Leaving the Boat

Matthew 14:29-30 He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

As a church, we are on day eight of 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. I look forward to this time every year. I choose something to fast that I know will make me have to dig into His Word deeper.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

To humble ourselves is to not think highly of ourselves. A strong, confident person can be humble. Look at David. He was not a coward and he did not back down. He was even accused of being conceited by his brother (1 Samuel 17:28). A humble person will want to see the best for others. I want my nation healed, because I want them restored to their original purpose.

Peter was the only disciple to get out of the boat. The conditions were not calm, and they were not perfect. Peter walked on the water in faith. It was when he looked at the wind that he began to sink. Peter was outspoken and quick to action. He still walked on the water.

I had a sinking moment not too long ago. In trying to get others out of the boat, I was called judgmental. It looked like only a few wanted to step out with me, and I am grateful for them. I started to look at the wind, at just the few. I started to look at their lack of commitment, their lack of energy and their lack of passion to reach their community. I wanted to quit. I was looking at all areas to escape having to stand up in front of people. I was going to hide and serve in the background. I was going to revert back to the boat. Questioning whether He really did say, “Come.” I was sinking.

In this 21 Days of Prayer of Fasting, by day 5, I received confirmation that I was called out of the boat. Not too long ago I wrote about “Stepping Out of Fear Into My Hiding Place.” My story is that I did all the behind the scene items at my church I served where ever they needed someone. Whenever they asked for somebody, I was that somebody. I asked God to settle the fear within me. I was overwhelmingly afraid of public speaking. So much so, that I would cry and get sick at the thought of it. My desire was not to hold a platform, it wanted to see the captives set free, just like I had been set free.

Rejection and not being what someone wanted almost made me get back in that boat. I fear the Lord in that I never want to cause someone else to stumble. I want them to grow closer to God. If me standing on that stage, exhorting them to get out of the boat, was going to cause them not to want to grow, then I was going to step off of it for good. I felt broken. This scripture and all the messages I had been listening to confirmed, that I was called to be out of that boat. I need to get my eyes off of people and keep my eyes on Jesus. He pulled me back out of the waters from drowning. I am not going back to that boat!

Praying that God speaks to you today and encourages you to keep looking at Him. When you start seeing the wind (distractions, disappointments, rejections, etc.) reach out your hand, He has you. Have an amazing week!

I was born with a mission to set captives free!!!

Water Walkers Series by Dr. Dharius Daniels

Hosanna Wong, Say Yes to Jesus

What is success?

1 Chronicles 28: 2, 3, 6 (AMP) I had intended to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and as a footstool for our God, and I prepared materials for the building. But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My Name (Presence)…He said to me, ‘Solomon your son shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I will be a father to him.

I am in the process of reading the Bible Chronologically using the Amplified Version in the You Version App. It is different from reading a complete book at a time, because it puts you in the perspective of what was going on during the time it was written. Reading Psalms out of context before had me feeling like David was a big whiner sometimes. It reminded me that we can make judgments about people because we do not know the whole story.

I just finished reading where David is at the end of his life and his heart’s desire was to build the permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant. He has spent years studying the texts and his heart was to see it completed. In 1 Chronicles 23-29 David is making preparations for his son, Solomon, to become king and to build the temple.

1 Chronicles 28:11 (AMP) Then David gave to his son Solomon the plan… This had me thinking. When was the last time you helped someone with their success knowing that you would not reap the benefits of it? I gained a new respect for David when I saw his heart for his son to succeed. David had been talking about and dreaming about building this temple for years. What would you have done if God told you that you would not be the one to build what you dreamed? Would you still gather the materials? Would you still do the research? Would you still buy that plot of land?

We live in a culture where offense is the norm. I actually think some people do not know how to function without someone being the villain in their lives. David did not look at his son as his successor, nor as his competition. He looked at Solomon as the one who was going to succeed him, and he was excited about it.

