Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Praise Report

Back in mid-August my son, Todd, started undergoing evaluations because he is behind in his speech development. At two and a half years old his speech is still very unintelligible, his vocabulary is not as large as it should be, and he’s barely putting two words together. I actually had concerns when he was around 18 months or so, but under the advice of his pediatrician, I waited. Well, by the time Todd was two years and three months he started getting frustrated and tantruming when he couldn’t communicate what he wanted. The doctor finally agreed that we should do something.

It’s amazing how God works all things together for good. A caseworker comes to see Sadey to monitor her speech development because of her ear, so that if she needs interventions, the caseworker can help us get access to the services she needs. So the caseworker started the evaluation process for Todd (a process that has felt painstakingly slow to me because I want answers!). Because we’re going through this program to get Todd services, rather than our pediatrician, the services are free to us. God is using government funds to provide us with what we need!

Todd’s initial evaluation was the day before my birthday. I wrote in an earlier post (A Testimony) that my birthday started out rough in part because I had received some difficult news the day before. Well, during the evaluation, Todd showed delays in all five areas where he was tested: communication, social/emotional, adaptive (dressing himself, etc.), cognitive, and physical. The caseworker and I had been concerned that Todd may not even score low enough to qualify for the program, but after he was tested, his scores were low enough that he qualified in four of the five tested areas. The test administrators began suggesting that Todd may have a form of high functioning Autism. I was dumfounded, and not at all in a good way!

In the past after receiving such news, I probably would have retreated into myself, gotten angry at God, and eventually become depressed and ineffective. But I determined that I would not go there. Instead of retreating, I called some people for prayer and support. I also decided that I would keep my focus on God no matter what.

I knew that something was not normal with Todd’s speech development, but I did not feel that Autism was the right diagnosis. I’m fortunate to have a friend who works with autistic kids all the time, and she did not feel that Autism was the right diagnosis, either. Todd underwent a speech evaluation a couple of weeks ago, and the therapist also did not feel that Todd was autistic. She did, however, determine that Todd has mild and moderate delays in his comprehension and expression of language, and severe delays in his articulation, so he definitely qualifies for speech therapy.

So that brings us yesterday. Todd had an evaluation with a developmental pediatrician to determine what diagnosis he should have, if any. I had people praying before we went. Todd was very well behaved, I was able to receive all the information the doctor was giving me, and after considering all the information, she determined that Todd is definitely NOT autistic! Praise God! What a relief! She said it is possible that down the road he could be diagnosed with Apraxia (a speech-related diagnosis that can’t be diagnosed yet because of his age) or a learning disorder, and gave me things to look for.

If it had been determined that Todd was autistic I would have accepted it and done what was necessary to help him move forward. I wouldn’t have liked it, but I would have done everything in my power to help him recover. I do not believe it is right to avoid the diagnosis just because I didn’t want it to be or believe it could be true. God puts people in our lives that have more wisdom about some things than we ourselves have. Denying something doesn’t make it any less true. Denial can cause us to miss the help that God is trying to give us with something that’s too big for us to handle on our own.

As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t matter what was said yesterday, my response would have been essentially the same: no matter what life brings I am determined to keep my eyes set on Jesus. He is my Mediator and He gives me the strength, grace, wisdom, and power to overcome any obstacle that wants to trip me up. The fact is God is bigger than speech delays, Autism or any other diagnosis we may have. The amazing thing is that he can take those things, give us the power to overcome them, use them to bring glory to Himself, and then draw men into the Kingdom through them. But if we deny them, we deny God the chance to use them in our lives.

