Are We “Doing” Church so Well that We’ve Missed “Being” the Church?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Last Thursday, my husband boarded a plane with our oldest son to take him to Dallas, TX. Steve returned home on Friday. Austin will remain in God’s hands for the next two weeks sharing the Gospel with strangers. I expect when he returns home, he will be changed.

God has planted a seed in our son’s heart to bring revival to his campus and our community. He heard about a movement happening in Dallas, and asked us if he could go serve. He wanted to step in faith beyond his comfort to reach out to people with Christ’s love, and he wanted to learn from the team working there so he could bring the knowledge back and let God use him to ignite revival here.

God is revealing Himself in Dallas-Fort Worth, dear one. The harvest is plentiful, and in an unprecedented coalition of over 300 churches bridging denominations, the workers are not few. The Acts church rises in their midst, laying down laws for love and walking out the Gospel’s call to go and make disciples.

A woman participating in the outreach posted this letter last week. I pray that God uses it to help blind eyes see and empower the lame in our churches to start walking.

 

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Repentance Letter – #ReviveTX

Dear Church –

When I was an 18-year-old Bible school student, I stopped one day by the prompting of the Holy Spirit at a flower stand, and after about an hour of loving, listening, discerning, and responding, I led a French international student to Jesus. I will never forget that moment. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, because I had just reproduced the Kingdom for the first time.

Fast forward over twenty years and I am still passionate for Jesus. I pursue Jesus and I ask God daily to keep me hungry for Him. Most people in my life know that about me – I am the same person everywhere I go.

I can read off all of my accomplishments – I have run small businesses, I have had favor in politics, led worship for years and wrote songs, given sacrificially into the Kingdom of God, been passionate about foreign missions, ministered in Romania and Guatemala, wrote discipleship books, and planted a house church with my husband – but yet I can only count on two hands the amount of people that I have actually led to Jesus in AMERICA in the last twenty years since I was that 18 year old Bible school student.

I have talked more ABOUT lost humanity – than I have talked TO lost humanity.

I have talked more about evangelism, discipleship, and church planting than I have actually evangelized, discipled, and church planted.

I say that I am a missionary to America – speaking into the lives of amazing elected officials and impacting our nation, yet rarely do I ever go as far as to make sure that people are really born again.

I have been a woman pursuing Jesus and first century Christianity, but there has been a disconnect in my heart toward what He really cares most about – the lost sheep walking about me in my city and my nation every day.

In the last three weeks, only going out three days with Revive Texas, I have been a part of leading 10 people to Jesus – 6 of those saying YES to Jesus for the VERY first time. Three of these people said to me or our team that they had NEVER heard this simple gospel before. They had never read “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…” They have never heard that “God demonstrated His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I am still in shock at the magnitude of the harvest that is ready in our city and the disconnect that we, the church, have had to go after the harvest. I led a precious lady to Jesus at the gas station by my office on Wednesday just because I took off work to share my faith.

I repent before you today that I have prayed for revival but never fully understood what I was praying for.

I have prayed passionately for the church to be ONE in the spirit of John 17, but never really understood the full purpose of why that was important.

I repent that my eyes have not seen the thousands of people around me in DFW that have NEVER heard the good news that I say I can’t live without.

I am sorry that even in the midst of helping pastor a house church and being a part of the house church movement that desires and teaches the Acts 2 lifestyle that I, in reality, wasn’t living out Acts 2 day to day – seeing people “added to the church daily.”

Friends, I am sorry that I have not led you toward the harvest that is so ripe. It is a beautiful harvest right here in front of us, but yet I didn’t see it. I didn’t really see it.

My life has been radically changed in the last 25 days and I want you to know that I will never be the same again.

My eyes are now wide open, and by the grace of God, they will not be closed again.

The simple Christianity that I have always yearned for and desired – for over twenty years – has been placed before me in the form of a colorful wristband and a colorful Bible.

I am forever thankful to Kyle & Laura Martin, all the missionaries with Time to Revive that have invaded our city, and the local people who I have walked with the last 25 days who are saying “yes” to Jesus. The seeds of revival are being planted in Dallas-Fort Worth and a prophetic voice has come to town, and as for me – I am asking God to give me ears to hear.

