Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Go Back To Truth

As explorers, or people on a journey, sometimes we'll find ourselves in a land that must be conquered. It can be difficult, lots of lesson to be learned (often times painful), but finally we do it His way and alas it is conquered. We put up our flag and go on our way. Thinking, finally, I can leave this land and move on. Then why is it, after traveling for awhile, do we find ourselves walking around in very familiar territory? It's like we suddenly feel like..."I've been here before, I've already conquered this? What is going on?" Then we look around to see the flag we posted...yes..indeed we are back..again! UGH!

One of my superheroes will often say to me (when it comes to his particular mountain that he must climb)..."Mom, I know I'm supposed to do this, but it is really hard...I mess up and I just can't help it." For me, its not messing up, its more..listening to the lies! Why do I even entertain the lies? So...what do we do when we find ourselves facing the same thing we thought we conquered? We go back to the Truth. It's the same thing I just told my sweet young superhero the other day as he sat at the table trying so hard not to let his flesh get the better of him. 

The Truth: Through the power of His Holy Spirit, God will enable us to do anything He commands us to do!

You can find it right in the book of Truth...the Bible. Philippians 2:13 says "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." God does not command us to do anything that He does not give us the grace to obey, as we depend on Him. That means, there is no one we cannot forgive, no one that we cannot love, we CAN give thanks in all things and we can be content in every circumstance. 

The issue is not that we can't obey God--that we can't forgive that person or parent who hurt us so deeply, that we can't love that co-worker, that we can't give thanks in the midst of the storm, or that we can't be content with our meager finances, or we can't help it... (whatever the case may be in your life).

The real issue is that we won't forgive, we are unwilling to love, and we refuse to give thanks and to be content with what God has provided. Obedience is a choice made in dependence on the supernatural power of God. By the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to forgive, choose to let Him love others through us, choose to give thanks in every circumstance, and choose to be content.

In the end, the truth doesn't really change the tangible things that we see. The fact is, the flag is still staring us in the face, you may very well be back at this place again! The truth however will eventually change us! I have found when I am facing that flag again, all I need to recall is the truth...then somehow, miraculously, like in the first book of the Chronicles of between the wood...I am in another place..back on my journey. The more quickly we go back to truth...the more quickly we can move on. See ya...I'm on a journey!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

"Now I lay me down to sleep..." It isn't the prayer we pray before we go to bed. My children just wouldn't know the words. I never really learned those kinds of prayers myself, so I have never really taught my children to pray that way. Absolutely nothing wrong with just isn't how we do it around here. I've always talked to the Lord...very personally...that is how I is how we all pray. Tonight...our prayers...were like warfare.

A year ago the 4th of July a series of things occurred that rocked my boy's world. Yes, we lived in unimaginable circumstances for too long, and yes...things were spiraling in such a direction that my son was on the brink of a breakdown.  He in fact suffered from some much so that it started to not only affect his countenance, but also his stability. It was a scary time for him and me, as his Mom. We spared no expense or time in getting him help. Six months later he was fine. (oddly enough someone just asked me last night how he was doing...with regard to those issues in his life...I told her he was doing great!)

Last night, there was a flicker of a memory of those times. He felt it, I saw it in him. I prayed silently..."Lord, please, not again. He has relief...please spare him from this internal pain...restore his joy..."

Tonight he weeps. Uncharacteristically, somewhat suddenly, not brought on by anything we can attribute it too...yet he weeps. I know that some of this is entering puberty. This is uncharted territory for me as a Mom, and for him as a son. His heart is so incredibly tender...when we pray..."Lord, guard his heart..." there is so much unsaid that I know the Lord knows.

As Mr. Incredible sat on the sofa...reading...Psalm 46...with my sweet boy curled up next to him I silently prayed. I did battle with the Enemy of our souls! Get your hands off my boy! You do not want to mess with him!! As a family of 5 we laid hands on him tonight. I reminded my boy about the strength he has because of who he is in Christ. The Almighty God of the Universe stands beside him, covers him, fights his battles for him. My boy does not have to fear when he raises his sword...the Enemy will flee...because the Enemy sees Lord encamped about my boy!

Father protect him, he fears all of those things coming back into his life...when he had no joy...when he couldn't smile. He doesn't know what is going on..."why do I feel like there is a heavy brick on my chest?" I am crying out to the Lord on his behalf. Rescue him..restore his joy!

