Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Do What Makes Me Happy

Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Psalm 100.2

 I do have bigger aspirations than just blogging for the Kingdom or ministering to those around me, but I am content, I am happy doing what I do. Holy Spirit will burden me to do small things that bring joy to others that might not get the Love of Jesus any other way. I get to see the look on people's faces when I tell them that 'Jesus told me to do this for you'. I get the joy of knowing that what I did was an exact answer to a prayer cried out in distress. In some circumstances, serving God is a way my wife and I teach our kids Galatians 6.2, Galatians 6.10 and James 2.15-17.  There have been times  when I have done things anonymously and I still get to 'rewarded' with a 'praise report'.

 Early in my walk I could get caught up in wanting to change the world and reach millions but I ignored the changes I could make in the lives of those around me. I overlooked the people that God had directed me into their lives to be a reflection of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5.13-14

 I began to see the poor are all around me. The poor in Spirit, the poor in strength, the poor in stature and the poor in wealth were everywhere. As Holy Spirit led I would find someone in need and help them.
Proverbs 19.17

I stopped asking God what He can do for me, I began asking God what I could do for Him. I asked God what I could do for someone else! I began giving the person in need my money, my prayers and my time. Even when need was greater than what I could meet, I did my best to give them Jesus. I am still looking forward to the time when all I can give someone is Jesus.
Acts 3.6

Will I meet every need that I come across? Probably not. But I can definitely pray for those needs and I can act upon what Holy Spirit leads me to do. I have to remember to not judge the situation or the person and to just be obedient to what Jesus wants me to do. I can be Grace of Jesus, I can be the Love of Christ by simply acting upon what God is leading me to do.
Philippians 2.3-4

Some of the ways I have served God include:
  • Not just telling someone to 'call anytime', but making the time to call them anytime.
  • Not just saying I will pray for you, but praying for them at that moment.
  • Not just making plans to 'get together', but actually scheduling a time to call or meet in person.
  • Not just calling to talk, but calling with the intent to listen. (This is one I need a lot of work at doing!)
Simply put, I try to offer those in need my time, my convenience and my personal comfort. I try to be the friend that I want and be like the friends that I have been blessed with. By doing so, I serve God and I do what makes me happy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It Costs How Much?

Talk about a serve ball! I think it would be good to hit that ball by responding about Norway. What a trip that was! I am Norwegian and had a lifelong dream to visit the land of my father. I am an ordained minister but more importantly a radical follower of Jesus Christ. To combine these two was golden. Along with all the things David mentioned yesterday, I was able to visit the church that was the mother church of Norwegian Pentecostalism. I had my picture taken in this church with my sort of spiritual grandparents. I did a short video presentation for class last summer tracing my personal spiritual history back to the Azusa Street Revival via Norway. You can see it here. I can do that on my mother’s side as well – but honestly, who cares?  What is important is that I know Jesus now, not what my parents or ancestors knew. Nonetheless, I am very thankful for my unique and strong spiritual heritage.

Me in Filadelphia church by the relief of Thomas Ball Barratt and his wife Laura

As much as I want to talk about Norway, I think God has sent me another ball to hit for this blog today about serving. Where I learned the most about serving and death to self (they do go hand in hand you know) was when I owned my own coffee shop. I had taken courses in “total quality management” as a municipal administrator, so I knew the concepts of customer service. I knew that it was always about “serving your customer” whoever that was or how it looked. However, when you own your own business, it is different.
I had this dream (now I wonder if it wasn’t a nightmare) of owning a bookstore. I think 95% of my friends have had that same dream. I wanted a coffee bar inside my bookstore – you know, a mini-Barnes & Nobles. Of course, I wanted to sell Christian books and be a witness for the Lord. My dream first came in Connecticut.

My husband thought he was fulfilling my dream, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  Are they ever fulfilled like you think they will be? I got the coffee part of the dream. I started out with great equipment for drip coffee and went through several household espresso machines. We had bought a commercial one on ebay but it never worked except for the steamer. It was a $1500 steamer and nothing more.

I never had any books in the shop other than some books for people to read while they were there. We did play Christian music and I did often stop what I was doing and pray for people. It was a Christian business.
Serving people is hard. Anyone who works with the “public” knows that. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. to go and make coffee, make the gravy and the biscuits, bake some cookies, and all the other early morning tasks. I felt at times like I was on autopilot as I scurried across the cement floor. I was alone most mornings. We never could afford to hire help. Our help was my daughter who did an amazing job but was also pregnant or caring for her infant daughter most of the time we owned the shop.

I learned that serving is hard work. I learned that serving is sacrificial. Everything I desired for myself was put on hold so that the customer could be pleased and taken care of. I had no boss other than myself. I was worse to myself than any boss I ever had before.

I also learned that serving requires everything you have, all your resources, all your energy, all your time – ALL, EVERYTHING, TOTAL! Perhaps that is why when we talk about serving the Lord and serving His body, the church (not the building, the people) we want to run the other way.

I worked my tail off and then some. I ruined my knees forever scurrying around on that concrete floor. We lost a lot of money. We didn’t lose everything, but it took a huge toll on everything in our life.  Serving is hard. And yet, during this Holy Week I wonder, how is your serve? Are you willing to take up your cross and follow? It cost Jesus everything. He said if we want to be great we must be the servant of all. ALL? Does that mean all of you? What do you think?

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Serve is Not So Good, and My Norwegian is Worse

When Mary Anne and I were dating, we used to enjoy playing tennis with my older girls who were 12 and 15 at the time. I suppose that we might have called it "chase the ball," but we had fun. Let's just say we were bad at it. Even so, my oldest didn't really like the ball coming at her too fast. When I was serving, as soon as she heard the twang of racket strings meeting the rubber ball, she would just lay down on the court as the lime green ball zipped somewhere overhead. We still laugh about it today.

This week your Kingdom Bloggers are going to talk about a time they had the privileged to serving God. In the midst of doing something for the Kingdom, God often increases our compassion, our faith and brings us closer to Him. You can be certain that serving is not about thanks, or getting your name in the bulletin, it is an extension of who God has made you.

In the fall of 2001, Mary Anne and I had just returned from a conference in Connecticut. During the service it was announced that they were taking a short-term mission team to Norway. It sounded nice and we talked to the pastor in the hallway about it. He made a personal invitation to both of us.

Early that year, I had met a woman with a prophetic gift at a conference in Florida. We kept in touch via an occasional email. In 2002 she sent me a message about a dream which she felt was for me. She had seen a map and began to list the names of countries that she felt I was supposed to visit. The dream was intriguing and I had a "witness" to it. The list was not totally unfamiliar, as I had already Davi. I had also spoken to a couple of pastors about going to a number of other locations. The email read:

David, I saw a map of the world, and on it there were certain countries that were highlighted. South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, a couple of countries in the British Isles and one way up near the Arctic Circle, I think Norway, the one that reaches farthest North.

