Hitting The Mark

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You have not lived….fully…until you have chaperoned  30 elementary aged kids with bows and arrows in their hands! Seriously, your should try it…at least once in your life!

Every summer for the past 11 years I have taken a crew of fabulous kids, grades 2nd through 6th, away for a week of summer camp. As a children’s pastor I love to see hundreds of kids in corporate worship, praying around the altars and experiencing the touch of the Holy Spirit in new and exciting ways. I find that environment exciting, stimulating…breathtaking…

…but I feel the same way when it is time to place bows and arrows in the hands of these same kids and tell them that they are to now ‘hit the target’. It’s exciting…stimulating…and yes, even breathtaking!

The instructors there are wonderful and they do provide many safety measures so that ALL parties remain unharmed…but still…my heart rate is elevated on this one activity. Those skinny little arms struggle to pull the string back, the bow shakes, arrows drop to the ground repeatedly, fingers get pinched….but eventually (even if it takes a year to accomplish this), the arrow sets sail towards the target! Shouts resound when an arrow hits any target…even if the target belongs to a kid 4 rows away!

This one activity is always a highlight for our kids and it makes me ask the question…why? They lack the physical strength to pull the string back and hold the bow firm, they are easily distracted and they are listening to ALL those who try to give them instructions…including kids who have never shot an arrow! The thrill, I believe, comes from when they see someone else, “hit that target” and they believe…that one day, that will be them!

How many parallels I have seen in my own prayer life, and perhaps, you can relate?

*have you ever felt too weak (spiritually, physically, emotionally) to pray?

*have you ever felt unskilled or perhaps, had too many people giving you information on “the right way to pray?”

*have you ever felt like your prayers were arrows that were shot randomly into the the air, never knowing if they hit a target and made any difference?

*have you ever struggled with “prayer envy” because the prayers of others always seem to hit their target?

*have you ever “pinched” your finger and felt like you were wounded in your own prayer life or when someone else prayed over you?

*have you ever felt like you pray and you pray and you pray..your prayers drop to the ground in front of you and nothing changes?

*have you ever felt like you don’t even know what you are to pray for…not even sure what is the target you are supposed to be aiming at?

Ephesians 6:10-18 is a powerful portion of scripture focusing on the ARMOR OF GOD. Satan has a bullseye on your life and has a strategic plan to steal, kill and destroy you. (John 10:10).

We need to have a strategic plan in our prayer life to guard against Satan’s plans.

In verse 18 we read, “and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

This is the time, my friends, to strengthen our spiritual muscles, sharpen our focus, hear the instruction of the Holy Spirit and take aim at the very areas Satan has already begun to shoot at:

*our passion

*our focus

*our identity

*our families

*our pasts

*our fears

*our purity

*our pressures

*our hurts

*our relationships

Are you ready?

Aim?

Fire! (oh that’s right, that’s a bee bee rifle…did I mention we alway do that at camp too?? Save that discussion for another day!!)

Fervent Bible Study…Starting next week!

September 13th at Pastor Debbie’s house

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOLDY ROOTED!

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Picture this.

One foot on a desk and the other on a rolling office chair, stretching high with my right hand to reach a Bible commentary that was just….out of my reach. Eyes focused on the prize and yet, aware that my back leg was slowly inching away from the desk.

Fortunately, this time, the story ended well and I was able to grab that commentary!

But I knew better.

I graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy   Continue reading

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Don’t Dry Up This Summer!

 

 

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Don’t Dry Up!

DON’T DRY UP THIS SUMMER!

Summer…is…here.

A new season! Warm nights, hotter days, crazy thunderstorms that stir up as soon as I get a half mile away from the house with the dogs, lightening  bugs and amazing sunsets. Summer is the season for beautiful flowers!

Every year I ambitiously plant three pots of flowers on my deck and wish them good luck. They need it! I am not known for my amazing deck plants come August! I start out strong, watering them faithfully and dead-heading those blooms past their peak. By mid-July my faithful watering slows down….it’s hot and I don’t feel like carrying the pitchers of water back and forth, day in and day out! Our deck has sun all day long and those poor plants struggle as they bake in the sun. Continue reading

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How Much Is Enough?

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“Did you get enough?” If I could only count the number of times I have said this to the folks at my dinner table over the years! As the chief cook in our home it has always been a priority to me to know that my family/guests had enough to eat! Leftovers were a good sign because to me, it affirmed that I had made enough for all to leave  the table satisfied. If we ran out of something, it was a reflection on my planning and not on their eating (this became a challenge as those young boys became teens with bottomless pits!). My meal plans became larger in quantity and selection…and I always made sure that

I made more than enough.