"God is our refuge and strength,an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; 
God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolation he has brought on the earth. 
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. 
>He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Psalm 46
He is!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Discipleship - The Way It Should Be

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
 Titus 3:4-7 NIV

I am going to start typing and see where it leads. I can already tell I'm going to be more transparent than I normally feel comfortable with. Sometimes however, it is those moments when we are more vulnerable that we can be used the most. We shall see. When I use the tool of journaling or blogging as a form of therapy for my own soul, it is usually a great way for God to show up and minister to me, and on occasion, others as well.   I've been studying GRACE, but my heart has been on discipleship. (Oddly enough Deitrich Bonhoeffer refers often to grace in his book..."cheap grace" versus "costly grace".) Perhaps that is part of my calling, discipleship. I love pouring into people, praying with people, spending time with people. I've learned a great deal about discipleship during my college days with campus ministry. I've read books on discipleship, The Cost of Discipleship by Deitrich Bonhoeffer, One-on-One Discipleship and others.  I had a phenomenal leader in Pastor Mike Durning. He really was responsible for discipleship of my husband. I know that he and Mike spent hours, days, years working on their friendship. They did so much together. They were friends. My husband respected him and credits him for much of his spiritual training, and in fact still does to this day. Now that I think about it, he and Mike Durning really don't have much of a relationship today. Not due to anything but time and proximity. Hmmm. I think I'm getting something here.

I have had the hardest time letting go lately. I love people so deeply, that it is painful to see them go. Especially if they've not gone far (proximity), but they chosen to exit their day-to-day dealings with you. It's like being cut off. However, I think where I've misunderstood discipleship is at its root. I have chosen to pour into people's lives, hours, days, years spent. When they've needed me, I would be there. I had mistaken my calling, as a relationship that was two way...when in was one way. It was what I was supposed to do, the other people...ideally...just had to grow closer to Him...not me. Ouch. I think I'm beginning to understand. So, is it pride in me that leaves me feeling....hurt/sad? You know that "right of ownership" - that would be pride....well, gosh, I've worked so hard on our relationship...then boom...see ya later. Or is it that I have abandonment issues? That was actually asked of me as I have confided in wise counsel. Perhaps. I don't like it when people I love deeply move on so dramatically...or in some cases not so dramatically.

Then there is the other thought. What is God doing in me? What am I supposed to be learning here. I find it so interesting that many ties are being cut. My husband's family has chosen to cut him out of their lives for good. They have made it very clear that they want nothing to do with any of us. As far as they are concerned...once Pop passed away, Mike and his family do not exist. Done. Then the Lord is moving people out of my life and making room in my life for new friendships, relationships, perhaps new discipleship opportunities, perhaps missions, perhaps.... Who knows? I see that Jesus really on had the 12 and then the 3 very close ones. How silly of me to think that the only way these people in my life would change is if I, or they, moved away. Time to grow up Lisa. Time to continue pointing to the cross, running to the cross, with whomever God places in your life and whatever moment! I'm smiling now.

Yesterday I went for a jog/power walk, whatever you want to call it. On my way back, a lady from my church was with a woman whom she works with. This elderly woman has dementia and the time may very well be getting very close to her end. Needless to say, I was called from my workout to come and pray with them. I didn't think even for a second. It is what I absolutely love to do. Yes I had to be home by a certain time, I had someone coming over and I left my children alone while I went to workout. But really, my really not mine. It was an honor to run to the cross with these women. Looking was a joy...all those days, hours and years spent with these other women.

Taken from his book Dietrich Bonhoeffer says "And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to Him, for only He knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow Him, knows the journey's end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy, Discipleship means joy."

In the end...I want to be like Him. I don't have to be liked. I have to be good with that. I will be spending eternity with Him - I'm accountable to Him. I love people...nothing has changed there. I still love deeply the ones that have moved on. I pray they continue to move closer to Him. Search me and know me is a prayer I pray often - Psalm 139. It is imperative that I stay on my face and in His presence. I choose joy! Thank you to all of those women who invested in me, spent time with me, discipled me. As I think of it now...we have moved on. The way it should be. There is my answer. It's the way it should be. It's not personal, its not pride...if it was indeed is the way it should be!

"It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this." Titus 3:4-7 The Message

Photo credit from

Monday, June 4, 2012

Run To The Cross

We've been doing this every month for over a year now. It has become part of our lives. We look forward to it, to them. We miss them when they're not there, we intercede for them during our family prayer times, we love them. I just never knew how much it would affect me.

