December 17, 2007

Our Personal Savior...

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything… I wanted to thank those who have prayed for my friend Kelli. She’s doing really good after her surgery and says thanks to all who prayed for her. God provided miraculously and she was able to have the surgery she needed before any more damage was done to her spine. She did not have to pay a cent! The Lord moved on the hearts of people to meet this need. It was a great example of the Body of Christ, here on earth, extending His love through human hands.

We also have been in need of His provision lately. Bills have come in here at Christmastime that we didn’t expect, needs have come up that couldn’t be avoided… There were a few days where all I could do was put my head in my hands and say, “Lord how on earth…?” I spread my bills out before the Lord and like King Jehoshaphat when he was up against insurmountable odds, cried out, “Lord, I don’t know what to do…but my eyes are on You.” I am not going to pretend that my faith has never wavered. It’s hard to explain how it feels to KNOW in your head the truth that He loves and provides but to be so overwhelmed in a fog of circumstances and emotions that you cannot lay HOLD of it. It’s as if I say to the Lord, “Yes, but…” as if He hadn’t encountered a problem quite like mine before!

It’s oftentimes easier to have faith for others, than for yourself. When I’m objectively looking at a friend’s situation, I can easily see how much bigger our God is than their problem and can easily see Him loving them and providing for them whatever they need. But with my own issues, it’s not quite so easy. It’s like I have no problem believing He CAN, it’s just a matter of believing that He WANTS to! Nobody knows us, like we know ourselves (except God of course), so it’s often hard to believe He’d do a great thing for us… I’m becoming more and more convinced that the major revelation that most Christians need, in order to move forward with God, is a revelation of His love for them. Yet, despite our lack of faith in this fact, He still proves it over and over again… Despite me, and my tiny faith, He has been showing me that He cares.

It’s funny but it’s when God answers little personal prayers, about non-Kingdom things, that my faith grows and my heart grows warm with His love. It’s also great when He answers BIG prayers, but Big prayers usually benefit lots of people… it’s when those silly little requests that mean something to only me are answered, that I am the most encouraged and I see how this great big God who created the universe, really does notice and care for me… God’s love, demonstrated to the great big world, isn’t generic and impersonal, but specific and personal to each of us.

So all that to say- my family and I have been the blessed recipients of several demonstrations of God’s provision this Christmas season. It’s as if He’s been saying… “See, it’s going to be okay. Quit worrying. Daddy’s gonna take care of it.” Unfortunately I can’t give details because it involves Christmas gifts, ;^) but He has surprised us again and again with His creative and generous Spirit. Very specific things, that have amazed me and shown me, how much our great Father sees and knows and cares. He has inspired and moved through others. Some who may not yet know Him. It has encouraged me and has strengthened my faith and given me the desire to look for opportunities to be channels of His blessing to others.

During this holiday season, when things can get too busy and stressful and distracting, lets find some time to sit still before our Father and to just meditate on His great personal love for us and to remember all that He has done for us, large and small. I promise, it won’t take you long to think of something. Start at the manger… and go from there.

He IS the only reason for this season… He is everything we need! He can be trusted! Come! Let us adore Him!

Merry Christmas everyone!


November 11, 2007

Two Crybabies

If you are like me and babies and dogs twang at your heartstrings, then you will love this video. Enjoy! Kayla

October 14, 2007

From the Riverbank...

My eldest daughter Haley has turned 20. This means that I have been a mother for TWENTY years! That's half my life! (give or take a couple of years :^) That’s hitting me hard. Not because I feel old but mainly because I’ve entered into a new season of my life and I don’t feel ready for it. I don’t feel completely willing for this transition to take place.

