Monday, April 23, 2018

Tomorrow is a big day for God, and Satan knows it!

How do I know that tomorrow is a big day for God to use me?  The same old predictable pattern is happening right now. 

I am horribly distracted.  I have so many things to do, and it is like wading through molasses to get them done.  I feel disconnected, sinusy, and nervous.  All of these fears come into my thought process.  What if no one shows up?  What if I am too nervous and no one can identify with what I share?  What if the food that I am bringing turns out horrible?  My dear friend is very sick; when will they find out what is going on and treat her?

I was asked to share my testimony tomorrow, and again the spiritual battle is raging.  I have been here before.  Every time something is happening that God wants to use, these kinds of things happen.  The last time it happened, I had well meaning friends say to me, “Aw, come on now!  I mean really?  Cars break, that is just life.”  But with so many storms swirling around me at once I could feel it, this was more.

I texted a good spirit-led prayer warrior friend of mine.  “Please pray for us. I feel that we are in a spiritual battle right now.”  As the storm was swirling strong around us a new ministry calling was opening up, something big.  My friend and I prayed.  The storm lifted. 

I texted back to my prayer warrior friend, “You know what my first thought was last night before I sent my prayer request?  Don’t send that to her!  Don’t bother her with you prayer requests concerning spiritual warfare.  She’s got her own to deal with.  You are just being selfish asking her for prayer for that right now.  Guess I know where those lies came from, don’t I?  You didn’t seem bothered to me ;)”

Her response was swift and comforting, “Not bothered, honored.  That liar!  You’d think we’d get wise to his schemes . . . “

Satan just HATES it when God is moving in your life, and calling you to do something meaningful for Him (God)!  Satan will batter you from all directions when you are close to something big in God’s kingdom.  Don’t EVER let the distractions, the lies, and the onslaught of impending crises stop you from following God’s plan for your life.  Hit it head on with all of your God-given battle armor found in the word of God in Ephesians.  Pray, call others to prayer, and press on  until the battle is won.

Lord God, I call on the name of your precious son, Jesus Christ. I can not fight this battle, and neither can those around me that have battles raging.  Please fight for us.  Bind and cast out what is not of you Lord.  Confuse and diffuse the weapons of the evil one.  I pray this boldly in the name of Jesus.  Amen

P.S.  Guess what came on as I was finishing this post, and prayer?! Here's a song for you (by Crowder) if you are dealing with spiritual warfare!  Pray first, then crank it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Yes, Who Is My Neighbor?!

I am on the email list for a weekly (?) devotion with Christian music artist Matthew West which is sent through his ministry

Now, I have heard the passages about what Jesus said about who our neighbor is many time before.  But somehow today it smacked me upside the head when, in sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Matthew (West) says, “In this parable, a man has been beaten and robbed and was lying on the side of the road, left for dead.  Three different men come by, two of which would have been expected to help, but only the third man, the one most unlikely, responded and saved his life.” (I added the bold type for emphasis.)

Suddenly a realization hit me with the proverbial “holy two by four”.  Every other time that I have heard this I have secretly prided myself that I would have helped.

And I have, in my mind, thought many times of our time in the Conservative Mennonite church with a disgust for the attitude I saw in some to pour most all of their energy and resources only into helping those in the Mennonite church (or those wanting to come into the Mennonite church) with seemingly little regard for the “substandard Christians” outside the Mennonite church.  (I am NOT proud of this attitude in me.)

But it hit me today . . . and hard!  How many more times have I been the other two rather then the Good Samaritan that I suppose myself to be?  When faced with needs outside my “Christian circles”, how often am I the “more likely one to help” that doesn’t?!  Ouch!!

