Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keep Up Your Zeal!

When I was in high school the Lord put on my heart a message to share with our youth group.  I asked my youth leader if I could share and he allowed me to be the speaker during our usual Wednesday night service.  I don't remember exactly what I spoke on.  I do remember asking the Lord that if my "word" was truly from him that lots of people would show up.  When I got up to speak we had one of the largest crowds I ever remember having.  About 30 people, maybe, which was pretty big for our small church.

When I got up to speak I began to weep.  I couldn't help it.  The tears just began to flow.  I think that also got everyone's attention.  When I finished weeping I shared my message and then gave an altar call.  I think perhaps 2-3 people responded.  That wasn't good enough for me.  I began to passionately exhort my peers.  Again, I don't remember everything I said, but I called out some of them, "Henry, God wants to do something in your life!"  After I got done exhorting many of my friends came forward and I prayed for them.

Before everyone left to go home, the pastor's daughter and some of her friends came up to me with tears, wanting me to pray for them.  I believe they had not really been serving the Lord and wanted to repent and give their lives back to the Lord.  The Lord had been moving on their hearts.

Interestingly enough, not everyone was thrilled with how God moved that evening.  Sometime that next week one of the girls in the youth group called to tell me she was offended.  I appreciated that she at least called and spoke to me and didn't just talk about me behind my back.  I think she was okay with everything up to the point where I began to exhort and call people by name in the youth group.

It's been at least 14 or 15 years since that happened, so I may not have gotten all of the details of the story right.  Nevertheless, I find it interesting how there are different reactions from people when God moves.  People who may have not been right with God are drawn to him with tears of repentance.  Religious people are offended.  It was the same way in Jesus' day.  When we live out our walk with God inevitably it will rub some people the wrong way.  

As a teenager I was pretty passionate for God.  Perhaps a bit outspoken.  Perhaps a little brash.  Maybe not very humble.  I don't know.    

Romans 12:11 says, "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."  I think, as we get older, life tends to wear on us, and can wear us out.  It's easy to lose the passion we once had for the Lord.  We can become discouraged, feel defeated, or just plain tired.  But we are encouraged to keep up our spiritual fervor.  Zeal, my friends, is not just for youth.  Certainly, often youthful zeal needs to be tempered with Godly wisdom.  But not so hardened that the heart is no longer sensitive to the moving of the Spirit.

I want to live out my days passionately in love with the Lord and serving Him with all my heart.  I hope, as I continue to grow in the Lord, I continually care less about what others think of my walk with God and more about simply loving and pleasing Him.  That's not to say we go around trying to offend people.  But that doesn't mean that we should hide our love for Him either.  Keep up your zeal!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Far as the Curse is Found

Mom’s stroke in November of 2007 is one of the most difficult things my family has gone through. Thankfully, she survived the stroke. But the effects of the stroke have been hard to deal with. When she tries to speak it often comes out garbled. Sometimes we understand her; often we do not. Though she can still hear, she cannot understand anything we say. We communicate with her through gestures or by writing in a notebook.

One good thing that has come from this is that the reality of heaven has become even more special to me. In my mind’s eye I can see mom restored to a healthy, youthful state; her joyful face aglow with the glory of God.

I see heaven as a very real place where God will restore all things. I am confident that one day He will make all things new. We will trade in our frail, failing earthly bodies for spiritual bodies that never age, never become sick, and never grow weary.

A couple of years ago at Christmas, before opening presents, my sister Becky, dad and mom, and me, sang a few Christmas carols. I believe one of the songs we sang was Joy to the World. Mom tried to sing along with a hymnal. Because of the stroke much of the song didn’t come out quite right. But there was an innocence and purity in the way she sang that was childlike. Dad and I couldn’t hold back the tears.

One part of the song says,

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.


I recognize that mom’s stroke, and all of the many ills that face humanity, are ultimate results of the curse of sin. But the greater reality is that God sent His Son, about 2,000 years ago as a baby in a manger, to break the power of every curse.

The effects of the curse are far-reaching. Each of us, in some way, have felt the scar of sin and experienced its ravages. We see it in sickness and disease, financial struggles, relationship problems, depression, anxiety, or fear. But here, in the midst of our pain, God introduces His Son.