Normally I would have waited until I had already made the transition to blog; when I had a nice neat sermon typed up, cataloging all of the deep revelations and conclusions I’ve formed. Well I’m not going to wait until then because I have no clue how long it will take. Plus I’m tired of communicating only from a standpoint of closure. Life is rarely like that…all wrapped up, summed up, with a nice pretty bow and filed away with a neat little label. I’m rarely at that place. I’m usually where I am now- in the middle of sorting something out. And having never been here before, I am feeling my way as I go.

Being a mom has defined me for so long. Having always homeschooled, I’ve been with my kids more than anybody else. Every thought and dream and plan has always included and considered the children; considered us as a family. I almost don't know who I am without them. They captured my heart from the moment I laid eyes on their little faces. Even in the other things I have done with my life, being their mother has not been something I've done... it's been entwined in my marrow, in the very depth of who I am. I couldn't separate myself from that anymore than I could change my DNA.

I am fulfilled as a wife. Although my relationship with Keith has grown through the years, the very nature of our relationship is well definied and will basically stay the same. Not so with my relationship with my children. I don’t know how to be a mother to an adult. I know of course, that I can’t mother Haley like I did when she was younger. Yet I’ll obviously always be her mother. That mother thing burns in your heart and it is a love that is stronger than death. It’s not something I can turn off now that we’ve entered a new season. Everything that involves my children, interests me still- as much, if not more than what concerns me. My heart is bound up with them and it always will be. But I have to learn to express it in different ways. Yet something in me mourns at that change. I realize that is selfish. That is focusing on me and my desire to mother like I want rather than on what THEY need… but I’m just trying to keep it real here. This is where I am. But I know that I will work through this... I always do… (just taking you on the journey with me :^)

I wonder if it will get easier as each one leaves the nest? Will I become an old pro like those people in the commercial who wave at their son as he drives off to college and then before he’s out of sight, they joyfully dismantle his room and turn it into the bonus room they always wanted?

I seriously doubt it!

I am SO proud of Haley. I rejoice with her growing into the Godly young lady she has become. She’s found a wonderful young man who she’ll be marrying sometime next year. He is so like Keith. Josh will treat her like a treasure, just like Keith treats me. I am so thankful for their relationship. But I miss her already. It wasn’t an overnight change but the transition has been happening slowly over the last few years. So slow that I barely noticed it. But it is upon us now.

When I was so stressed out with toddlers and babies, why didn’t I treasure the time more? Everyone who’d gone before me told me that they grow up in a blink of an eye. But like the young mothers I tell that to today, you just cannot see it when you’re in it.. Maybe you’re not suppose to. Someone once likened it to a cowboy fording a swollen river with his herd. He doesn’t stop in the middle of the rushing river to take a photograph. He has to get them safely to the other side. He can reflect on the journey then. I guess that’s what happens. I guess I’m on the other side with Haley and I’m looking back and I’m sort of sad. How did I come to get here so quickly? But I know... in time...that will be replaced with acceptance and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. As for today, I treasure every toy I trip over. I know that Spiderman and Barbie's days in my house are drawing to a close. That makes me profoundly sad. But I will adjust, I know I will. I'm just "at where I'm at" today.

This side of the river that I'm on as a mom is unfamiliar ground. Haley is 20 and will marry this year, Max is 17. The twins will be 13 on their next birthday. I don’t have little kids anymore. I never will again. BUT the end of one season is also the beginning of another one. I have no idea what that entails and what the blessings and challenges will be this side of the river, but I am here, like it or not. What I DON'T want to do is to keep looking back at yesterday and to miss the season I’m in today. I don't want to miss the beauty of this new place by gazing across the river at where we've been... Some Moms seem to transition into this seamlessly, but not me. It's a painful transition. But all I hear all over the Body of Christ is- TRANSITION! SHIFTING! So I guess I'm not transitioning alone! But bear with me. Pray for me. And any of you who have gone before me on this journey, please share your photographs from the riverbank with me! I need all the help I can get! :^)

God bless.


September 18, 2007

I Can Only Imagine...

Our valiant friend and brother, George Waites.

