Knowing You, Meeting Me

Gideon, Veggies and Trusting in the Great I AM

Most people who know me know that I have a rather insane love of VeggieTales. We have at one point seen and owned every movie – sometimes multiple copies of our favorite episodes – and generally have the new ones within days of release. One of my top three Veggie tales (haha!!!) is the retelling of Gideon.

The story of Gideon is found in the Book of Judges chapter 6. A professor of mine once called Gideon “Super Chicken” and he’s right. In the Bible, he’s threshing wheat in the wine press in order to hide and save it from the Midianite army. In the Veggie Tales version, a cucumber is being picked on by his “stronger and bigger” pea (yes, that’s right) brothers.

Imagine the surprise of both versions of Gideon when approached by an angel and hailed a mighty warrior! Wait…who? You can’t be talking to me…can you?

Gideon wasn’t very brave. When it comes to people, I’m not very brave either. I like for people to think I trust them more than I do because then they think they’re “in deep”. There have been many people in my life who thought we were the best of best friends because I allowed them to think that. Sure, I cared about them. But, I don’t do vulnerable. With anyone. Including God.

Which makes my life scripture so puzzling. Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. For the longest time, I thought I really understood this. I always made my personal interpretation “align yourself”. To a large degree, I wasn’t wrong. God is not my personal ATM or vending machine set to dispense my wishes upon request. He acts according to His will and sovereignty. My will and my desires and my life must be aligned with Him in order for that transaction and promise to work. So, kudos to me, by the grace of God, I understood a piece of Scripture.

But I missed a very key part…more on that later. Back to Gideon!

God wants Gideon to lead an army. Huh? He’s hiding. In a wine press. Threshing wheat. O…k. Typically, this was done on in the open air on a windy day. Not at the bottom of a pit. Evidently, he’s a little frightened. And with good reason. It’s not like these were nice people he was hiding from. And Gideon is supposed to lead an army. Against them. The runt guy from the runt family from the runt clan in the runt nation. Uh huh.

Both versions Gideon ask the angel/Pa Grape for a sign to know if God is really in this. That word pops up in the story of Gideon a lot – ‘if’. Verse 13 basically says, “If the Lord is with us, then why is all this bad stuff happening?” We ask that of God quite often, too, don’t we? So Gideon goes back and forth between trust and doubt seesawing until finally he obeys God and with horns, flashlights and a catchy marching band (oh, I’m sorry, that’s Veggie Tales again) watches as God goes before them and the Midianite army is defeated.

I say all that to say this: what was missing from much of Gideon’s story is trust. That much is obvious. The same can be said for our lives. We can have faith, but not trust. So often we consider the two synonymous.  Gideon’s lack of trust in God was obvious by his lack of peace. He believed or had faith in God. But he didn’t trust that God was on his side.

What does that mean for my life scripture?

I take great delight in my husband. I do this because his faithfulness has been proven and I trust him without question. So, while we are aligned (most of the time) and our desires for each other and our relationship are met without question because we are (scarily) in sync, we also delight in each other because we love each other. We are at peace with each other. If my sweetie says he’s going to do something, I sleep well (usually) knowing it will be done…more often than not in a reasonable amount of time.

And he’s fallible.

How much more should we trust and delight and align ourselves with God? If God is calling you mighty man/woman of valor and trying to send you off somewhere that looks a little scary, trust that He knows where you’ll end up. If, like me, God is only asking that you give Him your dreams and let Him take hold of them, trust that it’s not because He’s going to stomp on them. When we are aligned with God, He breathes His desires into our hearts. When we trust Him, it is our delight to give those dreams back and His delight to see them come to fruition.

So, all my Super Chicken friends, while you’re practicing your mustard seed faith, don’t forget to trust. Also, don’t forget that singing and talking vegetables often carry a heck of a lot of wisdom.

Larry/Gideon: When has a battle ever been won by marching in formation?
Pa Grape/angel: You’d be surprised.

(psst…that’s my hint…don’t forget to worship, either)


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Waiting on the Son to Shine

I’ve been absent for a while. Not only from the blog, but in a lot of ways, from myself. I hit burnout a couple of months ago and, even though I tried to push through it, I failed miserably. I got to a point one weekend where all I could do for pretty much a whole day was sit in my room and cry.

