Thursday, April 26, 2012

Child-like Faith

We read in the Scriptures about "child-like" faith and personally I think child-like faith is so awesome. For instance, I look at my three-year old when he prays. There is no hesitation in him at all to ask God for anything. He fully believes God is listening. Fully believes God cares about every word that is coming out of his mouth. He'll tell God all about his day, things he'd like to have, and the people he loves. Sometimes there is no "prayer" just my boy talking to Jesus. When he finishes his time talking to Jesus, he's bouncy, happy, and there's a joy over him. A joy of  "My God loves me and hears me." A joy that speaks, "I don't have to worry now, God heard me and will take care of it." A joy that says, "I can rest."

I so love the scripture from Psalm 8:2,
"O LORD, our Lord,
 how majestic is your name in all the earth!
 You have set your glory above the heavens.
 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies, 
to silence the foe and the avenger."

Children know who Jesus is and they praise Him for who He is.

In Matthew 21:16 we read:

"The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. but when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.  "Do you hear what these children are saying? they asked him. "Yes, replied Jesus, have you never read, "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?" 

The children knew who Jesus was and they were unashamed as they yelled and danced around calling out "Hosanna!" They were rejoicing in who Jesus was! They were rejoicing that God was with them!! They were unafraid. They shouted out the truth for all to hear!

 (It kind of reminds me on a much, much, much smaller scale, of an image I have of  how my kids get when they hear the 'ice-cream truck' music playing. They start shouting and jumping around. They dance in the streets! They jump around calling out, "ICE-CREAM MAN!!!" They are happy and they don't care what they look like, how loud they are being, or who hears them. They are happy and they show it). I can see the children around Jesus doing the same kind of jig of rejoicing-rejoicing in that God is among them and He's healing people! (only, their dance and proclamation was much better!). 

How did they know? How could they have been so sure?  I believe it's because the children had no laws over them. No rules. No, "I have to do this or that to be loved or healed by God." They were able to recognize Jesus because He IS love and they were free to receive it. No works, no striving, just receiving His love. No questions, no confusion, just open to receive.

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. " And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."  Mark 10"13-16

My footnote says, "The point of comparison is the usual openness and receptivity of children. The kingdom of God must be received as a gift; it cannot be achieved by human effort. It may be entered only by those who know they are helpless, without claim or merit."

I want child-like faith. The faith that says, "My God loves me." My God hears me." My God heals me and the people I pray for." There is no 'maybe' in a child's mind- God DOES love me. God DOES hear me. God WILL heal me. God WILL hear my prayers. I want the peace I see in my children that comes from knowing and being assured of these truths.

I shared in the blog entry, "A God-Encounter at Wal-Mart" that my children and I prayed for a little girl. What I didn't share was that when I told my children that I saw a shopping cart with two legs hanging down they, all of my children, thought that it meant that the little child had a broken leg or some sickness in the legs.  So, when I approached the woman I asked her if we could pray for her child and I also asked if there was anything that the little girl needed prayer for. The mother had said no. Later, when we were home the kids and I talked about our 'Treasure Hunt' with my husband and the children told us how bummed they were that the child didn't have a broken leg or some deformity because they had been excited to see a miracle! Did you hear that? They were excited to see a MIRACLE!  There I was excited about over coming a fear to pray with a complete stranger and there they were excited to see God move in Wal-Mart and create a healing in front of their very eyes! I was humbled by their faith. Humbled by their expectancy to see God use them and touch a life.

It's not enough to just pray with someone- it's about having child-like faith so God can work through us. We need to be His hands and feet on this earth for the sick and the lost. We are told in the scriptures, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12) Well, I gotta say-I haven't done greater things, but I sure want to. I want to see the lost saved. The hurting to be comforted. The sick healed and that's JUST what Jesus did. What about the 'do even greater things'?

Lord, I want child-like faith. I want to trust you completely. I want to believe deep in my heart that every word in the Bible is true for me. I want to be unhindered by this world. I want to dance and shout, "Hosanna!"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I 'Yam' What I 'Yam'

For years I have fought within myself  over who I am. Fought and thought over and over again about why can't I be more like everyone else. Why am I so different?

I love the Barbara Streisand quote from the movie, What's Up Doc?
She said, as the character Judy, "I'm going to try to be the same."
Steve asks, "The same as what?"
Her reply, "The same as everyone isn't different."

Whenever I have gotten into a disagreement with someone I used to take a step back and think, "What's wrong with me?" With my back round, hurts, fears etc. I always used to assume that it was my "filters", my issues, that have misunderstood the person. My old hurts have been tapped into and the person didn't mean it. I used to take all the blame, get down on myself and then somewhere along the way I would decide that I should just crawl under a rock, stay in my little home with my kids because I am no good for anyone. That was the old me.

