Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Sensing" God

“…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
                                                                                                     Hebrews 13:5

I think it would be safe to say that many Christians have moments in our life in which we say that we “just don’t feel God” or we just don’t “sense” His presence. I know I have said this…that is, until God finally showed me the truth about Him and His presence. The truth about God’s presence is that when a person asks Christ into their heart, the Holy Spirit takes up residence. Not temporary residence, but permanent residence (Eph. 1:13-14). Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God, the Father, are ONE…the Holy Trinity. So, if you do the math (even someone who is as bad at math as I am can figure this one out!), God is always with His children. Living inside of us is about as close as you can get. However, Satan loves to sell believers the lie that when we fail God, He will abandon His children. When we believe this lie, we begin to pull away from God by spending less time with Him in prayer because we have been told He isn’t listening. We pull away from God by letting His word sit on the night stand beside our bed or remain in the car from the Sunday (or two…or three Sundays) before. Why? Because we have been told the lie that He is so angry with us that He couldn’t possibly have anything to say. Lies, all lies. Today, God is using this post to speak to my heart and to you who feel as though He is far from you. He is speaking to you who are undergoing a very difficult trial with no end in sight; to you who plead, with tears falling, to the God who has done so many great things; to you who wonder, "where is He in all of this?” May your view of God’s presence be changed through this post.

God’s word challenges His people to walk by faith and not by sight. He tells us this because we, as humans, have difficulty applying this concept in the ‘land of the living.” We often need to see it, touch it, smell it, or hear it, to believe it. Too many times we count God out because we don’t feel Him through our 5 senses. As His children, it is crucial that we believe God regardless of what we “feel” (Hebrews ch. 11). This is faith. However, I have also noticed that many times God is showing Himself to me or speaking to me…but it is me who does not notice His presence. God has shown me that in order for me to see or hear Him, I must have a relationship with Him to even recognize His voice, His presence, His fingerprints. Today, I want to share with you examples of how God has made His presence known to me through my 5 senses.

Hearing: Things that I hear are evidence of God’s presence. Listen closely to what you hear around you and you will hear Him. —A few days ago, I was shopping at a small grocery store. It was early in the morning and I had ran in for a few items. I was almost to the check out line when I turned the corner and heard the most beautiful sound… the sound of a man praying. It wasn’t loud and I never saw the man who was praying. But, I heard him. I stopped my buggy and fought back the tears as I listened to this man praying in his office as he began his day at his job. I listened as this man showered our God with praise and adoration.– I know my God is near when I hear the sound of a check being torn from a “check book”. Why? Because as a child, that was one of the first sounds I heard every Sunday morning as I watched my parents write out the check for their tithe, tear it out, and place it in an envelope to put in the offering. That sound was eveidence of God’s presence as He blessed their obedience and how He now meets our every need in my home now.– I know God is with me every time I sit under the reading of His word. I hear His words and they wash over me like water… “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”–Mark 4:23

God is speaking to you also. Do you hear Him through His word?

Touch: I know God’s presence is with me when: – I touch the pots and pans that my grandmother used to cook with. I touched that handle of that pot this week and I recalled the memories of my grandmother’s hand on mine as we cut out biscuits together. I thank God for putting four wonderful grandparents in my life that began a spiritual legacy; –I also was reminded of God’s presence a few days ago, as I felt my 5 year old son take my hand and remind me that we hadn’t said our prayer before school. I was in such a hurry that I almost forgot the most important part of our day, and praise God, it was important to Canaan too.–I feel God as I touch the pages of my Bible. My hands sometimes tremble at the very thought of what I am holding. As my fingers turn page after page of His spoken word, I can just imagine Paul (and many others) sitting for countless hours writing…writing…writing, as God impressed His words upon their hearts. We have His word at our fingertips, yet we don’t even pick it up. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”-2 Timothy 3:16-17

Taste: I know God is near me when I thirst for Him and His word… When I was a young girl, I loved to spend the night with my grandparents who lived in the country. Before they had “city water”, they had”well water”. I would stand at the bathroom sink before bedtime and drink a million Dixie cups (it seemed like) of that cold well water. It was so different. The taste wasn’t like anything I’d had before. When I asked my grandmother why it tasted so good, yet so different, she said, “because the well flows from a spring.” Are we tapped into the Spring of Living Water? Or, have we dug our own wells and come up empty? We have become empty in our spiritual life, empty in our marriage, empty in our churches, etc. The closer you grow to God, the more insatiable your appetite becomes for Him and who He is. ”Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”– Psalm 34:8

Smell: God’s presence is ‘right under my nose’…The night I take my shot for my disease, I mentally prepare myself for the pain that I know will come. Even though it’s painful, the smell of the alcohol gauze pad reminds me that this body is owned and operated by my Lord. It is a temporary body and one day there will be no more pain, no more medicine. I will receive a new perfect body and all the trials of this disease will have been worth it all!! Praise God!! “But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” –Phil. 3:20-21