Maybe, yet again, God is using what annoys me in others to point out my own faults.  Funny how most of what we are bothered by in others is something that we refuse to see (or maybe can’t see for the plank in our eye).  (Insert groan and sigh here)

Lord, I am humbled yet again.  Please continue to purify me and teach me to be more like you.  Help me to have the ability to see my own faults, and have more grace towards others, as we both work on ourselves and our own shortcomings.  But help me to do this in a healthy way, as I remember your grace and mercy for me.  Protect me from falling into despair over all of my perceived shortcomings.  But please Lord help me to learn and grow closer to you in my awareness of them.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Journey To A New Life (Part 5)- God Purifies And Redeems What Was Lost

So, now that we had been living, dressing, worshipping, eating, reading, talking, and thinking Mennonite for going on three years, and educating our daughter in their school for about 3 months, what could we do in order to leave??  How could we make a clean break of it?  How could we leave without scarring our relationship with our children?  These were all questions we faced.  (The complications of an entire family coming into, and then some or all leaving a Mennonite church, has broken up or estranged many a family.)

Much of what we had heard from those in the church that had raised red flags about us staying there had been conveniently(?) said while our children were not around.  Important things seem to be purposely said after the children are outside or off playing somewhere.  My belief is that this is purposely done, because then if the parents don’t become members in the church then they still have a chance to bring the children in later. (This is also the belief of others who have left, not just us.)  And since they believe that you have to be a part of the Mennonite church to ensure your salvation, this is important to them.  They see it as a duty, to at least “save” your children, if you aren’t willing to stay and be “saved”.  (In this effort, their young people have even been known to “happen” by your house and stop for a visit with the older children to talk if they see them alone outside, especially in the beginning.)

All this being said, we had to be very careful how we communicated with our older three children especially.  They had seen only part of the picture, and didn’t fully know what had caused us to leave.  And we were not in the healthiest place mentally and emotionally at that point to constructively communicate that to them. So we took it honestly, bluntly, but slowly.  It took time and patience.  I believe that they now see what we were trying to say then.

The biggest comfort that I had in those moment was my time with God, just crying and praying.  Not only did He strengthen me, but He brought to light something that I very much had to learn.

I had been bitter and angry at the Mennonite church toward the end, largely because I saw a people who very much judged not only those around them, but the world that they kept at arms length outside their “Mennonite bubble”.  The more that I saw the damage of their judgement within the church, the more uncomfortable I became.  But when I heard and read countless messages from their church basically condemning people outside the Mennonite church as “so called Christians” because they did not choose to seek to live like them, I became enraged.  I had come from outside the Mennonite church.  And I had been a VERY passionate follower of Christ long before I had even thought about entering their church.  What about the wonderful spirit-led Christians that I knew that would never step foot in a Mennonite church?  How can they look down on them simply because they aren’t, and never will be, Mennonite?!  (One article in a newsletter of theirs actually warned of the dangers of wearing casual clothing [non-Mennonite clothing].  It claimed that casual clothing NEGATED your witness to others.  Not that it lessened your witness, mind you, but that it negated your witness altogether.  Really?!?! [Insert sigh, and head shake here.])

Then, just as my anger over all of this was at it’s worst, God revealed something very powerful to me.  He told me that I was on dangerous ground  as I pointed all this judgement and anger toward them.  He basically said to me, “YOU started this, and I am just simply putting a mirror to what you need to change.  You need to stop judging them, or you will be in danger of my judgement.  For years, you have judged countless Christians for not living up to YOUR standards of how a Christian should live!”


That was over two years ago now.  I have fully repented, but I am still not perfect at this.  God has humbled me, time and time again.  But there is a lot less judgement, and a lot more grace in my heart then there you used to be.

He has even called me to be reach out to those in the Mennonite churches that we left.  I believe that we need to show them that there are authentic Christians outside their churches.  They won’t seek to associate too much with us unless we are seeking to come into their church.  But just as Jesus pursues us with his relentless, unwavering love, so he calls me to show them that His love burns bright in me as I seek to extend the same to them.

May I be equal to the task, and to God be the glory!

Lord, give us new eyes to see those around us.  Even when they look perfect and all put together, may we see their need.  May we not beat them over the head in judgement, but come to them in compassion.  May we remember that true love is not about condoning nor about condemning.  That is your job, and as a human I don’t have the full picture.  It is about encouraging and loving in a godly way.  It is about being the example that others want to live up to, not because they have to, but because they see your love in our actions and words.  And they realize that you are the perfect example in our lives, and that your truth and love is true happiness.  Please guide and lead me as I seek to serve you Lord, in serving those around me.  Amen