Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Mother's Heart....

For those of you who attended the women's retreat at Alton Bay, this is a post from Jody, the mom of Rachael whose testimony I shared with you.  If you have a child going through a difficult time, listen to this mother's heart.  Pray! Trust God! Act when He prompts you!  Watch for the miracle!
I don’t normally post on here but as I reflect on the date today, I am so thankful and have to share this. Three years ago, I had just flown into Monroe, Louisiana, to see our daughter, Rachael. We had been out of contact with each other for over 5 months. We had been told the week before that Rachael’s life was becoming very dangerous with her choices and the drugs she was using. As I sat out ...in front of the restaurant where she was working, I took a moment to reflect on why I was there. Because of the phone call the week before, I knew immediately that I was to come and love on her unconditionally. We were done with all of the screaming, the groundings, the rejections, and all of those hurts. God had been doing a work in me and now it was time for me to show Rachael God’s love....through me. As I sat in my car, I received a phone call from a good friend, Deenah Findley. We had not talked in a while, but she was calling to check on me, and see how Rachael was doing. God is so good. He let Deenah call me and pray with me at the exact moment I was going in to see Rachael. I walked into the store and in the back was a thin and very hard-looking girl. MY BABY GIRL!!!! She saw me and the look on her face was priceless!!!!!!! The biggest smile and a look of relief on her face. We hugged and cried and I shook all over as we held each other for minutes. Priceless!! She took a break and we sat and talked. As I looked at her arms, there were bruises and marks from needles. Hard to take in, but I was there to love on her unconditionally!!! I was there to let her know of our love for her, and God’s love, BUT if she did not make some definite positive changes in her life, that her life would be taken from her. It was very heartbreaking. There are not words enough to describe how difficult it was to say goodbye to her every day, not knowing what that evening had in store for her. Each night as I was preparing to go to bed, as dusk came over that city, I could feel a heaviness like no other as evil began their practices under the cover of darkness. Sounds spiritual and all? Yeah, it was.....you can only read this and wonder, but I assure you, it was there and it was powerful. Everyday, for 4 days,I would see Rachael, and share my concerns and tell her how much we loved her, and that God loved her. She felt so unworthy, so undesirable. The last day came, and we said our goodbyes. I did not know.....AT ALL....if I would ever see my “baby girl” again, but I was confident in what God had done in MY life. He allowed me to love her, to love her unconditionally.....like He does for us. I was victorious in that strength. I was victorious every night knowing that evil was all around my daughter, but I could trust in the one who was with her in the midst of all of that evil. It took 9 more months for Rachael to realize that God was the absolute answer. She finally came to the end of herself, and it was not death, but it is LIFE. This past week, Rachael, was in Nashville at the Mercy Ministries Home giving her testimony of God’s faithfulness in her life. I wanted to take today and sound out my testimony of God’s faithfulness of praying parents, but more so, that in the midst of this storm, Anthony and I, chose to be obedient and to trust God with our daughter, to love her, and to let Go and to let God have his plan. I am so thankful for that today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

Today started like a normal day.  Ed was scheduled to go to a Home Depot project site - translation: a community work project. They were going to paint a Veteran's facility in East Liberty.  As I got ready to go to work, I said, "Have a great day, today, Babe.  This just may be a divine appointment."  Well....around 1:00 I got a call from Ed.  The first words out of his mouth were, "It WAS a divine appointment!"  He sounded so excited and so animated.  It ends up that he was assigned to a Homeless Veterans Facility. Not only that but the guy he was working with from Home Depot had once been homeless and had gone through the Veteran's program.  WHAT AN AMAZING DAY.  He was able to speak to the Director and connect in ways that we will be able to volunteer.  Ed may have an opportunity to do some interning there for his MA.  This place has a drop in center (those who know us, know that that is our dream) where they can shower, watch TV, do laundry, get a meal.  They also have a facility where those who have jobs can live to transition from homelessness to living freely.  They take classes on computer, resume writing, interviewing, managing finances and there are programs for those addicted to alcohol or drugs. We have been seeking God for direction since several homeless ministry doors have closed.  The passion is still there for us, we just needed God to show us where.  It never ceases to amaze me that when we have our eyes open to the things of God, He will allow us to glance through HIS.  Today, Ed's eyes were wide open, and he experienced the words of the song, "...give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see......give me your heart for humanity....."  We are so excited about the lives we may come in contact with.  AND Ed's coworker is going to spend time with us helping us understand what it truly is to be homeless.  We see God in this.....now we pray that He will continue to lead us to where He desires us to be!  Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