Keith and George "hunting". :^)

The Waites family

This past Thursday morning, September 13th, our precious friend and brother George Waites, who battled pancreatic cancer for almost two years, in his own bed at home with his family, stepped into eternity.

It's amazing to think that the Jesus we sing about and we live for, that George is actually looking at Him right now! George actually sees Him, he hears His audible voice. George can touch Him! Wow! It reminds me of that song, "I Can Only Imagine". I wonder what George is feeling? What is he thinking? What is he doing? I can almost see him high-fiving the apostles and jumping, running and dancing! George was a character with a tremendous sense of humor. So quick with a witty reply. So I certainly can see him laughing and cracking jokes right now! It all reminds us that this life on earth is just a dress rehearsal for eternity. Death is not an end, it is a glorious beginning if you know Jesus. For those who don't, sadly, it's another story.. We are preparing for our real life- eternity- right now! And George has arrived! He is receiving his eternal reward RIGHT NOW!

I think that no one who knew George or who has followed his story through his blog has been untouched by his life and death. I was thinking of how George was not famous, he was not a big name minister, yet this one life, yielded to Christ, made such a huge, eternal impact. I don’t think any of us will ever be the same. Keith said it in tears Thursday morning, as he called me on his way back from the Waite’s house that morning, he said that George knew what life was about- loving God and loving people. He did it with gusto. He treasured each moment. He appreciated and valued each person. But most important, he appreciated and valued his God and remained faithful to Him despite his suffering. This has made me think of the Greatest commandment- to love our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength- and to love others as ourselves… That’s what it’s all about folks when you boil it all down! And George knew this. I want to know this too. So thanks George.

George’s memorial service was something I don’t know if it can be described. It wasn’t a dreary acknowledgement of death, but a victorious celebration of life. George was honored and Jesus was glorified. I don’t think I will ever forget it. The church was bursting at the seams with people who wanted to come pay their respects. I think many probably came to encourage Robin and the kids but left encouraged themselves. But the most important guest who came was God Himself. His presence was tangibly felt as He came to honor His friend George. God was the focus, as George would have wanted. He was worshipped and praised. When we left around 11:00 pm, people were still there. I don’t know how long they stayed, but nobody wanted to leave. God’s peace and presence were still there. . On Saturday George was buried in the "Garden of Valor". I cannot think of a better place for George. He was victorious until his last breath.

I have been going back and reading George’s blog from the beginning. I encourage ya’ll to do this.( Robin is going to compile it and put it in book form. I am thrilled to hear that. There are treasures in George’s writings. To have the opportunity to vicariously experience the valley of the shadow through George’s unique uplifting perspective has been a privilege. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have read his thoughts and to have heard his heart. He opened himself up and allowed us to be a part of his journey. There are many who we may not know of for years to come, that he blessed through his writings- his honesty, his transparency, his humor, his ‘realness’. George was everyman. He related to anyone and everyone. He brought Christ to those who probably would never set foot in a church, just by being himself. Himself + Jesus.

We watched a program the other night where two men were interviewed who had died, gone to heaven and had come back.... Their description of heaven was so exciting, so comforting. They said it was like just walking from one room into another. They were at home. They didn't want to come back here to earth! So George is FINE! But we on earth who will miss him, need your prayers. Especially his family. But the joy, faith and strength that the Lord has given Robin and George and their kids throughout has been such a testimony to the faithfulness of God. They have proven that there is a God over and over as we've observed their lives. I know that He will continue to be with them in the coming days. But please remember them, especially in a few weeks when the loss of this incredible man of God begins to really be felt.

They are so strong. I have never seen such strength in my life as I’ve seen in Robin, Lauren and Bryan. The Lord carries them still. It has given many courage to see God’s grace surround His children during their walk through the valley of the shadow. They are still praising, still standing- even in their grief. I want to be more like them. Our walk with God has gone deeper observing George, Robin and their kids. As we've contemplated their words, observed their attitudes, as we've prayed for and with them, as we've searched God's word and dug deeper within, we've grown as a church and individually. God seems closer than ever before... How can that be? But it is!