Seeing: I saved this one as the last of the 5 senses to write about. I believe that through this post, God wants us to know that we can “see” Him all around us, all the time…if we just take the time to look…or smell, taste, touch, or hear. To me, “seeing”, in this case involves discernment. Knowing God’s personality and His fingerprints so well, we immediately recognize Him and His presence. Seeing God is looking at my son, whom God promised to me and Shane when we thought we would never have a child; –Seeing God is looking closely at the precise detail of a daisy or watching the enormous sun rise and set every day.– Seeing God is looking in the mirror and actually seeing my reflection starring back at me, 4 years after being diagnosed with a rare disease. But seeing God around us also involves faith…faith that He understands and sees what we cannot. Seeing God around you isn’t about understanding what you see…it’s about believing that He understands and controls what you are seeing. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” –1 Sam. 16:7; “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry…” Ps. 34:15; ”But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”–Job 23:10

These are just glimpses my God has been so gracious to allow me to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste His presence around me and recall it when I need Him close. His presence is with His children every morning when we rise, throughout the day as we carry on, and during the night as we sleep. I hope you will begin today to refuse to believe the lies of Satan. The lies that say God has abandoned you. Though believing God in complete faith is sometimes a difficult challenge, it is also a challenge to open our eyes to His presence as He comforts us through our senses. No matter how long or how far you’ve walked away from God, tell Him you want to draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (James 4:8 ). It’s really as simple as that.


My prayer for today:

Dear gracious Heavenly Father, may you be exalted above all. For you alone are to be praised and glorified. Thank you for giving me the gift of salvation. And thank you for leaving your Holy Spirit to dwell within me. Thank you for allowing me to know you are close. May I walk by faith in that You will never leave me nor forsake me. Recall to my mind and my senses that you are always close to me…

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Voice Behind You

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21 It's funny how God uses weird things like a kid's baseball game to speak, but He does... This past summer was my son's first year to play (what he referred to as) "real" baseball. At the ripe old age of 5 (the age of "I know everything!"), Canaan quickly began to learn the fundamentals of America's favorite past time. After the first practice, my confident 5 year old, quickly realized he knew much less about baseball than he had originally anticipated. Coach Jeremy Penny (may God forever bless this man!)saw Canaan's hesitation and lack of self-confidence and began to teach Canaan. By the fist game, Canaan knew that if he just listened to his coaches (and his "very proud and loud" momma from the stands), followed through with what he had learned, he would be able to make great plays. One game, Canaan was on third base, ready to run across home plate and score another run for the "Crimson Cats"! If you know anything about baseball, you know that if you are on third base, you take off running when the ball is hit, but you MUST, I repeat, MUST listen to your third base coach (thanks Coach Jason!)to know if you need to run home or come back to third. I can see this in slow motion in my mind...---The ball was hit. Canaan took off running toward home...but you could tell his ears were listening for Coach Jason's voice behind him telling him what to do. Then, when Canaan crossed the half-way mark between third and home, Coach Penny stepped in front of Canaan, beside home plate, motioning him to come on home and slide. For that moment, it seemed as though time stood still as God spoke to my heart. All Canaan had to do was listen to his coaches and then do what they said to do. The voice behind him told him when to go, and then his coach was waiting on him at his destination and told him what to do when he got there...if only we did the same for God. Do you ever feel like you can't hear God? I know I have felt that way so many times in my life. You have a situation in your