If you have been a Christian for any period of time, and if your Pastor is a true teacher of Biblical truth, you can't help but see all that is happening in the world right now and not see how close the return of Jesus really is. There are wars and rumors of wars.(Matt 24:6), floods, famines, earthquakes, tidal waves, strange occurences in the atmosphere (Luke 21:11) and a return to lawlessness and lacivious living, much like in the days of Sodom.  These things MUST impact us!  I see too much of the church sitting, sleepy, lulled into the comfort of their exclusivity. Do we not see lost souls anymore? Are we not moved at the helplessness of abused children?  Is homelessness accepted as the norm?  Are we content that we know Jesus and we are "in", but ignoring His command to take the Gospel out?   Are we impacting our neighborhoods? Do people know we are saved???  Are we more into our "cool" church programs then our plans to reach the lost? 

In the Book of Revelation, John's vision has a specific message for seven churches.  When I reflect on the condition of the church today, I see that we have become more like the world, and they have become less Godly.  That isn't the way it was supposed to be.  See in those seven letters, there are some powerful admonitions as God speaks what HE sees in His churches.  There are some heartwrenching words, however the one that hurts me the most is in His message to the church at Sardis:

"“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:  “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches." Rev 3:1-6. 

Can you hear God's heart begging His church to WAKE UP? OH that hurts my heart!! Pastors and lay people - God is calling us out of our sleepiness for one last spiritual awakening.  If we don't wake up.....He will come like a thief in the night. God's message is summed up in that last verse - this is my paraphrase, "PLEASE, PLEASE church! If you hear anything, listen to what I am saying to you - TIME IS SHORT and you cannot sleep.  PLEASE, PLEASE church - fulfill what I have entrusted you to do!"  I can almost hear the desperation in His voice as He begs us, those for whom He sacrificed his life, to wake up and hear His heart.  We all have to answer this call....now.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No other arms

This morning in church, we sat behind a couple who have five adorable children, the youngest of which is 2.  For some reason, she just wasn't having any of the nursery this morning.  There was a tearful seperation which didn't last long, as she was miserable. The nursery workers understand that sometimes we just need our parents.  Her dad went up and tried to stay with her, but she wasn't buying any of that, so he carried her into the service. She was clutching on to him so tightly that she was wrinkling his shirt with her two little hands filled with the material.  Her tears were still in her eyes as he carried her to his seat.  Her grandmother saw her and tried to take her from his arms, but again, she gripped even tigher and buried her head in his chest.  She never moved.  She stayed that way through the entire worship service; clutching his shirt, head buried in his chest, until I noticed something.  Her grip began to loosen and her body became limp.  She had fallen asleep. Her fear was gone.  Her confidence returned because of being held in the secure arms of her dad.  She could relax, and rest. She totally showed me an amazing picture of God.

God is our father.  We never want to be seperated from Him or feel that He is not near.  When we do feel that distance, we need to run to His arms and lay our heads on His chest.  It is safe there.  When the world tries to take us from His arms, we need to hold on more tightly and bury our faces in His chest.  See, when her head was against His chest, she couldn't see anyone around.  All she could hear was His heartbeat and in that place, there was rest, peace, security.

Today we are celebrating the fact that Jesus gave His life for us, and rose again so that we could gain access into the Holy of Holies.  We can now run into His spiritual arms, rest on His chest, hear His heartbeat, BUT we, like this little girl, need to shun off anything that wants to take us out of that rightful place.  What would life be like if we never left the grasp of the Father?  I know that today I saw an amazing picture of how much my heavenly Father loves me - so much that He gave His son - for me. For you.

When was the last time you heard His hearbeat?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Cup

This morning in our worship service at church, we sang one of my favorite worship songs and it has a line in it that says “I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hands….” and when I got to the “drink from the cup in your hands”, I had to stop.  Drink from the cup in His hands.  See, sometimes I wonder if we really understand what we are singing.  What is that cup? What’s in that cup?  Is it water, because if that’s what the drink is, I’d be okay with that, but what if it isn’t?

