My Calling

Matthew 10:41 (AMP) He who receives and welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous (honorable) man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, most churches celebrated and honored their pastor’s yesterday (ours did it the first Sunday). To be called into the pastoral ministry is a joy. We are tasked with the duty of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, the ministry of reconciliation, as we were called into it first.

My husband and I have been on a series called “Restore” all year. We have taken the past few weeks to tackle a subject regarding “My Calling.” We find that many in the church start to chase after their calling. Leaving, and forsaking the covering of their pastors, and seeking out those who will promote their calling. Did I just say covering? Is that not old fashioned? Do you not think that this is anything new? The letters in the New Testament were not written to the unbeliever, they were written to the church. Hebrews 10:25 talks about not forsaking the meeting together as some have come into the habit of. What would the writer say about the church today, staying at home, watching on You Tube and disconnected from serving one another?

Hebrews 13:7 (AMP) Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you.

I understand there have been abuses. Your pastor does not have the right to tell you who you can marry, where you can live, what job you are to take, nor what car to buy. Your pastor does have the right to tell you that the counsel you have chased after to build up your calling, is not where you need to be. The pastoral calling is heavy and will come with more responsibility.

The initial verse of this is Jesus speaking. Jesus went to His hometown. He desired to see people set free where ever He went. The same power to heal and bring back to life flowed through Him every where He went. Why did it not flow freely in His home town? They still saw Him as the boy that grew up there and not the man who walked in freedom that all the other towns were able to receive from. They could not receive from Him because they saw Him as common. How do you approach the gathering on Sundays? Do you go with expectation? Or are you expecting the same thing every week?

Pastors are vision carriers. They have a passion to see you become free and to do the work of the ministry. That is not always vacuuming or cleaning the bathrooms, but sometimes it is. What it really is…the ministry of reconciliation. Who are we doing the serving with? Those who need freedom in their life, just like you. Do not get so caught up in the work that you do not see the person you are working along side and not get to know them.

I do a lot of one on one care. I will invite someone to do an activity and get to know them. I will find out how I can pray for them, direct them in the Word, share my own struggles and how I am overcoming in the Word, find out their interests and just get to know them. That is what it looks like. Then I will help them do the same for someone else. Not everyone will have a relationship like that with me. Some still see me as the teenage girl, that wore short skirts, dating the pastor’s son. Some still see me as the young woman that would roll her eyes. Does that mean I am not the person I am today? I do not remember that young girl, even if others do. That does not mean I will not serve them.

During this Pastor Appreciation Month take stock of how you see your pastor(s). Pastors, take a look at how you lead and serve the people God has called you to. We are connected for a reason and the reason is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are no longer bound, but free. Freedom takes work to figure out, there are root areas that will try to keep us from putting on the newness (Colossians 3:10) we have become, it takes all of us to get there.

Father, thank you for your goodness, mercy and grace. Let me see the people you have called me to with fresh eyes. I no longer want to see them as common. Your Son said that if I would receive people with honor and see them as righteous that I would receive a righteous man’s reward. I want all that you have for me, so I choose today to lay down my rights and stand on Your truth. Forgive me for not receiving from the pastor(s) you have placed in my life. They have only wanted to see me free and I repent for fighting them in my stubbornness. I surrender my heart to You. Let it be tender and responsive to Your Holy Spirit. I choose to surrender today. Thank you for giving me the ministry of reconciliation, so that I can share Christ with others. I do not take it for granted. It is the calling that you trusted me with. I will not run the race in vain. I choose you today. In Jesus Name, Amen.

I cannot stumble in peace

Psalms 119:165 (MEV) Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing shall cause them to stumble.

As I was reading Psalms 119 yesterday this verse jumped up at me. There are many verses in that section that I highlighted, but this one I meditated on a little more. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). What does that really mean? In Matthew 10:34, Jesus tells us that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword. What! Then there is this block of verses that can be taken way out of context: “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his [own] household [when one believes and another does not].” (verses 35-36 AMP)

What is it about us that we are attracted to drama? The first place that our minds go to is that they just do not like me or they just do not want me. It stems from our root nature to judge the situation for ourselves. That is why we have to renew our minds daily. This is why we need to mediate on the Word daily. That is why the psalmist wrote, “those who love Your law have great peace.” The law here is the precepts or the first five books of the Bible that we have today. When the disciples led others to Christ, they did so by showing how Christ fulfilled the law (which means they knew it). When the thoughts of destruction or fear rise up that others are against us, we need to be grounded in the One who knows us.