I have noticed that the pressure I put on myself in the kitchen has carried over to my walk with the Lord, more specifically, to my prayer life.

Do I have enough?

Do I have enough FAITH to believe God for the little things, how about for the middle size prayers and  more so lately, for the “out of the box”  big requests I have been throwing His way? My head knowledge knows what the Word says about God being all powerful, all knowing, above all and able to do above and beyond all I could ask or imagine. I have seen God move in amazing ways already and I know my faith has grown.

I am asking for more these days.

-more breakthrough

-more radical changes

-more changing of the atmosphere spiritually

-MORE!!!

I have noticed a tension within me; I am asking for God to do more and yet I am feeling that I am responsible for the outcome ‘of more’. It is almost the pressure of running out of a favorite side dish and feeling that I didn’t make enough! If ‘the more’ that I am asking God for doesn’t happen right away, it must be on my end!

So how much faith is enough to accomplish ‘the more’ in the areas I am crying out to God for? Do I need to pray longer, harder and louder? Are those things what move the heart of God?

How much faith is enough? 

Matthew 17:20 reads

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith the size of a mustard seed is enough. That is so small in size yet big big big in potential!

My faith only needs to be the size of a mustard seed for it to be more than enough.

My faith will grow from hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). The more I study  WHO God says He is and what HE is capable of in the Scriptures, the greater my faith grows. It is important that our small mustard size faith grows!

Faith is a two step process though: 

1. Growing through learning what the Bible says (head knowledge).

2. Growing  through living out what the Bible says (heart knowledge/experience/testimony).(James 2:14-19)

Back to my original thought, “How much is enough?”

Think small, think mustard seed faith. The issue really isn’t really “Am I capable of bringing enough to the table for God to move in a big way” but rather  it is in the Lord’s ability to take my small amount of faith and do something mighty through it.

My faith can be small for starters because HE is really big and He will be the One who always makes sure there will always be enough!

I pray in faith and believe with my mustard-sized faith…and HE is the one who parts the sea, raises the dead, heals the leper, multiplies the fish and loaves and brings the prodigal home.

Small faith is enough….because HE is the multiplier, the One who promises to do above and beyond!

Thank God!

Now back to the kitchen!

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What Are In Your Spaces?

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What we allow in our spaces has a tremendous influence over the victories or the failures we experience in our daily lives.

I have been attending Weight Watchers for a few years and one of the principles they encourage is to examine what (food) you have in your spaces.  If your pantries are full of chips and chocolate you will be finding the struggle is much greater to maintain healthy eating choices. We are encouraged to fill our spaces with those food items that fall into those healthy categories like whole grains, fruits and veggies. The struggle has been real for me as a mother of teenage sons (and all of their friends). My pantries have been stocked full for years with those tasty treats that boys, whose metabolism is faster than a speeding bullet, can enjoy in large quantities. The trouble is that my ears are attuned to the call of the Tasty Cake in the midnight hour. Interesting how the carrot sticks and celery  do not call to me!

My spaces have gone through an overhaul over the past few years and I am happy to say that I did hit my lifetime goal for Weight Watchers…one choice at a time. You cannot eat what is not in your space!

This picture above was taken last week while on a mission’s trip in Tinca, Romania where we were ministering to women and children in the Gypsy population. I witnessed poverty at a new level and am still processing this experience. We were not to drink the water in Tinca because our bodies are not used to the bacteria in their water and we  would find ourselves living with the porcelain chair in the bathroom. We were not able to eat the fruits and vegetables (washed in water) that my body is so accustomed to consuming. I had to drink so much more soda as the bottled water availability was greatly reduced. I just did not have as many healthy choices in my spaces.

Today I returned to Weight Watchers and the scale reflected what was in my spaces for 8 days! How true it is that what you fill your spaces with has a direct impact on the consequences in your life.

Philippians 4:8,9 reads, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

If we would be diligent to take this scripture and challenge it against what we allow in our spaces (our conversations, our entertainment, our social media, what we read and think about) we might be surprised to find that we need to do some serious cleaning out/throwing out. So many times we struggle to walk in victory in areas like our thought life, our speech and our relationships. This struggle would greatly reduced if we removed anything that does not align itself with Philippians 4:8,9. On the flip side, as we fill our “pantries” with “foods” that are true, noble, right, admirable, excellent and praise worthy we will find that we experience victories much more consistently.

Look at the end of verse 9…the result of filling our spaces with God’s excellent choices…is PEACE.

And how we need His PEACE these days.

So, I ask you…

What’s In Your Spaces?

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Lining Up…Settles Me Down

plumb-line  One of the coolest things about my life, is that it changes constantly. One of the hardest things about my life, is that it changes constantly!

