He calls my name

Isaiah 45:4 (AMP) For the sake of Jacob My servant, and of Israel My chosen, I have also called you by your name; I have given you an honorable name though you have not known Me.

When we named our first born we had two choices picked out for the day of deliver. We went the old fashioned way and did not find out the gender of both of our children until they were born. We had the name ‘Lillian Michelle’ if a girl and ‘Ari Daniel’ if a boy. Lillian was the name of my great aunt that made an impact on me when I was a little girl. She was strong, independent and feisty. Ari was the name of my husband’s best friend. My husband grew up in Belize, Central America, and being the only white kid, friendships meant the world to him.

We have two sons. Ari Daniel and Eli Robert (Robert after my grandfather and my husband’s father). There is deep meaning in their names. Ari in Hebrew means lion. Eli in Hebrew means high, elevated or my God. I named him after the prophets Elijah and Elisha, I wanted him to have double the anointing.

Isaiah was the prophet during the reign of King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah was a good king and did right in the eyes of God (2 Kings 18:3). He was also the king that showed the Babylonians all the treasures of the storehouse (2 Kings 20:13), there was nothing that he did not show them. This was a big no-no, because they were suppose to remain a secret to the surrounding nation.

Isaiah prophesied, 2 Kings 20:16-18, “Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord. ‘Behold, the time is coming when everything that is in your house, and that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. ‘And some of your sons (descendants) who will be born to you will be taken away [as captives]; and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” 

Why is this significant? In Isaiah 45:3, “I will give you the treasures of darkness [the hoarded treasures] and the hidden riches of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you (Cyrus the Great) by your name.” Who is Cyrus the Great? Why did God call Him by name?

Ezra 1:2-4 (AMP) “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”

King Cyrus was not even born yet when Isaiah prophesied this. King Cyrus, of Persia, was the reason that Nehemiah was able to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem. He made sure that everything that Nebuchadnezzar had taken to Babylon was returned to the temple. He made sure that temple was going to be rebuilt.

This gave me great courage during a time that I do not see enough people to do the work that God has called my husband and I to do. Those people have not even been born yet, and He has called them by name. I am not talking about a physical birth, I am talking about the new birth when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior (John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). I do not want some other church’s people, I want the ones that He is calling by name now. We are calling them out! We are inviting ALL!!

He has called you by name, even before you were conceived in your mother’s womb. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior message me at amanda@desiringformore.org. If you do and you want to know how you can share your faith, message me too!

I pray you have an amazing week!

Closet Clean Out

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.

Our hearts are the most important muscle in our bodies. We often focus on our outward appearance and our outward change that we lose focus on the most important things that need t be dealt with…our issues of the heart. The personal things we hide deep in our hearts.

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 redeemer, our healer, our restorer. Christ has done everything He needs to be done 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.

When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, there were promised a new land, a new life…the land of mile and honey! But along the way it was evident that even though they were physically delivered from the bondage of slavery…their hearts were still being held captive! Almost every time that things did not go the way they thought it should have they reverted back to Egypt, “we would have been better off back there.”

One of the enemies best weapons to stop your spiritual growth is to get you “back there.” Back to the place of regret, back to the place of hurt, back to the place where sins of the flesh ruled you. We will never live in a land of promise wishing you were “back there.”

This sounds a lot like the closets we keep in our homes. I have a size ten dress that I am very much trying to get back into. I succeeded a few years ago, then put the pounds on again. I did not get back to the size twenty I started with, but I did creep up a bit. That does not mean I have let that dress go. The closet, attic, garage are usually the places we hold everything from our past. We keep it there just in case. What are we holding onto that needs to go?

Realize this, we are in a process of progress! Daily we have to allow God to come in and deal with the issues we have in our heart.

Philippians 3:12-13 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christ like] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead… Paul is saying that he has not “arrived” yet. He has more to work on, there are areas he needs to decrease in so that God can increase. One thing he says for sure the he had to get a hold on…Forgetting the Past! You cannot live in the past and have a future. Stay focused on what lies ahead, and leave what was behind. Verses 14-16 (AMP),  I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

Keep on keeping on! You may have been put down. You may have been counted out. You may have been bruised. You may have been falsely accused. You may have been let down, trampled on, talked about and left to fend for yourself…but remember that you have been made a new creation. Old things have been passed away, behold all things have been made NEW!!! Each day you put on the renewed mind set, clean up the intimate areas we allow God to reside in, take out the trash and keep on going!!

The things that have been hidden away… the hurts and the let down that we try to keep to ourselves, the beat down that my mind tries to do to me daily… NO LONGER will I put up with it! That is not who I am any more. I am a child of God, made in His image, for HIS purpose. Get into our closets, get rid of the junk and live a new life in Christ!