life (or several situations!)that you have no idea how to handle or what to do and you desperately need God's clarity. You pray and...nothing. You become frustrated, anxious, even depressed. You may even begin to think God is angry with you, that He has turned away from you. The deadline of the "situation" draws closer or, it just feels like you are "stuck" because everything stays exactly the same. We think to our self, "Why doesn't He answer??!!!" It's taken some time, but God has and is teaching me how to hear Him. Alot of the answer is found in Isaiah 30:21. I have come to know that my calling on this earth is to tell as many people as I can that God wants a relationship with them. He wants to give us an eternity in Heaven with Him too, but while we are here on the earth, HE WANTS A CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with those who are His children. One lie that Satan tells the Christian is that God only speaks to "certain Christians". Let me tell you why this is a lie. When Christ died, the veil was ripped and His children are able to speak to God at any time, any place, and about anything, through Christ. You may be saying, "Oh I do TALK to God, Corrie, but I need God to talk to ME." See, I missed this for a really long time. If you are a Christian, God speaks to you. Period. Now, "how" He speaks is the key. If you have asked Christ into your heart, then the Holy Spirit lives within you. This is crucial to know and believe because the Holy Spirit is one way through which God speaks and answers us. Among many things, the Holy Spirit is the convictor. For example, you may be praying about a relationship, job, financial issues, etc. The Holy Spirit helps you know that acting a certain way to your spouse is wrong; that pursuing a certain job isn't bringing you peace; the guilt we feel when we mismanage HIS money. That, my friends, is God speaking. Many times, THAT is the 'voice behind you saying..." Hearing God is about paying attention. Another way to hear God comes through the reading of His word. Often times, we pray, but forget to pick up His written word. If you are His child, every time you read God's word, He is speaking. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Thoroughly equipped...hmmm..sounds good, doesn't it? I don't know about you, but I sure do want to be "thoroughly equipped" in my marriage, in my job, as a parent, friend, etc. The second part of Isaiah 30:21 speaks of faith and obedience. Once you know the way, you must be obedient to "walk in it." One more thing regarding Isaiah. 30:21... don't doubt.The scripture doesn't say, "I thought I heard a voice behind me saying...", or "the voice behind me said, "this might be the way for you, but I'm not really sure,". God WILL answer us. It will be only on His time frame and He does NOT consult with you or me about His answer. I have found in my life that sometimes God has been speaking...I just didn't recognize His voice because it wasn't the answer I was looking for. Doubt can interfere with God's guidance for our life. God says, in James 1:6-8, "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." Wow. Unstable? Doubt in God's ability to come through or even hear us causes us major problems. If you really read Isaiah 30:21 carefully, our job is not to look for "signs"; never to crawl in a hole feeling sorry for our self; or to be angry that God isn't moving fast enough. Our job is to listen and walk. And just like Canaan, our "coach" will tell us when to go and He will show us what to do when we get there. All Canaan did was listen and obey. What about you? Have you bought into the lie that God can't speak to you? Spend time with Him and His word. Pull back your heart and allow Him to wash away all your sins of doubt, fear, worry, depression, and whatever else that DOES NOT come from Him. Tell Him you will be listening for the voice behind you and will be ready to run when He says go. And then, keep your eyes on Him for direction...when you get close to the plate. It's funny how God uses weird things like a kid's baseball game to speak, but He does... :-) Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, thank you for teaching me such a valuable lesson. Forgive me for buying into Satan's lies that tell me You aren't listening to me when I come to you. Help me to keep my ears open and be willing to wait upon you for as long as You say "wait". But when you say "go", help me to run toward You with no doubt. You will not and cannot fail me...