I felt as though I had been faithful to the things that God had called me to do and yet I was tired. Simply tired of being tired. Where was my reward? Not that I needed anything big, at that point a  let up from the rain on my life would have been nice.

The past fifteen or so years have been tough, and anyone who has been present will attest to that. I’ve been touched by cancer so many times that I should have a bracelet for ones most of you don’t even know exist. I love my son, but autism isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Sometimes, being his mom isn’t easy or fun. I wouldn’t change him for the world, but there are days I would lower his volume.

So, here I was, wondering why God put dreams in my heart that He didn’t seem to want to give me only to give them to other people at the exact time I wanted them to show up. This is one of those times most of my non-Christian friends ask me the same question they’ve been asking me for more than a decade: “given what goes on in your life, why do you still believe in God?”

*cue an old school Larnelle Harris song*

“You were with me when the sun was shinning, and You were still beside me when it rained.”

So back to my day of tears. I cried it out all day Saturday and come Sunday morning, I didn’t feel like going to church AT ALL. Which is EXACTLY why I knew I had to go. We had a moment of talking about the prophetic and were encouraged to give messages to those around us if we felt God’s leading no matter how obscure they seemed. This was written on a note card and given to me: “You are My child. You are loved. My burden is light.”

*cue same song*

So You were in it after all….I don’t know how I could have missed it, Jesus, but you were in it after all…..

Just like that, the Son came out and warmed my heart. And wouldn’t you know it, He wouldn’t stop there. About a week later, a good friend of mine was having a time in her life where she felt like she would never reach the place she wanted to and wanted God to restore her faith so she would get there on that day and go “Aha!!! I get it!!” (or in other words)

So You were in it after all. All of those moments I spent crying, when something inside of me was dying. I didn’t know that You heard me each time I called. You had a reason for those trials. It seems I grow stronger every mile know I know, that You were in it after all.

Sometimes, what we go through isn’t just for us. Ironically enough, that’s part of what I was crying about that Saturday it rained all over my heart. I thought that God put dreams and desires in my heart, not to give them to me, but to burden my heart for others so that through their victories, I could get vicarious joy. I’m not even sure that’s scriptural, but that’s how I felt after some long long moments and feeling really really tired.

* I love this song, don’t you?*

We’re always ready, Lord, to take the glory, but, we’re seldom willing to endure the pain.

To be honest, I’m a little tired of the pain, and I won’t lie to you and say that I’m not. But knowing that He’s in it with me “taking the blows that I’ve been given, tending the wounds that needed mending” makes the rain a little easier to live through. Just knowing that what I go through today may help my wonderful and amazing and beautiful friends tomorrow makes it worth it.

So to you, my dear friends, and even the random strangers who might come across this, if you are tired of the rain and waiting on the Son to shine, know that even if it’s storming, He’s holding the umbrella. Without the rain, there can be no growth. Of course, the same is true for the sun. So don’t worry!!! The clouds will part and the rainbows will be back before you know it.

Until then, splash in the puddles. You never know who is watching you go through you hard times and who needs to see you do it well.

Peace. Love. Music from the 80’s.


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Love and History

“See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But, but the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. 
1 John 3:1 (emphasis mine)

