What Is That To You? Follow Me!

I was sitting in the Kansas City IHOP a couple of weeks ago and was finishing up my reading in the book of John and these words jumped off the pages. It was one of those moments when you just get stopped in your tracks and it’s all you can think about.

“What Is That To You? Follow Me!”

In the scripture, Peter was worried about what Jesus was going to do about the other disciple. Jesus pretty much told him to mind his own business and follow Him. How often are we so focused on what the “other” person is doing that we lose focus on what God wants to do or we lose sight of who we are because we are trying to be like someone or something else. Why is it we always want what someone else has? Or why do we think if we do what they do, we are going to have the same outcome?

There’s a quote that says, “Imitation is the best form of flattery.” I agree with that but the person on the other end is the one receiving the benefits of that flattery. The person wanting or trying to be like someone else can lose sight of the personal call that God has for THEIR  own life because they are so busy trying to reap the benefit of others instead of reaping the benefits that God says He pours out daily for each of us. Psalms 68:19

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a great outcome of our plans and seeking what others have been done to be successful but did God call us to be a copycat of someone or something else or did he call us to be unique? He says in Psalms 139  We are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s beneficial sometimes to use the ideas of others but when we start identifying with them rather than God, we miss something that God wanted us to do in us.

I used to always say, “When I grow up, I wanna be just like…………” You fill in the blank. The sad thing was I never could be just like so and so and would be so disappointed and feel like a failure when I didn’t even resemble that person. But what I didn’t realize is God wanted so much more for me and I was willing to settle for so much less.  When I die, the only thing I want people to say about me is, “That woman loved God so much and she was following hard after Him!…oh wait,,,,, ok and that,” She was crazy about Hallmark Christmas Movies! That could be my tagline. But seriously it can be a great compliment to be compared to someone who has done great things but shouldn’t we rather want to hear, “She looks more and more like her Father every day.”?

I always dreamed of being a great speaker that could effect change in people’s lives but now I have to ask myself can I be ok with only affecting the 5 possible readers of this blog? What if God wants me to take care of those 5 people? What is one of those 5 goes on to be a great speaker that actually effects change in people’s lives? What if we are so busy looking ahead that we miss what’s going on right in front of us? What if having our dreams realized means realizing the dreams of others first or heaven forbid our dreams are going to be accomplished by the dreams we plant in others? What if what we think is a little thing is actually a huge thing to God or vice versa?

I have this vision of God pulling this little girl by the hand as she keeps looking back and says, “But what about………… and what if…..but Daddy Ann is doing……God the Father is saying as He pulls her along.“What is that to you? Follow me?” And when she finally catches up and looks at what’s in front of her she says with this huge gigantic smile. “Ann who?”

 

Puffy Knowledge

I’m sure we all know those people who have incredible knowledge and speak right over our heads. Sometimes I just want to say, “Hey can you speak more in a language I understand!” It drives me crazy. I want to have this great convo with this person and I only understand three or four words per sentence. I think we need an app for understanding brainiacs or a book called Conversations for Dummies.

If the knowledge we possess isn’t building up others. It’s time to check our motives. Knowing more is an opportunity to love more. Knowing God well should always translate into loving others well. Lisa Bevere, Adamant

1 Corinthians 8:1 English Standard Version  ……..we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

In their defense, there are those who hang around with the same people who have that same level of knowledge, so that’s just their normal language and they forget to dummy down when they come around people who are normal like me. Ok, I just saw that look of surprise on your face. Don’t judge me……… especially if you think you’re normal.

But………………..then there are those who do it just for show so they can look like they are language gods. Those are the ones who make me crazy. Just saying.

But am I truly justified here in my thinking if I do the same thing with the superior knowledge I may have in a subject or with a gift God has given me? Do you? Do I make people look small so I can look big?

Our whole purpose in life is finding Jesus and when we find Him it’s to love and serve others. We love God so we can love people. Luke 10:27 The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” NLT

Everything we say or do should be motivated by our love for God, ourselves and others. We glorify God and build up the ones we love or He loves….and even the ones hard to love.

