Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Prayers

Yesterday we received phone calls on our home phone and both cell phones from the High School regarding our son Tommy. Immediately I knew something was not right. John was at the store when his cell phone rang. He answered and spoke with the guidance counselor and she explained that something had taken place that day and that he needed to come to the school.

When John arrived, our son Tommy and another student along with the principle, another parent and guidance counselor were sitting in the office. The events that had taken place was a bit disturbing and a sharp reminder of how we desperately need to cover our youth and their schools.

At this school there is a young man who Tommy has been around a few times. Each time he has been around him, the young man has made jokes about killing people. In fact he has had counseling for emotional instability and was even sent away from home for a season because he killed his neighbor's dog.

Yesterday, Tommy was in the middle of a conversation that took place between a young lady and this particular young man. She made a comment in a joking way that she wanted to kill another young lady because she was going out with her "ex-boyfriend" . The young man told her he would do it for 30 dollars. Someone overheard these exchange of words and reported it to the principle's office. Everyone who was around, including Tommy, was taken to the office for questioning. Investigators were even called in. Needless to say, the school principle and other officials did not take the incident lightly. I am very thankful.

In fact the principle told John that they are looking further into this young man's situation. When John arrived home with Tommy yesterday and they shared what had happened I felt such a sense of urgency to pray covering over our youth and our schools as never before. We have been able to turn on the TV lately and hear about violence amongst teenagers. In fact last night, I watched in horror as several teenage girls abused and beat up another young lady while taping it on video. This victim now has nerve damage in her face and she even had swelling on her brain due to the continuous blows she received. She could possibly have permanent damage to her sight and to her hearing.

I was thanking the Lord over and over yesterday that Tommy came home safely from school. Something that may have seemed like a joke was no joke. It was a learning experience for him as well as for us as parents that we need to take our responsibility to cover our children in prayer very seriously. I also spent time in prayer for this disturbed young man who has murderous thoughts. We need to teach our teenagers to be watchmen on the wall for their schools. For some reason out of a couple of thousand students Tommy was exposed to this incident. Maybe the Lord's heart is for our teens to have a wake up call in that yes, they are called to be watchmen for their schools. It could be a matter of life or death.

We live in desperate times which calls for desperate prayer. This is no time to fear, but a season to rise up and wage war on behalf of this generation. Our prayers for them can make all the difference and I plan to continue to stand watch in the spot on the wall that only I can fill. it may be only one little space that I fill, but I want to be obedient to stand in that little gap. One arrow from the enemy could fly through that opening should I fail to stand my watch. I praise the Lord for the wake up call!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Just a few days ago I was having lunch in Chick Fil A with my oldest daughter Sara. As we were sitting there I looked up and saw a truck at the intersection. Across the top was written in large letters, "Another delivery is on the way." These words just jumped out at me as if there was something someone wanted me to know. "Could it be you God?" I quietly prayed. I am not one to be asking God for a sign. In fact before I saw these words I was not even thinking about anything that would stir such a question and prayer.

Obviously the Lord wanted to speak something to me because I have been in a season of rapid growth. Yes. I am growing up and so are you. It is a time God is moving quickly. According to J. Oswald Sanders, spiritual maturity is not a position we reach or a goal we achieve. It is a life we find ourselves living. Think sbout your life. Have you been treading through some major changes lately? Then you may very well be experiencing a growth spurt in the spirit.

As a young child I would often have aches and pains in my legs. I would feel the discomfort mostly at night when I would go to bed. The ache sometimes would keep me awake. However, my parents would tell me it was okay, that I was just having growing pains.

Similarly, as we grow and mature in our character, in our faith, and in our relationship with God we are given increased ability with time to digest more of His truth. This means that we not only have a greater understanding, but a deeper acceptance of His truth. This is where the phrase "Another delivery is on the way" enters in. This growth can be very painful at times and even tempt us into unrest and anxiety. Growth is accelerated in times of testing and difficulty. Yes we can obtain growth through knowledge, but the greatest increase comes in times of adversity and pressure.

In Sander's book, "Spiritual Maturity" deliverance of faith is explained. I would like to share some of his thoughts. Many times when we are going through tests and hardship we are on the outlook for the deliverance. In the book of Daniel, chapter 3 Sahdrack, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery pit because they refused to bow down and worship the golden god that Nebuchadnezzar had errected for all of his people to worship.

This controlling King made his demands, but the three young men replied, "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from the roaring furnace and from anything else you might cook up. But even if he does not rescue us , it would not make a bit of difference. We still would not serve your Gods or worship the gold statue you set up. (Daniel 3: 16-18)

Nebuchadnezzar's face turned purple with anger and he ordered the furnace to be turned up seven times hotter that usual. Strong men bound them up and threw them into the furnace . Because of the heat, the strong men were burned up. However, the three young men were seen walking freely around in the fire. And what is even more exciting was that Jesus was down there walking around with them. Splendid!

