The Call To Change

(originally posted 7/9/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

I am living proof that God can change people.  If you have been praying for someone, don’t ever give up.  No matter how hopeless it may seem for God to get through to someone, all things are possible with God.  If you believe God to be the Author and Finisher of all creation– seen and unseen, explored and unexplored, fathomable and unfathomable– then how much further of a stretch is it to believe that He can change the heart of a mere mortal?
However, sometimes our prayers for God to change someone should actually be prayers for Him to help them hear Him in the first place.  A person can’t change until they can hear God telling them they need to.

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An Empty Cup

(originally posted 7/3/2015 at litlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

A few years ago I started praying for God to help me know Him, to draw me into a deeper, more committed relationship with Him.  I prayed that I would hear His voice, that He would speak to me in profound ways.  Once again, my expectations were grandiose and sensational:  visions, dreams, His audible voice, etc.  And once again, God delivered His answer in His usual, quiet, non-grandiose, non-sensational way.  He revealed to me that if I truly wanted to know Him and have the deeper relationship with Him I was desiring, then the best place to start was with what He has already revealed to us about Him through His Word.  Once again, not what I was expecting, yet once again, enough.

I have to admit, when God answered my prayer to know Him and have a deeper relationship with Him by simply telling me to read my Bible, you know, the whole thing, I was kinda bummed.  In my fervent desire for God to use me, I completely missed the fact that God had to first make me usable.  Too often our prayer to God is, “Use me!”, like, “Hey God, I’ve really got a lot to offer you!”  When instead it should be, “God, make me usable!”, because the reality is we’ve really got a lot to learn.

I really, truly felt like I had a lot to offer God:  outspoken, outgoing, determined, dedicated, etc.  In my human ignorance I figured God could use me for some really great, profound things.  But God can’t use people who feel like they have a lot to offer Him, because in all actuality, God doesn’t need anything.  There is nothing we can offer God that He doesn’t already have.  Therefore, the only people that God can really use are those that completely empty themselves and allow God to fill them back up.  In essence, you have to allow God to break you so you can realize that no matter how “good” we think we are, we are ALL wretched and sinful and in desperate need of His guidance, love and salvation.  That is when God can finally show you who you really are and what you were really meant to do.  Because only when God has broken us away from ourselves, can we finally sit still and listen.

Carried To The Cross

(originally posted 7/3/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

It is one thing to stand up for God’s truth, but it is another to drive away all those who need to hear it the most.

You drive people away when they feel attacked and quite often, those who feel attacked are those who usually need to hear it the most.   Also quite often, those who are called to stand up for Biblical truth do so with a fervor that could drive a nail through a cement block, rather than balanced with love and grace.  But that’s the catch, balancing fervor and passion for God and His Word with grace and mercy, because quite often the two approaches seem to be mutually exclusive.  Grace and mercy run and hide under the nearest rock when fervor and passion begin to pound the pulpit, ya dig?  However, I’m also not saying that pounding the pulpit isn’t necessary sometimes to get people’s attention.  Sometimes pounding the pulpit serves as a good reminder that God isn’t our “buddy”, but the Almighty Creator worthy to be feared and worshiped, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who has definitive boundaries and takes righteousness, sin and judgment very seriously.  I’m also not saying that God’s truth, in and of itself, isn’t offensive to those who simply do not want to hear it.

But all pounding and no grace drives people away.  On the other hand, all grace and no pounding rots the fruit of repentance.  Fervent truth with merciful grace.  Compassion without compromise.  That is how you carry people to repentance at the cross.

Jesus Argued

(originally posted 7/2/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

As I pondered the direction we are headed as a nation and the weariness of arguing with people that has begun to beset my soul, I began to ponder the ministry of Christ.

There are spiritual gifts listed at 1 Cor 12:8, 1 Cor 12:28, Eph 4:7 and Rom 12:3. Some are motivational gifts, some are ministerial gifts, and some are manifestation gifts, but all are gifts of the Holy Spirit to effect balance and unity within the Body of Christ. The motivational gifts are our “operative gifts.”  Meaning, as we mature in Christ, our motivational (or operative) gift is used to develop the ministerial and manifestation gifts. There are 7 operative/motivational gifts recognized as being endowed to those walking with Christ and filled with His Spirit: Service, Teaching, Giving, Exhortation, Prophet, Leadership and Mercy. I encourage anyone serious about their walk with Christ to discover their spiritual gift and grow in it to better serve the Body of Christ. God revealed my spiritual gift to me three years ago and it changed my life. I remember wondering if I could pick a different one, you know, one that seemed a little easier and more comfortable, but it doesn’t work like that. Like I tell my own kids, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” My spiritual gift catapulted me out of my comfort zone while simultaneously forcing me to confront my own personal flaws…not easy, nor comfortable, but necessary.