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Fruits or Leftovers?

Not long ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, I stopped in a clothing store to "look around" (I never know when my husband, Shane, reads my posts, but better to be safe then sorry! ha!). I was confused on the actual price of a pair of pants (not that I was buying them, of course), so I decided to ask a sales person.I noticed that all three of the store employees were assisting one woman. They were all gathered around her, each holding different articles of clothing.I walked over to wait to ask my question. As I was standing there, the young woman, whom the ladies were assisting, began to chat. She seemed very uncomfortable to have all this attention, but at the same time, she seemed very greatful. The woman was not dressed in lavish clothing, nor did she seem to even care about the styles and colors of clothes she was being shown. She laughed as she said how long it had been since she had gone shopping. There was something about her, something that just let you know she was excited... but not for the reason you would think. She just kept smiling. And then, the woman explained the reason for her smile. She said, "Tonight, I am going to church for the first time and I want to wear my best." It was then that I realized that the store employees were not just helping her with one item. She had asked for new everything! Shirt, skirt, shoes, undergarments, necklace, etc! I felt my heart break into a million pieces. My eyes welled up with tears so big that I almost couldn't hold it back. I thought to myself, "How often have I withheld the very best for my Lord?" I don't know the complete story of that woman. All I know is that she knew she was entering a Holy place before a Holy God and she wanted to present herself in nothing less than her very best...her first fruits.She withheld nothing and gave everything. I want you to know that this post is not being written to critique fashion or discuss what is proper church "dress code" for Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights. Let's just get that out of the way, really quick. This post has everything to do with looking deep into our hearts and dumping out those things or people that we give our best to and then give our God the leftovers. God used this woman to remind me that we often fail to offer Him our first fruits, our very best.I guess the overall point God desires to make to me, to you, is that times have changed, but God has not. It blows my mind to read stories in my Bible about the incredible things God did for His people thousands of years ago. But the mind blowing part comes when I look up from my Bible and realize that HE IS THE SAME GOD TODAY!!!! WOW!!!!!! The God who parted the Red Sea; the God who flooded the earth, yet protected Noah, his family, and animals to begin again; the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah; the God who ripped the veil when He sacrificed His only Son on Calvary so that you and I could have a relationship with Him...the same God I pray to. Mind blowing. But somewhere along the way, we, His people, have forgotten that we serve this kind of God. We have fallen into materialistic legalistic mumbo jumbo stuff that does not honor Him nor does it honor what He has asked us to do--"Go and make disciples." His own people have sought to give our best to our spouse, our children, our careers, our own selves...and this God, whom we say we are devoted to...gets the leftovers and sometimes nothing at all. This is very serious. This will not and is not being tolerated by our Lord. So what does God say about first fruits and how can we give Him what He has required of us? Obviously, first fruits are the "first" portion of a harvest. In the Bible, the first of harvests and animals were given to God. The offerings were given to God in obedience to show Him honor and prove that they trusted God to bless them with a greater harvest to follow. God's people also dedicated their firstborn to God to bless them and their household (The first fruits ceremony is well described in Deut. 26). They wanted God to bless their households...hmmm. The best was given to God...not kept for one's self. Wow. In 2010, that concept seems so foreign. We scout out the harvest, give God little to nothing at all, and keep what we want and give Him the leftovers. You may be reading this and say,"Corrie, we are not Israelites nor do we live in Old Testament times. We don't have to offer our fruits, veggies, and animals to God." But we are required to give Him our first fruits, or in other words, put Him first in every aspect of our life. This includes our finances (yes, I do mean tithing and no, I don't back down from that concept at all.),our time, our decisions, etc. First fruits are about obedience, faith, and keeping God as our first priority. Yet, as His people, our homes, churches, and our nation, does not reflect these three things. Instead, we are disobedient in our hearts, thoughts, and actions. We have replaced Him with idols of our self, our family, and things. But still we wonder why we feel as though God isn't moving in our life. We wonder why it feels as though when we pray, He isn't listening. God's word is very clear about how putting Him first in every aspect, will bring us into a closer relationship with Him, which in turn, blesses us abundantly. What about you and me? With our time, does God get the very first words that come from our mouths that morning in prayer with Him? After all, He did wake us up. Do we fit Him into our schedule or do we schedule everything around Him? Of course, He "MADE" time, but does that really matter to us? With our finances, do we give God what He requires (10%) off the top or do we buy what we need and if there is any left to drop in, we give it and feel as though we have pleased Him? Then we wonder why our finances seem hopeless. Do we parent our children the way we want to or do we seek His wisdom and read His word on how God says to parent? Do we wait when He says wait and go when He says go? We often think He isn't answering the way we want Him to so we take it upon ourselves to "fix" our families. Yet, we wonder why we feel as though we are failing. Maybe you have read this post and say, "Corrie, this is all well and true, but it is difficult for me to put God first, be obedient, and walk by faith." At least, this is what I said, and I wrote this! Ha! Then God showed me a verse that will be the wind behind my back to make Him a first priority, to walk by faith and to be obedient: James 1:17-18 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change, like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruit of all He created." There is our motivation. WE can read those verses and be reminded that we and all we have belong to God. And by that fact alone, we know that God is devoted to those who belong to Him. This ensures His provision for our lives, fostering trust(faith)in Him, moving our feet in obedience, and placing Him at the very center of our life...that is the purpose of first fruits... Love, Corrie My prayer for today: God forgive me for not giving you my very best in every aspect of my life. Help me from this day forward to remember that I belong to you and that you love me more than I could ever know. You show your mighty strength when you move mountains for me, yet, you sit quietly beside me while I sleep at night. I place you at the very center of my life, my body, my family, my home, my church, my friendships, and my nation. May you have free reign, Lord, to do as you please. And may I glorify you by giving you back my first fruits...Amen