The lesson of this story is packed with insight for walking through the trials of life. However, the one thing that really impacted me is that many times we are so focused and wrapped up in finding and coming to our deliverance that we place our hope in it. The three young men who were threated had such a deep rooted trust that they were not even worried should God choose not to deliver them from being tossed into the fire. Sure enough, they were plumeted into the violent flames. God did not deliver them from the furnace, but he delivered them in it. Sanders points out that "we must get away from the idea that deliverance from a trial is the highest form of spiritual blessing".

Jesus said that in this world you will have tribulation. The greater the tribulation the greater the impact we will have as individuals and churches. We are deceived if we think the less problems we have and the more comfort we entail, we are in the best place to reach people.

I thought of Paul whose conditions were never "just right" to do the ministry and to reach others, He was constantly being tested and always faced persecution. Yet he did the work of the ministry with joy and power. Another of Sanders quotes is "we learn more in a few days in the fiery furnace than we would learn in years out of it."

We must be careful not to grumble when the delivery is not made in the way we envisioned it. Many times when we fall into hardship we are faithful to wait but the "tudes" we carry are often not attractive. Things are not going my way and I start to have a bad attitude. There is good news. We have the power to change those negative attitudes by starving them. Yes, starve them until they die. You see, these three men in the fire could have fallen into distress when their lives were threatened. They could have taken on the negative and even turned against the God they proclaimed to trust. However, they gloried in the tribulation because they knew that God had good in mind for them no matter how it all turned out.

We must take heed to this example. We must choose to proclaim, "God will deliver me and even if He chooses not too, I will love Him anyway. I will serve Him anyway. I will love others anyway because my hope is in the DELIVERER, not in the delivery of the deliverance!!

What kind of furnace are do you find yourself in today? How are you handling it? Are you grumbling? Are you stewing inwardly and finding yourself being critical of the way things are being done in your home, work place or church? Maybe you are in place of waiting and things are not going the way you had hoped. We are constantly faced with changes. People change, circumstances change, the weather changes: nothing is constant. However, there is One who never changes. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He who began great things in you is faithful to complete that work. Your Father leaves nothing undone and incomplete.

The reason that the three young men in the furnace could stand with confidence in the midst of the trial and the unknown was because they kept their heart fixed upon the Deliverer not the deliverance. They stood on Christ the Solid Rock and did not sink into dispair and distress. May we all be challenged to exercise our faith and learn to lean on the Everlasting Arms of Jesus no matter what the pain. You are growing up and that it good. Yes it hurts. However, we have many promises from the heart of our unchanging God. All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose and plan. He will keep you in perfect peace as you keep your flow of thoughts upon Him.

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Adventure to Share

About a month ago John and I had our first interview in hopes of receiving a grant for Not4Saken, a ministry to help single parent families. Not4Saken is a part of the Leaping Hearts Ministries we started last year. We were a bit discouraged as we left the interview because we just felt like one of many who ask for funding for non-profit organizations. Our presentation was not elaborate and we could not answer many of the questons asked. In addition, the gentlemen who interviewed us shared with us that many people and organizations ask them for money. However, he did not say no and expressed that he would be in touch.

Several weeks passed and we received an email that they wanted to give us a matching grant. This meant that for every 5oo dollars we received in gifts they would match it. The maximum they will match is 3000 dollars. At first this sounded a bit discouraging as I was thinking about how we would raise the 3000 dollars in order to get the matching grant.

Last week, I was falling into the fickleness mode again and felt a wave of doubt rising about the whole thing. Every time this happens, I just lay it before God. There is no need to hide or lie to God that my faith is weakening and that doubts are swelling. In the midst of that sinking feeling, God so graciously came and brought more confirmation that we are moving in the right direction with this ministry. I received an email from a lady who goes through estate homes and gives things away that are left from the estate sales. She communicated to me that she had just worked through a home that had a lot of things we could use for Not4Saken.

It is amazing to watch God work as the owner of this home was a 50 year old man who suddenly passed away of a massive heart attack. He had not been sick and had no symptoms. It was a sudden and tragic death. He was not married, had no children, but he lived a very full life helping different churches and businesses install large sound systems and building structures. He also helped install some of the interior structures of the Atlanta Aquarium.

My heart was deeply touched as his sister,Kelly, met us at the home and helped us load the items into our van. She was so kind and spoke so lovingly of her brother whose life had ended so suddenly. This sweet lady was of such a small frame but her physical strength amazed me as she willingly without complaint assisted us in loading large pieces of furniture into our van. As I was watching her I felt the Lord impressing on me that this was a woman of great inner strength as well as physical strength.

My gratitude to the Lord is beyond words to describe. I am beginning to understand more and more as to why He does things in ways we do not understand. He could have provided us with a grant that would not have to be matched. However, He chose to bless us with a matching grant so that we could meet precious people like Kelly. I am so happy I met her today. My heart is blessed more and more as God connects us with more and more people. Each day is an adventure and I am looking forward to the future and all that will unfold through the gracious workings of our marvelous Father. He wants us to connect with others. It is obvious. How great is the measure of His love.