Loner – not a spiritual gift

Have you been struggling with relationships in your church? My husband is in a series called “Focus: Assurance.” He talked about the born again believer still walking in darkness. Really? Yes, we can walk around as a born again believer and not reap the benefit of this life. How? God gave us: 1) His Word (Jesus); 2) His Spirit (Holy Spirit); 3) His Body (each joint supplying the other); and 4) His five fold Ministry gift to us. Then he said we walk in lack due to self inflicted blindness of God’s will. God gave us the body for a purpose. It was not just someplace to go on Sundays, it has to do with your stewardship as well. Are we being a good steward with the call to disciple? Are we being a good steward with our talents? Are we being a good steward with our knowledge?

If you want your heart to follow after the things that God’s heart is after – the local church and reaching the lost – put your treasure there. Your heart will follow. – The Blessed Life by Robert Morris

We cannot keep going at it on our own. Attendance and serving when when you go is great, but are we are getting the full benefit. The benefit is not just the Word that comes forth. It is the value you see in each other and the fellowship with the body.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (AMP) Just as the human body is one, though it has many parts that together form one body, so too is Christ. For by one Spirit we all were immersed and mingled into one single body. And no matter our status—whether we are Jews or non-Jews, oppressed or free—we are all privileged to drink deeply of the same Holy Spirit.

Yes, it is going take trust. It is worth seeing the growth in each other!

Giving is not just finances. It is of your talents, it is of your knowledge, it is of your wisdom.

When God’s people catch a revelation of giving – when God does a work in their hearts – they begin to want to serve in their churches. They want to help the children’s ministry grow. They want the church to have a good youth ministry, a powerful praise team, and a blessed staff. They want to be generous in missionary giving. The whole atmosphere in a church changes when people catch a revelation of generosity, tithing and giving. – The Blessed Life by Robert Morris

This all ties to stewardship…our relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit, the body and the five fold ministry. Are we being good stewards with the gifts He has given to us?

I have to have a better relationship and receive more from the body that I am called to. I have to set down the strongholds that are keeping me from trusting and receiving the gifts that of the body. I have to see them as God’s created and redeemed!

Joyce Meyer wrote a devotional, Love Out Loud, called “Let Me See You Smile.” In it she was encouraging us to be friendly. She writes, “For years I excused myself from being friendly by saying, ‘That you isn’t me, I have a lot on my mind, a lot of responsibility, and I am more of a loner,’ but I realized that ‘loner’ is not listed as a gift in the Bible. Thinking of ourselves as ‘loners’ is simply an excuse to avoid the often messy business of being vulnerable.

Be confident in this that God gave us His body as a gift. Receive it and enjoy every aspect. Have a blessed week!

See the created and the redeemed

Ephesians 4:16 (TPT) For his “body” has been formed in his image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.

Without a relationship with the Holy Spirit you will not see the body that you are called to in His image. What do I mean by that? There is not a person in the Bible (except Jesus) that did not have an issue with what they saw in the people God called them to. When we start getting close to people we can fall into the trap of identifying them by the flaws that they have instead of the benefits to your life. We are so quick to cut people out of our life when they disappoint us, anger us, hurt our feelings, etc. Yes, the ones that do not want the best for you separate from, but a member that wants to help and their help might have hurt your feelings.

We are His Created and Redeemed. Isaiah 48:12-13,17 (AMP) “Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called; I am He, I am the First, I am the Last. “My hand founded and established the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together [in obedience to carry out My decrees]. CREATED This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says,“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit (benefit), Who leads you in the way that you should go. REDEEMED Start seeing each other as God’s created and redeemed!

1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (TPT)  It would be wrong for the eye to say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” and equally wrong if the head said to the foot, “I don’t need you.”  In fact, the weaker our parts, the more vital and essential they are. The body parts we think are less honorable we treat with greater respect. And the body parts that need to be covered in public we treat with propriety and clothe them. But some of our body parts don’t require as much attention. Instead, God has mingled the body parts together, giving greater honor to the “lesser” members who lacked it. He has done this intentionally so that every member would look after the others with mutual concern, and so that there will be no division in the body.  In that way, whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices.