My heart will never recover from this move of God and on day 51 of Revive Texas, June 5th (when the 50 days are officially over), my eyes will still be looking for the harvest.

I know that because this is real repentance.

The Bible says that when we confess our sins to one another that we will be healed. Thank you for hearing my confession and being a witness to my healed heart.

I love you all.

Bunni Pounds
Reality Community

Original Post

For more information about Revive Texas – go to www.revivetx.org.

Would God Curse His Treasured Possession?

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Scripture calls you a priest of God, dear one. Do you think of yourself that way? Do you even know what it means?

Peter’s words in our opening scripture echo God’s to Moses in Exodus 19:5-6.

“’Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

From the beginning, God has sought to create for Himself a kingdom of priests. Perhaps you noticed the contingency mentioned in verse 5. If. We tend to treat God’s promises as though they’re all automatic. I think God would like us to notice our role in bringing them to fruition.

if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples.

 I can’t help thinking of God’s words over Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Luke 9:35

Throughout scripture, God promises blessing to those who listen to Him. And Jesus came as the Word made flesh, calling all people to follow Him. Those truths leave me struggling to understand how so many professing Christians believe we can ignore God’s Word and still expect His blessing,

We shout grace as our justification.  We’re taught that God treasures and loves us regardless of how we behave. We are, after all, His royal priesthood, saved by grace.

But God declared this message to His priests in Malachi 2.

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Verses 1-2

I’m guessing those verses might make you a little uncomfortable. We don’t want to picture our God of grace cursing the blessings of His own people. And yet, there it is in black and white. God disciplines His children who refuse to listen to Him. When we reject His Word, we reject His blessing.

Dear one, we cannot separate the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Right here in the book of Malachi, God confirms His unchanging nature.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:6-7

God’s blessing departs from His people when we cease to honor and obey His Word. But He also promises that whenever we repent and return to Him, the blessing that flows from Him will return to us.

Like in the days of Malachi, God calls us to return to the sanctity of our covenant with Him. He describes that covenant with His original priest, Levi, in Malachi 2:5-6.

My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name.  True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.

Behold the true priest of the Word, dear one. Humbled by the awe of God, he fears Him and lives his life according to His Word. Life and peace follow him, because God is near. God’s Word is in his mouth and on his tongue, and he turns many from their sin.

Do those words describe you, dear one? Do the Father’s eyes rest upon you with joy because your life reveals your position in His kingdom of priests?

For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Verse 7

Blessing flows to the one who hears the Word of the Lord and follows.

Lord, empower us to live worthy of the calling we have received. You have consecrated us, sanctified us, and set us apart for your kingdom purpose. Forgive us for living for ourselves instead of for You. Ignite Your Word in our hearts and give us the faith to live by it, turning many from iniquity. May we stand in awe of You, living lives that reveal Your glory.

Dear Father, raise Your kingdom of priests.

You Were Made for Glory

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2

Glory. It’s one of those words we talk about in church but don’t fully understand. In our human experience, glory represents fame and importance. Renown. And we spend much of our time on this earth fighting for glory that belongs to God.

But glory comprises more than honor and distinction. It also reveals itself through magnificent, radiant beauty. Like the glory revealed in creation, or the dazzling, pure light emanating from our Creator Himself.

Renown. Magnificence. Radiant beauty. Glory.

So what do you think God means when He declares,

“…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6b-7

In these verses, God issues a call to gather His children—every individual who bears His Name. He reveals His purpose in verse 7: whom I created for my glory.

God formed you, beloved—knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)—with a singular purpose, one the enemy of our souls works diligently to keep hidden. God created you for glory.

I imagine you’ve felt the longing for significance common to all mankind. We desire purpose. We want to be valued, to feel important. We long to be seen and understood. Whether we willingly admit it or not, our hearts long for glory.

And scripture is clear. God created you for glory. But not your glory, dear one. His. God created you to be a dwelling place for His glory.

Consider Jesus’ prayer to His Father right before His arrest and death on a cross.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” John 17:22

Beloved, Jesus has shared His glory with you. The same glory that the Father bestowed on Christ, He gave to us.