John 14:27 (AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

How can I not allow my heart to be troubled? I need to be rooted and grounded in His love (Ephesians 3:16-19). The hardest part of entering peace is first accepting that you are loved. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 AMP). I read this yesterday and it really calmed the storm of what others perceive of me: “He does not love you with the hope that you will be like someone else,” Lisa Bevere. He does not love me hoping that I will become anything more than He has created me to be. I was created to be His daughter.

I am here to tell you that you may battle rejection. You may fight the urge to hide because you feel like you do not measure up. Our hiding place is in Him. We can walk boldly into that throne room of grace because of Jesus and His great love. When we do not walk in His love, we walk in fear. We will walk in the mindset that we are not accepted. We will focus on other things that will not line up with the purpose for our lives, that is to glorify Him. When we choose anything else we will stumble.

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].

His Word is good and that is why we should implant them in our hearts. Direct your mind back to the Word. I cannot get focused on anything other than His Word. Yes, there are demonic spirits out there that want to tear down every ounce of peace that we have. However, we do not fight against people. We should never put our mouths against people. People are not trying to indoctrinate us or our children, the enemy is. When we know the Word, when we spend time in relationship with Him, we will know His voice. All those other voices can speak, scream or yell, but they will not have access to my peace. Why? Because I am rooted and grounded in His love. It is not a passive love. It is an aggressive and passionate love. A love that I will pursue after.

Father, I thank you for sending your Son to be the Prince of Peace. Thank you for changing my mindset of what Your peace is. Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is knowing that we are grounded in love. You are my hiding place and my fortress of peace. I love your Word and it will not depart from my heart. Thank you for the ability to renew my mind. I choose to focus on You today. I choose to walk in love today. Show me opportunities to glorify You today. Lead me through the still waters. I choose to listen to Your voice today. I am loved because You are love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Lazy Days of Summer are Over

Philippians 3:10 (AMP) And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did].

Summer break is officially over for us. My youngest started his first year of high school this week and my oldest will start his first year of college next week. I have to overcome the lazy days of summer and get back into a routine. Why? I have become lazy. I have become lazy in my devotions. I have become lazy in my reading. I have become lazy in my writing.

Sunday we began 21 days of prayer with our church. You can follow along with the social media prompt here on our Facebook Page. These 21 days of prayer are focused on our children returning to school. We are sending them out as light into the darkness. We do not pray over them in fear, we pray over them so that they may make an impact. I have never hidden my children from the world as we have been instructed to be light to the world. How can we hide what He has illuminated (Matthew 5:15).

My children are not my own, they are His and I have to trust that He can do better with them than I. Remember Hannah (1 Samuel 1), we have dedicated our children to the Lord for His service. Even though the household that Samuel was sent out to was not perfect, God still spoke in and through him.

With all that being put out there, how do I overcome my laziness? I have also taken these 21 days to give my time back to God. I have become more intentional with my devotion time. I have become more intentional with my reading. I have given Him my days again. Why? Just like the above verse states, so that I may know Him. Desiring for More has always been about drawing deeper into my relationship with God.

Monday I redid the website and social media pages to reflect that. When I began this two years ago the verse I used was Ephesians 3:20, (TPT) “Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” I firmly believe when we run after the things of God that my wildest imaginations will come to life. However, that is not why I chase after Him and I wanted to convey that in my writings. So the key verse for Desiring for More has been changed to Philippians 3:10.

To get out of the lazy, I need to realign my heart with His. Seek after Him and do the works of the ministry. However, I cannot get so busy doing that I do not spend time with Him. I cannot spend so much time with Him and never get to doing. That is why I gave Him back my time these 21 days of prayer, it is His time now.

How are you doing with your time? Could you use a readjustment like me? Give back to Him what is His. He freely gave it to us. We need to be good stewards with it (Matthew 25:14-30). Spend time in His Word, spend time in prayer and get out and do what He says. Show your Light and His love today.

