A willing offering

Philippians 2:14-17 (AMP) Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness],  holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result.  But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith [for preaching the message of salvation], still I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

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.

1 Corinthians 16:14 (AMP) Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].

Providence is the protective nature of God, trusting that I have a future. Can we just do everything He tells us in His Word without questioning if He has our best interest in mind? It gets more challenging, we are not promised that it will not be hard. We are anointed for the hard stuff. Paul is telling us to do EVEN IF your life is the offering. The race I run, the labor it brings forth, is not in vain. The sacrifice and service of my faith is for the salvation of others (the real prize)!

When God speaks to you to do something, do not be concerned with why not someone else. I have learned that when He calls you to it, He will equip you for it. When I started speaking, I was not great at it. It was actually very painful to watch. I had to trust that the words He gave me were impactful. My heart motive was not to make a name for myself, but to make Him famous.

I am not waiting on the situation to be right so that I can shine. I have never been into that “it’s my time to shine” when it comes to serving. Why do we need to feel like if we are not elevated then we really are not doing anything. Paul said even if I am being poured out as a drink offering. Pour all of me out Lord. Use everything that you have placed within me.

In the first part of 2 Kings 4, Elisha comes across a widow and her sons. She had a great debt and man she owed the debt to was coming to take her sons and make them bond servants. Elisha asked what she had. She replied only one jar of oil. He instructed her to get all her jars and even borrow from friends and neighbors. As she began to pour out of the single jar into the other, per his instruction, every jar was filled. She poured until the last jar that had been gathered was filled. Then she was instructed to first pay off her debt and then live off of the rest.

What if we applied that same principle to Matthew 6:33? But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. This is exactly what Paul was telling us in pouring out our lives as a drink offering. The anointing you have needs to be poured out. You are not called to this alone. Notice the widow needed the help of her friends and neighbors. Paul even refers to himself as a bond servant to Christ. Does not mean I have a debt to pay off? No, Christ paid that debt. My hearts desire should want to pour my life out because of His great love sacrifice. However, when I think of my needs first am I really trusting in the providence of God?

Colossians 3:14 (AMP) Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].

I want the best for you. I hope you feel the same way about me. If it takes me pouring myself out to be a drink offering for Him, so be it! Now, do not take me to the extreme. I do believe in rest. If you do not allow Him to pour back into you, then you will be pouring out of self. We cannot grow glory to glory without taking time with the Holy Spirit and the body that He called me to (for equipping). Pouring out has to be healthy. There is a fullness to this Gospel. I pray you dig more into your Word today to find out just how full your life can really be!!

Restoration takes more than me

Philippians 3:12 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.

There are many benefits of our Reconciliation through Christ besides just “going to Heaven” but they can remain dormant and non-beneficial until discovered and used. My husband posed this question to us a couple of Sunday’s ago: “Am I walking in the Freedom of Reconciliation today?”

Your relationship with God is as deep as you want it to be. Your freedom is to the level that you set it.

Luke 10:19 tells us that Jesus gave us the ability to exercise authority over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will harm us. I want to remind you that you cannot do this alone. You were not meant to do it alone.

Have you ever heard this? “I work out my own salvation!” That is taken from Philippians 2:12 and we use it as a defense mechanism because we do not like being corrected. We are taking it out of context. You see quoting this and stating “I work out my own salvation” is not the character and nature of God. Actually, in the original Greek it is not quite stated like this. The New American Standard Bible has the closest, because we all know from grammar classes, punctuation is important.

You should not quote verse 12 without 13: So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.

You cannot do this separate from the Holy Spirit. You are not alone to work out your own salvation. You need to know and read His Word, but if you do not have the Holy Spirit you are limited. You will quote verses out of context and live half free.

There was also something else that God gave us to help in our restoration. He gave us each other.