A good friend of mine told me a while ago that (because she’s adopted) she hates history. She says it’s because she doesn’t have one. She also told me that the God I know must be “different” than the G/god that others she’s in contact with know. Without trying to speculate too much into why that could be, I will assume that it is because some of the people she knows who call themselves Christians have a nasty habit of using God to their advantage or twisting His word or His character to hurt her.
The sad thing about the fact that she and I just had this conversation a few months ago, is the fact that I’ve known her for several years. At first, she was just a friend of my husband’s family and then we developed a friendship that was more our own. Knowing how she had so been hurt in the past by people claiming to be followers of Christ, I hid that part of me from her for years. Maybe I didn’t want to scare her off. Maybe I didn’t want to be associated with people that used Scripture to make themselves look good – or to make her look bad. Whatever the reason, she did not see my “God side” as she does now until the middle of last year. 
When I think about people who have had bad experiences with the church or with people of God, it saddens me greatly. As a follower of Christ, I fully recognize the immense love He has for us and the desire He has to enter into a personal relationship with us. A book I’m reading for a class I’m taking breaks down the verse above by interpreting the key words more accurately based on the original words that were chosen. The word “see” used is more precisely a word that should mean “stop and take notice”; “how very much” is more “immeasurable beyond reason or comprehension”; “He loves us” describes something that is exceeding and continuous with no possible end.
That really seems like a lot to take in! I’d like to think I love my children a lot – like many of you who are parents likely love your children with everything you have in you. But, what God has in Him is so much bigger than what we can offer, it makes our “immeasurable” love for our children minuscule by comparison. 
So why so much love?
Romans 8:15 talks about us receiving “The Spirit of adoption” by which we can look to God and cry out “Abba Father” (most often translated as a word similar to “Daddy”). The next verse says something that I think is often looked over. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” We. Are. His. Kids. You may have had the best parents in the world. You’re still God’s kid. You may have had the worst parents in the world. You’re still God’s kid. You may not know you’re parents. You’re still God’s kid. And just like with our children, sometimes the Father has to let us fall down so that we learn how to get back up. As much as we’d like to protect our children from every bad thing that happens, sometimes we have to let them go through things so they can learn. We always have their backs. We’re always here to support them. We always love them. 
So, what do I say to a friend who is going through so much right now it brings tears to my eyes? How do I tell her it’s going to be okay? How do I help her find her history?  The next verse in Romans 8 (17) says this: “Now, if we are His children, then we are the co-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if needed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” And, there it is! Sometimes, we have to go through bad things. Hard things. Things that make us question where God is and if His love is real. But, (as is stated in Romans 8:28) “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” We were never promised easy. We have always been promised love. 
It is in that love that we find our history.

We see the way that the love of God has sustained our brothers and sisters in Christ whether they be our family, our friends our church members or individuals whose lives were detailed within the pages of the Bible. We know where we came from. We know who our family is. And, if we’re willing to align ourselves in God, we know where we’re going. 
So, if you are feeling displaced or disconnected, remember that your history is HIS-STORY. Because He is your Father, you can look to Him and know that you are treasured in a way that goes beyond words. He made you in His image and for His purpose. Isaiah 44:2 says, “This is what the Lord says – He who made you, Who formed you in your mother’s womb and Who will help you. DO NOT BE AFRAID.”

So, take a breath, and remember that your Dad is looking out for you. He’s got your back. He loves you. He knows your history. He knows where you’re going. Know what that means?
…you’re gonna be okay…

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Prayers, Faith and God the DJ

“When we pray we believe we receive what we ask
In this place all things are possible
When we pray we tap in to miraculous things
And victoriously we declare

That we know the prayers of the righteous availeth much
The prayers of the righteous prevail
Yes, we know the prayers of the righteous prevail
His love never fails
The prayers of the righteous availeth much”

Prayers of the Righteous – Israel and New Breed

Don’t you just love it when good songs get stuck in your head? I do. This one (and another I’ll be discussing later) has been on continuous play lately and late last night it occurred to me why.

This song, based on James 5:16, is a recurring theme in the Bible. Consider these verses: 2 Chronicles 7:14 (“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land”), Genesis 20:17 (“Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again.”) and Genesis 25:21 (“Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”).

All of the above verses have a pretty simple formula – pray to God, God hears. God answers. This doesn’t mean that we can use God as a vending machine, inserting prayer coins, choosing a delightful selection and waiting for it to be dispensed. Rather, that if we Go to God with a heart and intentions that are aligned inside of His will He wants to answer us; it pleases Him to do so. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we are delighted with God, we are aligned with God and His will for us becomes our own. Our prayers for our lives are His desires for our lives and it becomes easy for Him to answer with a “yes”.

But, let’s face it – some of the things we ask God for – whether within His will or not – are pretty big. Huge even. We are supposed to have the faith to believe that God will answer them according to His will. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ. And so through Him “AMEN” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” Amen literally means “so be it”. That’s it. Case closed. Sit back and wait.

But that’s so hard!!! This is true! Harder still? What happens when the promise starts to be fulfilled. Wait…what? But…God…are You telling me that You actually…heard me? Because, I mean I know I’ve been praying for this for awhile…and now it looks like You’re actually going to do it…um…um….