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You... Are... Surrounded

"Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him." Psalm 32:10 I want to begin by saying "thank you". You have truly blessed my heart and the hearts of my family with all your prayers, calls, cards, emails, and visits, during these last three months. Since my last post entry in February, I've had a few set-backs with my health and my grandmother passed away and went on to be with our Lord. Every day, I wanted to write a new post. But every time I sat down to try, I just felt God saying "No, it's not time." So, I waited. During that "wait", God began to provide just what He knew that I needed and that was in Him. Rest for my mind, body, and emotions. So, that's where I've been. I've been at His feet. I've been in His arms. I've cried, I've laughed. I've sang praises to Him and I've listened to Him through His word. He provided just what He said He would do and that was give me rest. But now, as the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart, it is with great excitement that I write! May God speak directly to your heart with His words, and may you and I receive them into the innermost places of our hearts... The last part of Psalm 32:10 has come to be one of my "go to" verses for this season of my life. My heart seems to perk up and skip a beat when I see the words, "the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him." To me, this verse can be broken down into three parts: 1.) surrounds 2.) unfailing love 3.) the man who trusts in Him. I choose to focus on "surrounds" first. I'll explain why. By definition, "surround" means, "to enclose on all sides". This phrase in this verse is meant to be viewed positively. But why do we feel this so negatively? Why do we, God's people,feel as though some days, darkness surrounds our thoughts like a cloud. Why is it that some moments, our bodies seem surrounded by pain with no end in sight? Why is it that we feel trapped with financial strain, broken families, or death? Enclosed... on...all...sides. The reason to the "why" is that we buy the illusion of Satan. His version of "enclosed" twists and turns our minds (and stomachs) into knots with anxiety and depression. But this verse, my friend, Psalm 32:10 is just one of the many verses of truth that exposes Satan for the liar that he is!!! The truth is found in the next part: God's unfailing love. If I wouldn't break every bone in my body, I think I would do a cart wheel right here in my house when I think of this concept!!!!! As humans, this is where our faith breaks down. We are sinners, therefore, capable of failing. And as humans, who interact with OTHER humans, we also have BEEN failed. So, accepting the concept of a God that CAN'T fail, is so hard for us to grasp. Satan studies and knows this about each one of us. God's unfailing love can change everything about our perception on a day to day basis. It makes being "enclosed on all sides" a wonderful thing! I know that no matter what form the fiery dart takes when Satan hurls it, I am enclosed on all sides by my God. He will not fail me. He cannot fail me. No matter what my problem 'appears' to look like, God has me surrounded. That's a big deal. I can't help but think of the great escape artist, Harry Houdini. He devoted his life to purposely being enclosed on all sides and then showing he could escape. But illusionists always have ways to make the crowd think the problem is just to big to take. But as I said, it is only an illusion. Satan does the same. At this point in my walk with God, He is showing me where I am left unguarded in my mind, emotions, prayer life, etc. God shows me that the only way to believe I am safe and 'surrounded' by Him, is to look at the last part of that verse: the man who trusts in Him. It always comes down to faith in our Lord. The man who trusts in Him doesn't try to "fix" the illusion...because it's just that---an illusion. I am in no way saying that our problems aren't real. My disease is very real, but the thoughts that perpetuate fear within me are not from God. The thought of "why would God choose me to have a ministry when I am so physically challenged?"--that's the illusion. The thought of "God is angry with me" or "God must not love or need me as much as so and so"---that is the illusion. We must understand that as God's people, we have an eternal home awaiting us. We must understand that by accepting God's son into our heart through salvation, we have been bought and paid for and are sons and daughters of Jehovah. But I think what we often fail to remember that AS God's people, we are also hated by Satan and are very often walking around without our spiritual armor on. We are so quick to blame God for the insecurities we feel or the "problems" we have. Yet, we fail to see in this verse alone, that we are loved with such a deep, unending, precious, unfailing love. Let us hold fast to God's word. Let us be aware of the illusions that Satan puts before us each and every day and waits for our sinful reaction. What about you? What illusions does Satan engulf your thoughts in day after day? Do you FEEL as if the walls are closing in or do you BELIEVE that you are enclosed on all sides by the unfailing love of a mighty God? What's the difference? To me, the difference is ...the man who TRUSTS in Him. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, I bow before you pleading with you to forgive me for doubting you and your unfailing love for me. I can't count the days that I have bought the illusions of Satan that have brought me nothing but fear and sadness. May my eyes stay fixed on you and may I be seen in Your eyes as the one who trusts in You. I pray every piece of your armor on so that I may be ready to be Your soldier and to finish the purpose you have created for me on this very Earth...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

FTGM Women's Conference Recap

FTGM would like to thank the ladies at Crooked Oak Baptist Church for giving Corrie the opportunity to serve them last month. On March 13th, Crooked Oak ladies held their annual women's conference and Corrie served up a strong Word for us that day. I always look forward to Corrie's conferences. Not because she is a lot of fun or because she has this uncanny way of addressing a large group of women like she was each one's closest friend. All this is true, but I love going because I never leave without being deeply challenged by God through His Word. Corrie's goal for every speaking opportunity (I know this because I never fail to hear her pray this before every conference) is that she would fade into the background and Jesus Christ would take over. Girlfriend may look cute, but when the Spirit of Christ takes over her mouth, you forget about her cute accent and charm and you suddenly find yourself in a personal wrestling match with the Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ) Himself! And that weekend was no exception. 

Before I continue the recap I have to mention that this particular conference was a double treat because Corrie's closest friend, Heather, was able to attend for the first time. Heather is a major part of FTGM in many vital facets. She lives in Orlando, FL with her husband, Adam (also to whom FTGM owes many thanks!), but grew up with Corrie in north Alabama and was home this weekend for her BABY SHOWER! The FTGM family is tinkled pink (literally) for baby girl who will be coming soon! Hopefully, we will have more details later on, but for now let me see if I can finish this recap as succinctly as possible.

As soon as we arrived, Heather and I found a perfect spot on the back row (not because we double as bouncers) and eagerly awaited the conference to begin. Before I unpack a little of Corrie's message for you I wanted to mention a clip I caught, or actually it caught me, from some of the special music. I don't remember the song's title, who wrote it, or blast it, even who sung it (I am so sorry if you are reading this!), but I certainly rememeber how she sung it. That's what caught my attention. This woman had lived the Word she was singing, and she belted those words with an authority that could have only come from having been with and witnessed Jesus Christ herself. I scrambled to find my pen and paper in enough time to scribble a version of the lyrics.

