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?

 

 

 

 

 

The Zippy Factor

“You are a bloody husband to me!”

Can you hear her words echo in the desert wind?  Zipporah.  Wife of Moses.  These words of hers have the sound of accusation.  As if a fault lies somewhere hidden below the surface.  Scholars often point to Zipporah as bitter, spoiled, and possibly the controlling factor of Moses’ decision in not circumcising their son.  Why do we so often tend to see the negative in others and not look at the events surrounding their circumstance?  Let’s ponder a moment what could have been going on at their stopping place in the middle of the desert.

Zipporah lived in the Midian desert with her family.  One day, she and her sisters were being mistreated while trying to water their sheep when this dashing young man in princely clothes shows up to save the day!  In time Jethro’s daughter and the young prince marry.  Mazel Tov, Zipporah!  Now she finds herself married to an Egyptian raised Israelite who fled the palace to save his own life.  Two cultures from the same forefather were merged together with this union.  It’s hard to know how much of the teachings from his mom that Moses put into practice within Pharaoh’s home.  But he knew of them.  He knew of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He cared enough for his bloodline family to defend it physically.  This unique couple lived their lives tending sheep and toiling the land.  For Zipporah, it’s all she had ever known.  For Moses, from the windows of luxury he had watched others working hard, toiling in the African heat.  Yet he learned from his bride the art of living off the land.  And he learned to be a shepherd.

Then came the day Moses met God out in the middle of their desert.  Although he recognized the holiness of God and covered his face, he did not run.  He listened and obeyed.  And that began a new chapter in his life.

Can you imagine the shock Zipporah must have had the day her desert prince entered  their tent with a story about hearing the voice of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  And then he added,  “O, by the way, we are going to Egypt to tell the King to set free all of his Israelite slaves.”

Take a breath Zippy! “Let’s get this straight.  The Unseen God talked to you, from a bush that was on fire but did not burn.  He is wanting you to go back to a country where a death warrant is on your head, give commands to the king, and walk away with a million people following?”  Kudos to Zippy for boldness to travel to a foreign, hostile land just because Moses believed!

On their way to Egypt, Moses gets sick and nearly dies.  Only one thing could save him.  Circumcise the boy.  Only one person was well enough to do the task.  Zipporah.  The quick, minor surgery on her own son saved the life of her fugitive husband.  She, like Moses, did not run but stood in the gap.  When everything was falling around her, something from within rose up and gave her the strength to face the adverse circumstance.

Ever been there?  I have.  Often.  Those times when, whether a test from God, an attack from Satan, or just events of life comes against the man of God.  When he is basically knocked off his feet, who usually is left to stand in the gap?  The person who has vowed ‘until death’.  Or those times when it seems everything is against your child, parent, best friend, church body, etc.  Whatever the fight, it challenges everything within you.

I still see one such night clearly as if it were yesterday.  Kids were now teens.  Each busy that night doing their own things.  We were in the midst of transition and had no idea where our next assignment would take us.  Challenging time for us all.  And it happened.  My husband went off to our room.  In my mind, I thought nothing of it at first.  Then I was drawn to follow.  Walking  into the room, I found him lying on the bed.  He was able to whisper to me, “Pray for me.”  Immediately intercession began.  After a few minutes, I walked out and told the kids, “Pray for dad.  Pray like you have never prayed before!  And pray NOW!”  I went back in the room and dropped to my knees.  All I could get out was, “Not now Lord!  Don’t take him.  It’s not time yet.  We need more time.”  And I wept. My vigil continued until I felt a release.

Where had those words come from?  Spirit.  About thirty minutes after my vigil, my husband came out and asked what had happened.  Then he proceeded to inform me that a dark being came in and was attempting to choke the life out of him during that time.

In Zipporah’s culture, circumcision was done by the new bride.  The foreskin was tossed to the ground as the bride pronounced, “You are a bloody husband.”  This was Zipporah’s understanding of blood covenant.  This was her act of accepting her position as one with Moses. And she aptly rose to stand in the gap.  He chose to follow God’s voice.  She chose to follow him.

