Can you recall the last time you had “vegetable head?” In my world the condition of “vegetable head” occurs when you are so beyond exhausted — mentally, emotionally, physically, and sometimes spiritually.

I had the privilege of serving on staff with a children’s ministry for almost 5 years. My primary responsibility was with our 5th/6th grade youth group. “Vegetable head” usually set in when I would be cleaning up from one of our service project nights — which entailed an extreme amount of set-up and then a lengthy clean-up.

When I get to the point of “vegetable head,” I like repetitive inspiration . . . aka a song playing on repeat as I work. The song I would often choose to listen to countless times was Pour Out by Shawn McDonald

The line, “You are all I need” would always strike me in those episodes of “vegetable head” which are normal parts of life and ministry in a life sold out to Christ.

In those times, we find:

He is all we need

As we pour out in service to others, He pours back into us

We desire one thing . . .

Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

 “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

I once read or heard the phrase, “We are strangers on earth, longing for home.”

The longer I live; the more my heart resonates with that longing.

A verse that brings great comfort to my heart is Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

What an amazing experience that will be!

My husband took this picture of me while we were visiting our friends’ newly purchased home.  I was in awe of the amazingly tall trees that towered over their  house — it almost seemed like a treehouse.

Life has many Kodak moments that make us smile and take our breath away. Life also has those crushing moments that cut, bruise, and knock the wind out of us.

In those crushing moments we set the eyes of our souls on what is ahead . . . beautifully portrayed in Jeremy Camp’s song, “There Will Be A Day.”

Two verses that continue to take my breath away when I truly focus on what they mean:

“O Sovereign Lord, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do?” Deuteronomy 3:24 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . . .” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

His hope does not disappoint us.

His strength will not fail us.

His surprises for our lives tower high above what our human eyes can see.

For He is our loving Father, our faithful Provider, and our great and mighty King.

Given the choice between a can with dents or a can without dents; which would you choose?

Sometimes I opt for the can with dents, knowing that it will be more difficult for the store to sell it.  In the food business, dents in cans often equal profit loss.  Yet in the Christian walk, dents are inevitable and even trademarks of a life sold out to Christ.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor 4:7-9

I have walked with Christ for close to 36 years starting with 8 years as a missionary kid living in Asia.  I’ve lived almost 4 decades sold out to Christ with the many dents that come with such living and the countless blessings that come with unthrottled, passionate following of Christ.

Of the past 35 years, I would say this past year has been one of the most dent-full of any of those years combined.  I and my husband-to-be have been “hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down” over and over again.

Attacks on every side and in almost every form have come our way like tsunami waves of health and financial trials, hatred, grief, abandonment, betrayal, mocking, verbal attacks, and cold, aloof stares from once close friends.  At moments the waves have crushed our heads into the sand as if we were flimsy rubber bands.  Our chests have heaved time and again with the weight of getting back up from the quick succession of the attack waves.

And yet, God remains faithful in sustaining our strength, our faith, and our joy.  We have found victory when our focus is on the blessings that are inevitable based on the truth found in Romans 8:28.

The song, Blessings, by Laura Story powerfully portrays this truth.

Do you find yourself being hammered by the surf of testing trials today? My prayer for you is that 1 Peter 5:8-9 would be true of your time of testing.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

For your victory lies within the focus of your heart and mind’s focus:

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

 


How many of us believe in God’s sovereignty to the point that we believe that He accomplishes things “to the very day” of His plan?

Exodus 12:40-41 (NIV), “Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.  At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.”

The Israelites were in bondage for 430 years as slaves in Egypt.

  • 430 years . . . in other words . . .
  • 5,160 months
  • 22,360 weeks
  • 156,950 days

And yet, even after that length of time during which time and again the Israelites despaired and lost heart  in God’s ability to keep His promise; He still fulfilled His promise “to the very day.”

In my almost 36 years of walking with Christ, I have been amazed at our lack of faith in believing and our waiting with faith-filled hearts for Father to do what He has promised us — both the promises of Scripture and the promises He has spoken and confirmed to us personally or corporately as a church body.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV), “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”

In my ministry of prophetic intercession, I have the honor and privilege of journeying alongside many brothers and sisters who:

  • are placed in the crosshairs of fierce spiritual attack
  • expectantly waiting to receive an answer to a desperate need
  • longing to be freed from emotional or physical bondage
  • waiting with faith-filled hearts for Father to do what He has spoken and confirmed to them personally or corporately as a church body

What have I found time and again?

He is our Father who does not give us stones when we ask for bread, nor does He give us snakes when we ask for fish (Matt 7:9-11).

So what promise today is Father prompting your heart to believe Him for?

If you are despairing or wavering in your belief in God’s ability to keep His promise, may you say along with the father whose son was possessed by an evil spirit , “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NIV)

If you are fearing that Father will follow through on His promise to rescue you, may you hear Jesus say to your heart, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36, NIV)

For He is the God who promises, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. . . .What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” (Isaiah 46:10-11)

And He does it “to the very day.”

 

 



Life has few more poignantly significant moments than those found in the face of death.

