Category Archives: Blog

Why I Love Home Churches Over Denominations

Perfect church can be at home.We are way too concerned about what churches we belong to. We ask people what church they go to and we size them up, like we determine who we agree with based on their politics or fashion. Do we agree with that church’s teaching, type of worship, formality/informality? So we rate them. Some are awesome, and some are woefully misguided, according to us.

I love home churches. I love the intimacy of the fellowship, the worship, and care. I belong to two different home churches. One was formed on purpose, and the other by accident.

A few years ago, I had three different people ask to meet with me regularly for fellowship/prayer/friendship. It felt like mentoring and I didn’t feel that I had the bandwidth to meet with each of them separately, so I suggested that we meet as a group and we could encourage each other. Two of the three agreed to do that, so we did. At first it was awkward because we had no agenda or format, but soon we were a tiny home group fitly knit together.

In this little group, our main reason for meeting is worship. We sing out of tune with a freedom that blesses my heart. Our worship is passionate and honest. Then we pray over each other with love and kindness. We talk about what we have learned from God and how He is blessing and teaching us. Then we share communion to honor Jesus and all that He did for us.

And it recently came to me that what we had was church in it’s purest form. We didn’t mean to start a church, we just wanted to get together to encourage each other and worship with a freedom that we don’t get in churches with agendas and time schedules. Sometimes others will join us when they can. It doesn’t matter. We’re not trying to grow. It doesn’t matter if we never do. What we have is fantastic and blessed with the presence of God every time we get together.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that traditional churches have a lot to offer, especially with the ability to touch the community, but they will never be for me what my small family is.

The Frustrations at Work Go Away When You Hear God

God is not the God of Sunday mornings, He is God of our lives. When we begin to live in the kingdom as we are called to, we get to enjoy the benefits of our relationship with the One who loves us best. He lives in us and He just happens to know everything. Learn to draw from that.

Set aside the stress so you can hear God.

Set aside the stress so you can hear God.

I recently started a new job and have been stretched in areas totally new to me. At first, I was pretty stressed about it. I went home at night and had to vent my frustrations at not knowing the things I needed to know. But this made me realize something about myself that I wasn’t aware of before. When I’m stressed and upset, I don’t hear God. I literally block Him out, so all I can hear is my own frustrations.

Life got a lot better when I learned to claim His peace. It takes an act of will to live in peace when you don’t have a natural reason to feel it. I declare that I will not live in fear and I receive the peace of God, then I relax. In that place of rest, I can hear Him. I talk to Him about the things that are difficult and, lo and behold, I figure it out. I don’t always hear specific words, but I do work through thought processes that get me to where I need to go. It’s a great help!

Lean on the Holy Spirit for help. That’s what He’s there for. He’s a genius and the kindest and most patient Teacher you’ll ever have. If you’ve had a situation where God literally helped you figure out stuff at work, share. It will be a blessing to people trying to learn that.

Fear Is Evil, But You Can Be Free At Last

Fear not, live in peace.

Fear not, live in peace.

Fear is evil. Call it stress, anxiety, worry — it’s still fear and one of the worst killers there is. Not only does it ruin your faith, it will kill your body. Stress kills and it’s so unnecessary. It is a very effective attack of the enemy, but there is an awesome offense against it. It’s called trust.

God tells us over and over and over to fear not. He really is a good Father, and like a good Father, He loves His children with limitless love. Imagine a parent encouraging a toddler to walk. A loving parent will be right there with her to make sure that, when she falls, and she will, that she won’t hurt herself. The parent will hold onto her hands and be there for her every step. They will rejoice over and comfort and protect that child because the child is precious to them.

Can you believe that you are that precious to God? In order to trust the way you are meant to, you have to understand how much you are loved. If that’s hard to do, it’s because you’ve been hurt in the past and love comes with bad memories. You have to let them go. You may need to repent and forgive, a lot, until you can love freely again, until you can receive love again. The Holy Spirit will help you do that. Ask Him to help you. He’ll show you the areas that are hurting you. Follow His lead and allow Him to clean up that old pain.

When you know that God is holding your hand as firmly as any good parent would, you know you can trust Him. The job layoff, the car repair, the kids’ tuition, the doctor’s bills, everything that seems to demand more of us than we have to give will become something we just hand over to our Father. Trust Him. Your fear won’t help, but your faith will.

I find that I have to consciously put myself into a place of peace to trust. I have to say no to fear and invite the peace of God into my heart. When I’m calm, I can hear Him. When I’m fearful, I cannot. But when I relax in His peace, I give Him the freedom to work things out for me. And it really works. Are there times when I forget and stress a bit? Yes. But I always repent and ask Him to forgive me, and then I go back to that place of trust again.

Learn to trust God like you mean it. It’s always been His plan to take care of you and bless you, if you let Him.

It’s All About Love, Whether You Like It Or Not

It's All About Love, Whether You Like It Or NotIt’s all about love. Full stop. It’s about you knowing how completely, and divinely loved you are, and how to love everyone. The first part gets you to the second part. Until you get how much God loves you, you’ll never really love others like you could, and should.