Ephesians 2:18, 22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The devil will try to tell you that since you are the only one like you in your family that you do not belong, that you are an alien, that you are an orphan. Even though you DO belong to a family, he will do everything he can to keep you from the full benefit of salvation. I know what it is like to feel like you are not included. My husband and I are the pastors. Do you know how hard that is to be the leader? Someone once said that if you want to please people sell ice cream. However,I cannot become all that He created me to be if I do not fellowship with my church. I am not talking about gathering to eat food. Am I being authentic in my growth with them so that they can encourage me? Not just one sided to where they are vulnerable and I just can’t because of my lack of trust in the very body of believers I am called to. I need to walk in fullness. I have to let the body do what it is suppose to, even if it hurts (just a little secret, growth is suppose to hurt).

Ephesians 4:12, 16 [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]; 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.

The five fold ministry is essential in equipping the saints (the born again believer). Do you have a pastor? Do you allow them to correct you? There are good ones out there that want to see the best in you. The body of Christ is also essential to each other. We are no longer our own person. My restoration was for a bigger purpose than myself. I should be encouraging you to grow. You encourage me to seek the Holy Spirit in my growth!

Love is the unselfish concern for others, to see the best for them. This goes against the culture of “do what is best for you.” That shows a total lack of trust in the Father. Do you honestly think that if you did something that was better for someone else that He would not see to it that you go the best too? Let us grow past looking out for ourselves and serve one another.

Let us get back to the main question: “Am I walking in the Freedom of Reconciliation today?” We cannot do it apart from Jesus and the Father. We cannot do it apart from the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it fully without each other. You were not meant to work it out alone. God’s desire is for you to be whole. Let the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ do its work.

Isolation is not your purpose

John 17:17 (AMP) Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth.

This was the key verse in my Smith Wigglesworth devotional yesterday. The devotional was talking about making the Word the authority in your life. He wanted to convey that instead of praying whether you should obey the word (which is just disobedience), do the Word. He questioned the heart of the believer for having to pray whether God wanted them to do what was written in the Word.

This got me thinking about the “set them apart for Your purposes,” as it is written in the Amplified Version. Since the beginning of man, Satan has taken God’s Word and twisted it (taking it out of context). Taking this Word out of context we can justify us isolating ourselves from the community of believers. A person can attend a weekly service and still be isolated, because they choose not to get involved with each others lives. They have been “set apart for a purpose.” Really they have a deep rooted fear of not feeling important to the community of believers, but only important to God, therefore, they are “set apart.” I know, because I used to be one of those. Fear will tell you that you are not wanted, not needed and not loved.

Let us put that key verse into context. John 17:15-21 (AMP) I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth. Just as You commissioned and sent Me into the world, I also have commissioned and sent them (believers) into the world. For their sake I sanctify Myself [to do Your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth. “I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me.

I took the liberty of underlining some very important elements. First, Jesus is talking about a group, not an individual. He did not say “some believers,” He said a blanket “believers.” To me that means there is not room for me to not be included in these verses, if I am called a “believer.” So therefore, I should not be praying if this is God’s will for my life. If I am a “believer” then, that is an automatic yes I should be obeying this.

“I do not pray for these alone (it is not for their sake only that I make this request),” I believe these words are written in red in some Bibles. This means that Jesus did not single anyone out. This is meant for ALL who will ever believe. He has sent us out to be apart of this world, not of this world. That means I have to allow the messy part of the world to be a part of my life, so that He can shine bright in it.

“That they all may be one…so the world may believe (without any doubt) that You sent Me.” This right here should give us a heart check in why we are called to a Body (a church, a community of believers). What if I have a gifting that can be done alone? Does this verse say you should? Jesus sent the disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1). When we read about intercession in the New Testament we read about it happening in groups (Acts 12:5). Yes, you can do things on your own, but does that mean you should? I have to remind myself that time and again. It is not “I” that is set apart, it is “we” that is set apart.

Praying that you know that you are needed, that you are wanted and that you are loved. Do not let fear hold you back from really being a part of a community any longer. There is purpose in community!

