Uncategorized

A Matter of Honor

If we are going to attain the life that God wants for every believer we have to develop a virtue almost non-existent in the 21st century. Honor. Honor is key to receiving anything from God. God tells us in 1 Samuel 2:30 “But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

God’s glory and honor are intrinsically connected. You cannot have His glory without being a person of honor. (What better way to honor someone than to have the glory of Almighty God rest on them?) We will only be honored to the degree that we honor God. If we want to see a greater move of the Holy Spirit we must reverence Him! To reverence someone means to regard them or treat them with deep respect. We must love what He loves. We must hate what He hates. We must disdain what He disdains. And most importantly, we must honor what He honors! Honor is similar to faith, in that there are no degrees. You either have it or you don’t. You either honor or despise. There is no middle ground.

Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” That is a command, not a suggestion. We cannot be forced to honor our submit. It is something we must choose! All we have to do is obey His word and His word is very clear on this subject. Honor is very important to God. How we esteem or honor Him will differentiate us from other people and will even directly affect whether we get a full reward, partial reward, or no reward at all!

Lack of honor can happen is so many ways. We can, even through ignorance, fail to honor Him. Imagine you’re driving down the road. A police officer pulls behind you and turns on his lights. You pull over and he walks up to your window. “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going? 55 in a 35.” Do you think he cares if you missed the posted speed limit sign? Yeah, no. He expects you to know the laws of the road before getting behind the wheel. In the same way, God expects us to know how to operate our “motor vehicle” of life. He expects us to know what to do and especially, what not to do. It’s the same way with honor. He expects us to know how to show honor. Ignorance isn’t an excuse!

1 Thessalonians 2:12 tells us, “That ye would walk worthy of God, who has called you unto His kingdom and glory.” So, how do we walk worthy of His calling? Through honor. And how do we show honor? First, through reference: How do we refer to the person we are seeking to honor. If we call our Pastor, “Hey, you!” Then we get “Hey you’s” anointing. But if we refer to our Pastor as Pastor, we benefit from the Pastor’s anointing. Second, through preference: Romans 12:10 tells us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” Thirdly, through deference: Deference is the esteem due to a superior or elder. Do we honor those above us, in both age and anointing, by deferring to them? We certainly ought to. Always, always defer those who are your elder by either age or position! Back in the day, deference was just known as common manners!

We are working hard to instill honor in our children. To get up and give an elder their chair when they come in the room, to allow an elder to go ahead of them in line, to address their elders appropriately… It is so important that our children know how to honor their fellow man or woman. If they can’t honor those they see, how can they honor God, who they can’t see? (I think I read that somewhere…) 

We certainly don’t want to be like Eli, who didn’t discipline his sons. Eli’s lack of discipline seemed to stem from pure laziness. But nowadays it seems to come from the belief that if we discipline or chasten our children we don’t love them. Whatever happened to “spare the rod, spoil the child?” Divine love doesn’t ever mean giving in to people. Proverbs 3:11 says, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction.” And again in Job 5:17, “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.” Love will do what’s best for you, even if you don’t like it. Honor must be taught!

Honor can be difficult. Especially when the person we must honor is irritating or is honorless themselves. We don’t treat those in authority differently because of who they are in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16a says, “Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh.” What YOU do in the flesh affects your spirit. If you don’t honor someone who is an irritant or honorless, it doesn’t affect them, or their spirit. It affects you and yours! It’s not worth the damage to your spirit to try and prove that point.

Honor and respect is a selfless act. It moves us from center stage and puts Jesus there, where he belongs. When Jesus is in the center of our lives — in the place of honor — everything goes the way it should. Honor should never be something we “do,” honor should be who we are! In the same way that God doesn’t love, He is love, so should honor not be something we do but who are we are! To honor isn’t an external thing. It’s a matter of our heart. We can choose to be people who are honorable or we can actually be a person of honor. I choose the latter — I hope you will too! 

Uncategorized

A Walk Through Psalm One

This year the kids and I have been working hard at memorizing more of the Bible. There can be no exaggeration to the importance of hiding the Word in our hearts. If you have the scripture hidden in your heart it’s a lot easier to meditate on. We don’t always have our Bibles in front of our faces but if we have as much of the Word memorized as we can, we can call it up at a moment’s notice to chew on. I’ve heard people liken it to a cow chewing its cud. We can feed on the Word, swallow it, let it sustain us, and then bring it back up to chew on some more to bring more of the nutrients out of it. But unlike the grass a cow eats, the Word never ceases to offer live-giving insights.

