Together as One

Together as One

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why do pastors.....?

We just returned from a Ministers' Enrichment Weekend and I wish I could give you a glimpse into why pastors go to weekends like this. 
Pastors and leaders gather from all over the United States and Canada.  From as far west as Oregon, as far north as Alberta and Toronto, as far east as Maryland and Virginia, and as far south as Texas and Florida they come.  Those who serve on boards or committees gather early to have their bi-annual meetings and make plans for the future.  As the men gather in their meetings, the women shop the little stores in the area or just spend time relaxing and enjoying the warm peace and quiet of solitude in their hotel rooms or places of lodging.
This year the place of gathering was in Arthur, Illinois, a little Amish and Mennonite community in the heart of Illinois.  Seeing the wide open fields for as far as you could see told you they were no small-time farmers here.  They were familiar with real farming.  Large implement businesses seemed to be in every little town, well-stocked for the coming spring.  We, from the south, had a special appreciation for the sunshine and higher than normal temperatures that graced us this particular weekend.
North Vine Mennonite Church bustled around every day preparing delicious food for lunch and dinners.  They served the meals in a very orderly fashion and looked like they were having fun doing it.  A weekend like this does not take place without much planning ahead of time and lots of work.  As you gather you glance over the crowd looking at who all came this year.  It is a special time of renewing friendships, encouraging each other, praying together, solving problems together, and playing games when we can. 
The theme this year was "Shepherding the Flock" so all topics and workshops were tied into this theme.  The first evening's message was "Christ-like Shepherding" by Leon Martin.  He did an excellent job of teaching how Jesus shepherded as our role model.  He gave us a lot to think about.   Due to much visiting afterwards, it is often 9:30-10:00 before you leave for your hotel.  You are greeted there by group of pastors and their wives unwinding.  The men usually pull their chairs into a large circle and their topics soon turn to current church things and events.  The women gather their chairs around a table or two and unwind with an interesting game of "Take One".  Sometimes we have to double check to see if a word is an actual 'word' or if it has just been invented.  Whoever is not in the actual game stands alongside and offers assistance to those playing.  This scene usually goes until 11:30 or midnight. 
Early the next morning we gather in the hotel lobby for breakfast before we leave for the convention.  Friday morning we get together in circles of which ever region we are from.   We represent the Southern Region with Sam Mast serving as our overseer.  Sam also serves as overseer of the west and far north so we had a large group.  Someone usually shares a few verses, we pray together, then churches take turns sharing what is  happening or needs they may have in their churches.  Due to the size of our group this year, sharing was rich but limited by time.  Following the Regional Meetings we gathered as a large group and listened intently as a brother shared his spiritual journey.  His openness, honesty, and humility was uplifting as he shared how God led his family through several 'unknown' times; you know, times that are tough and you wonder if God knows what He's doing, but then when you look back you can see that God clearly had your best in mind.  His testimony was refreshing.   Several times through the weekend we have prayer times, when we gather in groups of four to six.  It can be a mixed group or you can separate into men and women groups, and just spend time praying for each other in specific ways.  We were privileged to pray as couples, sometimes with new friends and sometimes with old friends from 'way back'.  It's always a special time. 
Often over meal breaks you plan ahead to eat with someone you specifically want to catch up with or spend time with.  Other times you just eat with whoever you sit next to and get to know them.  Sometimes personal sharing together gets extended into the next service time.  It is not unusual at all, at any given time, to see people praying together. 
