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!

Out of the grave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not let that cave become your grave!

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

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

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

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

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

He still washed Judas’s feet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martha, Martha, Martha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What if’ limits us

Over the years I have stepped out of my comfort zones and allowed God to take more parts of my life to mold it into how He wants it. I was not always like that. Why? Fear. Plain and simple. Fear will rob us of our potential because when we use the excuse of “what if,” I have now refused Him access to that part of my life.

God has had me on the word “refuse” for some time now. Refuse is the opposite of “willing to.” When it came time for me to speak in our church. I have to admit, I was so very scared. I had just attended a Joyce Meyer’s conference. She comes to the Atlanta area every other year and the conference is free to attend. This was my first trip that I had every organized for my church (my husband and I were still just the Associate Pastors at the time). Usually after events I would do all the prep work for the presentation to the church and someone else would talk about the event. I remember sitting in the auditorium listening to Joyce speak, I asked God right there to give me the strength to start teaching in our church. People always told me that I would, but I was so afraid, my voice would shake and I would cry. This time, I had a plan. I did not even tell my husband I was going to do it (just in case I backed out). I remember how proud he was of me. What made it even better was how I know how proud my Father of me. It wasn’t perfect, but I have gotten better over the years.

Joyce has a new book out called Do It Afraid. I am only on chapter twelve and can I tell you it has also revealed other areas that I have allowed fear to still have control in my life. One of those is using “crutches” as to why I do not have success in an area of my life. She made an eye opening statement: “My writing requires me to sit a lot, and a doctor recently told me that the medical profession now considers a sedentary lifestyle to be the new cancer. He wasn’t saying that sitting will cause cancer, but he was trying to impress on me that too much sitting is extremely detrimental to our health.” If that doesn’t make you take a couple of laps around your neighborhood!!

One of those is using “crutches” as to why I do not have success in an area of my life.

Often we will use our health, education, financial status, marital status, etc. as the “crutch” to why we do not see victory in areas of our lives. I am reminded of a parable that Jesus gave us found in Matthew 25:14-29, using the Message Translation: It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money. After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’ The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of the “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb.

Wow! This guy’s “what if’s” cost him a lot!! I do not want to be this guy. When I lost my job a couple of year’s ago, it was big hit to us financially. All the jobs I applied for would not have made up for the loss of income. So you know what I did? I used what we had…my vehicle. I took up driving for Uber. We live next to a college football town, Auburn, and there was a way for me to make that money. It was a stretch for me, but eventually I came to love it. I loved talking to the college kids as I drove them to classes. I would play the “Mama Mia Soundtrack” in my minivan and had all the kids singing along (the guys too). I was able to make what I had been missing to finish out our year. We did not go into lack. Do you know what happened after the football season stopped? Our need for that income changed. I no longer had to do that, but I had been willing to.

Last year I only drove a few times to buy my husband a really big Christmas gift. I bought him a Neo Geo. If you do not know what that it is you are probably not a 90s kid or you are not an old school gamer like he is. However, it was on his most wanted list and I made sure he got it. I have no idea what to get him this year though.

Our kids play sports. My oldest wrestles for the high school so the expense really is not that much. My youngest though! He does travel baseball and football. We spend a few thousand on him. When it came time for the fees for travel baseball, we just did not have it. So I used what I had. I am not ashamed to say that I sold plasma to pay for my son to do travel baseball. I had bruised arms for a few months, but I used what I had. This year when it came time to pay his travel fees, guess who had more than enough and did not have to sell plasma again? We did…but I was willing to.

Just because we were in a bind did not mean that we allowed the “what if’s” to keep us in lack. We used what we had, tithed off of the increase and God provided supernaturally! There is a time to use Be Still and Know (Psalm 46:10) and then there is a time to move. Sometimes we keep hold of the “be still” words that we refuse to move into what God has been telling us to do. If you are upset because you keep hearing that you need to move, but you want to stand on the “be still” promise, then maybe we need to search our hearts a little more. Do you think I enjoyed having bruised arms from selling plasma? Or driving in the heavy traffic to get people to the game on time (I even had to clean up vomit once)? I kept a thankful heart during those times. I used what I had and God’s provisions came in a way I cannot explain it. Do not let “what if” keep you in lack any longer. It might be a stretch and it might be scary, but as Joyce says, “do it anyway!”