Hebrews 10:24 (TPT) Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.

Should we hide?

Acts 8:1 (AMP) Saul wholeheartedly approved of Stephen’s death. And on that day a great and relentless persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem; and the believers were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles.

We read in Acts 6 and 7 about the life (in Christ) and the death of Stephen. Saul is still a young man and is witnessing this. What a moment in the history of the early church. A man (innocent) said to have the face of an angel (Acts 6:15) is stoned to death for telling the group before him that they were stiff necked and stubborn just like their fathers before them for resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Saul (later Paul) witnesses all of this and later becomes a persecutor of Christians. We see in the above verse that the believers were scattered.

Where did they scatter to? Did they go in hiding? A relentless persecution had broken out against the church in Jerusalem. If we look to the past, what did they do in the past? Moses ran (Exodus 2:11-15). David ran (1 Samuel 21-24). Elijah ran (1 Kings 19). Should they run and hide?

Acts 8:4 (AMP) Now those [believers] who had been scattered went from place to place preaching the word [the good news of salvation through Christ]. 

Caves were no longer an option for those in Christ. When I was fired nearly three years ago, and told that I was a criminal for the unintentional mistake, my first reaction was to hide. I could have shrunk away from all things ministry. Instead, it propelled me into a deeper relationship with my Father and a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. We have to remember, although the angel led Elijah to the cave, it was God constantly calling him out of it.

Why did the persecution come? Why do hardships come? Before the Holy Spirit was released, Jesus gave a great commission, Matthew 28:18-20 (TLB), He told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” We have two choices, we can either hide (and use God as our crutch) or we can follow these instructions and GO!

We have not been hidden for later use. There is a great need for Christ in our world. It is in our comfort that we seek the cave. Depression is a real issue. If this is an issue with you and you cannot come out of the cave because of it, it may be time to seek help. It would not be choosing a plan B (other than God). You are not a failure for seeing a counselor, therapist and/or doctor. That was a dangerous and destructive theology…why is it okay to send doctors to the mission field, but not okay for you to see one?

In the last three years I have preached more in my local church, not to say I have not had to fight rejection. I have not had thoughts that I was not enough for people. However, I have stepped out and mentored anyone who has allowed me to. I am not ashamed of the Word and how it changed me.

Acts 1:8 (AMP)  But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.

This is what they were missing and why they hid. We have the Holy Spirit. This is why we do not hide! He has not hidden us for later use. It is time for the Body of Christ to come out of hiding and proclaim the word (the good news of salvation through Christ)!

Not Rejected but Accepted

Psalm 142:5 (AMP) I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

In my personal studies I am reading the Bible in chronological order. I have been using the You Version App and it has a plan to read it in a year. I cannot say that I read every day, but I do catch it up to where I should be in line with what it wants me to be at. Right now I am in the middle of 1 Samuel and some of the Psalms. These were the Psalms that David wrote as he was being pursued by Saul the first time. I encourage you to read your Bible in different ways and in different translations. The Word of God is living and brings fresh revelation (like the manna) every day. Here are some that stood out to me:

Psalms 142: 4-7 (AMP) Look to the right [the point of attack] and see; for there is no one who has regard for me [to act in my favor]. Escape has failed me and I have nowhere to run; no one cares about my life. I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my refuge,my portion in the land of the living.
“Give attention to my cry, for I am brought very low; rescue me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I. “Bring my soul out of prison (adversity), so that I may give thanks and praise Your name; the righteous will surround me [in triumph], for You will look after me.”

Psalms 56:8 (AMP) You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not recorded in Your book?

Psalms 56:5 (AMP) All day long they twist my words and say hurtful things; all their thoughts are against me for evil.

Psalms 34:14 (AMP) Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalms 31:10-13 (AMP) For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and even my body has wasted away. Because of all my enemies I have become a reproach and disgrace, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me on the street run from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander and whispering of many, terror is on every side; while they schemed together against me, they plotted to take away my life.