A word like that will get you thinking - especially if you have another one that says "I see you flying here and there." I decided to look into the Norway trip. I was pretty expensive, and the training classes 170 miles away. It would have to be God.

What I love about the Kingdom is that when we work to hear God's voice, and we listen to Him, things do happen. It is a process that is filled with faith, doubt and some real excitement. Hearing from God requires obedience, and I personally don't find that easy when whatever it is, seems too far out of reach.

As a Christian I find two things a little unnerving: 1) hearing God, and 2) not hearing God. If you are like me, you want to know what God would like for you to do. However; when I get the message, and the confirmations, I still doubt it.

I went through the checklist for the trip. Desire to Go; check, Passport; check, Money, no check, Ability to figure this out on my own; no check. I started t pray. I even talked it over with a pastor and he said that I probably should not go. He sort of made is sound like he thought that is what God was saying.

I had to weigh my desire to go against the counsel of a friend who cared about me. Maybe it wasn't time. I had a pretty tough couple of years with the divorce, losing my mother and things like that. But in my heart, I still felt like I should go. An unexpected check showed up for enough to make the 1/3 deposit on the trip. I prayed over it for about 7 seconds and sent in my deposit. The rest of the money came in from the offerings of friends and family - some not even Christians!

I arrived in Oslo May 22, 2002. Norway was wonderful and the Lord moved powerfully. It would be hard to report every experience because there were so many God-moments. (Some of those will be in my book.) Basically we spent a day on the street inviting people to the conference, Friends of The Bridegroom; which ran four sessions over 2 days. We attended Sunday services in various locations, had a bunch of team meetings, a trip or 2 to Oslo along with a day of prayer walking various sites throughout the region. Then there was the traveling, flights, airports and buses. Oh yes, we even got some sleep.

Eight years later, I still savor the things that God did: chasing a demon out of my room, multiplying paper invitations in my pocket, and the opportunity to work with a team of about 50 Americans and Norwegians. (Joyce Lighari was one of them.) We prayed where the Nazi's had murdered Norwegian Jews, walked where the kings walked, and took communion in the oldest church in Norway.

I think that serving God is fascinating, how about you?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Frank Sinatra might be proud of doing his way...but I've learned my lesson.

Nothing would make me happier than write today about how my life closely relates to David or Jacob from the Old Testament...maybe Paul or John from the New Testament. While there are elements of each I can relate to my own personal history, the Bible character I truly most closely relate to is Jonah.

That's right...Jonah.

I've been thinking about this all week, and each time I've tried to force Noah or Timothy into my personal journey, well it just didn't work. I would love to say Moses or even Job...but all signs point back to Jonah.

As if I needed reinforcement to tell me this, I came home last night to the toddler watching the Veggie Tales version of the story which she hadn't done in quite some time. Now, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer...but like Jonah, I do eventually get it...sometimes with help.

Too often, the story of Jonah is relinquished to teaching children, and I think that's a big mistake by even the most mature Christians. Jonah was given an amazing gift by God and was expected to use that gift in His service. After God gave Jonah specific instructions (Jonah 1:2) to head to Ninevah (the heart of the dreaded Assyrians), the prophet decided a Spanish cruise was more to his liking. Bad mistake...and Jonah pays for his disobedience.

Unfortunately, there is the close parallel in my life. God has richly blessed me throughout my time in this world. Right after accepting the wonderful gift from Him of salvation, I used many of my gifts in His service. At some point, I decided to take my own Spanish cruise and go my own way instead of remaining obedient to God. Bad mistake...and I paid for it too.

Again like Jonah, it actually took several detours for me to realize my life was bought and paid for by the sacrifice of Christ. Sure, I could chose to continue on a path of disobedience, but nothing good could ever come from that path. Only God could fill the holes I had dug into my life, and only He could give back the joy that comes from an obedient relationship with Him.

There are a couple of important lessons in the story of Jonah. Many Christians are afraid to talk about their faith. We don’t want to look foolish or be unpopular. We’re afraid of standing out and being different. There could have been no city less likely to repent than Nineveh, but when Jonah was finally willing to do as he was told, they did repent! Nineveh was so huge that it took three days to cross it. Imagine all the lives spared by one willing voice. Think of all that would have perished if that voice had not been there.

Now think about how big the World Wide Web is today. So many are not saved or have never been told the Good News simply because Christians have been too fearful to tell it. We have no way of knowing what someone will decide about Christ, we only have the obligation to tell people about Him. Miracles can happen in people’s lives when we share the Word of God with them. By withholding the Word, we are failing in our responsibility.

Like I said earlier, I may not be the sharpest knife...but I have filleted a few crappie in my day. I like that side of the fish so much better too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saint Peter

 "Ok, I mean, we tried all night and didn't catch anything, but even with you being a carpenter, we'll try again  ((sigh)).  It was then Peter got convicted and asked for forgiveness, it wasn't after he listen to Jesus teaching.
Luke 5.5-8

"Pffft, if that's really you Jesus, make it so I can walk on the water, too." Peter said. "Sure," Jesus replied.  After a few steps Peter got spooked, started sinking and begged Jesus to not let him drown.
Matthew 14:28-31

"Come over here Jesus, let me break it down to you the way its really gonna be," Peter said confidently. And before he could go into too much detailed Jesus scolded him, "Shut up, devil! You're don't know what your talking about."
Matthew 16.22-23

Peter was really quick with the mouth and his actions.  He was confidant or arrogant or both.  He is a dude I can relate to very much.  My mouth has gotten me in trouble and I have gotten out in front of the Lord and told Him to 'catch up'.  I am confidant in my Savior, my knowledge of the Kingdom and in myself, which often gets mistaken as being cocky or a punk.

What I think I have most in common with Peter is his ability to put things behind him and keep working for the Kingdom.  This dude messed up a lot when hanging with Jesus and he also messed up even after Jesus ascended. But he just kept at it. This is the same guy that would  preach the first sermon (Acts 2.14), understand that Jesus had come to save everyone (Acts 10.34), and he also was the first to see Holy Spirit fall upon outsiders (Acts 10.44-48).  Peter did not let his mistakes beat him down or allow himself to feel unworthy of doing the work of the Kingdom.

Two verses that I have 'built' my Faith upon can be attributed to Peter.  Two verses that have given me courage to speak up when I knew others didn't hear what I had to say.  Two verses that helped me forge my own identity in Christ, so that my  identity would be in Jesus and not in a  church, a pastor or anyone else.

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
Acts 5.29

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.
Acts 10.34

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You Must Be the Mrs.

I’ve seen a lot of people who you would consider famous. I’ve seen in person several presidents and even shook their hands. I was on Romper Room with Miss Jane as a child and later on Bozo the Clown. Owning a coffee shop near Nashville, I had some of the top singer/songwriters in the business come in and have me serve them. Probably I’ve had more brushes with the famous than the average person.

