Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Miracle Season

Well, there's happy news and sad news. The sad news is, Shawn and I won't be going to India this summer. The happy news is twofold. First, two other people will go in our stead, and I will keep up the donation link to help them get there. Second, the reason we aren't going is because Shawn is being transferred to Huntsville, AL, and his start date at the new locale is in the middle of the trip. This is a very good thing for us, and an answer to prayer!

For the past two years Shawn has worked in Washington, DC. He has had to commute 4 1/2 hours every day he goes to the office. Fortunately he has been able to work from home some, but the last two years have been very difficult for him. It's hard for me and the kids, too, when he is away that much. It's also been very challenging for us financially. The cost of living is pretty high in the DC area, and haven't been able to live closer to shorten Shawn's commute. We've been blessed to have a place to live provided for us, but the situation has not been ideal, and not what we envisioned. We are very grateful for what we've had the past couple of years and for what we've learned. We have gotten closer to each other in unexpected ways and God has revealed areas where He wants to work in us. Our time here has been hard and good, but we are ready for a change, the kids included.

God has done so much work on our behalf in the past 6 months, and we've been amazed as we have watched His hand at work. Shawn has received amazing favor at work. Essentially a position was created for him. That simply does not happen with his employer. Normally they have to open the position to the entire company and put everyone through an application process, even if they have someone in mind for the position. This time they didn't follow the normal protocol.

Shawn's ability to take the position was dependent on our house in North Carolina selling. When we first moved to Virginia we attempted to sell the house, but we didn't get a single bite for three months. We could have left it on the market longer, but we simply couldn't afford to maintain an empty house while we lived in Virginia, so we rented the house out. The renters vacated the property this past December. The total cost of repairs to get the house ready to sell was less than $2500! We put the house on the market toward the end of January and had an offer in less than two weeks! The market is still pretty slow in our area of NC, and there was another house for sell on our cul-de-sac that was listed for less than ours, so for us to have an offer in less than two weeks was nothing less than God's hand at work. Well, the offer was a low-ball offer, so I really didn't believe those were the right buyers for us. I thought God was going to work something else out. One day Shawn and I were praying and he prayed that if these were the right buyers that God would work it out. Well, of course I "knew" that these weren't the right buyers, so I prayed that God would bring the right offer and that He would work everything out for the best of everyone involved. A couple of days later we got word that the buyers brought their offer up almost $15,000! I was overjoyed and humbled and thankful that God answered Shawn's prayer. Well, we closed on the sale last Monday and a couple of days later Shawn's transfer was made official and we were given his transfer date.

I'm astounded by the miracles we've seen in our lives the last few months, but I know that miracle season isn't over for us yet. The cost of living in Alabama is much lower than here in VA. We're praying for a property with a few acres attached so we can start a small farm (more on that in a later post). We've found some properties in the area with a few acres for less than $100,000. We could rent for awhile to make sure of where in the area we want to live, but I just feel that God has a place all picked out for us. Not to give too much away yet, but the farming thing is something God has been growing in my heart the last few years and it's time to start acting on the vision. I'm so excited about how He is going to use this to build His Kingdom! Since this is His work, I know He will provide what is needed so we can fulfill it.

It's been nice having Shawn's family nearby, and we hate that we'll be so far from them. We will also miss our church here and the relationships we've made. We've been privileged to sit under some of the best pastors we've encountered. Their hearts for their people is so refreshing and our time in the church has been a time of rest for us. We've made some great friendships here, too, and we'll miss them as well. I know that God will transplant us into another wonderful church family and he will bring people alongside that we can be friends with and that we can partner with to build His Kingdom. My sister also lives about 90 minutes from Huntsville and it will be good to be closer to her. Plus it will be easier for my parents to have us both in the same area. And, of course, there's always Facebook, and email, and cellphones, and Skype, so we can keep in touch with those that we're leaving behind.