As I said yesterday, while I wish we had started this process sooner, I'm very grateful that we are taking steps to help Todd grow and develop as he should. I'm grateful that God has brought people into our lives who can help us determine what needs to be done and will guide us through the process. I'm also grateful for the people we will have access to through this that we can influence for God's Kingdom that otherwise we would never meet. God has already shown me that Todd will be fully restored (I’ll talk more about that later). I'm praising Him that we're not fighting for victory, but from victory! And today I’m praising Him that He was faithful to answer our request! He is a wonderful God!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Miracles with Purpose

“No, you cannot ascertain the ways of God amid the pathways of men. You may feel the wind as [God] pass[es] and yet see only the swirling dust. The earthly obscures the heavenly.” *

I’ve been reading a devotional by Frances J. Roberts lately called Come Away My Beloved. It’s full of amazing revelation and I highly recommend it. The above quote came out of the passage I read yesterday. So here’s what God showed me out of that:

We have a tendency to see the swirling dust and think that it is God, but God is not the dust. His movement is what puts the dust in motion. Don’t be distracted from God by the things that are merely a consequence of and evidence for His moving and His being. Don’t get caught up in miracles. Though they may wow us, compared to God, they are really not that big of a deal. Instead, get caught up in God Himself. Don’t get caught up in proving that He is. Get caught up in Him – then your life will be proof enough that He exists. Learn to look past the dust. Let it show you where God is moving, and go where He is.

You know, in my own life I could use a few miracles. God has told me that He will recreate Sadey’s ear – that it will blossom like a flower as it grows. (You may ask how I know for sure it was God. I know because I know His voice as Jesus said in John 10:27.) I haven’t seen Sadey’s ear change yet. It looks the same as it did when she was born, only bigger. I could get tripped up by the fact that nothing miraculous has happened yet and get completely sidetracked from what God wants to do. The truth is, some days I do wonder why it seems that nothing has happened yet. On the other hand, when the miracle does take place I could praise the miracle instead of the Miracle Maker. I’ve seen this type of thing happen in the Church. I’ve seen God do some pretty remarkable things, and I’ve seen people get so caught up in the miracles that they begin seeking the miracles instead of God. They go from place to place trying to get another word or prophecy or healing, but so many times that’s the extent of their Christianity. I don’t see them growing closer to God or going into all the world to share the blessings they’ve been given. So often when the first trial comes they fall away from God instead of holding fast to Him and allowing Him to transform them through their circumstances. That’s the best miracle of all – the transformation of sinful, dirty, hurting people into godly, righteous, sanctified children of grace. Such a transformation doesn’t take place through a series of signs and wonders. It takes place in day to day life as we focus on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. When we seek the miracles instead of the Miracle Maker, we have made our foundation on sandy soil, and when the storms and trials of life come, what we have tried to build will be washed away and we will fall.

God showed me yesterday that I am not to look for Sadey’s creative miracle. I’m to look for Him. Her miracle will take place as He promised because of His presence and His moving. Miracles are merely evidence of that – that God is and He is moving. They are simply a consequence of His presence. When the supernatural and the natural meet, the natural must change – it cannot stay the same. But at the same time, God never does anything by accident. Everything He does is intentional. There is a purpose for the miracles. Miracles, signs, and wonders are not meant for the benefit of those who believe on God. These things are for the benefit those people who are yet to believe. God will perform miracles on our behalf, but only so that His purposes, not ours, can be fulfilled. Sadey has an underdeveloped ear so that the power of God can be seen in her (John 9:3), and His glory can be revealed. It has been prophesied that many, many people will give their lives to Christ as a result of God recreating Sadey’s ear. When God recreates her ear it will be so that His purposes can be fulfilled. It is amazing, because as He uses us, He also changes and improves us and the conditions of our lives. So, as you are intent and focused on God, obey Him in everything. He will give you assignments as you pursue Him that will cause miracles to take place in your life as you move in obedience. Your very life will be evidence of God’s being and God’s moving. What a privilege to be used for such a glorious cause!

*Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved. Barbour Publishing, Inc., Uhrichsville, OH. 2002. p. 177.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Essential Unity

Christ and the local church are essential areas of focus for every believer. It is only through the vehicle of the local church that God’s will can be accomplished in the earth. An individual is called and can accomplish great things for Christ on his own, but he can only go so far. When one person adds his calling to that of each individual in his local church in unity, he can accomplish much greater things. His calling is not just added to or even just multiplied. It is increased exponentially. “One can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight.” That is an exponential increase! When he is unified with His fellow believers God commands a blessing of “life forevermore.” When he is gathered with his fellow believers God is in their midst. In the context of his local body, strength is added to him and he receives spiritual protection. A single string can be easily cut or ripped apart, but a “three-strand cord is not easily broken.”

Love is the glue that binds us together in unity to form harmony – loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, strength, and loving our neighbors, in this case our fellow believers, as ourselves. Without love we are loud, harsh, and dissonant, like clanging cymbals. A single musical note can be heard, but is virtually meaningless on its own. When that note is joined with complimentary notes, there is harmony. Those notes and harmonies join together to form a song and a sound that can invade men’s hearts so that the message of the song is easily received. Think of an orchestra. When each musician plays her instrument in cooperation with her fellow musicians, under the guidance of the sheet music and the leading of the conductor, a beautiful melody is produced. However, when each musician plays his own thing, the sound is dissonant, harsh, loud, and ugly. It is difficult to listen to and causes the listener to cover his ears. Without love and harmony, the listener is not open to the message of the music.

In a military unit, each soldier must work in unity with his fellow troops if he expects to survive in battle. They must follow the instructions of their commander or face defeat. If even just one soldier acts on his own, the mission will most likely fail. Soldiers must trust and rely on each other to accomplish their goals and see their missions succeed. On an athletic team, the strengths of each individual player are combined and enhanced so that the team is able to defeat its opponents. Even if the team is composed of the greatest individual players in the world, if they do not work together, they will be defeated (the 2004 USA Olympic basketball team comes to mind).

In the context of the local church body, life flows into the individual through his fellow believers as “each joint supplies”. In the local body his gift is joined with that of others with similar gifting, until each cell is joined together to form tissues, and each tissue is joined together to form organs, and each organ is joined together to form several body parts, and each body part is joined together to form one body. A hand is composed of many cells that are bound together to form tissues. Those tissues join together to form bone, blood vessels, muscles, cartilage, tendons, nerves, and skin. Each of these comes together to make a hand, and together they can move many things. However each of these things on their own, while quite remarkable, can accomplish very little in comparison. It is the unification of these parts, in cooperation with many other parts, that allows me to type this essay, or pick up a glass or water, or pound a nail into a wall to build a house, etc. The hand receives it’s supply of blood, lymph, and nerve signals from the forearm, the forearm from the elbow, the elbow from the upper arm, the upper arm from the shoulder, and so on. Those other parts of the arm are essential for the health of the hand. If the hand is cut off from the arm, it will die, along with each cell of which it is composed. Without our fellow believers we will die spiritually.

It is up to God, our commander to decide which instrument we are to play in the orchestra, our role in the unit, our position on the team, where we fit in the makeup of the body. He places each one in the body “as He sees fit.” It is up to us to unite with those around us to accomplish our mission, His Kingdom purposes, throughout the earth. Each of us has needs that must be met, but if our focus is only on the meeting of our own needs then we will accomplish very little. If we lift our focus to Christ first and the needs of His body, working in love and unity with those with whom He has joined us, our needs will automatically be met through the life that flows to us through the body as each joint supplies. So do not worry about what you need. God is well aware of our needs – He created us, after all. If we seek first His Kingdom, all these things we need, and more, will be given to us as His will, not our own, is accomplished in the earth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Prayer of Thirsty Hearts

Dear Lord,
We are a people who are longing for You. We hunger and thirst after righteousness, panting for Your words. We cry out parched with a thirst only You can quench. We earnestly desire to come to the water that only You provide, craving the food that only You can offer. You say, “Let anyone who is thirsty, come to Me and drink,” so we come to You. Thank You, Sun of Righteousness, the Good Shepherd, for leading us to places of plenty, feeding us each step of the way, everywhere we go, under Your guidance and leading.

