Archive for January, 2007

Stand Up and Be Counted!

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

 During our recent corporate assemblies the word of the Lord has been very powerful in getting across to us God’s heart, intent and vision for the Body of Christ. It has been impacting me strongly and deeply and I can now see more clearly than ever three expectations that He has for me within His body. He wants me to be counted IN; be counted AMONG, and be counted ON.

1.BE COUNTED IN – Herein lies my agreement and support with the vision and emphasis of the particular body where He has placed me and set me. My inclusion and participation on the direction and leading that the elders bring forth. “Yes! Amen! I agree! I am with you. I am for you. Let’s do it, let’s go, let’s build, etc. You can count me IN!!”

2.BE COUNTED AMONG – This is where my actual presence comes in to play. I am an active and present member. I whole-heartedly participate in the events, the ministries, the outreaches, the get-togethers, the fellowshipping, the worship, the assembling of ourselves together. My presence, participation and support can be seen, heard and felt by the other members of the body! I am neither M.I.A. (missing-in-action) nor M.T.A (missing-THE-action!) When the elders “pass the hand” over the flock I am there and accounted for! I am counted AMONG the flock of God, the household of faith, the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hand! Therefore I am able to be current and in stride and in cadence with what God is saying and doing in our midst! I am not “apart” but “a part”! It’s my desire to “be in that number”…(remember the old song?)

3.BE COUNTED ON – I realize the reliance and dependence that we all have on, first of all, Jesus Christ the Head, and then Jesus Christ, His many-membered Body. The other members are looking to me. They can rely on and count on my presence, my devotion, my commitment, my passion, my encouragement, my prayers, my contribution, my participation, my love, my strength, my gifts, my anointing, my help, my support, my time, my money (ouch!), my consistency, my obedience, my fellowship, my enthusiasm. If they need me – I’m there. If they turn and look for me – I’m there. If they reach out and feel for me – I am there. You can call on me. You can depend on me. You can COUNT ON ME!

So, what are you waiting for! If you have allowed yourself, for whatever reason or excuse (whether from your own apathy or lethargy, from the world’s busyness, or from the enemy’s deception) to be missing out on the blessing that’s in the “cluster” you can change that right now as you read this and you can stand up and be counted for!

Our ignorance and misconceptions about God’s rich purpose and provision that is found within His body causes the advancement of the Kingdom of God in our communities and region to be halted and stymied. It’s nothing less then heartbreaking! Instead of being able to equip, inform and build upon week after week after week, valuable time has to be spent on “catching people up” and bringing them current on what God has been saying to the body, or worse yet, having to send out search parties looking for the sheep!

 I can’t imagine wanting to face the workplace, the world, the lost, or even my spouse and immediate family – without having been in His rich, manifest presence found in the assembling of the saints before Him nor miss out on the equipping and edifying that comes from the function and flow of His body. The enormous pressures and responsibilities of our daily workloads alone are all the more reason to rush in to the strong tower of His body and be refreshed in His presence and strengthened within from hearing His Word! We need Him, we are indebted to Him, we need the Body and are indebted to one another! Do you believe that?

The hour and times that we are in are so exciting as well as crucial in requiring the full attention and participation of the entire body of Christ; each member growing and maturing in Him so we can be a valuable asset, actively obeying and participating in what He has called us to in our lifetime as we “serve our own generation by the will of God”! What a privilege, what an honor, what a joy, what a mandate!




Weighing In

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Submitted by Beth.

This morning Craig spoke of God adding weight to us in 2007, and I began to think of all that entails. 

In the natural, we think of our weight, mope over our added weight, rejoice over our reduced weight, and concentrate on how we can adjust everything to change our weight.  We can apply so much of what is in the natural to the spiritual – “first in the natural, then in the spiritual”.  Here is what God put on my heart to consider this morning:

What you eat is what you are.  In the natural we know that if we eat fatty foods, we will gain fat, not muscle.  So our choice is to eat healthy and be healthy, or eat what we crave naturally and suffer the consequences.  In the spiritual, we have the same choice.  We can choose to dine on God’s Word (written or spoken) and gain spiritual muscle or to gorge ourselves on worldly pleasures and gain spiritual fat. 

Work out to build to change your fat to muscle.  In the natural, experts tell us that to improve your quality of life, exercise combined with diet is the fastest and best choice.  Exercising takes you from a place of lethargy to a level of higher energy.  Exercising also restructures your physique – toning you and building muscle.   In the spiritual, we learn that only ingesting God’s Word is not enough – just hearing can make us spiritually fat.  We need to exercise the Word – put it into action.  Then, we can gain spiritual muscle – toning us and building spiritual muscle – giving us a higher level of energy to do God’s work here on earth.

Fat versus Muscle.  The Webster’s definition of fat is “having too much adipose (fatty) tissue” – not what we desire in the natural.  The Webster’s definition of muscle is “to strengthen or toughen” and “a tissue composed of cells or fibers, the contraction of which produces movement in the body” – both of which we esteem in the natural.  How we should desire to have spiritual muscle – to have movement in the Body of Christ – to strengthen and toughen our most holy faith.  WOW!  Remember – muscle weighs more than fat!