We are connected. What profit is it not to see the value in others, because you do not think they know what you have been through? Receive the gift anyways. There are those who have knowledge and wisdom in areas. Why not tap into that? Are you afraid they are going to be like Job’s friends and say that everything you are going through is your fault or you deserve it? Well, you might have some people like that, but that does not mean you cut them out of your life. I have been that person and I have been on the receiving end of it as well. That will definitely make me want to go into hiding, but the benefit of the body outweighs the chances of trying to go at it alone.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (TPT) My friends at Corinth, our hearts are wide open to you and we speak freely, holding nothing back from you. If there is a block in our relationship, it is not with us, for we carry you in our hearts with great love, yet you still withhold your affections from us. So I speak to you as our children. Make room in your hearts for us as we have done for you. In the Message Translation it says, Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! Blocking relationships withing the body that you are called to can make you feel small and insignificant. Start living your life in a bigger way!

Get back into the local church and get plugged in! Get into some relationships when they have fellowships and gatherings, make up your mind to not stay away any longer. Start seeing them as the created and the redeemed…a gift to Him and to you. Be blessed!

Do like the otters do

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I got to bring the message to our church. I am a mother of two handsome teenage boys. I am married to their amazing father, and have been for going on twenty one years this month. However, I was raised by a single mother for most of my childhood (from the age of four to twelve). My mother took us out of an abusive home, to start over with nothing, and did not remarry until I was almost a teenager. In that time she was single she went to night school, we moved from living together in a bedroom at my grandparents (there were four of us), to moving into section eight housing and then she bought a home while I was still in elementary school. We took dance lessons and she was at our dance recitals. We played softball and she was one of the coaches. My academics did not suffer because I was in a home of a single parent.

According to The Life of a Single Mom Ministries founder, Jennifer Maggio, “There are approximately 23 million single moms in the United States. And with divorce rates at approximately 50% and 1 in every 2 babies being born outside marriage, these numbers are expected to rise. 67% of today’s single parents are not actively attending a local church.” There are many reasons, number one is that they do not think they will be accepted. The church will not understand or be compassionate of what they are going through. A third of my church is made of of women that have been or are currently single mothers.

Church it is time to do like the otters do. I googled otters and this is what came up, “To prevent themselves from floating away in the swirling sea while they sleep, sea otters often entangle themselves in forests of kelp or giant seaweed to provide anchorage. … This is also the reason why they hold hands. They do so in order to prevent themselves from drifting away from the group.

I was watching a show on Hulu, called Station 19, and in this episode some of the firefighters were on a dinner cruise. A couple of the guys go off to have a private conversation, one being the chief, he clutches his chest and falls over the rails. The other firefighter just jumps in after him. Another firefighter witnesses this and grabs a life vest to put on himself, a life preserver for some one to grab onto, then jumps in. He tried to alert the crew inside running the boat, but they were not responding, so no one else knows that they have all just jumped overboard and are floating at tight in the Pacific. The boat is gone from sight in minutes. The one with the life vest suggested they do like the otters do, hold hands so they do not drift apart and help each other stay afloat. The chief is dead and floating in the life preserver, the one without the vest refuses and says he will just hold onto the dead thing (which is going to eventually sink). This is where I got my message for Sunday. God said, this is the state of the church right now. They do not see the gift of the body that He put together to strengthen us. Yes, He gave us the Holy Spirit, but He did not create us to be alone separated from His body (the church).

We like to quote Philippians 4:13, I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace] (AMP). Check out what Paul says next, verse 14, Nevertheless , it was right of you to share [with me] in my difficulties. In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes, Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love] (AMP). He is writing to believers. He is writing to the churches. He goes on to write in Philippians 4:15-19, And you Philippians know that in the early days of preaching the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I do seek the profit which increases to your [heavenly] account [the blessing which is accumulating for you]. But I have received everything in full and more; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent me. They are the fragrant aroma of an offering, an acceptable sacrifice which God welcomes and in which He delights. And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (AMP).

By resisting the body, and the gifts that it has, we are missing out on this heavenly account. By looking at the body as a gift and receiving from each other, blessings can be accumulating for each other. We are called to be generous givers. This is not just talking about finances. This is talking about our talents, our spiritual gifts, our wisdom and knowledge. The early church gave everything to see the needs of each other met. We look at each other through the lens of hurt and do not see how they can or if they would want to be a part of their lives. A healthy church will see the value in each other and will want to see each other succeed, no matter their status in life.