I'd love it if you will join with us in prayer as we prepare to move and start our new venture. Pray for provision, safety, and that I will develop more self-discipline! Also, pray for the India team that God will provide for their needs and that He will do an amazing work through them. And please donate if you feel God's leading. There are 11 team members and the basic cost of the trip is $2700 each, which does not include additional expenses like shots, spending money, etc. I'm praying Shawn and I can make the trip next year. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and get my passport so that I'll be ready for the next opportunity that comes my way. I'm so thankful for what God is doing for and through us. Praise God for miracle season!

Monday, March 18, 2013

What Are You Full Of?

This message is from Steve Kelly, the Senior Pastor of Wave Church. Ps Steve lived was born in New York till he was nine when his parents emigrated to Australia. He grew up in an alcoholic home and became a Christian in his late teens. He eventually became an associate pastor at Hillsong in Sydney and was the leader of their college. He had always dreamed of returning to the US to minister, and God opened the door for him in 1999 at Church of the Redeemer (now Wave Church) in Virginia Beach, VA. God has done a wonderful work there. This is the church through which Shawn and I met, and we were married by one of the pastors there, Tom Harmon. I'm thankful for our time there, and for what God did in our lives while we were involved in the church. This message was delivered on July 30, 2000, shortly after Ps Steve returned from the Hillsong conference in Australia.

Questions about your heart:

Proverbs 27:19
Ephesians 3:19-20
Psalm 16:1

  • 1. Who, or what, is the lord of your heart?
    • You soon see who the lord of your heart is by your words.
Psalm 16:5-9

  • 2. What does the night season reveal about your heart?
    • Your heart can only instruct you according to what it knows.
    • Can your heart remain steady in any season?
Psalm 45:1

  • 3. What theme overflows from your heart?
    • Being filled with the Spirit changes what flows from your heart.
1 Samuel 18:1

  • 4. What associations identify with your heart?
    • What soul does your soul knit to?
    • What type of people identify with you?
    • What type of people do you identify with?

My thoughts: These are great questions I should be asking myself periodically to examine the health of my relationship with God. We are judged by our fruit and honest answers to these questions will reveal the fruit that I am bearing. These questions shouldn't be handled lightly, so I'm not going to answer them here and now, but prayerfully in my devotional time tomorrow. I do feel that the answers to these questions are different now than they would have been at the beginning of the year. I can say that in recent weeks my heart has instructed me to draw closer to Him, for which I am very thankful.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Stop Making Excuses and Go For It!

Since I'm doing a series of posts of sermon notes, I would be remiss not to include current notes from the church I'm attending now. This past Sunday we had an amazing service at Crossroads Vineyard. We launched our first church plant, Skyline Vineyard in Falls Church, VA. Jeff and Diane Wright are the pastors of this plant. Jeff was one of our pastors at Crossroads for several years. He is an amazingly intelligent man and a deep thinker who cares very deeply about people and evangelizing the lost. The motto for Skyline is, "Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly." What a difference the Church would make in the world if we truly lived this way! This is what he shared for his last sermon at Crossroads (though I'm sure he'll be back as a visiting speaker!):

Acts 20:17-24
  • There is a God who adores you and desires your life to be transformed by His grace. He wants to bring you from where you are to where He is. He desires you to have a life of worship--a love walk with Him.
  • Mediocrity is not a spiritual gift. Pursue excellence.
  • What are you compelled to do that you are ignoring?
    • What's stopping you?
  • When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? A loser?
    • When Jesus looks at you, He sees a son or daughter.
    • When God looks at you, He sees Jesus.
    • Learn to see yourself as God sees you!
  • There's no change you can make for Jesus to love you more, but there's a lot of change you need to do to love Him back.
    • Where are you wasting you time, money, and talent? 
    • What are you doing instead of loving Him?
    • Are you trading toilet water for living water?
  • What is He calling you to do now?
    • God is more interested in your call and your life than you are.
    • What excuses are keeping you from action?
    • Don't worry about the details! Let God handle them.