The Bible says in Galatians: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Gal. 4:4-5) It was necessary for Jesus to come to earth as a man born of woman, to have the legal right to undo the curse. That little baby would one day finish completely the work of our redemption on a cross, setting us free from the power of sin and death. By becoming a curse for us, he redeemed us from the curse. (Galatians 3:13)

Still, on this side of heaven, we do not see everything completely restored. We claim the power of Christ’s redemption by faith. We look forward in hope to the place He is preparing for us. We look to the day when God will literally make all things new. That which is not fully restored in this life will be fully restored in the next.

It all began with a tiny baby, born in a manger.

In heaven God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There shall be no more death. No more sorrow. No more crying. No more pain. No more curse. The former things will have passed away. The one who sits on the throne says, “Behold, I make all things new.” (see Revelation 21:4 and 22:3)

The effects of the curse may be far reaching, but the power of God’s blessing reaches farther still. His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We Have This Treasure...

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."
II Corinthians 4:7

There are people and ministries that I admire from a distance.  Their examples inspire me in my walk with God.  But I know that if I were to get close to them I'd find out they are imperfectly human just like me.  Up close their flaws would be more evident.  That reality is a comfort and encouragement to me.  It means that God can still do great things through my life even though I am an "earthen vessel."  It means I don't have to be perfect to be effective.

The glory of the gospel is that God reveals Himself through us, such imperfect creatures that we are.  We have this treasure...  His power is made perfect in our weakness.

I am a cracked pot.  A broken vessel.  I have been marred in the potter's hands.  I have scars.  I have "issues" I'm still trying to overcome.  I still have struggles with weakness and battle temptations.

I am thankful for the people in my life who think of me more highly than they ought to.  They praise me for the good things they see in my life.  I need that encouragement cause I tend to get down on myself easily.  For those closer to me, I am thankful that they overlook my flaws and still love me the way that I am.  They have a more realistic view of the jar of clay that I am.  Yet, they love me anyways, thank the Lord.

Jesus was the only perfect man.  He will only always ever be the only perfect man.  So we fix our eyes and our faith on the Perfect One.  We worship Him in His perfect glory and our lives; our broken, scarred, tattered earthen vessels become a reflection of His glory for the world to see.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Power of Vision

I just got back from the Light of Life International (LOLI) annual banquet.  I am always inspired to be around the people of LOLI.  It is thrilling to be part of a cause that is bigger than myself and has eternal significance.  It is amazing what can be accomplished when people join together with one common goal and purpose:  To reach the world for Jesus.

A major part of the LOLI banquet is where Stephen Evans casts the vision for the ministry.  It is a big vision.  I like big visions.  Really, any God-inspired vision is a  BIG vision.  A friend of mine used to say something like, "God has no insignificant plans and no insignificant people."  I believe that is definitely true.  Whatever God has called you to do is significant because God never calls us to insignificance.  You may not be called to organize crusades in Central America.  But God's kingdom purpose for you, whatever that looks like, is SIGNIFICANT.

Tonight Stephen said he would rather take a risk for God and fail then take no risk at all.  That goes in line with something I feel God has been speaking to me this year.  Part of what God has been speaking to me has been inspired and encouraged by a few books I've read:

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg
Reaching Your Dreams by Tommy Barnett, and
Launch Out Into the Deep by Mark Rutland (read twice)

I think I was drawn to these titles due to a deep longing in my heart to live a life that is significant for God and a deep dissatisfaction with where I have been at in my life's journey.  I want my life to count for eternity.  So often it seems I am caught up in the things of this world, distracted by my own problems, struggling with my own "issues" - in all of this I don't want to lose sight of the deep call of God.  I want to live out to the fullest all that God has called me to do.  "...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:13-14)

Part of our faithwalk with God calls for stepping out of the boat and taking a "risk" for God.  Could we fail?  Sure, we could.  But I have more confidence in God's ability to uphold and sustain because I know that a true vision from God brings with it His power to accomplish all He calls us to do.  