Does that make you squirm a little? It did me, because I wasn’t a natural lover. I put people at arm’s length and smiled from a distance. But then I started reading the Bible like my life depended on it, because it does. I learned some things.

Like: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt 7:21-23) You can’t know Jesus and not love. The very reason He sacrificed Himself was out of love (John 3:16). If you know Jesus, then you are connected with His love and it will be part of you.  If you don’t love, then take a good, hard, reality check look at your faith and ask yourself if Jesus knows you.

Then take a look at I Corinthians 13. Read that a few times and let it sink in that God values love over just about everything. How do you walk the extra mile? How do you give your coat, your sweater, your jacket and your shoes? How do you forgive over and over and over again? It’s not about scoring Brownie points; it’s about living out of love because you honestly feel it.

But what if you come to that scary realization that you don’t love at all? Maybe be a tiny bit, but not like 1Cor 13? You repent. You hit the floor on your knees and you pour your heart out to God and tell Him what’s really inside you. You ask Him to forgive you, then you hand the whole mess over to Him. Then you ask Him to fill you with His love, everyday. Ask Him to show you what His love looks like. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you. Then look for situations where you consciously respond in love. Don’t do it because you think you’ll score points with God. Look at that person and see how your kindness will help them and bless them. Let it touch your heart.

Taking a good honest look at your soul should compel you to ask God to change you to be more like Him. And that will always look like love.

A Young Boy Shows Us How To Trust God

Sometimes we can be like Eve and suddenly stop believing that God will do what He says He will do. God says that He will be with us and never forsake us. He says that He will protect us and love us like no one else. This came home to me in a story from social media. It turns out to be a year old, but still a great story.

A young boy was kidnapped in Atlanta and what he did was amazing. He sang a gospel song over and over again for three hours until the kidnappers threw him out of the car. This boy trusted God with his life and God protected him. See the story here.

Just believeThis is our God. If we would only believe what He says about Himself, we would live such amazing lives. Stuff will still happen, the boy was kidnapped, but trusting God will make a way where there was no way.

Now, what about those issues in your life that you don’t know what to do with? Believe God. Fear not and trust Him. Put it all in His hands, watch, and learn. The only reason you’re not seeing help is because you haven’t really believed that God will do what He really can do. All that little boy had to do was trust God and his life was saved. Your issue is probably not that scary, but the size of the issue doesn’t matter to God. Just believe. Your testimony is about to happen.

 

Why Easter Is So Awesome

Easter is all about God's Great PlanEaster is a reminder for us to celebrate God’s Great Plan. It’s not just a day to have fun with the kids. It’s not even a day to marvel that Jesus rose from the dead. It’s a day to remember why He did it. I call it God’s Great Plan, not just because it’s a good idea, but because of its massive design.

God made the universe and put us in it so we would become His family. Before a single word of creation was spoken, He knew every name and everything everything we would go through. He created a way to relate to us from heaven, and though He knew we would fail, He did what only God could do. He sent His Son, part of Himself, to make a way for His Great Plan to be ours. When Jesus raised from the dead, He took the keys of death from Satan and now hold our future in His hands.

We are each made with a God-shaped hole in our heart that only He can fill. We all feel the need to be with Him, to have that place in our heart filled, but we don’t recognize it. So we try to fill it with other relationships, drugs or alcohol, or activities that drive us relentlessly. We even try to fill it by going to church and doing good deeds. But God’s Great Plan has always been to fill that place in our heart with Himself. That’s the part of the plan that’s simply outrageous and mind-blowing. That God, who spoke the worlds into existence, wants to live inside us is far beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet, that ‘s what Easter is all about. He sacrificed Himself out of a divine love that we have no ability to fully understand. His plan has always been for us to live in intimate communion. And when He moves into that God-shaped hole in your heart, He brings it all — the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

He is quiet. He is patient. He will call you softly to Himself and wait for you to 1. respond and invite Him in, and 2. discover who He is. That can take years. That’s ok. It’s the journey that matters. But when you realize the vastness of His plan for you and invite Him in to fill that place that’s never been filled before, you’ll see why it’s such a perfect fit. You were meant to live in Him and with Him. Easter reminds us of the biggest, most important decision of our lives.

The Opinion of Other People Doesn’t Matter

The opinion of others doesn't matter.There is such a danger to arrogance. We are essentially selfish people. It’s our natural instinct to think of ourselves all the time. But it’s just as dangerous to consider the opinions of others. How many times have you made decisions because of how you thought you’d be seen by other people? Think about the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, friends you hang out with. We can be absolutely controlled by what we think others will approve of. And it’s wrong.

There is only one opinion that matters, and that is God’s. His opinion of you is given in love. He loves you, end of story. Take it to the bank. You are loved. There is no higher opinion than that. The opinions of people are fickle, but God’s is eternal. It is steadfast! Meaning firm and dependable. Knowing that you are loved and that you do not have to live and die by the opinions of other people is absolutely freeing.

Be who you were meant to be, not what you think others want you to be. It may be hard to do if those other people happen to be your parents, with very strong opinions. Listen to your heart and trust God. That’s the key. Defiance in itself is a bad thing. If you are not hearing God, then nothing you do will make you happy anyway.