While working in a church office in Tennessee I took a phone call inviting the women's leader to a promotional luncheon with Lisa Whelchel, the former Blair Warner on the popular sitcom Facts of Life. We probably all remember the snootiness of Blair, Tootie on her roller blades, Natalie’s quips, Jo the girl with the street edge and the wisdom of Mrs. Garrett. It was a good show.

I went to the luncheon. Lisa was there to promote some Christian event for women. Most of the women were much younger than I was. Most were in that young mother category. My daughter has an interesting category for these type of women – she calls them Target people. The event was in Franklin, Tennessee so they may even have been a few shades above Target women, maybe Talbot women would be better. They were all sort of grown up Blair Warner's.

I was late so I sat at the only table in the back with a seat. Lisa got up with all the bubbly-ness of Blair. She asked if anyone could sing the Facts of Life intro song. I could but decided to not embarrass myself. While the book she was also promoting was probably very good, I really didn’t want it. It was the prize for successful singing of the Facts of Life intro song.  I was surprised, Lisa couldn’t sing it all either. I could have. I am not sure what that says about me.

Then she threw out an ice breaker for table talk. As if women ever need help in this department. I was already feeling a bit like the grandmother in the crowd so I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to break the ice. She asked us to think about which Biblical character we would want to be married to if we could be married to anyone in the Bible besides Jesus (ah, duh?). Then share it with our table.

There was the predictable conversation about Paul. He seemed rather hard on women, traveled a lot, ended up in prison and always seemed to be broke. Then David, ahh, the man after God’s own heart, right? Yes, but how many wives and concubines did he have? Then there is that messy story with Bathsheba.  If you wanted to have unlimited wealth, there is always Solomon. However, he too was not what you call a faithful husband.

The more the women shared, the less promising this exercise seemed; there were some pretty slim pickins to chose from the sacred scriptures.  As we went around the table each women settled in on an answer that was filled with adoring words about the character of their would-be Biblical husband. There were some laughs. There were some exclamations of “why didn’t I think of that!”

Finally, it was my turn. I had already thought of my answer. Never one for sameness or predictability, I had an answer that was very different from those making the rounds. I was sure I’d be the only person in the room who had my answer.

As the eyes of these young women turned to me, I said I wanted to be the wife of Lappidoth. I am sure you are having the same reaction as they did. Who? Who the heck is Lappidoth? What is a Lappidoth? Sounds like a breed of dogs. Oh no, that is a Labrador. They probably thought I still had my mouth filled with food and couldn’t speak clearly. Maybe I was already senile. Oh they smiled. They were polite. They were good little "Blair's." I just sat there soaking in the experience.

Then I said yes, I would want to be the wife of Lappidoth. He was married to Deborah, the woman from the book of Judges. I rather suspect than most of them had not heard of her nor had read anything other than the New Testament.

Deborah is one of two people in the scripture who were both a judge and a prophet. The other is the more well-known Samuel.  Deborah was also a warrior. Her buddy Barak (not the president) would not go into battle without her. She defeated the enemy sending their the enemy leader right into the hands of another strong woman, Jael.  If I had thought of his name, I would have said I wanted to be the wife of Heber the Kenite. Then I could have been the woman to slaughter the enemy in his sleep with a tent peg. You like action stories? This has it all. Read it in Judges 4-5.

I am not saying I have the attributes of Deborah. Definitely, I'm no Jael. I could never wield a tent peg like she did. The question was if you could be the wife of anyone in the scripture, who would you WANT to be? My answer was Deborah. Whose spouse would you want to be and why?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jacob Was a Deceiver and So Was I

I'm as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs cackled the preacher as his eyes looked about the little sanctuary. "You!" He said. "Stand up!" as he pointed at me. "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! One thing about it, God is really working in your life. If you will humble yourself to seek the Lord. As Jacob wrestled with the Lord, God is wrestling with you."

This week your faithful Kingdom Bloggers are going to write about a Bible character that has meaning to them, and tell you why.

I identify with a host of Bible characters from David to Sampson, to Peter and Gideon. Those are usually the ones that I would say I was most like - especially in the midst of their unfaithfulness to God.

In April 1994 some strange preacher who had never met me, and called himself Brother Arrowood, was ministering at the Sunday evening service at the Mid-Cape Assembly of God. He asked me to stand up and proceeded to speak some things over my life - including the fact that I was wrestling with God. In between the hallelujahs and amens, there was a message for David.

What I love about God, is that His view of us is not distorted or damaged, or filtered by past experiences.

I have to admit it, I didn't know a lot about Jacob. (Gen 25 to 35) I didn't like the sound of the name because there was a kid that used to bully me in 9th grade with that name. Jacob, the Bible character, was one of Abraham's twin sons; the eldest was named Esau.

Esau was a hunter, and Jacob was a quiet man who, stayed among the tents. (read that wimp) Jacob however; was a kaniver or supplanter. (read that cheat or thief or marketing executive) Jacob made Esau give up the inheritance of the first born for some bread and lentil stew. (read that Spaghetti-O-s)

Jacob received Isaac's blessing (Gen 27:1) - another little deception. He took the rightful place of Esau in the lineage of the Israelites. Jacob went on to have some troubles in life fleeing this and fleeing that, I did the same. (read that geographic cure) He moved and spent some time with his uncle Laban working and hoping to snag one of his daughters.

Jacob was not living up to God's call on his life.

Of course Jacob was the one that saw the angels ascending and descending the ladder to and from of Heaven. This was the promise of God to give that land to the 12 tribes of Israel. (Jacob had 12 sons) I had a similar promise back in 1982 - a call on my life - I was serious about it for a few years.

Jacob was running from uncle Laban who cheated him on wife number one; Leah, and things became a bigger mess after he married Rachel. She eventually died giving birth. But I am getting ahead of the story.

One evening he came to the River Jabbok (read that stream), one which he needed to cross. He was on the run from Laban, and Esau was on the other side with 400 men. So, he put his family members in the front of the pack and sent them on ahead. (read that total wimp) It was here where Jacob was escaping Laban, and heading back to the desert in hopes of reconciling with Esau, that he fought with the Lord. Jacob lived through his wrestling match with the Lord and came away with a bit of a limp.

Interestingly the word Jabbok means poured out.

For those of you that have not met me, even those that might have, that is my story. In the 90's I was poured out, and suffered every kind of trouble just as the Lord spoke through Brother Arrowood.

A few years later I met another minister that called me out at a meeting in which he was preaching. And Pastor Emil, an Egyptian visiting the US, said this.

"The Lord says unto you, don’t you know that I have rescued you many times out of the hands of the wicked people who have deceived you many times. But I had a very special precious plan in your life. And I rescued you for my glory, says the Lord. I fought with you, and you were wounded. And you were before crossroads these past few years and you didn’t know where to go. But I assure you that I have opened the door and I have furnished your career. But the enemy envied you and tried to devastate you. But I want to tell you, “I will surprise you” says the Lord. And I will come to you in a special way. I will have a very special visitation and I will reopen doors and I will give you a testimony. Tell my people that I am the God of compensation. Don’t change your mind. I have predestined everything and I will bless you."

