One Year Later

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

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

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

Ephesians 4:11-13 (AMP) And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].

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

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

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

Jesus got tired too

Yesterday I had the privilege of delivering the message to my church, and to all of those that connected with us online via Facebook Live. I knew by the beginning of the week that I was going to have to prepare. My husband tested positive for COVID-19. He is doing well and has gotten over the worst of it. The way our home is set up is that the kitchen is in the center. To one side of the house is our grown up sweet. It has it’s own bedroom and bathroom, dining area, and living area with a fridge. The opposite side of the kitchen is another dining area, two bathrooms, the kids rooms and another living area. The kids and I stayed on one side, my husband had to stay on the other (not fun for someone who’s love languages are quality time and physical touch like he is).

God gave me this title right away, “Reset Your Position.” I initially thought ‘okay God you want me to talk about positional authority’…authority of the believer. Then, while in Body Pump Tuesday, it came to me. When we start to fatigue because our muscles are sore, we have to reset our position to make sure we are targeting the right muscle groups. If I do not take the time to reset my position, I will not target the correct muscle groups that I am suppose to be working on.

John 4:6 (AMPC) And Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down [to rest] by the well.

Remember Jesus knows what it feels like to be us. He got tired too. I think He had a lot of tired moments. What He was about to do was going to take all of His strength. Jesus modeled how we need to reset our position.

Matthew 26:38-39 (AMPC) Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me. And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire.

Judas knew where to find Him because this was not the first time He had been there. Actually we see Jesus going off to pray a lot (Luke 4:1-12, 45-15; Mark 6:30-32; Matthew 4:1-13; Luke 6:12-13); Luke 22:39-44; Luke 5:16 are just some of the scriptures), especially after time of great ministry and miracles. Why? He had to reset His position.

If fasting is to reset my focus, prayer is to reset my position. I need to reset my position not only when I fast. I need to reset my position when I am out doing what He called me to do. We were not meant to carry this alone. Jesus could not either. He had to reset His position.

If fasting is to reset my focus, prayer is to reset my position.

That was Jesus. What did He say about you?

John 16:13-15 (TPT) But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, he will unveil the reality of every truth within you. He won’t speak his own message, but only what he hears from the Father, and he will reveal prophetically to you what is to come.  He will glorify me on the earth, for he will receive from me what is mine and reveal it to you. Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to me—that’s why I say that the Divine Encourager will receive what is mine and reveal it to you. 

Acts 1:8 (TPT) But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!”

Acts 2:4 (TPT) They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!

Jude 20 (AMPC) But you, beloved, build yourselves up (founded) on your most holy faith (make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher), praying in the Holy Spirit.

Another way I reset is to get in my Word. I love what Priscilla Shirer says, “If you want to hear from God and you never read the Bible, then you really don’t want to hear from God.” When you reset your position in prayer, praying in the Spirit and getting in His Word, all that comes out of your mouth is His promises not what is going on around you.

When what is going on around you is starting to fatigue you, it is time to reset your position.

This year is going to bring different challenges. Did you take the time to get stronger? Are you tired? That is okay, it just means that it is time to reset your position.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (TPT) Everything we could ever need for life and complete devotion to God has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. As a result of this, he has given you magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous promises you can experience partnership with the divine nature, by which you have escaped the corrupt desires that are of the world.

Why do I fast?

Galatians 5:22-24 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Fasting requires us to use one of the fruits of the spirit that we do not like to do so much…self-control. It is hard. We do not like to deny ourselves, especially in a culture that promotes “Do what makes you happy.” I have found doing what makes me happy only lasts for a moment. Living this way can also result in you feeling regret and shame. Which are not fruits of the spirit.

I wrote a blog not too long ago that talked about the perspective of only being one fruit of the spirit and that being love. It is out of His love that we have joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

It is impossible to walk in the spirit if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is hard to walk in the spirit if you still have control and will not allow the Holy Spirit to lead. I know it is hard. I am a planner. My husband laughed because I broke out a folder with all of our reservations and tickets for the past trip we took. When we got married I had an entire three inch binder full of plans.

One of my favorite verses to remind myself of the self-control issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12 (TPT), It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything. The Amplified classic states, Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.

When I allow Him to speak to me about the things that do not benefit me, I take back self-control. I do not want the have to have or do anything mentality. I am one of those that will have a television show that I have watched a hundred times in the background because it brings comfort. I am not alone in this. I do not want to get to a place that it is a “have to” and cannot be where He wants me to be at any given moment.

When I allow Him to speak to me about the things that do not benefit me, I take back self-control.

Philippians 3:13-17 (AMPC) I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.

I am going to make mistakes. Jesus was so full of compassion that He does not hide from us. I wrote down this year that my goal was progress. Last year I made a goal of running a 5K. In March I hurt my right calf so much that I could not bend my knee. I still have issues with it, so I had to stop running. Just because I hurt does not mean that I will not keep moving though. I am starting to walk the track again. The same in true with maturing in Christ. I have to seek Him more and in turn reach out more. Without an outlet to serve I will not grow where He wants me to grow. I want to forget about what is behind me that made me stumble. I want to press toward the goal. I want to win my prize! I want to become more mature.