Right after lunch Sam Gingerich shared on "Honor in Leadership".  This was a challenging message on how important honor is in our relationships.  It is amazing how much easier it is to share when we extend honor or are given honor and respect.
Friday afternoons consist of a variety of workshops.  It is very hard to pick only two of them when they all sound like something you would like to hear.   Our first workshop was "Pastors Promoting Purity".  Keith Beiler shared ways to be pro-active against the beast of pornography.  He did an excellent job of presenting the subject, covered it well, and offered numerous books, free of charge, for anyone who wanted them.  A generous Amish man donated the books to be dispersed as desired.  "Free"  was so refreshing because usually everything comes at a price and most things aren't cheap.  A short break later we went to workshop two which was given by Jason Reed on "Preparing Couples for Marriage".  It's the best I've ever seen offered.  I have been quite disturbed at some "pre-marital counseling".
After a two hour break which included dinner we gathered again for the evening session.  Jason Reed was the speaker and did an outstanding job on the subject of "Foundational Needs of the Sheep".  He offered an enormous supply of resources and invited pastors to edit his material and 'make it better'.  Our minds and hearts felt filled, pushed down, refilled, and packed full at the end of the session. 
We were both fighting colds and flu bugs so we 'wisely' went to bed early this night, although the next morning we heard about all we missed out on. 
Saturday morning began with the sound of rich singing and prayer, as every service did, then Jason Reed filled us up again with "Shepherding the Sheep" followed by a time of Q&A with Reed and Gingerich.  That, too, was very interesting.    After lunch another brother shared his spiritual journey, which was very good, then it was time for the Men's business meeting.  The men go over all the business part of BMA.   The ladies gladly make themselves scarce during this time (smile) and head to the Ladies' Tea.  We walked into a room beautifully decorated,  in a way that women appreciate, and lovely tables of delicate food and beverages.  At our tables are multi-colored papers that each of us are to write on;  words of encouragement that will be sent to missionary and pastors wives around the world.  After feasting and fellowshipping we moved into the auditorium where Mrs. Ulrich shared on "Lessons for Ministry Wives from Psalm 23".  It was so very fitting especially since she has a husband who raises sheep.  After her time we listened to a panel discussion on "Practical Ways of Caring for Women in Our Flock".  We jotted down tidbits as we listened to them share.  They gave us many practical ways to minister to ladies.
Time to eat again?!  As good as it looked, I skipped.  There was too much food accumulating in one spot in too short of a time.  After dinner we were treated to some special singing led by David R. Miller.  It was obvious that pastors are some incredibly good singers.  We enjoyed special singing each evening which we all enjoyed.  The evening message was "Authentic Shepherding" by Henry Blank.  What is 'legit' shepherding?  He did an excellent job.  People want and desire the real thing, the real Truth.   Then it was more visiting, more special little prayer meetings, more talking, then back to the hotel for..... more!
Sunday morning there were more times of good singing, prayer time, scripture reading then DestiNATIONS presented their program and introduced new people heading to the 'fields' and also missionaries who are home.  Sam Mast brought the final message of the weekend on "The Rewards of a Faithful Shepherd".  Due to coughs, colds, and many miles ahead of us, we opted to leave early this year.  Normally we don't leave until Sunday afternoon but this year we felt it would be wise to head for home early.  They were able to live-stream the morning service so we listened in as we traveled along.  We were glad we left early because the sickness got worse by the time we got home.
So now you know WHY pastors and leaders drive thousands of miles to gather together in one place. They leave feeling encouraged, refreshed, refueled, and ready to keep going.
If you have a pastor that is interested in attending Ministers' Enrichment Weekend... encourage them to come! 
(Soon all these messages will be available to listen to at  CDs and an MP3 are available, too, if anyone is interested.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Living Life on Purpose

