Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Today is the fourth of July and I sit in my basement all alone waiting for my family to return from Tallahassee. So many changes have happened in our lives over this last season, some of our own choosing and some that were not our choice. There are places in my heart that I have just continued to sit and wait, ponder, obsess, fret and be concerned over. I have wanted to move forward but have not been able to for many reasons. I have desired more clarity and wanting to know what I was reaching for or moving towards. I have wanted to make sure my heart was clear.

But today I sit before the Lord and I find myself saying to Him…I pledge my allegiance to Jesus! You are my Truth, You are my Way, You are my Life. I commit my heart and all my loyalty to You. You are my First Love, my First Love, my First Love. I declare today independence from the ways of men, worldly wisdom and systems. I separate myself from my way, my desires, and my soul’s preferences. I commit my heart, my hands, and my life to you only Lord. I will go where you want me to go; I will be all that you want me to be. I choose to see the truth for what it is and look it fully in the face. I will not run in fear, or compromise because it’s easier. I will believe what you speak, agree with what you say, and align my heart, actions, focus and words to live according to those things.

I will not be so foolish as to have begun in the Spirit, and now be made perfect in the flesh. Have I suffered so many things in vain-----if indeed it was in vain? He who supplies the Spirit to me and works miracles, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, I believe God so that it will be accounted to me for righteousness. (Gal 3:3-6)

If I do not come out of this season with stronger convictions, knowing what I value and why, then I will have suffered in vain. In the suffering do I now lay down the things I hold dear…do I lay them down because by holding to them I have lost a great many things that were also precious to me. Or will I hold on to the gold and silver that have been refined in the fire and not grieve over the wood, hay and stubble that has been burned up.

What do I hold dear? Loyalty, Honesty, Servant Leadership, Humility, Laying Your Life Down For a Friend, Compassion, True Spiritual Authority, and Intimacy with God and with Covenant Friends, Fighting for the Good of the Whole, not just self…God’s Way.

What do I despise? Betrayal, Dishonesty, Pride, Control, Self-Preservation, Mammon, Vying for Position, Illegitimate Authority, Insecurity, Selfishness, Compromise, People Pleasing…Man’s Way.

Our founding fathers gave of their lives, families, and fortunes to fight for a dream and a freedom that they believed in. Because of their personal sacrifice we have lived a life they never experienced in the natural, yet they knew it in their hearts and because of that, they were able to sacrifice for it to become a reality.

I have a dream that is in my heart. A dream that I thought died, yet if a dream is real and from the heart of God it never truly dies. It might have to be planted in the ground and “appear dead”.

John 12:24-25

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. (from THE MESSAGE).

Reckless in our love, the dream was tested; our conviction and principles were tested. Although things did not turn out the way I thought they would, and the temptation to give up, throw in the towel and to yield to the voices that have risen against my dream and have fought to silence it, have been a constant companion. Yet, here I sit today all alone, with something still beating in my heart. Faintly it beats, distant is its voice, and quiet is its whisper. “Do not lose hope”, it says. “Don’t faint and be weary in well doing. Keep, the faith. I am not dead, I have been silenced but for a time. Soon I will rise and shine forth like the sun. Soon life will be breathed into me and strength will come forth. Soon, the heartbeat will be louder and stronger. Soon it will not be so distant and faint. Soon you will hear the roar, the thunder, the cry. Soon the dream will come forth and be birthed in the earth. Soon, Soon , Soon.”

So today I declare I still believe in the “unseen dream”. I do not give up hope, for that is my name. How can I give up who I am? I am Hope and I have hope because of Him in who I have believed, and that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him. I declare my independence from man, my flesh and this world, and declare my DEPENDENCE ON HIM. I have a dream, it’s a beautiful dream, a dream God gave me. I believe in that dream. No one else has to. He and I have dreamed together, He has partnered with me and I with Him. And from that place I will move forward and step into all that is in my heart to do.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Eye of the Master Craftsman

I wrote this prayer the other day knowing that as parents Chip and I can tend to see all the things that our children are not, all the manners they don’t have, and all the character that still needs to be formed. Yet I believe the heart cry and the desire of most Christian parents is similar to the prayer I prayed for us. This is our battle. This is the area of our greatest need and desire for our children. May the Lord answer this prayer for all of us.

The Eye of the Master Craftsman

We want spiritual children not religious children! Lord, teach us Your ways. You have made us spiritual, not religious. Help us to recognize, remember, and think on all the ways that You have taught us, led us, disciplined, encouraged, and corrected us. Help us to see from Your perspective... how You have produced in us, what You have produced. As we see, may we then be like You and walk in Your ways, that our children will grow up to be trees of righteousness with deep spiritual roots.

You are the master craftsman, seeing the vessel before its fully formed and pulling it out from the midst of all that surrounds it, breaking the outer portions yet keeping intact the precious gem, shaving off the rough edges to create a beautiful, usable piece, removing the excess clay then molding and pressing it to bring forth the desirable shape.

You also know and are so wise in placing the vessel where it is tested so it may be proven or refired depending on the results. You also know the design and its perfect placement so it will be shown off the best and feel the sense of fulfillment that it is exactly where it should be, being utilized and appreciated for its part.