So often the families of those in leadership are judged by others who have preconceived ideas as to what that role looks like.  Perfection is often expected.  Or maybe it’s the concept that each child should operate in the same gifting’s or callings of their parents.  And have the same wise answers.  But that is not God’s way.  Nor should it be expected.

Maybe you have the tendency to judge someone’s action without knowing the full story.  Step back.  Take a breath.  Listen to God’s voice of grace first. Just like there is usually more to your own story, there probably is to theirs as well.

Maybe you are familiar with the judgments of others.  Find who you are in Him and rise above other opinions.  The more time we spend with Him in a true intimate relationship, the more we become like Him and start walking with an unoffendable heart.

Or maybe you are facing a situation that was not of your choosing.  One that causes you to take action and rise above.  Have a friend or family member that needs Christ?  Do warfare.  Have a body of believers needing a visitation?  Pray until it happens.  Whatever the situation –   choose to stand in the gap.  Stand, without judgment, until released.  Life will come forth!

Whether they had chosen to circumcise one son in Moses’ custom and one in Zipporah’s, we do not know.  But we know she didn’t run from the ordeal.  Once again, my research  of the wife of Moses has shown me truth.  It’s the truth of walking in MY calling – next to my Moses.  There might be several things I see differently than he does, and I might not have that mountain top conversation with God, but I still have to know who I am and what I am called to do.  And in that confidence, resting in the strength of My Center, I am able to rise above other’s opinions and stand!

Rise up to the Zippy factor!  Walk in the confidence of His calling.  Lean into that Center of your life because HE is that center.  He is the strength when there is nothing left to hang on to.  When we keep that focus, something will rise up from that Center at the time of need and will give us strength to stand.

Be blessed today!

 

“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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Solitude

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 once.  The days when you just wanted to run and scream and let everyone know that you really do not have that super hero cape hiding in the closet.

I still remember December of 1991.  I had just scheduled a doctor’s appointment for my very sick one-year old daughter when the phone rings.  My mom’s voice breaks through to inform me that my Mam-maw had just had an aneurism and was taken to the ER.  She might not make it.  At the doctor’s office, I learn that my daughter is very sick with the croup and is borderline of needing to be taken to the hospital.  That’s impossible!  I have a four hour drive to take to see my Mam-maw! I had not even had the chance to tell her I was once again expecting!  That was to be part of her Christmas present.

No drive home that night.  Instead, a recheck was scheduled for first thing the next morning with our pediatrician.  My husband and I were taking turns being up nursing and praying for our daughter.  In between my turns I was making a beeline to the bathroom.  Morning sickness had decided to visit early.  As our daughter is crying and I am losing what little I had in my stomach, my husband hears a great song come on the radio, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year……..”  I don’t thing Andy had gotten the memo that our house was not experiencing such a wonderful time!

Or what about the time you find out your husband’s job was just given to someone else without him knowing and now your family is without a job or insurance, and baby number three is on his way?  And you need four brand new tires for your car.

We all can list those times.  The news of a lay off.  Learning your 13 year old was just hit in the head by a brick and has a concussion while in Guatemala.  Watching a parent slowly drift away to eternity.  Hearing a spouse on the other end of the line barely able to breathe and you can’t seem to get to them fast enough.  Watching your child’s world fall apart and there is nothing you can do to fix it.

These are the times you learn where your inner strength really lies.  As one of the animated shows asked, what is your center when the things around you seem to be overcoming your very being?  For me, it is the quietness with my Father.  I depend on it.  My responses to the unexpected reflect it.  Being my mom’s caregiver was an honor.  But how could I have so much peace in the midst of watching her earthly body drift away?  It’s my center.

My center is my very being.  That being that knows that no matter what comes my way, my Father holds me.  Sometimes I lose sight of that center.  Sometimes I rush to judgement on others who hurt me.  Sometimes I scream into space that I am at the end of my rope and can not take another thing thrown my way.  But every time that life gets to that place, I find my center again when I quietly walk back into HIS center of peace.

He holds me.  He is my center.  Abba Father.  Creator.  God Almighty.  My Eternal Lover. And no matter what comes my way or how I respond, He still puts His arms around me in comfort and love.  He created me so He knows me like no one else.

He is my secret strength in this life.  Is He yours?  If not, I challenge you, find HIS center for your life.