A LETTER FROM AARON

As I sit in my office, staring out the window at the landscape I’ve seen for 10 years now, I can’t help but wonder what God has planned. Fear, anxiousness and doubt is welling up inside of me. I’m praying that God will fend them off. I’m praying that God will deliver me from the rising army of the unknown. I believe He will.

 

In the coming weeks, I begin a new chapter of my journey. In the coming weeks, I will be stepping away from Okolona Christian Church, my church home and my church family for the past 10 years, to embark on what I can only describe as a parted red sea. I’ve stood at the mouth of this divide wanting so desperately to cling to the rocks of the shore. But I have to admit, the Spirit can lay it on thick. :) I’ve prayed, begged, cried and wrestled with God on this decision, but what I know is that when He calls I have to step forward.

Beginning September 3, I will be stepping into the role of Worship Leader to Southeast Christian Church’s Elizabethtown Campus. A role that will be a complete change and challenge for me in both my walk and ministry. Within the next year, my family and I will be moving to E-town to fully invest in the community there.

 

THE WHY?

Some of you may ask the question of why are you leaving? You know, I ask myself the same thing. Why leave the place that has loved and cared for me for a decade? Why leave the family and friends that mean so much to me, who have seen me at my best and seen me at my worst and still loved me? Honestly, you can blame it on my wife. While doubled over in the confusion of a decision, she asked me a simple question. “What decision requires more faith?”  She stopped me in my tracks. Why did she have to put it that way? The reason is because there is no better question than that for me. See my whole life, I’ve been afraid -- afraid of what I cannot see and what I can’t control. It’s honestly been exhausting. If I truly want to live the way I challenge others to live then I have to let go of control and stop being afraid.

The reason I’m leaving is not because someone wronged me, pushed me away or because I’m angry. The reason I’m leaving is simply because of Jesus. I heard His voice asking me to walk in faith not in sight. When Jesus calls, we must step out.

3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize His voice and come to Him. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. - John 10:3

Faith requires us to look past what we can see and the comfort of where we are and follow blindly even if we don’t know what’s next. I didn’t want to make a decision because of anything other than God’s calling. Frustration, comfort, preferences, or even dislikes are not faith-based Knowing the voice of your Shepherd and following Him is faith-based.

 

THE THANKS

I say all of this, holding very dearly to the truth that I am where I am today because of the people of Okolona Christian Church. Thank you to all the people who encouraged me when I was a clueless intern. To all of you who loved on me when I didn’t feel good enough.  To all of those who celebrated with me in the growth of our family and ministry. To those of you who challenged me and pushed me. You will forever hold an irreplaceable home in our hearts. Please know that we love you and are humbled by your love for us.

I’m excited to see what God is going to do through OCC and I want to challenge each of you to come together and allow the Holy Spirit to work in this church. I’m so thankful to our leadership for giving me a chance and a home to do ministry. This church has been blessed by so many caring and loving people, especially our leadership.  Please don’t ever forget or misunderstand the wrestle that each one of them has in wanting to know that God is glorified and that you are mobilized. They lose lots of sleep from the weight of leading a large congregation. Be sure to love on them and encourage them as you have done to me and my family. Come alongside of them and glorify God in the efforts of this church.

I’ll leave you with this from the words of Paul:  

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. - Ephesians 6:23-24

 

A VARIETY OF THINGS

As most of you know, and as I mentioned in a recent blog, this past March, Ron and I made a considerably big move. It all began when we had gotten rid of our property and had begun the search for our new home. I clearly remember us driving around one day when Ron said, “You know what I think we should do? I think we should go somewhere brand new. How would you feel about that?” My exact reply was, “I’ll go wherever you want to go. I’d follow you anywhere.” “Anywhere” turned out to be a house on 6 acres in Boyle County, Kentucky – more specifically between Perryville and Danville.

There were many reasons why we chose Boyle County. We’d traveled through this area countless times since it’s in the center of the state. Thus, moving here would allow us to be centrally located, which would make our travel with The Woody Series easier and would put us in a more rural setting - which we prefer. Without a doubt, the move has proven to be the best decision we could have made.

Through the move, we have learned – and continue to learn – several lessons.