God did exactly what he promised. He changed my career, He prospered me, he compensated me for the losses that had occurred.

How about you, what Bible character do you identify with?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Who's looking out for the one who looks out for you?

I read a number of good blogs each week including the posts of my fellow Kingdom Bloggers. Reading what others are thinking and sharing how I personally feel about a subject matter is the lure to the blogosphere for me...and I'm sure that's the consensus among my peers. The relationship dynamic usually works best when that's a give-take relationship between blogger and reader. There are a number of Tony C Today and Kingdom Blogger followers who only visit to read and rarely, if ever, leave a comment. Most of these folks don't really care about writing their own blog either...and I'm perfectly okay with that and genuinely appreciate their interest in the thoughts of a very small voice in a sea of screamers.

There is another blogging relationship that doesn't work so well though, and that's the blogger who throws out a thought and refuses to even remotely acknowledge there might be an opposing opinion by a reader. I've visited a few of these blogs and they're far too Limbaugh-ish for me...seldom do I visit more than once. But that's not what I really want to talk about today...

This week, I came across a post by a guest blogger on Shooting the Breeze that has really stuck with me. Ryan Tate from Doorframes of TaterHouse wrote the insightful piece about the need to protect your pastor and used Paul's letter to the church in Thessalonica as the basis (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Ryan made several great points, among them the need to protect our pastors from burnout. I've thought about this many times before when it comes to my own pastor. Like most overseeing a flock, he is pulled in a number of directions each and every day. He's expected to visit the sick, counsel the troubled, represent the church at community events and make a presence at every church function throughout the week while maintaining 'normal' office hours. He's often overlooked as the church flourishes, but the first one blamed when attendance is down or the budget is pinched. Did I mention he has his own family?

My pastor is also my good friend, and that causes problems too. The church I attend is modest in size at around 350, but one of the larger churches in the small town where it is located. Inevitably, friendships for a pastor cause friction and animosity in the congregation. He shows him or her favoritism or they're in his click. What I have noticed, however, is that the pastor is usually closest to the people who are at the church most often...which makes sense. I have a hard time finding validity in the argument of clicks and favoritism from the person who attends church every other Sunday morning and is rarely, if ever, involved in ministry work by the church...but that's just me. You'd never hear that language come from my pastor.

I busted my pastor out a little this week on my personal blog about being forward thinking...but still living in the Reagan Administration. I truly meant no disrespect, and I'm sure he knows it was all in fun. We have that type of relationship. I love my pastor and his family dearly and would do anything for them in a time of need...but the fact of the matter is...I would just be returning the favor.

Call or visit your pastor one day in the coming week (and not Sunday) and pray with and for him/her. Chances're just returning the favor too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crowns For the King...

A little girl standing in front of a full length mirror, there's a large wooden chest at her feet ...This is not an ordinary chest, It has the most gorgeous princess gowns a five year old could ever see, The plastic high heels, shiny plastic tiaras and the most brilliant feather boas. She stands in the mirror with the most royal posture...Pink is her favorite color, its the dress with the shiny butterfly broach..Putting this gown on becomes quite a task, the length of the arms are a bit to long, and that stunning plastic emerald ring gets stuck in the lining every time....From the next room, she hears her name being called......She runs to the doorway and replies...Mommy, I'm getting ready for the king....She rushes back to the mirror, fixes her hair and places the most exquisite plastic tiara she can find on the top of her head....She looks in disgust....This crown is broken and is too big!!!...Her name is called again.....She walks hastily back to the doorway....Mommy, I'm not ready yet...You must come now, we must go.....
A teenage girl standing in front of a full length mirror...A prom gown resting at the foot of the bed...This isn't any ordinary gown, this gown took months to pick out, it's perfect...She stands in front of the mirror with the most royal posture...Putting on this gown was quite a task , It was a beautiful white gown, the type of gown only a princess would wear.....From the next room she hears her name....She runs, to the doorway and replies.... I am almost ready, I am fixing my tiara..It's a little big.... She rushes to the mirror and places the tiara on her head and says...Wow, I feel like I'm getting ready for a king...Her name is called again....She was startled and moves quickly away from the mirror. The tiara loosens from the pins that it was fastened with and smashes to the ground...... Tears well up in her eyes.... Her name is called again...You must come now, we must go...
A women is standing in front of a full length mirror. There's a large wooden chest at her feet...This is not an ordinary chest, It has all of her fondest childhood memories in it....The most gorgeous princess gowns a five year old had ever seen, plastic high heels, broken tiaras, tattered boas, a beautiful white prom gown, Photographs ,and a jewelry box with a dancing ballerina. She stands in front of the mirror.......She looks away quickly, she can,t bear to see the bruises on her face...She can't bear to see the pain in eyes that no longer resemble her own. From the next room, she hears her name being called...She runs to the doorway fearfully and locks it. She rushes over to the wooden chest and pushes it hastily in front of the door and yells back ...I'm not ready yet.....Anxiously pacing the room...back and forth...She reluctantly walks to the bed side table, opens the draw revealing a bottle of prescription sleeping pills.....She looks back at the chest from her childhood, sadly she manages through her tears to sit in front of the chest...She begins to remove her memories, one at a time underneath the photos, through bruised eyes she sees the smashed tiara...Her name is yelled again...You must come now, we must go
I am not coming she whispers standing in front of the mirror..... I know her .... she looks familiar...She places the tiara on her head and thinks....What would someone like me have to offer a king?? Her vision begins to become impaired, the reflection in the mirror is becoming blurry....Stumbling she makes her way to her bed, looks to the floor and sees the open bottle, The open bottle was empty....Her eyes become too heavy to keep open, her limbs become weak , Shallow breathing.............She hears her name......She gasps, I'm not ready......
An unfamiliar voice calls to her......Who is this??? My Princess why have you done such a thing? You are correct, you are not ready, You must go.....
Return and get dressed you haven't met the King yet...Wait she says desperately...What do I have to offer a King? The voice got closer, a light from a space that was so vast, it appeared to have no origin...Warmth over her face, a gentle kiss on her cheek, the aroma of a spices filled her nostrils... You must go and prepare for your King, but , before you go I have something for you....She saw an outstretched hand...She reached back ...He said, Take this crown...It is not broken and its your size, You are a princess with much to offer a King...When you return to this place again, it will be your time...and you my sweet, will lay many crowns at your kings feet......

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Do it because I said so!"
"That's the way we have always done it!"

Two phrases everyone has heard. The first, from a parent when growing up and the second usually on the job or maybe even at church.  Two phrases that I despise.  To me, when I hear these statements or ones similar, I get furious, I get exasperated.  I wonder how a person can be so thick headed, ignorant or lazy.

Now that I am a parent, I can understand why I heard those two phrases so much as a kid. "Why?" "Do I have to?" ""What about her?" "It's his turn!" "I did it the last time!" "BUT, why is that?" .......
I have dropped those two phrases on my 7 and 6 year old a couple of times outta my own frustration.  I am not excusing my laziness, I am just admitting I have been that lazy.