Perhaps there is a vision in your heart.  God gave you a picture of the possible.  Maybe it has stirred for years, but you have not sensed God's timing until now.  But now you feel the Spirit stirring your heart, prompting you to launch out.  May your faith find wings and may you soar with the Spirit!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sadness

father, I come here, I come here looking for you
mother, I’m longing, longing to hold on to you
sister, I’ve fallen, I reach my hands out to you
brother, I’m speaking, I want to talk more deeply with you
it’s been a long time, still waiting
for the dream of my heart to be real
in the sadness of these moments, I’m thinking of you
because it’s been so long since I held you
so long since I felt your affections
your lips pressed against mine
now I’m aching for you, longing to hold you
to feel your arms around me and you within mine
in a quiet, wind blown meadow
I can hear and feel the hush of the flowers
as silence is their companion too
I’m at peace, just walking with you
but in that moment of brokenness
I am like the flower that has wilted
the lily of the field that has been trampled
the daisy that has lost its petals
I cry out in my brokenness
that the mountains would fall on me
how can I speak?  how can I dream?
how can I make a sound but the sound of sighing
like the train that has come home
the only sound is the sound of the steam, released
release I pray, release me from this cage
to once again hear the sound of joy and laughter
may the bones you have crushed, once again, rejoice
may they know the love of the moment
standing under the waterfall
gazing quietly by a fire on the beach
drifting like the deer, gliding through the trees
in the stillness of night I gaze at the moon
in these mountains, I see, the stars are so close
my soul weighed down, so I pray
don’t let the moon fall on me, crush me in its grasp
I am here, but the world is unaware
I came here, alone, I wish I could say not lonely
I came here to find my heart, to discover my soul
my heart is like the ocean, deep waters
who can know it, who can find it
there is so much more there, than what lies on the surface
but so often it seems, the surface things are in control
is there a brand new repentance
like the fresh dew of morning
or the fading sunlight of the evening
like the sound of the stream, gurgling past me
I hear the wind is calling, calling me, to sleep
to find myself in another place, a distant land, distant shore
somewhere on the other side of the earth
a place where there is only peace

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staying Home from Church

I remember one time the Lord told me to stay home from church.  I didn't obey Him.  I'm sure the voice of the Spirit was over-ridden by my sense of religious duty and obligation to attend church.  The service that morning, for me, was lifeless and empty.  Someone else, perhaps everyone else, was tremendously blessed.  But I wasn't supposed to be there.

I believe it was my final semester of college and God knew I had much work to do and wanted me to stay home and work on it.  Unfortunately, I missed out on this opportunity.  Thankfully, God gave me another chance.

Some time later I woke up and immediately knew the Lord wanted me to stay home from church.  His voice was clear a clear impression on my spirit.  This time I obeyed.  I stayed home and had a wonderful time with the Lord.  I put on a CD of worship music.  One of the songs is called "My Beloved."  It is a song where God is singing over His bride.  That morning, in my apartment room, God sang a love song over me.  It was a precious time with Jesus.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fill Me, Move Me

where there is despair
Lord, fill me with joy
where there is hate
fill me with forgiveness
where there is fear
fill me with love
where there is worry
fill me with peace
Lord, make me an ambassador of hope
where there is suffering
Lord, move me with compassion
where there is loss
fill me with comfort
where there discouragement
fill me with a song
Lord, make me an ambassador of your love

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Oh How My Hearts Burns in Me!

“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!" 
Luke 12:49-50

Has God put something in your heart that burns with such holy passion that you cannot hold it in?  Is there a fire in your bones, a yearning in your heart, that motivates you?  Even in the mundane of life you find yourself longing for something more, something of greater significance.  You know God has spoken to you.  He has given you wonderful promises.  You have seen a picture of your destiny.  You have been called by the Lord and you yearn to see His will accomplished in your life.

For me, I know God has placed me on this earth for more than what I am right now experiencing.  My heart longs for the fullness of His purpose to be realized in my life.  I want to see all that God has promised me accomplished.  I don't want to leave one thing left undone for which God has placed me on this earth to do.  

God save us from passionless living!  We all need a burning heart desire which motivates and fills us with joy.

The greatest pursuit in life is knowing and loving Jesus.  But it is from that intimate relationship where good deeds flow.  Good works, set on fire with the passion of God, have power to change the world.  Jesus had a deep relationship with Abba Father.  Consequently, he went forth into the world and kindled fires in people's hearts for God.  He did what he saw the Father doing. (John 5:19)  And he did it with passion. 