As a boater, I appreciate how on any given day, a body of water can be a still as glass,  then develop gentle waves and then suddenly whip up a storm that rocks everything. (One time those sudden stormy waves caused my cantaloup to roll off the counter and explode on the floor! That is just how life is sometimes…the sudden storms can cause some mess…in our minds, our emotions, in our hearts.)

There is a scriptural principle that I have come to appreciate so much over the years; it has been a tool to help me navigate my thought life, my emotions and my actions when those sudden storms have arisen…”rocking my peaceful boat.”

Amos 7:7,8 “This is what he showed me; The LORD was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” ” A plumb line.” I replied. Then the LORD said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”

A plumb line is just a weight on the end of a string that builders use to assist them to make sure that the wall they are erecting is perpendicular to the ground. Gravity has the final say as opposed to someone’s “eyeing it” or  their “opinion”. The position is established quickly and the work on the wall can begin without much argument.

The Word of God is a plumb line for us. It is TRUTH. It never changes and it never becomes “outdated”. God’s guidelines for how we are to navigate through life are clearly written in His Word. He tells us how we are to handle a barrage of emotions (like anger, grief, frustration, confusion) or decisions we need to make that will impact many. His Word addresses our friendships, our marriages, our finances, our ministries, our health and so much more. The more we really study what His Word says, the greater our ability to anchor that plumb line up against the rough seas that rock our boat.

The faster I  align my attitudes and my choices with God’s clear instruction in the Word (His plumb line), the sooner I settle down. His Word helps to narrow down my choices by eliminating so many that are contrary to His instruction. His plumb line anchors me. My emotions calm down, my thoughts become less scattered and my joy returns. His Word does not necessarily give me the “easy or more appealing” choice of action many times, but He gives me the right choice. His way is always best. 

Father, as I begin this day not knowing what the seas will bring me, I establish in my heart that YOUR Word, will be my plumb line. I choose to align myself according to Your Word and I thank you for how this Truth settles so much deep within me.

 

 

 

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The Secret Place

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Several years ago, on my last ski trip to Vermont with the family, I had an epiphany with the LORD.

It was with great excitement that we layered ourselves in clothing, strapped on our boots and hung our ski lift passes on our ski coats. The weather was perfect for shredding down the mountain! Three hours into our first day of skiing, my husband’s skis became lodged in an ice mound and the bindings did not release. He broke his fibula and sprained his ankle badly. For the two of us, our big ski adventure came grinding to a halt.

We returned to the condo while the boys continued to ski and spent the next two days relaxed on separate couches.  It was there, on that comfy sofa, that I had an encounter with Jesus that has profoundly changed me.

I was meditating on Matthew 14:22-23. Let me highlight some key insights the LORD impressed on me…the journaling pages were with much greater detail…I will leave you to discover what the Father would say to you, personally, from this passage.

*Jesus modeled the need to be away, alone with His Father. Why? Ministry is draining. Loving others and pouring yourself into their lives causes you to become weary physically, emotionally and spiritually. Being alone with the Father allows us to recharge.

*Jesus dismissed the crowd so He could have some alone time with His Father. He modeled that it is ok to set a boundary around His activities. Do I protect my time with Him?

*Jesus went up on the mountain. He had a special place that He regularly went to be alone with His Father. While meditating on this section of scripture, the LORD showed me a vision that changed my life.

I saw in the Spirit a beautiful wooded landscape, with rays of sunshine streaming down between the openings in the canopy of green leaves. I could hear in my Spirit, Jesus’ voice beckoning me to come deeper into the woods. I saw myself walking along a small dirt path deeper and deeper into this peaceful forest. There, seated on a fallen log, was Jesus, motioning for me to come and sit down with Him.

We sat quietly on this log for quite a while, listening to the sounds of the forest and just enjoying being together. The blanket of peace that settled over me was amazing. I didn’t want this moment to end. Then he looked at me and impressed very clearly into my heart the following message.

“Debbie, this is OUR SECRET PLACE. I want you to make coming to this SECRET PLACE a priority in your week. There will be things that I will only share with you here, information that you will need for this next season of ministry in your life….things that I will not share out in the hustle and bustle of your normal life. You will not want to miss what I have to share. Go home and make it a priority to come visit me here, on  this log, several times a week. Do not come here to work on teaching lessons. Come with your heart, ears and eyes open. Bring only your journal and My Word. Don’t forget, Debbie. I cannot stress to you how important this is…OUR SECRET PLACE”.

That day the LORD planted a desire for that SECRET PLACE TIME that has never gone away. I have a picture of a beautiful wooded scene in my kitchen, the busiest room in the house…to remember.

May you discover where your Secret Place Time is to be with the Father. Let Him show you…

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