Friday, May 31, 2019

These Thorns

These Thorns

Every year God allows the women’s ministry of our church, The Favoured Women of God, to host a Women’s Tea, sponsored by our church, On Good Ground Christian Fellowship, where my husband is the pastor.  Not that it matters, (but it does), you don’t need a lot of people, nor a lot of money, nor to host a fundraiser (ouch…) to do the will of God, you just need those who are willing and those who dare to believe Him, but I will save that for another day and another blog. 

Anyway, God speaks as He does about things that we are going through and deals with us throughout the year at our women’s meetings on various topics from a personal standpoint and allows us to share with others what He has shared with us.  He then gives a vision as I create the save-the-date, flyer or whatever promotional material I feel led to do or is needed.  A few months before the Tea, I posted the Save-the-Date on a website I was and had been a member of, as I normally have with past women’s events.   I went back a few weeks later after creating the flyer for the Tea to update my post on the site and posted the flyer to the Tea to the upcoming events page.  A  week or so later I had made some changes and wanted to add some things to the post, so I went back to the event site, and my flyer was missing, then I tried to go the ministry page to where I was a member and I could not find it.  I then realized that not only had my flyer been removed, but I had been removed as well.

These Thorns.

I was both shocked and disappointed.  One because no one had the courage to say anything to me.  And two, because this is supposed to be a site where women encourage one another, where they help one another to minister to other women (using their talents and abilities through ideas about ministry events concerning women)… something that the Tea, our women’s Tea, our purpose, is designed to do. 

So I had these questions.  And I’m not really asking them of you the reader, but just putting it out there as a Selah moment.  “Something to pause and calmly think about” as I was taught by one of my pastors,  Dewey Lane from Alexandria, Virginia. “How can you minister to women if a picture of a woman will appear as offensive to you?  How can you reach somebody if the very person you are trying to reach does not come packaged the way you expect them to be?”  How can you expect to encourage someone in their walk, or even in the talent and ability, if you strike them out, before given them the opportunity to see where they’re coming from?”  Hmmmm…

The picture is featured above and depicts a women dressed in a bathing suit with thorns coming out of her body from different spots.  It represented the theme of our Tea, and how as women we are stricken with thorns, all kinds, but like a rose, are yet beautiful because God has made us that way.  But if we allow Him to deal with us, BY HIS GRACE, we can be healed of those thorns, as we were taught, and they can become, scars. 

These thorns, prickly and ugly, as they can be sometimes represent all the issues that we as women can have and that we deal with.  Women have some issues.  Mary Magdalene had some issues.  And she wasn’t the only one.  But if the women (the leaders in this ministry group), cannot see past issues, who are they ministering to, who are they really trying to reach?  If we can’t see past the ugly, “these thorns” who are really trying to reach?  Each other?  Jesus would not have turned me away from that group.  He would have welcomed me with open arms.   “Come on in, daughter.”  Which is what they should have done.  And I believe they failed.  By the way, I have contacted them three times (three times I asked of the Lord, Paul said)… and I have yet, received a response. 

Ministry is not clean.  It’s not flowing and pretty.  A lot of the artwork and flyers I see in their ministry group are just that, pretty and clean, and they serve its purpose.  Women like pretty stuff.  And we had some pretty stuff at our tea.  But every now and then we’ve got to get to the heart of the matter.  And go to where it hurts.  We’ve got to touch where people where they are.  Hurt as they do.  Prick their thorns, no matter how inappropriate that picture may appear to be. 

So I’ve been blocked.  Not the first time.  Certainly won’t be the last.  I’ve gotten used to people liking me one day, disconnecting from me the next.  It’s something about being in ministry.  Sort of goes along with the calling.  Hubby preached a word at recent Bible Study, I’d rather please God.  Because if I try to please man, I do an injustice to Him and myself.  I’ve got to be me.  Nobody can do me better.  Not the first time, I’ve been blocked from a person’s life.  Not the first time I’ve been block from a ministry site, probably won’t be the last.  But you know what, persecution is a thorn too and I’ve learned, and am still learning, God’s grace is sufficient, even for that. 

God is real.  And He’s real good at turning “These Thorns” into “These Scars” so I won’t go around pricking and hurting people. 

