“Dad says we should call 911.” Nope! Not this time. Although the words were coming from a young medical student who had his family practitioner dad on the phone, I had my mind made up. I replied, “No. We will pray this through!” I had seen this demon before. Just hours earlier my husband had … Read more Not On My Watch!
Gods and demigods. Spirits of ancestors. Tribal rituals. These characters are often found in the animated films. And though in real life we know there is only one God, the story lines captivate even us adults. Spending time with my grand kids has become one of my favorite past times, and unless I have something … Read more Finding Me
“And Rhonda, I know who you are!” Although I can still hear the words being thrown my way, at that moment it didn’t earn my full attention. The words were not spoken out of admiration. They were intended to intimidate. Yet I stood there focused on another person in the room whom I had originally gone to comfort. … Read more He Knows My Name!
We all remember where we were that day when we got the news. Every year we still relive it. And each year it’s just as true as it was the year prior. Ashes. It’s all that was left of skyscrapers on that fateful day. If you were anywhere within the vicinity of the Twin Towers … Read more Ashes
We all need it. That time alone without interruptions. Yet so often we have too many things fighting for our time and attention. And when the unexpected shows up at our door, we realize how much we depend on those times of solitude. We’ve all been there. You know – those days when everything came crashing down at … Read more Solitude
Mary’s heart was broken at the loss of her teacher……the one who had changed her life. And now, not only had she watched Him die, but the guards at His tomb were gone…..and so was His body.
She had gotten to the tomb early and what she found left her wounded heart bleeding more. The body, the one earthly connection she still had to her Teacher was gone. In her grief, she didn’t notice the folded garment. In her Jewish roots, she knew this to be a sign that a person was coming again. But her grief shielded the truth that was so delicately folded before her.
But then she heard a voiced whisper, “Mary.” She knew that voice!!! And He called her name! What joy! What amazing realization that Jesus really had fulfilled every prophecy.
And He called her name. He gave her an assignment, “Go tell……”
It was a new assignment. A new season. It began the breaking forth of the early church.
Today, He is still calling our names. He still has an assignment for all who turn and recognize that Voice.
Don’t let the grief of your season block out the truth of His promises to you. His voice is whispering, and something new is about to be resurrected!!
“Realists know where they are going. Dreamers have already been there. ” ~~ Robert Orben
I came across the above quote of Robert Orben and it stood out to me as being profound. To dream, to REALLY dream against all odds and not give up, takes faith. To believe that dreams can happen means you can already see it as if you have been there before.
When someone has a dream, we have a choice to either speak life or death to their dream. Joseph had dreams and his brothers attempted to kill it. But God was the author of the dream so it couldn’t die. If God has birthed a dream within someone’s heart, let’s roll up our sleeves, look them in the face and ask, “Can I run along beside you to help build this dream?”
Disappointment. Hurt. Betrayal. Humiliation. Competition. Comparison. These are all able to kill dreams.
Affirmation. Love. Acceptance. Believing in someone. These all breathe life into the dreams people carry within the heart.
Let’s take the dream journey with people today. Let’s speak life until we see their dreams take flight. Agree with the dream God paints for yourself and for others. Speak it forth for the sake of others.
Warmer days. Cool nights. Brown turning to green. Vibrant colors bursting through the green. These all point to the season of Spring. Green and color representing fresh, new growth everywhere we look. The smell of fresh blossoms is in the air around us. And with it comes the excitement of a fresh start.
Spring. Just the word brings pictures to our minds of opening up the windows, letting fresh air in, while we sweep away the dust that had settled in our homes during the drab, cold months of winter. As if going from death to life. We box away the blankets and sweaters. We step outside to breathe the fresh air, while planning time to get with friends and family for fun activities. Windows are shined. Corners swept of cobwebs. And everything just seems to come back to life.