GOD WANTS US TO TAKE RISKS AND HAVE ADVENTURES.

Don’t misunderstand – routines are a good thing. Although we are still meeting new people and learning new things each day, we have fallen in somewhat of a routine. One of those routines is eating dinner with our friends and neighbors every Friday night at the local café in Perryville, which happens to be inside a gas station, by the way. But that's a new adventure in itself!

You see, God has equipped with a desire to learn – to meet new people and participate in new activities. He gives us opportunities to say yes to things. Many times, we want to come up with excuses on why we should play it safe. We’re afraid that taking a risk will result in failure and disappointment, but many times the risk results in the biggest blessing. Look at what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes.

Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 (The Message)

It’s okay to pursue our desires and follow our hearts as long as it is honoring to God. Even if the risk results in a failure, there will be lessons to learn.

THERE IS BEAUTY ALL AROUND.

One of the reasons we chose this area is because we had always been in awe of its beauty, but make no mistake, there is beauty everywhere. Why? Because God created this world and in it He made all things beautiful. He wants us to recognize it and enjoy it.

O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
    In wisdom you have made them all.
    The earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24 (NLT)

He’s made a variety! Animals, sunsets, mountains, storms. So whether it’s looking at a horizon filled with skyscrapers or a valley filled with horses, we must recognize God has given us this earth – and all things in it – to enjoy and oversee.

GOD PUTS US IN CERTAIN PLACES AND TIME FOR A PURPOSE.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. – Acts 17:26 (NIV)

That verse confirms that God has appointed our time and place on earth. Although we may not know why God has chosen us to be here at this time, we know He has a plan. What we are sure of however, is that we have the opportunity to spread His message to others. As we meet new people and make friends, we have countless occasions to show them His love. To do this effectively, we must immerse ourselves in the community.

Since the end of March, we have commuted back to OCC for church each week. Since Ron and I travel for The Woody Series, we didn’t anticipate the commute would be a big deal. However, the 3-hour round trip slowly began to take a toll. More importantly however, we felt convicted to be in church with the people in our community. Therefore, beginning the first Sunday in September, we will start the process of finding a church in the Danville area. And this brings me to my final point:

SAYING GOODBYE IS TOUGH.

Charlie Brown said it best when he said, “Saying goodbye makes my throat hurt.” I can’t begin to express how much we have cherished our time at Okolona Christian. I particularly have been so fortunate to be a part of the Cultivate Team. Whether it’s been playing keys or writing blogs, I’ve enjoyed it, grown from it, and have been immensely blessed. Although the time is coming where we may not see each other on a regular basis, one thing is certain – we are thankful for each of you. We are all part of God's family - brothers and sisters in Christ, with one Father. Besides, as a family in Christ, goodbyes are never permanent - only temporary. Thank you for being our family and for loving us and blessing us. We are eternally grateful.

 

 

HOUSE OF CARDS

A house of cards is truly a tough challenge to keep from falling. To make all of the cards stand on end and support the weight of others without changing the slightest angle of a card to cause the whole house to come crashing down. It makes me wonder how many of us are like a house of cards? We are all a deck of cards and we only show people what we want them to see. We hide our deepest, darkest secrets close to our center so that no one will see them but if someone pushes on just the right card we will crumble and we will fall. It makes me wonder how many of us have a secret in our heart or an idol that keeps us from truly experiencing God. For this conversation lets call this item or thing the Queen of Hearts.

WHO OR WHAT IS THE QUEEN OF YOUR HEART?

I believe that we allow junk to build up and take root in our lives. Sometimes things start out as just dabbling around in things we know we shouldn’t and other times we put ourselves in situations that can lead us down wrong paths that cause us to take our eyes off of Jesus. It’s at this point we allow something to become the Queen of our Hearts.

In Matthew 21 we see the story of where Jesus cleanses the temple.

Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”  - Matthew 21:12-13

Many of us have heard this story and we have been told that Jesus had a righteous anger, but did you know that Jesus was upset because instead of His Father’s House being a House of Prayer, they had made the temple into a commercial venture when the focal point of the temple was to worship of God.