We are painfully conscious of our need of You. We don’t want to imagine where we would be without You. We are also painfully aware of how much we need those things with which You refresh, support, and strengthen our souls. We cannot obey Your calling without them. We are desperate for You, not because You never meet our desire for You – You are always faithful to provide. We are desperate simply because we love You and want always to be close to You. You truly do satisfy our souls, yet we want more of You. What we had of You yesterday is not enough for today. We are addicted, eager for the next drink, for what You are doing today and what You will do tomorrow. Today we cannot be satisfied with yesterday’s water and yesterday’s manna. Thank You for giving us our daily water and bread.

Though we are grateful for even just one drop of Your living water, You are faithful to completely fulfill our need. And, oh, how we treasure each drop! We are grateful that in Your provision there is no lack and we never again need look to another source to fill our hearts. We do not have to labor in vain to construct a well. We could never dig one deep enough. Our own efforts will only lead to greater thirst. Only You can satiate our desire, and You are ever bringing us new water to drink. You cause a spring of life to burst open in our stony hearts, and make them as clay. There is no need for us to pursue those things that cannot satisfy, because You give us everything we need for life and godliness. We are thankful that You do not expect us to partake of stagnant waters, but Your spring is always flowing, always bringing fresh, new water till it becomes a River of Life. Our hearts' cry is to go deeper into You everyday.

We know we can never earn Your provision. We have nothing to give You in exchange, yet You invite us to freely partake. You are faithful to let us feast on Your provision simply because we surrender ourselves and accept Your blessing. We delight in what You offer us. You give us food and drink that satisfy as no earthly fare can. You do not spare, but give us the best portion. You are the most gracious Host.

Thank You for washing, cleansing, and purifying us in the water of Your Word, removing every stain and wrinkle, making us holy and faultless. Thank You for restoring our lives and giving us meaning, hope, and purpose, not for our own sakes, but for the sake of Your Name. We are grateful that You not only quench our desires, but You stir the waters to make us healed, whole, and complete in You as we move into them. Though sometimes at first take the water may seem like an obstacle, it is the way to freedom. We hear Your voice saying, “Step into the water. Though it look like a raging torrent, I will keep you safe as you are faithful to step in obedience to My voice.” From faith to faith, grace to grace, deep calls to deep as Your waves and surging tides sweep over us, transforming, remaking, and reforming us into something effective, powerful, and new. It is only in the water that we can receive our deliverance, nourishment, and wholeness. Though the seas rage with tempest we can do things we never imagined possible if only we keep our eyes set on You, oh Author and Finisher of our faith. So we fix our gaze on You, and, though the wind and waves clamor for our attention, we will not be submerged. No, instead we hold fast to our faith as You empower us to walk. As we walk with You, we will give a hand of rescue to those who are sinking, navigating them to Your safety.

Thank You for opening heaven’s windows and floodgates, inundating us with an abundance that we cannot contain – a blessing so vast we must share it. We want to be Your voice in this place and throughout the world, like the voice of many rushing waters. Such a sound is loud and unmistakable – drowning out all other sound, it must be heard! Let us communicate Your sound to the world! Let songs flow out of us, songs that capture the hearts of men. Give us words that melt their hearts, causing them to desire to know You as we know You. Let us bring Your living water to the world. We want to communicate Your heart to our cities. Let the message our cities need to hear cascade down from the Mountain of Your House, reaching out across the land, bringing life and refreshment. Let the seeds of Your Word be transformed and grow as they come into contact with the waters of life. We hear You coming, riding on the thundercloud, bringing the early and latter rains so that the harvest of souls is bountiful, and we say, “Yes, come Lord Jesus, come!” Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Gift of Adoption