The first one we tackled was Psalm 1. This passage offers us a beautiful snapshot of the contrast between what our lives should and shouldn’t reflect — the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The teaching in this Psalm enforces that there is one way to life and that is through obedience to God and His Word.

Psalms begins with a very dangerous progression for the believer. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” It speaks of a deepening involvement with the world and its all-encompassing wickedness. First, we find ourselves in the company unbelievers — we all have unsaved friends, family, acquaintances. It’s unavoidable, really. Should we take counsel or solicit advice from them? No. 2 Corinthians 6:14b says, “What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?” Then something we see or hear causes us to stop. Something pricks our ear — we entertain what has been said. Alistair Begg wrote, “The challenge is always this: Are men and women going to allow the Word of God to sit in judgment on their puny minds, or are they going to make their puny minds the judges of the word of God?” Ultimately, we end up sitting in the seat of the scornful — that is a dangerous place to be.

When I think of sitting in the seat of the scornful, it makes me think of a message I heard Steve Hill preach. He was talking about believers pitching their tents toward Sodom. (Genesis 13:12-13) Lot did that and without going into detail — since I think we all know the story. It cost him dearly. How in the world does a believer end up sitting in the seat of the scornful? It’s not an intentional thing. It’s a gradual thing. It’s a series of unwise decisions. It’s a series of small, seemingly inconsequential compromises. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” I don’t believe Cain started out his life as a homicidal two-year-old wanting to kill his brother. It was a gradual, little by little, kind of thing. There is nothing the enemy likes more than to corrupt a son or daughter of God. It is his singular aim.

In order for us to keep verse one from happening to us we have to move on. Psalms 1:2 reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” What happens to the believer when we delight in and feast on the Word of God? Certainly not verse one — verse three happens, that’s what!

“He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” A tree planted by the rivers of water has no lack of sustenance. A tree planted by the rivers of water is productive and a blessing to others. (A tree doesn’t eat its own fruit.) A tree planted by the rivers of water is able to offer shade and shelter to others. A tree planted by the rivers of water is prosperous. Much like most promises in the Bible, verse three is conditional on us doing what is stated in verse two.

Psalms 1:4, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The ungodly are no so, what? They are not anything mentioned in verses two and three. The ungodly are dead. The ungodly are dry. Chaff is what’s left over after the grain harvest. The farmer has processed the wheat to remove what is useful to them and has left the rest. The chaff, which then dries up, is blown away by the wind. That is not to be us! We are not to be like the chaff — dried up, blown away, useless. We are to be like the tree — rooted, grounded, fruitful, productive.

A lot of people love verse three, but I have to tell you, verse 6 is my all time favorite.“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Knows in this verse is the same word that is used in Genesis 4:1 where it talks of Adam knowing his wife, Eve. It’s not just a general knowledge or awareness of, but speaks to a deep level of understanding — an intimate personal knowledge. If I am the righteousness of Christ, and 1 Corinthians 5:21 says I am, then God knows me. There’s no more beautiful thought than that!

The passage concludes with a goal that ought to be the goal of every believer. The enemy’s aim, like I said in the beginning, is to corrupt and draw away that which is God’s. Our goal? To know Him and be known by Him. We know we cannot know him if we stand in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the path of sinners, and certainly not if we sit in the seat of the scornful. His word must always be before our face, before our eyes, in our mouths, buried within our hearts.

We are here for a purpose. To know God and be known by Him and if we know God, we know his heart — His heart is to be known by people. 

Uncategorized

O Magnify the Lord

O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Psalms 34:3

I’ve been pondering lately on what it means to “Magnify the Lord.” He is most certainly and without doubt worthy to be magnified and exalted. To be praised and glorified. But how do we magnify God? The obvious answer is through praise and worship. We exalt Him with our words — our lips. But even praise and worship serves as a greater purpose which we will get into a little farther down.

Let’s start with the basics. What does it even mean to “magnify?”

Magnify (v):
1. To cause to be held in esteem or respect.
2. To increase in significance: intensify.
3. To enlarge in fact or appearance.

Going off of the first definition, how do we show God that we esteem and respect Him? I don’t know about you all but when my kids do what I’ve asked of them I feel very esteemed and respected. But do you know what feels even more amazing? Not having to ask. My daughter Grace, is an expert at knowing what’s expected of her. She sees the need and without me having to say a word, she just does it. (What a kid!) As our kids show us respect through their obedience, so we can magnify God through our obedience.