If you’re anything like I am, this is where you start second guessing yourself. Did I really hear from God? Maybe, all of this is just me. One of the hugest roadblocks to faith is a psychoanalytical mind. This isn’t to bash psychology. I was a psych major once myself with high hopes of conquering the psychologically impaired world one person at a time. Psychology is wonderful and it definitely has its (very needed) place in life….just typically not in faith.

*cue the next song on the playlist*

We believe and receive He can do anything
Exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think
He is able to turn the tables in my favor 
If we’re faith….faithful to believe!” 

Faithful to Believe – Byron Cage

How often in life is THAT the hard part. 2 Kings 4 tells the story of Elisha and a Shunemite woman. She and her aging husband had been caring for the prophet of God and he wanted to do something to help her out. After asking around, he finds that this woman has no son. So he tells her, “Around this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.” Um…see…that was supposed to be something she didn’t talk about anymore. Her response was basically, “don’t tease me”. Don’t go there, God. You know how much I want this. If this is some sort of cosmic joke, it’s not funny.

…faithful to believe….okay….

Sure enough, as promised (AMEN) within the year, the woman had a son. I say all of this to say that while it can be hard to ask God for the big things, it can be even harder to believe God for the big things. But, how blessed are we that big things are His specialty. So, I encourage you – if God has given you a promise and you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry; it’s coming. If God has given you a promise and you’re starting to see the product, it might be time to enlarge your territory. Our Heavenly Father is not one who derives pleasure from taking candy from babies or getting our hopes up only to watch them fall flat. If He has given you a promise, let Him do all the hard work. Your job is to say “Amen” and wait.

…yes, yes , yes, yes ,  I do believe!!!


The Halftime Report

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes 
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name 
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times 
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story

The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”

The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

“Voice of Truth” Casting Crowns

This Christmas Eve I had the rare pleasure of seeing my favorite football team play at their stadium. To truly understand what a gift this was, I’ll explain that one of my best friends won club seating tickets for this game, and our seats were halfway up this particular section, right in line with the 50 yard line. To say that I was excited, is a gross understatement. Upon realizing that my team, the division AND conference leader, would be playing a team who is last in our division and 13th in the conference (can you tell I’m a football girl?) I was even more excited. Not only do I get to go to the game, sit in fabulous seats, but I get to see my team completely obliterate the other team!! SWEET!! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!!
Except that anyone who saw the 1:00PM game between the Patriots (sorry Steeler fans…my home is in Massachusetts) and the Dolphins knows that is not how it started out. Fresh off of clinching the playoff seat and division title, the Patriots spent the entire first half of that game down by 17 points; not only that, but they had yet to even score once. Both the offense and the defense were pretty weak and we barely kept possession of the ball (like I said, BIG football fan). 
As I watched this game, I couldn’t help but wonder who these men were that were running up and down the field. I had on many occasions watched the Patriots play from the comfort of my living room; unless the magic of television is more than I expected, I had never seen them play so badly against a team so….um…(how do I put this nicely?) not on par. Yeah, that works. 

It was almost like they forgot who they were.

THANK GOD FOR HALFTIME!!! I don’t pretend to know what their head coach said to them in the locker room (him…not so big a fan of) but whatever it was worked. The second half of that game was comeback defined. They scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter and 10 points in the 4th for the win. All in all, AWESOME GAME!!