About a month ago I read an article on CNN.com by Steven Curtis Chapman about adoption (Hyperlink to Commentary: Our tragedy and God's love for orphans). It's an excellent article which I highly recommend reading. I believe I am truly blessed to have several members of my family who are adopted, in addition to having family friends with adopted children. I think life provides few better pictures for us of how God receives us into His family. The Apostle Paul understood this significance and referred to our adoption by God on several occasions (Rom 8:15, 23, 9:4, Gal 4:5, Eph 1:5). We have three wonderful children for whom I thank God everyday, but we want to open our hearts and home to a couple more someday (hopefully in the not so distant future) through adoption. Some days I'm so eager to see that dream realized it brings tears to my eyes (like today).

God's heart is full of compassion for orphans. The Bible of is full of references asserting this fact. It is not the job of governments or social service organizations to meet the needs of the millions of orphans in the world. God has ordained us as the answer to the worlds needs. And while not everyone is able to adopt a child, everyone can do something to help even just one orphan. Unfortunately, not every orphan is adoptable, but all orphans must still be cared for. According to Chapman, "If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans." I encourage you to ask God what He would have you do and make yourself available to His plan for the world's orphans.

Here are some more highlights from the article:
According to UNICEF, there are 143 million children in the world who have lost one or both parents.

In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.

Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love....

[In reference to his own adoption story:] My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family....

In our travels to Latin America, Africa and Asia, we have visited many different orphanages. If you look past the surroundings and into the eyes of the children, they all have the same look. They seem to convey, "I don't think this is what I was made for. Where do I belong?" These children are crying out for the hope of a family, for the hope of community, for the hope of a permanent love....

We started Shaohannah's Hope in order to connect willing families with waiting children, but the reality is that there are many orphans who cannot be adopted. Even though we may not be able to bring them into our homes, we still have the opportunity to show them the hope we have.

If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Promises for Overcomers

I’ve been reading in Revelation for the past several days, and I just finished reading Christ’s addresses to the seven churches (Rev chapters 2 and 3). I noticed something I had never noticed before: in the address to each church is a promise to overcomers. I’ve catalogued them here. There’s little need for commentary because they pretty much speak quite clearly for themselves. I have emphasized certain things, so all italics, bolding, etc, I’ve added. And, I’ve taken everything from the Amplified Bible. Get ready! It’s pretty astonishing!

Rev 2:7 - He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Remember that tree in the Garden of Eden from which God didn’t Adam & Eve to partake after they sinned? We’ll get to partake from it! Isn't that cool!?)

Rev 2:11 - He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). He who overcomes (is victorious) shall in no way be injured by the second death.

Rev 2:17 - He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (conquers), I will give to eat of the manna that is hidden, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone, which no one knows or understands except he who receives it.

Rev 2:26-29 - And he who overcomes (is victorious) and who obeys My commands to the [very] end [doing the works that please Me], I will give him authority and power over the nations; And he shall rule them with a sceptre (rod) of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, and [his power over them shall be] like that which I Myself have received from My Father; And I will give him the Morning Star. He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).
-Psa 2:8 - Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.

Rev 3:5-6 -
Thus shall he who conquers (is victorious) be clad in white garments, and I will not erase or blot out his name from the Book of Life; I will acknowledge him [as Mine] and I will confess his name openly before My Father and before His angels. He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).

Rev 3:12-13 -
He who overcomes (is victorious), I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God; he shall never be put out of it or go out of it, and I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which descends from My God out of heaven, and My own new name. He who can hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).
-Isa 62:2 - And the nations shall see your righteousness and vindication [your rightness and justice -- not your own, but His ascribed to you], and all kings shall behold your salvation and glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
-Eze 48:35b -
and the name of the city from that day and ever after shall be, THE LORD IS THERE. (That's just part of the new name He is going to give us!)

Rev 3:21-22 -
He who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant him to sit beside Me on My throne, as I Myself overcame (was victorious) and sat down beside My Father on His throne. He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).