Now on the job, I absolutely despise hearing that ignorance and laziness come out of the mouths of coworkers, bosses and management.  I am appalled that another adult would think that sorta response to a legitimate question could be considered adequate.  I am amazed at how stubborn people can be when a new idea is proposed.  I am baffled by how much an individual's identity is wrapped up in their job and how they do it.

That is what disgusts me so much about religion.  People stupidly follow the same set of rules, procedures for doing things because that is 'the way we have always done it'.  'Leadership' deems itself above questioning or the possibility of another way that Holy Spirit could be moving.  People limit God because they are too comfortable, lazy, insecure or satisfied with their 'place' in the church.

Thankfully, I know that God is not above being questioned. He invites us to understand who He is and why He is God.  It doesn't mean we will get the answers we want or when we want them, but more than likely we ain't gonna ask Dad a question He ain't heard before.  I have also learned that God does not respond to my demanding tantrums, similar to how I ignore my kids' tantrums. 

This entry is kinda a rant and I suppose you can tell what the environment is at my work, huh?  Maybe it also reveals why my Sunday a.m. attendance ain't too consistent. I am hoping that my conclusion will show how God is so unlike us when it comes to asking people to do things His way.  I hope that the three verses below reveal how God desires that we understand why we do the things He asks. 

Psalm 119.27 
Psalm 119.34
Psalm 119.73

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I was reading a blog about school and teachers.  It was pretty good, you might like it. You can find it here.  It got me to thinking about school. I am way too old by most everyone’s standards to be in school. I’ve blogged a lot about it and told everyone that I had been accepted to another academic program. If you haven’t seen that blog, you can find it here.

I’ve discovered in recent years that I am a nerd. I like school. I like books. I like learning. I have an incredible curiosity. I once said I was a bit like Johnny Five from the movie Short Circuit – need input, need input. 

You'll be sorry if you don't watch the video.

I don’t remember being driven for grades or learning when I was child. I was okay in school; didn’t win any honors though.  In High School, I was told I wouldn’t make good material for college. In college they suggested I go to beauty school because I was creative.  I have cut my husband’s hair for the last 25 years or more, so maybe they were right about that.

My worst teacher was a Miss O’Rourke at PS 105 in Brooklyn. She was mean. She was the personification of mean. Her goal was to make every child in her 6th grade class cry in front of the class at least once. She succeeded. She told us we were stupid. She told us we thought we were smart but we weren’t. She never touched us physically, but her “tongue lashings” were brutal. I think I still have some scars from my lashings.

The two best teachers I had were in Sunday School. Both were untrained teachers as far as academics. Both were young.  One was single. One married with children for whom I babysat.

Fran was from the south. I don’t know how she ever ended up in Brooklyn, but there she was, young, single, attractive. She had a bit of a southern accent as I recall. We didn’t have Sunday School in the summer and when spring would be in full bloom, the Sunday School class was usually empty. Most of the families had summer places in Long Island. We didn’t. All my life, Sunday after Sunday I would be alone in Sunday School class as my peers went to the Island for sun and fun. Most of the teachers would combine their class with someone else if there was only one person.

I don’t know why she did differently. It was both awkward and wonderful. Fran would sit next to me on the pew – we didn’t have separate rooms for Sunday School we simply spread out over the sanctuary. She taught only me, just me alone on that pew. What I remember most about Fran was her devotion to one child, me. She also made us memorize New Testament passages to tell people about salvation. To this day, most of the passages I have memorized in the NT are because of her.

The other one, the married one, was my Sunday School teacher when I was in the 6th grade. The same year I had Miss O’Rourke. Helen was evidently on some sort of deeper spiritual quest. She did odd things like go to Full Gospel Businessmen’s Breakfasts. She was neither a businessperson nor a man. She was just hungry for more of God. She really wasn’t full gospel either, she had been Lutheran.

Her zeal was contagious. She took a couple of 6th grade girls with her on the subway to a Full Gospel Businessmen’s breakfast. I think back now and I think – how strange? Something happened at the meeting. She led me into a fuller expression of the Holy Spirit for the first time. 

What’s the point?

A walk down memory lane with Joyce?

That’s nice for me, and maybe interesting for you but what’s the point?

The point is that we are all teachers. We all impact someone else. We all have the potential to teach someone else something that can change his or her life. I heard someone say a while back that we should all begin to look at our spheres – you know those circles we travel in, the people we know… for the purpose of teaching or mentoring.
What do you do well that you can teach someone else? 
What do you have to offer that can change a child’s life? or an adults? 
or an older person? we are never too old to learn!

Someone taught you -- Who can you teach about Jesus?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Church, Failure and the Will of God

It is easy to sit around and tell others what would make your life perfect - a better job, more money, less stress, relationships that would come in line with our thinking. I bet you could rattle off at least a few things that would improve your life, things you might even be praying for.

This week your Kingdom Bloggers are going to go topic-less and just write something personal and meaningful to them. I'm sure that it will be exciting to see what overflows from their hearts.

I don't know about you, but since I became a Christian I have failed at being what I thought God wanted me to be. I have made life decisions that weren't just sinful, but they caused a domino effect of subsequent bad decisions. This is the kind of stuff that convicted me when I first met Jesus. I thought it was all behind me.

We've written about all kinds of God experiences here on KB. I love how each one of us engages our living God in a personal way. The principals are the same but the outworking of God's grace is intensely individual. In church we get sermons on different facets of the Christian life: prayer, study, salvation, love, longsuffering; and the list goes on and on. This week I was thinking about how I have not measured up to the gospel, and so many times I desperately wanted to.

Over the years it has been easy to put on the "church face" - some of that is my fault, and some is theirs. I only have to take responsibility for me - I need to be transparent. One day I was meditating on this scripture:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

I just could not understand how I could be new and be so bad - so hypocritical - and a new man. No matter how hard I tried - and I tried - I couldn't seem to get it. I continued to meditate on it. I found this verse where Paul asks the same question.

Romans 6:2-11 How shall we who have died to sin, live in it any longer?

Therein lies the key. We can't live in sin any longer. It is the old us, the old nature, the sin nature that will always want to be boss. To be led of the spirit means that we can't go back there. That is what the power of the resurrection is, the ability to live in and by the spirit.

So how do we get out of this cycle of the flesh? Well, this is the revelation for me. We DO NOT try to fix the old us, we need to learn to release the Spirit. We have self-help groups, Bible teachings, sermons, books, tapes, blogs and Bible studies and never once should we have heard, fix yourself, and just start doing what's right. Spending every waking moment trying to be good, or ethical or "do the right thing" is futile. Even thinking that is of the flesh!

We must hear God, and be obedient. If we do that, we will not have to fix anything. We simply begin by hearing God and doing it. It seems simple, but unless we get there, we will be Christians by the flesh, and the two cannot coexist.

