Thursday, September 29, 2016

Caught in Chaos

"The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies." -Napoleon Bonaparte

I am a full-time missionary... and there are some confessions I need to make. I don't know about you, but when I was younger and read about or watched missionaries, I thought they were full of FAITH. Well, technically they are.... but there is so much that we often don't see. I thought about how nice and easy it would be to work in an environment where everyone believes the same thing, where your whole focus on God. It would come naturally to read the Word, study and pray. I don't know if I am just a really young and crazy missionary who doesn't know how to do this missionary thing right or what but that wonderful place I just described isn't reality. Missions is messy!

Now don't go running away covering your ears or gasping in horror. Take a moment and listen. I believe missions is suppose to be a messy business. I know that sounds weird but its true. What is missions?? My pastor used to say "Ministry is People." People, as we all know too well, are a messy business. We are broken, anxious, too confident, not confident enough, and imperfect. As believers, we are called to go into the mess and bring hope. How on earth, in a position on the front lines of spiritual warfare, can we think everything is rainbows and unicorns??? Yeah, ministry is a messy business. But that is actually a rabbit trail.... The main reason for writing this is my own personal journey with the Lord. I have to be honest, I struggle. I know that isn't anything new to those who know me. Spend any amount of time around me and you know I am a mess! Half the time I call my interns by the wrong name, can't find my glasses and have about 50 sticky notes of "to do" lists because at heart I am a 85 year old lady who can't handle technology. Ya, I have problems. I am the first to admit it...normally. But as a missionary, as an intern coordinator, Sunday School teacher, former counselor, I hate to admit one area that I struggle with. That is my personal devotions. I harp on the importance of them all the time. I know how important they are. I love doing them. I love the idea of them. I love teaching about them. But for some odd reason I struggle to be consistent in them!!

It isn't from lack of desire. I desire to sit with my many Bibles, concordances, maps and various other recourses laid open all over my living room floor. I would love to have a never ending pot of coffee, many highlighters, cute notebooks and good ballpoint pens at my disposal as I search the scriptures. But (yes there is always a "but").... Honestly you could fill it in with many things. But I have a meeting. But this intern needs me. But I have a recruiting trip. But I need to get the schedule out. But I need to work on this fundraiser. But my house needs cleaned. But I need to call that family member I haven't talked to in a while. But I need to catch up with that supporter. There is always something. It never stops. I get so caught up in ministry. The older I get, the more I identify with Martha. Shoot, she was doing some awesome things. Things that needed to be done! Do you know how much work ministry is?? 24/7 I am available for interns. 10 interns in the program and all the interns who have graduated. I need to make sure I know where they are at, at all times. I need to know their spiritual and emotional and physical well-being. Make sure their schedules are put out and everything is outlined clear. Answer questions. Take phone calls. Check Facebook messenger. Grade papers. send out notifications. Schedule classes. Meet with potential interns. Go through applications. Update social media. Work on the website. Take pictures and post them. Call colleges about recruiting trips. Talk to camp directors about rotations. Plan weekend activities. Send birthday cards. Send encouragement cards and care packages. Send out receipts. Write thank you notes. Update supporters. Go to staff meeting. THINGS HAVE TO BE DONE. It is ministry. But in the midst of this I am supposed to set aside time to spend one on one with the Lord????

The problem is I have been thinking about it all wrong. I have serving the ministry and not my God. It sounds horrible, because it is. But it is something that I struggle with. I have a "here and now" mindset and not an eternal mindset. Does it really make that big of a difference? Absolutely!! When I focus on the earthly, here and now, deadlines must be met rather than my God's law. Things and tasks become the most important rather than people and their spiritual well being. I begin building a legacy, a ministry, a building, a company rather than realizing that I am an alien bound for another place. My soul existence is based upon Christ's imminent return!! Yes, deadlines need met and meetings must happen (I should work diligently as unto the Lord); but how can I not choose the greater thing and sit at the feet of Jesus?

