Monday, July 30, 2012

Off with the dried up's time to get some LIFE!!!

The summer has been a whirlwind of trips, camps, etc and we are not quite done with those...eventually I will blog about them and share some of the highlights; however the past few weeks God has been showing me something and I feel that now is the time to share, so here we go...

Now, it's not all to often that I get down to the nitty gritty dirty side of ministry here on this blog. I just don't because honestly I don't like to focus on that or even really acknowledge it at times to be honest. Yet, just like when our house is DIRTY (ummm...which it currently is!) we have to address it, we have to acknowledge that it is time to do some serious cleaning (volunteers to clean my house are welcome) so it is with life within the church or the family of God. We gotta acknowledge that there is some cleaning up that needs to be done...this is the direction of this post.

The past 6 months have honestly been pretty "dirty" in our current ministry. It seems that there has been one blow after another and people are be completely honest....they are just plain NEGATIVE about a lot of things. We have had families moving (for legitimate reasons like job changes), we have had people leaving our church (various reasons), we have had staff resign and move on to different ministries (all God led), we have had criticism within our area of ministry (some legitimate, others not so much), we have had backbiting, accusing, gossiping, etc. I think you get the picture and if you are brutally honest - I bet your church has been there too. (we have yet to serve in a church that hasn't). In fact, last week I looked at Joel and said "I feel like we are these two cheerleaders standing on the side lines saying 'GO GO hang in there, you can do it' and meanwhile everyone else is hanging up their uniforms and walking away, the crowd is booing and hissing, and well there is a spirit of defeat. I have heard "it's just so sad", "well we shouldn't be surprised", etc. I  even have found myself thinking "time to lay down the pom poms and give up"...gulp, I know!

However, in all of His wisdom and in His infinite timing my HERO, MY SAVIOR, MY KING OF KINGS has stepped in and shown a light in the darkness...He has opened my eyes to some spiritual truths that had faded in the midst of the darkness.

The first one comes from a passage that I have gone to frequently when I get tired and worn from doing ministry - Galatians 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." As long as there is an opportunity - we are called to do good, to serve, to lift up ESPECIALLY those who are part of our family! We aren't supposed to hang our heads and walk away, we aren't supposed to live in the negative, we aren't supposed to say "oh well - we gave it a good run". We are to KEEP ON KEEPIN ON! 

The second scripture that He showed me came from a sermon I heard yesterday while on our youth mission trip - Ezekiel 37:4-14

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord. ’”

This was a two step process, first the bones came together and tendons and flesh appeared BUT there was no breath in them. They were a skeleton, a shell, a body - yet no life. It wasn't until the breath entered them that they were full of life. He then paints a picture of not only where our local church is but where I believe where many of our churches are. Verse 11 spoke so loud to me - 'our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, we are cut off'....but  hang on because the LORD is coming like a knight in shining armor..."I am going to open your graves and BRING YOU UP from them; I WILL bring you back to the land...I WILL put my Spirit IN YOU and you WILL LIVE, and I WILL settle you in YOUR OWN LAND.." 

God is not by any means done with First Borger and I don't believe that He is done with your church either. He HAS NOT left us for dead, He has NOT walked away...He IS doing something new, He IS raising up a church that will be a beacon of light in the dark, He has a plan and it WILL NOT return void. I believe that it is time to call upon Him, ask Him to raise up our dry and weary bones, shake the dust and decay and have the Spirit breathe LIFE into our bodies! 

I hear it now, yes you, the one saying "but you just don't get it, you don't understand how long we have gone through this battle, we are tired and weary and we are done." YES I get it...17 years of ministry I have walked the battle scars, the wounds, the weariness, the defeat BUT when I am there is when HE IS BIGGER, HE IS STRONGER, and HE BREATHES life into my bones! I have looked and have yet to find a time where God instructs His people to give up and just walk away and remain dead - He may call us to  a different town, or ministry but we are never told to hang our heads and walk away in defeat - HE IS THE VICTORY! We can keep in the game, keep fighting the battle because we know the end - we know that it is already won! 

So - here is what I say to those who are members at First Borger and to those who are struggling either in your church or in life - Call upon the Lord and He will answer, ask Him to breathe life into you and your church, raise up your weary body and let HIM breathe new and fresh life into you!!! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mighty Warrior!

The past few weeks have had Joel and I reflecting...Why? How come? What's next God? Where is this going? Who? When?

Yep, we have asked those and much more. It's been a time of wondering and reflecting and questioning and most of all...trusting! We are trusting in a BIG and MIGHTY God to do BIG and MIGHTY things in spite of the doom and gloom, in spite of negative circumstances, in spite of some fierce looking giants and most of all IN SPITE of our WEAKNESSES.

This past week one of the devotions I get through e-mail had this passage in it.

"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. ”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you , and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”" Judges 6:12-16

I have heard the story of Gideon many times; however typically when we pick up the story it is with Gideon laying out the fleece and in a sense testing God. This passage actually precedes that part. You see, here Gideon is told by the angel he is a MIGHTY WARRIOR

Wait? Did you see that? Gideon who comes from the WEAKEST tribe and is the LEAST in his family is called a MIGHTY WARRIOR by the Lord! 

Of course, I can SO relate to Gideon's response! Instead of going "Alright God, let's do this thing!" Gideon questions God and reminds Him of how little he is, and all that they have already been through! YEP...that would be me.