Reading these passages out of context (just reading the Psalms on their own) we would think that anything against us we have the right to wale like David did. In that context when we “think” people, family and/or the world is against us we like to quote these verses of David. I want to make something clear, David was ACTUALLY/LITERALLY RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE!

I had a Psalms 56:5 moment the other day (All day long they twist my words and say hurtful things; all their thoughts are against me for evil.) Then I had to think, “If I had to explain this to an non-believer what would they think?” They would probably think I was nutty, fruity and flaky. Here is what I want you to notice what David did recognize, in Psalms 142:7, he writes, “Bring my soul out of prison (adversity), so that I may give thanks and praise Your name; the righteous will surround me [in triumph], for You will look after me.” When we lament over our thoughts of adversity, we put our own souls in prison. Most of the battles we are facing are in our minds, not like David here, who again was literally running for his life.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds😉 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

People are not our problems. The more we dwell on them, and how you think you may feel about each other, we are putting up strongholds in the body of Christ that will keep us from reaching the ones that need Jesus. We are the light of the World and we cannot show our light if we keep putting up these strongholds. We cannot keep “feeling” like this against our brothers and sisters in Christ and be effective. We are doing like David said and have put our souls in prison. Let us cast down these thoughts, these imaginations and focus on who we are truly called to be.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

We are not rejected, we are accepted!

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!

One Year Later

It has been a year since the Stay at Home Order in Alabama. We were told that we should only go out of our homes to get the essentials (i.e. groceries, toiletries, home repair, etc.). Masks were not mandated yet, but you saw people wearing them in public, as well as, gloves of all sorts. There was toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and spray shortages.

Our kids were on spring break at the time. Since my kids are athletes, and how else are we suppose to get teenagers away from electronics these days, I made them run every morning. We lifted weights together, at the house, every day. I tried to keep them as active as possible. It brought me back to the days when I was growing up and my grandmother would keep us outside during the summer so we would not just watch television all day. We would ride our bikes to a friends house or they would all come over to my grandmother’s and swim. It was too cool for the pool to be open, so one rode his bike all over the neighborhood and the other learned to climb ladders and hang out on the roof.

What made me want to write about this was because as pastors my husband and I had to adjust, but we did not want this to change the core of what we believed the church should be. There was a quote being posted around Facebook, it said, “Your Pastor has never pastored a church through a Pandemic before. When he opens people are going to say he should have closed. When he closes people are going to say he should have opened. When he shakes hands people are going to say he has faith. When he shakes hands people are going to say he’s foolish. He’s going to make some difficult decisions to protect the flock considering everything from your spiritual growth to legal liabilities that you aren’t even thinking about. He has the incredible responsibility of looking over the well being of his flock. Remember this:No one wants things to go well at church as much as your pastor. Your pastor needs your prayers and support right now. And although you can’t touch him, give him an air high 5. 😄 support your pastor in prayer.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 (AMP) 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].

This is our calling and our role. It breaks my heart that the body was separated during that time physically, but we should not have been separated spiritually. There have been many things that have happened in the past year. A real shaking occurred. The shaking could have gone two ways: 1) it could have shaken us awake and brought us closer together to unify, or 2) it could have shaken us to divide us. Whatever you are going through in your life right now, I pray that things were shaken to draw you closer to Him. That is what I chose to do this past year.

It breaks my heart that the body was separated during that time physically, but we should not have been separated spiritually.

Yes, my family did get hit with COVID-19. It effected me different than everyone else in my home. Both of my grandparents passed away this past year. Both of my husband’s and my parents have had long term effects of the virus. They are coming out of it, it has taken a few months. We know of those that have been put on a respirator and recovered. It has been a year that changed our world. So please continue to pray for us (your pastors and leaders) as it has been a year of not knowing what to do and still doing it. We did not give up on you. We are here wanting to see you grow in His spiritual completeness and exercise your gifts in unity.