Now, what does that have to do with God? For the most part, all of my previous blog posts have been almost like mini sermons, and I assure you this one will be no different. 1 Kings 18 is known as the Contest on Mount Carmel. To set this story up, a wicked man named Ahab was ruling as king of Israel and he decided it would be a great idea to set up alters to gods other than THE God. Ahab’s “god” was Baal. Elijah was a prophet of the true God. One day in the middle of this massive drought, God decides He’s going to have some fun proving Himself and sends Elijah to tell Ahab that He will be sending rain soon. So here’s the contest: Elijah + God vs. 450 prophets of Baal + (insert inanimate statue of Baal here). The prophets of Baal do everything they can to “pray” to their “god” that he would make it rain. Elijah pokes fun at them and has them scream louder to “wake their god up” (that had to be funny to see). This did pretty much nothing….obviously. Then comes Elijah – he has them water down his alter and build a trench around it and fill that with water. This thing was good and drenched. One prayer to God and immediately the alter was engulfed in flames. YAY!! God wins!!! And just because God likes to show off, even the water in the trench was gone. Nice touch. The people who had been watching this immediately fell on their faces and declared the Lord the true God and went on a rampage and killed all the prophets of Baal. All in all, I’d say Elijah had a good day at the office. Score one for the God team.
Not long after this, Ahab’s wife get’s ticked off…very ticked off and sends Elijah a message that he is as good as dead. Uh oh. Fresh off that very literal and spiritual victory, Elijah pretty much forgets everything he’s seen and heads for the hills to hide in a cave.
How often are we like that? We go to an awesome conference, we see a miracle we weren’t expecting we get a great word from a pastor, we’re on a spiritual high and everything seems amazing. And then, we get a diagnosis of cancer, we get fired from a job, we lose a house, someone we love dies, someone walks out on a marriage…“reality” happens and we’re left to wonder…
Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” That can be really hard to believe when you forget who you are. When you look around and you don’t see how you can make it to tomorrow, seeing yourself as a “prophet to the nations” can be more than a bit of a stretch. So we go hide in a cave. We forget all of the things God has done for us, in us and through us that have brought us from where we were and we hide. 

Remember that monkey from the Lion King? He’s a lot like the head coach. Rafiki’s purpose, in part, was to remind Simba who he was – a child of the king. That title came with both privileges and responsibilities. And while yes, the past can hurt, what hurts more is forgetting who you are and running from what you were destined to be. 
So, to sum up, remember that while you still have breath in your lungs, you still have playing time left of the field. This game is far from over and there is still work to do. Whether you are 52 or 25 it’s still only halftime.  Don’t let your past keep you from playing. Don’t let the fact that you can’t see how you can get to the end zone keep you from running towards it. Remember the Head Coach is the only voice of truth and He sees the big picture and He is the one that tells you who you are and helps you know how to play. There’s a lot of time left of the clock…
…let’s show these guys how it’s done.
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Letter to My Friend

I’m not exactly sure how to start this post. I should be working on my sermon for the worship conference (it’s less than two weeks away now), but I feel like something is blocking me. Everyone is asleep, I’m not tired and I definitely have the time to do it in this moment, but, I feel the need to take care of something first. 

I need to encourage you.

While I do have a particular someone in mind, I think this will encourage more than just my friend. So, if life is going your way or everything is falling apart, if you’re thrilled, depressed, happy, sad or just plain worn out, I hope you’ll read this with an open mind and an open heart. God might just use it to say something to you.
One of my all time favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 1: 6 which says, “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” We have a not-so-slight tendency sometimes to get bogged down by the mistakes in our past and the skeletons in our closets. Sometimes, we busy ourselves by doing things that might feel good or make sense in the moment, but we know won’t make us happy or profit our eternal future. Often, we do it because we don’t know how to handle the weight of all we carry. 
Thank God for repentance and forgiveness!! 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But, we don’t forgive like that, do we? Because of that, we sometimes forget that God isn’t like us and doesn’t keep throwing our mistakes in our faces over and over again. 
Helen Baylor, an AMAZING Gospel/Christian recording artist, sang a song YEARS ago that I still remember to this day:
“Into the Sea of Forgetfulness You’ve placed all of my sin
Though I’m the one who keeps reminding You over and over again
Into the Sea of Forgetfulness
As far as the East from the West
Seventy times seven You’ve forgiven me
And You keep cleansing me
And placing my sins, into the Sea of Forgetfulness

How awesome is that?!! We serve a God who loves us enough to have gone to the cross, paid our debts and promised us (in Romans 8:1) that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So why don’t we believe it?