Our current ritual of spring cleaning is not too far removed from an ancient practice that God orchestrated with the first Passover. When the children of Israel came out of the dark, cold season in Egypt, God ordained the first feast of Passover as a continual reminder of how He had delivered them They were to remember the night which they had been told to box up all they had and prepare for a desert journey. As they prepared their food for traveling, the bread had to have no leaven – or yeast. It was to be simple and without any extra ingredients that added flavor.
When we read the account in Exodus 12, God made it clear how serious He was with the putting away of the leaven. 15 You will eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day you must remove yeast from your houses because anyone who eats leavened bread anytime during those seven days will be cut off from Israel.
19 For seven days no yeast should be found in your houses because whoever eats leavened bread will be cut off from the Israelite community, whether the person is an immigrant or a native of the land.
What was so significant about leaven that He would cut a person off? Besides that to ignore this act was disobedience to God, it also represented things in our lives that can pull us away from Him. This act was to teach the principle of dealing with the areas that war against our spiritual growth. He knew that if we did allowed ourselves one slip up, it would be easier to allow another…..and another…..and another. In time it could eventually effect every are of our lives. Just like the yeast.
I love the smell of warm yeast bread fresh out of the oven. And baking bread is a favorite past time for me. No matter how large of a recipe I am making, I trust that the dough will double in size while just sitting there. Even after I punch it down, it will rise again. Eventually it is large enough to make bread to feed a family because that yeast had effect every cup of flour I had added to the dough.
Just like the yeast in my bread, sin or complacency will effect our lives if we allow it to sit too long without cleaning away every spec of yeast in the hidden corners of our hearts. Sometimes ‘punching it down once’ is not enough. This cleaning away of anything ‘extra’ in our lives should be continual. A daily sacrifice. It was to be an example of the spiritual act of ‘laying aside every weight and sin’ that should govern our lives.
Every Passover, the Jews spent hours cleaning their homes. The goal was to make sure NO SPEC – not a single drop – of leaven could possibly be found anywhere in their home. And they still do it to this day. And so should we. Each of us should spend time asking Him what needs to be swept away from our lives. Sometimes it’s a secret sin. Sometimes it can be just a weight that pulls us away from time with Him and gets our focus on other things. Galatians 5:9 gives the warning: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” May we take time today to Spring clean our souls while spending time in His presence. The results? We may just find that He will breathe new life into old dreams!
2 Peter 3:14 “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” ESV
Team work. That’s what it takes to successfully pull off a theatrical performance. Each person, from stage crew, to lights, to costumes, needs to have a good understanding of their individual role. Each person has a different gift that will ultimately help the production team meet the desired effect by the end of each performance. It is the job of the director to clearly map out each detail of the performance for everyone involved. The director has to see the vision before even starting auditions. With each step forward, that vision has to be communicated clearly. And with the result of a successful performance, the name remembered most by others will probably be the most outstanding actor or vocalist of the night. Not the director.
For about six years I had the privilege of teaching music and drama at our church’s elementary school. When I had been away from that for a couple of years, someone asked me what I missed. It didn’t take long for me to answer. I missed helping the children discover gifts and talents that they may not have realized they had. I missed helping them become more confident in who they were. I missed loving on them and helping to set the stage of confidence that would build on a foundation for their future lives.
That’s what mentoring is about. It’s not a ‘help me build my kingdom’ mentality. Instead, it is a lifestyle of helping others grow personally and find their own voice. It’s being mindful of God’s kingdom and not our own. We search for the gifts and talents of each individual and help them follow their ‘part’ in this performance called life.
Parenting was such a joy to me. And now, so is being a grandparent. I adore my grandchildren with all my heart. But they are not mine to hold on to. They are not mine to control. They belong to their parents and God. Not me. Talking on the phone to a friend, I listened as she shared the possibility of her daughter and son-in-law moving across country. And that would mean her grandson would move as well. Her words were, “How can they take that little boy from me?”