A mother’s heartbeat

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Do you feel pressure that I need to ensure my child’s salvation? I know as a pastor, I do. I feel pressure to make sure my children do not mess up, especially in public, or let’s say I use to. As a pastor it can often seem that you are in a glass house, put on display for everyone to look into. However, just like everyone else we make mistakes and our lives are messy. I have learned to embrace that glass house. My husband and I decided when we were going to take on the lead pastor role that we were going to be transparent (there are things that we do keep private) but if God tells us to tell of our struggles, then we are. To put on airs that we do not have struggles would be a lie to what Jesus did on the cross for us.

John 6:44 says, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and the last day I will raise them up.” I cannot live out the salvation for my children. They have to come to Him by the drawing of the Holy Spirit. I am free from the pressure that we have to make all the right moves, but that does not mean I do not have a responsibility. Deuteronomy 6 says that He has to be Lord over my life. He is Lord! When I am moved by my mistakes as a mother, the behavior of my children, their mistakes, then that has become my Lord.

My kids will not come to Christ solely on their own initiative, and they certainly will not come to Christ solely on mine. It will be only through the Father giving them the desire to come to Christ. The Father must draw my children to His heart. I cannot push or plead them there. Rather, He pursues them and woos them to Himself. (From Mom Set Free by Jeannie Cunnion)

I have the honor and responsibility of guiding my children in truth and teaching them that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6) – but I cannot make them believe it. Only God can work in their hearts.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants not he one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Philippians 1:6, 9-11 I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns…I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

We are given the assurance that it is God – not us – who began a good work within our children. It is God, not us, who will continue that work in our lives. He will not give up on them, even when they deserve to be given up on (just like we were).

I am confident and trusting that God is already doing what He wants done in my children. He is not depending on me to be their Holy Spirit. He is the one helping them obey. In fact, His grace is what gives them the desire to obey Him.

I can model them the freedom and joy that comes from obeying God’s Word, but I cannot make them want it. It was when I allowed the changed to happen in my inwardly that it became to show outwardly. That is what drew my sister to follow Christ. I was eighteen when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. If I look back on how I had acted as a teenager, I would be so ashamed, if I did not know who I was in Christ now. I have to look at my children the same way. Christ, not me, is the one that will redeem them.

If I look back on how I had acted as a teenager I would be so ashamed, if I did not know who I was in Christ now.

If we go back just a little before the verse to Deuteronomy 5: 6 it says, ” I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Then He gave them the Ten Commandments. Before He commanded them to love and obey, He first reminds His people of His nature, of His character, and of His rescuing grace. In other words, He is showing how His redeeming love was not predicated on their love and obedience. He rescued them first.

Covid-19 has been hard on our world. It has made us look at our relationships, our circumstances, and our resources in a new way. I have two boys at home. I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom. My kids are older, twelve and sixteen, so they do not require a lot of supervision. That does not mean that they do not require my care. One of the struggles of raising a teenager in this day in age is getting them outside. Thankfully, both are athletes so they have to do certain cardiovascular routines to keep up with the positions they have.

My children see the importance in my getting in the Word on a daily basis. I model that behavior. When school started back this year I altered our morning routine to do a small devotion together and pray before they leave for school. My children can tell the difference in me when I do not make the time to get in the Word. I am transparent with my struggles so they can be transparent with theirs.

We went through a hard time with my oldest not too long ago. He did some things that we could have been ashamed of if we taught religion. Since we model a relationship we were able to model redemption. He was punished, but not shamed. We lifted him up and did not tear him down. In result, he became more loving and trusting of his parents. I am not trying to say we are perfect, because if it had happened a few years ago we would not have responded the same loving way. We have allowed God to be Lord over our lives and with that so much grace has poured out through us to our children. We did not hide him away. We encouraged him and he drew deeper in his relationship with God. He still makes mistakes. He does things that no I do not approve of, but like us he has free will. He honors us as we honor God. We model honor in our home.

This is my heartbeat as a mother: To know that my children do not have to be perfect to be loved. They do not have to meet my expectations on what their relationship with God should look like. They, like me, are growing. My Father is the one who will draw them closer. It is when they choose to make Him Lord (it is a choice). I have to be patient just as He was patient with me. We do not give up, it is never a set back, it is a reason for me to grow deeper in my own relationship. My children are a gift, but I have to choose to put my trust in Him to be the Lord of their lives. No matter their choices I will not lose hope. If they run, He will be there to redeem and restore them, I will be here to love them.

If your child is running from God, know that you should not feel ashamed. He is not. He is a God of compassion and grace. We are the ones who are flawed, He is not. If you made a mistake, it is okay, He can still redeem. Do not give up, do not grow weary, put your trust in Him. I know that I will probably have more heartaches ahead of me when it comes to my children. Take courage, know that we are not in this alone. He said He would always be with us. He will see that everything is completed.

Ari (my oldest) and me at the gym!