It may be of a family member or a dear friend, but you stand changed by their passing.  Again and again, Jesus showed his power over death through raising Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, and then Himself back to life.

In the case of Jairus’ daughter, the onlookers laughed.  With Lazarus, Martha reasoned with Jesus that the stench of death and decay would be too strong after  four days of being in the grave.  And then as Jesus lay in the grave, his own disciples despaired of ever seeing Him again.

There are many amazing accounts of near death experiences.  We hear them and are momentarily awed and inspired by the miracle of life in the face of death.

Yet, how many of us live our days with the firm belief that He is

“…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were?” (Romans 4:17, NIV)

Boundless and countless are the circumstances and situations in our lives in which Father waits on “the edge of His seat” for us to pray with unwavering and longsuffering faith and to not be afraid; just believe (Mark 5:36).

Longsuffering is defined as “long and patient endurance of injury, trouble, or provocation” (def: dictionary.com).

The King James translation uses the word “travail” in speaking of a woman in childbirth.  Travail means, “pain, anguish or suffering resulting from mental or physical hardship” (dictionary.com).

We think nothing of a woman “travailing” in childbirth; and yet how often are we willing to travail in prayer — to persevere, to endure, to continue calling out to our God who hears, and to embrace the belief that He is the God who gives life to the dead.

James 5:16 (KJV), “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Effectual means, “producing or capable of producing an intended effect; adequate” (dictionary.com).  Fervent means, “having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm, etc.; ardent” (dictionary.com).

Can any of these words be used to describe our prayers:

  • Effectual
  • Fervent
  • Faith-filled
  • Longsuffering
  • Travailing
  • Unwavering

Travailing prayer equals prevailing prayer.

In Luke 18:1 (NIV) we read, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

After telling the parable Jesus gives His audience this challenge, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NIV)

Will Jesus find faith when He returns?  Will He find His children praying effectual, fervent, faith-filled, longsuffering, travailing, unwavering prayers?

He is the God . . .

  • who brings life to the dead.
  • who gives sight to the blind.
  • who heals the sick.
  • who makes the broken . . . whole.
  • who gives the hopeless . . . hope.
  • who makes the lame . . . leap.
  • who makes the mute sing and the deaf ear hear symphonies.
  • who sets the captives free and leads the prisoners forth with singing.

Dear brothers and sisters, “Will Jesus find faith when He returns?”

Travailing prayer equals prevailing prayer.

 

Don't Be Afraid
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jairus’ daughter had died while Jesus was en route to heal her.  Men came and told Jairus, “Your daughter is dead. . . Why bother the teacher any more?”

Jesus was not swayed at all. Rather, He told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43)

In our walk of faith, we will be faced again and again with Jesus’ challenge, exhortation, and words of amazing comfort: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

The last thing we want to do in the face of death is to be brash and unfeeling.  And yet in that very moment Jesus ignored what Jairus’ friends said and brashly reassured him,  “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

As we read this account, we don’t find Jesus’ words brash for we know the end of the story . . . he raises Jairus’ daughter to life.

Yet, how many times in our lives do we choose to be afraid rather than to believe? We don’t have the end of the story in printed form and yet we follow a God who

  • Is not man that He should lie nor son of man that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and the not act?  Does He promise and then not fulfill? – Numbers 23:19
  • Promises, “What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” – Isaiah 46:11
  • Promises, “In My Father’s house are may rooms; if it were not so I would have told you.” – John 14:2

What is it that you have been praying and believing God for that you have grown weary in your faith, lackadaisical in persisting in prayer, wishy- washy in believing that He will bring it to pass.

Do not let your present circumstances, situations, and input from family and friends cause you to be “. . .like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” – James 1:6

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Photo on Flickr by freefotouk

 

 

 

Kneeling Prayer

Time and again in the New Testament Jesus speaks of Father’s passion, “’It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer . . . .’” Luke 19:46.

In their book, Experiencing God , Blackaby and King write, “The greatest untapped resource that I know of is the united prayer of God’s people.”

How much are we putting into practice and how deep is our belief in the promise of James 5:16?

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Powerful and effective . . . guaranteed.  Are our churches houses of prayer?

In Jeremiah 33:3 Father gives an astounding promise, “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

In my ministry as a prophetic intercessor,  I have seen time and again the contrast between two stances and beliefs found in Isaiah 7:9 and 9:7.

  • Shaky legs . . . Isaiah 7:9, “‘If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’”
  • Firm footing . . . Isaiah 9:7, “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks, “‘However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’”

Will Jesus find his people praying in faith and believing when he returns or will he find his people with shaky legs?

 

Photo on Flickr by josephpetepickle

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What I used to believe in my head, I now firmly know in my heart–Jesus is more than able to bring our enemies and strongholds to their knees so they fall, yet we rise up and stand firm (Psalm 20:6-8).

I have had both the privilege and the heartache of experiencing the victories and defeats that are a part of ministry life.  In those times, God has both comforted me deeply and strongly challenged me as to whether or not I believed His words in Isaiah 46:11:

“What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.”

While never wavering from testing everything (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21), we need to be willing to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and to embrace his promise that He will not let us be disgraced or put to shame (Isaiah 50:7).

