Saturday, January 23, 2010
By Your perfect love
And so I'll pick up my cross
And follow hard after You
Your grace is more than enough
Please help me get through
Teach me to die
That You might live and reign inside
This Heart of mine
Is Yours to keep
And Yours to define
O Lord I accept this gift of grace You offer me
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
A lot has been going on and, as always, I am a busy girl. Elevate (2nd semester) is in full swing and I'm back to the huge chunks of reading. Which, actually, I absolutely love reading. Ask my parents! I was such a bookworm in the summers of my childhood...reading up until dinner all the books on the Book It list. Hey it was worth the free personal pizzas from Pizza Hut! The prizes were always dinky, but when you're a kid, you only think they're kind of goofy...not totally lame.
Anyway, I am currently in 2 Chronicles and also reading Jimmy Seibert's book, The Church Can Change the World. I really love all of his stories and it's so cool to hear the adventures of our pastor and how his ministry evolved through a series of him and his wife listening to and obeying God's voice no matter how much it cost them. That man has seen God move in WILD ways and in lots of countries!
Last Thursday after worship, our Elevate class went out to share the gospel. My group of 4 went to the Bellmead Wal Mart (well actually several groups ended up there). When we got there, we split up in pairs and walked around prayerfully, asking God who he wanted us to speak with. Ashley's back started hurting as we were walking by this woman, and so we stopped and talked with her. We introduced ourselves and asked her if she would like prayer for anything going on in her life. She immediately said we were sent directly from God to her. We were like yes!! We were actually! She said she wasn't even wanting to come to Wal Mart at all, but she got a new puppy today and had to get him a bed. She was so encouraged as we prayed for her. She said, "What church do y'all go to and who is the pastor? He needs to know they're doing something right at that place, that you guys are truly sharing the love of Jesus with people and not just saying you are Christians!" She was eager to share our method with her church (of how we asked God for a specific place to go and specific people to talk with). She actually did have back pain so we prayed for it and she said it was better!
Our second encounter (we had a word about a person in the produce section standing by the tomatoes)...sure enough we found one! It was a man with sunglasses on and his little baby. Same intro, and the man said we could pray for him but he didn't give any specifics, so we just prayed for his baby and his family, etc. He said he didn't need any healing in his body. He didn't seem encouraged, but was not hostile either. Just seemed closed to hearing about God.
Then we prayed for a woman and her son who had already been prayed for by another group! But they said they could use more. We gave her Antioch info since she didn't have a church home and invited her to the church service.
We also had a word about the color "red" and a heavy-set black woman. Well we found one wearing red in the medicine aisle and prayed for her. She was so abundantly joyful that we had heard from God that she needed a touch from him that night, which she said she really did. She was a single mom trying to make it and pay bills, etc. Her friend came up, eager to tell us her story and even more eager to be prayed over. She said, "You're lucky you didn't find us up by the cash registers for this, because I would've grabbed the microphone for the store and let everyone know you guys were offering healing and prayers." Ha, that might've actually been awesome! They went on and on praising us. The lady who made the microphone comment said she at first thought Ashley and I were makeup artists and that we were so pretty! lol.
So about the time we made the decision to pray for the ladies above, we had been torn because on the other side of us, there had been a woman in a motorized scooter. But as we rounded the corner after talking to the ladies, the other woman from before was scooting along so we still had our chance. We talked with her and she explained her situation. She was Catholic and believed that God could heal her heart and mind, but probably wasn't going to heal her body. As we prayed for all aspects of her life, she began to cry and was so touched by the Lord. We had her test her leg and so as she stood up on it, she goes, "Hmmm!! It actually feels better. It really does!" She kept praising us, but we kept pointing the glory up, because we can do nothing apart from Jesus and his power! She said the true test would be when she went to her car after she was done shopping. We didn't see her, but I wondered if she walked out of that store completely healed!
When we all got back to EPM, we testified. There were some more healings and 7 salvations too...all in 2 hours time! Some of the stories were pretty awesome and our faith was built once again to keep sharing about our Jesus.
7As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I have been overwhelmed by the dynamic duo of spirit and truth I have encountered in my first semester of Elevate. Each speaker who has taught in our class has ushered me into greater knowledge and revelation about God, his timeless character, and how he is continually relevant to me and to those around me.