When I begin to focus on the eternal (I must admit I am learning. There is no way I have mastered this yet!), I begin to see more clearly the spiritual warfare taking place. This summer the Lord taught me a lot about prayer. He began cultivating prayer in my life. Let me tell you, when you pray, you see God. You start seeing him everywhere! It was like my eyes were open to this giant war that was raging all around me. I began to realize that there was no way I could continue being an intern coordinator without consistent prayer. I just couldn't tackle the battle on my own. There is nothing I can do to change the heart or mind of an intern.... however, HE CAN. He can protect them. He can comfort them. He can guide them. He can change them. I can pray. Turns out the Lord is now convicting me of the same thing only with my daily devotions.

How on earth can I continue in this ministry, in the chaos, without Him! I mean being CLOSE to him. I need to sit at the feet of Jesus. As Martin Luther said, "I have so much to do today that I'm going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done." I don't know how this makes sense. The math doesn't add up. (not that I am that good at math.) I have more to do than the hours in a day. In my mind I should be maneuvering tasks so they don't take as long, not adding another item to my list that will take MORE time out of my day. Yet somehow, that is the key. It doesn't have to make sense. 1 Corinthians tells me that "God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength." 

I can't explain how it makes sense, I just know that it works. There are days that I still struggle. It isn't easy getting up earlier when interns love to hang out and stay up late but its worth it. Somehow it works; and I don't want to go back. I want to keep sitting at my savior's feet. Each day I want to choose what is better. Not my cup of coffee, not a phone call, not an extra 30 min of sleep. Those all might be good but they are pale in comparison to the ONE who is better.

"But one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her." 
-Luke 10:42

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Believer's Battle Cry

I am in a battle.

Not a battle against flesh and blood, but agains principalities and the dark forces of evil. Summed up... I am in a deep spiritual battle. I know these words are normal in a christian society but don't let them hit you and fall in the box of normality. Let them wash over as a new revelation. Being in a physical world, it is often hard to open our eyes to the spiritual warfare waging around us. But that is what is happening. SO PRAY. For PRAYER is what opens our eyes to see clearly.
"When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 
Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full or horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." -2 Kings 6:15-17

When we come to Father and begin engaging in the warfare, we begin to see things differently. I don't know how to accurately explain it and even if I could you wouldn't understand unless you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you. All I know is I am in a huge battle and its becoming more real to me moment by moment.

These past 2 months I have been on the road. I have been traveling from camp to camp, serving, encouraging, counseling. It is week 8... to say there have been bumps in the road is an understatement. It is hard to explain because a lot of what I have been dealing with is invisible. Nonetheless, it is very real. It is attitudes, character, trials, testing and temptations. As you can imagine, I am tired... more like exhausted. You know those times...those times when you are wore out, to the breaking point. That is where I am at.

When I am tired, all I want to do is take a break. I want everything to stop. I want to get away. The problem is, I can't. Not because I don't have vacation time, or because there are too many people around or too much to do. (Although most of those things are also correct.) It is because you can't stop in the middle of a battle, unless you want to lose. Everyone knows that.

When I get to that point in my life, I start slowing down. I begin to drag my feet and my eyelids flutter trying to stay open. My desire is for a break. My prayer becomes, "Lord, please let me rest. I need a break....." It wasn't until I talked to my mom and she reminded me that I can't do it. I can't win the fight alone. Then I remembered that I was in a battle and it won't stop until the Lord returns or He calls me home! That hasn't happened yet. So, I have to keep going! However, I don't have to go at it alone! I need to remember the God who goes before me and the God who stands behind me. I need to remember the God is always stands by my side. This God will fight for me! All I need to do is stand still....

So my prayer became, "Lord, help me. Don't let me quite. Help me fight. Arm me. Help me put on the belt of truth and the breast plate of righteousness. Fit on my head the helmet of salvation and strap on my feet the shoes fitted with the gospel of peace. Help me wield accurately the sword of the Spirit and help me hold up the shield of faith." In this moment, I felt revived. Because I was no longer fighting alone. Yes, I am still tired. But my God is fighting before me. He takes the blows. All I need to do is stand still...armed. ready. prepared.