It is time to do like the otters do!

Out of the grave

Depending on where you are and what worship bands you have access to, because there are many, what would you say would be your favorite song to put on repeat right now? Elevation Worship and Maverick City just put out a new collaboration album called “Old Church Basement.” To be honest I have not listened to many of the songs, “Jireh” is a pretty good one. One song though that I have to stop whatever I am doing and just sing when it comes on is “Rattle” (not on this album, but releases by Elevation Worship a year ago).

Pentecostal fire stirring something new
You're not gonna run out of miracles anytime soon
Yeah, resurrection power runs in my veins too
I believe there's another miracle here in this room

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I'm coming out
I'm gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

I do not know about you, but the greatest battle that I have is in my mind. My mind will tell me that I really am not wanted. That it does not matter when you get up and speak. I ask myself whether the things that I make available to serve, do they really matter, does anyone care? Then I feel guilty and I wear the shame or disappointment on my face. Then I am told that I need to change my face because I am wearing my disappointment. This causes me to want to go into hiding, and God would let me do it. Really? God will let me run and hide. Yes, He will. Remember, you have free will.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (AMP) All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

Case in point is to look at Elijah. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah hears word that Jezebel is mad and has sent people to kill him. In the previous chapter we see that he calls does a fire and it burns up and kills all the priests of Baal. Verse 4, “But he himself traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness, and he came and sat down under a juniper tree and asked [God] that he might die. He said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.‘” Have you ever had those moments that you curl up and think, would it better if I was not even here? An angel comes and feeds him, there was cake (talk about comfort food). Then he makes his way to a cave. Verses 9-10, “There he came to a cave and spent the night in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’  He said, ‘I have been very zealous (impassioned) for the Lord God of hosts (armies) [proclaiming what is rightfully and uniquely His]; for the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, only I, am left; and they seek to take away my life.‘”

God then calls Elijah, while he is in the cave, a couple more times asking what he is doing there. Showing His marvelous self outside of the cave each time. My friend, God does not want us to stay in the cave, but He will let us be there if we choose. What Elijah did not have available to him is the Holy Spirit (also referred to as our Comforter). I look at it this way, yes a cave is good for hiding and it does provide shelter, but do you know what else it is used for? A grave! They buried their dead there. This is why I love the song “Rattle” so much right now. I wanted to stay in that cave. I have to make the choice to come out, and no God would never want to keep me there. Do not let that cave become your grave!

Do not let that cave become your grave!

I found a nice cave when I had COVID. It was after the 10 days had passed. I was still feeling exhausted, so I slept a lot. Saturday afternoon I had nausea again and a headache so bad that I needed a cold compress. This was my chance, I could tell my husband that I needed another Sunday to recover (I had already been out the previous Sunday). He would have to be compassionate and let me, I mean I still had the affects of COVID. The articles said this could last months. Yep, there was a nice cave I could hide in. I had to make the decision not to stay there. I was not one hundred percent when I went to service that next day. Since I was still dizzy and my mind was foggy, I did not play the bass with the worship team. In worship I pulled on that corporate anointing and received the healing I needed to not go back into the cave.

If you have been in a cave, please know that God does not want you to stay there, but He will allow you to be there. He loves and cares for you. Let Him show you all of His majesty. I heard from Joyce Meyer one time, “You are graced for the hard stuff.” Here are a few scriptures I use to help me with the hard stuff, I pray they encourage you. Have a blessed day!

Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP) May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

Isaiah 4:29 (AMP) He gives strength to the weary, and to him who has no might He increases power

1 John 3:19-20 (AMP) By this we will know [without any doubt] that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart and quiet our conscience before Him whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands].

Not just going through the motions

Mark 10:27 (AMP) Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

On Sundays I get to spend a few moments exhorting the people of our church right before I do the declaration. I have been reading about stewardship and God having unlimited resources. The above scripture says a lot of what our faith should be lined up with. I presented to them the excuse that we do not want to create a lot of “Ishmaels.” (Ishmael is the son of Abraham and Hagar, Sarah handmaiden. Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham because they had no children and they thought they would help God out with the promise of a son. Ishmael’s lineage eventually becoming the Muslim nation). I presented to them this question: “Do you not think God can redeem Ishmael?”