Looking forward to putting on some spiritual weight (muscle) in 2007!

But, God…

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Many are the afflictions of the righteous.

Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.

We are troubled on every side, we are perplexed, we are persecuted, we are cast down.

How are they increased who trouble me,Many are they who rise up against me,Many are they who say of my soul “There is no help for him in God.”

With men it is impossible.

Feeling a little discouraged yet? Depressed? Well, you should be because those words leave the listener or reader without hope or remedy. I am sure you probably recognize that those “statements” are actually Scriptures. I purposely left out the second-half of the verse that begins with one small and yet very significant word: “BUT”

Let’s look at those verses again in their entirety (bold italics mine):

Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)

For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,and gross darkness the people:but the Lord shall arise upon you and His glory shall be seen upon you. (Isaish 60:2)

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed but not in despair;Persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8,9)

How are they increased that trouble me, many are they that rise up against me, Many are they that say of my soul “There is no help for him in God” but You oh Lord, are a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head. (Psalm3:2,3)

With men it is impossible but not with God:For with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

Hallelujah! What a difference! What faith, hope and joy come when we get the whole picture! Yes, the circumstance or situation may be factual, it may be actually happening, we may be seeing it with our eyes, or hearing it with our ears, or feeling it in our bodies BUT be sure you bring into account the God-factor – what God has said about the situation!!!

Too many times we, as Christians, let a conversation drop without making sure that God has the last word regarding the situation. Before you hang up that phone, or walk away from that conversation, or maybe send that letter make sure you have interjected and boldly declared and proclaimed what God, the Alpha and Omega; the Author and the Finisher; the Beginning and the End has said regarding the present circumstance! Don’t leave the hopelessness and heaviness hanging in the air. At times you may have to be the bearer of bad news, or may be on the receiving end of hearing a bad report but don’t ever let the communication end there.

The other day a dear friend called me with serious developments in an ongoing situation that were weakening her spirit and eroding her faith. If our conversation had ended right there we both would have hung up feeling defeated and despondent. But as we turned our communication to what God has said; as we reminded ourselves of what we believe; as we ended the conversation with prayer it made all the difference in the world to her countenance and the strength of her spirit. We both hung up edified and encouraged!

Even in the bleakest and grimmest of circumstances if you can only eke out and proclaim just this one pervading and dominating truth – but with God all things are possible – you will leave faith hanging in the atmosphere, something for both the listeners on the earth as well as in the heavens to reckon with!

Encounter with God at 37,000 Feet

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

On a recent trip to Vermont my husband and I had a dramatic encounter with the Lord en route to our destination. Ten minutes before boarding the plane I suddenly began to feel pain in my left kidney, letting me know the onset of another kidney infection was taking place. (As a result of some complications due to cancer back in 1997 I periodically suffer from these infections which are quickly remedied with antibiotics.)

Obviously access to antibiotics was not going to happen for the next five hours of being in the air nor the two and a half hour car drive that would follow the plane ride. I let my husband know what was going on as well as our daughter and our son-in-law who were traveling with us. The joy and excitement of this trip that we’d been anticipating for weeks had opportunity to be stolen from us. As we boarded the plane I could feel that sense of dread, self-pity and apprehension washing over me. In the past, the pain of such incidents would become quite intense, not to mention the fever that would also usually develop. How was I going to get through the next several hours, strapped into a tiny, cramped little seat, where the pain actually increases in this posture compared to standing or lying down??? I took a seat by the window and looked out onto the runway with tears streaming down my face as the self-pity increased. Craig, noticing my tears, asked “Why are you crying?” And I just feebly responded because I did not want this to be happening. He gently told me we needed to pray, we needed to fight, and I nodded my head in agreement knowing that that was of course true. So with him beside me, and Danielle and Kane seated in front of us, we all separately, but in agreement together, began to launch into a time of warring against this circumstance. As I began to pray things at first seemed pretty dead and dry as I tried to push aside the pain from my focus on praying. I stumbled along like this for a few minutes until, as I was calling on God to help me, I had that very clear sense of Him speaking this to my heart – “Everything I have, everything you need, is at your disposal, use it.” Those three words “at your disposal” went off in me like fireworks and served to quicken my spirit and cause me to truly engage in prayer as it speaks of in James 5:16

“the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much”

The Amplified Bible expands the meaning that much further to say that it: 

“…makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working”

Right about the time that this happened within me I remember hearing the pilot come over the intercom letting us know that we had reached an altitude of 37,000 feet. I sat there thinking that at the moment I was reaching an altitude much higher than that! (Later on when Craig and I “compared notes” over the experience he would relate how something very similar happened to him also right about the same time everything kicked in for me.)

