He Knows My Name!

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“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.  The accusatory voice coming from the one who was now pinned up against the wall did not phase me as I knew its source.  It was pure evil.  But I chose to ignore it.  The person against the wall was a dear friend.  The voice was not that of my friend, but a spirit that was attempting to control my friend as well as distract me from my mission.  That spirit was not going to win.  Not on my watch!  And not while I was in the room with others who also were precious to me……..and precious to my Father.

Years have passed since that evil spirit called out my name.  Looking back, I now rejoice at the changed lives represented in the room that day.  Each of them I consider as valued friends.  From the broken person whom I went to comfort, to the one who was pinned, to those observing, and yes, even to myself, each of us have grown much since that day.  However, just recently my Father revealed an important truth to me.  Often I’ve looked back on that day and wondered why I did not address the spirit.  In Christ I have authority to cast out demons.  But I stood there, glanced its way, then asked someone else to intervene while I focused on my original purpose.  I’ve questioned myself often, attempting to judge as to whether my actions were out of fear or lack of confidence.  Recently while pondering on this again, I heard another voice, that Still Small Voice, whisper, “He knew your name.”

Time stood still.  I looked off and let those words sink in deeper.

“He knew your name.”

Yes.  So……………why is that important?

“He knew your name because you know MY NAME.”

Whoa!  That’s it!  Our enemy knows who we are if we purpose to KNOW HIM!  Not just know His Name, but KNOW Him……..who He really is.  Like the account in Acts. Intimately.  Passionately desiring a deeper relationship with our Savior.  Through that relationship comes the understanding of the authority we have over evil spirits.  Demons tremble just hearing His name!  And they are aware of people who live by that Name.

In Acts 19, we read the account of a group who knew of Jesus.  In our day we would call them ‘name droppers.’  They had heard, and probably had witnessed, the miracles God preformed through Paul.  The group of men were known to be exorcists, but one day they “took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits. (v13)  The result was not something they expected:

“And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ ” (v15) NKJ

Their attempts had failed.  They ‘name dropped’ without actually knowing the Person. For me, as the evil spirit called my name, he acknowledged to those in the room that I had an active, solid relationship with my Creator.  The spirit who wanted to accuse  became a character witness on my behalf!  In a season of my life which I was at times struggling with my understanding, He chose to let me know that even my soul’s enemy saw that I still clung to the only rock of my salvation – JESUS!

As the impact of this realization hit, I closed my eyes and breathed to my Lord, “He knew my name.  Lord!  He knew my name!  Because I made You my everything, he didn’t ask for my name.  He called my name.”  It’s a humbling thought to recognize that God trusts you in such a situation.  That’s what the writer was referring to in Psalms 91:

 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow  of   the Almighty………….(you) shall not be afraid of the terror by night………….Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you…………………you shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.”        v1,5,9,13 NKJ

It’s all about relationship.  Relationship with Jesus grows as we choose to learn more about who He is and what is important to Him.  He is more than just a name to cry out as a way to escape an uncomfortable situation.  He is the strength that helps you walk through that situation.  He doesn’t promise to keep the evil from ever fighting against you.  The promise is that the evil will not win over you because He will hold your hand and give you the strategy to overcome evil.  Our battle becomes His.

The fact that a demon knows your name is not significant in itself.  What is valuable to remember is the fact that a demon knows your name because your relationship with Jesus is solid.  Your obedience to Him threatens the very works of demonic powers.  Of greater value is that you know your Savior and recognize the power given you as you speak His Name.

There will be no complaints if I never hear my name called again by an evil spirit.  But should it occur, I have confidence in knowing My Center.  He is the Rock which I have chosen to build my life upon.  My strength, my understanding, my everything comes from knowing Him.  My goal in life – to make Him known.

And most importantly He, Jesus, KNOWS MY NAME!  Does He know yours?

 

 

 

 

 

Ashes

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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 when the planes flew into them, you can still see the explosion, hear the terror of screams, see people jumping from windows high above, and the the pile of ashes when it all came down.  You can still feel that sense of, “This can’t be happening!”  The images that played out on our TV screens are burned upon all of our memories.  So are the stories of the people who were there experiencing that surreal day in our country’s history.

Ashes.  They represent ‘something that was.’   Something that mattered, yet was destroyed through the heat of a burning fire.  At the time of it’s destruction, often disillusionment and grief quickly follow.  The many thoughts of ‘what could have been’ or ‘what should have been’ flood our minds.  And we face the dreams that were just lost among those ashes.

Once the fire is gone and the ashes are all that’s left, often we sift through the remains hoping to find any buried treasure from the past that may have survived.  Like the iconic cross from September 11th.  It stood as a sign that there was still hope that could be found in God above.