My husband and I are pastors of a church in Opelika, Alabama. We were not the ones who started the ministry, his parents were. I often look back as to when were did not have a title, or considered the “assistants,” and how our hearts were to see the church succeed. We had no intentions nor was it on our minds that one day we would lead. Every event was planned and executed by us, yet we did not take the lead role during the event (to include baby and bridal showers). If there was a need to reach a certain demographic with a small group or a type of fellowship, we started and led it, willingly! We were excited to be at the church early and doing whatever needed to be done way before service started. If they needed someone in nursery, I was there. They needed a pre-teen class for an age group to be ministered to, I will teach it!! They just needed to state the need, not ask me to meet the need.

When was the last time you looked around and saw a need and did not just say “someone needs to,” but instead said “there is a need and I am going to make sure it is met”? Instead of being offended with your church or pastors for not meeting your needs (or expectations), ask yourself what you can do to help that area succeed. When others succeed, you will succeed. Do you need the recognition here or is it enough that the Father sees your heart and has a reward for you in heaven? Instead of taking on offense at the leader, what can we do to make sure they succeed?

I do not know if you are a leader or if you look to your leader to meet all of your needs. Only he Father can meet all of our needs. I want to be a light to this world. I want to make an impact that brings glory to God. If that means that I do all the work in the background to make sure there is a good foundation laid for the next generation, then so be it. If they succeed, then I succeed!

He Understands

Ephesians 4:22-25 (AMP) That, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ].

So many of us put our faith in Christ as our Savior, but fail to allow Him to be our redeemer, our healer, our restorer. Christ has done everything He needs to do to be one with us. God lives in me, He sees me, He hears me, He loves me and He understands me. People may not always understand you, but Jesus will always understand you.

I have recently gone through a great heart ache. People in our church have recently walked away from ours to go to another in our area. As pastors it is hard because it feels like a divorce (or that is what those who have never had a divorce would think it feels like). I had a dream about one of them last night. It was a dream of when he and his brother were younger, with short curly hair. In my dream I wept. I also imagined myself using something to dull the feeling of pain. That is something I have never done in the natural, so why would I dream about that?

Galatians 5:16-17 (AMP) But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.

I have recently been reading about the time in David’s life when his son Absalom was against him. You can read about their tumultuous relationship in 2 Samuel 13-18. David did not send orders to end Absalom’s life. He asked for them to have mercy on his son, the son that was trying to overthrow him. I often think about how we want God to take revenge for us to those that have done us wrong. My husband made a good point yesterday and I have been asking God to help with my heart change. We have have every right to feel the way we do when someone wrongs us…in the natural. However, when we are born again we have to submit those feelings to the Kingdom and let go of our rights.

David writes during this time in Psalms 26:11 (AMP), “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful and gracious to me.”

Psalms 139:23-24 (AMP) Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

I cannot allow these hurts to hold me back. I cannot beat myself up for them coming up sometimes either. I have to change my focus. I have to allow the Holy Spirit to heal me from the inside out. Remember, Jesus understands. David did have his moments when he cried out to God to hide his iniquity. Psalms 38:16 (AMP), For I pray, “May they not rejoice over me, who, when my foot slips, would boast against me.” We want to hide in our shame. We want to close the doors to our bedroom and not let the light shine in so we can stay in the bed all day long. Let Christ in!

Let me know how I can pray for you today. Let me know if you have moments like this too, or if you are in a season right now that is hard to get out of. I want to pray with you! You can email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

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!

Power in Hope

It has been a struggle to decide about what to write about today. In my personal time I have been reading through Psalms in the Message Translation. I wrote about the inward reflection that David took earlier this week (Psalms 42). Last night in youth, one of my leaders led a discussion on Psalms. I had to admit to them, that David is probably someone I would struggle to look up to in leadership, or even to be around. I enjoy him when He is leading them into battle, when he is leading them into worship and when he is talking about all the great things of God. Then he gets to this lamenting, not just complaining and whining, but deep down in the dumps kind of talk.