Hebrews 1:3 describes Jesus’ glory.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

Child of God, the radiance of God’s glory—the exact imprint of His nature—now dwells within you. Jesus gave it to you when you put your faith in Him. God has given you His own glory, so that you can reveal who He is.

But look at what Jesus linked to that glory: Unity.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-23

I wonder if you caught the significance of verse 23. God gave us His glory, “… that they may become perfectly one.”

Perfect unity seems an impossible goal. I guess it’s a good thing God specializes in making impossible things possible (Matthew 19:26).

I’m going to take Jesus’ words a step further. Perfect unity within the body of Christ isn’t just possible. It’s inevitable. Why? Because Jesus always prays according to the Father’s will, so He always gets what He asks for. Christ’s church will rise in perfect unity before the end, revealing the glory Jesus gave us. The only question remaining is which generation of believers will experience that promise.

I know one thing. God’s glory won’t become evident while believers seek their own. The world will see it as individuals embrace their true purpose and commit their lives to God’s. We must stop seeking to position ourselves in prominent places and allow Jesus to position us in the place He chose for us.

Beloved, the church is God’s present dwelling place on earth,

… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:20-22

Scripture teaches that,…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…” (1 Corinthians 6:19). But I need you to notice something. God’s house grows into a holy temple as it’s joined together. Each person carrying the Spirit is merely a piece of the greater structure. When we allow the Spirit to build us together into God’s dwelling place, glory will fill the temple.

Look what happened when God’s last earthly house was completed.

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

When glory filled the temple, the people watching knew two things.

God is here.

God loves.

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane echoes that result, “that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

You were made for glory, beloved. God has given you His glory through your faith in His Son. Now He wants to position you in your place in His house, connected to and supporting other believers on every side. When He finishes building, His glory will once again fill His earthly temple.

And the world will know that He is God.

Why Does God Allow Pain?

For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:6

Last October, I found myself in another hospital waiting room. My husband had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He couldn’t walk or drive for 6 weeks. You don’t plan for these things. They just happen.

Sometimes they happen more frequently than others.

When I look over the last year, I can’t help thinking of how many precious family members and other loved ones have spent hours and days in hospital rooms. I have been fortunate enough to just take up space in the waiting areas. While my heart aches for them, these people I love have felt it physically.

Pain. Nausea. Discomfort. Weakness. Weariness. Fear.

In those moments of heartache and pain, we naturally grasp for an answer to a tiny yet profound question. Why?

And in this world where Christianity is often touted as a direct link to blessing and prosperity, believers can be tempted to doubt God’s promises.

I get it. I’ve been there myself, wondering if God’s Word could really be true—wondering how a loving God could allow hard things like pain, suffering, and loss.

But I’d like to take a few moments to look at difficulty from God’s perspective.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29

Beloved, scripture teaches that sometimes God grants you— and me—the gift of suffering. As a believer, a son or daughter—heir of the kingdom—God has chosen you for suffering.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:16-17

Dear one, with or without Christ, this world produces suffering. But in Christ our suffering has purpose. Suffering with Him provides the means to establish us in our inheritance—to take hold of the promises available to us in Christ as co-heirs of all that God has given us.

You see, our promises aren’t just meant for heaven. We’re supposed to experience them here. And adversity provides the opportunity for us to do that.

Stick with me here. Ephesians 1:3 promises that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” But God wants those blessings lived out “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). He wants our heavenly position to be evident on earth as He reveals His glory through us.

God’s glory becomes evident when we do what Jesus did: We face our spiritual enemy on earth and overcome.

Beloved, every spiritual blessing available to us in Christ remains a theory if we don’t grab hold of it and use it. Our trials provide an opportunity to prove our heavenly position and manifest our blessings on earth.  We conquer fear when we face it and choose faith in spite of it. We’ll only experience the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we face circumstances that rob our peace.

Our suffering allows us to live out the promise of John 16:33.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Everyone will hurt and suffer in this life. But in Christ, God has granted us a glorious opportunity! In our struggles, we can draw on our heavenly inheritance and overcome, putting our enemy firmly under our feet.