"God, how can you POSSIBLY ask ME to do THIS? Don't you know how weak I am? Don't you see all these obstacles in the way? HELLO???" 

However, despite Gideon's doubts and fears I LOVE God's response...  16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you , and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”" 

God says, go ahead, I am with you and you WILL be successful!!! Not maybe, not possibly but you WILL!!!

God says, Go in the strength you have; I am sending you!

This was a timely passage for me this week. I had began to focus on all that has gone wrong, all that wasn't happening, all the many "enemies" that we faced....I had lost sight of the ONE who has sent us and called us! The strength I the the strength that comes from the ONE who lives within me!
"I can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives me STRENGTH!" Philippians 4:13.

I don't want to be like Gideon in the rest of the story...testing and questioning! I want to move ahead into the battle HE has called me to!!!

As I shared this with Joel, he shared another timely story that God had shown HIM... The story of Joshua and Caleb. Remember that one? All the other scouts saw the many giants and saw no way of overtaking the land...Joshua and Caleb saw the harvest, the wonderful things that they could do once they overtook the land! What a beautiful reminder - looking at the giants through the eyes of Joshua and Caleb!

Not focusing on what IS but focusing on WHAT CAN BE! 

In ministry, as in all areas of life, it is so easy to focus on all the negative. The families or members that we are losing, the financial obstacles, the giants that are hiding behind the corners, all that is not going on....Yet that is limiting Our Father!

We need to be like Gideon, Joshua and Caleb....we need to rely on the strength HE has given us, the calling HE has placed on our lives, and press forward knowing that because of Christ, each one of us are a


Don't let the giants and negative blur your vision...though none go with you, though you may be weak and not from a strong background - GOD IS WITH YOU AND YOU WILL WIN!!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

For such a time as this...

July 17 will be the one year mark - of us moving to Borger. Wow!

This past week I was asked if it seemed like it had been a year. To be honest, I really had to stop and think for a moment before I answered. There is a part of me that says I can't believe it has already been a year and yet at the same time, there is a part of me that says - ONLY A YEAR! Ha ha - just being honest here.

Let me expand a bit:

There is a definite part of me that has yet to truly "embrace" Borger and call it home; however, if you have been in ministry any length of time you know that there really isn't a "home" you just go where God leads when He leads. Home to me will always be Southwest Colorado - it is truly where my heart is. That being said, God has shown me through 17 years of ministry and marriage that He can make anywhere home if I am willing to allow Him to do so. In this sense, then yes Borger has become our home.

Yet, I still drive by the hotel we stayed in for interviews and our first two night here and think wasn't that just yesterday that the kids were playing in the pool? It couldn't be a whole year of LIFE has passed since then!

These are the parts that say has it already been a year...

The part that says ONLY A YEAR? That part is the one that looks back and ponders all that our family and church have gone through during that time. We have had multiple struggles with schooling (not expounding on those - read previous blogs for that!) We have had Joel's immediate supervisor move on to another place of ministry - let me just say being the one left behind is far harder in my opinion now that I have been on both sides! There have been multiple leadership changes within the church and we have seen families we got close to move or are preparing to move...When I consider all this, I have to say how in the WORLD could all that have taken place in a 12 month time?

In the same conversation I was asked if I felt settled here...Again, I had to ponder that. You see, I am going to give you an insight into ministry. Typically minister's can refer to their first year at any new position as the "Honeymoon Time". This means that during the first year you can coast, things are new and growing, it's a time of a lot of ups and very few if any downs. Borger has been different for us. Don't get me wrong we have seen some ups and things have grown but we have also seen a lot of downs both personally and in ministry. So - settled? I don't think so not by any stretch of the word; however, I CAN say that God has proved over and over that this is where He called us! Many times I have thought of Mordechi telling Esther "Perhaps God has placed you here for such a time as this." It is my belief that God placed Joel and I here in THIS church with THESE people FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. If you recall the story of Esther, these words were NOT spoken during a time of rest, success, or when things were looking up - they were spoken in a time of crisis, a defining moment for Esther, a time when she would have to step out into a stormy situation and trust the Lord for guidance and direction. I can resonate with that!

It is MY belief that God has called Joel and I into a situation that is rocky and insecure at times to say the least. In fact, I would venture to guess that He is calling ALL CHRISTIANS to take a step and trust HIM during a time of uncertainty, a time of crisis, a time of uncertainty, a storm! Look at our Nation and our World...the situation is volatile...things could figuratively and literally explode at any given time. Yet God is calling us as believers "For such a time as this!"

Back to the question - do I feel "settled"? No, but then again I am not sure that any of us as Christians will feel settled until we reach the Kingdom of Heaven and I am not sure I want to! What I mean is this - I don't want to grow complacent with where I am at in any area of life - I don't want to settle and realize one day that I am so settled, I have become stuck! I want to live a life that is ever changing and ever growing and always seeking what the Lord has in store next.

So, although not at a settled point and although this isn't Colorado - I am certain that Borger is where God has our family now during THIS time. I am content with the mission and ministry that He has set before us. I am certain and sure that our work here is far from finished. With that in mind - I eagerly and enthusiastically say - THANK YOU LORD FOR CALLING US TO BORGER! I truly look forward to seeing God's purpose and plan in all that has transpired - I know that He has something BIG in mind because Satan has done his best to discourage and dissuade us from continuing on...FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS I will serve, I will obey and I will raise up my eyes and look ahead!