Now I say, "I yam what I yam."  Yes, I have flaws, old wounds, but the Lord has done such a good work in me I am not who I once was. I can now recognize someone else's old wounds and filters. I can now see that someone has said something of offense. I don't always need to confront it- I can move in forgiving them and myself.

Knowing who you are is freeing. I know I am a woman of integrity. I woman who does not lie. A woman who forgives. A woman who loves. I love God's people. I do. My heart always wants the best for people. Always wants to bless and see people flourish under God's goodness for them. That's me. Believe it or not- I 'yam what I 'yam.

I don't have 'agenda's' or plans for changing the world, or becoming rich and famous. I have hopes for following God's voice where ever He leads me. I have no aspirations of rising up some corporate or for that matter any kind of  'ladder' in this world-none. I have only the desire to obey God. That may sound so simple, even stupid to some and unbelievable to others, but it's true.

I was raised in New York-a place where people are always trying to get 'ahead', fighting their way to the top, competition runs wild, making sure people know that you are 'number one,' making lots of money etc. It's not for me. I've watched for years how New Yorkers fight with the cashier (lots of times me) over returning an item that they clearly damaged and wanting their full money back. People arguing about being next in line. The pushing and shoving on the subway to get a seat. It was never for me. I remember working in a Public School in New York and on the first day of school I received a note that told me that I was the head teacher for the grade. (There were eight second grade classes and I was the 'head' teacher over them. I was also given the talented and gifted class). Well, I was immediately not liked.  It was assumed that I must have known someone to have gotten that position or that I 'fought' for it. Jealousies ran high that year. I tried to explain that I had nothing to do with it-that I didn't even ask for it and how I knew no one in the district, but no one believed me. It was soooo not for me. All I wanted was to teach- that was it. I didn't want to be 'head' anything. I'm simple-I just wanted to teach.

I know I have been given special gifts by God to use, but the worldly part of this world is not for me. Bringing the Good News to the world is what gets me going. I don't even have a desire to be a head of any ministry. Truly. I know so many of my church friends won't believe it, but it's true. I don't want to be the Director, Coordinator, etc. That's not a goal for me. My goal is to serve God. My goal is to obey Him. If He calls me to lead what can I do? Say no? There have been times I've wanted to say no. To tell God, "I can't lead -I have no idea how to."  But the response is "Will you obey me Ellen?"  And so there I am, leading a ministry that is too big for me, challenging me, making me cry.  (My true hope has always been to be the assistant over things. To be the helper to the leader, but never to lead).

I am currently a leader of sorts, and it's been hard-again, but then God allows me to see I child come to know Christ. A family become members to our church. I get a hug from a child and get to see their excitement over coming to church and I say, that's what I'm about. All the other stuff-not for me. I could care less about my 'title' -  I'd give it away in a heartbeat, but to serve God and obey Him-now that where it's at. Call me crazy, I yam what I yam.

Now I've been told that I am an "outspoken" person. Okay, I yam- I'll admit it. I'm also opinionated, hard working, and determined. Some might say, "A typical New Yorker." Okay, if that's all you choose to see me as I'm sad for you. I also have been told that, "You ARE a ministry leader." Well, that maybe true too, but I'm not just that. As a ministry leader I am also a friend to all I work with -I've just got the stinky part of having to make tough decisions. Some only see me as "A mother of six children." Well, that's true too, but the judgement that I have heard simply because I have six and home school-well, let's not go there. Some might see that I am also sensitive, kind, and gentle. I cry-I actually do. 

I'm seen so differently by so many people it's crazy. I'm judged too by the different things they think about me-not know about me. I guess I can't change that. It's taken me years to be okay with all the different ways people see me. Years to be okay with all the judgement I get. I'm fine with it all. I am happy with who God has made me to be. I am happy with all the different facets of my personality. I happen to be at a place where I can finally say, "I like me."  I'm not perfect, never will be, but I am happy with who I am. I'm simple and I yam who I yam.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A God Encounter at Wal-Mart

It was the Monday after Easter and I really wanted to check out the Easter clearance stuff at Wal-Mart. (Preview: I'm creating an "Easter in August" Godly Girls Camp this summer! Totally Excited!)   Anyways, the kids and I were sitting at breakfast and I shared with them my plan about getting out early and going shopping before we started school. They were actually looking forward to the outing.

So, we cleaned up breakfast and began the 'train' moving toward getting out the door. (It's a process to get the six children with teeth brushed, hair combed, 'pottied', shoes on the right feet...out the door). When I heard the call, "READY!" I gathered them around the kitchen table. (Something I'd not done before-we usually start heading right to the van).