The second part of the definition tells us that to magnify causes something or someone to increase in significance. Someone of significance should affect a great portion of our lives. Father God was of such significance to Jesus that while He went through the torture of the crucifixion He said very little. What He did say gives us an idea of how significant the Father was. Most of what Jesus said was ministerial in nature. “Father forgive them” to His torturers. “Today you will be with me in paradise” to the thief. “Woman, behold your son” to his mother. But there was one phrase that rose above all the rest. One phrase that epitomized what Jesus found to be the most tortuous of all. “Father, why have you forsaken me?” The Bible doesn’t record a single word of complaint from Jesus about the physical pain he was going through. Father God was so significant to Jesus that separation from Him was more agonizing than the physical pain of crucifixion!

Would we feel that way? I hope so. Does God occupy such a significant part of our lives that we would cry out in such a way if we felt God depart from us? Or would we be like King Saul who didn’t know when the Holy Spirit departed? I think a lot of the church today wouldn’t notice — for this terribly tragic reason,  they do not know Him. But we can show God through our lives how we Magnify Him by giving Him our all. Every part. Even the ugly bits.

The final part of the definition — to enlarge in fact or appearance is a bit abstract. Can we make God bigger? Yeah, that’s a no. He’s without measure and we are not that powerful. In the natural we make things appear larger by looking in a magnifying glass or a microscope. Why do we do this? So we can see better. I have a magnifying mirror and a pair of tweezers in my purse because well, I’m part German and there are hairs where there aren’t supposed to be — but that’s off topic. When we use a microscope. It brings things from the realm of the unseen to the seen — from the unknowable to the knowable. That’s what worship does for us. Worship is our microscope, bringing that which we cannot see clearly, into focus. We magnify Him when we allow ourselves to gaze upon Him. To study Him. To know Him until what surrounds us becomes insignificant.

There’s an old chorus that says it beautifully:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.”

Saints, let’s magnify him through our obedience. Let’s magnify Him through giving Him everything we are. Let’s magnify him by allowing our worship to illuminate who He is. Because as we do, He doesn’t just become magnified in our lives. He becomes magnified in this world. 

And oh how this world needs Jesus.

Uncategorized

A Year for a Suddenly

I know you’re just itching to know what word I picked for this year. For those of you who are like, whaaat? Its grown in popularity over the years for people to pick a word — or words. Words that speak to them. Words that they want to see develop in their life over the coming year. I don’t often pick one (There are so many, how do you choose?) but when I do, its something that jumps up at me strongly. Words like: perspective and intention, are ones that I’ve had in the past.

A few weeks ago as I was getting ready for church I had Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne on, as I often do. I call it my pre-service service. He was talking about “suddenly.” It’s not first time I’ve heard a message on that subject, as my Pastor can preach a message on suddenly from Acts 2 that will blow your hair back! As I listened it just grew stronger and stronger. This was my word. We have been believing for some specific things over the last couple of years and while the answers have trickled in I felt God say, “This is your year for a suddenly.” And I am holding on to that with every ounce of faith within me.

Now you may say, suddenly, that’s a strange word to choose. First off, I didn’t choose it, it chose me. And secondly, that word appears in the Bible many times — not always in a good context — but we’ll just focus on the good this time around. Here are a few examples:

The shepherds in the time of Jesus’ birth had a suddenly. In Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”

The early church had a suddenly in Acts 2:2, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind.”

Paul certainly had a suddenly when he was knocked off his donkey in Acts 9:3.

The woman with the issue of blood had her suddenly in Matthew 9:20, when she pressed through the crowd and received her miracle.

The suddenlies of God are powerful, transformative and, dare I say, SUDDEN. The shepherds were innocently herding their sheep when suddenly, their eyes were opened to the Messiah. The early church was on the defense, when BAM! Suddenly they received the power of the Holy Spirit and became those who were known to have turned the world right-side up. Paul was transformed suddenly on the road to Damascus from a man who persecuted the church to one who built the church. The woman with the issue of blood was suddenly changed from a desperate social pariah to a woman who was praise by Jesus for her faith.

Our suddenlies are no different. We’re all believing for things — and if we’re going to get God involved, let’s make those things big! Let’s stand this year. And having done all to stand, let’s stand some more. For our suddenly is surely coming.