If we get it figured out, we can look forward to some great things in Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm not just sitting on the dock of the bay...

I would like to say I'm disappointed not to have a good personal story today, but I completely understand the reason I don't has nothing to do with God and everything to do with me. Beyond a doubt, God has made His presence apparent in my life many different ways. He was there in Hawaii when I cheated death and protected me for His own purpose for a later time. I know God heals...I'm living proof. I know God places angels to watch over us and cast out demons to protect us.

As much as I love hearing and reading the stories of other people, I'm still waiting to see if God blesses me with such a stunning testimony of His power and glory. It's His game and His I'm also ready if it never happens too. For me, it doesn't create doubt or even animosity because I've not been in the middle of a blatantly obvious supernatural event...not at all. It's actually very inspiring!
Thanks for reading Kingdom Bloggers. You are very much loved and appreciated by five people who equally love to talk and write about God. As always, we greatly enjoy hearing your stories too. I hope God pours His blessings all over your weekend.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Natural!!! He's Super

My name should be supernatural.....Well, my middle name anyway...Michelle "supernatural" Feliciano....You'll have to excuse my sarcasm I was cooped up in the house for a day and I just left a Bible study that ran about 3 and a half hours over the normal time frame..So I'm a little Holy Spirit energized...To be honest , my Bible studies never get out on time, I actually warn people in advance, so if they have to leave , they just get up and go when they need to....Yup, that's me..Long winded, charismatic, zealous and excited about every super natural thing the Lord wants to share with the Body of Christ...I have often been warned about staying to long and being to long winded...I try ,I really do, but I am not leaving until the Holy Spirit tells me to....So supernatural personal experiences?? I've got some great ones..When I got saved, when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence in speaking in tongues, the time the Lord healed my shoulder in the middle of a Sunday service, the first time I heard the audible voice of God..The list goes on and on...I love being a Christ follower , it's the most exciting time of my life..There's ups and downs, twists and turns and ins and outs...AMAZING!!! My salvation experience is my all time favorite, but I've told that so many ways and so many times that its becoming redundant..Boring?? No..Redundant?? Yes..So what can I share with you that is even a pale comparison to that?? Good question..Well, let me know what you think about this one??..Not long after I got saved I began to feel this intense feeling of despair and a depression that I was not familiar with..As a matter of fact I'm not sure I really knew what depression was until I got saved..I had small battles with it in my young adulthood but, nothing major..I had not been married for very long..I'm really not sure where it came from, one day I was fine the next day I was miserable..I remember I had so many thoughts coming in out of my mind, confusion, sadness, regret, shame, etc..etc..It was crazy I didn't feel like myself, I was crying all the time.. I became short tempered with my husband Pablo and my children..I began isolating myself, I was quickly crashing and burning...I remember it was one of those days that nothing seemed right, you know when you wish you never woke up that morning??..I just put my baby boy down for his nap, I layed down on the couch with my face toward the back..I began to weep uncontrollably, with my face pressed against the cushion, tears had soaked the material..I was crying out to the Lord begging Him to meet with me, I needed Him to sit with me..I felt so lonely, so overwhelmed!!..Have you ever been in that place between awake and asleep?? Where your senses are still keen??That place where your too tired to cry another tear??That's where I was too tired to cry, my eyes swollen..I spoke softly, "JESUS, CAN YOU COME AND SIT HERE WITH ME?" I think I said that about 5 times..Then,"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."..I had closed my eyes and felt a slight warm breeze as it blew softly threw my living room, it was so soothing I nestled into the couch a little closer , now facing away from the tear soaked fabric...I soon after felt a soft brushing of a hand across my hair...Then down my right cheek..I felt it physically on my face but more powerful than that, I felt it go through my soul...I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Jesus brushed his hand across my head and wiped the tears from my eyes..I know this because I felt it...You know Saints, its times like that when you come into an intimate union with God The Father..I will never forget it!! I called His name and there He was..Right when I needed Him the most...But, that's not the greatest of supernatural experiences..Nope!!The greatest one?? Is that He does it EVERY time I say His name....Now that's Super!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Can I Say (TCV Fused)

What can I say? Even though have asked for the gift of healing, (1 Corinthians 4.11) I have prayed for the sick to be healed and have yet to see an instant recovery.  I have prayed for the my vision and yet I still need glasses to see with 20/20 vision.  I have prayed for backaches, headaches and heartaches and have seen very limited results.

What can I say? Despite not having seen demons manifest themselves, I still pray against demonic activity. I can get a 'sense' of something outta place or evil, but I still haven't seen or heard anything in the natural to confirm the 'sense' I had. I still know that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4.4)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
John 14.12

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2.4-5

What can I say?

I will preach the Gospel and will do awesome things in the name of  Jesus because He is at the right hand of God. As Holy Spirit leads, I will preach the Kingdom and He will confirm His Word with signs and wonders. 
Corjohnthians 17.21*

*TCV Fused (Tevet Caffeinated Version) is a loose 'translation' of the Word that fuses a verse or two from a different books of the Bible and generate a new verse.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Forget the Oil - Try Ben-Gay

I think I'm the only born and bred Pentecostal in this group. I don't remember when I realized that some people who believed in Jesus and believed in the Bible didn't believe that Jesus still heals today. I grew up with Oral Roberts on television. Even occasionally saw A.A. Allen on television. Both prayed for the sick and were quite theatrical about it. Like the Reader’s Digest, an abundance of magazines from people like Brother Oral, Allen or Morris Ceruello came to my home every month. Once I learned to read, I knew God healed people who were sick.

I don’t know if I thought I was sick. It probably was just childishness. Alone in front of the black and white with a big round picture tube, when Oral would say “put your hand on the television set as a point of contact,” I would. I also was “saved” every time a Billy Graham said on TV, “I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat.” I had a habit of routinely feeling guilty and desiring to “get saved” at every opportunity. I might even be able to get some award for “being saved” more than any other person. I knew the word “backslidden” as well as I did “saved.” Just in case, I was baptized by immersion TWICE.

The supernatural is not new to me. When I was a child, my mother led a number of children’s ministries. My favorite was “Released Time.” Every Wednesday, I was dismissed from school one hour early in order to go to church for “religious instruction.” The Catholic children went for CCD. Most of the Protestant churches had something. My mother led ours.

That was both good and bad. It was good because I thought I had status as the daughter of the leader. Bad because I had to be on my best behavior all the time in order to be a “good example.” I also had to memorize whatever chapter of the Bible she had chosen LONG before everyone else. The best part was being excused from school.

One Wednesday afternoon, a call came to the church office. In those days most pastors weren’t in the office often. The church didn’t have a full time secretary. The only believers that could be reached were Elsie and the children. It was a mother of a girl my age, a friend. Her daughter was in the hospital with meningitis. Frantic, she called for prayer. Unable to find the pastor, she thought of Elsie and the kids. She told my mother, “I knew you were there with the children and would pray.” My mother led us all in prayer for her and miraculously she was healed. Wow! This stuff wasn't just theatrical stuff for television. It works even when children prayed in a basement of a church on a Wednesday afternoon.

