At the Crossroads of Decision

The crossroads of decision . . .

We’ve all been there countless times.

How many times are we at the crossroads of decision when Father has clearly spoken to our heart and confirmed it over time and through various means

. . . and still we waver and puzzle over which way “we think” we should go.

We lean on our own understanding (Prov 3:5-6) and set the counsel of others side-by-side with Father’s prompting on our heart.

. . .and over time, our crossroads became many, varied and of the same weight . . . in a sense, like the pictured cross wires.

In the face of an attack, God sends the prophet Isaiah to speak to Ahaz.  God’s message to Ahaz ends with these words,

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Is 7:9)

Rest assured:  what Father leads your heart to do will most often stand in opposition to your own understanding and will require standing firm in your faith to follow through in obedience.

When our ears are listening, our heart is seeking, and our spirit is in step with Father, the crossroads of decision become a picture of Is 30:21:

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.”

In reading this, if your mind is twinging and your spirit is stinging from the remembrance of that time when you made clear crossroads into similar sets of cross wires and then proceeded to go the way your own understanding thought was best . . .

Repent, confess, and embrace Father’s compassion and grace and choose the next “obey.”

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him! – Is 30:18

photo on flickr by eskimo_jo

Pastors’ Pivotal Prayers

Pastors and ministers pray . . . a lot.  I know this to be true as I grew up in the mission field, served as a church volunteer, worked on staff at a large church for five years, and have gone on numerous overseas mission trips.

My question is, “Pastors, how often do you pray on-site in your place of worship?”

The prayer of a righteous man is without doubt, powerful & effective (Jas 5:16).

As the battle of Jericho (Josh 6) shows us, there is also a spiritual reality and vital principle of praying on-site.

I have had the privilege of praying on-site:

  • in places of worship
  • on mission trips to Honduras and India
  • in inner city neighborhoods
  • in businesses
  • in schools
  • in friends’ homes
  • at outreach gathering sites

I have seen great fruit produced as a result of my willingness to:

1) Believe – that the spiritual realm deals with the unseen.  Soil is being fertilized, tilled, and prepared as I pray in the midst of the seen.

2) Hope – with my spirit attune and my heart listening to what Father longs to accomplish in that place

3)  Battle – unseen forces and barriers that are being erected to counteract what Father is seeking to do in hearts and lives.

“Pastors, how often do you pray on-site in your place of worship?”

Your prayers are pivotal.

High Places

When’s the last time you felt like you were on a mountain climb of faith?

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, thrusts us into mountain climbs in so many ways and on so many days.

  • Health struggles
  • Financial challenges
  • Relational woes
  • Shattered dreams
  • Bruised hearts
  • Broken bones
  • Silence & feeling alone
  • Persecution
  • Rejection
  • Betrayal
  • A step of faith that involves a steep grade of toil & turmoil

The list could go on and on, but could be summed up in one phrase: high places.

Habakkuk 3:19  (Amplified) reads:

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

What mountain climbs on the high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility are you in the midst of as you read this post?

Sometimes, all you can do is let Him carry you on the steep, sharp rocks.

[tentblogger-youtube Sp569dzQVfQ]

Rest assured; He will carry you. . .every time.

photo on flickr by rbbaird


 

When Logic Stands in the Way of Faith

“All to often, when God tells us to get up and do something,
we find it difficult. . . .We shuffle our feet and rationalize
that we’re not quite certain that we heard God correctly.
We check and double check the inward call to obey
so many times that, before you know it,
we’ve reasoned away the command to obey God.”

Joni Eareckson Tada, Glorious Intruder

Sound familiar?

What instance or instances in your life does it bring to mind?

When you’ve sensed Father was asking you to believe Him for the humanly unattainable or seemingly impossible have you thought:

  • I don’t want to.
  • It doesn’t make sense.
  • What will they think of me?
  • What if God doesn’t come through?
  • Why me?
  • That’s outside of my comfort zone.
  • That’s a radical thing to do; I just want to be a regular Christian.

How many times has your logic stood in the way of your faith?

Is it that we have a hard time hearing God;

OR

does it have more to do with the reality that we don’t like what we hear and so we allow fear, logic, and other’s words to cause us to back off and reason His voice and His call away?

Gideon could have told God that he didn’t want to lead an army of 300 men equipped only with trumpets, torches and jars.

Joshua could have told God that walking around Jericho seven times didn’t make sense.

Mary could have focused more on the question of “what will they think of me?” instead of her response in Lk 1:38, “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.'”

Ruth could have legitimately asked the question, “What if God doesn’t come through?” and stayed in Moab instead of returning with Naomi to Bethlehem and coming face-to-face with our God who always comes through . . . Boaz became her kinsman redeemer and their son Obed was in lineage of Jesus.

Jesus could have asked “Why Me?” as He prepared to give His life to save us from our sins.