For I am in a battle.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer Camp- The Beginnings

June 1st recently came around and besides all the happy anniversary remarks to my cousin on facebook, the birthday reminders, graduation pictures and engagement photos, I was reminded of a very pivotal moment in my life that started on June 2nd, 2012.

I had just arrived home from a semester at Bible College. I had just said goodbye to my friend Steven, who went to be with the Lord a year later, my best friend had just told me she was engaged and my cousin was getting married! It was a crazy year. My cousin, my best friend and I didn’t know it then, but my childhood friend, all would be married that year. They all now have adorable little kids who I love to pieces but that is for another story for another day. The very first of June was my cousins wedding and it was magical. I always waited for that day. We talked and dreamed about it as girls and then I got to watch it unfold before my eyes. It was perfection. The next morning, already wrecked with emotion, I found myself sitting on a plane headed for Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Late that evening, Mr. and Mrs. Pritt picked me up from the airport and we ran through a McDonalds drive through. It was dark so I couldn’t see a lot of the state but I did see big poles shaped into a Mickey head as we passed nearby Disney. That night I settled in their guest room on the lakefront of Camp Gilead. The next morning, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the lake and I sat on the covered porch and did my Bible Study. It was amazing. I was so blessed to be there. Mr. Pritt joined me and pointed out a swimming creature in the lake. It went from beautiful to terrifying as that afternoon that “swimming creature” was an 8ft gator they pulled from the lake! And then they had the audacity to tell me I would be swimming in there all summer and do life-guard training that weekend???? UHHH???? SAY WHAAAATTT?????? (really it ended up being fine, despite my Kansan freak out moment. But I'll explain that later on.)

That afternoon Mrs. Pritt showed me to Cabin 5. I walked in and saw pink letters on every bed. I found mine at the back of the cabin and opened it up to read a letter from none other than a Jamie Simmons. Little did I know the adventures that laid ahead of us. In fact, I barley saw her that Summer.... I didn't really know who she was until that Fall. But again, that I'll explain that later. I soon met Mama D or D'Anna, the girl head counselor that year. I love that girl to pieces. She did a fabulous job. Training week was incredible! There became a bond between us counselors like nothing else. It is a neat phenomenon, when you go to a new place where you no absolutely no one and yet suddenly they are your best friends, your family.

There are so many memories from that year of camp I could hardly begin to count them all. I do vividly remember practice witnessing with Caleb Jones (we were super hard on each other), and being attacked by Myles with a bucket of slime (that was exciting....) I also remember being asked by Lauren if there were people in Kansas.... KANSAS CITY!!! (only Camp Gilead people will get that....) I wore a different wig for every Wacky Wednesday and collected the beginnings of my I <3 Camp shirts. And yes, I swam in a Floridian Lake. In fact, I passed my waterfront life-guard training successfully! Over the course of the next three years I would swim across the lake and back both width and length. And I never once encountered an alligator. 

I am so thankful for where God has brought me. The ability to be able to be used to further His kingdom and be a part of raising up the next generation of leaders blows my mind daily! This year I will be a part of 8 weeks of camp at 8 different CBM Camps in 5 different States. Camp Gilead wasn't the first camp I worked at but it was monumental. God used that Camp to train me, prepare me, and lead me to where I am today. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In View of God's Mercy

Home. I love the sound of that word. It is amazing what emotions and feelings it can evoke. HOME means I am finally done traveling. HOME means warm and comfy and familiar. HOME means safety and security. HOME means its time to rest and refresh. HOME is just a really good place to be.

Home is a place but yet its not exactly what we think of in terms of places. You see, over the last year, home has grown and changed. I believe it is because God is working in my heart and life. He wants my home to change from the two-story white house with a red door at the end of the cul-de-sac in Derby Kansas, to a heavenly, eternal place: HIS PRESENCE. What has me pondering home once again? I guess its because I slept in my childhood bed last night, woke up and came down the familiar stairs to the kitchen. I used the old familiar coffee pot and sat down at the good old dining room table next to the french doors that give a magnificent view of the backyard I played in for so many years. Yes, its because I am HOME.