I pray that God helps each of us to live this life, however long or short it may be, always in light of eternity as George did. Because eternity is where life REALLY begins and it is a certain reality for each of us. I heard this in a song recently, “I am here for one moment, I am here for one thing- just to praise You”..And that’s what George did, that's what his family is doing now.

George… We love you and we miss you. You have made an impact on our lives, on our church and on everyone who knew you. Your legacy lives on in Robin, Lauren and Bryan. We still see and hear you in them. You’ve taught us that our individual lives have great impact and influence. You knew that, and you were faithful with the life God gave you. And He is rewarding you right now! Wow! Thank you George.

Job 19
25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. 26 And after my flesh shall be destroyed, yet in my body I will see God! 27 I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!"

August 24, 2007

The Rejection and The Praise of Man

These are the main points from the book Dealing with the Rejection and Praise of Man by Bob Sorge that I just read. This helped me personally but it also applies in ministry and how we respond to people (and their responses to us). I wanted to share these with you all.... If this whets your appetite to learn more, I highly recommend that you read this book (it's short! :^) God bless. Kayla

1.All of us will know rejection until our dying day. It's an unavoidable dynamic of our human existence.

2.No one knows rejection better than Jesus. Jesus proved that even if you're perfect you'll be rejected.

3.The more like Jesus you become, the more rejected you'll be.

4.If we respond properly to rejection, we gain eternal treasure.

5.Rejection is one of God's specialty tools in the school of the Spirit, reserved for those He especially likes.

6.Rejection is a trial-but the acceptance of the Father is the healing ointment.

7.Rejection stings, but it doesn't have to wound your heart.

8.We must forgive those who reject us.

9.We must learn to believe and receive the Father's love.

10. When God accepts me and approves, I need acceptance and approval from no one else.

11.Although I need only God's acceptance, I desperately need proper relationship and connection to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

12.One of the greatest challenges of Christian maturity is to make myself vulnerable to your kindness and affection while not allowing myself to be wounded by your rejection.

13.Its a sign of maturity when we can receive correction without interpreting it as rejection.

14.You won't be healed of rejection by analyzing the source of your rejection, but by looking at your Source of acceptance. Whose acceptance do you seek?

15.When I yearn for your acceptance, I open myself to your rejection.

16.You cannot seek the acceptance of both God and man. You cannot serve two masters.

17.Rejection and praise are opposite ends of the same continuum with identical root issues.

18.Two reasons why we should not be touched by the praise of man: people are undependable, and the opinions of people are insignificant.

19.The fear of man (the desire for man's praise) is a snare. (see my last blog "The Trap").

20.Jesus did not receive the honor of man

21.When we're energized by men's praises we lose our discernment.

22.Don't receive the cheap replacement of man's praise when you can contend for the highest praise- the honor of God Himself

23.To feed off the honor of man is idolatry.

24.When I no longer receive the praise of man, I become free of all men- free, that is, to love all men equally and unconditionally.

25.Living in a place where we are totally free from the praise and rejection of man is a lifetime pilgramage.

26.I do not seek the praise of other people, but I do seek to honor and encourage other believers as much as possible.

27.I can praise others by giving thanks to God for what His grace has accomplished in their lives.

28. We should affirm what God is doing in those around us, even when we see their shortcomings.

29.When you praise me, I do not receive your praise, but I do receive you.

August 12, 2007

The Trap!

Jeremiah 17: 5-8
“ 5 This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.
8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Proverbs 29:
“ 25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.

Psalm 25:

12 Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
13 He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land

Proverbs 27
“ 21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.