May we have that eye for our children, that we can break off what is keeping the gem from shining forth, that we will be confident to be the sandpaper to go against the grain of what they think , want or what the world tells them they are designed for. May we press strongly always with an eye for who they really are, molding them in that way. May we not grow weary or fainthearted. May we never fail to start the design or be fearful to touch because they push against it or don’t desire it, or because we didn’t look to see!

Oh Lord, let us see with Your eyes the bigger picture for our children. Help us see the gems that they are and not be focused in a wrongful, discouraging way on the rough edges. Remove the cataract and hardness from our eyes.

Help us to know their strengths and bents that we may pour Your word, Your Spirit, Your ways into those areas that they would not be vessels of pride but vessels fit for the Master’s use.

Help us Lord to train these beautiful, young stallions. May they run with grace and dignity, beauty and strength, submitted to The Master so that those who see them all the days of their life will be glad and rejoice in who they are and never be sad, hurt or broken by them.

Help us to help them be gifts to this world and all who know them. May they bring delight to Your heart. Give us the grace for generational/spiritual transfer I pray. That we would follow You and our children would follow you. Let us never be like Eli who served You but his son’s were wicked and perverted and turned the hearts of people away from You. Likewise, David sought after You but many of his sons turned away or never knew You.

We could have the same with our children. We are weak in many ways. Lord, have mercy on us and our children. Strengthen us to teach them, show them and require from them to walk in Your ways, yield to Your heart and will, and not follow the dictates of their own heart. As stewards of them while on this earth, may we one day stand before You with them by our side knowing that we were faithful to do our part in helping them to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and men.----Amen

Friday, March 7, 2008

My Father's Heart

On February 29, 2008 my father turned 80 years old. As my family gathered together to celebrate this momentous occasion we had no idea what was in store. Just as every family on earth has its triumphs and tragedies, connections and separations, love and hate of relational dynamics and certain family characteristics, ours is no different. You never know what might happen when you come together; so sometimes before you get there you kind of prepare yourself for “certain family dynamics”. Well, we had the typical time of eating, blowing out of candles and conversations going on in all corners of the room.

Time was taken to read historical moments about political things, highlight clothing styles, and famous actors from over the last 80 years. We then asked my dad of memories he had from way back and had the opportunity to listen to many of the things that my father had seen, experienced or lived through in his 80 years. He talked about many of the natural things like having no refrigerator, (only a hole in the ground when he was a little boy), working in the fields when he was four and five years old, and many other things like that. When asked about what he feels has changed the most he said, “the morality of the world.” When he was growing up those that were unsaved were more moral than most Christians are now. His heart is very sad and grieved about that.

That is just one of the reasons I love my father; because for him out of all things, that stood out the most.

We then all moved to another room, children, grandchildren, friends and extended family members. He had been asked to pray and bless us. Now my father is a tall, yet gentle and quiet man. He does not like to be the center of attention and really did not want this gathering for him, as he did not want to put anyone out just for the sake of celebrating him, as he is not really a big group party man. But we did anyway because it was important to us for him to know he is thought of and loved. He would prefer to listen and not speak, but we asked him to share, because we believe what he has to say should be heard, received and honored. We all gathered and sat waiting for the few words we expected to come forth from his mouth. As he began to share there was literally a supernatural hush and an immediate stillness. The littlest child was quiet and the most active and squirmy sat completely still, as though mesmerized. We figured later it was because they were in shock as they had never heard Poppy say that much. J

He began with a testimony of what God had been doing in his life through a particular prophetic ministry word given by Graham Cooke. He then began to share through tears that it all comes down to how much the Lord loves us; that we must know and experience His love. From there, he went on to give us this word of the Lord that has changed him so much as a generational inheritance. He asked that we each would read through it with our families once a month or a year, whatever way that we would be led so as to reap the full benefits of what God has for each of our families. Then hands were laid upon each of the grandchildren that were there with blessings for them and for those that were not able to come. He then prayed an overall blessing for all of us. Mixed in with many of those moments were times that he repented or asked our forgiveness for areas that he may have failed us as a father.

I sat back amazed at all that was taking place. I am the 7th of 8 children and after their 4th child, my father and mother got saved and became church planters. They were in the ministry for many years, but then some family difficulty struck and that season came to an end. It seemed from that point on as though the wind was knocked out of my parents. I have vague memories of my father as a pastor as I was 8 when they stepped out of the ministry. Now as I sat listening to my father stand before us all, all I could see was the old mantle being restored, the strength of the teacher and heart of a minister flowing out of him, along with the new realization of God’s love for him as a son that he has never had. My siblings and I agreed later that we have not seen dad like that in over 30 years. It was supernatural.

I share all of these things mainly to honor my two fathers. First of all, I thank my Heavenly Father for loving and pushing into my earthly father’s life so intensely at this time to reveal His love to him. Because of THE FATHER’S LOVE, my dad is truly coming to LIFE.

Secondly, I would like to honor my earthly father in the fact that although there is not much in the way of natural inheritance to be passed on to our generation, he has passed on treasures that neither moth nor rust can destroy and thieves cannot steal. Although so little has been given to him in his life in any area, he has remained faithful to God. He has given us an incredible spiritual inheritance. I would take that over any amount of money, houses, or any earthly items. I am blessed and a very wealthy woman, for the Lord has given me riches upon riches within my natural family, a father who loves and fear God.