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me”.  There had to be something really bad in that “cup”.  The cup he was praying about wasn’t a literal cup, but he was asking God to not make him “drink from that cup”. My former Pastor, Dan Betzer, used to preach an incredible sermon on the cup.  He said that the cup could have contained all the sins of the world.  Jesus, being sinless, was sent to earth to drink that cup containing gossip, murder, abuse, lying, rape, incest, slander, thievery, and the list goes on.  It had to be swirling around in that cup like thick, ugly, sludge.  Jesus, the Spotless Lamb of God, figuratively took that cup and put it to his lips and drank, filling his body with every sin known to man so that he could be sacrificed once and for all to make atonement for OUR sins.  OUR sins.  That cup was not something I could easily “drink”, yet I easily sang that song.

The next line in the song is “lay back against you and breathe, feel your heartbeat. Your love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand, I melt in Your peace, it’s overwhelming.”  I think we often think of the cup as filled with love – and it absolutely was – but not the warm fuzzy, chocolate heart kind of love.  It was the painful, sacrificing kind of love.  When we were not loveable, God sent His Son, Jesus, to drink from that cup. 

Phillippians 3:6-11 says, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering, being made comformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Today I was reminded of the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for me and I pray that I never easily sing these words without meaning them.


Friday, March 25, 2011

In The Presence of God

If you are from a “Pentecostal” church, then you are familiar with the term, “the presence of God”.  We look for it in our worship services – we want to experience the presence of God.  What does that mean??  If you sing a song seventeen times and modulate every two or three verses, and then do one verse with no music . . . maybe you will “feel” the presence of God??  What does it feel like??  Goose bumps?  A chill?  A warm fuzzy feeling?  Can the Presence of God be described in the words of men without somehow cheapening it?  Do we take it for granted?  Remember the first time you truly experienced “the presence of God”?  It overwhelmed you.  It may have made you weep.  It may have left you speechless.  But as time goes by do we still get that feeling, that intimacy that we did when we first experienced it? 

In I Samuel chapter 6 is a story featuring a man named Uzzah.  Uzzah was one of the sons of Abinidab.  Abinidab was one of the Priests who was responsible for moving the Ark of the Covenant from place to place.  The Ark was built under specific instruction from God.  It was made of gold and had two cherubim who stood facing each other on either side of the top and their wings spread across the top and touched at the tips.  Inside the area between the wings and the top of the Ark is where the tangible presence of God dwelt.  Literally, where the Ark went, the presence of God went.  There were very specific guidelines given on how to transport the Ark from place to place.  There were gold rings on the sides of the Ark where poles were to be inserted to lift and carry.  These poles could be placed on an oxen cart to help transport it. Uzzah had grown up around the Ark of the Covenant.  When he was a child, I’m sure the whole “process” of moving the Ark was fascinating to him, but as he grew older, he became more comfortable and it lost its "awe factor".  He knew what significance the Ark held, his father was a priest.  He knew that the presence of God dwelt between the wings of the angel.  It should have been  a thing of awe and respect – a holy reverence.  But to him, it had become ordinary. He had been around the Ark for so long, had seen the "ritual" so many times that he no longer thought of it as holy. So, here’s what happened. 

“David again brought together out of Israel’s chosen men, thirty thousand in all.  He and all his men set out from Baalal of Judah to bring up from there the Ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.  They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.  Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinidab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it and Ahio was walking in front of it.  David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all of their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.  (They were having a worship service) When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the Ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.  The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his IRREVERENT act, therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.”

Uzzah had lost sight of who God was.  The power, the awesomeness, the sovereignty of God.
  • He had become "comfortable" in the presence of God
  • He didn’t feel the need to “prepare” himself to be in the presence of God, yet his father was a priest and Uzzah knew of the annual ritual of preparation for the priest to enter the Holy of Holies. He forgot the price.
Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark – now don’t you think that if God was worried about that Ark being destroyed or falling off the oxen cart, that HE would have steadied it?
  • Uzzah took things into his own hands – thus removing God’s hands.
  • The price to enter God’s presence for Uzzah was death, because he did not take  time to prepare.
Ok – so how does this relate to us??  Do we ever take things out of God’s hands?  Do we get so busy that we just unconsciously go through the motions of worship?  What about God’s plans for us?  Does He show you the big picture and we get so excited that we leave Him in the dust as we try to “make it happen”? OR are we going through a time of stress, overwhelm, etc. and in the midst, God is trying to get our attention so that He can lead us out, and as we hit that bump in the road, we just reach out and try to steady our Ark? 