The fear of man versus the fear of the Lord has been a subject that has been working in my heart lately. The acceptance and praise of man compared to the acceptance and praise of God has taken up my thoughts a lot lately. There are so many scriptures about this, these are just a sampling… But I am so convicted, and so encouraged. God is revealing His heart to me. That’s always exciting. It’s always been there in His word, but I guess it’s fresh to me just now.

The fear of man is a snare! It's a trap! Those who trust in man, will be trapped into barreness and isolation and unaware of the blessing of God, unaware of prosperity, even when it’s right in front of their face. I think the reason for that is because they aren’t looking for it in God… they are looking for it in man. I've been guilty of this. When will we learn? The best friend, the most loving family member, the Godliest saint, will each disappoint us and even at times (unknowingly or knowingly) may reject us… Why? Because they are not God. HE alone is trustworthy and pure of heart. Man may try, but we will always come up short.

Jesus said, “I do not receive honor from men.” (John 5:41). He didn’t say, “I don’t go around seeking the honor of men”. He said He did not even receive it! Why? He knew what was in man’s heart. He knew that the same crowds who were singing “Hosanna” one week, would in the next week be screaming, "Crucify Him!" He knew that even His closest friends who swore their undying love and devotion, would deny Him and reject Him when their own lives were put in jeopardy. He knew what was in man’s heart. And we should too. And He also knew what was God’s heart. And we should too! Jesus chose to not trust in man. He chose to not fear man. We should too.

But in choosing the praise of God alone, in choosing the fear of God and not man we are not to form a “me and Jesus club”. Although Jesus knew what was in man, He still chose to partner with us and He has commanded us to not forsake assembling together and working together. He could have done it a lot faster and better without us. But He’s chosen to use us… That amazes me. That testifies of His love for us and His surprising enjoyment of us. We are to work together as a Body, to lift each other up and to encourage and to bless one another… but our approval and acceptance is going to have to be found completely and only in Him.

We are to fear Him alone. We are to seek His approval alone. And why would we even desire to rely on the praise and approval of man when we can have the highest honor of His, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”? Yet the sad truth is that most of us do seek the praise of man over the praise of God. "The one whom we fear, is the one whom we will serve". And a man cannot serve two masters…

In his book Dealing with the Rejection and Praise of Man Bob Sorge asks, “Are you trying to please God or man? Do you seek acceptance from man? When people compliment you, does it strengthen your sense of self-worth and self-fulfillment? Do you feed off the praise of man? “

Bob Mumford once said, "Praise is food for God, but poison for man". It is one of the biggest tests that reveals who we are looking to, whom we fear. The praise of man is a snare! The fear of man is often the result of rejection that drives us to seek man’s validation. Am I significant? Am I loveable? Am I of value? Those questions can only be answered through the revelation of the love and acceptance of God.

In Ephesians, Paul talked about being “rooted and grounded in God’s love”… That’s stability. Then obedience and the fear of the Lord will come more naturally… It is a joy and a pleasure to serve someone who you KNOW loves you and accepts you! Out of Relationship, will come obedience and holiness…

I do not want to be defined by the approval or rejection of man any longer. I do not want to trust in man. I do not want to be led by the fear of man or to waste the time I've been given seeking man's praise and avoiding their rejection. I want to be free from this common snare. Satan cannot make us sin, but he surely can lure us into his traps. I believe that the fear of man/ the seeking of man's approval is one of satan's most successful traps that he uses against the body of Christ. I want to steer clear of this path and to travel down the Lord's highway of holiness.

So I want to invite you to join me in this quest to know the fear of the Lord, to seek after only His acceptance. When we are rejected or praised by men, we need to consider the source- yes to be appreciative of the encouragment- but to run to our only true Source. If we fear and trust in Him, if we seek to please Him alone and not people (whose opinions and moods can change from moment to moment and who in their flesh may reject us) – in Him we will find security, confidence, fulfillment and joy! And His rewards are not fleeting, but eternal and everlasting! I want that! Amen!