As much as the statement shows her strong love for the child and her disappointment over the possibility of missing him, it made me think more about being kingdom minded. For years I have known the possibility of having my family eventually scattered, not just across the nation, but across the world. I don’t always like the thought. After all, shouldn’t they stay and help build our ministry with us? Isn’t that the norm? Kids growing up and taking over the family business/ministry is normal life, right? But to even allow my thoughts to drift in that direction, then that still small voice decides to whisper, “They are doing what you taught them to do. Following Me.”
Such true words. They have been taught not to follow my calling, but to find out who they are in Christ and follow His calling for them. Paul taught about the fact that each of us has a different calling. Some pastors. Some teachers. Some plant. Some water. Each is to seek direction from the Master Director and fulfill their role in order to have His vision successfully come to pass.
Years ago, there was a song by Joni Erickson Tada that became one of my own focuses. It spoke to me because of my passion for theater as well as my heart to follow His path for my life. One part of the song stood out to me the most:
‘You’ve given me the lines You showed the right reflection. You gave me a reflection of what I need to say. So many want to lead. And so many times I follow. Lord, let me not be hollow like men in those other plays. O Lord, dear Lord, great author of the play, may I in wisdom learn the only part I need to play is the part that You wrote for me. The part that You wrote for me.
As a mentor, it is not my place to decide the path those under me should follow. Just because I spend time pouring into them doesn’t mean they will stay by my side the rest of their lives. As I wanted to find MY part, I should want that for others as well. If I can grasp the concept of being kingdom minded, I can start to think on a larger scale. One from God’s view point. How did He put it?
Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
And He sent them out. That’s how we can reach a larger group. Send them out. And rejoice with them when they find the place He has called THEM to. When we are mentoring, we are teaching them tools for them to use in their place of ministry. We are setting the stage for their success story wherever God takes them.
Listen to that voice today and set the stage for someone else. Your harvest may actually come as you are backstage during lights on. But trust the Heavenly director who holds the details. And be prepared for the ultimate life performance to be completed right on schedule!
This winter we have seen many pictures of snow covered roads throughout our country. Growing up in north Louisiana, our winters did not come with frequent snow storms. When snow or ice did come our way, everything was shut down as we did not have adequate equipment for treating roads, etc., in our area. What stands out to me of the few snow events we had is enjoying family time instead of going to school, making snow ice cream and having a fire in the fireplace.
Through the years since then, I have seen more snow events while living in both Maryland and Missouri. Although I am not a fan of living constantly in frigid temps as I can never seem to get warm, I enjoy a few days of the beautiful white blanket that will wrap our world. Not to mention that I love having a valid reason to curl up by a fire to read a good book while sipping on a mug of homemade hot cocoa. But the thing that stands out the most to me is that all seems still and quiet under the blanket of white.
The stillness. Just after the fresh snow has piled up, before the kids run out to start building snowmen or the adults start shoveling, all is quiet. In Missouri, I would step out onto our back deck and just listen. The quietness was beautiful and brought a blanket of peace that penetrated my being.
A hush. What if we felt that more often in our spirits? What if we felt that in our services? Like when the cloud fell in the temple. Can you imagine being among a group of believers who collectively sought that holy hush? One that clears away our agenda and lets God show up?
Raised in the church, I have seen many powerful services. I remember nightly revival services that saw salvations, healings, and more. I can still see the faces of people in our packed church as legs grew and hearing was restored. I remember the water baptisms at church and in the lake. I cannot begin to count how many of these types of services I have seen in my life. But a holy hush? Only twice. And I want more!
In college, I attended a service where David Wilkerson was speaking. I vividly recall the moment he fell to his face weeping, crying out, “I am undone!” The hush fell. And weeping could be heard throughout the building.
A few years ago, my husband was speaking to our church in Missouri. Half way through his message, God hit Raphael with His own love for His bride. As the feelings of God’s love washed over him, all my husband could do was fall on his face and weep. And the hush fell. Without words, people started coming to the altar. In time, he could speak but all he could do was express the Father’s love that was pursuing His bride. Time stood still We read of this happening in scripture, so why do we not expect it to happen today?