A HOLY TEMPLE

So here we stand many centuries after when Jesus cleansed the temple and we ask how does this apply to us? 1st Corinthians 3:16-17 it says, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” If we have received God’s free gift of salvation then the Holy Spirit dwells within us and we are His Temple. Yet, I wonder if we really understand the implications of that? We are a Holy Temple of the Lord. WOW!

It saddens me to wonder if we sometimes fill our lives -His temple - with things of this world instead of keeping our eyes on Him? I wonder if we have allowed things like the Queen of Hearts to setup shop in His temple? What do you think it would look like if Jesus showed up today and looked at the inside of our hearts, what tables would He be flipping? What would he need to prune within us to get the Queen of your Heart out of His Temple? See, Jesus doesn’t want to play second string or just be an Ace up your sleeve. No, He wants to be the King of Your Heart, and He wants our hearts to be a house of worship for everyone to see. Not just a house of cards.

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE WAITING

Can I just be transparent with you? I’ve been in a funk for a while now. It’s a place that I’m sure at one time or another, you too have experienced.  Yes, even someone like me who loves the Lord passionately, who helps lead worship on Sundays, who works for the church. Imagine that! And I get that with the mountains comes the valleys. I’ve lived long enough to know that life comes with ups and downs and the monotonous plateau in between. Kind of like that long forever drive up north through Indiana with miles and miles of those creepy windmills (just to give you a visual). Not a fun picture. But even as I realize this, it doesn’t make it any easier or any less trying.

REVIVE US, O LORD

So that’s where I find myself – in this dry barren desert of my soul that’s wanting desperately to feel a fresh gentle breeze. Feeling ineffective, going through the motions, sleep walking almost, but wanting so much to feel alive with His Spirit. When you feel that nothing is happening! When things feel at a standstill, gridlocked. When what you have prayed for feels as if it has fallen on deaf ears.  I know I’m not alone in this! I mean, even the Psalmist David expressed times when his soul felt dry; when he cried out to God to revive his spirit. When things just seemed quiet and devoid of movement, and he needed to know that God had a plan and was working it all out.

(Psalm 6:2-6)

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;

    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

My soul is in deep anguish.

    How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;

    save me because of your unfailing love.

Among the dead no one proclaims your name.

    Who praises you from the grave?

I am worn out from my groaning.

 

(Psalm 13:1-2)

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

 

(Psalm 85:4-6)

Restore us again, God our Savior,

    and put away your displeasure toward us.

Will you be angry with us forever?

    Will you prolong your anger through all generations?

Will you not revive us again,

    that your people may rejoice in you?

 

HOW LONG, LORD? 

So I find some peace in knowing that the heroes of the Bible, even the man after God’s own heart, had real moments when he questioned “How long?” when he too needed to know that God was listening, that He was still who He said He was even in the desert times… most especially in those desert times.

And although unlike David, I’m not fleeing from enemies, or fearful of my life being endangered. I’m just tired. I am needing to feel that God has a plan and purpose for me in this season. I want to know “How long?” And I trust that He is a Father who cares, even when my pleas are miniscule compared to most. I am exceedingly blessed and I do not take any of that for granted! But even in this, I am acknowledging to you that my soul is weary.

In this season of soul fatigue, I just yearn to hear from God. So, I find myself talking to Him constantly when I’m driving. It’s as if this time when I’m alone is prime time to pour my prayers and praise out to Him, as my mind is not distracted (other than focusing on where I’m heading). Well, ok, I have to confess, there are scary times when I haven’t the foggiest idea how I got to my destination because I was on auto pilot. But, that’s another story altogether! Regardless, in the car, I can just talk to Him and share my heart, and I know He’s listening! Typically, the only other sound is the low drone of the radio.

HE’S IN THE WAITING

Recently as I was heading home, a new song came on that grabbed my attention. In fact, just one lyric actually… “He’s in the waiting.” Let me just tell you that when these moments happen, right then and there, I say, “Thank You Lord!” Because I know He’s speaking directly to my heart. He’s affirming me and assuring me that He is with me in the waiting. He has not left my side for a moment! This song has become my new anthem, “Take Courage” by Kristene DiMarco/Bethel Music. 

I don’t know what God has in store for me or for you. I’m not sure of what He is leading me to, but I am confident that He is here. That as my life continues to unfold, I’m reminded again that He is faithful and unfailing, and His perfect will WILL prevail.