Uncategorized

The Name

I was driving down the road the other day with Jenn Johnson’s song, “The Mention of Your Name” on repeat. It. Is. Amazing. (You can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/5vXPVGeccCw.) As I listened over and over, I felt the Spirit of God wash over me and He spoke to me so strongly. He said, “My children are living so far below their station. If this very earth and everything on it is held together by the power in the Name, how much more can I do? There is so much more that I have provided but they just won’t believe.” Friends, there are things in our lives that we allow that would be utterly and completely obliterated if we just remembered who we are and whose we are — if we remembered the power in the Name.

What is provided to us that Name? Everything. Period. End quote. There is nothing that wasn’t accomplished for us at the cross. Smith Wigglesworth said, “There is nothing impossible with God. All the impossibility is with us when we measure God by the limitations of our unbelief.” God’s word says it, that makes it so. One of our Pastors said recently, “‘I believe’ are two words that will change everything, if you mean it.” We have to make a choice to simply believe. Our misstep comes in when we live our lives focused on our circumstance. We should never, never, never let our circumstance change our view of God. Our circumstance ought to be changed solely on our view of God and His Word — for they never have and never will change. In Malachi 3:6a God tells us, “I am the Lord, I do not change.” Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that He has been given a name that is above every name. Cancer. Heart Disease. Diabetes. Poverty. Fear. Lack. Anxiety. Those are all just names. And they are so far below THE Name.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3) If Jesus — who the Bible calls the Word — ceased to exist, this world would cease to exist. He upholds all things by the word of His power — and all means all. Ephesians 2:5-6 tells us, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” If we are in Him, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father then that’s where we are too! His rights are our rights. His authority is our authority. If Jesus can command the wind and waves to cease, so can we. If Jesus can command the Legion to leave, so can we. If Jesus can heal the sick and cleanse the leper, so can we. If Jesus can live above sin, so can we. If Jesus can live in the fullness of God, so can we! If God’s Word says we can do it, we can. If God’s word says we can have it, we can. Its time for we the church to rise up and stop weighing our expectation by our understanding and only believe in that precious Name.

John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

Thoughts, Truth

Unstoppable

We had a special speaker in church last Sunday. He spoke on being unstoppable. The things that stop us and the things that urge us to press forward. After the events of the last month I feel pretty unstoppable. But I have been stopped before. By tiny, seemingly insignificant things.

The children of Israel. God rescued them from Egypt in an unmistakable and spectacular fashion. They experienced what I would think was the biggest mass healing ever as they partook of the atonement. And then they plundered their captors as they left. He provided an escape through the Red Sea. Through it! Not around it. One thing the speaker at church said stuck with me. He said, “The Spirit of God wants to lead us through, not around our trials.”

Through it, not around. There is growth in adversity, if its handled right. Once the Israelites were through the brunt of their trial…that’s when the whining and complaining began. They had experienced God’s deliverance. They had experienced God’s miraculous provision through the water from the rock, the manna, and the quail. They had experienced God’s guidance through the pillars of smoke and fire. He was with them through it all. What more did they want? As the whining reached its crescendo. They camped in the middle of the wilderness. Stopped by their own selfishness and disobedience. Stopped where God never intended them to be. God intended to guide them straight through to the other side. Instead they chose to wander, around the mountain they went.

We need to trust Him. He promised in His word that “He would never leave us or forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). “All His promises are Yes and Amen unto the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Louie Giglio preached a message that I love, “How Great is Our God.” If you’ve never watched it, do yourself a favor and do so. In it he talks about the bigness of our God and how small we are by comparison. And if we are small. Our problems must be teensy! Towards the end he talks about how people assume that we will always wake up to rosy circumstances. Does that happen…always? No. Can God do it? Yes. Absolutely. But if God wouldn’t deliver Jesus from carrying His cross, what makes us think He will do that for us. In the Word he tells us to “pick up our cross and follow Him.” (Matthew 16:24) Paul said that, “He died daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). What God did promise us is that as we walk though the trials and tribulations of life He will be there right in the middle of it with us. And as we walk our weakness will be transformed into His strength. Our doubt will be transformed to faith. Our defeat will be transformed into victory. Keep walking, be unstoppable!

But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Feelings, Thoughts, Truth

A day I won’t soon forget

On July 8th, 2013 I was changed forever. I have experienced plenty of loss and pain in my 35 years but this was different. This pain was utterly and completely personal.