Peace, Love and Jesus

Philippians 4:6-8 (AMP) Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. 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 love this block of passages. When I read 1 Corinthians 13, I also read this. When I read about putting on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6, I also read this. When I read about the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5, I also read this. I believe our peace is directly connected to our love walk. How can we love if we are anxious? How can we love if we are constantly in worry? How can we love if there is a storm always going on inside of us? How can I love if I am in fear?

1 John 4:18 (AMP) There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

I am one of those that can take a future conversation and run with it. What if they say this to me? I am going to respond this way. What if they tell someone this? How am I ever going to win them over to my side? Then you go the whole day and nothing is said to anyone. I will just avoid that person entirely because of the future scenarios that I had in my head. Way to show love, Amanda!

I did not choose to think on whatever is right and confirmed in His Word. Anxiety, fear, dread and anything other than peace was about me about that person. We can get that way about situations too. How about when the car starts making funny noises? How about when the line is long at Starbucks? How about when you go look for that protein bar that you had been saving for before church snack? The last one was definitely me.

Peace is also a weapon…so is truth. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth…having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation (experts from Ephesians 6:14 and 15). How can I fight the enemy that likes to attack my mind without putting these on each day. I have to actively choose truth. I have to actively choose peace. Therefore, I have to actively choose love. The only one who was all love was Jesus, and I think He had to choose it too. I cannot “just love everybody” and gossip. I cannot “just love everybody” and avoid people. I cannot “just love everybody” and talk negatively about everything going on in my life.

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] (Philippians 4:8).

I want my heart to be aligned with Him, so my thought life does too. Peace, Love and Jesus…make it a what you are known for.

Happy Independence Day!

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Acts 13:38-39 (AMP) So let it be clearly known by you, brothers, that through Him forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you; and through Him everyone who believes [who acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior and follows Him] is justified and declared free of guilt from all things, from which you could not be justified and freed of guilt through the Law of Moses.

The United States of America is two hundred and forty six years old today. I do not know about where you are (for those that life here in the states), but celebrations have been going on all weekend. Our city held their fireworks show and Freedom Celebration on Saturday (two days ago). Our neighbors were shooting off fireworks all night last night. Tonight the city next to us has their fireworks and festivities. We have not made plans to attend a single one. We would have done it when the kids were smaller. We would go now if it interested them.

What does it mean to be unquestionably free? My definition of freedom is probably different from yours. My definition is tied to my peace. My peace of mind. Torment is not freedom. Worry is not freedom. Anxiety is not freedom. To me, that puts me back in bondage. When I get that way I have to dig deep and ask myself, what has put me back in bondage.

John 14:27 (AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

There are moments that I allow my peace to be taken. I allow myself to worry about certain things and thought of certain people. I allow myself to get upset when I allow another person’s torment to affect me (this usually shows up in annoyance). I am not as nice as I would like to be sometimes. I have allowed that freedom of peace to be taken. Here is the great thing about Jesus. He already paid the price for me to take it back. I do not need to beat myself up about what happened for me to lose it. I do not need to feel guilty or shameful. I (with the help of the Holy Spirit) put my thoughts back in line and focus on what is important to bring me back in line with peace.

Romans 14:17 (AMP) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Take back your dependence on all the wrong things. Put your focus back on Jesus. He is the one who gives us the real freedom. Peace is part of that freedom package. No matter what the legislature is saying and doing. No matter what your family may be saying and doing. No matter what the news outlets (some depend on social media) are saying and doing. What did Jesus do? He came so that we could establish His Kingdom here on earth. With what? With righteousness (not by dead works), with peace and with joy.

Galatians 5:13 (AMP) For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

When I can seek the best for others, I know that love has brought me to the place of perfect peace.

Happy Independence Day!

Tennis Balls and the Holy Spirit

As I was reading Undistracted by Bob Goff, Saturday, I came across him talking about having to decide about whether he would have a heart procedure done because his heart was beating too fast. His resting heart rate was in the two hundreds. A normal resting heart rate is between seventy and one hundred beats per minute. He had to decide to have a procedure that would stop his heart and then send a shock to restart it (all done while medicated sleep). He posed the question: “Would you be willing to risk dying in order for your life to be more lasting? Would you risk everything for the chance to live your life more fully?”

Jesus did just that when He went to the cross for us. He did that, then how is my life better?