My thoughts: Man, God just keeps hitting me with this stuff! Again, this confirms to me that I'm on the path that He has laid out for me. It's time for me to stop making excuses and start acting! (And by "acting," I'm not talking about joining a theatrical troop.) Faith without works is dead. It's time to starting putting my faith to work by building God's Kingdom. He's been filling my heart with so much new and renewed vision recently, and there are some things I feel compelled to do. Going to India is definitely one of those things. The other is something that God has been growing in my heart for some time. I will share it soon. My prayer is that in an effort to become equipped I don't get side-tracked by the act of preparation. For me it's easy to allow what I perceive as my limitations to stop me from doing what God has called me to. I've also let fear and feelings of inadequacy paralyze me. And there's my tendency to pursue momentary desires instead of delaying gratification. I'm determined to consider each choice in the light of whether it builds my kingdom or His. I want to surrender my ideal of personal security and live by faith. I definitely want to go all in! Dear God, empower me to fulfill Your call on my life!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Keeping Your Vision Fresh

Robert Cameron, July 9, 2000

(Robert Cameron is for one of my faith heroes. He’s a cheerful, robust Scotsman who’s love for God shows in everything I’ve seen him say or do. He is a great man of faith. I can hear his brogue as I go through these notes. He is an associate pastor at Wave Church, and is in charge of the Wave Network of churches. His family traveled around the country for years preaching and singing.)

Primary text - 1 Samuel 3:1-10
     Verse 2 says that Samuel was in his usual place.
  • God is looking for a Church that's on the edge, not on the run. (1 Peter 2:9)
  • A person without vision ail always revisit the past.
  • Vision will... 
    • Give you boundaries.
    • Teach how to go straight.
      • Have a goal and set your eyes upon it. (John 21:3-7, 1 Samuel 16:1-13)
    • Help you to spend your money correctly.
    • Drive you to new heights.
    • Stretch you.
    • Cause you to attempt great things for God and expect great things from Him.
  • Lack of vision will...
    • Cause complacency.
      • It's dangerous to get too familiar with the things of God. (The old saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt.")
      • With complacency there is no expectancy.
        • It produces nothing.
        • It'll put you in a rut. The only difference between a rut and a grave is depth.
      • Complacency brings a lack of intimacy.
      • Complacency brings a lack of sensitivity.
      • Complacency will bring calamity and chaos.
    • Cause judgment.
    • Cause death.
Habakkuk 2:2 - How to keep vision fresh.
  • Write it down. Develop a mission statement.
  • Get out of your "usual place".
    • Don't settle for good. The good is the enemy of the best.
  • Expect God to move.
    • Faith expects miracles.
  • Ask God to bring your vision to pass.
    • Be very determined about it.
      • You have to be just as determined to see your family saved as Satan is to have them.
  • Fellowship with visionaries.
    • Attitude rubs off.
  • Talk about your vision.
    • Bring it to life.
    • Keep your heart right.
If we have vision and passion, we won't have to worry about discipline and commitment.

My thoughts: I used to have vision, but I let it grow stale and lost sight of it. I became complacent. Recently God has been restoring my vision, and growing new vision in my heart. This time around I need to endeavor to keep it fresh. I need to become determined to see it come to pass. In the past I've let fear stop me. It's time to become an overcomer. I need to be proactive about associating with visionaries. Developing new relationships is another area where I've allowed fear to stop me. I definitely need to get out of my usual place. Going to India would fulfill that. Lord, thank You for what You are showing me through so many voices. Help me to refresh my vision and to overcome the fear that has held me back from fulfilling it in the past. Thank You for fresh starts. Enable me to not only start well, but also to finish well. 

What does this message speak to you? Have you kept your vision fresh? Like me, do you need to refresh your vision? What do you do to keep your vision fresh?