Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Withered Tree!

This morning I read from Mark 11, today's reading selection from the Life Journal. I love this chapter for so many reasons, but this morning I am focusing on this portion:

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

When I read this passage I can't help but wonder what Jesus was thinking when he cursed the tree! I am inclined to believe he was just so hungry and quite perturbed that the tree did not accommodate him! Funny that he expected it to when it wasn't even in season. Nevertheless, the poor tree should have been prepared at his coming! We read later:

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

I love this so much because it always reminds me of my own withered tree experience. In the Spring of 2005, my husband and I were out back doing some yard work. We had this insanely large pear tree right off the back deck that left hundreds of pears in the yard. The pears drew in swarms of yellow jackets, bees, hornets and other spiteful insects. We hated it! We just wanted the tree gone but could not afford to pay someone to dig it up for us. So we casually placed our hands on the tree and together prayed that it be cursed and wither up and die! It was a humble little prayer and in our hearts I cannot say we really expected it to obey.
About a month later as I pulled into my driveway, I noticed the top of the pear tree had turned brown. (The tree was so large it towered over my house). I went around back to check it out. The tree was fine except for the very top. The two trees next to it were fine, only the pear tree seemed to be affected. Hmmmmm, this tree was dying from the top down! Each day it got worse and worse. It was several weeks later before I even remembered the prayer! I was in awe that this tree was obeying our command to die! Before too long, that tree died and we were able to cut it down! The laws of nature must bend and break to make room for our prayers and the supernatural desires of our hearts. I learned so much about faith from that tree. Everyday as I pulled into my driveway after a long day of work, unmet goals, disappointments, hurts, doubts, and weariness, that tree revived my spirit and quickened my faith.
The passage in Mark 11 continues:

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Our God is so faithful. Our faith comes from Him, He generates faith in our hearts. The more we spend time with Him, the more we have faith in His Word and His promises. Our withered tree was a sign for us, to prepare us to believe that our prayers carry power and authority. This tree was a visible example to us that God was at work in the midst of us and even the smallest amount of faith has the power to fulfill any prayer. The tree could not acquire nutrients from the ground even though our soil was rich. It could not generate energy from the sun even though it had the best spot for unobstructed rays of sunlight. It was forced to turn away the water that seeped through the ground, because of a humble prayer. All the laws of nature, the rules of this world, had to bend and break to make way for the authoritative command of His people!

It was a small example to two newly reformed believers of the potential of prayer with a foundation of faith. Go God!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I have discovered want I need and can no longer go with out. I have been busy and it has been amazing to see what God has done with my hands. But lately my physical body has been stressed and relief has literally been playing hide and seek.
For these next few months I am determined to stay as inactive as possible and SOAK........

I am so in need of His presence. I am so thirsty for His warmth. I do not want direction, I do not want "a word," I am not seeking wisdom, I am not looking for the next idea or plan, I am not asking for favor or seeking promotion. I am no longer praying for material things, the want of them has left a sour taste in my mouth. I am not searching for deep revelation or spiritual truth. I can no longer present my case to Him and plead for grace, I am left empty and devoid. I need no council or knowledge, I am not asking for strength or healing or comfort or peace....

I pray for just your presence...I pray for you, God. I long to be saturated by your loving embrace, to feel you holding onto me so tightly that I am engraved in the palm of your hand (Is. 49:10). I long just to behold your face, to see your eyes shine down on me, to hear you sing over me (Zeph 3:17). My only prayer is that you find me humble enough to visit me and to stay awhile. I am here, waiting upon you, the only desire of my soul. I love you and your presence is my only cure and I refuse to go anywhere without it.

SOAK: to become known to the mind or feelings, to absorb with one's mind or senses; to take in. To permeate thoroughly, to saturate.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Total Destruction

Today's reading in the Life Journal starts with Dt. 7:
1-2 When God, your God, brings you into the country that you are about to enter and take over, he will clear out the superpowers that were there before you: the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Those seven nations are all bigger and stronger than you are. God, your God, will turn them over to you and you will conquer them. You must completely destroy them, offering them up as a holy destruction to God.

Don't make a treaty with them.

Don't let them off in any way.