Fueled by those words “at your disposal” I began to truly release my faith into apprehending that which was mine in so great a salvation that had been wrought for me through Jesus Christ. It became crystal clear that I did not have to sit in this seat and be bound with pain and suffering. I did not have to feel helpless because a MANufactured pharmaceutical (emphasis on those first three letters on purpose) was not available to me because I had the Living God and all of His sufficiency at my disposal!!! I began to quietly but boldly speak forth the many truths of His Word that I had hidden in my heart over the years for such a time as this. Craig leaned into my ear at one point and encouraged me to literally envision the Cross and the finished work that took place on it. The pain continued to rage on in me but something was different now – I was aware that I was now encompassed about with faith and with the precious manifest presence of the Lord and I knew that a breakthrough was imminent and I just needed to keep pressing on. I also knew that I was experiencing an encounter with the Lord that I would never forget. Something that I would tell others about, tell my grandchildren about, time and time again.

(A side note, very much worth mentioning – when Craig and I seated ourselves in our row, a woman took the seat next to Craig. I couldn’t help but notice her hard, angry countenance as well as the title of the book she was holding – The God Delusion. I thought it was so completely ironic that here was this woman, reading a book where the author is trying to convince her about how God is not real, and that, among other things, how it is a form of child abuse for parents to teach their children their beliefs in God, and here I was, about two feet away from her having an absolute encounter with the Living God that she thinks does not exist! I have heard it said that “a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a good argument”.)

I continued to acknowledge the Lord, His nearness, His greatness, His power and apply to my situation everything that He had already made available to me. Speaking out His Word was interspersed with thanking Him, praising Him, giving Him glory. During that time I also clearly realized, and verbally acknowledged to Him, that over the past six months the daily “school of prayer” that I have been involved in Monday through Friday with five or six precious ladies, on behalf of people we know that are in need of healing and miracles, has served to build up a rich spiritual deposit in me that now, at this time, I was able to be drawing from! Our God is an awesome God. Our times are in His hands. He sees and provides for us well before we ever know what is coming down the pike. He fully desires and intends for us to access and apply and experience all that His covenant with us includes. He is so faithful to respond to us and out of His great love for us turn our feebleness into fervency.

About thirty minutes into this encounter I turned to Craig and told him that the pain in my kidney was 90% gone and that I was having an amazing experience in the Lord. He said he was too and we kept our communication extremely brief so we could continue to let the Lord have His way in our hearts. Another fifteen minutes and I again turned to him and said the pain was completely gone. Completely gone! Let me tell you that, if you have never experienced a kidney infection, the pain does not just “go away”. No way. It increases, it intensifies, it becomes unbearable, but it does not just go away! And yet, here I sat, completely pain free. Glory to God! We let Danielle and Kane know what had transpired and now a new joy came over us – not just the joy and excitement we had had about our trip together, but a joy over what God had done in our midst! Even more thanksgiving began to bubble forth from our hearts as we thanked the Lord. I had stepped on to that plane feeling defeated but would step off victorious. I expressed to Him that I really felt like getting up and dancing and rejoicing but the “seat belt” sign was on and I was supposed to stay in my seat!

The remaining hours of the plane ride were spent talking, laughing and relaxing but all the while I was aware of an undercurrent of prayer and thanksgiving going on inside of me.

When we got to our destination and met our dear friends who were there to pick us up, we couldn’t help but eagerly declare and testify to them what had happened on the plane.

Being the intense God-lovers and God-seekers that they are they rejoiced and thanked God along with us and we all proceeded to retrieve our luggage, looking forward to the many more instances in the five days ahead of us together where we would believe for God to continue show Himself alive, show Himself faithful, show Himself active and show Himself strong!

In conclusion, I want to mention that the next morning the kidney pain showed up again, and again we prayed and warred and the pain left. Not wanting the purpose of our trip to be thwarted by having to remain in spiritual warfare the entire time Craig and I decided to go ahead and contact my doctor so that he could call in a prescription for antibiotics to a pharmacy. Now after reading that you may think it completely diminishes or dismisses my testimony but I see it completely different. The entire experience served me and my family in the following way- It showed us and encouraged us and instilled in us the truth that come what may, for any of God’s people, whether we ever find ourselves without access to the conventional means of help by way of being in a foreign country, or by way of terror or disaster striking and disrupting our usual access to such help, or if we ever find ourselves in a situation where a medical diagnosis from a sickness or injury exceeds what medicine and science can do for us we can know that our God, our Savior, our Lord, our Redeemer, our Rescuer, our Healer, our Deliverer, our Very-Present-Help-in-Time-of-Trouble will come on the scene in our behalf!

As I thought again about the lady reading the book The God Delusion I was prompted to pray for her to come to the knowledge of the Truth. I also had a little bit of a play-on-words come to my mind – I know there’s no such word but… what people who don’t know the Lord need is not the God delusion but a God delugion – as in a deluge, an outpouring of His spirit upon them!

I encourage you to make it top priority in your life to seek the Lord with all your heart; to fill and flood your heart with His Word; to experience the joy of Him daily in heartfelt prayer and meditation; to grow in faith and wisdom; to develop rich relationships with other fervent believers. The benefits and blessing of living such a life are beyond explanation!