Childhood Reboot

“If I could only go back…..” How often have we heard this phrase spoken by someone who want a reboot?Yet none of us can actually move back the hands on the clock of time to an earlier moment of life. So why does God continue to encourage us to do just that?

In Genesis 35, God tells Jacob to go back to Bethel. Throughout Exodus and even into the New Testament, the Israelites are reminded of where they came from. What is so important about the past? It’s the experience. The past represents encounters we have with our Maker. God wanted Jacob to get back to when he had heard God’s voice. A time to remember the covenant he had made with God. To get back to what had been seeded into him years before.

Recently, God gave me a vivid dream. It was as if He culminated my church experience into one event. The buildings were a combination of the ones I had attended during childhood and people were from every season of my life. All around me, leaders and people were pushing their desires and way of ‘doing church’. It finally built up to where I had enough and passionately stopped it all. I took one person with me and, with tears and much passion, led him to the old church building. Passionately, through streaming tears, I voiced, “You want to draw people in, get back here. To the altar! I never needed any of the other things being talked about because the power that was here made me excited to attend church!” I awoke from the dream and was still feeling the heart of God crying out to His people, “Return to your passion for Me!”

My favorite memories of church was what happened at the altar. From our senior women dancing in the spirit up front to the people whose lives where changed as they prayed through. I can still see the night as an 8 year old when I received the baptism of the Spirit. I see the altar in the small white country church, us kids and youth kneeling in prayer with the adults around us. My life was forever changed. Communion as a family around the altar. Everything of value happened around that altar. And I know from my dream that God is crying out, “Get back to My altar!”

The words I heard from a local pastor a few weeks ago still is reverberating in my spirit. “God never visits an empty altar. You want the fire of God? Live at the altar.” (Lee Shipp) Think about it! Throughout scripture we see God visiting the altar. We see His purifying fire on the altar.

God Himself is the one who ordained the altar in the tabernacle. Moses understood the significance. David yearned for time at the altar and was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet today we heard people in and out of our buildings by groups. We offer people to pray where they are and then send a text to receive follow up. But what about leading a people to that altar of incense. Yes. It can happen at home. But for a people who have never experienced that amazing, heart changing encounter of altar time, who will lead them?

I am so thankful for my dad, and pastor, who taught me the importance of time spent at the altar. It’s time for a reboot in our spirit! It is time to go back to that ‘Bethel’ moment in our lives. Clear away the schisms and seek His face! To cry out saying, “Your face, Lord, I will seek!”

Where did He first change your heart? Have you drifted from that intimate time with Him and been distracted by life’s events? Let’s reboot today!

A Hush

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.

Wrap me in your holy hush.

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!

Outpouring

20170708_080615While our kids were small, we set aside Monday nights as our family night.  With the weekends busy in ministry, we wanted to make sure our family time was not ignored.  Once the kids were home from school, it was just our family.  No phones or appointments.  Our goal was to have quality time and fun memories as a family.  One of our family outings was going to feed ducks.  Recently, I started working at an office next to the same pond we visited in those early years.  On my breaks and at lunch, I often walk to the pond to feed ducks.  Most days the creatures that come are not the ducks but the turtles.  It’s fascinating to watch the turtles come from every area of the pond once I’m standing near the edge.  I may not see the shell as they swim my way, but the small head is seen coming toward me and the ripples of the water are proof that they are coming.  There’s probably about 20 turtles that come to feed.  As I throw the bread or crackers in the water, it’s a frenzy of small heads and hard shells fighting for a crumb.  Turtles crawl on top of the shells of other turtles  in order to reach just a crumb of bread.  There are a few very large soft shell turtles.  Their effort is to try not to get caught in the middle of the hard-shell frenzy, yet they rush towards the giver just the same.  Lately, I’ve stood watching in contemplation of what is happening.  The turtles just sense my presence when I’m walking up.  They don’t know if I have bread or not on that day, but they know that I, and others that come, often come prepared to feed them morsels from our own table.  And they are hungry.  And as they rally for the crumbs, they appear to have an unquenchable hunger.

Hunger.  As I watch the ‘gathering’ and frenzy of turtles, it strikes me, ‘That should be us seeking for His prescence.’  How often do we hear people speak of wanting an outpouring, but how many make their way to a personal prayer room seeking it?  And continue to do so.  Daily if need be. Just the movement toward that place of prayer would create a ripple effect and draw others.  Like the turtles, we should desire an unstoppable, unquenchable desire that will thrust us into action.  Our excitement should be contagious and cause others to also hunger.

Often I hear so talk about wanting an outpouring.  A revival.  A new awakening.  But life happens.  We can’t always attend every meeting.  But if we have an unquenchable hunger for His presence, it will be a priority to run toward the Giver as often as possible. Too often other things take priority when a call for fasting or an outpouring service is announced.  As I watch the turtles, I think of what it would be like if every time there was a gathering of believers seeking outpouring they all came ‘hungry’, expecting an outpouring.  They wouldn’t know if that day would be the day they would leave full, but they believe one day it will happen as they continue to come.   That belief ripples to others.  It causes hope.  Jesus saw the both hope and hunger in the people and was moved to respond and meet the need.