There is victory through it; Its up to you to stand firm.
          Wait for Him and see it through.

Before this bold woman of faith took her seat, she exhorted every soul in that room to seek out what God says in His Word about your trial or circumstance, stand firm on that truth alone, and refuse to move. 

And that was only the beginning.

Corrie brought us a message from the series she authored and is currently walking through with her God Seekers Bible study group on Tuesdays. The message is entitled, "If the Walls Could Talk" and it is based on Daniel 5. She spoke on the secret places of our lives. Our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that live in our hearts and are seen lived out daily behind the "safe" walls of our homes. However, every bit of it is exposed to God. And of course the key question is, "If the walls could talk in your home, what would they say?" Well, I don't mind telling you that after she finished I didn't stay on that back row for long. Even now, while I am recapping this message for you, the conviction is being renewed. I'm sorry I can't list all of the points from this message here for you, but you can contact Corrie to receive her complete notes and handout if you want. There was one major thing she said that resonated with me then and now that I want to share here.

He wants us to do it His Way....even in the secret place.

And isn't that where the fight is the fiercest? It's scary how its too easy to grow weary of fighting and relaxing our grip on Christ when it is only just me and Him in my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors at home. Yet, His eyes and opinions are absolutely the only ones that ever count, and that won't become more evident to us than on that Day when we stand before Him and Him alone to be judged (see 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Some of our toughest battles seem to also be the most private, where it is just us and Jesus and maybe our closest family members present. We think its no big deal to give in to the attitudes and behaviors that are not brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, especially since no one really notices when you agree with that thought or maintain that attitude toward your husband (ahem, this may or may not be coming from my own personal experience). And all the time scripture reminds us that there is a spiritual war between two kingdoms waging all around us and all of heaven and all of hell looks on to see what choice you and I will make in that, what we believe to be, most private moment. 

Who will be glorified? 

As Beth Moore says, in every harrowing circumstance and trial there is "glory at stake". Thank you, Lord for your faithfulness to convict your people of abundant life-stealing sin so that we will cry out to you for a new heart. Thank you for having zero tolerance of sin in a people made holy for your Name. For not allowing any of us to remain comfortable with the attitudes and behaviors we practice in our secret places that are against You and who You have recreated us to be like in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. We ask you to come expose us. It is You our deceitful hearts really want. We are dependent on you for any stitch of healing, and we are hopeless to change apart from you doing the work in us. Point out each sin and give us godly sorrow over each one, then we trust that you will forgive us our sins and create a new and pure heart within us that seeks to do God's will and not ours...even in the secret places. 

To God be ALL glory forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Plan-B Puddle

The Story of Jacob (Please read the entire story when you have your quiet time with God): Genesis Chapters 27-33

Galatians 5:25: "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

1 Thessalonians 1:3: "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."

Titus 1:2-3: "-a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at His appointed season, He brought His word to light throughout the preaching entrusted to me by the command of our God our Savior."

I hope you enjoy reading this post. Yes, it is longer than usual, but I praise God for what He showed me through writing it! May He reveal much to you as well...

The other day, while driving to take Canaan to preschool, I saw a mother duck walking down the side of the road, with two baby ducklings following closely behind. I had to stop for road work, so I began to watch the ducks (Hey, if you could see where I live, you would totally understand! haha!). Based on where we were, I knew the ducks had walked a long way. Their journey came to an end when the mother duck led her babies to a small mud puddle on the side of the road. She stopped, hesitated, but then ushered everyone into the puddle. I felt sorry for them because they were trying to swim in a dirty overcrowded pool of muddy water. As the traffic moved, I noticed that right past the puddle, there was a huge beautiful pond! I thought, "Why didn't you keep on walking to the pond and not settle for the puddle?" Then, I saw why. The pond couldn't be seen from the puddle. A big bush was in between, obstructing the view. Those ducks were so close! They had no idea that what they really wanted was right around the corner...if they had just kept walking. I'm sure the momma duck was looking for a pond, but she had a plan-B...the puddle. I know this sounds silly, but God allowed me to see those ducks. He immediately reminded me of how often I tend to become spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally frustrated. How instead of waiting on Him to give me His very best, I settle for what "I" view as His best. God showed me that when I become weary from walking, I often stop at the puddle when the pond is just around the corner. But, there is good news for us "plan-B puddle ducks"!! His word is full of people who did the very same thing! And His word shows us the best to keep walking to find the pond He promises.