Still, the Lord’s servant,
Sis. E

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sleeping With the Enemy

Sometime ago there was a movie with Julia Roberts called “Sleeping with the Enemy.” The title is kind of weird for the movie because it really had nothing to do with what happened in the movie. For those who never saw it, SPOILER ALERT, it’s an old movie, released in 1991. After faking her death in order to flee from her violent husband, Martin (played by Patrick Bergin), Julia Roberts character, Laura, leaves Cape Cod and moves to Iowa, where she creates a new identity and starts dating a local teacher named Ben (played by Kevin Anderson). Martin begins to discover that Laura isn't dead and tracks her down. But Martin has some real OCD issues, which is why Julia Roberts leaves in the first place. Why it’s called Sleeping with the Enemy, I don’t know. Maybe because at one point, she is forced to have to stay with someone she considers her enemy. Someone against her. Someone against everything she believes in. Hmmmm. But whatever the case, it was a very good movie and worth watching.
The Bible says “how can two walk together except they be agreed.” Which simply put means, how can you walk in peace or in unity with someone, unless you are walking in agreement, believing the same thing or being of the same mind. I found myself of late chewing on this Scripture. Coming off of the Tea Party that our Women’s group, the Favoured Women of God were able to host recently, still meditating on the Word of God shared by Evangelist Lillie Bonds, “Thorns vs. Scars” and even meditating on our theme, “These Thorns” and how the grace of God is sufficient. All of this has me in the Spirit realm.
God has been showing me so much and He has been speaking in so many directions and on so many other levels. But isn’t that so like Him? (Side note: Don’t ever put God in a box, looking for Him to speak in just one way or to answer one specific question. God will give you that answer and give you a host of other answers to questions you didn’t even ask). Anyway, the battle is real in the Spirit, even as far as what is going on with the abortion law and women’s rights and the political arena. It’s so much more than what it appears to be. This is a spiritual battle. We are in spiritual warfare and it has been that way for years. But let’s not get off topic, even though I feel as though I’m right there. Sleeping with the Enemy. How can two walk together except they be agreed? That’s the question.
Many are walking in agreement with the enemy. Yep. It’s all over the place. Right before your eyes. People are sleeping with the enemy. Agreeing to his word. He has one too. Chock full of lies. Agreeing to what he tells them to do. His silent whispers. They’re walking in bitterness. In shame. Walking in unforgiveness. Walking in darkness. Walking in untruth. Walking in guilt.
He is whispering things to them in the middle of the night. Going to bed with them. They are laying down with him. Under the covers. As they pull the sheets over their heads to go to sleep, he is right there, whispering. Kissing them. Cuddling with them. Filling their heads and their hearts with lies. I can hear him. “It’s not going to be alright. You are all alone. You are not that strong. You can’t do it on your own. They don’t care about you.”
If you are listening to all of this, you are sleeping with the enemy and it’s time to wake up. Time to stop agreeing with the lies he’s telling you. You know the Truth. It’s time to come out from underneath that blanket of darkness and open up those blinds. Let the light in. Let the Truth in. Even if it hurts you.
You know that I thought that the movie had nothing to do with it, but look at God, because it does. Throughout the movie, Julia Roberts was always afraid. Afraid of what she was feeling. Afraid that the enemy would always come back. Afraid that she would be found out. Afraid to face him. And the horror she felt when she realized that she was found... it was all over her. But she knew it was either her or him. One of them had to go. She had to come out of agreement with him. Come out of agreement with what SHE was allowing him to say to her. To do to her. Even if it meant it would hurt her.
But once she did, she came into alignment with the Truth. The light of who she was. She realized she was nothing of who that enemy said she was. She was no longer sleeping with the enemy. She was defeating him. Defeating the enemy and winning. And you can too. But you have to stop sleeping with him, first.
Because how can two walk together except they be agreed?
Walk with God. Agree with God. Because God is real and God is good.
A servant of the Lord,
Sis. E

Friday, February 22, 2019

Hear Me

God spoke to me recently from the story of 1 Kings 19, where Elijah was on the mountaintop.  It’s a funny thing how God meets you where you are and desires to comfort you in that place.

Elijah had been running from Jezebel and got to a place where was just tired.  Tired of running, and he said to the Lord, “I have had enough Lord.  Take my life, for am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”  Then the Scripture says an angel of the Lord came to him and told him to eat (and drink). For the journey ahead of him is too much for him. The Scripture doesn’t say that he needed to eat again, it doesn’t say that he was tired anymore.  God fed him and sustained for 40 days. The food and drink that God provided gave him enough strength to travel 40 days and nights until he arrived to Horeb, the mountain of God, then met God at a cave.  Know this, IF God provides for you, it’s going to be enough to sustain you for whatever time or function is needed.