David offers a good example of this in scripture. The Philistine army had the Israelites trembling in fear because of Goliath. The giant defied their God and challenged a man to fight him. If he won, Israel would serve the Philistines.

But David knew the Word of the Lord. Intimately. He knew the inheritance available to him as a child of God. So, he didn’t let the appearance of his circumstances overpower him. He drew on God’s promises, faced Goliath head on, and established his spiritual promise of victory as his earthly reality. (See 1 Samuel 17)

Our opening scripture reveals an important truth: living water bursts forth in desert places. If God has allowed suffering in your life, dear one, it isn’t because He has abandoned you or doesn’t love you. He has provided an opportunity for you to take hold of your inheritance and live it out on this earth.

Suffering provides an opportunity to release our spiritual blessings in the earthly realm. Click To Tweet

Without the suffering of this past year, I would never have experienced the miracle of His peace. I would not have recognized the selfishness still rooted in my heart, and I wouldn’t have learned how to pray from my inheritance in Christ and see heaven move. I wouldn’t have known the joy of my Comforter, or watched spiritual chains fall from my loved ones.

God is for you, beloved. He has granted suffering as an opportunity to experience His presence and witness glory. And when glory reveals itself, suffering fades. And you experience the wonder of resurrection life.

Does Jesus Know You?

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24

 The Son rises.

God impressed those words upon my heart a few days ago as my family participated in our church’s Easter sunrise service. I had closed my eyes in worship, and while we sang, I began to feel the heat of warm rays reaching my legs as the sun crested over the treetops. And God whispered into my spirit, “the Son rises.”

He does, you know. The Day of the Lord draws nearer with each setting sun. My heart rejoices with anticipation for His approaching glory. But concern quickly follows my joy. Concern for the lost—particularly the lost within the church.

Yes, dear one. You read that correctly. Many who sit in our pews are lost. And my Father has burdened my heart for them. Which is why our recent celebration of our Savior’s resurrection seemed a perfect opportunity to write this plea.

Are you sure that Jesus knows you, beloved?

Even as I write the question, I know many will recoil from it. In a generation raised on the certainty of a magic prayer, the question seems unthinkable. Who am I to cause someone to doubt their salvation?

And yet, nowhere in scripture can I find the assurance of magic words. Instead, I find plea after plea to live by faith according the Word of God, and “…to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).”

So, I write in obedience to 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

We can say that we know Jesus, beloved. But scripture teaches that what will save us on the day of judgment is whether Jesus declares that He knows us.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23

Precious one, when Jesus walked upon this earth, He issued a warning. Nestled between teachings about bearing good fruit and building on the rock of His Word, He declared that when He returns, many will cry out in baffled surprise when He refuses them.

Indignantly, they will plead their case. They called Him Lord. They served Him, even doing mighty works in His name. Of course they belonged to Him! Yet Jesus will declare, “I never knew you; depart from me…”

He issues a similar warning in the parable of the ten virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” Matthew 25:1-4

Notice that all ten believed they were betrothed to the bridegroom. All ten fully expected admittance into the wedding feast. But five of them had no oil in their lamps. Lamps without oil produce no light. Five did not examine themselves and failed to meet the test.

After a delay, the call rang out.

“’Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’” Verses 6-9

You may be tempted to judge the wise virgins’ unwillingness to share their oil. But the truth is, our salvation can’t provide someone else entry into the kingdom. Everyone must receive their oil from the Bridegroom Himself. Only He can give the Holy Spirit through an authentic encounter that results in repentant faith.

Looking like a Christian won’t make you one. Many follow people but never follow Jesus. Click To Tweet

The five virgins without oil discovered they acted too late. The bridegroom arrived while they were trying to figure out how to get oil.

“… and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” Verses 10-12

Jesus’ words in the parable echo those from Matthew 7:23. I never knew you. His next words offer a mirror with which we can examine ourselves. “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Our works in Jesus’ name mean nothing if our hearts remain bound to the lawless one. Judas offers proof of that. He preached and performed miracles in Jesus’ name, yet he never repented of the evil in his heart. Greed made him a thief and a liar, willing to sell his friend for 30 pieces of silver. Though he walked beside true disciples, lack of repentance kept him from becoming one.