My hope and goal is to not lord it over someone that I know more or am better than them. When I share with someone my whole motivation is to point them to God and show His love. I share my knowledge or passion because I want to give them something that propels them forward in their walk or journey with the Lord…………….or it should be!

I teach a 4 step class on Sunday mornings at our church and one of my favorite classes is the Spiritual Gifts and Temperament Class. I had 6+ years of training in Temperament Theory and Therapy so I absolutely love sharing the things I know with my students. Seeing the moment that light bulb comes on in someone’s mind and they start relating and when you see that incredible joy on their face, well. that is what drives me to do what I do.

One of the spiritual gifts that God seems to have permanently given to me (we all know that the Spirit gives as He wills.) is the gift of encouragement. So everything I do I do through that gift. But without loving those people who walk through that door, and I do, my words could fall on deaf ears. My gift is not teaching but when I am motivated by love and I teach with encouragement, I look like a teacher.

My encouraging words to you today are: use the gifts and knowledge that God has given you to change your sphere of influence whether it’s in your home, workplace, church, family or neighborhood and let everything be motivated by love.

 

If you say so, Lord!

Luke 1: 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” I can’t imagine the things that were going through Mary’s head as the angel Gabriel appeared to her. First of all…AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HER!  But then to find out she was going to be pregnant and not by the man she was betrothed to. Whoa!

I found it interesting that she was more troubled that he called her “favored one” then that she was going to have a child. I mean she did ask the obvious question, “How can this be since I’m a virgin. But  she was GREATLY troubled at the greeting.

Crazy enough I get it! If anyone came along let alone and angel and said I was God’s favored one, I’d be thinking, “Ok what do you want?” I have had people tell me that in the past that I was highly favored and I became highly suspicious of their motives. It’s not that I don’t believe that I am God’s favorite. Yes I am! Misty Edwards sang a song about that very thing. Some of the lyrics are:

Jesus,
Here I am your favorite one
What are You thinking, what are You feeling?
I have to know
(Repeat x 2)

It’s different to know I am His favorite when He tells me but when someone else tells me, I just want to ask them, “How do you know?” When someone else tells me all of a sudden I know I am faced with some big…huge……GIGANTIC responsibility coming my way and THAT terrifies me.

Now the angel tells her what that responsibility is going to be. She must have thought, “Joseph is never going to believe this. What if he divorces me or has me stoned for adultery cause he knows it isn’t his?” I can only imagine that things that would have gone on in my head. But when the angel answers her she just says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

She trusted God so much that she was willing to go through anything for Him no matter what the consequences would be for her . Especially what people would say about her or how they would treat her.

I remember many years ago in another city, long before Greg and I became pastors, being in a situation where I had to deal with what people said and the way they treated me because of something that happened, that I felt God lead me to do at a retreat, I had put together. I was beaten up mentally by one of my best friends because I didn’t do things the way we planned. But in my defense our biggest plan was to allow the Holy Spirit to move even if it meant changing our plans. And that’s what happened! Unfortunately it involved not doing what she had planned. She raked me over the coals in front of everyone. Fortunately one of my former pastors was there and just the night before she had told me that an ancient nation was going to rise against me. I just didn’t think it would be one my best friends. She gave me an incredible book to read by Francis Frangipane The Three Battlegrounds. This book helped me so much and there were two quotes that I held on to for dear life.

“Satan will not continue to assault you when the circimstances he designed to destroy you are now perfecting you.” and “Peace is the best weapon against adversity.”  I remember laying in bed and telling the Lord, I was done. I was done with woman’s ministries. I was done with the women in the church and I was done with Him. He gently listened and then very quietly said, “Ok, where will you go?” I started crying even harder and said, “Lord, there is no place for me to go without YOU.” I told him that I was His student (servant) and that whatever I needed to learn from this, I was willing to learn.