Most interesting was it when our beloved Pastor Jimmy Seibert, out of his traditional Sunday morning sermon attire, came to share with us his journey of learning how to be “faithful in the little.” I resolved to love the people in my life whom I find harder to love. The Lord commanded me to love out of his eternal reserve rather than out of my flesh (a finite supply)! Exercising the principle of love with this group of people has become easier as I receive more of the Father’s love and begin to feel his heart beat for “the least of these.” Through Jimmy’s example of David’s devotion to tend his sheep daily and be responsible for what was his to look after, the Lord showed me that I am to be committed to who and what God sets before me each day. I also learned that to be a leader is to be faithful to minister in all seasons, rather than “taking a break,” when I am at my lowest point and feel I have nothing to give.
Joe Ewen completely redefined prophesy for me. “Prophesy is encouragement, and the word is the base of anything prophetic.” So many times I have hit the wall because I cannot “feel God.” I was thankful to come to the realization that way beyond the importance of my feelings lies the “realm of revelation,” where God is constantly revealing his truth in new ways to us not only through His voice, but by utilizing the voices of fellow believers. With these “human reports of divine revelation,” the church is edified and the enemy’s schemes to steal, kill and destroy are rendered powerless. Joe’s prophesy over me confirmed that I am as a blossoming rose for Jesus, which is a fulfillment of the promise that if I gave up fleshly desires, he would produce in me a sweet aroma and new buds of growth. Wow, was it (and is it) worth it to go through the fire!
I thoroughly enjoyed the lively teaching of Jon Peterson, who spoke on the kingdom of God and church planting. His diagrams of the “Kingdom first paradigm” versus the “Church first paradigm” helped me to realize that the church has to reach out to the city and nation, rather than expecting the people of the world to come to a revival service to find Jesus. A list of “Do Nots” and weird religious standards that we ourselves create have caused a non-godly segregation of the sacred and secular, leading people to believe that God only lives in church edifices and not in the hearts of men. The kingdom and God reside in us, not in any church building! This gave me hope for people I have talked to who say they would rather die than step foot in a church. I am now actively praying for opportunities to show them the real Jesus in me in a secular setting such as work or the grocery store.
Hearing Fred Nelson speak multiple times on the Old Testament themes of God’s covenantal history with the Israelites and their repeated idolatry has shed much light on my limited understanding of the Old Testament. The characters are a lot like you and me, actually for as Paul wrote, “there is no sin uncommon to man.”
Fred not only laid a foundation for why each book is important to us and helped give us a grid of the chronology of these events, but he began to unveil how God was working through the successes and failures of his people the entire time. I was able to see how different men responded to God, and how God either raised them up, such as Abraham, or brought them low, such as Saul, depending on their obedience. I also have a much greater grasp of God’s balanced nature, which previously seemed paradoxical: He is dually just and merciful. Fred also taught us how to read these 39 books through a New Testament/Jesus filter, which has been a great tool in studying God’s word in it’s entirety and drawing upon parallels and promises that were fulfilled with time. It is so awesome that His plan and character have never changed nor faltered!
I can still hear Steve Backlund’s deep chuckle filling the room as he recounted how the Lord brought joy to his grumpy soul and it how joy changed his life. He said that how you see yourself determines how you will live your life. “Will your giants crush you or will you conquer them?” I want to have the mindset of a conqueror, like Joshua! I set out to ask God what lies I was believing that were hindering me from walking in the joy and freedom of knowing the truth. God revealed them to me, and gave me power to recognize their falsehood and demolish the strongholds in my life. I learned from Steve to receive from God by faith not feeling, and also that my known experiences thus far do not define or limit my current or future identity. Something else Steve said that convicted me was, “False humility is not godly.” God wants me to be confident in him instead of putting myself down and incessantly pointing out my flaws and failures. When I allow him to instill righteous confidence in me, I can experience (with JOY) all that he has for me.
The most amazing aspect of these teachings, aside from the intimacy brought on by the ideal teacher to student ratio (rarely employed in a church auditorium or classroom setting), is that these words of truth and revelation have changed me, marked me in a big way, and allowed me to see that God always has more for me to discover of Him and how he wants to use my life to bring Him glory!