For any of you who have traveled, who have moved out of the house or out of the state and returned, you know what I am about to explain. No matter how familiar and comfortable home is when you return, the moment you walk out the door and engage in your once life.....well, you realize it's not the same. For some odd reason I thought life would stand still when I left; and when I returned, I expected everyone and everything to be just the way I left them. Honestly, that is pretty selfish and prideful of me. But, it is what I like to think.  If your anything like me, the first time it happened I kind of went into shock! lol

No, people don't stay the same. Cities don't stay the same. Roads, building and businesses don't stay the same. But, our GOD does stay the same. It has gotten easier every time that I come home. I realize that things don't stay the same. In fact, I am usually returning because someone is getting married, graduating, or a newborn has entered the family. For someone as....nostalgic as me, (I guess I really am a little Anne as mom always said) it really is hard to see all the changes and realize you have missed out on so much. It just causes me to ponder and realize some truths from Scripture that God has spoken over me time and time again as I have ventured out into ministry.

The first is somewhat of a recurring theme lately, even in my blogs. This world is not my home. Good grief, this phrase has rolled around over and over in my head causing havoc. If this world is not my home, than EVERYTHING changes. If this world is not my home, politics are just politics. If this world is not my home, there is no one place here that I can cling to. If this world is not my home, someone and something changes it should not phase me. If this world is not my home, I should never hesitate to move, or change positions or places. If this world is not my home, than everything I hold to for security, everything I depend on disintegrates. Does this mean I go through life hard and cold, not bonding with anyone, not caring about anything. ABSOLUTELY NOT! It rather means, I go through this world in wonder. It's honestly like a round the world trip with a cause or purpose. I am of course on a mission from my heavenly king. The king of my country has summoned me and commanded me to go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all His commands. I AM HIS. I AM FROM HIS KINGDOM. I SHALL RETURN WHEN HE COMES FOR ME. But for now, I am here. Yes, I am here on a mission but I am prone to wander.... How I pray that the Lord would continue to convict me and bring me back to His side.

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it

Seal it for Thy courts above" 
-Come Thou Fount

The second truth is found in 1 Kings 19. I love this passage! The call of Elisha is so powerful.... The moment Elijah's cloak covered Elisha, he KNEW! He knew he was not just covered he was called. He RAN after Elijah. Elijah asked him, "What have I done to you?" Elisha knew all too well. What a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us. He COVERED US. No, he did not force us to come follow him but when we recognize his covering, accept it and KNOW his MERCY, as Romans says, how can we not RUN after Him. "Therefore, I URGE you, brothers, IN VIEW OF GOD'S MERCY, offer your bodies as a living sacrifices...." All I have I now count as rubbish. Elisha then went back and burned his plow, killed the oxen. He gave up his means of living. He gave up is possessions. He gave up his status. He gave up is livelihood. He gave up his family heritage. He gave up EVERYTHING. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." -Luke 14:26
It's a difficult thing...sometimes I'm not sure I understand it. But as each year goes by, I realize more and more that I no longer want what I used to want. I no longer want that little white house on a piece of land in the middle of no where. I no longer want a piece of land to pass down from generation to generation. I no longer want that legacy, that homestead. Does it sound nice when I sit down and think about it? Yes, sometimes.... Yet, I know something better. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I want Him above all else. There is something greater in store. This is just the beginning. There is so much more. It isn't easy keeping my focus heaven-bound. But, is is necessary and worth it. 

This world is not my home I'm just a-passin' through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door

And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

No One Cares

"Our job is not to fight the world but to win the world."- Pat Marlow

Have you ever felt paralyzed? Have you felt forced to silence, because those around you honestly don't care what you have to say. So, why should we say anything at all? "Keep silent, you don't want to offend anyone," our society tells us. We all know that it is getting ridiculous and yet it this single conviction spreads pandemonium among us day in and day out. It's not girls who run the world, it is the belief that disagreement means disrespect. The minority has become the majority. Follow me here... listen to what I have to say and take it with a grain of salt. Remember that my blog posts are not the Word of God but the opinions of someone seeking Christ. Take it, examine it, test it against the scriptures. If the Lord uses it, may He be praised. If you find something you believe untrue than throw it out. I am not putting myself up to be God or anything near him. I have studied His Word, I desire to be in His near presence, and I pray that I am like the men of Issachar, who knew the times and knew how to respond. I believe there is a time for everything and season for everything under heaven. There is a time to be silent... and a time to speak. I believe it is now time for me to speak. 