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28

We cannot follow Jesus and embrace the ways of the world. You must choose, beloved. Jesus or the world. His Word doesn’t allow for both.

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14

Repent, dear one. Leave the world and cling to Jesus. Invite Him to govern your heart, and He will count you among them.

When Jesus Speaks Your Name

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Mary Magdalene stood weeping before an empty tomb. She had come early on the first day of the week, before even the sun had risen. What she found sent her running to find the disciples. Someone had removed the stone from Jesus’ tomb.

Peter and John both ran to the site. John’s young legs made it there first, but he didn’t enter. Instead he simply stared at the empty linens that had wrapped the Lord. Peter arrived behind him and stooped to go in. John finally joined him. Bewildered, they took in the scene and returned to their homes.

But Mary couldn’t leave. She stood weeping outside, grieving yet another loss. First His life. Now His body. Finally, she entered the tomb, only to discover she wasn’t alone. Two angels in white questioned her.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” John 20:13

My throat catches a little as I read Mary’s words. They have taken away my Lord.

I can’t imagine how she must have felt. Jesus had been taken from her. Her Deliverer (Mark 16:9). Her Savior. Her Hope.

Turning around, she saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize Him, mistaking Him for the gardener. Jesus echoed the angels’ question.

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

Desperate, she pleaded, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take Him away” (verse 15). The next moment changed everything.

 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

The Word made flesh spoke her name, and suddenly, she knew. He didn’t look like the Jesus she had known. He didn’t sound the same either. She hadn’t recognized His voice when He questioned her. But when He said her name, she knew Him. She knew because she belonged to Him.

Jesus said it would be so.

“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

Does He speak your name, beloved? Do you recognize Him when He speaks it?

Mary responded precisely how a sheep would.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:16

Jesus spoke her name, and she turned.

Believing in Jesus isn’t religion, dear one. It’s personal. He speaks, and those who belong to Him hear and respond. They know when He calls their name. They move to the sound of His Word. They allow it to lead them, even when they have to change direction. But they follow, because they know Him. And they love Him.

They belong to Him.

It strikes me that Jesus waited for Peter and John to leave before revealing Himself to Mary. The disciples didn’t see the angels or encounter their Lord that morning.

But Mary did. A woman. An ordinary woman who offered Jesus extraordinary love. And I can’t help thinking that a God who IS love, cannot withhold Himself from one who gives it so freely.

Have you offered Jesus your love, beloved? Would you grieve like Mary at the thought of someone taking Him from you? Or have you kept Him so distant you’d hardly notice?

He notices, beloved. He calls your name, and invites you to respond. He bled and died so that you could know Him. Intimately. Many know about Him, but those who belong to Him know Him. And they follow, because they love Him.

Many people know about Jesus. But those who belong to Him, know HIM. Click To Tweet

On Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. As we remember the cross and the empty tomb, let’s also remember what it bought us.

Intimacy. Love. Belonging. And the power to follow.

Oh Lord, I want to know You when You speak my name. And I want to turn to You every time. Empower me, Lord, to love You with obedience, that I may see You and proclaim like Mary, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18)

The Day I was Done, but God Wasn’t

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

I wonder if life has robbed you of hope. You know things aren’t what they should be. They’re definitely not what you want them to be.  And you’re tired.

Tired of fighting. Tired of trying. Tired of feeling.

You’re ready to give up, believing your situation is too far gone to redeem.

Let me whisper hope into your heart, beloved. No situation rests out of God’s reach. And Jesus wants to look at you to tell you, “This may be impossible for you. But it isn’t for Me.” As He said to a father desperate to save his tormented child,

“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

Today I’d like to share a story of hope that I pray will encourage you to draw near to Jesus and keep believing. Prayer holds the power to release divine help into earth’s challenges. Don’t give up hope when your miracle may be just around the corner.

The Day I was Done, but God Wasn’t

By Danielle Lew

It’s been a CRAZY, emotional few weeks.

Without going into details, suffice it to say,

We. Were. Done.

At least I convinced myself that I was. Done fighting for our marriage, our relationship. And plans were in motion to separate.

I had made the decision after days of endless worry and examination of everything that was “wrong” in our fifteen-year relationship and thirteen-year marriage.