Numbness with a dash of Revelation

It was a day that started with excitement and joy. My husband was making the two hour trek into work. But I was going to the doctor for my 16 week check up to see how our little girl, Isabel Hope was incubating. Instead, after the normal pleasantries, I was notified after a Doppler and two ultrasounds that our little girl was gone. Fetal demise. Two words I never thought I would hear describing any of my children. The doctor was speaking but my ears were ringing. Gone. Gone. She’s gone. My Pa and Grandma Debbie met me at the doctor’s office. As I walked out of the office the wall of strength I had held up against the doctor’s words broke and so did I. The tears came. Grandma Debbie reached her arms around me. My parents arrived and their arms joined hers. Trying to siphon off the grief that had wound its way around my heart. My husband called and in between gasps I relayed to him what I knew. She had died two weeks before. Before we had even picked her name she was gone.

For two days I wavered between numbness and unrelenting grief. God I know this wasn’t your plan. How could this have happened? How? Why? Both questions I knew wouldn’t be answered sufficiently on this side of eternity. My husband stayed home the first day. We lay in bed just trying to muster the strength to get up and do something, anything. As I sobbed into my pillow I found a picture on my phone of our seven year old daughter, Grace, taken two days before during our Sunday morning church service. She was at the altar, her eyes were closed, her hands were raised. Experiencing the presence of God as only a child can. Beautiful. Immediately my thoughts shifted to Isabel. My little girl I will never see this side of glory. Glory. GLORY. The only thing she will ever know. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) No pain. No sickness. No disappointment. Straight from the comfort of my womb into the presence of God. And a part of my heart began to heal.

Thursday, I readied myself for another doctor appointment. Time for a game plan. I couldn’t bear to be stuck in this twisted, grief-filled holding pattern any longer. I prayed, “God, if this is going to happen. If there is no way of escaping this path. Please, I know it will be hard for my husband and me but I want to see her. I want at least one memory I can hold onto.” As I stood there. God spoke. Strong and clear. Straight down deep into my spirit. “The enemy didn’t do this for her. Isabel is safe with me. He cannot touch her here. He did this for you. To destroy your calling as a worship leader. To destroy your husband’s calling as a minister. To destroy your family. To crush your faith and the faith of your children. To make you doubt even my very existence. Make no mistake. He did this for you.”

My husband says that you can preach the whole Bible out of John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John10:10 NKJV) As I have heard my Grandma Debbie preach many times. Good God. Bad devil.

As I pondered those words from God my spirit rose up strong within me and I shouted to the enemy of my soul, “YOU ARE A FOOL! God didn’t do this. You did this! You did it and you will regret this day. I will not give up. I will not turn away!” I meant it with every fiber of my being. From that moment forward I have had sadness and even tears but that all-encompassing, paralyzing, hopeless grief is gone.

That night my prayer was answered. After being in labor all evening, I rushed into my bathroom where she was born. Palm sized and perfect. Everything visibly where it should be. Eyes, ears, lips, button nose, arms, legs, fingers and toes. I held her and we gazed at her. Taking a picture with our minds. Our one memory this side of heaven.

Where things got interesting

Apparently the enemy wasn’t content with stealing the earthly existence of my baby girl. He had fixed his gaze on me. After she was delivered I breathed a sigh of relief. That wasn’t so bad. As I lay in bed ready for some healing sleep, the hemorrhaging began. So much so I just sat in the bathroom going in and out of consciousness leaning against my husband who was my pillar of strength through the night. Why wasn’t the bleeding slowing? We called 911.

As they rushed…um…rushed may be the wrong word. It felt as if some senior citizens were out for a Sunday morning cruise along the waterfront. Anyway. As we reached the hospital the doctors looked me over. Apparently the placenta was stuck. It made it halfway out which kept the flood gates open. I felt as if I was fading away. I was desperately trying to hold on. They lowered my head and got my feet up in the air to get what blood I had left where it could do the most good. After what seemed like an eternity the Obstetrician on call arrived and was finally able to get the placenta free. After they slammed a unit of blood into me (that was the exact word they used since they had to get it in so fast) things started looking up. After a second unit it was looking even better. 36 hours later they released me to complete my recovery at home.

Two weeks later I met with the doctor who saved my life in the Emergency Room. He informed me how glad he was that I didn’t try and make the 40 minute trip to Olympia. In his words… I wouldn’t have lasted that long. Thank God for the urgency in the Holy Spirit we felt to get help when we did. I had no idea how close I came to eternity.

It has been four weeks and two days since that night and I can say with absolute certainty that God has kept me. “And we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV) We know He did not cause this, but we know the He will use it for His glory and purpose.