It is fitting that we consider the time leading up to Jesus crucifixion as his PASSION.  Indeed, Jesus was full of passion for what God had placed him on this earth to accomplish.  Likewise should we be.  I pray that the Lord will fill you today with passion for His kingdom being established on the earth.  No task is too small, no calling insignificant.  In whatever you do, as you do it unto the Lord, may it be with passion! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Book!!!

I'm happy to report that my book is finished and available to the public! I self-published through a company called Holy Fire Publishing.

My hope is that my book will encourage you in your walk with God and inspire you to "Go Deeper" with Him.

The book is supposed to be available on several book-selling websites. So far, the cheapest place I have found it is on Barnes and Noble, www.bn.com. If you'd like, you can purchase it there for $9.84 + $3.99 shipping ($13.81 total). It is also available on Amazon.com for a higher price.

If you'd like to purchase it directly from me I am selling it for $10.00 (please include $2.00 for shipping if I need to mail it to you).  Please allow extra time for delivery.  Send checks to:

Jon Greig
389 West Fork #1731
Irving, TX 75039

If you have any questions please e-mail me: jongreig79@gmail.com or call (214) 315-7189.

Book Description:
Calling Out to Deep is a book of poetry and essays reflecting on the beauty of God's creation and one man's pursuit of a deeper relationship with God. Through these writings you will see the deep and steady stream of God's redemptive plan at work in the seasons of your life. Most importantly, you will find hope and strength for life's journey in a relationship with Jesus Christ, experiencing the heights and depths of His presence, as deep calls out to deep.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Adventure of Pain

This week I've been listening to a sermon series about adventurous living by Dr. Mark Rutland.  One of the sermons is entitled "Adventure of Pain" (which I have not yet actually listened to).  What is adventurous about pain?  We usually think of something adventurous as something fun, exciting, and exhilarating.  Yet, in many an adventure, there is some pain involved.  Part of the adventurous quest, the epic journey, is the struggle.  And what we learn in the midst of our pain is often more valuable to us than if life were always fun and exciting.  

Joseph, in the Bible, could have lived a life of ease and comfort as his father's son, privileged and exalted in his family.  Life could have been peachy for Joseph.  What if his brothers were not jealous and hateful?  What if they celebrated his gifts and talents, and appreciated his dreams? 

"Hey, Joseph, that's a great dream you had," says Judah, "One day we're going to bow down to you!  Wow, that's awesome.  I can't wait!  Hey, why don't we just bow down to you right now?  Your dream can come true today!"

And, then, one day, years later, a caravan arrives from Egypt during the famine.  Pharaoh has a dream that a man named Joseph, from the house of Israel, will come and save his people.  In a moment Joseph is promoted to second-in-command in Egypt, just like that.  The process involves no pain, no agony, no false accusations, no hateful brothers, no moments in a pit, no sleepless nights in a dungeon, and no forgetful cupbearers.  No fear, no frustration, no loneliness, no sorrow, no disappointment, and no pain.  Just blissful blessings.  

Obviously, that is not how the story goes.  What began with a holy, divine dream, proceeded to be an adventure of pain.  Yes, it was painful.  But it was good.  Yes, it has a hard struggle, but it was fruitful.  Joseph says, "...God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering" (Genesis 41:52)

Joseph's life may have been hard, but it was certainly not boring.  It was an adventure.  Any life lived for God will be so.  Yes, even in pain, if we are following God, we know all things work together for the good.  We know God is using the pain for His good purpose in our lives.  We know He is using it to make us stronger, to make us better, more like Jesus.  He is molding and refining our character.  And, ultimately, He is expanding His kingdom in our lives so we can be a greater blessing to others. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Enemy Cannot Have You

“When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”
Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV)