Are we empowering our kids as mighty servants and ministers of the King now or is that a future thing?

I grew up as a missionary kid in Indonesia.  As a young child, my parents taught me to serve, to minister to those around me, and I was thrust into the crosshairs of intense spiritual warfare.

I have worked in KidMin in various capacities throughout the U.S. and the world (volunteer, Christian school teacher, and vocation) for the past twenty years.  Through these experiences, I have become thoroughly convinced that “they’re already ready” – to serve, to minister, to engage in spiritual warfare, and to set an example for the believers (1 Tim. 4:12).

Ready to Serve

Serving in our church children’s ministry for 4 1/2 years, I provided the staff support for our 5th and 6th Grade ministry – a service-based pre-youth group experience based on Acts 1:8.  Our students had opportunities to serve in our children’s ministry, our church, our city, and through Operation Christmas Child and Kids Against Hunger.

Again and again, these 5th and 6th Graders rose to the challenge – serving with joy, purpose, and maturity.  Over and over I saw their hunger to make a real difference in their world, so much so that they inspired the adults who served as their small group leaders.

Our kids are Already Ready to serve.

Ready to Minister

I taught 3rd Grade at a Christian school this year.  One of my student’s father was diagnosed with a fast-acting cancer.  Over the year as she would share updates with us, I saw my class of eight and nine year olds effectively minister to her and to each other.

As we discussed the realities of life, death, suffering, and God’s answers to our prayers; I saw my students process, understand, and apply the concepts we conversed about.  I saw them minister with compassionate honesty, genuine comfort, and biblical wisdom & maturity. Time and again during our Bible time, they would gather around, placing their hands on her, ready to comfort and intercede for her.

Our kids are Already Ready to minister.

Ready to Engage in Spiritual Warfare

For two years, I led a week long children’s ministry outreach in conjunction with a ministry my church partners with in Asia.  Having grown up in Indonesia, I know firsthand the level of spiritual warfare these children are already dealing with in their youth.

During one outreach, I shared the testimony of my experience with spirtual warfare and oppression with this group of children whose ages spanned from two to fifteen years old.  I will always remember the look of understanding and connection I saw in their eyes.

Children worldwide are dealing with spiritual warfare and are in dire need of knowing the principles of how to effectively deal with spiritual warfare.

Our kids are Already Ready to engage in spiritual warfare.

Ready to Set an Example

In every setting I have engaged in KidMin – camps, Christian schools, churches, mission trips – I have seen kids who are ready to set an example for the believers (1 Tim. 4:12).  They only need to be esteemed, empowered, and equipped to do so.

They’re Already Ready . . .

What are we doing to enable them to soar?

Angela3rdGradePoem I’ve been blessed to teach a class of 3rd grade students this year at a wonderful private school. They are as much my teachers as they are my students. They have been part of my strength.

These three short stories show how special they are, and how special our school is to all who are connected to the school family.

I was honored to be able to read it during a recent school benefit.

A Death, a New Kid, and $3.50

Rebecca arrived in the classroom tearful yet resolved to share
how a dear family friend had lost her father
in the cancer fight that previous night
(Her own father has been battling cancer for several months)

That morning’s Bible lesson was a fictional story of a young boy whose Grandpa had died
As I read the story, I saw the student’s tears and heard her cries as she confessed,
“I don’t want my dad to die like Mrs. B’s dad died.”
After prompting them to do so, my class of eight and nine-year-olds
almost instinctively surrounded their classmate,
placing their hands on her, ready to comfort and intercede for her
And yet their prayers weren’t all for the her dad’s healing but for the will of God
and for God to give her strength no matter what He chose to do

That very same day, after experiencing the joys and thrills of Snack Shack
David burst into the class with angry tears at the realization
that his $3.50 of food and drink had been a waste
He left early that day and in his absence I explained his angry tears to my class

One student immediately pulled a remaining quarter from his bag of Snack Shack change
and quietly said, “I want David to have this.”
And like a train of willing hearts, student after student
took some change from their own bag
In the end, they had collected $7.00 of change to give to David,
their teammate, friend, and brother-in-Christ

A week later, we had a prospective student shadow in our class
Jeremy arrived that morning almost feeling sick with the unknowns of the situation
and yet after his visit, his mom emailed that he hadn’t wanted to leave
Before he left that day, I asked my class to pray for Jeremy
as he finished the year at his public school
The next day Jeremy’s mom dropped off a one-page letter
that Jeremy had voluntarily written thanking us for his experience visiting our class

Although some may wonder why parents invest a large financial sum
into sending their child to our school
After teaching 3rd Grade for one year
I know why . . .

A moment of uncertainty in the face of death
handled with honesty, comfort, and deep wisdom

A moment for grasping one’s small sum of financial riches
Became a moment for compassion and great generosity

And a new kid who felt sick at his arrival to visit our school
Was a moment for surrounding him with our love, acceptance, and friendship

I saw it in a death, a new kid, and $3.50

The blessings of embracing vibrant faith at an early age
is worth every penny invested in a student’s education at our school

(Names have been changed)

(Originally posted on SansoneSPOT)

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