Psalms 13:1-2 (MSG) Long enough, God— you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.

Then I remember, God said that this was a man after His own heart. In this I am reminded that I have to have some of these kinds of people in my life. There are going to be leaders in my life that I have to honor even if I do not like their personality. Then it made me think, how do I come off on others? Most of the time I am quiet because I feel like I can come off harsh. I was told in one work place (a Christian nonprofit) that I did not speak in love and that they did not receive me as a person that lived 1 Corinthians 13. This hurt me deeply because I try to live Philippians 4:8 (AMP), “Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” I try to live this towards God’s creation. I sometimes have to realign my thinking to this, but that is truly my goal. I asked them about this verse and they quickly informed me that they could not apply that to me. Ouch! So I rub people the wrong way sometimes too. Paul did, Peter did, even Hannah did with Eli the prophet. My heart is for other’s to feel that love of Christ to come through me, this truly is what I want to be rooted in.

There are going to be leaders in my life that I have to honor even if I do not like their personality.

I do understand that this is probably not who David was to everyone. Only those closest to him saw this side of him. What we are reading are his words pouring out to God. Why does God want us to see this? It’s okay that we are not okay sometimes. We need to cry out in our deep grief and anger. He knows our heart anyways!

I told the group last night that David reminded me of He-Man from the cartoon series in the 1980s. In his writings, David, does seem like he has two very distinct personalities. Prince Adam had all the feelings, he cooked, he goofed off and seemed not all that together. He wore a pink vest and purple leggings! Then when he got the “power” he transformed into this warrior.

The power I think is when David remembers his position, that God is for him and not against him. The “power” for David is always underlying there because even in the lament of Psalms 13 we see verse 15-16 (MSG), “I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.” David was never without hope. There is power in hope. It was the root of who David really was. May we never let go of hope.

Hope is one of the ingredients Paul talks about at the end of 1 Corinthians 13, verse 13 (TPT), “Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.” I did not forget about love. It is the most important, I know. I am running for that beautiful prize (I may not be athletic, but I am competitive).

If you need prayer please message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Inward Reflection

Psalms 42:6 (NASB) Why are you in despair my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him. For the help of His presence, my God.

I like how David talks here, that he is going inward as to why his soul is in despair. An inward reflection is the stance he decided at this moment. Right now we are preparing to teach a series in our youth on how our emotions and memories are often tied together. They can, if we allow them to, define who we are. David had very high highs and some very low lows in his writings, but God still refers to him as a man after His heart. David was full of emotions, sometimes in his writing you can tell he was led by them. He had to make a conscious decision to allow God to lead in the midst of his brokenness. There are times you can see great strength coming out at the admittance of his weakness.

There are times that we try to come out of the despair by ourselves. We will go and tell those around us who will listen so that we can get a sympathetic hear. We try to numb it with watching videos. Some use substance to take away the pain. Even in our frustrations and in our pain, the one we can run to is our Father. Especially when you are angry, tell Him, He knows your heart anyways.

Ephesians 5:2 (TPT) And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration – a sweet healing fragrance.

When I think of healing I do not always think of a physical need for healing. Some of our wounds are not able to be seen. Mostly I think of emotional healing. I do not like the way I react sometimes. In order to get to the root of that wound, I find that surrendering to the extravagant love of Christ, the one that we are told is there, I have to allow it to surround me. We can receive Christ as our Savior and not really receive this love. Some of us think that we are not lovable. We thank Him for saving us from hell, without realizing all that He wanted to restore within us. I walked this way for years. I truly realized what freedom felt like when I, that I do not have to be surrendered to my wounds, that I can receive a healing deeper than my physical needs.

I want to tell you that it is okay, not to feel okay sometimes. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.” He will not just take away the pain though, He wants to bring you through it. There is growth in that process. There is an understanding that happens so that we can love others when they are going through things. I have learned that in my hurt, I have hurt others. I have kept people at a distance so that I would not get hurt again. When I get to the root of my hurt, I can start to heal.