I didn’t want to try anymore. In case you don’t know this: RELATIONSHIPS ARE WORK.

I confided in my friends who got to work in praying for us. They asked questions like, “Are you sure?”, and “Is this what God wants?” But they always ended with, “I’ll support you no matter what, and I’ll pray for you and your family.”

Well, after a day of “heated”—sometimes mean—conversations, a trip to a lawyer for information, scheduled tours of apartments/townhouses, and opening new bank accounts, we sat down to make decisions about kids.

And I can’t exactly tell you what happened next…. other than prayers were answered.

I got humble and vulnerable.

And he got passionate, honest, genuine, and communicated things I’ve not heard or didn’t want to hear.

I looked at my part. How I have failed in certain areas. Not at him—his shortcomings—but mine.

And realized I have not yet done near enough work on myself to be the best wife and mom I can be. I have been selfish at times, and certainly no saint.

And my husband is no monster.

It takes two to make a marriage work, and when one falls down, the hope is it’s not too far down, and we can help the other up.

But here’s the thing. Well, a thing. There are many “things ” I could say.

I actually came face to face with what I need to do to grow and change.

Crisis can be used to our benefit if we look for the lesson!!!!

I would have missed that lesson had I left, or if I didn’t listen with an open heart to what my husband was saying.

In a couple, we each have things we need to work on. If we’re so focused on the faults of the other, we don’t see the faults of our own!

When I recognized that I had things to work on, I felt empowered!!!! It was good news! Because I can change me (through God’s help). I can’t change my husband, but I can change ME!

Truth hurts. But in pain we grow.

So, the point is, we’re not done fighting.

We will claim this victory over these challenges and we will give the glory to God for the restoration.

Because only He could have changed my heart and mind from my decision to leave.

And I’m grateful. The past 48 hours have been the best days of our marriage… I’m looking for many more to come.

We almost quit 5 minutes before the miracle happened.

Almost. 

Miracles happen every day. Today, I’m sharing ours with you.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I’ll bet that if we nurture our relationship and keep God at the center of it, we will keep growing and have one heck of a testimony!!!

Does Your Thought Life Defy God?

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:18

“You are insignificant … Nobody cares about you … You have nothing of any real value to offer … Things will never change … It’s hopeless.”

I wonder if any of those words seem a little too familiar.

I’ll confess I’ve heard them myself. Many times. But they weren’t spoken by another person. I heard them in my own mind.

Whether we openly admit it or not, we all have fears that rob us of the blessings God longs to pour out. Messages often rotate through our thoughts on auto play, keeping us captive to their deceptions.

Beloved, we sin every time we believe them.

We all easily recognize things like lying, stealing, cheating, and lust as sin. But God hates everything that separates us from Him. And much of the time, what separates us from Him are the thoughts and attitudes we maintain that defy His Word.

When we believe we’re insignificant, God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” Jeremiah 1:5

When we believe nobody cares, God says, “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3

When we believe we have no value, God says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Beloved, every time we actively believe messages that contradict God’s truth, we sin. And that sin separates us from the life of God.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:18

It’s time we step from ignorance into faith, dear one. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His sacrifice freed us from the powers of darkness that rob us of abundant life. But we’ll only experience the life Jesus offers when we choose to believe Him.

Beloved, those messages repeatedly filling your head do have a source. The enemy of your soul planted them in your mind and heart. And every time we trust his words over what God speaks, we fall into the same sin Adam and Eve committed in the garden. We reject God in favor of his enemy. And we give the enemy power he isn’t meant to have.

You and I need to stop bowing down to the wrong spirit.

Isaiah 51:22-23 makes a bold promise.

Thus says your Lord, the Lord, your God who pleads the cause of his people: “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more; and I will put it into the hand of your tormentors…”

Jesus has turned the tables on our tormentors—the ones filling our heads and hearts with darkness. Who are those tormentors? Ephesians 6:12 describes them.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We fight a very real battle against spiritual influences. They pursue us relentlessly, trying to get our hearts to agree with their dark, oppressive messages. The rest of Isaiah 51:23 reveals where they get their power.