July 25, 2007

The Shift!

I know it's been forever and a day since I posted a blog but in case anyone ever checks this anymore... :^)... I wanted to share this word my husband gave in June of this year. I have heard this same word in various different forms by different prophets and ministers all summer long... God must be speaking. Let's listen!

6/12/2007 Keith Johnson. A Shift

"For the last month or so I have felt that the Lord has been speaking to me that there is a significant shift that is taking place. It is a time of corporate and personnel shifting and realignment within the Body of Christ. Realignment and reassignment. The Lord has been training us to keep our eyes off of any natural or physical circumstances and to keep our ears inclined to what the Spirit is saying and to discern what is taking place in that realm. We are in a time of significant shifting and realigning. To not discern it properly causes an unsettling, to discern with spiritual ears makes it an exciting time because we have placed our lives in His hands. Many have suffered through a long birthing process, it is not that you have done anything wrong, but the discipline of the Lord has been on you to train and prepare you. Anyone who has a knowledge of warfare knows that without discipline battles will not be won. In that birthing process many that have been overlooked, by design, and have felt like the invisible man will be released into their God appointed purpose. You have not been overlooked says the Lord, I have kept you hidden, like an arrow in the quiver. Some of you can be classified as a “secret weapon” a kingdom minded arsenal. "

Let's not grow discouraged in the change... let's respond to God. Let's say "Yes Lord!" to Him as He realigns us... May the flood of God move things from where they are to where He wants them, in our lives, in our churches, in our cities, in our nations... Let's choose to not resist and to allow Him to reposition us. Amen!

March 29, 2007

Drawing Near To the Light

Psalm 56:13 says… “You have kept my feet from slipping, so now I can walk in Your presence, in Your life-giving light.”

God’s word says that His presence is like a light… I’ve been thinking on this for a couple of days. His presence is like a light. A light reveals, and our response is that either it draws us, or it repels us. When you turn on the outside light at night, moths and bugs usually flock to it. They are DRAWN to the light. But also, when we turn on a light in a dark place, like my shed or outside storage room, roaches run for cover… They are HIDING from the light... In Luke it tells of the time when Jesus was in the boat with the disciples and they made the miraculous catch of fish (one of His first miracles that they saw), Peter’s response was, “Please leave me Lord. I am too much of a sinner to be around You.” Thankfully Jesus’ response to him was, “Don’t be afraid.” And Peter and the others left all and followed Him.” They chose to draw near. I just read this morning the account of when Jesus cast the legion of demons out of the possessed man of Gadarenes, how the locals, even after viewing the formerly demon-possessed man, clothed and in his right mind sitting at the feet of Jesus, how they begged Jesus to please LEAVE the area… And He did! Their response was to move away from the Light, or rather to ask the Light to move away from them! The Israelites at Mt. Sinai were given an opportunity to draw near to the Living God, but they pulled away in fear and (basically) said, "Moses, YOU tell us what He says. We prefer to stay at a distance and not get too close." Oh mercy! And my question is- what will our response be to His presence? Honestly, there have been times when I wanted to run. I might not actually run or consciously ask Him to leave, but I would busy myself with GOOD things. Ministry things. Nothing wrong with that, right? But like with busy Martha and worshipping Mary, what did Jesus say the better thing was? Mary's way-To just sit at His feet, to gaze into His face and to just enjoy His presence- to WORSHIP! As the sense of His presence is increasing in our worship services, it is a choice we have to make to draw near and to really FOCUS on Him when there is so much in this life, even good things that can distract us and take our attention away. We don't need to wait for Sunday morning or Wednesday night to worship. Fellowshipping with Him should be a part of our life, just as fellowshipping with our family members is... This is a challenge and I am praying for this to become to me as natural as breathing!

