Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Everyone Experiences Sadness.”

sow-tears-reap-songs-of-joyGod knows your most intimate thoughts, fears, and desires. He loves you with an everlasting love and he never likes to see you suffer. Unfortunately, until you get to heaven, this world includes hardship. Sorrow over a death brings a time of bereavement. You grieve when you lose relationships due to disagreements or distance. When marriages break up, hearts are broken.

What makes you melancholy? Everyone experiences sadness. The pain of regret causes remorse. Maybe you bury your pain so much, you can hardly admit it’s there. As you continue to fast and seek the Lord more intimately, don’t be surprised if these emotions come to the surface. Sow your tears before the Lord and watch him turn them into joy.

This miracle is hardly logical. But you serve a supernatural God.

Only your Heavenly Father can come through on a promise to bring laughter to you who weep. Isaiah prophesies a phenomenon to those who grieve – you will receive the oil of joy instead of mourning. Even in your darkest hour, God hasn’t forgotten you. Continue to seek him with every part of you and watch him come through.

“And now, God, do it again—
    bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing” (Psalm 126:4-6).

Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day SIX

Read Mark 4:26-29 (NLT)

Everyday you spend time in God’s word, in prayer and meditation on what He is speaking to you, a deposit is occurring in your spirit. Your “account” is growing in value and future withdrawals will be possible. You will be able to withdraw knowledge about who God is and how he works next time you’re tested and tempted to doubt him. You will be able to take out a large amount of TRUTH to combat any lies the enemy throws your way.

As you make small daily investments, it’s virtually un-noticeable. Just like a savings account earning interest: if you check it everyday, you might not realise it’s actually changing. But over time, you can look up and see progress.

God is actually supernaturally at work on your behalf. Just like the farmer doesn’t understand how his sowing seed actually produces a harvest (the earth produces the crop on its own), the evidence in your life will come because of God’s miraculous touch on your life.

Maybe you’re at the stage where the seed is in the ground and you see/feel nothing? Or, you’re watering daily and you can see a sprout but it feels tiny and insignificant? I encourage you to keep investing! Soon, you will see fruit from the internal work God has done. A harvest is surely on its way if you continue to give God something to work with.

Jesus, I commit to investing daily in my relationship with you. This year, I want to reap a supernatural harvest in my spiritual life. Take what I’m giving you in time, meditation on your word, and prayer and do something to change me from the inside out. I ask that my life and influence be enlarged because of the out- working of my private life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Australia, church, Prayer, Timing, Uncategorized

Plant, Water, Grow

Last weekend, we had the privilege of ministering at Greg’s Aunt and Uncle’s church in a small country town a couple of hours outside Melbourne.  I preached their annual women’s event and Greg the Sunday morning services.  We had the best time with cousins we didn’t know, their children, our children, Susan and Ron, and Generations Church.  If we went there under the pretense that we were going to be a blessing, we left being much more blessed by all of them.

The influence of Generations Church on its community is astounding.  For a town of only 4000 people, the church has 400 members!  They are planning to build a 500 seat auditorium and have turned an old squash court into a beautiful facility.  The name “Generations” is fitting.  From the youngest child to the oldest lady, Pastors Susan and Ron have committed to taking people on the JOURNEY to find their gifts and purpose.  They have provided an environment for those gifts to be used and God is doing a mighty work.  Their own grown children are worship and children’s pastors influencing the people growing up in Tatura.

Young men with drug addictions in re-hab come to the early service sharing testimonies of God’s redeeming work in their lives.  Teenagers are playing guitars, drums, and harmonicas.  Retirees are staying up till midnight sweeping floors and making coffees after events.  People are honoured for their service and encouraged to go out and reach more people for Jesus.  I can see why kids move away for University and then come back!

We learned from Susan and Ron’s 20+ years of experience.  We walked away with leadership training and inspiration of what Lift Church can look like down the road.  However, the most meaningful part of our weekend for me was seeing Greg’s aunt’s dreams come true before her very eyes.

See, she accepted Christ in 1984 and as the only Christian in her family, began praying for everyone else.  If you don’t know Greg’s background, he left Australia at age 19 to go to America to play baseball and had ZERO belief in God.  Greg surrendered his life to Jesus at age 26 (in 2000), served God in full-time vocational ministry in Texas, and is now planting a church back in his homeland. Unbelievable!

Watching Susan talk about how much she loved Greg when he was born (he was the first baby in the family) and seeing her watch him preach was beautiful. A “full circle” moment.

I believe it was the seeds Susan and Ron sowed in prayer across the ocean for all those years that actually brought us to this place.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:7-8, “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.”

When we pray, we partner with God to bring things to pass.  We come into alignment with his perfect will.  Seeds have been sown in prayer for us over many many years.  I can name hundreds of instances where people watered them.

And all along the way God was making them grow.

We didn’t know about those prayers.  Now, here we are.

I am so thankful for Aunt Susan.  I’m more convinced than ever that our God answers our cries.  And, I’m inspired to spend more of my day planting prayers, pouring life into people, and standing on God’s promises for a great harvest!

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas. (Psalm 65:5 NLT)

ARC, Church planting, Inspiration, religious, Uncategorized

It’s Up to You… And God

If you are a driver personality type and tend to “make it happen,” in life, you can lean on your own understanding to get stuff done.  I have always enjoyed taking something small or non existent and working to establish and grow it.  Whether it’s growing leaders, a department at the church, or my AdvoCare business, I have a track record of strategically putting together plans and goal setting to make something successful.  I would call myself entrepreneurial, a self-starter, and a visionary.

My husband and I have worked very well together in our business for years.  We love and enjoy building people.  We have a passion for seeing them grow and find their gifts and callings to serve the Lord.  We love helping others and serving families.  All of these characteristics coupled with our training and experience over the last few years on staff at our church would lead us to believe we have the perfect “resume” for church planting.  We have the skill set and on paper, if we were placing bets, I think our odds of success would look pretty good.

There’s only ONE BIG PROBLEM:  We are dealing in the supernatural.  Last I checked, I’m not God and I wasn’t raised from the dead!  The Bible says that we plant and sow, but it’s only God who makes things grow (I Cor 3:6).  The seed itself is what holds the power to become something great.  It’s God who created the seed with all its potential.

This week’s ARC training is full of the most amazing information any church planter would ever need or want.  We feel like we are well equipped to “do” what God is calling us to “do.”  What we will DO, however, will ultimately not be what impacts lives and changes people.  It’s what God’s supernatural power that lives in us will do as we sow and water the seed God gives us.  The people in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, waiting to hear the life changing message of hope found in a relationship with Christ will find it through our efforts of providing an environment of love and acceptance.  They will find it through relationship and encouragement.  They will love our kids ministry and our church services because they will be excellent, fun and full of life.

Ultimately, the supernatural work that will be done is going to be through the Holy Spirit.  It’s Him who sets people free.  It’s Him who delivers us out of darkness and sets our feet upon the ROCK.  It’s the Lord who will make our church grow and the people inside it come into the saving knowledge of Christ.

As scary as it is to move forward in faith and step into planting a church, the pressure is really off.  We will do all of the things we have been taught.  We will work hard, that’s for sure.  We will make wise decisions and strategically put together our plans.  We will budget well and spend money responsibly.  We will cast vision and recruit strong teams.

But unless the Lord is in it, we labor in vain.  Unless we give ourselves to HIM and chase after His voice each and every day, we toil with no return.  The discerning has to come through the Spirit.  The power of God comes through His supernatural work.