The presence of God (His direction, His guidance, His moving in our lives) NEVER needs the assistance or guidance of man’s strength to hold its rightful place.  Nor will God ever allow the arm of flesh to glory in His presence without first tasting death.  

God broke out of His “box” and caused man’s plans to fall that day and it rocked David to the core, so much so that it took him several months to recover. The same thing happens today when we encounter God’s manifest glory. Too often when we reach out in fleshly presumption to stop the God we’ve carefully contained in a box from falling off our rickety man-made ministry program or tradition.  We shouldn’t be surprised when God’s glory breaks out of our traditional boxes and shocks us.  Something ALWAYS dies when God’s glory encounters LIVING FLESH. May we never take the presence of God for granted!  May we make preparation in our lives before we enter His presence this week.  Let us come before Him having made preparation much like a bride makes to meet her groom.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What do YOU want??? (Jn 5:1-15)

It’s a sunny day, and I’m just laying here by the pool waiting in anticipation.  It’s that time of year again, when maybe, just maybe, my situation could change.  But…if it doesn’t, I’m become accustomed to this life.  It may not be ideal in most people’s eyes, but it’s okay for me.  I’m a regular. Everyone knows me, even though I have been here longer than most; nearly 40 years.  Many call me an invalid because I can’t get up and walk, however, I just consider it my life.  People are good to me here.  They have become family in many ways.  They take care of my needs, help me wash my clothing, make sure I have food to eat.  It used to bother me, but I’ve gotten used to it.  Life is simple – just the way I like it.  Soon the pool will begin to stir – that time of year when someone gets healed.  As much as that sounds like a good deal…I’ll never make in it in time – I never do. Besides if I was healed, where would I go? What would I do? 
About midday as I am waiting for my noon meal, along comes this man.  He just looks like a regular guy to me, but this day, there was nothing regular about him. He walked right up to me. After a brief and somewhat uncomfortable greeting, he looks me in the eyes.  You know, there was something about his eyes….something powerful.  The next words he spoke caused me alarm.  He said; “Do you want to be made whole?” Now, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I HAVE been laying here for many, many years.  I do make a concerted effort to get in the stirred up waters.  But what kind of a question was that?  DO I WANT TO BE MADE WHOLE?  WHO IS THIS GUY?  He doesn’t look like a rabbi or anyone with special powers.  But, that question - well…of course I want….of course I ....
Wait!  If I am made whole, everything about my world is going to change radically. My friends, my home, my lifestyle.  Wait – maybe, maybe I need to think about this.  If I am made whole, I have to get a job and this life is all I have known.  Do I want to be made whole? Do I?  Again, I look at those eyes, searching for answers, but it’s as though he is pleading, reassuring, loving, caring and I think, YES! I want to be made whole.  I want to get out of my comfort zone! I want to have a new life – live it to the fullest, but how do I know this isn’t just another ray of hope that will be destroyed if nothing happens.  I am in a place of decision.
One last time, I look at those eyes and I find myself saying, “YES! I want to be made whole!” I am thinking that he is going to help me get into those waters, but what happens next is the strangest of all. He said, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” It wasn’t what he said, it was the way he said it.  He had this authority that made me believe that I could do what he said, and when I tried, I GOT UP. I WALKED! I was healed -HEALED without the water, healed because I obeyed his command. I picked up that mat and I headed straight for town.  Life as I knew it had ended.  A new life had been given to me and I wasn’t about to waste it staying where I have always been. 
Obviously, I’ve taken some liberty with a Biblical story.  This is one that has always intrigued me, because I see so many people today who are willing to live a compromised life of comfort then to get up and get out of the wasteland and walk into all God has.  Where are you today? Are you spending your time saying “I can’t” or are you asking God to take you where you’ve never been to do what you have never done?  The choice is ours.  God can heal and restore ANYTHING in your life – no matter how bad, how deep, how painful.  And when He does, He gives you more than you could have ever asked for or imagined!  SO the question is your today, “Do you want to be made whole?” I hope you'll say YES!