And what happens when you begin to do what you love and start to get praise for it? Be careful! That’s where arrogance can slip in and take root. There has to be a balance between doing what is excellent and walking in humility. Do all things as unto the Lord. If you boast in anything, boast in God. He loves an excellent spirit, but He also hates arrogance. There is beauty in being excellent with grace.  Ask God to teach you how to do that. Know when to keep your mouth closed. Know when to give God the glory. You don’t have to deny that you had anything to do with doing well, just go to your quiet time and give the praise to God. If what you’re doing is all about you, then you’ll want more praise for yourself. Seek to be humble and be excellent in what you do. Public opinion, good or bad, shouldn’t matter.

Are You Actually Living What The Scripture Says?

When we have the Bible available to us, we have no excuse for not obeying it. The problem is, we are so familiar with it that we forget to live it. Take for instance, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3) Another way to look at that is, if you are not poor in spirit, you have no part of the kingdom of heaven.

Love requires humilityBeing poor in spirit does not mean being spiritually destitute. Think in terms of opposites. Poor in spirit is opposite of arrogance, pride, and selfishness. We have to be told to be poor in spirit because our natural tendency is to be selfish. We are born “me first”.  To live counter to that inclination takes work and thoughtfulness. Are you doing that? Do you have an interest in living in God’s kingdom, that very place of salvation? Then you’d better consider your attitude in life. God smiles on humility. If the Son of God, the magnificent Son, could be born in a barn, then we can live humbly before Him.

That, however, does not mean that you lose out on anything. Jesus said to take the lowly seat and you will be invited by others to sit in a higher place. (Luke 14:10) Bless are those who are poor in spirit. Blessed! What God gives is highly valued. Don’t assume that what you can acquire for yourself is better than what God will favor you with. You’d be wrong.

Pay attention to the scripture and consider how you live it. You may have an eternity to wish you did.

It’s Not About Bible Study Or Signs And Wonders

There’s a lot to be said for Bible study. It teaches you the truths of God and the stories of what He has done. But that’s just knowledge. There’s no life in just reading the Bible. Knowledge of God is not the same thing as salvation. The demons know God better than the average person who claims to be a Christian.

And then there are those who live and breathe the experience of signs and wonders. When God is present, anything can happen and there are groupies who seek after that as their goal in life. Signs and wonders are cool. They really are, but seeking after miracles is like a child following daddy around hoping for candy from his pockets.

Jesus warned that He would turn away those He did not know, even if they did signs and wonders. The intimacy of salvation is not in knowing the Bible or experiencing the unusual. It’s in desiring the heart of God. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek after Him, of those who seek Your face. (Ps 24:6)

Love theEmmanuel is intimate with us. Lord your God with all your heart. Be drawn into Him. Share His love, His joy, His peace. You are His lover as much as He is yours. Seek His face. Seek His heart. Ask to know His thoughts. Emmanuel is God with us, in us, for a reason. He wants intimacy, communion. Desire Him, and the bells and whistles will follow.

My Experience Of The Presence Of God

Experiencing the presence of God.It is a danger to prescribe any experience of the presence of God as a formula. Don’t do it. Instead, add it to your list of what is. God is multidimensional and our experiences with Him will flux and flow  with Him. This is one adventure that I had.

I have been asking God to know more of Him. I am in such need of His presence in my life. I am too quick to judge. Too quick to protest. I need His kindness, His goodness, His grace in my life. So I ask Him daily for more of Him. Yesterday I told Him that I wanted to soak in His presence so that His very essence would bleed into my spirit, my soul, my body, my flesh, my bones, my DNA. I wanted to feel Him saturate me.

I went to my friend’s house for a time of worship. We few friends get together on a regular basis and just worship. We sang worship songs, one after another for about an hour, then something began to happen. Actually two things began to happen at the same time. I suddenly noticed that I was smelling incense. It was very strong, particularly in a spot to my immediate left. I looked around to see if there was a candle or incense burning near me, but there was nothing. It was the third time I smelled the perfume of heaven during worship.

The second thing that happened was that I began to feel very heavy. I was sitting on a couch and laid my head back against the wall, but I still felt too heavy to sit up. So I kicked off my shoes and curled up with my head on a pillow. I closed my eyes and felt the peace of God flow into me. That’s all. No voice from heaven. No transcendental vision. Just peace. And when I laid down, the smell of incense went away.

When my friends noticed me curled up on the couch, they were concerned that something was wrong, but I smiled to let them know I was fine, so they let me be. I was grateful that God sent the perfume of heaven to me to let me know that He was directing what was happening. I would have been concerned that my sudden weakness was physical otherwise.

After a while, the others left off their prayers and I felt ready to join them in communion. I sat up feeling well and truly soaked, like the weight of a sponge that was saturated with water. The weight of peace on me was something my body felt. I asked if anyone else smelled the incense. They did not.

Today, I still feel the residual weight of that peace. I want to carry it with me always. Yes, my God is with me. I feel His peace. No, I’m not afraid. I feel His peace. I know my heart’s desires will be filled. I feel His peace. And now I am greedy. I want more. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and I want more.