Living Life on Purpose
Do I believe that I, along with every person on earth, have a specific purpose?  Do I believe that as a Believer I have a divine assignment and purpose?  Does every day count?  What is the meaning of life?

Read Psalm 139 with me....
"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know EVERYTHING about me.  You know when I SIT down or STAND up.  You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.  You SEE me when I TRAVEL and when I REST at HOME.  You know EVERYTHING I do.  You know what I am going to SAY even before I say it, LORD.  You go BEFORE me and FOLLOW me.  You place your hand of BLESSING on my head.  Such knowledge is too WONDERFUL for me, too great for me to understand! 
I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your Presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will GUIDE me, and your strength will SUPPORT me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-- but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night SHINES as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you.  You made ALL the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my Mother's womb.  THANK YOU for making me so WONDERFULLY COMPLEX!  Your workmanship is marvelous-- how well I know it!  You WATCHED me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You SAW me before I was born.  EVERY DAY of my life was recorded in your book.  EVERY MOMENT was laid out before a single day had passed. 
How PRECIOUS are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me."

I see "PURPOSE" all the way through those verses!!  I was born for a purpose; YOU were born for a purpose! 

What is Purpose?
Purpose is what God has purposed for me.  It is what I do purposely for the Lord.  It is not knowing every detail of my future but it is having hope, value, and intention in my every day life.

Why is it important to know that we have a purpose?
It makes me more intentional with my day, with the 'interruptions' that come my way.  It gives me courage to move forward, to keep walking, when life is hard.

Lately I have been reminded to stop and think...
It was by divine design that I was born in the 20th century, there was a divine design when I was placed in my parent's home, the fourth child of eight.  I wasn't accidentally born in the United States of America, there is a reason I was drawn to live in the state of Florida, in Sarasota, and even in this very neighborhood.  My job is to see that purpose, to intentionally look for that design. 

What keeps me from having purpose?
When I am too busy I find myself 'rushing' from one assignment to the next.  It's hard to find joy in the assignment when the only focus is to 'get it done'.  When I'm feeling tired and burned out it's easy to lose my real focus.  When I compare myself with others I seriously lose my focus and purpose.  If God would have wanted two of someone else He would have made two.... but He didn't.  He only made one of each of us and that was intentional!  When I become too distracted via media, news, internet, etc., life loses it's value and intent.

If you don't have a sense of purpose....STOP!!!
Seek God in prayer until you receive that sense of purpose.  Empty your mind of the earthly distractions and ask Him to let you see your life and purpose through His eyes.    Life will take on a whole new meaning.   Don't expect to know all the details of your purpose and calling. You are called to serve God and glorify Him by being His hands extended to others. 
You will never find your purpose away from the God who created you for a purpose in the first place.  Don't let your mind "be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (II Cor. 11:3).  If life becomes overwhelming to you, it's possibly because you are trying to live it in your own effort--to make things happen yourself.  Look to the Lord in worship and prayer, and He will get you where you need to go. 
He will enable you to do
what He has called you to do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Change Me, Lord

It's so easy to pray "Change him, Lord." or "Change her, Lord.". But what God really wants me to pray is:  "Change me, Lord.... make me more like Christ.".  Who of us doesn't want to exhibit more of the character of Jesus?  Who doesn't want to be more like Him? 
In our ladies' Discipleship Class we have been studying and discussing seven different areas that we would desire to be more like Christ.
1.  Jesus was loving.  I can pray and ask Jesus to make me more loving.  In order for me to be loving I must first experience His love for me.  When I experience His love, I can't help but love others. 
2.  Jesus was humble.  He is Lord of the universe, yet, "He humbled Himself  and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross.". Phil. 2:8.  Even a fraction of His humility will get us a long way in this world, because it is such a rare commodity.  I was challenged by being reminded of the steep price to pay for pride (and pride can be so slickly disguised, can't it?). "Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, they will not go unpunished." Pro. 16:5.  "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.". Pro. 16:18.  Nothing will speak louder to the world around me than my own humility, because it will be a refreshing departure from the norm. 
3.  Jesus was faithful.  He never wavered from His conviction and knowledge of who He was and why He was here on earth.  Even when He was tempted by Satan, He did not falter.  I need to know with that same certainty who He really is, so I can know who I really am, then I won't waver.  God, strengthen my inner being and make me faithful as You.
4.  Jesus was giving.  He gave of Himself to disciple a few men so that many lives would be touched.  His ultimate gift was His life.  When I feel I have nothing to give, God supplies it all.  "God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.". II Cor. 9:8.
5.  Jesus was separate.  He was in the world, but He was not part of the world.  He came to touch the world, but He never became like the world.  He was separate from the world, yet He changed the world around Him.  I need that balance, too.  I can't stay so separate that I have no touch with the outside world, nor can I be looking, living, talking, and acting so much like the world that people don't see anything different about me.  Jesus never lost sight of where He was going.  He always kept eternity in His perspective.  I must do the same.
6.  Jesus was obedient.  He did not do anything on His own, even though He was Lord.  He prayed and did not act until He had instructions from God.  I must live that way, too.  "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.". I John 2:6.   Too often we can pray a "quick prayer" because it's the 'right thing to do' but we have our mind made up ahead of time and we aren't really asking God what His will is.  We are self-sufficient.
Lord, help me to recognize my dependency upon You.
7.  Jesus was light.  I love this one!  People are drawn to light.  We want them to be drawn to the light of the Lord in us.  "I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.". John 8:12.  I want to be full of Light so that people will see that I have been with Jesus and I give them a reason for the light within me.