“I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.”

Charles Spurgeon

I was talking with the other youth leaders and told them that one of the reasons that I seemed so stand offish, not approachable, in my early years of leadership, was because I felt like I had to be perfect growing up. In turn, I would often snap real easily at people if I felt like they were lazy or messy. I was the oldest of three (ages five and three, my sisters are twins) to a single mother. My mother was nearly twenty four when she left my abusive father. When we finally got a place of our own, I felt pressure to make sure things were taken care of. We had chores, like all children should, but to a single mom who was trying to better herself, there was not much availability to have a messy home. Everything was always put away. Dishes were done immediately. My sister use to talk about how clean my house was when she would come over. I do not stress about it like I use to. I do the dishes in the mornings now (well sometimes). My sisters were younger and it seemed they did not “care” as much as I did, or maybe did not notice, that these things stressed my mom out. Later, I realized that I inherited that stress. This is at no way a fault of hers, it was something that I did not know how to process as an eight year old. Now that I am an adult, and with ability to surrender into His extravagant love, I can get to the root of why I stress. I did not like feeling that way, why God do I despair? He will help you work through to the root, if you let Him. I still tense up about some things, but I am getting better. You may need to talk to someone who specializes in this, that is perfectly okay. I would just encourage you to find someone who is grounded in pointing you back to Christ.

In Isaiah 9:2-7 (MSG) it talks about the promise of Christ, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants— all their whips and clubs and curses— Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.”

There are no limits to the wholeness He will bring. I like that. However, it does not leave out my surrender to to the process to receive that wholeness. Jesus knows what it feels like to be hurt and to have to work through the emotions to process that hurt, so in turn He could walk in perfect love. It is a process. It is okay in that process, like David, you feel despair. On the other side is immense joy!

John 15:11 (NLT) I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

If you need prayer or someone to encourage you please feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Bass Players Creedo: “Turn it up!”

I guess a “cool” thing I tell people about myself is that I play the bass in our worship band. I have been doing so for the past twenty years.

Now, I do make it clear that I am not trained. I cannot tell you what note something is. I do play with a couple of fingers on the frets at time. I have never been really good at runs.

You see, I cannot sing. When I do, it is really bad. So I need this really loud sound coming from behind me to drown out the horrible noise coming out of my mouth so that others do not get distracted during worship.

Oh, how I love worship though! Right now I am in a season in our church where I am the worship leader. Basically, I pick the songs and tell everyone what time practice is. We talk as a group as we learn new songs and everyone’s ideas are heard. My singers know harmony and are really good at putting that together. I mean, we are no Bethel, but we get in it!

One thing I listen for in churches, when we visit, is whether you can hear the bass drum and the bass player. Then you know you are going to have a good time. Why?

“And pulsing from the thrown were blinding flashes of lightning, crashes of thunder, and voices.” Revelations 4:5a TPT

“After I heard what seemed to be the roar of a great multitude of voices, saying: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory to the power of our God!” Revelations 19:1 TPT

One thing I listen for in churches, when we visit, is whether you can hear the bass drum and the bass player.

These are just two verses that talk about the sounds in heaven. Books I have read describes it that you can feel the sounds in your bones.

Now I have been in places where it was loud and it was not pleasing to the ears, because it was so loud. However, you do not have to be loud to feel the music. When we worship, we should do with everything that is withing us. That is why I love to play the bass during worship.

Worship is a very important part of our daily time with God. He does not demand it of us, but it should be something that comes naturally from our hearts. It is a part of my daily surrender to Him.

King David made it a part of who he was. He was not a perfect king, nor a perfect man, but his heart was for God. Father, help me have a heart like David’s. Your word says, “I will give you a new heart, a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 26:36). Let my heart always be mindful of you.

My father in law likes to say there are eighteen inches between success and failure. Those eighteen inches are from your heart to your mind. Keep yourself in the Word and it will help keep your heart lined up with His.