After I finished cataloguing these verses yesterday, I read them again all together (I actually read them aloud), all I could say was, “Wow!”, and after that I was pretty much speechless. When life gets difficult, as it often does, just hold on to these extraordinary promises. Remember that you’ve been created for something greater than you can ask, think or imagine! Right now we’re training for the main event that is yet to come, and all the saints who have gone before us are cheering us on! So no matter what you are facing, look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, and shine forth his glory whether you’re on the mountaintop or in the midst of life’s most difficult circumstances. Remember that Christ was staring down death and was able to say to the Father, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” One day we will enter eternity and Christ will stand up to greet us, and say to each of us, “Well done my good and faithful servant!” All we have to do is hold onto and be obedient to Him!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Testimony

Today I want to tell you a little story of something that’s been happening in the last couple of weeks. On August 17th, we took an offering at our amazing church (C3Greensboro) for a citywide outreach campaign called Reach. In the weeks prior to the Reach campaign, our pastor asked everyone in the congregation to ask God how He wanted us to contribute. Well, a couple weeks prior to the offering I had been praying and had a dollar amount in mind. Shawn and I discussed what to give one evening and we both had come up with the same dollar amount, so we thought that was it. Well, the next day I felt God say, “No, you miss understood me, I meant [that dollar amount] for each of you.” Well I didn’t get the guts up to tell Shawn that till we were driving to church on the morning of the 17th. Yes, I waited until the actual day of the Reach campaign offering to tell him. Since I hadn’t given Shawn any notice, I told him what I felt, but left the decision totally up to him. Well, Shawn followed through with what God had shown me, which was a big faith move on his part. We were definitely in a position in which we needed God to move on our behalf. Things were going to be tight that week. Some may think that it was irresponsible for us to give in that way, but I strongly believe that it would have been even more irresponsible for us to be disobedient to God’s instructions.

My birthday was two days after the Reach campaign on Tuesday, the 19th. It really started out as a bit of a rough day. I had received some difficult news on Monday that I was still absorbing. Korrynn had been sick to her stomach on Monday, so I had to be very careful about what to give her to eat. Shawn had been unexpectedly called out of town late Monday evening, and because of the situation I was concerned for his safety. Sadey and Todd both came down with fevers Monday afternoon and still had them when they woke up on Tuesday. So if I had given myself permission, by all natural means I would have had good reason to have a bad attitude that day. Monday evening I had called my pastor’s wife to tell her about the news I had received that day and told her everything else that was going on that day, too. She and her assistant arranged it for someone from church to come help me get the kids fed, bathed, and in bed that night. That in and of itself was an unbelievable blessing. But it didn’t stop there. The girl from church also brought a meal, flowers, and gift cards, which exceeded the dollar amount that we gave to the Reach campaign on the 17th! I also found out that night that Shawn would be back home the next day. What had started out as a difficult day was completely turned around to be an awesome day of blessing! I just realized something else – if I had kept my pain to myself and had not reached out to my pastor’s wife for prayer and support the door for God’s blessing would not have been open and I would have missed out.

Well I think that’s a pretty awesome testimony, but the story doesn’t end there. Shawn and I were sitting in church the next evening and I felt God tell me that I am supposed to pass most of the gift cards on to other people. I tried to argue with God about it, making sure to point out that cards would pay for the mattress and car seat we need for Korrynn and Sadey. Did I really think I could change His mind? Let’s just think about this minute, shall we? Hmm… While I didn’t succeed at changing God’s mind, I did hear Him tell me that He wants to give us an even bigger blessing and my obedience is necessary for that to happen. To be honest I haven’t followed through yet. ☹ (oops!) I’ve either left the gift cards at home, or the people I want to give them weren’t at church, and then there was this past Sunday when I had them with me at church in my back pocket, but completely forgot to remove them from my pocket and pass them on. Of course, just saying that I intend to give them away doesn’t constitute full obedience. But I’ll keep you posted on what happens when I do follow through.