Several years later, just before my 13th birthday I got sick, very sick. I remember having excruciating pain in my right knee. I had always been prone to “growing pains.” My mother would put stinky Ben-Gay on my ankles and legs. Then she would wrap them with flannel secured with a safety pin so I could sleep.
That first night as I literally writhed in pain she knelt by my bed and prayed. Of course, I had Ben-Gay and flannel but this was different. I had a fever as well. I don’t know what went through her mind at the time. I do know that her first response after the practical was to pray.

The next day the old Norwegian surgeon, Dr. Svensen, who treated everyone in the Norwegian community for everything came to the house with his black bag. I knew him because he’d be there before but never to see me. He called another doctor from our big black dial phone on the orange conversation table in our dining room. Later that day, this doctor also came to the house. He drew blood in my bedroom. He said they’d admit me to the Norwegian Lutheran Hospital as soon as they could.

It took a few days for a bed. Every day my mother prayed over my bed. I never got the bed in the new wing that looked like what I saw on Dr. Kildare. I had to go to the old wing. I was there for three weeks. I had Rheumatic Fever.

I was healed. No, I didn’t have the dramatic healing my friend had when the children prayed. Nevertheless, I had no lasting effects from the Rheumatic Fever. I had no heart defects typical of RF. My healing was just as supernatural as the instant healing of my friend.

Now I pray for people and seen a number of instant healings. Pain from migraines and pinched nerves, are gone with the last "amen." I’ve seen hot dogs multiply in a steamer to feed people. I’ve seen someone come to my door by Holy Spirit GPS.

Who said being a Christian was dull?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jesus

Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet rushes into a phone booth, takes off his suit and becomes Superman, blasting off to rescue some poor citizen in distress. The scenario is easily explained - we all know that Superman is from the planet Krypton whose inhabitants are endowed with super powers. Simple.

This week your Kingdom Bloggers are going to relate a story about a time when they encountered our wonderful and supernatural God in a personal way.

How about you, have you encountered our supernatural God in a personal way? If you were ever like me, I thought that God was a make believe super hero and I had less faith than Lois Lane. I was caught up in intellectualism and thought for sure we'd find out exactly how everything worked, and that eventually there would be a cure for death itself.

My church experience was pretty limited growing up - there was no magic going on, just regular old religious stuff: stand, sing, listen to someone pray, boring sermon etc.

After I met Jesus, I started to expect that my life would involve some not so easily explainable circumstances - I was not to be let down by God.

Most folks in the civilized world have cars - these cars rust, break and wear out - mine were no different. During my hyper-faith days, on a hot August afternoon, my truck’s water pump seized and the engine overheated in the parking lot at work. In my presumption, I laid a hand on the hood the truck, and it was instantly repaired—it was good as new!

Thank you Lord for meeting my need! Jesus is my superhero!

A few months later I dropped my reasonably new car off for a state vehicle inspection and an oil change at the local car dealer. The cost should have been about $60. The phone rang at work and the service mechanic started the conversation with, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?”

I said, “It doesn’t really matter, just tell me what is going on.”

He began, “Your car needs new brakes and rotors, a timing belt and tune-up, front struts and 4 new tires. That will run you $1,135.00”

Sarcastically I replied, “If $1,135.00 is the good news, then what is the bad news?”

“You mean the good news sir?” he said. “The good news is that I can have this for you today at 4 pm.”

“What do I need to pass inspection, what is the cost of that?” I asked.

“Well, the oil change is not required, and we can do the job for $1,100.” He answered.

“I’ll have to call you back.” I said as I hung up the phone.

Sarah who worked with me in the office had overheard the conversation. “I think we need to pray.” I said to her.

“How much money do you have?” She asked.

I looked in my checkbook and there was $135 until payday, and my rent was due too.

“$135” I answered.

“Oh God, that is not even close.” She said.

I prayed some simple prayer like. “God please give me wisdom.” and said, “amen.” Sarah agreed with me.

“Now what are you going to do?” she asked.

I picked up the phone and told the service manger that it was an awful lot of money. “What can you do to help me out?”

“Well, not a lot. How about I give you 10% off? Let’s just call it $1,035 even.” He said.

Just at that moment, I felt this faith rise up in me. “Go ahead and fix it.” I said and hung up with the service representative.

Sarah spun around in her chair and said, “You are either crazy, or you have faith that I don’t.”

I didn’t know what to do, and 5 hours later they called to let me know that car was ready. I told them that I didn’t have a ride, and would have to get it on Monday. They seemed puzzled - me, I was way out on a limb.

Saturday night I went to a fabulous meeting and people were talking about the glory of the Lord seen over the church building. Wow, I am missing a lot I thought. I arrived home and went to bed thinking about what the glory of he Lord might actually look like.

Sunday morning I woke up and my wife held up an envelope and said that she had gotten an unexpected commission check for some artwork that she had done. It was $494.65. I have to admit, I thought she was going to say it was for $1035. I was starting to feel a little better, but we still needed about $540.35.

We went to church, and I walked in looking forward to worship when I realized that we were on nursery duty. I was a sad, I just wanted to enjoy the music. I did manage to get a few songs in before we filled to capacity. There was a small PA speaker in the nursery room, and I adjusted the volume so that I could hear the music. Once the sermon started, it was so noisy in the room, that I could hardly hear anything from the little speaker; even sitting in a toddler chair right beneath it. With all the toys, diapers and bottles, I forgot about the sermon.

Just as the pastor was closing, I heard only the last sentence of his prayer. “I pray that God would give even one of you, supernatural faith today. Amen.” At that moment I felt this waterfall of warm water flowing over me as I sat with my 2-year-old asleep in my lap.

I got up to go and do a little visiting before going home. I walked into the sanctuary to see who was there, and a woman that I know walked down the aisle headed straight for me. “I am glad that you are still here.” She said. “The Lord spoke to me this morning and said that you have a financial need.” She stuffed a wad of cash in my palm and closed my fingers over it.

Without looking down at my hands, I simply said, “Thank you.”

It was $539.00 dollars. As I was telling my friends this story at church that evening, one of them reached into their pocket and pulled out a dollar and some change. It was $1.35 and they handed it to me.

God had done the supernatural, we had the exact amount of the car repair!

Thank you Lord for meeting my need! You are my super hero!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Living in the Desert

I seem to live more in the desert than anywhere else. I almost passed on this week as I am dealing with the death of my mother. She passed away last Thursday, February 25. February 25 is also my wedding anniversary and the birthday of one of my grandsons. I find that odd how this happens. We have other dates in our family that are like this – they seem to have multiple significance.

I found this dying experience to be very different than I expected. It was more rich than desert. As with all the rich experiences of life, I learned so much. If you haven’t read any of my reflections on this on Sounds of Hope, you may want to read them.  It seems the month of February was all about dying. I shared the experience of my granddaughter’s death, sudden, unexpected, and way too soon.  Within a few days, I was experiencing the death of my 91-year-old mother. I attended to her as she transitioned from this life to the next.