As I mentioned, the Bible gives numerous accounts of Godly men and women who went ahead of God and tried to "speed things along", by orchestrating their own plans. First, you have the lovely couple, Adam and Eve, who decided that God must be 'holding out' on them with the whole, 'don't eat the fruit' thing (we know that didn't go well). Abraham thought he would help God along with His promise of blessing him with children. That didn't go well either (I can sure see why! Women don't share men very well). The Israelites thought they would just say and do what they wanted to, even though God kept telling them the game plan (We know that just led to alot of walking). We get so frustrated with these people of the Bible and are eager to point out their flaws. It is easy for us to sit back and say what they should have done. But, we KNOW the rest of their story. It's so different when it is our own self who is waiting on God to move and we can't see past the bush. Don't we, at times, think God is holding out on us? Don't we get impatient with God? Don't we grumble and gripe while we walk, even though we have His promises? We even go as far as having a 'back up plan"...just in case God doesn't come through for us. Or, just in case God doesn't answer us exactly the way we want Him to. In preparing this particular post, God brought to my mind, the story of yet another child of God who stopped at the plan-B puddle. I am referring to Jacob. If we read the end of the story of Jacob, we see a patriarch who saw the very power of God in his life. We see a man who God protected and blessed. We see one of the men that would continue the very bloodline of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But at first glance, Jacob was a complete mess. His name even meant "cheater, heel grabber". He wanted God's blessing so bad, that he was willing to take it by force by deception. In other words, he stopped at the puddle and made himself fit. But then, the greatest part, God takes Jacob's failure and works it to Jacob's good. Picture this(Genesis ch. 27 & 28): Jacob has just ran away from his home for deceiving his father and his brother. He steels a blessing that wasn't even for him. He breaks his fathers heart and his angry brother vows to kill him. It is night and Jacob is tired, sad, and even afraid. He has never really been away from home and to leave on such harsh circumstances was even more depressing. It was there at Bethel that God meets Jacob in a powerful way. God gives Jacob a promise for the future: "All peoples on earth would be blessed through you and your offspring." Then, God ministers to Jacob's immediate problem. He promises this lonely wanderer that he would be with him and never leave Jacob. Verse 15 says, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." What an awesome meeting with the Almighty God!! This gives Jacob fuel to keep walking. Now, if you are like me, you read this and say, "Corrie, this is Jacob, not me. I have been walking my Christian walk and waiting on God to speak and I don't hear Him. I see alot of puddles, but there is no pond in sight." We must remember that God's word and the Holy Spirit, allows us to have encounters with God any time we want or need to. People in the Old Testament did not have access like this. You and I can pick up God's word at 3:oo in the morning and read His words and hear His promises to us. We also have to remember that God spoke to Jacob when He was in the wilderness. He was walking to "no where" (in Jacob's mind). But we are never walking 'no where' with God. As His children, we must realize the sovereignty of God. We mustn't, at any point, think that God doesn't care about our cries and our discontentment. In fact, just as the Israelites did, we must cry out to God for the pond and not settle for the plan-B puddle. No plan that you nor I have for our life will EVER be greater than God's plan for our life. The last part of the story speaks of Jacob's doubt of God. After this encounter with God at Bethel, years pass and Jacob gets word that his brother, Esau, is looking for him. Yea, the ANGRY brother that Jacob ripped off a blessing from, then left! Instead of continuing to walk to "the pond" in faith and trust God to be true to His promise, Jacob develops a Plan-B puddle to soften the blow with Esau. That night, God meets with Jacob again and reminds him of His promise. By deciding to trust God, Jacob's reunion with his brother is then greater than he ever could have imagined OR ARRANGED HIMSELF. Good story, right? The question is, what do WE do? Maybe you've read this whole post while thinking about an area in your life that you just don't understand. Maybe you have been like me, at times, and tried desperately to figure out a way for you to be content with this area...but peace never comes. Doors continue to close. You continue to look for temporary fixes or "puddles". But God, being the perfect loving Father, must keep His promise to us by only giving us the best...the "pond". The answer to this is found in Galatians 5:25. God's word tells us to keep in step with the Spirit. In other words, we keep walking to the pond by faith and never stop at puddles. But how is this possible, when we walk that narrow road for miles and miles? I am learning Paul knew this secret. Paul knew that faith is about perseverance and going with what you know about God, rather than what you don't know about Him. The problem is we are only willing to know so much. Instead of walking in the Spirit, we look for a 'spiritual bench' to sit and complain a while. I have noticed while I sit on that bench, the Plan-B starts to develop in my mind. This is dangerous. This is when we risk missing the pond. So, to find the pond, pray when you don't feel like it. Read God's word even if you don't want to. This, is keeping in step with the Spirit. I hope you will join me in continuing to seek God for the pond. Let us not find ourselves "making do" with a dirty puddle, or starring at the obstructive bush that appears to have blocked us. May we cry out to our Father, keep walking in faith, and thank Him in advance for keeping His promise of the matter when it is we find it.