The Lord told me not to defend myself to others or even talk about what happened because it would be gossip. I would be making myself look like a victim instead of a victor and those who were attacking me would be made to look like victimizers. He told me to trust him and He would be my defender. He also revealed a huge error I had made on my part that started long before the planning of the retreat that actually caused a domino effect and even though what happened to me at and after that retreat was wrong, I still had to take responsibility for it……and I did…..but that’s another story.

Carrying that by myself with no one to talk to was very hard. My pastor’s wife knew a little of what was going on at the time not from me but offered to to be a mediator. It never came to that as God opened many doors of conversation that actually ended up with Him restoring me completely and when I left that church, I left on a great note. I trusted Him and He did not let me down. I wanted to be an obedient servant no matter what.

I’ve been through so many more situations where God has told me what He was going to do and it was going to be hard. But I have come out of each one a little stronger and little wiser with plenty of more room to grow. So now I try very hard when He is about to birth something in and through me to say, ” If you say so, Lord!”

Tuesday I Became a Published Author….

You should never underestimate the life experiences that you go through and how God will use them. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever believed I would be looking at a published book that I wrote. Okay in my wildest dreams I did publish a book but to think it would become a reality is beyond words.

10 years ago I had an amazing experience with fasting. I journalled my whole experience and at the end of a 30 day fast, shared it with my husband who thought it was so good that he encouraged me to write a book. You can read the story in my book preview at Breaking Through to Higher Places.

My friends Sheryl and Brian Valloton opened up their cabin for me to write and another friend Shawn Lynch edited the first version for me. I bound it up myself and ended up giving 87 copies away and actually sold 13 of them at a conference.

After that my life was in chaos and I put the book on the shelf with hopes of publishing it “some day”. 10 years later I was sitting on my couch talking with my friend Linda Heard. Somehow we got on to the subject of fasting and I handed her my book. She loved it! She loved it so much that she encouraged me to pursue publishing it and she began a publishing fund for me.  She and a couple of her amazing friends, Marilyn, Rob and Ali raised two thirds of what I needed to go through a co publishing company. She spent hours and hours editing and advising this book for me. I reformatted it to a bible study but at the last moment I went back to the original manuscript and just put the questions at the end of each chapter.

I called Linda and told her I found a publishing company and that I change the format again. She told me to make sure I watched out for errors because she wasn’t going to read it again for the fifth time! We both got a good laugh at that one.

I chose to go through Authorhouse and they have given me the best experience ever! I think I was talking to them almost every day as the book progressed through each step. And then……………..

Tuesday I got the call that my book was finished!! I quickly rushed to the Authorhouse book store and there it was was…my very first book..I cried, I laughed, I jumped for joy. I was so excited that when my Point of Contact, Josh called me and asked if I had questions, I said no and hung up on him. A couple of days later he called me back and this time I did have questions. Funny how he would know that hahahaha.

Yesterday I got my free soft bound copy and today I should get my free hardbound copy. I cannot even begin to share the joy of holding that book in my hand. It’s so beautiful!

With the new year coming, it was a perfect time for my book to come out as many people will be fasting and some for the first time. My hopes and dreams are that this book would really encourage people to “want” to fast and instead of running away from it, they will choose to run to it!

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I have second book that is done well, I thought it was, but am rethinking the format for the 100th time. It’s a very transparent and vulnerable book on a crisis I went through 4 and 1/2 years ago. I know I was supposed to write it but not sure how the Lord wants me to do with it. It’s definitely  for a targeted audience. So for now it’s in a holding pattern. The good news though is I already have a title for my third, fourth, fifth, six etc….. one…I am feeling so inspired now to move forward!

Peace, Focus, and Loyalty

Today has been a hard day….I watch the news and look on facebook and it’s just hate, hate, hate. Then there are people saying hateful things about the people hating. It has really grieved my heart to the point of exhaustion and tears. I finally had to shut off the news and put on Christmas movies.

As I was crying and praying though, my dog Jewels comes up to me and puts her head in my lap. As much as I wished it was for comfort, what she was really saying was, “Mom, I want to go outside.” Sigh. I got up put leashes on the dogs  and opened the door to the most amazing sight: there were about 11+ doves in my yard.