John 16:5-7 (AMP) But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [and taken complete possession of them]. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

My mind went directly to the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the reason my life is so much better! Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. If the Holy Spirit was not here, and within me, then the church would not be able to reach her fullest potential.

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.

I fully believe that I would not be able to fulfill the commandment Jesus gave me without the Holy Spirit.

John 15:12 (AMP) This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.

Not many of us can say that being unselfish is easy. I am one that likes to have my time. I plan out what I am cooking and how left overs are going to be used when I am doing my weekly shopping. I am at the gym every day at the same time. I plan what errands that I will do each day and will try to be home at a certain time. This is so that I can have time to read and take a nap before we have evening sports. I can say that I have gotten better at letting go of the routine. How do you think those like me would have handled the changes when the Holy Spirit took root in the early church?

Acts 2:41-47 (AMP) So then, those who accepted his message were baptized; and on that day about 3,000 souls were added [to the body of believers]. They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers. A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need. Day after day they met in the temple [area] continuing with one mind, and breaking bread in various private homes. They were eating their meals together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.

Your possessions are anything that you get to decide how they are used. Would I give up my time so that others can receive Christ? Would I give up my Saturday so that I can meet the need of someone else?

Bob Goff compared the amount of effort it takes for you heart to beat is like you and I taking a tennis ball in our hand and trying to squeeze it. Try it, it’s not easy. That to me is what it is like to do this love walk (unselfishly seeking the best for others) without the Holy Spirit. I need the Holy Spirit in my time. I need the Holy Spirit in my coming and going. I need the Holy Spirit in my self talk. I need the Holy Spirit in getting to know the heart of the Father. I need the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Jesus. To try to do this without the Holy Spirit is like squeezing a tennis ball. You might get one or two squeezes before you hand cramps, but not enough to sustain a steady heart beat.

If you have not done so invite the Holy Spirit into your life. If you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit I would love to talk with you more about that. The benefits of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave us is so much more than just a Comforter. We also get the benefit of a heavenly prayer language. We get the benefit of not going at this love walk alone. We get the benefit of having God within us. I am so grateful for Pentecost (the gift of the Holy Spirit) and my church. I am so happy that Jesus risked everything so that I could live a life more fully!

How I think of myself matters

Romans 12:2 (AMP) And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Yesterday I had the privilege of ministering the word to my church. It was called “Mirror the Glory.” This is an excerpt from it. I believe our minds are the biggest battle we face to keep us from walking in the command to love, just as Jesus commanded us to. It all starts on how we see ourselves. The NIV starts off the above verse with “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”

What is the pattern of this world? “I am the result of my upbringing.” “I cannot move ahead because I was not set up to succeed.” “I was not loved as a child so I do not know how to show love (or receive love).” “I grew up in dysfunction so all I know is dysfunction.” “I was abused so I seek out relationships that abuse.” “I have been through too much.”

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price [a precious price paid by Christ]; do not become slaves to men [but to Christ].

Do not become slaves to this thought pattern. Do not allow this to keep you from the abundant life that He came for (John 10:10).

1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP) Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me].

We are held in bondage by the thoughts we have. This has nothing to do with His love for you. I can be held in emotional bondage and He still loves us.

Romans 8:38-39 (AMP) For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This has nothing to do about whether you are saved (going to Heaven), whether He loves you, this has to do about the SOZO. SOZO means to save, deliver, heal, to make whole. The devil’s goal is to separate us from God’s love, because God’s love is the main factor in our emotional healing.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (AMP) 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].

In order to full experience this amazing and endless love, you need to go through the process of giving Him what bounds you. It is through this process that you experience the love to the fullest. The Holy Spirit was given to us to Comfort us through the process. It is going to hurt, but it is a good hurt. Let the spiritual roots of bondage be set free. Receive the wholeness that He came to bring you. It is a continual thing. It is not a one and done.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

Look yourself in the mirror today and make this declaration: I am fully loved by God. He adopted me into His family. The pain of my past does not determine my future. The spirit that now dwells in me has full access to my life. He has permission to search within me and clear out anything that the enemy can use to hinder the call that He has on my life. I am free! I am healed! I am whole!!

Motives

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.

I believe this verse needs to be as memorized as Philippians 4:13. What is our motive? Why do you want to do something? Or even why should I do it? I should do everything in the name of the Lord, no matter what.