One last still unfolding chapter in this story… You know when you make the effort to be obedient to what God is telling you, Satan really doesn’t like it. He will do whatever he can after you take those steps of obedience to disrupt your circumstances and try to discourage you so you won’t do it again. Well, the Saturday after my birthday, the 23rd, Shawn, Korrynn, and I were taking part in a community outreach through our church in partnership with several other churches in the city. While we were driving home the check engine light came on. We dropped the car off to be repaired this past Sunday and found out the whole radiator needs to be replaced, a repair that will cost us over $800.00. Our current budget doesn’t yet allow for that, but we know God has our back! He is our Source! Sunday night I had a dream of God bringing unexpected miraculous provision from completely unexpected sources into our lives. Who knows? I can’t wait to see what happens!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Procrastination Blues

Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while. I haven’t been too busy. Life hasn’t been too complicated. I’ve just been putting it off. It seems that when I said I wouldn’t be blogging as regularly as before I subconsciously gave myself permission to procrastinate. I should never do that. Procrastination is one of my biggest hang-ups. (There… now you know the ugly truth… I’m not perfect!) I even have a whole list of things I want to blog about, and the longer I procrastinate the longer it gets. Duh! Does anyone else struggle with procrastination? Any pointers for overcoming? I know I’m certainly not procrastinating out of faith. There’s no script playing in my head saying, “I know that if I put this off today, God will get it done!” Actually God is usually waiting on me to do it. It is my assigned task after all.

“Why put off tomorrow what you can do today?” (So the saying goes…) Different reasons. I’ve recently discovered that it’s usually fear based. I find the fear thing overwhelming, so I avoid what it is I need to do. What am I afraid of? I don’t know, usually stupid things. Sometimes it’s putting myself out there. Sometimes it’s all the nitty gritty details. Sometimes it’s not having enough time. Sometimes it’s not doing it right. Sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s change. No matter what the reasons may be, the fact is that procrastination has become a stronghold in my life.

Procrastination is definitely a “sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles” me (from Heb 12:1 AMP). The Message says “parasitic sin”. It is clever. It’s subtle, strategic, and serves as a distraction to steal my focus away from Christ. Some may say it’s a little harsh to call procrastination a sin, but Paul said, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23b NASB). The simplest definition of sin I’ve ever heard is just, “missing the mark”. Procrastination trips me up, causes me to lose my focus and miss my target. It is also parasitic. A parasite steals energy from the host for it’s own purposes at the host’s expense. Procrastination steals energy from me and keeps me overwhelmed. The more I put something off, the harder it is to accomplish, and the more it overwhelms me. When I’m overwhelmed I feel like I don’t have enough strength to accomplish my task. Also, by calling procrastination sin I am more motivated to get it out of my life. I don’t want sin in my life, but I might be willing to overlook a “personality fault” and make excuses for it. The truth is, my procrastinating has made it necessary for me to invent a lot of excuses throughout the course of my life which are little more than deceptions. I’m done with making excuses. I want to be able to be fully forthright and honest with myself and everyone around me.

One of the things I have discovered recently is that half of the battle is just getting started on something. Usually once I get started, it really doesn’t take that much time and effort to complete a task. And for the bigger tasks sometimes I just need to work on it for a few minutes and then do something else for a little while. But sometimes the task it so big that even breaking it down and getting started are not enough to keep me from getting overwhelmed. Sometimes I need help, and I’m learning that that’s okay.

So now I’ve put myself out there. Okay, y’all, this is huge… I’m giving you permission to call me to task on this. (Maybe I shouldn’t, but for some strange reason I want to.) Let me make myself clear, I am by no means inviting criticism – just advice and accountability. If you think you have something for me, please just run it by God first and make sure. Then, please be gentle, not condemning. I want to be better and I’d love your support. And I must say, thank You, Christ for giving me strength to be more than a conqueror!