I love doves. To me they signify peace, focus and loyalty. I felt at that moment God was sending me a gift. He reminded me that He has given me peace. Not the peace that the world gives but his peace. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] AMP

He reminded me to keep my focus on Him not what is said, reasoned, surmised, predicted but on His heart and what His word tells me. Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity]. AMP

I read once that Doves mate for life. They are totally loyal and focused on  each other. In Song of Soloman 4:1 (reading as an allegory with the King representing the Lord and the maiden me, you, and/or the church as His bride) the kings says “How fair and beautiful you are, my darling,
How very beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are like those of a dove;

and verse 9 “You have ravished my heart and given me courage, my sister, my [promised] bride; You have ravished my heart and given me courage with a single glance of your eyes,AMP

What ever thoughts I have had or have been inclined to have the Lord was reminding me to: Ps 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, immovable] rock and my Redeemer.

As I finish writing this blog I will endeavor to Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in (my) your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

I am thankful that God sent me a flock of Doves to remind me just how much He loves me and cares for my heart and calls me to come sit in His lap and trust Him with my prayers and to be encouraged because He has overcome the world! All I need to do is stay peaceful, remain loyal and live focused on Him and the impossibles that are possible to Him!!

Seven words that hurt…

There are seven words I have heard over and over in two different ways that really trouble me. They are, ” You can’t be a Christian if you….” and ” You can’t be a Christian and do..” Every time I hear these words said it breaks my heart and honestly frustrates me. By saying something like this aren’t we really saying, “Since you believe differently than me and I am a true Christian then if you believe differently, you can’t possibly be a Christian?” This is not pointed at anyone directly, in fact I haven’t heard or seen it from anyone I know. It’s just comments I have heard from other people or read in other people’s posts, tweets and blogs. It’s sad.

I was praying about this and the Lord reminded me of how he compares his people to trees. Like a tree there are different stages of growth as a Christian. There is the sapling or brand new baby Christian who is just developing. He or she is just learning about the bible and what it says. They are being nourished through one on one mentoring, church, small groups and bible study. They are young and should not be expected to have the maturity as those who are in a different stage of their life.

The second stage of a tree’s life is the juvenile stage. This is where the most rapid times of growth come. they are beginning to establish themselves in their surroundings. A juvenile Christian is forming his thoughts and learning and soaking up everything he or she can. Just like the tree they are strong but they can also be easily broken. When they are free to grow and not injured, they  will respond with rapid growth, be solidly established, and  found in good health.

The third stage of a tree is the prime of life or mature stage. Trees like a Christian in their prime of life will take care of themselves with little outside help.Growth continues at a slower, steady pace.Just like the branches of the tree that are strong so is the christian strong at this place, and their opinions are pretty formed.

The fourth stage of tree is the middle age or post mature. The tree may prune some of its unproductive branches. They are intolerant of disturbances. The tree’s energy reserves are good and balanced allowing it to fight diseases effectively.  Like the tree a Christian at this stage is growing up and has formed his or her opinions and is discovering what belief systems need to be eliminated as they are understanding the word and applying it to their life. They also can become intolerant of anything or anyone disagreeing with what they believe and are not afraid to stand up for that belief.

There are a couple more stages but I think you get my point by now.

What I’m trying to say is: people like tree grow in stages. It has nothing to do with age but with maturity in their walks. Their systems are being formed as they are nurtured and allowed to grow. We can all be at these stages in different things like politics, denominational beliefs, what we allow into our life, what we eat or drink, what we celebrate etc…So to say someone can’t be a christian if they……..is not allowing for stages of growth in that particular area and could be a bit judgmental if it is lacking in discernment and there is a difference……..maybe I’ll write about that at a different time.

It’s so important that we know the heart and maturity of people before we throw out random comments like that. Not that we should even throw out comments like that. I know some great Christian people in my life that think totally different then me but they are strong in their love, walk and belief in the Lord. It could be that I might not be at that stage of life yet…just a thought.