“Slow down, take time

Breathe in, He said

He’d reveal what’s to come

The thoughts in His mind

Always higher than mine

And He’ll reveal all to come

 

Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul

He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope, as your triumph unfolds

He’s never failing, He’s never failing

(“Take Courage,” Bethel Music)

COVERED IN THE DUST

In first century Jewish culture, if a Jewish man wanted to become a disciple of a rabbi — or teacher — he had to receive an invitation, only after he was learned enough and ready to do so proving to said rabbi.

Now, here’s where it gets crazy. The man was then expected to leave his family, and his whole way of living behind, and follow this rabbi everywhere.

Literally.

Everywhere.

24/7.

The new apprentice, or student — or disciple — would follow his rabbi every place he went. He would study with him, work with him, teach with him…  you get the picture. They were in an inseparable bond.

According to tradition, the family of the man leaving them behind to follow the rabbi would offer the man a blessing:

“May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi’s sandals.” 

The idea is this: the student was to follow so closely behind his teacher that he was to be “covered in the dust” of his teacher’s feet.

So, a question for us:

Are we allowing ourselves to be covered in the dust of Jesus’ sandals?

Our Rabbi?

Our Teacher?

Our Lord?

How closely are we following the ways of Jesus?

The student followed so closely to his rabbi that he began to become more and more like him.

24/7

Are we becoming more like Jesus? Or do we just like the idea of Jesus, and try to do and say and believe the right things the best we can?

That sounds a whole lot like religion to me.

But Jesus invites us to follow Him — truly follow Him. To be covered in the dust of His sandals.

Here are 3 ways that we can be covered:

  1. What we see in the Gospels is that Jesus’ heart was saturated with the Scriptures. At every point or crossroad, or decision, or trial, Jesus was quoting it. If Jesus was in the Scriptures, how much more should we be? Let us be a people who are steeped in the living and active Word.

  2. Intimate prayer characterized Jesus’ life. Often — as it states in Scripture — Jesus would go off alone, to a mountainside or a solitary place and just be with the Father. It is in prayer that we get in tune and in sync with God’s will. But, more so, it’s where we just have a conversation with Him: Father and child. What wonders and revelations could He be waiting to speak to us? Let’s be with Him and taste and see!

  3. Jesus made it a priority as His ministry began to surround Himself with other men to walk and do life with. He even had an inner circle of just a few more intimate relationships. Jesus outlined for us — as does Scripture at many points — the great and wondrous value that is in Spiritual connection, fellowship, and community. May we seek these types of people out in our lives! We need accountability, we need encouragement, and we need to gather around bonfires and meals and laugh and cry and hope and dream together. God has given us each other to do so. Through brothers and sisters in Christ, helping us along the way, and guiding us and speaking to us truth, we become more and more like Jesus. It happens in that environment and context — by design.

    Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 3 that “the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (emphasis mine)

    We become more and more like Him the more and more we are with Him.

    May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi — Jesus’ — sandals.

     

DO YOU HAVE THE TIME?

In the fall of 2003, a few short months after the first Woody book was released, Ron, Woody, Chloe and I traveled to Hopkinsville, KY for a presentation and book signing. At the event, we met a beautiful little girl named Ellen. Ellen’s grandmother, Wanda, had brought her to the event. After the presentation, Wanda bought Ellen a book that we signed, took a picture of her with the pups, and let her spend some time with Woody and Chloe. It’s our standard MO at events. Over the next several years, anytime we were in the area, Wanda brought Ellen to see the pups. In fact, Wanda coordinated many events for Woody in the Christian County area – all to see the joy on her granddaughter’s face.

I received a call from Wanda recently, informing me of Ellen’s passing at the young age of 19 years old. It was a tragic car accident that occurred one morning while Ellen was going to her younger brother’s school event. As one can imagine, words can’t describe the overwhelming sadness Ron and I felt. Although the accident happened many months ago, no doubt our grief paled in comparison to the grief her family and those who had the privilege to be close to her daily felt.

Over the years, this is the third time we’ve been notified of the death of a precious young person we’d met through Woody Three different young people – ages 3, 16, and 19 respectively – who had passed at a very young age. During the call, Wanda said, “I just wanted to thank you for spending time with her.” I assured her we were the ones who were thankful. We were the ones who’d been blessed by knowing Ellen. When the call ended, my mind raced with “What if?”