…who have said to you, ‘Bow down, that we may pass over’; and you have made your back like the ground and like the street for them to pass over.”

I wonder if that scripture brings out the same repulsion in you that it does in me. Nobody likes the feeling of being walked on. But that’s exactly how the Word of God describes man’s posture with the enemy.

The cross of Christ released us from our position under the enemy’s feet, beloved. But we have a nasty habit of placing ourselves right back under them. Notice how they get their power. “Who have said to you, ‘Bow down, that we may pass over.’” All our spiritual enemies can do is suggest behavior to us. We position ourselves under their feet every time we believe them.

Beloved, the enemy and his forces have been using our bent backs as their streets and bridges.

But you and I hold the power to stop them, dear one. Jesus set us free from Satan’s authority and placed him firmly under our feet. To manifest that victory, we simply need to start believing what God says.

The next time one of those thoughts comes knocking, don’t entertain it. Your story has been rewritten with Jesus’ blood. The enemy can’t tell you who you are. He doesn’t own you anymore. Only God has that right. Choose to believe what God says, and His Spirit will empower you to stand.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

A Night I Won’t Forget

Last week marked a year since my husband and I spent a frightening evening in the ER with our oldest son. Tears still threaten when I recall the story. But wonder of wonders, I don’t look back on that night as a terrible memory. Grace made it one of my better ones. Because God showed up and taught me an unforgettable lesson about the power of prayer.

Distress Call

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6

It’s the unexpected things that send us reeling. Extraordinary circumstances that reach into an ordinary day and make it anything but.

Like when a few hives decide they won’t respond to Benadryl. Or steroid shots. Or IV antihistamines.

And you watch those hives cover every ounce of your child and set his skin on fire. And he develops a fever. And he swells so much it takes two nurses and two technicians thirty minutes to find a place on his body where they can insert a needle to draw blood.

And you hear a doctor say words like, “He may have Steven Johnson’s Syndrome, which is very rare but very aggressive. If that’s what this is, we’ll be sending him out to Hopkins or Hershey for treatment.”

When a mother hears words like that, tears burn and threaten to fall. But they don’t. At least not right away. Because those eyes need to look into the eyes of her son and let him know it will be okay.

But when she slips into an empty room in the ER and shuts the door, that’s another story. There strength crumbles, and she gasps for oxygen.

At least that’s what I did. I cried out to my heavenly Father, begging for His breath.

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

God has such beautiful ways of providing, dear one.

Like sending a friend and prayer partner to wrap me in her arms and let me know I am loved. And that I wasn’t fighting for my child alone.

She held my hands in that ER prayer closet and together we ran to the throne of grace.  Hearts merged and tears fell while prayers reached heaven on behalf of my son.

And heaven moved.

My heavenly Father answered with an amazing sense of peace. I felt it wash over me and settle. Fear had no place in that room. Only power. Love. And a mind at peace.

Then the Spirit swelled within me, stirring my heart to pray in a way I hadn’t before—with the authority of one who is seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). I prayed from my identity in Christ, as one who sits “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21).

I told the destroyer he would not have my son. And he didn’t.

Spirit led prayer moves mountains when you pray from your position in Christ. #knowwhoyouare Click To Tweet

Sensing that this was a spiritual attack, I proclaimed that my son was covered by the blood of Jesus and I would not permit this enemy to advance any further. And the blisters and burns that follow a Steven Johnson’s diagnosis never came. Instead of two months in a burn unit, Austin returned to school in just three days.

Yes, dear one. Heaven moved.

The Glory of Suffering

Few things shake a parent like watching a child suffer. We do what we can to prevent it. And when suffering comes, we’ll do anything to end it.

But that isn’t what God did, beloved.

God surrendered Jesus—His only Son—to suffering.

Unfathomable. Ridiculous. True.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. Isaiah 53:10 NIV

God chose suffering for Jesus. Willingly. His love for us compelled Him. His love for Jesus didn’t stop Him.  Jesus suffered, dear one, so that He could redeem ours.

He knew it wouldn’t end in death. No. Jesus’ suffering resulted in glory.

His.

And ours.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that unimaginable choice. Because Jesus’ suffering released the power of resurrection life.

For you. For me. For my son.