Matthew 24:14 (AMP) This good news of the kingdom [the gospel] will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end [of the age] will come.

No people group will be exempt. Therefore, no action that you take cannot be turned around for His good. Yes we will have consequences, but we are not living if we are not learning. We would just be going through the motions of life, and that would just be miserable.

It is often focused that Abraham only had two sons, Ishmael (from Hagar) and Isaac (from Sarah). In Genesis 25 it tells of Abraham taking another wife, Keturah, and she gave him six more kids. Isaac is said to be the son of promise and the nation of Israel ties it’s lineage back to him, that does not mean that Abraham did not bestow gifts on the others while he was still alive. There are so many messages that we can take away from all of this, but I took away that Abraham had more than one gift to give. We want ours to be the one of the promise (the perfect one).

2 Corinthians 12:9 (AMP) But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.

It is not required to be perfect, His grace paid the price for that. I love that is says that His mercy is more than enough and always available, regardless of the situation. I sure do need His mercy right now. In my disappointment, in my desire to see things grow, I need His mercy right now. He makes things perfect, not me. I want the power of Christ to dwell in me. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. I just have to keep His mercy before me. It is okay that it is not perfect.

It is not required to be perfect, His grace paid the price for that.

Colossians 3:17 (AMP) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Deuteronomy 15:10 (AMP) You shall freely and generously give to him, and your heart shall not be resentful when you give to him, because for this [generous] thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.

Above are a couple of verses that encourage me when I step out in faith. I give myself freely to Him in everything that I do and say. Such a great promise of Him taking it and blessing it. Notice He is not asking for perfection. I want to drive that point home. He makes them perfect, I just have to give Him something to work with.

What about excellence? I googled perfection versus excellence ad this is what it says, “Perfectionism is about the fear of failure, while striving for excellence is the urge for success. Excellence is superior performance, persistence, and the commitment to do something exceptionally well. Excellence requires risk, effort, spontaneity, hard work, and extending yourself to reach your full potential.” Excellence is a heart motive, perfection is in Him.

Praying blessings on everything you say and do today!

Who does not like gifts?

Matthew 7:11 (AMP) If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.

We are coming up on what my husband likes to coin the “trifecta.” In May is my birthday, anniversary and Mother’s Day. Each of these days are less than a week from each other. Some years Mother’s Day and my birthday will even fall on the same day, and just a few days after that is our anniversary. This time of the year use to stress my husband out for getting gifts, but do you know that he has learned, to not just gift me on these days. He gifts me just because.

There is a book by Gary Chapman called God Speaks You Love Language (How to experience and express God’s love). If you have never heard of love languages there are five main love languages, and one of them is what you mainly speak. They are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. My love languages that fills me up are words of affirmation, second gifts and then acts of service. My husband’s are quality time, physical touch and gifts. I have learned to speak his love language and he has learned to speak mine.

When we look at the above verse, then look through it the eyes of God speaking your love language, what can you see in your life? Do you see how God shows His love to you in personal ways? I do. I was crying in disappointment for something that I was preparing for. We are doing everything right to get our church in the place it needed to go. We are speaking the vision. We have had our eyes on a piece of property for a year. We are working on saving up to purchase it debt free. We, in the natural, were nowhere close. However, I serve a God of the supernatural. We found out that the land was gifted to a mega church in our area. It was disheartening. Just as I was weeping in grief, a friend, who I had not heard from in a long time sent me a text, “I was just thinking about your beautiful face…” I have had messages from complete strangers to encourage me not to give up hope. These are the moments that God shows up. I knew that He had something better in mind. He is the God that sees.

I want to encourage you today to look at the different ways God shows you His love. Then I want to challenge you to show God your love for Him. Pick one of these areas: acts of service, quality time, gifts, words of affirmation and/or physical touch. You might say that you already show God love on a daily basis. Then can I challenge you one more time? Show love to someone that you do not usually show love to. Pick one of these love languages to show love to a stranger, a co-worker, your neighbor, your pastor or someone that knocks the rough edges off of you (Paul called him a thorn in his side).