What if I’d been too busy to talk this little girl?

Remember the story of The Good Samaritan?” A traveler is left for dead alongside the road. A priest and a Levite come by but ignore the injured party. Yet a Samaritan comes by and assists the helpless gentleman.

We don’t know why the priest or the Levite didn’t stop. Maybe they were too afraid. Maybe they were on their way to church. Maybe they had something pressing at home or a deadline at work.

OVERLOAD

It seems as if we our society is in perpetual motion. A recent study showed we sleep less yet work longer hours than we did years ago. We are overloaded with activities, commitments, choices, media, and work. We’re overcommitted, overscheduled, overburdened. And this creates havoc in our life. Rather than accomplishing more, we underperform. Consequently, it brings on stress, causes our work to suffer and can put a strain on our relationships. It results in burnout.

I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil. – Job 3:26

MARGINS

I’m a firm believer in having a margin of time in our life. While Ron and I keep a schedule, we also have a large amount of time in our week that we don’t schedule any commitments. To rephrase, we have a large amount of time in our week that we schedule to keep open. That unscheduled time always results in something beneficial.

In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Dr. Richard Swenson describes margin as the space between our load and our limits. He calls it a reserve for unanticipated situations.

If our time is filled with things – even good things – then we aren’t free to accept opportunities God puts in our path. Christian psychologists all agree the following steps will get us on the path to creating margin in our lives:

1.       Protect time with God and your family.  

2.       Set boundaries.

3.       Prioritize your life and goals.

4.       Don’t say “yes” to everything.

5.       Learn to say “no.”

6.       Learn to stop feeling guilty for saying “no.”

7.       Stop unnecessary time wasters.

8.       Work smarter.

 

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

It’s hard to be still when we’re overcommitted and running in several directions. When we have a margin of time, we can help the elderly neighbor on a moment’s notice, volunteer to babysit for the single mom, or have a conversation about Jesus with someone without having to look at our watch and rush off. We can stop and help the girl whose car is stalled on the freeway. We can get on our knees and look in the eyes of a child. Sometimes the biggest difference we make in a person’s life is by giving them attention. I wonder what blessing the priest and the Levite missed by not taking the time to stop for the Samaritan?

My challenge to all of us – myself included – is for us to evaluate our schedule. Are there areas we need to tweak? Do we have time in our lives to be still and talk to God, to help others, to enjoy our spouse and families? I’m sure there’ve been countless times I’ve rushed away from someone or a situation because I was overloaded. Yet there are times I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to relax, to lean in and listen to a child. It may or may not make a difference in their life, but I will be blessed because of it. Do I have the time to help others? Do you have the time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMBASSADOR

Imagine you’re on a ship, sailing to a distant land, destined towards an important mission. You have been entrusted to be a foreign ambassador for your king. You will be going into alien lands and will be the eyes, ears, and mouth for your king regarding all his world-wide affairs. Since telephones and internet has yet to be invented, all correspondence is through handwritten or verbal messages via messengers. As the ambassador, the king trusts you. Since he cannot personally be present, the king believes you will honorably carryout his needs in his name.

THE AMBASSADOR’S ROLE

In today’s society, we really don’t see the critical nature of the ambassadors’ role, especially when we have computer and telephone access to contact any country. The truth is, the internet is not that old. The World Wide Web was created in 1990 and even the telephone was not created until 1876. Before that, letters had to be mailed, which meant that information traveled very slowly. This included intelligence that was critical in making decisions. Sometimes, it would take months for communication to make it from point A to B. Being an ambassador was a vital and necessary assignment.

The media throws the terms diplomat and ambassador around like common jargon; and the value and importance of that position is diminished by our limited understanding of it. The position of ambassador was set-aside as one of the highest positions of importance. It is a noble and honorable station to be selected for. It is even more concerning that our understanding of this position is so limited because we too are called to be ambassadors for our King!