And regardless of how things appear or even how they play out in this life, when we are in Christ, death can’t win.

Because Jesus already won.

And sometimes we get to witness His resurrection power right here in the midst of our suffering. Like when doctors can’t explain what happened, but you know. Because you ran to the throne of grace and watched heaven win.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Are We Helping People into Hell?

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. Isaiah 59:14-15

It’s getting harder and harder to stand in agreement with God’s Word without being attacked. Isaiah 59:14 reveals why. Truth has stumbled in the public squares. The deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9) has established his agenda, convincing the public that wrong is right. Even self-proclaimed Christians have bought the lies and wandered from God’s truth, allowing society’s convictions to dictate theirs. Now,

Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

Recently, my husband’s defense of biblical marriage between a man and a woman earned him the accusation of being homophobic. Today people rush to judgment without understanding. I’d like to set the record straight.

While I’m aware that homophobia is all too real and even dangerous, many people who don’t support the LGBT lifestyle for biblical reasons aren’t projecting fear or hatred toward those involved in it. We fear for them.

Beloved, we believe in Jesus, and Jesus came to deliver mankind from our destructive bondage to sin. He came to sever our attachment to anything the enemy of our souls planted in our hearts that pulls us away from God and the life He planned for us. Those things are the natural desires of the flesh that find their root in darkness.

Ephesians 2:1-3 describes our fallen, natural condition.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Beloved, without Jesus, our very nature condemns us. Ephesians 2 explains the reason we have need of the cross! The natural passions of our flesh come from the evil one instead of the God who created us. Our sin nature that sets us following the course of this world instead of God’s desires positions us for wrath.

But God loved us too much to leave us in that state! So He sent Jesus.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

John 3:17-19 confirms God’s intentions for mankind through Jesus.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Beloved, I fear for those who choose to remain in darkness. Because I know where that choice will end. And my heart aches for the influence the darkness wields over their minds and hearts.

Do you know what lies at the heart of the transgender movement, dear one? The prince of this world has convinced people to hate who God created them to be. The inner voice telling them something is wrong with them has become so powerful they’re willing to mutilate their bodies to try to feel better and escape the pain. Pain that only exists because the deceiver has blinded them to the beauty of who they are. God did not give them that misery, dear one. The thief robbed their identity. Jesus said,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

What these people are searching for can’t be found by different clothes or a surgeon’s knife. Bruce Jenner proved that. People applauded his bold step to come out and reveal his life long struggle with his identity. But my heart broke as I saw the pain in his eyes during his interview. He fought tears much of the time.

You see, taking that step didn’t make him feel any better. Becoming Caitlyn didn’t end the pain.

Choosing a new gender identity didn’t fix the problem, beloved. Happiness still eluded him. And it will until he discovers that true joy only comes when we find our identity in Christ.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it.

We think the way to help people who suffer this way is to support their decision and make them feel safe. It isn’t. The problem isn’t that God made a mistake and gave them the wrong parts. He doesn’t make mistakes.

They suffer from a heart condition. The deceiver has darkened their thinking and stolen their joy.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:18

Beloved, only Christ can deliver them from the darkness. I’m not against establishing LGBT rights because I hate them. I believe Jesus wants to save and restore them.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 NIV

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross provided a miraculous gift. He saved us from our condemned condition. He died to redeem our flesh, taking our sin so He could give us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus has literally provided us with divine power to change our natural, self-destructive desires (2 Peter 1:3-4)—the desires that keep us bound to the prince of darkness and will also bind us to his eternal fate. But we must, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

If we keep pushing an agenda that supports the LGBT lifestyle—establishing what God has declared wrong to be right (Romans 1:18-32)—we only help send people to their eternal destruction. And we keep them from discovering the answer to the pain that their heart really longs for. Jesus.

Love doesn’t establish law that makes sin easier and helps people self-destruct. It speaks the truth and extends a hand to pull them out.

“Love is unselfishly choosing for another's highest good.” -C.S. Lewis #thecrossdelivers Click To Tweet

Their highest good is their deliverance!

Jesus said, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He was either a lunatic, a liar, or exactly who He claimed to be: The Son of God who came to save the world.

I happen to believe Him.