Can I be honest? The love language I struggle giving to those that are not in my family, is physical touch. I can give gifts, serve others, spend time with others, and speak positive words of encouragement to people (right now I am working on jewelry to give to all the women who attend church on Mother’s Day for the message that I am preparing, while serving that day in my usual roles). When I do hug someone, usually they initiate the hug first. I have no idea why, I am not alone in this, and it does not mean we do not walk in love. That does not mean that if it is your love language, physical touch, that I will not refuse to speak it. Why? It is not love when we refuse to try to speak someone else’s love language. We should look at it as a growth opportunity, an offering to the God that we love.

I hope you will take me up on the challenge to look for all the ways God loves you. That you will speak a language of love back to Him. Also, that you will love His creation, those that were created in His image, by being more intentional with speaking these love languages. Have a blessed day!

Joints should not hurt

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

I have to admit I have been a little distracted lately. Have you ever felt that way? It is an attack on the revelation knowledge of the Word of God in my life. I do know that when you get to a new level of revelation that you will be tested in it. I was reading about the unmerited favor of God in our lives as partners with Christ (which so happens to go along with my husbands messages about the assurance of what our inheritance is). Basically, both are coming in line with each other and that is where the challenge happens. The challenge is that I like growth and want to pull those I love along side with me. As a pastor we desire to see growth in others, it is disheartening when people dig their heels in and refuses to budge. My challenge (to be honestly transparent) is to try not to focus there, but continue to allow the work to happen within me and the Holy Spirit to work on them.

Have you ever had that happen? Your thoughts rob you of your joy? You have conversations in your head with someone else? Or you think of the conversations they are having about you with someone else?

I spent many nights in my bed praying for the help to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. Prayers to renew my mind. Prayer to cast down vain imaginations. God, do not allow the enemy to try to rob me of this knowledge so that I can walk in the fullness that You have for me. I want to walk in the abundant life, the complete life. Why? I want to make an impact for good that gives glory back to God. I know that I am called to do it with the body of believers that I am called to.

A few weeks ago, someone in small group said that the body is only as strong as its weakest link. As a body we are suppose to be working together. Ephesians 4:11-13 (AMP) says, And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]. Oneness of faith and unity stood out to me. The body of Christ needs to be in unity. Sometimes we start by saying the entire body of Christ, but what if we put it down to our body (the church you are called to). Does that not to be in unity too?

Ephesians 4:16 (AMP) From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.

Every joint supplies. When we apply this to your local body, you get a healthy functioning church. Your body that you are called to can properly mature and become effectual in your community. I always ask people that if you have a ministry and you will not use it in your local body that you are called to, why? The Word just said in here that we are joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, that joint being your gifting/ministry included within the local church.

How does this get into walking in the blessings that God has for us? It is not a sin issue (not that sin should not be addressed) but it is a unity issue. I am not talking about having unity over the political, sociology and economical issues of our time. I am talking about the working together (yes, I said that bad word work) with the gifts and callings to build up the body of Christ. We, together, walk in the knowledge and truth that God wants to see the body complete, which is another benefit of Jesus going to the cross.

So my question to myself is that, am I being a supplier to my joint? I cannot lose focus on my calling worried about if someone is in theirs. Praying that God will send someone to fill that joint that is willing to. I cannot drag anyone to it, He will fill it. God I release it to you. I will keep doing what you called me to do. I will finish this race and keep my eyes focused on Jesus.

I would love to hear from you if you struggle with the same thoughts sometimes. Message me at amanda@desiringformore.org

He still washed Judas’s feet

1 John 4:19 (AMP) We love, because He first loved us.

Not two days after I finished reading Unmerited Favor by Joseph Prince and starting on The Root of Rejection by Joyce Meyer did I get a blow to my heart. I already knew it was coming. God had told us about it almost a year ago, but it still hurt. The timing was perfect for the enemy to use. Why? I had just come out stating that I was going to remind myself daily that “I am His beloved.” When I read the Word and meditate on it, the revelation knowledge that I get is because, “I am Jesus’s favorite disciple.”

A little back story of what it feels like to be a favorite. My sisters (twins) and I are about twenty two months apart, me being the oldest. When I was four we lived in Kentucky and I remember there being a special drawer for me with gum in it…Bubblicious gum. My sisters were too young to enjoy treats like that, but I got to! It made me feel special. When we moved, I have another memory of one of my aunts bringing treats for all of the little kids (she having two herself). We all closed our eyes and held out our hands and they put candies in everyone’s hands but mine. I was told that I was too old (at the age of six) to receive any. In my gut I knew that it was because my grandparents had a special bond with me and she was jealous.