As I pondered Christ’s ministry, the first thing the Holy Spirit brought to my attention was that Jesus is the only human being who has ever possessed all the spiritual gifts and executed them with perfection. This was comforting to me because we will all fail at one time or another in our desire to serve God. The other thing that the Holy Spirit brought to my attention is that Jesus also spent much of His ministry arguing with people. This is because one of those operative/motivational gifts absolutely compels you to stand up for God’s Word, regardless of the cost or circumstance. For all intents and purposes, it is that particular gift that ultimately led to Jesus’ death because He walked the earth during a time in which truth was perverted and people hated Him for speaking it.

Yes, Jesus was and is merciful, He served, He gave, He exhorted, but He also taught, He led and was the ultimate prophet of truth. I imagine His frustration at arguing right versus wrong on topics that were self-evident and obvious. I am comforted that often Jesus’ argument–“It is written…”, was the same as my own– “Because the Bible says so.”  I imagine a lot of the time we are told that Jesus departed to go and pray, He prayed to be delivered from His frustration and to not grow weary. I am comforted by the likelihood that my Savior prayed the very same things I pray for myself. 

Jesus never quit arguing for truth, He never let His weariness and frustration overcome Him, and neither should we.

Wood Knocks

(Originally posted on 7/2/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

As I lay in my bed the night of the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, crying out to God in prayer, my soul wept. In my frustrated prayers, I asked God to give me the words to pray, to send me a word to share with others in light of that day’s decision by the Supreme Court of America. I asked for His words because my own words simply would not do, because my own words would be fueled by my emotions and the Body of Christ can never use words like that to truly represent God. Those kind of words will always do more harm than good, no matter how well-intentioned. I lay there for an hour, praying, waiting, tossing and turning, finally falling into frustrated sleep.
At around 2 a.m. I was roused from sleep by my 4 month old’s foot in my ear, demanding her first feeding of the night. Half-in and half-out of sleep, someone was telling me over and over, “Wood knocks.” 

I often ask for God to send me a word to share with others, something to guide or encourage the Body of Christ, and am usually greeted by silence. I am okay with that because on the rare occasions that I do receive a word from our Father makes years of asking and that one brief moment of receiving, totally worth it.

So that night I got, “wood knocks.” At first I didn’t understand, thinking, “God what does that mean?” That’s not what I was expecting, I was expecting something profound, something earth shattering. But one thing I have learned when dealing with God is that 99.9% of the time, it will never be what you are expecting, but 100% of the time it will be enough. In the brief moment it took for me to completely rouse from half-sleep to full-consciousness I was given understanding. The scripture that flashed in my mind was, “Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you… the person who keeps knocking will have the door opened.” (Matt 7:7,8) The understanding that was given was that the wood was the cross…the cross opens the door…the cross is repentance. The entire purpose of Jesus’ life and what He accomplished on the cross was about repentance and salvation.  America has closed the door, only wood can knock, and only repentance will open it. 

 Not what I was expecting, but enough for those meant to receive it.

Little Girl, Rise Up

This is the post excerpt.

(originally posted on 7/2/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

He took her by the hand and told her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Young lady, I tell you, get up!” (Mark 5:41)

God has been working on me over the last 3 years.  A lot.  Granted, He has worked on me my entire life, but He’s definitely put the pedal to the metal over the last 3 years.
Three years ago, I finally read the Bible from cover to cover.  Something every single professing Christian should do.  It will change your life.
Three years ago, I started a weekly discipleship through a small local church.  Something every single professing Christian should do.  It will make you usable.
Three years ago, God revealed to me my spiritual gift.  Something every single professing Christian should seek.  It will give you purpose.

Where I was once quick to share my thoughts on a matter, God began to reel me in to be more of an observer than a participant.  Anyone who knows me personally can attest that water boarding would be a more humane sentence for someone such as myself, than to sit idly by without interjecting my two-cents.
But that’s the problem:  it’s MY two-cents.
My two-cents do nothing to build God’s kingdom.

You see, anyone that desires to be used by God must first ask God to make them usable.  And anyone that God chooses to make useable as a mouth-piece absolutely must learn two integral things:  1.)  Self-restraint, and 2.) Discernment.
Self restraint, because it is human nature to allow our emotions to be our engine, rather than our caboose. Self-restraint, because before anything is ever said, God needs to be consulted on the matter, and God works on His schedule, not ours, and quite frankly, sometimes God takes His sweet time.  And discernment, because it’s important to discern our own thoughts from those truly inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Our own thoughts aren’t going to accomplish much, but those truly inspired by the Holy Spirit and founded in God’s Word are “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)  Which means if your words are inspired by the Holy Spirit, they will be received by those meant to hear them.

That is my prayer for this blog.