There are times when our enemy, the devil, pursues us with relentless persistence.  We feel the hot breath of evil on our faces.  We feel like hunted prey.  It seems like he has us in his grip and there is no escape.  Yet, at the moment we feel most overwhelmed, the Lord lifts up a standard against him.  He steps in and says, “You cannot have my child.” 
Though our enemy hounds us ferociously, the Lord promises that he cannot have us.  He cannot completely overtake us because we belong to the Lord! 
You’ve probably seen the movie Jurassic Park.  Towards the end of the movie the two children are being pursued by two raptors.  The raptors are quick, ferocious and apparently pretty smart too.  The children barely escape being killed and eaten. 
Last night, in my dream, I was near a door and one of those raptors was on the other side, trying to get close to me.  The raptor apparently came through the door and overtook me.  It had me in its grip.  Its long claws were literally on my skin.  But then the Raptor stopped.  I think it looked up.  And the Lord said, “My kingdom will be expanded.”  That was my dream as I remember it.
Through this dream Jesus reminded me that the enemy cannot have me.  Even though, at times, I may feel overwhelmed and overtaken by my foe, God has placed a limit on how far the enemy can go.  Though he may be near me, he may seem to have me in his clutches, Satan cannot have me.  The Lord will not allow it because I belong to him. 
The enemy seeks to utterly destroy my life, but, God says that His kingdom will be expanded in my life.  In other words, God has a plan for me.  God has a plan to use me in the expansion of His kingdom on the earth.  Until God’s purpose for my life on this earth is completely I believe the devil cannot destroy my life.
Isaiah 54:16-17 says,

“‘See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; 
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and this is their vindication from me,’
declares the LORD.
Isaiah 54:16-17 (NIV)

Today you may feel utterly overwhelmed by the enemy.  It may seem like he has the upper hand.  You may feel like you are in his grasp and there is no escape.  But God promises that the enemy cannot have you.  No weapon formed against you will prevail.  Your heritage as a child of God is complete and total victory.  Take heart today, have courage.  God is with you and the enemy cannot have you! 



“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24 (NKJV)

Friday, September 23, 2011

You're Going to Make It

Years ago, when I was in a place of great turmoil, I was standing at the altar at church.  A man at the church must have saw the look of anguish on my face.  He came up and put his hand on my shoulder and said, "You're going to make it."  At that point, I had serious doubts as to whether I would make it.  I needed those words... it was a relief to my soul.

That season was one of the most difficult times of my life.  Yet, in the midst of the turmoil God was reaching out to me in love.  In the midst of my trials, God loved me.  I still had to go through some tough things.  Some of those things were not my fault.  Some of them could probably have been avoided had I made some better decisions.  And some of them definitely were my fault.  Yet, despite all of it, God revealed His love to me.  He gave me strength to carry on.  

No matter what you are going through, no matter how hard it is, God loves you and YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!

When the Saints...

Release

contemplating how the pain runs deep
and the heart wants to explode
in fury, in rage, in expression
and announce to the world that I am here and I am real
and I feel deeper than most
and I dream, bigger than many
and I hope, with holy passion
and I expect, to stand in the cloud of glory
how I lament
that I can never be the man I want to be
so it seems
I can never arrive at that "place"
where everything falls into place
where I raise my hands and stand in glory
and lift my voice and utter authority
where demons flee and darkness trembles
at the mention of His name on my lips
I can never measure up to the standard I have created
so I cower in guilt and shame
I can never pray the hours I think I should
I can only pursue grace
I can never achieve all I want to achieve
I can only bow my knee
I am holding my hands to my face
as I try to hold back tears
that demand release
I hope and I pray, that I can remember this moment of surrender
and the love you are giving me now is a compassion 
I can one day give away
at the altar, I remember
the love you poured out on me
and now I pray, as I contemplate each harsh reality
that grace will come and whisk away
the depth of pain I feel today
and strength will rise and hold me up
with joy for another day

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Longing for God

“As the deer pants for streams of water, 
   so my soul pants for you, O God.” 
Psalm 42:1

There is a hunger of the soul that only God can satisfy.  It is a longing deep.  It is a void that can only be filled in His presence.  We long for Him like the river craves the sea.  We run to Him like the stream races down the mountain.  

If we've been away from Him for a little while, our hearts begin to feel the emptiness of being away from Him.  We must find Him, we must come to Him.  We must draw near.  

As we worship Him His water washes over our souls.  The gush of His presence floods our lives.  In His presence, we cry out, "Lord, fill me up, satisfy my longing deep."  There is an ache in our hearts, a spiritual thirst that can only be quenched in Him.  

