Thursday, June 20, 2019

Humility, The Better Teaching



I’ve noticed a trend as of late (or maybe not) that people have become so focused on themselves in so many ways.  Especially in ministry.  It has become quite disappointing and quite sad to say the least.  There are so many who are so me-focused that, and I say this often (and I guess not often enough), that they believe that people want to hear from them so much that they have to share what “God” has given them while they’re driving.  Nope.  God does not give you anything so important that you have to share it while you’re driving.  He would not risk your life nor the lives of others to have you share a message while you are driving.  So please let’s just stop that nonsense once and for all.  (Side note:  I really wish there was a way for me to start reporting all of those who do it, because I would, honestly.  Distracted driving is one of the prime reasons people are killed on the road these days, in particular, my Joseph.  And yes, I am very sensitive to that.  So now since that one is out of the way, let me continue).

I think we have gotten too prideful.  People are focused on themselves so much so, that every time they “minister” they have to take a picture of themselves to do so.  And it’s okay to take a picture of yourself.  But if you want to minister and share with people a thought from the Lord, why must you make it about you? 

It has even crossed over to those who minister in music.  Singers and gospel choirs.  The emphasis is so much on them.  The focus is so much on them and what they can do, their talent, their ability.  Where is God in that?  Where is the humility in it?  Where is serving in that?  It’s what they can get out of it. If it can bring them to the next level in their ministry.  If it can help them move up financially.  I’ve witnessed people with all the talent and not so much the anointing, because they lacked humility.  Humility give you the power you need to get the next level. 

People are spending too much time on their own selves trying to get ahead, on going up, increasing, getting to the next level.  Everybody wants to go higher in God, supposedly.  It is so important to them to get to the next level in ministry.  They say.  Nobody just wants to serve anymore.  It’s not enough to simply want to serve the people of God from where they are.  To simply be a servant of the Lord and minister.  God has called each one of us to be ministers of reconciliation.  Simply put, He has called every single one of us, titled or not, to bring someone into the kingdom of heaven, to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But so many are just interested in just wanting their face to be seen or to make money, or to get to the next level.  It’s not enough to be a servant, they have to have a title.  It’s not enough to be a deacon, they have to be a minister, or missionary or evangelist, or pastor, or bishop and now even that’s not even enough, now they have to be an apostle.  Last time I checked the only apostles were in the Bible with Jesus. But that’s for another time and another blog. 

Let me present this, what if we put all that energy that we have into teaching humility?  The energy we use in the videos we make we say that God told us to make while we’re driving (except not while we’re driving of course) and teach people what it means to be humble)?  The energy  it takes to snap a selfie to use to tell people in some soft encouragement that we’re not even walking in, that energy, to actually learn and study humility?  What if we took all that energy that we use to try to get ahead, to try and study the Greek and the Bible in every language, to attain more knowledge to grow closer to God, and simply just started becoming more obedient to His will?  What if we ourselves just became more submissive to the Word of God, to God Himself?  What if we actually used a little more of that energy to humble ourselves?  To dig deeper into the things of the Lord and get to know more of His ways?  And begin to practice walking them out. 

Jesus was a humble man.  He was the perfect example.  The Bible says He humbled Himself in the form of a servant.  There’s a thought.  What if we actually followed that example and humbled ourselves in the form of a servant?  Ouch.  Not too many of us like that term.  And there lies the problem.  We don’t want to serve, but we want to “minister.”

But look it up.  To minister means to serve.  If you want to be a minister you must first be a servant.  And to be servant, you must humble yourself.  But if you humble yourself, truly humble yourself, then perhaps, God will exalt you.  Isn’t that what the Scripture says?  Humble yourself and in due time, I will exalt you.

God will exalt you to where you want you to be.  It is He that exalts.  There is no reason for you to do it.   God will bring you to the next level.  It is He that elevates and promotes, not us.  We are to serve.  Him.  His people.

If we humble ourselves, and walk in humility, exercise humility, live it, we will teach others humility as well, and maybe it won’t be so much about getting ahead or atop, or above anymore, but, below…. Right where we belong.  At the feet of Jesus, listening and ready to do the Father’s will, because that is what true humility is all about.  Doing the will of the Father.  His Will.  His Word.  His Way. 
It’s not so much about going up but staying low. 

And the other thing about staying low, being humble, you can probably relate better to those that are in the valley. 

God is real.