3-4 Don't marry them: Don't give your daughters to their sons and don't take their daughters for your sons—before you know it they'd involve you in worshiping their gods, and God would explode in anger, putting a quick end to you.

5 Here's what you are to do:

Tear apart their altars stone by stone,
smash their phallic pillars,
chop down their sex-and-religion Asherah groves,
set fire to their carved god-images.

6 Do this because you are a people set apart as holy to God, your God. God, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for himself as a cherished, personal treasure.

7-10 God wasn't attracted to you and didn't choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon.

I love the Word of God, I love how you can read a passage and glean so much from a few verses. While reading this morning I am convinced that God desires for all of us to live a life full of freedom and victory. Contained in His gift to us, the secrets for victory can be found in His marvelous Word.
What do you see as you read these passages. Here is what I felt the Lord say to me; when I deliver you from something, someone, some circumstance, DO NOT, in any way, give that thing a place in your life. Here He tells the Hebrews to be very careful - make sure you destroy every enemy I give you victory over. Leave no trace of them, make no treaties, show them no mercy, total destruction! Wow. It sounds harsh but God tells us later to not doubt His love for us. When we understand the Love of God, that everything He does is driven out of that place of love, then we can be assured that no matter how harsh something sounds, we can trust the character of our God.
So when God delivered me of anger years ago, I have to be very careful that I leave no trace of it in my life today. When God delivered me of insecurity and depression, I have to be very careful to make the choice of not allowing myself to go down that road again. If God has delivered you from addictions, you can't flirt with them again! You make a choice to be done with it! Whatever that means for you. Don't go to the same spots where you used to engage in things not pleasing to the Lord. You can't entertain your friends you used to gossip with by having a listening ear. You can't let your ears and eyes be gratified by images and words that "talk" about the things God has delivered us from! Ephesians 5 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
God desires that we have total victory and freedom, that nothing in this place has a chance to creep in and distract us. He desires that He has our full attention. Its not about perfection, its about His love for us. Each one of us, individually, is His treasured possession. Our enemy would like to trick us into thinking that things are insignificant, that they don't matter. But our Father who loves us reveals in our spirits the very thing that causes us to stumble.
I pray for victory in your life and mine. That the things He asks us to lay down we would be able to by His mighty Spirit who is working in us. There are things in my life that I can fear if I am not careful. A little fear will creep in and I pray to God please, don't allow me to pick that up again. Will I be strong enough? What if I fall? What if I give in? Can I get back up tomorrow? God declares to us in Dt. 7:21
21-24 So don't be intimidated by them. God, your God, is among you—God majestic, awesome. God, your God, will get rid of these nations, bit by bit. You won't be permitted to wipe them out all at once lest the wild animals take over and overwhelm you. But God, your God, will move them out of your way—he'll throw them into a huge panic until there's nothing left of them. He'll turn their kings over to you and you'll remove all trace of them under Heaven. Not one person will be able to stand up to you; you'll put an end to them all.
I am convinced that through His help, we will have total destruction over our fears, hang ups, and hurts. God promises us an end to them all. Be diligent, be persistent, however painful it is until you have total destruction. On the other side is sweet freedom full of blessing, favor, prosperity and strength.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Conversations with God

"Tell God all that is in your heart as you would a dear friend. Tell him your troubles that he may comfort you; tell him your joys, that he may sober them; tell him your longings, that he may purify them. Tell him your dislikes, that he may help you conquer them. Talk to him of your temptations, that he may shield you from them; show him the wounds of your heart, that he may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others. If you pour out your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God."

Quote from Fancois Fenelon, 1651-1715 taken from Your Whole Life

Friday, February 19, 2010

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

Knowledge is power.....or so I've heard. This is a famous slogan, especially for teachers. I've even used it myself on a group of middle-schoolers who didn't seem motivated by my lectures. It seems a little off...it just bugs me. I know what the slogan might be trying to say: The more you know the more options you have. It can create a sense of freedom.

But it isn't the knowledge that's powerful, its how its expressed or acted on. To Adam and Eve, the knowledge of good and evil brought them shame, guilt, regret, judgment, and an especially eerie feeling of self-awareness.