We kinda act like a dog with his tail between his legs. But, that’s not how God intended for us to receive this amazing gift He’s given us. Everything God has done for us – and continues to do – He did (and does) out of His immeasurable love for all of us. We are incapable in our own strength of deserving or earning that love. Don’t feel badly about that, because that’s just the way it is. We were born having a sinful nature into a sinful world. Instead, let the love we have FREELY been given at great cost inspire you and fuel you to live in Godliness. You can not do it on your own. If you did, you wouldn’t need God. And, God knows that – hence the Holy Spirit. God has made a way for us to have a way to both read AND walk in His Word which just happens to be a blueprint for His divine plan for our lives. 
So be encouraged!

You may have messed up. You may have made mistakes. Maybe you’re paying for them now in ways you didn’t want to (yes…I am talking to you, dearie…love you – mean it!). But, God’s love is bigger than all that. He’s big enough to handle your sin. He’s big enough to forgive you. And He’s big enough and gracious enough and merciful enough to help you get to the place He called you to be. If you’re constantly looking backwards, you can’t see what’s in front of you – that’s a good way to fall down. Look forward! If you’re following Jesus, walking behind Him and in His footsteps will surely take you to the place He wants you to be. 
*I love you, my dear friend, my family. Stay blessed.*

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More Than A Song

“I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart.”

Heart of Worship – Matt Redman

This evening something happened to me that I need to write about. Before I get into exactly what happened, I’ll tell you how I felt about it: angry. No…that’s way too small a word. My ears got hot. My hairs stood on end. I had a mix of righteous indignation and personal affront the likes of which I haven’t seen in awhile. In short, I was royally ticked off. 
Someone in my life had the audacity to call worship noise.

I don’t think they meant to – well, they did mean noise. They argued over the amps. The cymbals and drums. The guitars. Anything that was basically not an organ. “It’s too noisy. I’ve walked out of places like that before. Churches appeared so nice before then all that noise and I didn’t even make it into the sanctuary.” My thought? Okay…contemporary Christian worship isn’t for everyone. If you want something more traditional, that’s fine. Go where you can get it. BUT, don’t call the rest of it noise!!! Okay…Psalm 98:4 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all the earth….” but somehow, I don’t think that’s what this person meant. 
“It’s not noise”, I said. “It is noise”, they scoffed back (and I do mean scoff…they kinda had a smug look about them when they did). It went back and forth with me defending the music of this generation and this person calling it noise and nothing more than that. Finally, I jumped to my feet and exasperatedly declared, “Okay…we can not have this conversation. It is not noise. It is worship! If you don’t like it – fine! Don’t go! But I can NOT have this conversation with you because I am so passionate about worship that it is in every fiber of my being. This means as much to me as autism. It’s that important. We just can’t talk about this anymore.”
And with that, I walked away. I mean they had insulted worship!!! My worship!!! Hadn’t they?
The dictionary defines worship as “reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage or to any object regarded as sacred”. Huh…that’s interesting. Understand this: I grew up with AMAZING worship leaders who fully understood the need for a Sunday morning corporate worship as an act of honoring God. There is a way that music connects the presence of God to His people with music in a way unlike any other. The Psalms are full of evidence of just this fact. But, as far as we know, David didn’t have electric guitars or Bethel Live, or 14 different kinds of drum of amplifiers or keyboards. And yet, David is regarded as being “a man after God’s own heart.”. 
So where does that leave my anger? 
In some ways, I think I was right to be so offended. The church in particular that this person was talking about is a very wonderful place and some of the people on the worship team are people I know and respect. They love God with all their hearts and their lives are the act of worship, not just the music they play on Sunday morning. So, when, in an act of obedience, they play a music that facilitates the ushering in of the presence of God that allows the changing of lives, it is a wonderful thing. Period.
This is not to say that the presence of God is limited to the particular sound of the contemporary or gospel worship team. Matthew 18:20 says, “For, where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am with them.” God is after hearts. That’s what He wants on Sunday morning.  Not noise or not-noise. But true worshipers. That’s what God is looking for everyday.
That’s why my anger was also, in part, uncalled for. 
I wasn’t being attacked. And, as a beautiful and lovely friend pointed out to me (for which I owe her one million hugs), the calling of God on my life as a worshiper is not invalidated because someone doesn’t understand what worship is (and believe me when I say, I don’t think this person gets it). So, as I prepare my sermon for the worship conference at which I have been asked to speak (did I forget to mention that?), I will remember that if my heart is to remain in the heart of worship, then it doesn’t matter who says what or who understands what. After all…
“It’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus.”
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Words of a Father

Yesterday evening, I had the great pleausre of hearing one of my spiritual heroes, Lou Engle, preach. The message was incredible and many lives, mine included, were changed because of the presence of God that fell our time together. But this posting is not about the core of that message, though I’m sure at a latter date there will be one. This is about a statement he made that was pretty isolated against the backdrop of his major topic.