"Lord, transform me into Your likeness! 
 Make me so much like Christ that when people see me
they will want to know You better."
*notes taken from Stormie Omartian

Monday, November 17, 2014

Before you leave your church...

Weird, I know, but I actually am afraid to write on this subject.    How do you know when you should leave a church and when you should stay?
The whole subject of church can be so beautiful, so painful, so touchy, so controversial, so complex, and so simple. 
I don't have the answers to when you should leave or when you should stay and I don't believe there are always easy pat answers to it.  There is a time to stay and a time to leave.
(As a disclaimer right at the beginning this is not targeted at anyone in particular...just sharing my thoughts and heart.)
In October Jerry Stoltzfus from S.C. was here for meetings and he spoke on this subject one evening.  I had never heard a message spoken from this perspective but it has run around in my mind ever since. Recently in a conversation it came up .
Jerry's words were "Before you leave a church think of the hole you will leave behind."
In life all of us crave to be connected.  Ephesians 5:30  "We are all members of one body."  We are not a body to ourselves, God made us to be a part of a body, to be connected, to be wanted and needed.
Whether you are a part of a church for a long period of time or a short period of time, you make attachments and you connect.  Maybe not in the way you wanted to connect, or maybe you have been disappointed in the lack of connections but I would dare to guess that someone reached out to you, someone invested themselves in you, someone cared about who you were.   If you were a part of a church for a long period of time then likely there were many people who connected with you, cared about you, and invested in you.  When you leave, even if it's the right thing to do, you dismember yourself from the body and the body will bleed.  Here is where I believe Satan steps in with his pretty little lies, whispering that no one will care, they will be better off without you, some one else will fill your shoes, etc. etc.  The truth is that a hole will be left that YOU filled and even though new people come along, no one else will take your place.  There will always be your spot.
It's because
When a family loses a member- they bleed, they mourn, they feel that loss intensely.....time does move on and they do develop a new normal but no one else ever takes that family member's place.
How can the local church be like family?
1.  Family members have different opinions.
2.  Family members will not allow anyone to trash talk their siblings or parents.
3.  Family members know we don't always get it right.
4.  Family members know we love deeply even at the risk of being misunderstood or rejected.
5.  Family members seek ways to minimize the damage caused by sins.
6.  Family members can have extreme levels of maturity of lack there of.
7.  Family members have extreme personality differences and we appreciate our differences.
8.  Family members feel deep pain and loss when one walks away and rejects them.
9.  Family members are not all alike or else someone is not needed.
10.  Family members even in serious dysfunction don't leave, they stick around and try their best to being sanity.
When you have family you are have roots!
When you have church you are have roots!