I’ve been thinking about this for some time and praying that the Lord could really help me to focus my FULL attention on Him during corporate worship and during quiet times of fellowship with Him. Pastor Ralph encouraged our worship team a couple of weeks ago with this also. You would think that for Christians that would be an easy thing for us to do. But it’s possible for us to be busy FOR God and yet miss Him entirely.

During a church service, how is it that we would never think of visiting, talking and taking care of business (I need to talk to this person and give them this or that), during the preaching but we feel totally comfortable to do that during worship time? We have no problem giving the Pastor our full attention during the time of hearing the word of God. But during worship, we will visit and go in and out of the sanctuary rather than giving our awesome, holy God our FULL attention during HIS time. Worship is all about Him and nothing else. It is HIS TIME. If we had an audience with the President of the United States, would we not give him our full attention? Would we be distracted? Would we say, "excuse me Mr. President" and then go busy ourselves with something else, while he waited for us? I don't think so. I think most of us would count it a privilege to have an appointment with the President and would honor that time, focus on him and him only and remain with him during his appointed time. So why, when we have an audience with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, do we treat that time as common and optional? How much more should we honor and value the time in our services set aside to focus on and to draw near in worship to our God. He certainly was focused on us when He sent His only Son to die so that we might have life. Don't we at the very least owe Him our uninteruppted, full attention? These are questions I ask myself... I don’t mean to sound judgmental or legalistic. God knows we have to take care of our children and often have to deal with things like that during worship time but I’m more talking about an attitude of the heart. Worship isn't meant to be optional. Worship is high on God's priority list. It is a time to focus on Him alone, not on the songs, the worship team or the pastors. In the Church (the Body of Christ as a whole, not just our church) there is often a casualness about worship and what it really is. I’ve heard and I believe that the Lord is restoring worship to its proper place in these latter days. Like it was in the days of the King David and Solomon, worship is meant not as entertainment or as a nice way to warm up a church service but rather it is a vehicle to transport us into the glory of the Living God! Whoa! Into the presence of the Living God! Into His Light! How can we treat that casually, take it or leave it or come in and out of it? Why would we want to?!

Pastor Ralph shared with our worship team how as worship leaders, rather than us LEADING the congregation into the presence of God, it’s more like we BRING the presence of God down to the people. I’d never thought of it like that before. Worship prepares hearts for the message of the Word and opens the way for the prophetic. Elijah (or was it Elisha?) asked for a minstrel to play before he gave the word of the Lord to the king. When we have been in a time of worship, we have been with God. We have focused on Him and have put everything aside for a period of time to draw near Him and to give Him what is due Him. Our hearts are enlightened, softened and prepared and we are better able now, to receive the word of the Lord.

The Bible says that God INHABITS the praises of His people. And the devil doesn’t like that ONE BIT! He’s going to do everything he can to distract us from coming into the Light, from focusing and truly worshipping God as He deserves. We usually have enough sense to not be tempted with BIG sins, but it’s the little distractions during worship that trip us up and get our eyes on anything but God. Believe me, I know about those! Even as a worship leader I have to fight often to stay focused. The devil is afraid of the Light, like those roaches in my storage shed! It EXPOSES him and he likes to stay hidden so he can do his dirty work. He is afraid of the presence of God and what will happen when God's people really come together in the light, in unity and worship the Living God corporately. He's going to fight us tooth and nail to keep that from happening because he knows how powerful our worship is.

But as I said before, God's presence is increasing in our church. I am challenged in that we have an incredible opportunity RIGHT NOW to press in, to draw close during this time in a way we’ve never had before. My prayer for myself, my family and our church is that we would RECOGNIZE this open door and the times we are in and we would CHOOSE to focus on God, even when it’s hard, in order to draw near to Him during this time. For He promises that when we draw near to Him. He draws near TO US! Praise the Lord!

As we sang last night- “I want to be with You where you are Jesus”.