The real church is starting to go underground. But guess what, that isn't a bad thing. Every time believers have to go underground due to persecution, the church grows. I am not a pessimist. I believe revival is coming. I hear it on the wind. Yes, there is so much uncertainty in this world but MY GOD is MY CERTAINTY. He will never leave me or forsake me and He is coming back for me! He is pruning. He is weeding. Yes, there are so many fakes. Yes, it seems like there are so many doing it wrong, giving us a bad name. But if you focus on Him you begin to see Him at work all around us! GUESS WHAT?!?! OUR GOD IS ON THE MOVE!!

“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed,”
 -The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 

Believe it or not that really isn't why I am writing this post. Really, I just want to set the stage. You see, I have been silent on the political front for too long. I have been praying that God would give me wisdom and discernment on how to say what I feel like needs spoken. First, I am so thankful that so many people care deeply about our country. I love this country and am proud to be an American. Yet, God has been laying upon me this past year that I am first and foremost a child of God. Y'all this world is NOT my home! My home is eternal and heavenly. Guess what else?? America, no matter how great, is NOT God's chosen nation. That would be Israel. Guess who came up with the idea of kings and presidents....that was a worldly, man-made philosophy. Or have you forgotten when the children of Israel asked for a king? 

 "...Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations."
 -1 Samuel 8:5

They wanted a king like OTHER NATIONS. When Samuel, utterly distressed and angry about the situation, went to the Lord, He told him that Israel had rejected God as their king. And here we are sitting around stressed out, arguing, battling each other over the next United States President. Yes, I know what you are going to say because I said myself for so many years. "We need and want people in leadership who believe what we believe so we don't have all this SIN filled laws. We don't want legislation that is corrupt." Well, neither do I. But this is the world.... Let the world run itself into the ground. It is eventually going to happen. We can't expect the world to act like us, to legislate like us, to live like us. We are called to be different, not to force everyone else to live like us whether they like it or not. WHAT???? I know, I'm talking crazy. I warned you in the beginning. Really it doesn't come down to policies, it doesn't come down to non-gender bathrooms, abortion activists or even gay marriage legislation. The fight we are fighting Paul warned us about in Ephesians 6. It is against principalities and the dark, spiritual forces in this world. It is a battle for the soul; a battle for the everlasting and the eternal not this country or its policies or legislation. Hello people! Our focus is all wrong here and Satan is continuing to have a hay day with us in this regard! His tricks are nothing new. From the beginning of time he has been dealing in half truths. Yes, life is precious. Yes, marriage is between one man and one woman. Yes, CHURCH leaders should be faithful to their wives and have control of their family. But this is a lost world we are talking about, not the church. In God's kingdom all these things should be held to and taught. They should be taught in every instance of our lives (Deuteronomy 6). God's kingdom is HIS people. In fact, in scripture it tells us that this world is under the control of Satan. This is his realm. And yet we are in shock because his realm refuses to abide by the law of God. They are not under that law! They are under the former law! They are slaves to sin. Something we have been freed from. Lets bring the fight to where it belongs! Lets grit our teeth, and out on our war paint. Forget about Trump and Hillary, Bernie and Cruze. Let us be overwhelmingly burdened with the souls of the lost. Who cares if they legalized gay marriage? Keep living out a godly marriage and teaching children the truth. Who cares about the bathroom debacle? Keep evangelizing every chance you have. Who cares if Trump is the worst republican candidate and the GOP is gone forever? Keep ministering in your local body. Who cares if welfare is in shambles? Keep meeting the needs of those around you. BE THE CHURCH! Stop looking to fix the spiritual issues of this nation through politics. It isn't going to happen. So yes. I will vote in November. But I am voting in a president not a pastor, for a country I am presently living in not for my home. 


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33