Thursday, March 31, 2011

This one's for my journal....

So, a phone call came to me yesterday. Humbling does not begin to cover it.

In short, the gentleman organizing the conference out west in April called yesterday. I was not able to take his initial call, so he left a message saying, "I want you to pray on something God has been showing me." He went on to say that in recent weeks God has been so heavily placing on his heart that this is not to be A conference --- but conferenceS -- in the plural..... going wherever God says to go.... being His ambassadors to the people.

When I was able to listen to his message, I was so struck with the moment....expected, surreal, shocked, humbled, and empowered all simultaneously converged in one moment. More open doors to walk through for Him! I just love staying OUT of God's business! It makes moments like these so rich and so sweet.

So JITM is going to walk with my brother through whatever doors God opens up. We will go wherever He says to go, and do whatever He says to do.

As my brother said yesterday, "Hang on, Deborah!"
"Yes, sir; hanging on." That is hanging on to Jesus, my forever Rock!

Here's to the countless lives we'll touch for Him! And here's to a day that will be recorded in my journal as a day of fulfilled promise!

It is a fine thing to pursue nothing...... but Him. The reward is an open door to do anything and everything His heart beats to do!

As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Going Home"

This video captures me. My heart slows, my mind stops, and my spirit soars.

If you have read my book, you'll smile.

Take it in.

I absolutely LOVE the pictures of the BIG trees.

GROW, siblings, GROW! And I'll meet you at His table one glorious day!

"Going Home"
By: Sara Groves

I’ve been feeling kind of restless
I’ve been feeling out of place
I can hear a distant singing
A song that I can’t write
And it echoes of what I’m always trying to say

There’s a feeling I can’t capture
It’s always just a prayer away
I want to know the ending
Things hoped for but not seen
But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyway

Of going home, I’ll meet you at the table
Going home, I’ll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it
Oh, I cannot wait to be home

I’m confined by my senses
To really know what you are like
You are more than I can fathom
And more than I can guess
And more than I can see with you in sight

But I have felt you with my spirit
I have felt you fill this room
And this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table
Going home, I’ll meet you in the air
And you are never too young to think about it
Oh, I cannot wait to be going, to be going home

Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be
Face to face, how can it be

Cuz this is just an invitation
Just a sample of the whole
And I cannot wait to be going home

Friday, March 25, 2011

Let's Talk...

I took the time and wrote a rather lengthy article, but then God said, "Just talk to them." In other words, no need to put it so formally. Good idea, Abba. Good idea.

So, let's talk --- sister to siblings.

As with a lot of ministries, there are blessings and oppositions. Too often the blessings are openly discussed, while the oppositions are not.

Well, I was thinking the other day, "I have lived forty plus years very transparently; why stop now?"

A little over a year ago, Joy In The Morning (JITM) was officially birthed, a physical representation of what He spoke a few years ago, "The foundation is complete." I knew what He meant. Our physical world -- the good and ugly -- represents spiritual battles both won and lost. To me, JITM's presence in the earth is a physical representation of a spiritual battle won.

I believe you and I would both agree that a foundation is not visible, but it is vital. Once the foundation is complete, there are two choices. To build upon it, or let it sit vacant. To me, there are few things sadder than to see a foundation not built upon. But the cost of building is great, and to be honest, I will not be able to tell you until the end of my life which was greater: the cost of the "foundation," or the cost of the "building." But one thing I can assure you; neither is cheap!

While the past two years have been full of blessings, they have had difficulty too. As hard as it has been at times, He has been overt in expressing His pleasure at us remaining pliable in His hands.

One of the more difficult things I have had to traverse occurred in late 2009 and into 2010. In November 2009, we were divinely given Jeremiah 29:11. We didn't know it at the time, but it would be a verse we would cling to through some difficult days ahead. We all know it: "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." At first, I thought, "Deb, that's you. It's just because you know that so well." That is until it literally showed up -- typed up and wrapped up -- in a piece of chocolate from a friend, who knew nothing of its significance to me. God is so precious to affirm His hand prints, siblings!

As I discuss in my book, God often gives us a promise just prior to difficulty.

Well anyway -- in late 2009 -- the bottom fell out of the church I attended.... at least as far as I was concerned.

I was called up before the pastoral/elder board and questioned for over three hours. It would seem two articles I wrote got under their skin. Understand, they were not mentioned in either of them. One was on church debt and tithing, and the other was on church leadership and knowing who you are following. Regardless of the personal cost, if I had to do it over, I would; I absolutely would.

If I regurgitated the events of that meeting, I believe you would be shocked. Sadly few asked. Guess it is easier to not ask because if you ask, you just might be asked to take a stand.

The meeting took place the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. Thereafter I received a second summons on Wednesday, Thanksgiving eve, to reappear the Sunday after Thanksgiving. When I declined (It was, after all, a holiday!), I received two other emails within two weeks, requesting a follow up meeting during December. Can anyone say "Christmas"? I don't mean to be cheeky, but honestly, how would you feel at this hand of treatment? I told my husband, "This is screaming flesh to me. God is not in a hurry about anything." At this point we just felt harassed.

At the end of December, God told us that we were to depart. Thereafter, we consulted others who had left, and across the board the stories were similar. Net result: a thinning of the flock. Well, I spent months meditating on what transpired; more to the point, trying to shake what transpired. I, unlike Paul, struggled to say, "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them." (2 Timothy 4).

I recently ran into a sister from there. She was amazed at all that God is doing in my life and through the ministry. I guess everyone remaining there has the impression I am off in exile? I recall one of the ex-leaders saying to me, "We felt exiled. No one called us. No one." This from a pillar in the church. Grievous. Just profoundly grievous. It's still hard to swallow just how harsh and controlling siblings can be to one another, but it happens all too often.