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2nd Corinthians 5:20

ROYAL AMBASSADORS

Anyone who is a Christian is called to be an ambassador for Jesus. We are His representatives to all nations. We carry His message of love and truth to all men. We serve Him when we are faithful to His cause. You have been given a message that is life-saving and critical for all countries in all the world to hear. How we choose to live our lives will determine our effectiveness in this role. We must be set apart, we must be close to His heart, we must be ready to go with confidence to carry the message that He has given!

You and I are Royal Ambassadors for a Royal King. We have been given the honorable task of being His voice and His heart: His personal representative, to share His message with all the people of the world while He is not physically present in the same sense that we are currently able to be. It is vital that we fulfill our calling as Christ’s ambassadors so that others may to know Him as we have first been given the chance to know Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING

"APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING."

The above phrase is from the last half of John 15:5. In this verse, we learn that Christ is the vine and we are the branches. To be productive and accomplish any “fruit” in our life, I must be connected to the life source. But how often do I try to do everything on my own strength?

“Apart from ME you can do nothing.”

I’m not sure where the Wonder Woman complex stems from. It could be a melding of so many different influences. Without a doubt, society’s expectations have played a part, as well as the messages and old tapes played over in my psyche from years ago as a single mom. But one thing that adds to this mess is I’m also a forgetful woman.

IN ME, WITH ME, FOR ME, THROUGH ME

I do, go, run, work, create, prepare, hustle all week and forget that He is God IN me, He is God WITH me, He is God FOR me, and He is God THROUGH me. I forget that I need Him, especially in the day to day grind.

God designed us to need Him, to live in complete surrender. Not because He is some big egomaniac in the sky, but because He desires to empower us and give us what we lack, so that we can be everything He created us to be. He desires to be in relationship with us!  But unfortunately, when things are running smoothly and life seems good and “hashtag” blessed, I forget how desperately I need Him. But life has a way of bringing us back to our knees, doesn’t it? (a sudden illness, a wayward child, a moment of weakness to temptation, an aging parent…) And we find ourselves back before our God, dependent on His love and mercy. And amazingly, we are back where we belong, so that He can empower us and use us as He designed.

I love that as a church body we have been studying in the book of Acts, because we are reminded that by the filling of His Holy Spirit, ordinary, simple, and yes, even sinful men accomplished bold and powerful things which in turn pointed others to an incredible God.

Jesus told his disciples before He ascended that He is “going to send to them what the Father has promised, but stay until they have been clothed with power from on high.” - Luke 24:49 This promise was the gift of the Holy Spirit because “Apart from Him we can do nothing.”

THE SAME POWER

Not too long ago, I finished a study called “Restless” by Jennie Allen. I absolutely love something she said about this gift of His Spirit that was promised to all His believers.

“If we only had an inkling of all we miss because we do not pray, because we do not believe the Spirit in us is able to do impossible things, we would shudder. You have God in you and wanting to go crazy through you, if you will just let Him.” WOW! Can you even fathom that? God going crazy through me, through you? But instead we live in fear, we live in regret over past sins and failures, we live stuck and we feel discouraged, overwhelmed or just plain tired.

We were created for a divine purpose. He has a plan that encompasses every part of our journey to uniquely point others to Him. He has a plan for every scar we have, every tear we’ve shed, every hurt we’ve felt, every victory and joy we’ve experienced. We just need to surrender and believe that the power that emboldened His disciples over 2000 years ago, is the very same power that indwells us. Wrap your mind around that truth.

Apart from ME you can do nothing, but with ME, you can accomplish the impossible!

ASK AND RECEIVE

Where does the role of “asking” or “petitioning” of God come into play when we’re talking about prayer?

Either way, it’s an aspect of prayer that I think needs to be redeemed.

HIM INSTEAD OF US

We’ve all heard that we need to be more adoring of God in our prayers; that we need to be more vertical - meaning, that our prayers need to be centered on Him, rather than on us.

Yes, there’s absolutely a necessary and vital need for humbly approaching God in reverence in our prayers.

But as we’ll see, scripture tells us to ask of God — so much so that we are to even persistently plead!

Let’s start with Luke 18:1-8 (NLT):

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

What do we see here? God delights and wants us to cry out day and night to Him. He loves when we depend on Him so intensely that we come to acknowledge we need Him more than anything. Jesus implicates this with His parable.

But here’s where it can get tricky.