My prayer for today: Father, please forgive me for being impatient with you. You have given me so much evidence that you know what is best for me and if I will just keep seeking you, you will give it to me when it is the perfect time. Help me to realize how significant being YOUR child, really is. May I turn my head away from all the puddles that Satan tells me is the best for me. May I keep my eyes on you so that they forever lock with yours. After all, you have never taken your eyes off of me...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meeting Beth Moore

Last Wednesday me, Corrie and Canaan loaded up in the Kia and headed to the Family Christian book store. Beth Moore, one of our generation's most beloved Bible study authors and teachers, was gracing the Birmingham area with her presence on behalf of her new book, "So Long Insecurity". We were very excited for the opportunity to meet her and have our books personally signed by her. Here is our little posse awaiting Mrs. Moore's arrival :

Mrs. Corrie Clay


Corrie's Aunt Nancy

Our friend, Devin

And in case you are thinking "poor Canaan, I wonder how he managed being immersed into girl world like that?" Rest assured, he came out of the deal with 2 wrestlers (R Truth and the Edge if you are up on that kind of thing and care to know) added to his collection.

Here he is holding up his prize:

Around 5pm we met up with Aunt Nancy and Devin at the bookstore and began to line up as we waited for Mrs. Moore to arrive. Our Canaan did so well. Here he is sitting in the floor by Mommy waiting patiently.

Things started to get really interesting after the bookstore staff announced that Mrs. Moore was standing right outside the door about to enter. I took this picture of Devin to fully illustrate the intensity of the moment. I think she was trying to get a really good shot of Beth. This is passion people! (Devin, this is why we love you!)

Canaan really didn't understand who we were waiting all day to see or why. When asked on the phone earlier that day what we were doing he replied, "I don't know. Waiting to see some Bible study lady". Then, when she finally walked in Canaan asked "is that her with the red lipstick?"

Next was my favorite part. Before we started, the whole store quieted down while someone led prayer over us and Mrs. Moore. Then one by one, we each got an opportunity to thank her personally for doing what God has called her to do and have our books personally signed by her.

Corrie went first out of our group. Corrie was personally grateful to Mrs. Moore for an encouraging letter she wrote Corrie. This letter came during the extremely difficult time when Corrie first learned of the incurable autoimmune disease she had, amidst many other overwhelming circumstances she was facing. God used Beth's letter to confirm to her that He had a purpose through all that was happening. Corrie says that Beth's letter put wind to her back to persevere. And as Corrie faithfully put one step in front of the other with God through all those incomprehensible hardships, the ministry God had promised her so many years before began to take form and bear fruit for Jesus Christ's great Name. Yes Beth, you were right, "glory is at stake" in each one of our lives. This blog and Corrie's speaking ministry is in so many ways a testimony to the importance of encouraging and exhorting one another to keep confidence in God and persevere (Hebrews 10:35-36). Let nothing make you quit. Corrie, you will be richly rewarded for doing this very thing, and you are already receiving so much of what has been promised.

Here she is with Beth,

I, on the other hand, was unusually speechless. There seemed to be too much to say in less than 5 minutes to someone who had been used so greatly by God in my life, but whom I didn't know personally. That seemed odd to me as I quietly stood there while she signed my book. I think I mumbled something to her about my love for God's Word being birthed through doing her Bible studies, but I was seriously about to lose it emotionally. I reasoned that no words could be adequate enough to explain what God had done inside of me as a result of her mentoring me through her Bible studies, and that she could never understand this side of heaven all that it meant to this one life. She is a mother to me in the faith. I've learned how to study and apply God's Word in my everyday life from watching how it works in her life.
In case you are thinking that is out there, I hope that you see that this is scriptural. Check out examples of this in Titus 2:3, 1 Cor. 11:1, Phil. 3:17, and 1 Tim. 4:12 just to mention a few. In all of these verses you see that it is Biblical and also vital that people of the faith live their lives as an example or a model to be followed. This godly way of life is unique from the world we live among and is a pattern that is passed down from generation to generation. In my own personal life, Corrie was the first person to show me that being a Christian is about having your very own relationship with God and NOT about all the seemingly mindless, legalistic chores I thought it was about. Mrs. Moore was the first person to whet my appetite for the study of God's Word, and to see it as personal to me. Their fire and passion for God spilled into my little life, and I am overwhelmingly grateful for them.
Here I am with Mrs. Moore,

Here is Aunt Nancy with Beth,

While we were there, we also had an unexpected opportunity to meet up with 2 fellow bloggers in the faith. Here is Corrie with Jennyhope and Mary Snyder. I'm not sure how to link their names, but here are the links to their blogs:

Corrie has been working on a new post, so that should be up soon. Also, be praying for her and her husband Shane as they will be traveling to Boston soon for her annual doctor's appointment concerning her autoimmune disease.

To God be the glory!