Maybe the church needs you more than you need the church.  Or...sometimes we are our own worst problem.  We are not a part of God's family because He needs us...He wants us and we need Him!
Does the local church always get it right?  No, no, and no.  Does the congregation always get it right?  No, no, and no.  Leaders fail to get it right, congregations fail to get it right but can we not covenant together to be there for each other even with each others' weird and quirky ways? 
Simply because we care deeply for each other....
because we're family,
 not because we're perfect!
It's easy to complain about the problems, to criticize, to make fun of someone's quirky ways.....and then to walk away with our disappointments, bitternesses, hurts, or maybe with our self-righteousness.
Before you leave a church.... least consider and ask what you have given?  Were you ever fully committed to this local body of Believers and if you weren't then don't leave too quickly.          Consider this...
Perhaps God may have called you to this very church "for such a time as this".  The very areas that you see lacking in the church are perhaps the very place God has called you to make a difference.  Don't do it with selfish ambitions, pride, or with your probably won't work if you do.  But put both feet fully in and with your whole heart give it all you got - and in the Name of Jesus serve as He did - with a humble, servant spirit - and watch HIM work HIS work through you in ways far beyond your imaginations, in ways that will drive you to your knees before Him!
...and then think of the terrible loss...... what if you had just walked away?
Satan's goal is to kill-steal-divide-destroy and he's been doing a fine job of it!  Don't be a part of his plan.

There is a time to leave.  There are times God calls you somewhere else and that's okay.  There are times when a church is teaching error and you should leave but don't leave ugly!   It's like a family, sometimes God calls family members to live somewhere else and we bless them in following God's plan and His calling.  Even though they, too, leave an empty spot and they are missed intensely, it's still a good part of God's plan. 
But when we're family, we stay connected. 
We call, we talk, we visit, we facetime and we come back home!  And oh, the special times of reconnecting and hearing how God is working in their lives!  It can be so beautiful!
But if we leave for the wrong reason then it's painful, it hurts, it's discouraging, defeating, and dare I say, wrong?  I don't want to undermine the pain, hurts, and ungodliness that has been done in the name of Christianity...that, too, is wrong, wrong, and wrong. Maybe you have left a church, maybe you've left our church, maybe you've left for right reasons or wrong reasons....maybe you're thinking about leaving a church.  I want you to know that you are or will be missed, there is a place that only you can/could fill.
Thank you to Jerry and Diane for coming and sharing these thoughts with us ...
 we are still ruminating on them!

Philippians 1:27  "Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Satan weaves....God re-weaves

So many times I get frustrated at a person, people, or circumstances instead of seeing the real picture. Satan’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy relationships, peace, oneness, love, etc. I become short-sighted and me-sighted and I miss the mark, I accept the bait. I bite the hook. The hook that was baited especially for me. Satan watches and studies me closely. He knows what pushes my buttons. He knows what hurts me the most and he will use people and circumstances to attack me. Too many times I allow my emotions to rule, my pain to rise, frustration to brew, peace and joy to be robbed, and ugly thoughts to control.
                                                        O God, forgive!

Eph. 6:10-18 “….Put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand against the strategies of the devil….”

Genesis 50:20

“But as for you…you thought evil against me,

BUT GOD meant it for good.”

In God’s hands, intended evil becomes eventual good. -Max Lucado
Joseph's brothers blew it big time when they sold Joseph into slavery, yet God, in Genesis 45 says, "Be not angry or grieved, God sent me...And God sent me before you to preserve you...It was not you that sent me....                                            BUT GOD!!
God redeems pain. Joseph’s torn robe became a royal one. The pit became a palace. The broken family grew old together. The very acts intended to destroy God’s servant turned out to strengthen him.

Take my wrong responses and reactions and turn them into good. 
 Let me glorify YOU!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Keep on keeping on!