I'm talking about feeding the hungry and homeless in our community. We serve with some amazing people. There are several volunteers and we look forward to doing this together as a team every month. For the past 6 months we've instituted a time of individual prayer. I make the announcement to the 70+ people that are waiting in line to be served that we are blessed to be here to share a meal with all of them, but would love to share the love of Jesus with them by praying with them if there is a need. I let them know I'm available if they would like some individual prayer. My boys and I serve as runners during the meal, then once everyone is served, I am usually asked by individuals to come and pray. Sometimes I just go and pray with them at their seat if they call me over, other times we go into a separate room where there is some level of privacy. It is such an honor to run to the cross with people.

I've prayed for people to be healed, prayed for provision and many other things. I just listen. I think just having someone they can talk to, someone that just looks into their eyes, without judgement and listens...I think that means the most. We're all so different in how we interact with people. One way isn't better than the next. This is just the way God made me. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not....and eventually...I find that they feel the same way. Often it starts off with zero eye contact and grandiose stories. Then after a little bit, sometimes elements of raw truth begin to surface. Oh the beauty of taking off the masks.

The other very important element is touch. I've been told "I'm sure you don't want to hold my hand!" The first time someone said this to me, I was shocked. Did they think they were "unclean", "unworthy"? What? Why wouldn't I want to hold your hand and pray with you. I remember my heart sinking...they need to know love...unconditional love...the kind that my Lord gives. (Remember, I was homeless at one time too) Yes I want to hold your hand....I want to run to the cross with you. I want to hug you when we're through. This is me...the way God made me. I walk away humbled at the opportunity to do this every single time! Yesterday was no exception...except this time...I felt like I was standing on Holy Ground.

Interestingly enough while I was praying with a man for healing (I always leave the door open so others can see me because I'm alone), I looked up for a moment and saw another man...watching. We locked eyes at one point then he turned away. When I was done it was time to serve seconds. This man approached me and asked if I could talk with him. We went into the room (door open) and he began to talk. He told me a little about his personal story. He was passionate. He talked about a few of his friends praying in agreement to God for a solar generator. He is convinced that the Lord will provide one in His timing. I asked him if he has made a decision for Christ, if he has accepted God's plan of salvation for his life. He continued with his story, how he struggled with anger and judgement, but God got a hold of his heart after he read this book and yes he is now saved. He pulled it out of his back pack...The Purpose Drive Life. I told him that I read that book too. He started to weep. He proceeded to tell me all that has been happening in his heart and life since picking up this book and reading it. He felt like he wanted to talk with me since he had walked in the door, before I even spoke about prayer. He felt like he needed prayer, but wasn't sure what to ask for.

At this point I began to pray in the Spirit and ask the Lord to reveal to me how I should pray for him. I wanted to hear from God. As he stood there weeping, he looked into my eyes, with this "please tell me what I should be doing" kind of look. I locked eyes with him, not having any great wisdom at all, and said...can I just begin to pray over you? He said..."You may not want to hold my hands...since I've been crying and blowing my nose."  So I reached over and placed both my hands on his shoulders. I looked down at the floor and I noticed tear drops on the ground. This man was searching for God's purpose in His life.

So I began to worship God right there. Praised Him for His love, His mercy, His grace! Thanked Him for His Word, His sacrifice, His plans! My new friend praised God right with me. I was getting excited, I could totally feel the Holy Spirit's presence in that room. That scripture from 1 Corinthians 1:27 popped into my head "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." OH I know this scripture! In context it says this: "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption."

As I began to pray in light of what the Lord was speaking to my heart. This man's demeanor began to change. It was totally connecting with him. His be a light in a dark place. He was no longer angry with anyone for judging him - he no longer judges other either. He knows that some of his choices put him in the place he has been for the past 3 years. He has changed...his heart and mind have changed...but he loves these people. He wants them to know what he knows. He told me he felt that way, but "why would God use someone like me, a man who made foolish mistakes?" I read that scripture to him. We continued to pray a prayer of equipping. The truth is...God equips those He calls. It will never, should never, be you and your should always be His!

At the end of our time (and it was a good 30 minutes), I gave him a hug and called him brother (he smiled). I told him he could use support, and gave him some local churches...including my own church, where I'm confident he will find support, love and acceptance.

I walked away...changed. Once again, humbled beyond words. This journey to the cross was different. Even now I weep because I still can't come up with the words to explain what God is doing in my own life. I'm pretty sure that what I was telling Andy was the same things that God was speaking to my own heart. This morning in my quiet time with Him, I laid that all down.

Continue to do this new thing in me Lord. I know you are moving people and things out of my life for a do a new thing. I'm excited, nervous, but more excited. I feel like a little girl, holding on tight to her Daddy's hand. Thank you for not ever letting go!