Thursday, March 24, 2011
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1
God had been speaking to me about tithing from every direction. One friend. A second friend. A third friend. Each one, not knowing the other, was talking about God’s call to tithe and His favor to pour. I was starting to get the message. Then the temple spoke.
In the same week as these conversations, God continued His calling through my church's tithe challenge. A “money back guarantee” they called it: “If you tithe over the next three months, and you do not see the blessing of God pour over your life; if you come back to us and say, “This scripture is wrong,” we will give you all of your money back. Blessings pour in ways that are specific to you – it may be financial, it may be relational, it may be physical, but God promises that He will open the floodgates over your life.”
…this was just over the top. God had already been overflowing my life with so much blessing and favor in the prior months. Becasuse God is my source, I knew this truth: It’s never about the money. It’s never because the church is asking, or in this case, daring. It’s never about giving to get. It’s all about His call and my obedience. This is the only was to respond.
So, on Sunday I joyfully brought my full tithe to the storehouse. On Wednesday, my boss announced my bonus. (I think that God has a particular affection for “waiting three days”). I was floored. The amount bestowed was four times my expectation! I knew immediately that this was God’s generosity; giving to me so that I could give more to Him. All Him.
On this day, He said very clearly, “When I call, listen and respond; trust and obey. My Word is true and trustworthy. I alone am your great reward.” How much more I fall to His feet and seek His face and grace over me.
Enjoy Him, Michelle firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Talk to God about your friends before you talk to your friends about God.
This weekend I called a friend to see how he was doing. Turns out, his life is in shambles. He is 60 years old. He is out of work, out of health, out of companionship, and, to him, out of hope. I met him where he was, at a local bar. I placed my coat on his shoulders, walked with him to a table, and watched despair cloud his face.
He asks: “What do I do? Join the Peace Corp? Tell me, Michelle, what do I do?”
I said, “I know that you pray your rosary every day. I know that you pray for me. I know that you believe that Christ came and died to save the world…”
He said, “Of course I do, I believe what my faith tells me that He came and died and saved us and we’re all set.”
I said, “That’s true. He did come and save us, but to receive Him, we have to ask Him personally to come into our lives. This is different than your every day prayers…”
He said, “I ask Him every day…I ask God to save me, every single day!”
I said, “You only need to ask Him once. Just once and He will flood your life with Himself. I know you believe He came and saved; tell Him that you believe. You asked me what do; this is what to do…”
He said, “You have the Good Lord in your heart…I have the devil.”
I said, “That’s the offer. Ask Him to come into your heart and He will take out that devil. Just ask…”
He said, “I will pray when I get home. I just want to go home. I know God has always taken care of me and He will take care of me. I just want to go home.” And with that, he drove away.
From that encounter, God revealed so much to me about revealing God to others. I know that there is much for the Spirit of God to work into this heart and life. I know, as I told my friend, that as long as there is breath, there is hope. I know that I followed in obedience and cast a mustard seed.
Still, there is so much that God spoke to me about speaking of Him.
I spent less time at God’s table than I did at my friend’s table. I spent more time scattering seed than I did soaking in God’s words. I was more anxious to see a result than I did to wait on the rain.
And the greatest of all...how much did I speak the Name of Jesus?
Very clearly, I got a powerful lesson – in beautiful conviction to my own heart – the power of the Name of Jesus. Only His Name removes the blinders. Only His name tears down the blockades. Only His Name tears down strongholds. Only His Name brings salvation. So simple. So powerful. So God. He brings such a greater praise and honor and glory to His Name! Praise Ha Shem (The Name), Praise Yeshua (Jesus), Praise Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
There is so much more known and to be known…as a lifetime of spending time with God produces His words through me…but in this encounter, I was drawn to know, praise and speak the powerful Name of Jesus over each that I encounter. Each one.
Enjoy Him, Michelle email@example.com
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
"Even though he knew what would happen, what heartbreak and suffering and devastation would follow upon our disobedience, God chose to have children. And unlike some hyper-controlling parents, who take away every element of choice they can from their children, God gave us a remarkable choice. He did not make Adam and Eve obey him. He took a risk. A staggering risk, with staggering consequences. He let others into his story, and he lets their choices shape it profoundly. “ – John Eldredge
A recent interview with Billy Ray Cyrus focused on his view of his daughter’s infamous life and the effects of her choices on their relationship. Not with blame, but with lament, pain, and regret.
He remembers the day she was baptized. He remembers her entering fame full of faith. He remembers the days when they resolved to be lights in a dark, dark world. Like a child’s “see-saw” – every inch the she rose, their relationship fell. He watched the storm slowly and surely roll in. He advised, but never forced, her, choices regarding her life and their relationship. Though he has chosen to step back and separate from her actions, he remains active in his love.
He continues to send her messages that read “Here if you need me” and “I love you still”..but they haven’t spoken since the latest scandal. He says that she’ll be home for Christmas, so maybe they’ll talk then. Meanwhile, he watches with the rest of the world, but not as the rest of the world. This time, he watches as her father, much more than her friend (admitting that he should have acted this way years ago).
Those that try to steer her life, literally called “handlers,” have told him that it’s “none of his business.” How much he filled with hurt, and all the more longing, to be a part of her life. Not as her manager, not as her friend, but as her Dad – the one and only heart connection between a father and child. “I would take back everything that tore us apart; I would take it back in a second, just to have us together as a family again.” His daughter followed up with an angry retort that her father has been cut off from her life. Anger. Hurt. Destroy.
Mr. Cyrus is admittedly flawed, especially in his own mistakes regarding the relationship. As God has used flawed fathers over time to illustrate His love as my Perfect Father, I saw a tiny smidge of His view over me.
I believe that I am who people say that I am, good or bad, and live my life accordingly. The more I rise, even in my own mind and in my own fame, the more I slowly and subtly ignore the advice of my Father’s words. I come into the day ready to be a light to the dark, and in some cases, I may be. But if I am not listening to Him, conversing with Him, living in love with Him…I begin to believe that the light is me (inflamed by my own fame) and not Him. I believe a lie, become a lie and live a lie. I snub and snuff out the true Light.
Inevitably, I’ll receive His messages, but not respond with messages of my own. I’ll be in my home, and He’ll be in His, not to meet except maybe on holidays for a week or two. Meanwhile...He really does hurt watching my life unfold without Him. I am too busy to notice or, quite honestly, to care. I know that He is there watching over me. What I don’t know is how much He only wants to be with me. It’s a focus shift – from what I think of Him to seeing how much He thinks of me. From a temporal to an eternal, this view changes everything when I see me through His heart.
He has taken back everything that has kept us apart. He took back my past, my present, and my future at the highest and hardest cost – more than I can imagine and certainly more than I dwell on. He waits on me to come running Home…just to sit across the table and talk. Not like it was, but like it is.
Nothing brings a father more joy than his child’s presence. Not to be good, but just to be with him.