Sometimes, we ask out of selfish and wrong motives. We’re all guilty of this. We fall into this trap of just asking out of what we want.

James 4:3 (NLT) reaffirms this:

“And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”

God knows this, and wants us to be made aware of this — and treat this kind of asking as a temptation to be identified as such and thus avoided.

LINING UP WITH GOD

But here’s the kind of asking that God invites us to participate in:

God is interested in morphing our wants and desires into the His wants and desires that He has for us.

Ours begin to line up with His.

THE SPIRIT

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT) says that “the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Whenever we are in the Spirit, we become more like Jesus — like God.

So we are to be in the Spirit. What’s this have to do with prayer?

1 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT) tells us that “no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit.”

The Spirit knows and discerns the very thoughts of the Father. When we are in tune with the Spirit — as we’re called to be in the 2 Corinthians passage — we are channeling a “Kingdom of Heaven” kind of power: we are, through the Spirit, getting in on the thoughts of the Father.

Our wants are morphed into His.

So, as James 1:5 (NLT) tells us, we can then “ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”

And “He will not rebuke you for asking.”

He desires to give us what we want, when our wants are lined up — through the Spirit — with His good, pleasing, and perfect will, and the expression of such in and through each of our own lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HE KNOWS MY NAME

Several months ago, Ron and I moved from Bullitt County to Boyle County. With the exception of a few acquaintances we’d met over the years due to The Woody Series, we arrived knowing nobody. Every day brings about meeting new people, making new friends, and learning a new place. Thankfully, Ron and I both love meeting new people – and we make friends easily.  From the first person we met on the day we moved here to the person we met about 8 hours ago, we have done one important thing. We have written down their name. If you open the Notes app on our iPhone you will see a list of about 18 people. I also try to write something down about that particular person.

Diane – Mail Carrier

Katrina – Postmistress with 2 little girls

Rodney – Owns farm across road and deathly afraid of snakes

Frankie – Farmer and hay cutter; looks like Si on Duck Dynasty; talks about his 2 kids

I met Katrina the first time I went to the Post Office to mail a shipment of books. The following week, prior to walking in the post office, I opened up my notes and reviewed her name. When I walked inside and called her by name, she looked at me and smiled. I noticed her eyes sparkled. The fact I had remembered (albeit with a little help) and called her by name made an impact on her. It showed her she was important.

On the flip side, a few weeks ago, Ron and I were eating at the little café (that happens to be in a gas station) by our house, when Marvin, a man we had met a few weeks earlier, entered. “Hey Ron! Hey Leigh Anne!” he said the moment he walked in the door. It was such a good feeling knowing this man knew our name. Now, maybe he had written it down too, but we didn’t care. All we cared about was that someone knew us. We felt loved and cared for. We felt like we belonged.

THE SWEETEST SOUND

In the self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), Dale Carnegie lists 6 ways to make friends. “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” He states that people will pay large amounts of money to have a building named after themselves. Case in point, this May, the news broke that Kroger would pay a reported 1.9 million over a period of 12 years for naming rights to the football stadium. After 44 years, Commonwealth Stadium has now become Kroger Field.

Names are important to God. When He created the universe, He named everything. He named the stars, the creatures, the birds, and He named man and woman. He knows our name. I love the first verse in Isaiah 43.  I have called you by name and you are mine.

He knows my name – and he calls me by it.

HIS NAMES FOR ME

Not only did God give me one name, He gave me several names.

1.       He calls me “His child.”  - What love the Father has given to us that we should be called Children of God… (1st John 3:16)

2.       He calls me “His friend.”  - I no longer call you servants… Instead I have called you friends. (John 15:15)

3.       He calls me “His handiwork.”   - For we are God’s handiwork… (Ephesians 2:10)

4.       He calls me “His heir.” – Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God… (Romans 8:17)

5.       He calls me “His treasure.” – God has chosen you to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

As Ron and I meet people, we will continue to make it a point to learn – and use – each person’s name. We want each one to remember he or she is a child of God, His friend, His handiwork, His heir, His treasure. Christ bought us. We belong to Him. Therefore, we must wear His name with honor. And one day, if He finds us acceptable in His sight, He will give us yet another name. He will call us His good and faithful servant.