Luke, Peter, and John could have said, “That’s outside of my comfort zone,” and gone back to their trades instead of making disciples of all nations.

Paul could have said, “That’s a radical thing to do; I just want to be a regular Christian,” and not gone and preached the Gospel to the Gentiles.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Will your logic stand in the way of your faith?

OR

Of you will people be able to say:

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Lk 1:45)

Just to know You… fought for me
Oh really know You…set me free
Just to know You…died for love
Oh really know You…God above

Oh and I
Have a choice
And the choice for me
Is to live life like a man
Who will love with abandon
Follow the promise
And pay any price
I’ll give all I can
Just to stand in Your glory
And long for the day
Oh to look in Your eyes

Mark Schultz, Just to Know You

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:13-14)

Seize the Day

In two days, I’m getting married to the love of my life, Mike Sansone. Watch our ceremony at 11 AM (central time) on Saturday, August 6th at http://bit.ly/SansoneWed.  Recently, we were perusing Bed, Bath, and Beyond with thoughts of how we would spend our wedding gift cards.

I’ve seen this quote many times before in many places, but this time it struck me in a new way.

“Live . . . Laugh . . . Love”

I believe this is a description of a believer who is living their life totally sold out to Jesus in a Jn 10:10 way

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Brothers and sisters, we can “Live . . . Laugh . . . Love” because He is our God who has only begun to show us His greatness and the strength of His hand (Dt 3:24).

You may possibly be reading this post and saying, “Oh, you’re just happy and perky because you’re in love and getting married.”  May you know that  my 35 years of life and even these months leading up to our wedding have been filled with trials, tears, and tough times.

No matter what, we can seize the day because:

  • He is faithful – 2 Tim 2:13
  • He will never leave or forsake us – Heb 13:5
  • He holds us by our right hand – Ps 73:23-26
  • He has given us power and authority to overcome ALL the power of the enemy – Lk 10:19
  • In this world, we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world – Jn 16:33
  • He still gives sight to the blind and healing & wholeness to the deaf , mute and lame (Is 35:3-7) . . . whether it is a spiritual, emotional, or physical condition

So let’s seize the day, my dear brothers and sisters, with everything we are and all that we have!

1 Cor 15:58 (Message)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

Columbine, a tribute pictures by PureForever; song sung by Michael W. Smith


Perfect Faithfulness

In eight days, I will marry the love of my life — Michael Sansone.  Watch our ceremony live on sansonespot.com on Saturday, August 6th at 11 AM (central) or at a later time.

One of the dialogues Father and I frequently have concerning life situations is the truth of Is 25:1:

O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.

Father often comments to me as we reflect on the outcome of one of my or someone else’s life situation, “Perfect faithfulness Angela.” To which I will respond, “Perfect faithfulness, Father.”

One of my favorite accounts of Father’ s perfect faithfulness belongs to my soon-to-be husband, Michael.  As a four-year-old, he recalls how one day he laid on the grass in his front yard, parted the clouds with his hands, and told God and his grandpa — who had recently died — that he needed a best friend who had the following qualities:

  • Honest & Trustworthy
  • Friendly
  • Loves to Laugh
  • Will Accept Me for who I am and as I am
  • Likes Others
  • A Great Imagination
  • Playful & Curious

Michael turned 50 last week.  We get married next week.  Father answered his prayer 46 years after he prayed it with perfect faithfulness.

He is a God who does everything He does with perfect faithfulness.  We can count on it, and may we never tire of looking and waiting for it . . . even if our wait is 46 years.

 

Acceptable

You’re unacceptable.  You don’t cut it.  You don’t have what it takes.

When’s the last time you heard any of the above phrases?

I’ve had my share of feeling or being told that my work was under par . . . . my talents were wanting . . . .  my abilities left something to be desired.

What does Father think of such things?

One of the most encouraging verses I know is 2 Corinthians 8:12
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

Photo on Flickr by Lip Kee

This picture is of a Stork-billed Kingfisher bird from Singapore.

Can you imagine the dialogue other birds may have with such a bird?

“Oh my, in NO WAY is that color combination right!?”

“Do you think ANYONE is going to respect you looking like that?”

“CLEARLY, you are behind the times in what is acceptable in bird fashion!”

“Do you seriously think anyone is going to take YOU seriously?”

The conversation may sound a little ridiculous, since we’re talking about birds having it.

And yet, how often do we carry on very similar conversations about other brothers and sisters in Christ in our heads, to others, or to their faces?

Father looks for willingness. All to often, we look for people being “up to par” according to our expectations and social graces.

Two of the most challenging verses I often think on are Romans 14:13, 15:7 and 2 Corinthians 5:16.

Romans 14:13

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 15:7

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

2 Corinthians 5:16

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

How freeing to remember and know that if we are willing to be used by Father, our gift is acceptable to him . . . even if some around us look at us with the disdain that some birds may look at the Stork-billed Kingfisher.

 


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