A servant of the Lord, still,
Sis. E

Copyright 2019

www.butgodisreal.com


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
http://butgodisreal.com

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

Copyright 2019



Friday, February 15, 2019

His Grace Is Sufficient


Now since the holidays have passed, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and what would have been birthday year 26, feels like I can move on and breathe again.  Another season in the books without my Joseph… . But we made it through by the grace of God. Approaching another year without him.  Year 4.  Year 4 for us without him.  Life forever altered by befores and afters.  Withs and withouts.  Death has a way of changing how you look at the calendar and the seasons.

Was a rough patch for a while.  A rough season.  A hard time filled with memories of other lost loved ones.  A sister, a brother, a mother-in-law, whom we lost in the span since we’ve lost our Joe.   Then there were visits to the ER, to the doctors (multiple), to ambulatory care units and then diagnoses… one, two, three… all in the midst of this season of just a few months, “my season of despair,” I called it.  Someone called me Jobette.  Sort of felt like that for a minute, still do on some days, but God.  Covered by His grace.

And yet even in the midst of all of that, my family and I got to take a family vacation to Aruba, (far away from last year’s trip to Chicago).  Weather was ideal, no lower than 78, no higher than 82.  Perfect temperatures for the beach, where we spent most of our time.

The beach relaxes me, you know.  It’s almost like I belong there.  Like I was born there or something.  It’s what I call my little piece of heaven on the earth.  Mi paraiso.  And I suppose it’s as close to paradise (and Joseph) as I will get.  For now, anyway.  So I’ll take it any chance I can.
Looking at the sand on the beach, I saw myself as a child just sitting and playing in it.  I’m sure you’ve seen how children sit in the sand and are content to just sit there playing in it.  Totally oblivious to what is going on around them.  That is where God had me.  That is where I felt like I was.  In the sand.  A child playing in the sand.  Twirling my stick, oblivious yet aware.    And God has sat me there in the midst of all the things that are happening all around me.  I don’t know why they’re happening.  There is nothing I can do about them happening.  Right now anyway.  I’ve just got to go along with it.  But in order to go along with it, sometimes you’ve got to get out of the way.  And so I sit.  In the sand, where God has placed me.  Twirling my stick until God comes along and says it’s time to move on.  And tells me to put the stick down. 

Truth is, it is only then that we can move on. That we can do anything.  When God says so.  We can only move by His grace.  Until then, we must be content to simply sit and wait…
I don’t why things happen.  Still don’t.  I don’t know why my Joe had to die, but I’ve learned  something from it.  And I’m learning some other things, which you will hear about soon.  God’s grace has been moving in my life in ways I had not seen BUT by His grace.  His grace is sufficient.
I don’t know why we have to suffer and suffer so much at one time.  Back to back, to back to back.  I do know that the Word says that Jesus suffered.  And that He learned obedience through the things He suffered.  Maybe that’s one reason.  Seems a harsh way to learn obedience.  But I’m not God.  His ways are not my ways, neither are His thoughts my thoughts.  Who am I to question them? But thankfully in the midst of the suffering, God’s grace comes along and lightens the load.   Never gives you more than you can bear.  His grace is sufficient.

In this season, in these few months all I’ve heard and keep hearing is, “My grace is sufficient.”    I open the Word and read it.  I hear it from a preacher.  I heard it out of my husband’s mouth.  In devotionals.  From things I just happen to pick up and read.  From the very mouth of God.  “My grace is sufficient.” 

In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 7, the Apostle Paul speaks of a thorn that he believe he had.  That thorn could have been an illness, could have been a shortcoming, an annoyance, the Bible doesn’t say; but Paul said to God, “Three times I asked you to take it away from me.”  Three times… the number of the divine.  His divine will.  Each time he asked God told him, “My grace is sufficient.  For when you are weak, then I am strong.”  Then Paul got this revelation, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  His grace is sufficient.

Everything you need, everything you are going through, everything you shall face… God says, My grace is sufficient.   That shortcoming… My grace is sufficient.  That hardship, that persecution, that trouble… My grace is sufficient. 

Your broken pieces… My grace is sufficient.  Your missing ones… My grace is sufficient.  Your health challenges… My grace is sufficient.  Your financial burdens… My grace is sufficient.  Your loved ones… My grace is sufficient.

Just continue to play in the sand (as I have) until it’s time for Me, until it’s time for My grace to move you on.  My grace is sufficient to do so.  My grace is sufficient to keep you.  Sufficient to hold you.  Sufficient to lighten your load.

His grace is sufficient.  For you.  And His grace is sufficient for me.

Because God is real, I am, still,
His servant,
Sis. E

www.butgodisreal.com
www.intheshadowofgrief.com

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