Philippians 3:18-19 (NKJV) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Food, hobbies, or anything we spend out time on can be so consuming that people find themselves ruled by it. Being ruled by something other than God can cause us not to hear His voice. It can cause us not to crave His voice. It can cause us not to desire to seek Him any longer. Being ruled by anything than God is something He takes very seriously. I do not want to live as an enemy of the cross. I know those are strong words, but they are true. I do not want to live resistant to the power of Christ’s death and resurrection because I cannot get self under control.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NKJV) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

I have often used the excuse to not have self-control over the foods I choose is because I will one day be given a glorious body. However, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and Christ did pay a high price for me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so I cannot use that as an excuse. I want His power to help me bring everything – everything – under His control. Last night I talked quite a bit about this with my youth group. Our church will be starting 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting this Sunday as a corporate body. I told them to not just restrict their fasting to food. It does not even have to be food. It could be how they have chosen to spend their time. Fasting without prayer is just you going on a diet or changing your habits. The point is to draw us closer to God. When you start to think on the thing that you have chosen to give up, pray. Last year’s time of prayer and fasting brought so much peace to me that I was not shaken by the things that happened in 2020. I have read more of my Bible, read more books inspired by the Bible and started to write because it drew my focus away from me.

As we were talking last night I had them write down three things: 1) what in your life has become an idol that you cannot live without? 2) what in your life has made you feel defeated in not following after God more? 3) what do you feel has control over you so that you cannot have a deeper relationship with God? We wrote them on dissolve able paper. As they placed the slips of paper in the bowl of water, it dissolved to being no trace of those reasons at all. Christ paid the price. He is our strength. the power over those excuses were washed away when He spilled His blood for us.

Why do I fast? I want to mature. In order to mature, I need to get some of Amanda out of the way. (Fasting is not acting lowly or miserable). Self-control out of balance can lead to fear. We have not room to make fear first place in our lives at this moment in history. There is an impact I can make when I walk in His love. If you need to fast the news, social media, YouTube, Netflix, sugars, pizza, etc. Do so knowing that He paid a high price for you. He do not want anything having control of us. We should not be enslaved to anything. Make this year a year of progression. You are not going back to how you use to be, you are not staying where you are, but you are making a step towards the goal!

Please let me know how I can be praying for you during this time. You can email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Prayers of Pastors

On Sundays I have the privilege of leading beside my husband. My husband I are co-pastors of our church. Although I recognize that is not the same in all churches, this is a dynamic that works for us. It is something that our church thrives under. There are areas in both of our personalities that need both of us working together to reach our church. We do not make excuses or try to undermine the weakness of what the other has. We build each other up, in the home, and in front of our church.

This past Sunday as I was spending time in worship before service, (I believe that we should be prepared before we get to church, and not just the pastors but us who are there to receive the proclaimed Word that our pastors teach), but as I was worshiping a passage of scripture stood out to me:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (AMP) For this reason (grasping the greatness of this plan which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ) I bow my knees (in reverence) before the Father (of our Lord Jesus Christ), from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name (God – the first and ultimate Father). 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), that you may be filled up (through 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).

My heart cried out for the people in our church. Oh that they know that their lives can be so much bigger than how they are living right now! Are we showing them the fullness of God in our own lives? Please do not allow myself to get comfortable, to not become desensitized to the Holy Spirits leading.

Are we showing them the fullness of God in our own lives?

There are different levels or stages of faith. I had listened to a series by Michael Todd when he was on this series called Crazy Faith. I was intrigued because he was in the middle of a building program, just like we are. He had different segments of his series like “Maybe Faith,” “Hasty Faith,” “Baby Faith,” etc. It is a really good series.

My husband has been on this series called “Arise” for the past few months and he talked about the sleeping church. What is funny is that the verse he used was the same one used to open up “Lazy Faith.”

Matthew 26:40-41 (NKJV) Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

I do not know if you have ever stood up and spoke in front of people or not. There are times that I get up to do the announcements, lead our church in a declaration, and most people are looking down at their phones. This can be very discouraging. God has to remind me that I am not to focus on that. I need to focus on what He wants me to say. There have been times that I have ministered and people are sleeping. Now our service is at one thirty in the afternoon. This can be discouraging. God has to remind me that He does the work, I am just the vessel.

With Pastor Appreciation Month comes articles about the statistics of Pastors or Ministers. There are articles about their struggles. There are so many that quit or feel like they are not making an impact.

I am so very grateful that we pastor a church that loves us for who we are. We decided at the beginning of our leading that we were going to be as transparent as possible. We were not going to try to show perfection that was not there. Excellence and perfection are two different things. As a church we should be doing things in excellence, but to not allow room for grace would not be who Jesus modeled Himself to be.

My heart and prayer for our church is just like Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus. The Passion Translation says (Ephesians 3:16): And I pray that he will unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Please do not fence yourself in by trying to do things on your own, or looking at your natural capabilities. He can do so much more with your life if you will just surrender. This is a pastor’s prayer, that we as vessels, help open your eyes to see your potential. We see it in you. A pastor’s heart is just like that of the Father. We see so much potential!