“The role of the father [biological or otherwise] is to call forth destiny.” 

Wow. I have to admit, I’ve never thought about it like that. What an awesome responsibility fathers have! And yet, I can’t help but think of how many blow it. That might be pretty blunt, but it’s also pretty true. There are not a lot of things I agree with Dr. Phil on (ok…at the moment I can think of one) but one of his catchprases regarding children is that we, as parents (or other important individuals for that matter) “write on the slate of who they are.”

What are we writing?

I have literally seen/heard fathers tell their children that they are stupid, that they are screw ups; I’ve seen men demean and ridicule their children in the presence of other people. I can’t help but wonder what that does to those children – the sons especially. I’d imagine it makes them feel worthless, useless, stupid and a myriad of other emotions. What kind of destiny do those fathers call into their children? Likely one that says, “you never were anything and you’ll never be anything….you are a mistake.”

I’m not saying that’s what the fathers intend to speak into existance, but very often it happens. Words are powerful. They can lift you up or cut you down. And a simple “I’m sorry” doesn’t always fix it….sometimes, a simple “I’m sorry” isn’t offered either.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Genesis 1:27 that tells us that we were made “in the image of God.” Those are pretty powerful words as well! When we think of God – the one true Christian God, mind you – the first word that should come to mind is love. Over and over we read and hear those words. God is love. 1 Chorinthians 13 gives a pretty complete picture of what love looks like. What destiny would kindness call forth? What destiny would not easily angered call forth? How about not rude? Or patience?

Why ask all these questions? Simple. The answer to that can be found in Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray, Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name.”

Our Father

God is our Father. Galatians 4:6 says, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.'” Similarly, Romans 8:15-16 says, “For you did not recieve a spirit that makes you a slave to fear, but you recieved the spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit Himself testifies with our Spirit that we are God’s children.” 

We are God’s children.

So, to you who have maybe had a false destiny written on the slate of your hearts, remember that you were made in the image of your Heavenly Daddy. His fingerprints are on your DNA. You look like Him. So when you want to know what your destiny is or what your future looks like, go to the One who wrote the story in the first place. God does not make mistakes. If you are here, than there is a divine reason for it.

The role of your Father is to call forth your destiny. Your destiny is waiting for you. My challenge to you today is to spend some time letting your Heavenly Daddy speak into you and find out just what that destiny is.

And to the special someone who inspired this blog (and any other special someones who might need the reminder), remember always that you are not what your father has spoken over you. You were made in the image of the King of Kings. You were crafted with thought and precision. You were made with purpose and intent. You are not a failure. You are not a screw up. Give God permission to erase the words that have broken you for so long and write new words of love and affirmation on your heart. When the Daddy that matters sees you, He smiles. God smiles because when He finished making you, even knowing that you would have human flaws, He looked at you and said, the same thing He said when He made the rest of creation….

“It is good.”


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Dream On!

NOTE: This started as a blog Friday morning about 7:15 AM. My screen froze and I wasn’t able to post it. Now that I remember, I’m doing so….but that should explain the discrepancy in time frame. lol

God woke me up this morning. Early. Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but for the fact that I have been sick and fully intended to sleep until at least 9:30. But when it became obvious that He had something for me to say and would not stop divinely poking at me (despite my literal utterances of “five more minutes….PLEASE!”) until I got up to write this blog, I figured do it and head back to my precious pillow.

That being said =)

Today we’re going to talk more about dreams – you know, those pesky little deep desires of your heart that seem too big to accomplish. I think sometimes as Christians, we don’t want to think about our dreams. Very often it appears that we are at the center of our dreams – and most of the time we are right. But consider some scripture for a moment:

Jeremiah 1:5 – Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet among nations. 

and later…

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I realize I may have used these before, but, unless the sickness is really getting to me, the point I will be making is different this time. 