The ironic thing is God carries on with His plans in spite of men. I have had the amazing privilege to hear and see the "Josephs' " stories evolve out of my precious siblings' lives. Like Joseph, our stories are not smoothly paved, but I believe we are all on the road to being able to say, "What was meant for evil, God has and is using for good."

For months, I tried to stay in fellowship with some there, but I found it unwise. I have found one can't successfully live in the present, having hope for the future, with one foot in the past.

A sister called me on the carpet concerning my new distance, saying something like, "I thought you believed the Body extends beyond church walls." My answer: I do most sincerely, but that includes consequences. When a wrong is done against one, the whole Body suffers the price. Broken fellowship is a part of the consequence in these types of situations.

The wounds have healed with time, but they have left scars ... OR as this song says, "Character." I like that... I REALLY like that. Take a listen. If you have lived for any length of time, you too will be able to say, "Amen!"

I have physical scars on my right knee from a surgery I had in childhood. To look at them, they don't hurt, but if I even so much as lightly hit my knee on something, let me tell you, they let me know they are there!

Just this month, I became keenly aware of two unpleasant situations at that fellowship again. I told my husband, "As hard as I try to get away from it, it comes and seeks me out."

I'll be candid. One occurrence I could perhaps understand people overlooking, but when four pastors, several elders, worship leaders, myself, and others have left within about a three year window, doesn't that demand more attention than a fleeting glance? I mean really?

In a day and age when many churches look and operate like businesses with building projects, board meetings, and lay offs -- just to name a few aspects of "business as usual" going on across the land -- God is about His affairs of tearing down walls to build up His family. Talk about a colossal inverse!

Those that know me know I point this out not to throw stones at churches, but rather speak truth in the hopes that sooner rather than later we will stop the insanity.

Even with my past fellowship, I love them regardless of what they did to me. I'll never understand it, mind you, but one day God said to me, "They did it to Me, dear. They did it to Me."

Long ago, I received an email from a distant in-law that said something to the fact of "we'll be watching your walk." I thought at the time how odd those words were, but remember a boldness welled up in me, and I responded, "You do that."

Anyone who knows me knows what you see is what you get. I figure God put me together as He wants me. I don't wear makeup most of the time. I don't wear fake fingernails. In fact, I worked diligently to break the horrible habit of chewing the daylights out of them... something I used to do as I devoured book after book. I don't dye my hair. I am a stay-at-home mom of three. I am open about my disappointments and my struggles. I love God with all my heart, and I would rather study the Word 24/7 than to do anything else - including eat. (That's for you, T., 'cause you, above anyone, know it's true! ;o) ) I have no tolerance for willful wrong and will hold to truth like a bulldog to a bone. If you want to know something, just ask. I'll shoot straight and direct. I fully intend to always walk with passion and transparency. I am also fully aware that before my life is over I'll probably be riddled with more scars than I can count. But you know.... as I see it... to God, that will be beautiful to Him because I have found if you truly stand for what He stands for, scars are impossible to avoid. They are the marks that say "I fought the good fight of faith, Papa." But like I said, I rather like thinking my scars will look more like character than scars in the end!

On my refrigerator, there is a saying, "Turn your scars to stars." Yes, Lord, turn my scars to stars that they may shine forth You and Your glory, for You have and will continue to bring me through many things; this I know full well!

He is building on my foundation, and yes, there is a high cost. But I'll not quit because each day that I live for and walk with Him I get closer and closer to where it is He is taking me. All the while, I am enjoying the journey along the way.... tussles and all. I love the expression "roads are for journeys, not destinations." For those who have heard me speak you know I say, "Quitting is not an option because He didn't. Greater is He who is you than He who is in the world."

I love what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." Oh, precious Lord, may I one day be able to say such words!

Until then, I'll keep clinging to Him with everything I have....

I am ever mindful that when one stands with any degree of unrighteousness, they hit the scars of righteousness -- Jesus' scars first, and their siblings' scars second. I know first hand, both physically and spiritually speaking, how painful the hit to scars truly is. Especially in light of Jesus, we must be ever mindful of this cause and effect when making our choices on where to stand, both in the world and in the family of God. To make decisions on anything other than the Holy Spirit's direction, such as emotions or others' decisions, is damaging and absolute folly.

Siblings, take your walk seriously before God. It's the only thing you get to take with you when you breathe your last breath.

Well, thanks for listening. It was good to share. I pray you too experience your scars being transformed into His character. It is a most worthy endeavour!

Your sibling in Christ,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Amber's delight... and mine, too.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

And while she rode, V and I acquainted ourselves with a few of the boarders.
V especially loved this little pony.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What type of horse are you?

This morning I sat once again in the quiet of the house.... pondering as I often do.

This time I was pondering this passage:

"I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Be not like the horse or the mule,
which lack understanding,
which must have their mouths held firm with bit and bridle,
or else they will not come with you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but he who trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans
on the Lord shall be compassed
about with mercy and with loving-kindness."
Psalm 32: 8-10

Are you the type of horse that stands off from the Lord?
Or are you the type of horse that yearns to be with Him?

The answers to these questions are rooted in trust.

I have posted a video below that is a physical demonstration of remarkable trust. I saw it last year. Even if you are like me and have seen it before, take the time to view it again ... and then take a moment to examine your own heart. I love that the rider is in white..... a symbolic picture in my mind of the Lord. I want to be as this horse
--- without need of bit or bridle, to not only draw near to Him, but to follow His every command instantly.

How about you?

Noteworthy, the rider dedicated this ride to her father.

How about dedicating your "life ride" to Abba Father today?

It's never too late to have a fresh start
with Him as your trainer, rider, and owner!

In Him, for Him, and through Him,

PS: Take time to read and share the new teaching article: "Sounding Off Against Skewed Motives"