So when I was told that I was not who they wanted to speak into their life (even though we pastor), that “this person is my leader,” it took me back to the pain of being rejected at six years old. I had to realize that the enemy was jealous, he is not His favorite, I am! It took me a few days to get over that blow to my heart, but it was a distraction. It was a distraction from me walking in freedom and the power that wherever I go miracles follow because the Holy Spirit dwells in me!! Do you know what Jesus’s favorite disciple gets to do? They get to walk around everywhere they go knowing they are loved. The Holy Spirit will bring back all that transpired and say, “you did what I told you to do, they still have free choice.” I have to continue to walk in love even though it was wrong, why? In my wrongness, He loved me first! Even in being rejected and knowing He would be betrayed, He still washed Judas’s feet. I love, because He loved first!

My love is not wrapped in this one person who rejected me. God showed me, look at all of these that see you as a gift. You know He does that with His beloved. I am His favorite disciple, so that I can point others back to Him. I want to tell you that you are His favorite disciple too. He will make Himself as personal to you as you desire Him to. I often like to call them “Daddy Moments.” Remember, He first loved us. He knows what it is like to love so deeply and still be rejected, but He first loved us (the book of 1 John was written to people who rejected Him).

James 1:2-4 (AMP) Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.  Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace] And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

The enemy is going to test that Word inside of you. Count it as a joy because it will produce something great inside of you. Do not let the enemy try to get you to go into hiding, as it did me. We need to experience this life. I do not want to lack anything that He has planned for me. I may get hurt again, that is okay. Just like He did this time, He will do it again, He will let me know just how loved and wanted I am. I pray He does the same for you.

Psalm 138:3 (NLT) As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.

Say ‘no’ to carpenter ants

Ephesians 1:18-19 (AMP) And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength.

I do not know about you, but when something is bothering me I mull over it. This is a good moment for me to call on God and ask for a home inspection (since we are the home of the Holy Spirit). My husband and I have purchased two homes since we married. The first one was a bank repossession and was basically as is. The second home we were making a large investment in and had some money, to put down from the sale of the previous home. Let me add that when we bought our second home I was well into my third trimester with our second child. We physically went and looked at and toured nearly eighty homes (I know, I was exhausting).

We were running short on time and we had settled on a home not too far from our church location at the time. I was not crazy about the schools that we would be district for and the layout of the house was a little weird, but the closets were good and they had just remodeled the kitchen. We paid for a home inspection as we had made an offer. We wanted to make sure the home we were going to buy was solid. A home inspection is a detailed report of all the potential problems the home may have. This home had a lot of problems. First off, those appliances were not even hooked up in the kitchen and they were a long way off from getting to where that was even possible (electrical issues). Those cute gas logs in that nice fireplace were just there to look at, there was nothing hooked up and the fireplace was not usable. Then there were the carpenter ants that had built nests all in that brand new deck they put in, but did not treat, and now had infected the rest of the house. How can something so small cause so much damage! That house was a big no after the home inspection.

Our inspection for His home within us is the Holy Spirit and His Word. God has given us these so that I can clean myself up (a different clean up from that sin life I lived), but a clean up of the years of neglect, hurts, fear, shame and other spiritual baggage that I have been carrying around. These “life problems” can do some serious damage to this home, just like those small carpenter ants did to that home. I do not like that I mull over things so much. Overthinking and over analyzing things robs us of our peace and our joy. It will rob us of our sleep and our confidence of who we are in Christ. Christ purchased this home and paid a high price for it. I am forever grateful and know that I cannot do this life without Him.

Praying for you as you begin this week. Know and cherish this hope, that He sees us as the riches of His glorious inheritance. We ask Him to search within us and open the eyes of our hearts. He who began a good work within us will see it to completion. We are worth the investment!

Martha, Martha, Martha!