Retirement from the Christian life is not in God’s plan. As you turn the pages of Scripture, you can’t find one saint who quit. Although many wanted to (remember Elijah, Jonah, and David?), not one did. Consider the following roll call of saints.
~  Throughout his life, Abraham responded to God’s commands to move. He lived in tents, his nomad’s life representing his search for “the city…who architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). Abraham died without receiving the fulfillment of God’s promises of land, a vast number of descendants, and great blessing (see Genesis 12:1-3 and Hebrews 11:39). Abraham could have quiet, but he desired “a better country, that is a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16). So, until he died, Abraham pressed on.
~  Aged and weary, Moses kept serving the Lord. At one point, he even needed the help of Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands so that God would continue to bless the Israelites’ efforts in battle (Exodus 17:8-13). He could have quit, but he didn’t. Instead, he got the help he needed to raise his hands heavenward. Later, because Moses hadn’t obeyed and trusted God for water at Meribah (Numbers 20:9-13), God forbade him to cross into the Promised Land he had waited 40 years to enter. Again, Moses could have quit serving God, but he didn’t. Instead, he spent the rest of his days teaching the law, preparing the priest, and encouraging Joshua to lead God’s people into the land his feet would never touch.
~  Samuel was called by God to be His prophet, but later the people of Israel rejected his leadership and asked him to appoint a king over them so that they would be like their neighboring nations (I Samuel 8:1-5). Most people quit after being rejected, but Samuel didn’t. Instead, he kept praying and preaching(12:23), and he spent the rest of his life helping Saul, the man who took his place as the leader of the nation.
~  King David greatly desired to build a temple to God, but the Lord Almighty said to David, “You have shed much blood, and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me.” (I Chronicles 22:8). But instead of quitting, David kept pressing on for the Lord. He spent his last days making plans and gathering materials so that his son Solomon could build the temple (I Chronicles 22:5-19).
~  Paul spent his final days writing letters from prison which would guide the church of Jesus Christ in the future. His impending death didn’t shift his sharp focus on Jesus Christ and His people. He kept pressing on to the end of his life by offering encouragement, exhortation, and comfort through his pen.
~  Exiled to the island of Patmos in his old age, the apostle John never quit. After all, his service for Christ had seemingly earned him only disgrace and dishonor. But John kept pressing on. In his nineties, he was blessed with “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1;1). The twenty-two chapter of the Book of Revelation tell what will take place before and when the Lord returns. The apostle served as prophet with words that still speak to us today.
~  Jesus Christ knew about the cross, but He pressed on toward it and, when it was time, He endured it to the end (Hebrews 12:2). As He hung dying on that cruel instrument of torture to save you and me from our sins, He uttered the three simple words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus, our Savior and our Lord, pressed on to the end.

The list of God’s people who pressed on and served the Lord until the end of their life goes on and on. At one time or another as they ran the race, each of the men of faith mentioned above HAD A VALID REASON TO QUIT...
                Yet not one of them quit, resigned, or retired. 
They knew they had not finished the race, that there was still work to be done, and that God could still use them. They knew that, by God’s grace, they could make a difference for His kingdom right up until the day they left this earth and went to be with Him.

They kept on keeping on.

While God may not have called you and me to achieve anything near the magnitude of these men’s accomplishments, He does view our sphere of service and responsibility as equally important. These saints had a clear vision of God which inspired them in their calling-- and now inspires me in mine--
                    to press on toward the end
               in service of the Almighty!




(Stormie Omaritian)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Challenges from Church

What is spiritual complacency?

Complacency is a feeling of satisfaction with how things are; not wanting to make things better; being in a rut. How many of us find ourselves with that being the description of our spiritual lives? Or maybe we desire for things to be different but are too spiritually lazy to change?

Apathy is a loss of interest and passion in making a change.

I was challenged at church yesterday…

First I received a ‘rhema’ from God…something I needed to hear. It may not have stood out to anyone else but it lit up my spirit immediately.
II Chron. 7:12b “I have heard thy prayer,

and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice.”

There are some things I have been praying and it felt like this was a special word from the Lord just for me. He not only said “I have heard thy prayer” but more… “I have chosen this place.” While I have no idea what all God’s plans are, I know He has great plans and He is stirring us in a new way once again.

I was further challenged by the following verses, especially verse 14; a verse that we have heard repeated repeatedly. But we seldom think about the conditions of this verse.

“If My people who are called by My Name…” that would be me, and hopefully you.

“Shall humble themselves…“ that would be me; He’s not pointing to someone else that I feel “um-hmm, sure hope they see that.”  Me...humble myself.