“God where are You? We want to stay in step with You. Where are you taking us? We do not want to be busy doing other things, distracted by even ministry things and good things and miss where You are! If You do not go with us, we will not go. But if Your cloud moves, we want to not be so busy that we aren’t aware that it has moved and remain where we are… still here, still taking care of business as usual, but not moving on and being where You are. Open our eyes Lord. Forgive me for when I have not really been focused on You but rather on the things OF You. As the sense of Your presence in our church increases, may we make the right choice and draw near--even when we feel uncomfortable with the Light of Your presence revealing our heart to us. May we not busy ourselves, distract ourselves, scurry away from the light (like those yucky bugs in my outside storage room) but rather draw nearer and nearer… even when it’s uncomfortable. For we want to be with You where You are Lord. In Your glorious revealing, cleansing, life-changing presence. Help us Lord to draw near to Your Light. Thank You that You will! Amen”

Quotes on this subject: (added 4/03/07)
"The devil is aware that one hour of close fellowship... with God , is able to pull down what he hath been contriving and building for many a year." John Flavel

"As Christ is enthroned in worship, Satan is dethroned in the heavenlies (see Ps 22:3, 149:5-9). As we lift up the Son, we pull down the serpent!" Dutch Sheets

February 5, 2007

On the Word...and Chocolate...

I was talking to a friend today about how in studying the Word, (which of course we need to do), that we not analyze it so much that it becomes dry, dead law rather than nourishing life and warm light to our souls. Yes, I value the Word and the study of the Word. But can we dissect it and analyze it so much that it becomes more of a specimen under a glass than the living, breathing, personal Word of the One we love, the One we desperately need to hear from and the One we exist for?

This discussion with my friend reminded me of something I read once in an old book I have by Corrie Ten Boom. She was a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp in World War II, having been imprisoned for helping the Jews. After her release (her sister and father died in the camps), she traveled the world telling her story and preaching the Gospel. Here is an account of her that I am reminded of. I couldn't find the book I was looking for in my bookshelf, but I did find this account online.

The story is told of the time Corrie Ten Boom was to speak to a group of theologians after the war. She first passed out Dutch chocolate to each person there - a real treat in those days. After they had eaten it she said, "No one said anything about the chocolate." Someone protested that they had indeed thanked her for it. She replied, "I meant that none of you asked me how much sugar was in it. Or what kind of chocolate it was. Or the order in which the ingredients were added together. Or the temperature of the mix. Or where it was made. You just took it and ate it." Someone in the audience replied, "And it was excellent." Corrie Ten Boom then continued holding up her Bible, "And in the same way you should read this! Stop analyzing it or you will never be nourished. Pick it up and read the Word of God!"

The story of Corrie Ten Boom and chocolate, illustrates the need to read the Bible in a personal way, to let the Spirit speak through the Word, to make it part of our daily devotions without over-analyzing its ingredients. This approach leads to a deepening of spiritual life. Corrie Ten Boom urged the theologians to read the Bible in that way. She does so because theologians, and many of us, read the Bible too much in an analytic manner. We apply a critical, scientific attitude toward it, in an attempt to understand what it says. Such a manner of reading may nourish the intellect but can become a dry intellectual process that leaves the soul barren...

In recounting this story, I am reminded that- yes, I am to read the Word, study the Word, know the Word and DO the Word. But in so doing, am I operating in the Spirit of the Word when I technically pick it apart and impersonally slap it onto a hurting friend's painful situation like a band-aid on a tumor? Heaven forbid!

"Father, may Your Word go down and burrow into the deepest place of our heart of hearts and find good soil to nourish it's growth. May it spring up from that place and spread throughout, choking out the weeds (the lies) that may grow there. May Your Word shine like the penetrating noonday sun into our souls, burning away the fog of confusion and penetrating every crevice where the creeping shadows have tried to hide. And Lord, please, please, please give us illumination of Your life-giving Word and the Spirit behind it, so that we may wield it carefully and compassionately and know it, as we know Your very heart. In Jesus name. Amen"