that will help you on your pathway to success.  There are three main areas of your life that will help you be successful, and then stay successful.  I have seen many people gain quick success only to fizzle out because they don’t know how to maintain it.  My pastor points these three things out frequently, this is my take on it.

1) You must be disciplined in your finances. 
I know many of you cringe at the idea of the dreaded budget.  Seeing how much you make compared to what you owe and spend can be disheartening.  However, if you don’t learn how to budget your money it will not matter how much you make, you will always spend more.  Two things every person needs is a budget and a savings account.  Until you learn to save and live by a budget you will stay in the cycle of poverty.  You spend more than you make and you live pay check to pay check.  You must learn to pay God first, then yourself and your bills first and then learn to pay off debt and not be wasteful of your finances.  

When you feel compelled to by things that you want but don’t really need, or run through the drive-thru for convenience, or spend a night out on the town, stop and think about what that costs you.  Ask yourself how many hours do I have to work to pay for this. You can do this by taking what you would spend and dividing it by how much you make.  This was brought to light to me in a conversation about a young lady who earned less in a day than the cost of bag of fast food she just handed out to one person.  What are you working for?

2) You must be disciplined in what belongs to another.
It is easy to think “If it were mine, I would…” but the truth is, if you can not take care of something that does not belong to you, you will not take care of something that does.   How you take care of things in your possession is a direct reflection of how you will eventually take care of your own possessions.  You need to take care of things now so you will get in the habit of doing it later.   

3) You must be disciplined in the little things.
Let’s face it; in the scheme of life most things are little.  This is about walking in integrity (Doing the right thing even when no one else is watching).  This is about putting your best foot forward, even when you don’t want to and even when you think it won’t matter.

If you say you will do something, do it.  Don’t take advantage of people – just because someone will do something, doesn’t mean its right for you to ask them to.  When you borrow something pay it back.  When you return something, send it back in good condition.  Don't take something that someone else needs, and don't take things that do not belong to you.  You need to take care of your family, but it should not be at someone else’s expense.

How you handle things at work is another area. How you represent yourself at work is a representation of the company.  How you represent yourself out in the community is a reflection of everything you claim to be (mother, daughter, sister, employee, resident, Christian, friend, team member, etc.) and you never know who is watching you, learning from you, looking up to you or where that person will show up next in your life.   How you handle yourself in front of others may seem like a little thing, but people take notice of things that we take for granted – and they can come back up to bite you at the least opportune time. 
These are three small principles that if you put into practice, will lead you to success.  There will be times that you fail, I promise.  It is okay, just get back up, apologize, and get back on track.  Life is what we make of it, and it is your choice what you make of it.