Ex 40:35 “Moses was unable to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”1 Kings 8:11 “…..so that the priests could not stand there to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”
Recently, my daughter told of a service at their church where someone had a prophetic word about a healing God wanted to do. No one responded at first. When the minister mentioned it again, a man spoke up for someone he knew who fit the description but was on the road traveling that day. They did something ‘nontraditional’ and called the young woman on her cell. With the entire church listening in, they heard as the woman pulled over while being prayed for by the minister. And they heard her excitement as she felt God’s healing touch. The church excitedly rejoiced. Then, as if on cue, the realization of what had just taken place hit those in attendance, and a holy hush fell. People started hitting the floor weeping over the incredible power of our holy God. It wasn’t random. It wasn’t orchestrated here on earth. It was a spontaneous, holy reverence experience by a group of people who shared the same hunger to see God move among His people.
Like a child longing for that first blanket of snow to fall, my spirit longs for more ‘hushed moments’ in His presence. Not just in my personal alone time. But corporately. A shared time with a community that is seeking to know Him at a deeper level. A time when we are not rushed out the door in order for the next group to come in. A time when we allow Him to just sit and linger with us.
May I challenge you today? HUNGER for more of Him. It doesn’t just happen. There is a price to pay. And let me give a warning: it just might mess up your agenda!
The Silent Generation. Baby Boomers. Generation X. Millennials. Generation Z. Each name represents a group of people born during a specific time frame. And each group has become known by certain characteristic traits. But none have been tagged or labeled more openly than perhaps the most recent two groups as social media is used to spread opinions at whim.
Little over a year ago, I saw a picture that was being shared on social media. It depicted a pickup truck loaded with bales of hay sitting in the middle of a beautiful open field. The tag line boasted how older generations knew what REAL work was. And the sad insight to me was that a pastor had shared the picture and was agreeing with the comparison of the hard work of farm life to the ‘lazy youth’ of today who know more about technology than doing chores. And the post most likely was shared from his own technical device.
As I sat looking at the post, so many thoughts went rushing through my mind. First, who’s duty is it to teach the next generation about chores and responsibilities? We cannot blame one generation for not achieving what the previous generation never taught or set as a goal.
Second, if we want to have younger generations visiting and joining our churches, then we need to make sure they feel welcomed and not judged. Christ said told us that others will know us by our love. If a visiting young adult walks into your church, enjoys the service, but wants to know more about the vision or the pastor, he probably will check out social media. If he sees a post that is talking down ‘this generation of youth’, he may feel all the judgement that he already experiences in the world. Chances are, he will not visit your church again.
Third, I RAISED MILLENNIALS! When I read posts about millennials, I think of my own now grown kids. Looking at the pastor’s post that day, I wanted to add a comment that he just lumped my kids into that group. And my kids were following a weekly chore list at an early age. Each of them have visited third world countries spreading the gospel. I taught them to be real and authentic. In teaching them to be authentic, they came to realize how to recognize duplicity. Yes, they have a completely different mindset in many areas of life than I do even though they have held fast to the things we taught them. Why? Because their millennial world is vastly different than the world my generation remembers.
This generation needs us to be real. They need us to show them the love of Jesus. When the widow gave just a penny in the temple’s offering bucket, the leaders looked down on her. But Christ did not. Christ saw the reason behind the small amount. He realized she gave all she had. He understood what formed her thinking. What would it look like if we chose to see others through Christ’s perspective? What if our first response to someone’s actions was not judgmental but with the question of,“I wonder what happened to them in life to cause this?” Or how about asking our Father, “Is there a way I can help them discover more of their life in You?”
Amos 3:7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.”
I want to be known for seeking God’s perspective first before I ever judge in my heart or speak judgement from my lips. If God chooses to reveal secrets to His prophets, won’t He also reveal hurting hearts to those who want to help them heal? After all, He knows all and sees all. Let’s ask Him today for His vision!