Is it to please our leadership? Is it to make ourselves feel good or more pious? You have a choice. Many people want to do something and do not want to be held accountable (especially when they make a verbal commitment). Their motive is wrong. Let’s be honest. We are self seeking. When we do not measure up, we say we make a mistake and should never have committed to that. True! You were not doing it unto the Lord.

Who or what is your dependence on? If it is not in Christ then you will feel like a failure. In Christ we cannot fail. Keep your heart motive on Him no matter what!

Luke 19:31 (AMP)  “If anybody asks you, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ you will say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 

Matthew 14:28 (AMP) Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus was referred to as Teacher, Rabbi, Son of God, Savior, Friend and Lord. Which one of those titles holds the most weight? It is unto the Lord that we serve, worship and dedicate. “Lord” carried the most weight when it came to trust in what they were told to do. Peter, said, “Lord, if it is really you….”

Maybe we get frustrated at our leadership because we want them to be Lord (sometimes, but not all the time, only when it is convenient). That is not their role. When we make a commitment to people, what is the intent? For example, my husband and I are pastors. We have heard “Pastor, I am committed to this church. Nothing can run me off.” Or “Pastor, I am all in.” Both parties are pumped and ready to do ministry together. Can I be honest and transparent? Most of the times it does not end well. Guess who is to blame? The pastor. Not really, but they are left to pick up the pieces and move on. We do have a part to play. We are not perfect. It is in the imperfection that you should pray for us.

We have to make Jesus Lord of our lives. When we try to short cut and submit with the wrong intent, we are setting ourselves up for hurt. Yes, honor your pastor. Your pastor is called to equip and lead you to do the works of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11).

I will not remind you to tithe.Yes, I have had someone ask to hold them accountable to that. Did I do it? NO!! Something else made them mad and they left anyways. That is between you and God. Now, when it comes to giving you a leadership role, should those who do not financially support the church be put in leadership? I will let you answer that question yourself.

I will encourage you to love God, I will encourage you to seek the best for others and to love unselfishly. I will encourage you to pray, to get in your Word and to serve in and outside of your church. I will encourage to make Jesus Lord of your life. You can ask me if you heard Him correct and for the direction of your life? I am going to point you back to your Word and ask if it lines up with His character and nature. Will it cause division among believers? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it cause someone to stumble in their faith? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it bring healing? Will it encourage you and others to grow in their faith? Does it show love? Will it draw people closer to a relationship with Him? Then yes you have heard from Him correctly.

What are our motives?

Lord, I want to glorify you with whatever I put my hands to, no matter who sees it. Lord, I want to serve your people, no matter who acknowledges it. Lord, blind my eyes to what does not need to be seen to keep me from stumbling. Lord, I have faith to step out, all you have to say is ‘come.’ Yes, You have given me free will and everything is permissible for me, but not everything will bring glory to You. I choose to make you Lord over my life. What I choose that may be best for me, may not be what is best to glorify You. My dependence is on You today and every day. I choose today whom I will serve. Amen.

Untie the colt

Acts 4:13 (AMP) Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.

Yesterday we began what we call “Holy Week.” Starting with Palm Sunday, we celebrate and reflect on the week leading up to the Resurrection of Jesus on the following Sunday. Palm Sunday was the day that Jesus made His triumphant entrance into the city riding on the back of colt, the foal of a donkey,(Luke 19:28-38) as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Jesus was 30 years old when He was baptized and He started His ministry. We read in Luke 2:41 that His parents took Him every year to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. We even see at the age of 12 that He was able to talk about and have an intellectual conversation about the scriptures. He was 33 years old when He went to the cross. Nearly 33 years walking into that city for the Passover Feast. Why was this one so special? Jesus knew that the time would come. There was never a time that He did not celebrate the Passover. What made Him decide this time was different?

Reading the story of John and Peter healing a man in front of the temple, and then getting arrested, made me think of what Jesus’s disciples thought when their king was hung on the cross. How many times do we say, “it was not in God’s time” because we do not see an abundance of blessing poured out on someone when they step out? Looking at these two situations. That is what it looked like in the natural. How big was their faith to say “even if?”