I live in the desert. South Dakota is tundra. Even in the snow, the cactus grows in the western part of the state. I have actually wanted to live in the desert, just not a frozen one.  While the natural beauty of the western part of South Dakota is astounding, the coldness of the surroundings is unbearable for me.

I fell in love with the desert of Arizona in 1997.  That year was the hardest year of my life. Space does not permit me to share this in detail. Just before the year began we had a house fire, early in the year our son was sick and homebound for most of the year, our granddaughter died, my husband made emergency trips to his native Pakistan because of the critical illness of his father, I was falsely accused at work ruining a career and reputation, a major crisis in my marriage-this just scratches the surface.

As the year was closing, I was numb, almost comatose with despair.  My husband took me with him to Tucson, Arizona.  As we flew over the desert, I thought what a horrible place. As we drove to Tucson from Phoenix I asked, what do people see in the desert?

Within 24 hours, the desert had captivated me.  There was something healing about the desert.  The first night we were guests at a colleagues home. Under a beautiful desert sky with crispness in the air we ate our meal outside. The next day we went to walk through the desert and experience its intimacy.

What originally just looked dry and brown was actually full of life.  The desert has everything needed to sustain life.  Each plant and animal has been uniquely created to live in this environment.  Rains will come. In fact, they will come with unexpected force. The arroyos formed by the rain, change the landscape sweeping away all debris.

We resist the desert. Its starkness and seeming desolation are frightening. I don’t know a lot about the Desert Fathers who helped perpetuate and mature our faith. I do know that the desert is necessary. I know the desert restored me and refined me. I know that when the rains come, with force, it sweeps away the debris of my own life.

I’ve always wondered about the scripture that say the Holy Spirit led him into the desert (Matthew 4:1). There are times we are led into the desert.  I have embraced the work of the Holy Spirit; if I do, I need to follow even to the desert. It will be good for me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Busy, Burdened....Beautiful

A time in the desert...Well, I am sure glad it didnt last 40 years, however 1 day in the desert seems like 40 years...Wilderness, desert, its all the same..Its dry, its desolate, lonely etc..You know what I mean...My desert experiences have been few but have impacted me in such a way that I'm not in a hurry to go back there....I am dry and thirsty Lord send your rain, send your rain...Lord I need your touch again, send your rain, send your rain...Let it rain, Let it fall from heaven , send your rain to revive my soul, I need your rain, I need your streams of refreshing, so i will thirst no more..Those are lyrics to a song that has stuck with me for 10 years..You know those songs that you never forget, or have impacted your life/walk in a way that you don't understand..That is the one that did it for me...My desert experience that remains fresh in my mind is the time I returned to the world...After serving the Lord for 6 years and I mean "serving"..I was busy, busy. busy..Youth, dance, children's ministry any thing that needed to be done I did it..I was going constantly and enjoyed every second of it..You know the desert thing kind of just crept up on me..One day I was going, going ,going the next day ...NOTHING...A lot in my life had transpired during this time, lots of changes..It all happened when a separation occurred between myself and my ministries and my church family...Its really not important these days how it happened as much as the importance of "why" it happened...This experience (desert) was the loneliest, darkest place I had ever been..Sometimes it was cold and desolate and others the temperature got so hot I was gasping for air...My emotions got the best of me in this place, I was sad, lonely, afraid, desperate etc....In this desert I spent some time in a fiery furnace, a lions den, in a pit, a prison I had faced many giants, a serpent had even spoken to me and tried to strangle the very breath of life out of me, I ran, I hid, then I cried out for help.....JESUS!!!!HELP ME..You know what He said that day....I've been here the whole time daughter, I was just waiting for you to ask...I was waiting for you to surrender to me , admit you couldn't do it on your own..I was waiting for you to call out my name...That day in the desert I finally had sensed a glimmer of hope..He told me to walk with Him for He had much to tell me in regards to this place I had been residing in for some time..After a long walk I told the Lord I was weary and didn't think I could continue this journey through this desert..At that moment he told me that we were on our way to the potters house, that it was just a little further along the narrow road we were on, I looked up at Him...I said I am to tired Lord this burden is to much, I cant take another step, I am dry and thirsty..At that moment He picked me up and carried me the rest of the way, I fell asleep as I counted His footprints in the sand..When I had finally came to, we were at the Potters house as he promised we would be..As I looked around I saw so many masterpieces some shiny , some cracked and some on the potters wheel..I asked Jesus my guide why are we here?? Am I going to return to the desert??..His reply was," No daughter, here is where I am going to teach you how to be fit for the masters use......."..You walked through the desert, you called on my name and now here we stand...Here is where You will sit,you will be molded and transformed into a vessel fit for "my" use...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Like a Camel

A camel can survive seven days without water, but not because they are carrying large reserves inside their humps. They're able to avoid dehydration that would kill most other animals, thanks in large part to oval-shaped red blood cells (vs. the standard circular variety). As far as that hump goes, it's nothing more than a big mound of fat, though a useful one at that — the lump provides camels with the same amount of energy as three weeks of food. If there's any body part that excels at retaining water, the award goes to the camel's kidneys and intestines. These organs are so efficient that a camel's urine comes out thick as syrup and their feces is so dry, it can fuel fires! (

Bet you didn't expect that as an intro to a Kingdom Bloggers entry, huh?

I had no idea that camels didn't store water in their humps.  That's what I was taught in grade school so why would I think any different.  It wasn't until I started kicking around ideas about this entry that I learned camels store water in their bloodstream and not their humps.   I also learned that a camel breathes out of its nostrils to helps retain moisture.

Wanting to share my new found knowledge of the camel, I wanna try to make a connection between even-toed ungulate and a Christian. Let's see if I can pull this off.

Just like a camel, God has created us to survive in a desert.  Like a  camel, we are equipped to endure dry times because His Word lives in us.  A camel can survive 2-3 weeks without food and God will provide all that we need and lead us to it.  A camel is built to endure temperatures that would kill other mammal and we Christians, being sealed with Holy Spirit, have a similar strength to persevere. The camel's hair, nostrils and eyelids can all form as barriers of protection and we Christians are equipped with protective barriers individually and through the Church.

I can look back at my times in the  'Spiritual Sahara' I see that I was just me being a lazy, selfish, short sighted punk.  I would get bored after reading a few minutes in the Word.  I couldn't feel His presence during worship. Or my times in prayer weren't spectacular, so I thought I must be in the desert. Knowing now what others have endured,  I didn't endure great hardship.

Instead of focusing on how dry and dusty I thought things were, my focus shoulda been on what what God had blessed me with.  Rather than complaining to Him about how I thought things were 'unbearable' and demanding an instant watering hole, I shoulda been exalting all that my God is capable of doing.

After all, He is Lord of the oasis and the barren.