There is a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World written by Joanna Waver. I own it but have never read it. I think I have pulled it out a couple of times. I usually decide on something else instead. What made me think about this book was this past Easter Weekend. This year we had a fundraiser to send out kids to youth this summer. We took orders for eggs, filled with candy, to be delivered the night before Easter. We ended up with an order of two thousand eggs and twenty nine houses to go to. Awesome! With only a few hiccups…a shortage of plastic eggs in the city and having to find four hundred eggs on Friday, my son being directional challenged and took him way longer than it should to do the houses on his route, and that one of my youth thought it would be funny to do some prank eggs (teenage boys). It went great and we did not have to wash cars!!

On top of this fundraiser I am also helping to plan a Girls Night In and Guys Night Out event. The ladies are coming to my house to watch Joyce Meyer’s Girls Night In and the guys are going to go axe throwing and dinner together. Sounds fun right! Remember my last post that I usually like to know the answers to questions that people are going to ask me. So I became a little overwhelmed.

Then there is Easter Service. We had a regular church service with communion. I just could not bring myself to plan an after fellowship event. I did not plan anything special for the kids. We had a new song prepared and that was just all I could bring myself to do. You see, this Martha World is exhausting. Not because I want to be Martha, but sometimes it seems that is all people see me as. I do not want to plan everything! I do not want to do the order of service, but I do it because people have come to depend on me to do it. I do it because I have been told, you are the only one who can. Why is that?

I long to have people come up beside me and train them up to do the things that I do. I long to mentor those that are in awe of how much I am able to accomplish. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1-23). They went out and reported, He did not micromanage. He sent them out and was able to trust that they were doing what He sent them out to do. I long to be able to lead like that!

Do not get me wrong, I love serving! If I did not have anything to do I would probably go nuts. Sometimes I ask myself, “Amanda, are you doing too much?” “If you did not do it, is it really necessary?”

Before service Sunday I prepared a large meal for my family for when we got home. It was their favorite…schnitzel and spaetzle with peas and deviled eggs. All made from scratch. The only thing I had to do when we got home was make the jager gravy, because you know gravy will get congealed if it gets cold. We ate our Easter dinner together. I washed the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen and then go rest on the couch. Rest means I fell asleep. I slept hard! Finally allowing myself to relax, I slept nearly twelve hours that night (getting myself up and going to my own bed a few hours in).

On top of Easter functions that weekend we also had small group and a family gathering on the same day. I volunteered to buy and bring one of the main parts of the family dinner. That took some planning. Plans for Saturday was orchestrated to fit everything in (pick up crawfish, help in the garden at small group, get to my mother’s, drive back home and finish plans for egg deliveries, execute plan when time came). I had to take a forty five minute power nap Saturday too.

Sunday morning I wake up from a nightmare. I had been ridiculed in front of the church for orchestrating too much, planning too much. I just felt a heaviness in my heart, I did not ask for this. Have you ever felt that way? God, I did not ask for this? I thought I was doing this because you wanted me to. I felt like Martha when she went to Jesus to tell Mary to help her (Luke 10:38-42). I had to think on this. God created Martha will a love language that was different than Mary’s. Martha’s was acts of service and it frustrated her to see her sister not having the same love language as her. I realized the way I show love is also acts of service. I was probably running on empty and not receiving mine because I was pouring out so much (check out Gary Chapman’s books on the Five Love Languages).

Then I am reminded of a special moment that Jesus and Martha had after Lazarus had died. She ran out of the house to meet Him on the road and they had this exchange in John 11:21-26 (AMP), Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give to You.Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise [from the dead].”  Martha replied, “I know that he will rise [from the dead] in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”

I have conversations like Martha did right here with Jesus. I am usually in the midst of doing something and talking to Him. This is when I receive deep revelation from the Word that I had been mediating on, or a question that has been on my mind. One of Jesus’ “I AM” statements was revealed to Martha!

I am continuing to pray that I let things go. I am praying for God to send the helpers and if the helpers are there to allow my eyes to be opened to not limit their abilities. I get too caught up in not wanting people to think I am taking advantage of them. I need to give them the ability to be blessed by putting their hands to the work of the ministry. It is okay that I am a Martha, because He still talks to us Martha’s even in the midst of us serving. The qualities we see in Martha we also see in Rebekah, Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman, so I am in good company.

Who do you relate to more, Martha or Mary? I am comforted to know that God created me with a special way I show Him love. There is nothing wrong with it and not everyone will understand it. My love tank was just running a little on empty. I had to get close to the source again (John 15).