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to ignore my dreams and do what was proper or expected of me. I’ve quieted the urges I have,  I’ve even tried to cast them into the pit believing them to be a distraction. I’d look for a prophetic word trying to make sure that everything I was running away from and everything I was urging myself towards was “the right thing”. But no such word ever came.

Then one day I asked a pastor friend of mine who I have looked up to since I was about 5 years old what he thought the reason for that might be. He told me this: “Monique, I love you and so I’m going to tell you the truth. Prophetic words are for people who genuinely have no idea what they’re supposed to do or where they’re supposed to go next. That’s not your problem. You’ve always known what it is God wants you to do. Now you just have to act on it. You never received a prophetic word, because you never needed one.” I walked away not knowing what to feel and it would be years before I knew what he was talking about.

My life scripture is Psalms 37:4 which says, “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” But dreams? Really? And then this year I understood that verse in a whole new way. A wonderful friend of mine told me of a sermon she heard in which the pastor was talking about dreams. She told me that in this sermon, he spoke of the dreams that are nagging and overwhelming and how sometimes they are like whispers or prophecies from God into our hearts directing us and pointing us towards the future He has for us. 

That makes so much sense! Especially since I like to think of my life scripture as this: align yourself with the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. When you are aligned with God, His desires for you become your desires for your life. He wants to give you your dreams because He put them there in the first place.

So dream on! As Genesis 1:27 tells us, we are made in the very image of the Creator God….and there is NO bigger dreamer than He!

*can I go to bed now, God? thanks….zzzzzzzzzzz…….*

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Fear of the Monkey Bars

Yesterday, I took my four children to one of the many local parks in the area. We had a fantastic time and I greatly enjoyed watching them play. As is usually the case, I learned something about me and about God through an interaction I had with one of my children concerning the monkey bars. These particular monkey bars were pretty high, and my 8 year old son, Kameron, is  not the height of an 8 year old so this was especially scary for him. I let him hold on to the bars and I held onto his legs and told him to push himself forward (Melody, my dear dear friend, you already see where this is going, don’t you?)

He reached for the first one, success! The second and third he did with little problem. But by the fourth, his arms were getting tired and he started realizing how high up he was. “Don’t worry, Kami, I’ve got you! Mommy’s here and she’s not gonna let you fall.” Forward one more and then he stops. “All done!!!” (Kameron, has autism, and with that comes a pretty significant language delay…that will make this make a little more sense). “No, baby, I’ve got you. Keep going.” But Kameron doesn’t want to keep going. He is trapped in his fear. “Get down now!!” Even though he can see clearly what is in front of him – the other side of the monkey bars – his fear kept him from getting to the end.

Sometimes life can be a lot like getting stuck on monkey bars. God will often call on us to trust Him and in His promises to us. But trust is hard! And it’s not always the unknown that we fear, but what we see God doing right in front of us that paralyzes us and stops us from moving forward.

Romans 8:28 assures us that, “all things work together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That is a promise that should allow us the ability to take a sigh of relief. But very often our lack of faith keeps us from taking the leap and trusting God fully. We make ourselves vulnerable to Him…but only a little and the things we truly desire we keep so close to the vest we dare not take them to the throne.

Fear is a very powerful force and it did not come from God (For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7) . But the grace we have from God is that when fear takes hold of our lives and prevents us from moving forward in His will, we can call on Him for help and by His grace and love He does just that.

“For  you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.” Romans 8:15

The same way I had my son and wouldn’t let him fall, God holds us in His hand. When we get scared, we cry out to Him for strength and help and because He is our Father, that help is granted.

So to any of you who are dangling on that fourth or fifth bar and seeing what’s in front of you, go for it! This I write more for myself than anyone reading it. Trust that God has you – your dreams, your destiny, your future, your life – in His arms. Press forward and don’t let go until you’ve reached the end. Press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called YOU Heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14).

Dear God, 

I gave you my dreams as You asked and some of them are already coming true. As I thank You for that, please help me to remember that Your arms are around me and as long as I stay with You, Your hand will keep me from falling. Help me to move forward towards the end I see so clearly, and help me to get ready along the way. 

In Your name I pray,


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