Jesus hung on the cross for hours in agony. He died a horrible death. Our Jesus willing did that. God did not have the colt waiting for Him to ride at the bottom of the Mt. of Olives. He had to tell His disciples to go and get it. He chose to do it!

Matthew 22:14 (AMP), Jesus said, “For many are called (invited, summoned), but few are chosen.” Do you think that meant that we are called forth and chosen? Remember in elementary school how we would be divided on team for dodge ball? We would have two “captains” and they would take turns calling out the names of the kids they wanted on their team. It was always humiliating to be the kid picked last. That is not how it works in the Kingdom. Chosen here means you have a choice. Chosen are the ones that say ‘yes’ even if.

What has got you from grabbing onto your colt and starting? We were not told the year or age that Jesus would die on the cross before hand? John and Peter did not say, “God said,” before they laid hands on the sick. It was the Holy Spirit inside of them that led them.

Many of us do not want to step out of God’s timing. May I encourage you to not be led in fear of punishment, but know that He loves a heart that is willing.

Romans 8:28 (AMP)  And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

Let me encourage you this Holy Week to step out into your calling. Make a contact this week. Peter and John were not qualified by man’s standards. Jesus was ridiculed even up to the moment of His death.

Matthew 27:54 (NIV) When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Even if it looks like a mess, He can turn it into good. They will be astounded at the goodness of God. Untie the colt and start!!

Love is in the seed

Mark 4:14 (AMP) The sower sows the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation]. 

For the past week the nation has been glued to the news to see what has been transpiring across the world. Inflation is up…way up! One thing remains, the Word of God. If you are looking for something good right now, look no further than His Word.

I was reading over Mark 4, preparing for a youth camp to speak at. It was the first time I had done anything like that. I was not nervous until I got up in front on looked at all the faces. The weight of what I was about to say hit me. My story is not traumatizing. My heart goes out to those who are living in war torn countries, but to be honest, I do not know what that is like. I never grew up hungry, wondering where my next meal came from. I grew up desiring to be loved, without the love of my birth father. How traumatic, right?

The desire to be loved and to be accepted drove me to do things in my younger life that I probably would not have done if I had felt secure. When preparing for the youth camp, the passage in Mark 4 struck me in that my heart (soil) have met all stages of that passage.

When I first started attending the church we pastor now I was just sixteen years old. My husband was the pastor’s son. Even though he was not living for God he attended church as an honor for his parents. He served doing sound. He would pick me up in the morning and drive me home after lunch. I dressed for the times and my skirts were short, tops just covered my mid drift and my shoes were platform heels. Often my socks were mid thigh. I was young and had a cute figure. My husband’s mom only said anything to him about the way I dressed, of which his reply was that he liked it. They never said anything to me. When John did not have money for lunch that Sunday he would have me go to his dad and ask. His dad loved it and would hand me a twenty every time.

So here is what I learned: When the Word is sown and Satan immediately takes the Word away (Mark 4:15) keep sowing. I was there for all the wrong reasons, but love always hopes (1 Corinthians 13:7). Things and thoughts like poor self image, pride, rejection, blame shifting, self-justification, people pleasing can all be the rocks that cause the seed to be choked out in our lives (Mark 4:16). Keep sowing the Word, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17). What about thorns (Mark 4:18-19)? Thorns hurt! I know, being on the other side sowing, I have been cut a few times. Those I have cut in the past know that it was worth it when they see my growth now. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening] (1 Corinthians 13:7). Keep sowing.

Eventually, with love being the basis for sowing: And those [in the last group] are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation] and accept it and bear fruit—thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much [as was sown] (Mark 4:20). I have the capacity of loving more because of what He brought me through.

John 15: 4 (AMP) Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. 

I look back and see how much love was sown into me when I was in all different types of soil. Weeds do still grow, but I allow the Holy Spirit to remove them and see the good soil. Weeds do not mean they are hopeless, it means there is still potential. When a weed is pulled up, the ground is the softest. We all have to see each other as potential. Love always hopes. Now do not go out there beating each other with the Word. That is not what I am saying. The Word inside of you will cause you to love and seek the best for others. That was what Jesus commanded us to do John 15:12).

Never give up sowing the Word. Never give up showing love when you do not see the fruit of it right away. There is a change happening. Let it start with your love! We cannot effectively sow the Word without love.