Then the Lord appeared to Elijah and God said, “What are you doing here?”  Funny how God asked Elijah what he was doing there, when God was the one Who sent him there.  God has a purpose for bringing us to the things He brings us to, He asks us the questions to see if we know.  And Elijah said, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty.  And then he starts talking about the people and how they rejected God’s covenant, and torn down altars and did this and that, and then he says and I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”  Isn’t that just like us, blaming stuff on people, pointing the finger at them and then say how they’re out to get us. Hmmmm.

Then God tells Elijah to go before Him on the mountain, and we know what happens, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm came.  But the Lord was not in the wind.  Then an earthquake, then a fire, then finally the sound of a gentle whisper.  And that’s where God was.  My hubby, Pastor Jeff, did a four-part series on the Hearing the Voice of God and how important it is to hear Him speak.  God speaks in a whisper.  With all these things going on, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper.   Seemingly back to back, the windstorm, the earthquake, the fire, because the Scripture doesn’t break, much like our lives.  Things happen, back to back.  And God speaks in the midst of it all, in a whisper.  Do we hear Him?  Are we hearing Him?

Then God asked Elijah again, “What are you doing here?” Same exact question as before.  God wanted to know if Elijah’s answer was going to change.  Did Elijah hear Him?  But Elijah gave the same exact answer.   The SAME EXACT ANSWER.   How many times has God asked us a question, presenting us the opportunity to change our responses but we give Him the same answer?  The same exact answer.

Then God sends Elijah back the same way again, almost dismissively, answering his complaint, the same complaint as before, of being the only one, but letting him know, he yet had a job to do.  So go on back and do it. He said to Elijah, “Go back the way you came.. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Mehola to succeed you as prophet…  Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”  And in His mercy and His grace (for it is SUFFICIENT), He gives Elijah help.

Spoke to me in so many ways.   Sometimes we get to the point in ministry, in life even, that we are tired.  Tired from ministry.  Tired of fighting.  Tired of trying to tell people about God and they refuse to listen.  Tired of serving.  We feel alone.  Like we are the only ones doing things.  We feel used.  Abused.  Let down.  We feel like someone of the enemy is always out to get us and we get to the place where Elijah did, just plain tired.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  I don’t want to fight anymore.  Just end this now, Lord.  Take me away from here.  Take me out of here.  And God in His sovereignty, and comfort, provides for us.  He shows us and gives us something to sustain us (His grace is sufficient… there it goes again).  A word, food for the Spirit.  Something to build us up, to encourage us.  Then once He sees that we are built up, He send us on our way to the next place He has for us.  A place where He can do further work to build up our character and make us more like His Son.  More like Jesus.  Isn’t that what all this is about anyway?  To be conformed into the image of the Son.  He brings us to a place of solitude to do that.  Where the only place we can turn to, is Him.  Where the only thing, the only One we can see is Him.

Elijah was in the cave.  Alone.  Then God does all these things before Him.  Right before His eyes.  And they were destructive things.  A windstorm.  The Scripture says that it was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind.  Then God sends an earthquake, and we know how destructive they can be, we’ve seen the destruction with our natural eyes.  Then God sends a fire following it, all of this right before Elijah’s eyes.

God allows us to go through things.  Turbulent things. Destructive things.  And things happen right before our very eyes, but in the midst of these things, God wants us to see Him.  To hear Him.  In the midst of all the noise, He spoke in a whisper.

And so He asks Elijah again, (as He does with us), to see if he “heard” anything.  Because He wants Elijah to know, I am with you, Elijah.  In the midst of the storm, raging in your life, I am with you.  Hear Me.  In the midst of things breaking apart; the ground falling apart beneath you, I am with you.  In the midst of the fiery furnace, I am with you.  You shall go through the fire, but you will not smell of smoke, I am with you.  HEAR ME.

God is with you.  In the midst of whatever it is you are going through, He says, “I am with you.  Hear Me.”

Oh, that we would hear.  Praying for the ears to do so.  God is real and He is speaking….
A servant of the Lord,

Sis. E

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