Sometimes, in this world, our hearts get crusty.  Foreign objects seem to fill our hearts and need to be washed away by the flood of His presence.  Like a river bank littered with debris, we need a deluge of His presence to come and wash all the filth away.  We need a new start, a fresh beginning.  As we seek Him today, we can have that new beginning we long for in Christ.

Lord, fill is up with the fullness of Your love and glory.  We need You more than life itself.  Take our dry, crusty hearts that have grown callous by the things of the world, and give us a fresh, new heart, filled with the joy of knowing and loving you.  
In Jesus' name.


Simple and Pure Devotion

"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
II Corinthians 11:3

The world is full of distractions.  Perhaps distraction is not the best word.  How about pressures.  Don't we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get things done?  How about pressure to live up to some outside expectation that may not, after all, be the expectation of God for our lives?  

There are so many things I want to do with my life.  So often the things I want to do are not the things that I'm doing right now.  It is such a challenge to live day by day, moment by moment, simply loving God and trusting in Him.  

When it all comes down to it, what does God desire?  How about simple and pure devotion to Him?  No pressure.  No To-Do lists.  No demands.  No stringent, unreasonable requirements.  He's not cracking the whip, wishing we'd straighten up and just get it right.  He desires only our love.  Our simple and pure devotion to Him.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Wake Up Weeping

I reach for you in dreams
and wake up weeping
like a child untouched
heart unbroken
you were an unfettered portrait of innocence
my heart pines for you like the dreamer yearns for night
my soul thirsts for you as the watchman waits for morning
I awaken to tears at 3 a.m.
unsure of my crying
unclear of this longing
yet knowing
how I long to breathe in untainted innocence
it’s the happiness I remember
when we were young and free
and the world did not matter
all that mattered was the forest and trees
the bicycle and the breeze
and I was connected with the God of the universe
hands raised, eyes closed, and sun on my face
now I search for innocence in dreams
and wake up weeping
tears falling down my face
trembling by my pillow
you were a child untouched
heart unbroken
an unsullied portrait of innocence
I reach out to hug you
a smile on my face
delight in my eyes
on this journey together
it would just be you and I

The Power of Words

This weekend I attended a Writer's Conference here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  During the opening session the main speaker showed this video, only a minute and 48 seconds long.  It demonstrates the power of our words to change people's lives.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Building a House

In Matthew 7 Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish builders,

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (vs. 24-27)

Each of us is building a house.  Our house is our very lives.  We each have a choice as to how we build our house.  We can build it according to the things of this world, things that will never last, or we can build it out of the things of God, treasures that are eternal.  The good news is no matter where we are at in life, it is never too late to start over. We can begin building afresh and anew.    

Each of us will give an account to God for how we live our lives.  Times of trial and testing reveal the quality of the house we are building.  In the furnace of affliction, hidden things come to light.  Weaknesses are exposed, and, as we endure testing, our house is made stronger.

In I Corinthians Paul writes, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (3:11-14)

Do you know where you stand today?  Have you built your life on Jesus Christ?  If you have not, it is never too late to begin again.  You can begin today. 

Some years ago I was walking with a friend.  She looked at me, kind of out of the blue, and said, “Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.”  I knew when the words came out of her mouth that God was speaking to me through her (not to mention that that is a verse in the Bible, Ephesians 6:10).  God was challenging me.  He was challenging me to do my part in growing deep in Him.

Likewise, we each have to do our part in the building of our house.  We spend time in prayer, in the Word, walk in faith, praise Him every day, trust Him the best we can, and then allow the Lord to work in our lives as He wills.  If we do our part, we can trust Him to do what we cannot do.  Together, we build a house in His wisdom, a house with rooms filled “with rare and beautiful treasures.” (Proverbs 24:3-4) 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Will Protect You, I Will Deliver You

Several years ago I had another dream.  I dreamed that these great tornados, at least 3 of them side by side, were coming out of the northeast towards Dallas, TX, where I live.  They were much bigger than any other tornado I had ever seen in pictures, big enough to level a city.  But God spoke to me.  He said, “I will protect you.  I will deliver you.”  I think He said more than that, but that is all I can remember.

You may be familiar with the story found in the Bible, in Acts 27.  Paul the Apostle is sailing for Rome as a prisoner.  During the voyage the ship encounters a violent storm, one of hurricane force.  After “neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging,” they gave up hope of being saved (vs. 20). 