Recently I took a trip with my son, Steffen.  It was a trip that had become very familiar to us through the years.  Our destination was near a place that had represented hurt and betrayal not too many years ago.  The circumstances our family found ourselves in during that season was one that brought disillusion and discouragement to each of us.  The fire that tried our family was one that actually attempted to destroy our very faith.  Now, years later as we traveled the familiar highway, we started reliving events at various exits along the road.

“That’s where we met you on the road headed up for the interview.”

“This exit has a Baskin Robbins.”

“This is the exit we met up with friends.”

As we relived those fun memories, we laughed at dad’s constant hunt for an exit where he could get ice cream.  We smiled with memories of times with the friends we had made on our journey.  With each mile we drove, I felt God bringing healing in those small areas I did not even know still existed.  By the time we arrived at our destination, we had realized how rich our lives had become due to that season of testing.

At the end of that highway, we also reconnected with people who had walked that journey with us.  Having lunch with friends that day, I listened to things that God was doing in their lives.  I saw the joy on faces as we reconnected with each other, shared stories and pictures of families, and just enjoyed being together again.

Driving back home after the weekend, I reflected on our time with friends.  I felt healed and so full.  That still small voice spoke to me.  “You found My jewels among the ashes.  The fire was intense during that season, but it produced jewels that are left pure and resilient – shining brightly with My Love.”

What about you?  Has your journey left ashes all around you?  I encourage you to go back and see what remains.  The jewels you find might surprise you.  For the Master  Craftsman always enjoys making beauty our of the ashes of our lives.

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“I Gave You Three”

I can still recall the joy I had when my husband and I accepted our first full time ministry position.  Even as a child, I knew my calling was that of a pastor.  It was a knowing that just grew with age.  And that still small voice kept calling me to prepare for what He would one day make a reality.

Then it came.  That first night to stand in front of the youth of our church was such an honor.  I had dreamed of this moment.  The altar times; praying with the girls.  The late night chats and shopping events.  The small group setting where one-on-one ministry could altar the course of a life.  Yet within weeks, events went out of the picture perfect lines of ministry.  You know, that picture you can create in your own mind of what something will look like.  It was ingrained in me.  That ‘how my ministry would unfold’ picture.  Instead I found myself rarely even in services with our youth.  The reason: there was no nursery available for my little ones.

About the same time we transitioned into youth ministry, our church transitioned into small groups instead of mid-week service.  Parents were in cell groups while the youth still met at the church in our youth building.  That left only my little ones in need of nursery.  Nursery room was even in a separate building.  So while other ladies were bonding during small groups, I was in a large building alone, marching around in circles with three little ones marching behind me singing, “following the leader”.  And that one-on-one ministry time during our youth’s Friday night small group?  Same thing.  The youth sat in the living room listening to my husband teach.  I was in the den watching Balto save an entire town or Andy pull Barney out of another sticky situation.

My mind went tilt.  And it was time to have my own one-on-one with my Father.  This was not what ‘He and I’ had planned for my life.  And I knew He would listened.

I vented.  “This was not what I had in mind.  This isn’t fair.  My husband wasn’t called into ministry until he was in college.  I’ve know my whole life!!  I am supposed to be influencing world changers from today’s youth……not watching Bambi!  Why would You allow me to walk through the door only to face a wall?”  I vented until I had nothing left to say.  He listened.  Then came that still small voice.

“I gave you three.  Duplicate yourself in those three.”

And my world stilled.  Cracked.  Then came back off from ’tilt’.

As I sit here typing this, those words are still clear and tears fill my eyes.  See, mentoring sometimes looks different according to our seasons in life.  Duplication is still the end game.  Everything I did with my kids became an intentional time to mentor.  If we were planting seeds in the back yard, I taught about the process of seeds dying in the dirt in order to grow into a plant.  Just like Jesus died and rose again.  When we rescued a stray dog and took it in for care, or tried to save a hurt bird, or caught the lizard at the local nursery……only to have it get loose in my car while driving home……they all were times to teach them a character of Christ.  Sometimes I blew it in mentoring of my three.  But God’s grace always covered the empty space where I had missed the mark.  And my Father taught ME how to be creative in mentoring youth as well.  Girls joined me in grocery shopping or various outings with my kids.  Those are times I taught the life lesson of being a godly role model.  Or we baked together.  Or had coffee.  No matter how creative it became, it was all still the intentional art of duplication.

In the last few years I have been able to minister in Peru, Guatemala, Alaska, Tanzania, Morocco, Spain, Zambia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia,… and I have a kids’ home in Haiti.  Yet I’ve never visited another country except Mexico and Canada.  So how could I have ministered in other places?  Just one answer……….

HE GAVE ME THREE!

 

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