I love to pray at the beginning of each year about where God is leading me. I want to focus in on what His will is for me. This January the Lord whispered in my ear Proverbs 4:5, "Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them." This verse is now a part of my being as I journey forward on my path to developing the mind of Christ. I love that the writer points out here that wisdom is something to be sought after...its not something that just happens. I have to get it! I must go after it! I know where its found for the Lord tells me in the next breath: His words.

Ok, so lets back up. We were talking about knowledge. Yesterday I found myself in a meeting with three women who decided to come together to see what can be done about the travesty of human trafficking. One of them is heading up an event to raise awareness on the subject by hosting a panel of wise and courageous men and women in a few months at Bethel Temple in Hampton. My spirit has been grieved over this issue for the past year after I was at a conference where the speaker spoke candidly about women and children who were sold for dollars and made to entertain upwards of 40 men a day. How can your heart not break at the thought of it?

That day I gained knowledge of a global issue. I am now acquainted with the facts of this truth: 27 million people TODAY are enslaved, with the average age being 14 but as low as 4, and every 30 seconds brings another victim. Its hard to believe that our country went to war over this issue over a century ago, but there are more slaves today then there ever has been! "One hundred forty-three years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are more slaves [today] than at any time in human history.." (greenchange.com) Knowledge.......its haunting.

My God beckons me to wisdom and understanding. He directs me to get them! So whats the difference? Wisdom is knowledge, but its much more. It knows what to do with that knowledge - it takes the knowledge, applies a just judgment to it as to know what action to take. Understanding applies discernment - it too knows how to correctly handle knowledge. So without these two forces, knowledge is just...facts...information...completely void of power.

For the next 6 weeks, the four of us, a Missions Director, a Speaker, a Nonprofit Leader, and me - a Women's Ministry Director, will be praying into heaven seeking wisdom and understanding. Our goal is not only to raise awareness for our community on this injustice, but to reach for discernement on how to act! One of the women voiced our desire; we pray that the hearts that hear will be impacted on such a level that they are no longer comfortable being apathetic but will be moved with compassion that compels us to action. We seek more than to provide our hearers with knowledge, but to provide a path for the power of God to move through. We are not limited by who we are but are propelled forward with the wisdom of who we are in HIM!

I am not sure what the conclusion of this blog is...but I can tell you that last week I didn't know what God had in store for me today. I only know that I am seeking, I am searching for what it is He would have me invest my time in. What else could it be but something close to His heart? I desire to honor Him, my life cannot be my own and I am forced to give it away for purposes much greater than I can imagine. If God has not deposited a God-sized dream for your life, seek it, chase it, don't give up till you have it. And once you have gained that knowledge, don't give up until you have acquired wisdom and understanding that propel you into your destiny! It will not just happen, you must remain a seeker if you desire to be a world-changer in order to shine His glory over all the earth. I ask that you continue to pray into your God-sized dreams every day...who knows what God will do?

My heart weighs heavy for the 27 million, a number that would like to persuade us to remain motionless because of its daunting size. But I am the more anxious to see what God has in store! I pray for justice for every one of them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Behold the Fire

I have always been intrigued by the stories of the lives in the Bible. Moses, David, Esther, Rahab and Paul are just a few of the heroes whose stories I could read over and over again. How amazing it is that after so many thousands of years their lives still speak so loudly. Lately I have found myself pouring over the stories of Moses through the book of Exodus once again. Could be because I have watched Dreamwork's "Prince of Egypt" 20 times in the last four days with my daughter, Joy. Its so fantastic! I find myself so emotional throughout the entire movie - every time I watch it!
It gives us a great glimpse of what the life of Moses may have been like from his birth to the parting of the Red Sea.

What I love about Moses was his ability to get so close to God. To leave all he knew behind and to refuse to go anywhere with out him. The scriptures boast of their relationship and how God spoke to him face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Ex. 33:11)! Moses did not chase the crowd but preferred solitude with God. I want to have that drive! The drive to change the world! I love what Erwin McManus writes in Chasing Daylight: "Even if everyone else around you chooses to sleep, you must resist the temptation to join their slumber." Reminds me of Ephesians 5 that shouts to us to "Wake up, O sleeper (spiritually dead), rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

So what did Moses possess that kept him waking up day after day chasing God and changing his world? Where did he acquire that fire? God pointed me to the beginning one morning in prayer time. I was crying out for a fresh fire and a fresh vision and I was wondering why some people were so motivated for growth in God and others seemed to remain stuck in yesterday's truth. Why did some seem to receive revelation like it was the day's daily dose of their paper's Headlines yet others couldn't swallow simple principles? He led me to Exodus 3 and the story of the burning bush.