The great Apostle stands up to encourage the men.  He says,

“…I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.  Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”  (Acts 27:22-25)

For the last ten years, since 9/11, our nation has endured many storms.  We’ve encountered real, literal storms - hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires.  We’ve endured the ever-present threat of terrorism and the trials of war that have come with it.  And we’ve faced political and financial turmoil as well.  We do not know exactly what the future holds, but we can be sure of one thing:  There will be more trouble.   

If we’re not careful, our lives can be dominated by a sense of dread regarding the future, world events, personal difficulties, and even our everyday needs.  Thankfully, God has made a way for us to live without fear.  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you… Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

As Christians, this is not a time for us to shrink back in fear.  It is time to move on to victory.  This is our finest hour.  It is our time to stand up and boldly declare, “Do not be afraid.  Take courage!”  For God says, “I will protect you.  I will deliver you.”     




Saturday, September 10, 2011

Perfect Peace

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Luke 21:25-28

Several years ago, in a dream, I was walking around my hometown in Michigan.  Everyone knew that a great earthquake was coming.  People were fearful, running to and fro, battening down the hatches, preparing for the earthquake.  But I had peace.  I had no fear or dread, just perfect peace.  

As I walked into my house people were frantic.  There was a small child in the house.  I looked down at him and began to tell him about Jesus.  As I told him about Jesus he began to cry.  Right there, in the house, and in the midst of impending tragedy, I led him to the Lord.

I believe the dream the Lord gave me is a picture of the body of Christ in the time in which we are living.  While the world is in terror, we will have peace.  And because of that peace people will be drawn to us.  And we will tell them about Jesus, the author of peace.

Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  We will be an anchor of peace for a world that is in turmoil.  Like a fireplace on a dark, cold night, people will be drawn to our light, a safe place in the storm.

I Will Rise

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

He Gives Us Wings to Soar

When you’re down or discouraged, weary from the battle, sometimes you need an extra “pick me up” to get you going.  You need that extra push from God to rise above the battle, to get back to that place of joy and peace in His presence.  You pray and cry out to God, but it seems you just can’t quite get there, though you feel so close.  You want to lift your hands and praise the Lord, but you give into the heaviness.  On this day, you’re just too plain tired to fight a little harder.  You know there is a life full of love and joy in the Lord, if you just had the strength to rise above the constant attack.  You desperately need a touch from God.

There is an often quoted promise found in Isaiah 40: 

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (vs. 30-31, NKJV)  

Even the strongest among us get tired from time to time.  Even the giants in the faith sometimes grow weary.

If you love the Lord and are seeking to follow Him with all your heart then you know you are a target for attack from the enemy.  If you feel constantly assaulted by the devil and his demons, take heart!  You must be doing something right.

In the midst of the battle I know God has a great and awesome plan for me.  Even in the place of my deepest discouragement, there is a hope.  God has placed a vision in my spirit, a picture of what can be.  Though I battle against the heaviness, I press on.  And I press in to the high calling of God.  I cry out to know Him more deeply.  I step out in faith onto the water, to accomplish things for His kingdom.

And then the attack comes.  Sometimes it would be easier to just give up, so it seems.  But I can’t stay down long.  I have to keep getting back up.  Even in light of failures and regrets, there is a promise that burns deep within me.  I have hope.  I know God hasn’t given up on me yet.  I get back up and He gives me the strength to carry on.

Even when we grow tired and weary, even when we stumble and fall – if we wait on the Lord, He will renew our strength.  As we wait on Him our spirits are buoyed up by the power of His presence.  

Perhaps you’ve stumbled and fallen on your face again.  You're trying to get back up.  You're struggling to find the strength to rise up again.  And then, just like the wind that fills a kite, you feel the strength of the Spirit of God rise up inside of you.  His strength pushes you upward, propels you forward.

Soon your eyes are no longer on yourself, focusing on your own failures and weaknesses.  Soon your eyes are lifted up to Him and your hands are raised to the sky, worshipping Him with all your heart.  Strength is rising up.  Joy is being restored.  Soon you begin to run, not in your own strength, but by the power of His might.  

He gives us wings to soar.

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...