“And pray….” again, me. Seriously, how much time do I spend in actual prayer? Before I pat myself on the back, I challenge myself to keep a written record sometime of how much time I actually spend in prayer.  

“And seek My face…” If I actually seek the face of God, I would quickly see myself as He sees me. And what does He see when He sees me? Nothing hidden… He sees the thoughts of my mind, the intents of my heart, the words I don’t say…

“And turn from my/your wicked ways…” Surely if I call myself by Christ’s name, etc, etc, etc, I am not walking in wicked ways! Humbly seeking the face of God and turning from my wicked ways. Are there areas where I outright defy the Word of God? Perhaps even boldly outwardly or perhaps boldly inwardly?

“THEN….” the great condition. It’s up to me, and you, to meet the prior conditions.

Oh, hallelujah!
  “THEN..... He will hear,
 He will forgive, and He will heal.”

Jesus’ Teachings are


I was challenged out of Revelation through the letters to the 7 churches; even though time ran out before all 7 churches could be looked at. Here are a few, fast challenges that were given to us as he skimmed the top of these churches:

Rev. 2:2-7 The Church at Ephesus:

They were a hard-working church, they did not tolerate false teaching, they labored and had not fainted. They were doing all the right things and yet Jesus said, “I have something against you….you have lost your first love.” Christ was no longer the center of their lives and hearts.

The question was asked: “What if I followed you around for a whole week, looked at your phone, your ipad (computer), listened to your conversations, etc…Would it be very clear that Christ is the center of your life?” My mind immediately began to replay my past week….

Rev. 2:8-11 The Church at Smyrna:

They were the suffering church. They weren’t just survivors, they were overcomers. Overcomers have a testimony. Where is my testimony? My witness of Christ working in my life?  Is it possibly that many do not have a testimony/a witness because…. Jesus is not doing anything in their lives? Are many just professors of Christ but not really followers?

Rev. 2:12-17 The Church at Pergamos

What is the doctrine of Balaam that this church was holding? In Numbers Balaam taught the Midianite women to seduce the Israelite men; and there were corrupt teachers who were deceiving believers to compromise.

This church appears to confess Christ; had the right theology, but their actions didn’t follow as true Followers of Christ. Could that be me? Do I confess Christ, have my theology correct, but my actions, words, and priorities would prove otherwise?

Rev. 2:18-29 The Church at Thyatira

They had works, charity, service, faith, and patience but they tolerated a Jezebel woman, a prophetess, to teach and seduce them. They were a tolerating church. The question was asked “Has the Word of God, or Christ Himself, taken a back seat in our lives?” Why do so many (of us?) no longer believe what we used to believe? Is it because the Scripture no longer means what it says? I have listened and read some things recently on why different things are not wrong and was agonized by the twisting and manipulating of Scripture to prove the point, at the exclusion of other Scriptures. But wait, this is for me, not pointing to someone else…What Scriptures have I ignored, left out, excluded?

Rev. 3:1-6 The Church at Sardis

This was a church…it had a reputation for “Being Alive”, yet Jesus said they were dead. What does it mean when a church has a reputation for “being alive”? It’s a good thing for a church to be alive….in Christ! Today I think we associate ‘being alive’ with loud music, loud worship, dramatized preaching, and lately I’ve been hearing a lot about ‘prophetic words‘. Is there anything wrong with loud music, worship, preaching with passion, and prophetic words? Absolutely not…but those alone do not indicate an alive church. Anyone can create drama. Anyone can move a crowd. Anyone can manipulate emotions. Anyone can come up with ‘prophetic words’. It doesn’t necessarily take a move of the Spirit to do that. God calls it “dead” if it‘s created by man. Yikes!

And yet….
when the Spirit is present,
when God is truly ALIVE in my heart,
there will be evidence of LIFE.

…and time ran out before he got to the other churches but I’ve been challenged and have enough to meditate on for all week.

What is my testimony?

If you had free access to every area of my life….
Would it be clear that I am a true Follower of Christ
and the HE is the CENTER of my life?