1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”
On more than one occasion, God has given my husband flash visions to reveal to him an incident that happened in someone’s life. Often it has been for strangers, such as a waiter or waitress serving at our table. The vision gave my husband an open door to share the love of Christ to a hurting soul.
Ask Him today to reveal what is hidden and to give you His vision. Let’s reach the world around us!
Sitting across the table from a young mom, I listened to as she shared her story of shock, pain and grief. A twenty-four-hour whirlwind that forever changed her life. I recognized that no words spoken by me would ‘fix’ her situation. While my nearly untouched coffee became cold, my heart was beating with a desire to turn back the clock and rewrite her story with a different outcome. But life doesn’t work that way no matter how much we may desire it.
After pouring out in detail the events she walked through less than a year prior, she shared the journey she has been on since. Disillusionment. Grasping for understanding. She keeps life turning for her family while balancing her own emotions – and still grasping the reality of what happened. Listening to this young woman as a friend, my heart ached for her with each detail. Listening to her as a pastor, it brought so much more depth of understanding to the need I see for the body of Christ to create ‘safe places’ for the broken hearts around us.
Safe haven. That should be a great definition of the body of Christ. Yet reality often reminds us that the body of Christ is made up of humans that sometimes miss the mark.
Like when tragic events happen.
Too often we have a heart that just wants to see the other person healed. To see their situation turn around and make sense. In our true concern and desire to help, we go into autopilot with our words and actions. We grasp at the first thought that comes to mind as we desperately want to bring comfort. After all, we know all the Christian idioms, right?
“God has a plan.”
“It was their time.”
“He would not give you more than you can handle.”
“It must have been in His will.”
Sound familiar? Words that have meaning as they stand alone. Yet these words can also sound empty even as we speak them. Why? When words are spoken in autopilot mode and not Spirit breathed, they become as ‘sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.’ Each of these statements have truth. But unless they are ‘God breathed‘ for that time, place and person, they will fall to the floor empty. Those empty words can even pierce a heart with pain.
We are admonished to be ‘quick to listen and slow to speak.’ What would the body of Christ look like if we listened to each other completely? All the way. Allowing the story to flow freely and having our minds completely engaged with the conversation. Undistracted by our cellular devices or even our own running thoughts.
Although it was over twenty years ago, I can still hear the ‘comforting’ words of a dear friend after my miscarriage. “You are not the first person to have lost a child.” And as she walked away, I picked up my bleeding heart. That was an obvious statement. Yet I was grasping with more than the grief of losing my baby. Our church had been in the middle of a revival. Miracles had been happening. And we had chosen to delay the DNC in order to stand and believe for God’s healing touch. Now, I was not only grieving but facing the disappointment of not having my prayer answered. Not having the miracle others were seeing. What action gave me the most comfort? The friend who just came. The one who just was. No words needed. Just their presence. That action showed me their love for me was bigger than their need to help me.
Sometimes we are not ready to answer questions. Instead, we sneak in a church service late and sit in the back in hopes to hide. We are not ready for the questions or comments. The group of loved ones surrounding us for prayer can be smothering if we are not ready. So how do others that really love you know when to run to you and when to just sit and pray for you? When they take time to pause and listen to the Spirit’s whispered voice.
In this month where our society celebrates love, let’s examine our hearts. Do we love each other enough to stop, breath in the Spirit, listen to His counsel, and speak slowly? When reading the stories of Jesus, He doesn’t seem to be in a rush when He is giving answers. He didn’t even rush to Mary and Martha when their brother died. But He always did what His Father showed Him to do in a situation. Remember the the accusing crowd that brought an adulterous woman to Christ for judgement? He didn’t rush to answer but breathed in His Father’s thoughts, starting writing in the dirt, and made one comment. The crowd turned away. The situation diffused. All because He operated WITH His Father and the Spirit.
May we continue to grow in being Jesus with skin on!