I have read the story hundreds of times (well, several times) and something jumped out at me this particular morning. When Moses saw the burning bush, he was curious to see this bush that although was on fire, failed to burn up so he began to walk over. Verse 4 reads: "When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, 'Moses! Moses!'" I love the KJV that says it this way: 4"And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, 'Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.'"
The language used here is key - to turn aside means to turn or withdraw from something: Moses left his current path and turned away from it to see, or to behold, discern, or consider the glory of God. It wasn't until Moses made this crucial step that God called out to him and allowed Moses to behold his glory.

What is the secret of intimacy with a God who knows our names? This desire to behold His fire! This passion that causes us to drop everything else to just be with him! It is not until we take this step to carve out moments with Him that He will speak to us and tell us mysteries that our hearts will hold forever. Its only in these moments that we can truly grasp revelation and gain wisdom. I fight to gain truth because its only when we discover truth does God give us grace to walk that discovery out. But we must remain fixed on Him. His love and closeness should be our main quest in life! This can be a battle with the cares of the world but I am so determined not to live a normal quiet life! I want divine moments, piercing truth, explosive revelation! I want to know the power of God in my life!

Anyone else game?
Start praying for your God-sized dreams to become a reality and lets change our world! Woo - hoo! .......now I've got to change a diaper...;)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Your Whole Life!

Week 3 of the 3D Diet or the Your Whole Life Plan! So far I have lost and gained 2 pounds! So my journey has been up...then down. I am so grateful for the 25 women who have made this commitment to better themselves with me. If it wasn't for their fellowship and the looming scale awaiting me in 6 days, I may be tempted to indulge in that Cadbury egg I've had in my freezer for the past 3 months and a good book. But, I am determined to do the work and instead I vow to do the dreaded aerobics I've saved on my Tivo.

Last night in our weekly session I had an "Aha" moment. I know God is in everything...He has been calling me to discipline for longer than I'd like to admit. But why is He so interested in my losing some pounds? If God looks at the inside and not the out, and if He asks me "not to worry about my body" (Mt. 6:25), what's the big deal? Then I saw the word on the dry erase board as one of our group members was explaining her thoughts on the past week's devotions: PERSEVERANCE. It practically knocked me over. All this time I had acquired many spiritual disciplines in my journey with the Lord, I had let go of some huge pitfalls, I had come so far and yet had what seemed like eternity to go.....I felt like I had persevered through so much. But I felt like the Lord saying to me .... persevere, persevere.

I knew what He meant. Years ago, after my first miscarriage, I was diagnosed with Thyroid disease. Without going into details, my weight has drastically changed. I was a size eight when I began dating my husband and now I can barely squeeze into my fabulous size 16. I can say that I did fight this for some time, but it seemed that my efforts did nothing to impact my seemingly non-existent metabolism. Believe it or not, after a 21 day fast, my weight did not change even though my husband shed 35 pounds. After my daughter's birth I had just about given up. Persevere. To what end? This word alone seems daunting, dangerous and slightly mythical. I reminded that it is something love does (I Cor. 7) ALWAYS. To persevere means to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. So why is God so interested in my persevering? I study on to find its end in the scriptures that bring life. Perseverance produces character, and character hope according to Romans 5. I read about Moses, who had his eye on God, led his people out of Egypt with perseverance, how after we finish the race and persevere we will gain the crown of life, save ourselves, and receive the promises of God!

But it was in the book of James (my personal fav) that shot through my spirit: Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. To have everything needed to finish this race, to be so completely complete, not wanting ANYTHING, lacking nothing, what would I give for this treasure?! What would I do to acquire this fullness? What does God say will enable this gift to be mine? Perseverance! So I rejoice! I rejoice that through the workings of patience, through suffering and sweat - I will find myself complete and fully armed to continue through this Christian life until I find my reward in eternity. Sweet perseverance and promise.....and one that stands higher....HOPE! So press on sisters, God is working a miracle in you and through you!