True revival cost something.  I don’t want just another good service.  And I don’t want revival just to keep it to myself.  I want an outpouring in order for His Spirit to ripple out of me to others!  I’m believing!  How about you?  Do you believe enough to shut yourself in a prayer closet some place and then go gather with others who also believe?  Don’t give you until He shows up!  I challenge you to do so.  It will ripple to others…..and He WILL respond!

I dare you to believe!    #tohostHisPresence #senseHispresence #comehungry

That’s the Church!

“What’s brewing in your head?”

The question came from one of our young adults.  She had caught me watching the small circle she was in and came over to me, curious of the look she read on my face.  We were in the altar area after one of our Sunday night Fire Light services.  Sunday nights have become a special time for a group of us in our local body.  Most of the ones who attend are from our young adults group.  They are hungry for a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit.  They want more than the status quo and are coming together with a heart to seek a deeper relationship with our Father.

On this particular night, I had been spending some time quietly praying alone.  After a while, I sat up on the bench and was reflecting on what God was doing in and among those that choose to attend.  My eyes kept returning back to a group of three sitting off to my left.  There was such peace as I watched them huddled in God’s presence.  Such a ‘hodge podge’ group.

This is when the young lady caught me eye.  She smiled and came to sit next to me.  Looking at me she asked the question, “What’s brewing in your head?”  Oh my!  That did it!  The flood gates opened!

“The church!  It’s the church!” 

She waited silently for me to explain my meaning.  To me, that ‘hodgepodge’ group sitting near me represented the church being the church.  The group in front of me consisted of an ex-lesbian and an ex-drug user.  They sat on either side of an African American skate boarder with dread locks who, just that night, had walked in for the first time.  They were sharing Jesus with him.  He didn’t know anyone there.  He only came because a rams-horn-toting-ex-lesbian walked up to him and said, “Follow me.  We’re going to church.”  Without question, he got in his car and followed.  Little did she know that just before she walked past him with the invitation to church, this stranger had posted on social media that he ‘had no family to go home to and tell about his day.’

That’s the church!  Showing the love of Jesus without walls.  Without social barriers.  I went on to explain that I’ve been in church/ministry all my life.  I’ve seen revivals come and go.  I’ve seen true revival and I’ve seen emotional revivals where people go from one place to another seeking a prophetic word or spiritual high without walking it out in every day life.  I remember the two week, or more, revival services.  The excitement each person felt as they entered the sanctuary, wondering whose leg would grow that night.  How many would come to know Christ?  Or what other healing miracles would we be a witness to?  And each night we left wondering who we could invite for the following night.  Never did we think about the amount of homework needed to be done.  We just brought it with us.  Sports or hobbies didn’t stop us.  We knew to get there early so we could get a good seat.  We stayed late not to miss anything that God might do for someone.  And we grew spiritually as a family – together – and that changed the atmosphere of our home lives.

This young lady got an ear full as I, through tears of longing, recalled the wonder and glory of past revivals I grew up attending.  Why?  I hunger for more true revival.  The kind where the actual body of Christ is revived in their passion for His presence to the point that nothing can keep us away from time with Him.  You know, that ‘first love’ type of experience where you can’t stop talking about Him and everyone around you sees something is different in your life.  The kind that reaches out to share Jesus with others, no matter if they dress or look the same as we believe they should.  The kind that becomes the Jesus with skin on to a hurting world.

Recently, my husband visited the church my daughter attends in Dallas.  Just listening to him describe the hunger he saw made the yearning in my own heart grow.  At 4:00 that Sunday evening they drove to the church.  By the time they arrived, a line had already started forming at the door.  When the doors opened at 4:30, at least fifty people were waiting to enter.  Why?  To pray.  From the first note of music at 5:00, the building was full and corporately the body of believers immediately entered into worship.

They came hungryThey came expectingThey came with open hearts.

They didn’t arrive with an agenda to leave as soon as possible.  They didn’t attend just to hear a word of prophecy from a special speaker.  They didn’t come to be patted on the back or hear a message that made them feel good.  They came to be challenged.  To be changed.  To just BE with HIM.  To be revived.  There was a hunger in the hearts of those gathered to be in His presence.  They, too, were a ‘hodgepodge’ mix of believers.  All ages.  From many different walks of life.  Their church may not have a steeple.  They might not all have agreed on the songs or the choice of paint for the walls.  But they had found one common denominator – the desire to grow closer to JESUS!

Many today talk about wanting another great revival.  Another Great Awakening.  Are we ready?  Are we ready to allow Him to mess up our lives in order to make us more like Him?  Do we really want Him to come, or could we still be trying to find a way to fit Him into our schedules?  Are we willing to come early and stay late so we don’t miss what might happen?  Do we want true revival, or do we prefer to go place to place seeking a ‘make me feel good’ word?

Before leaving that night, I took another look at those gathered.  Broken lives that came to be mended.  Here I stood, the pastor’s kid who grew up to marry a pastor and raise missionary kids, and I was next to an ex-lesbian, ex-drug addict, broken skate boarder, ex-adulterer, the goody-two shoes child, and others.  Each ready to go out and reach more broken lives for Christ.  We accepted each other without walls.  Why?

Because we ARE The Church…..being revived!