We sat around the table. I told them that I believe there are hurting people everywhere. We may not see them or notice them, but they are there. I also said that many people don't know Jesus and some have never even heard His name before. They all nodded. "Okay," I said, "Then I'd like to take some time now and pray and ask God if there IS anyone He'd like us to pray for in the store today." We bowed our heads, closed our eyes and prayed for God to show us who needed a touch from Him today.

When we finished praying I asked the children did you see or hear anything from God. I shared that I saw the bottom half of a shopping cart with two little legs hanging down from the child seat of the cart. My assumption was that God wanted us to pray for a child. My daughter said she saw the number 7 and my son saw the color tan. We thought maybe we are to pray for a child wearing a tan shirt with the number 7 on it. With excitement we jumped up and drove to Wal-Mart.

We got to the Easter clearance aisle and looked around.  We looked. There was a little boy, but no seven. We shopped and looked- no one. We were in that section for at least twenty minutes when it hit me! I looked at the children and said, "Aisle 7!"  We began running. (Aisle 7 was on the complete opposite side of the store). We couldn't wait to find this child!  WE were all laughing and bubbling over to meet this family.

We arrived at aisle 7 and there was no one in the aisle EXCEPT for a mom and her two children. One of them  was in the front seat of the cart. As we entered the aisle she began leaving it! I called to her, "Ma'am!" "Ma'am!" (What we all looked like I don't know, but this poor woman turned around and saw me, my cart with two children in it and four other children running toward her all of us wearing big smiles). Anyway, she stopped and I said, "Can we pray for you?" She was a beautiful Hispanic woman who looked very tired. She said, "Yes." No questions asked, she looked a bit confused, but said yes. As I explained to her why we wanted to pray and what we believed the Lord told us, an African-American gentleman started to come into the aisle. He stood there and listened to me ramble, all the while with the most sweet and peaceful smile on his face.

The woman accepted our request and we all moved closer to lay hands on the little girl. I began praying for her health, and then felt to pray for her protection.  I prayed that angels would go with her throughout her life protecting her from harm and fear of night. I prayed for a good education that she would absorb all her lessons and go far in life. I prayed for her to know God in an intimate way. Then we prayed for her sister and finally for the mother.

When we said, "Amen" I opened my eyes and they were just at peace. There were no words. I said thank you to her and we said goodbye. She sort of stumbled out of the aisle while me and the kids were so happy that we, I think, kind of skipped out of the aisle.

We have pledged to pray before leaving to go anywhere for God to show us who He wants us to pray for. We're not missionaries, we're simply servants of the Lord bringing the Good News to all people around us. I heard recently, "Jesus didn't come to die on the cross just so we can do church." I have been so convicted by that. I want to do more than "just church." I want to share the hope and joy I have with reckless abandon. I want to be unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to be obedient to God my Savior.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A God Encounter

It seems that where ever I go I bump into people who are hurting.
 People are hurting everywhere.
 I'll admit it, I'm one of them.

So, for the story of  'A God Encounter:' I was in the store today at the check-out counter with my kids when I looked up and saw this beautiful middle-aged African-American woman. She was stunning to me. She was dressed beautifully and looked like she had it 'all together.' I stopped staring at her and looked down at her purchases. She was only buying baby lotions and baby shampoos. (She had $2.00 coupons for each item and it was "double coupons up to $2.00" day). So, I remarked, "Wow, you're doing great!" She looked at me and started telling me about her six week old grandson. How he's been colic and has a very bad case of eczema. I told her about my children and how I handled eczema. I also shared how I have six children of my own and I know how hard sleepless nights and anxiety makes for a really hard time.  I encouraged her that, "We must believe that God will heal him and see us through." 

Before I knew it she was telling me about how she is her grandson's only caregiver, working full-time and other troubles. My heart broke for her. I started tearing up. I reached out my hand and touched her. Then before I knew it I was praying for her. I prayed a prayer of blessing, peace and hope. I don't know what happened, but when I opened my eyes from praying and looked at her it was like...well, she looked different. The heaviness seemed lifted.

We soon got yelled out by one of the other customers for stopping the line. She turned around and said, "When God is in control, don't nobody stop Him. God knew I needed His touch today."

I reached out and hugged her and cried again, this time because the God of the universe used ME. I don't have it "all together." I am not immune to a broken heart. And YET God would use me. I'm still crying for that woman. I can't stop praying for her. She paid for her items and seriously, she was gone. I looked for her in the parking lot, but could not see her. I can't explain it, my heart is weepy for her and all she is going through. My eyes are still filled with tears in awe of our little prayer time.

Lord, you know which 'sheep' of yours I prayed with today. Bless her Lord with strength, with joy, with peace, and with hope. I pray for the baby's mother, where ever she is, that she would come to know you and be reunited with her baby. And Father, thank you for using me. I love you so much Lord.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Lost Lamb

I remember when I heard the story by Jesus, "The Parable of the Lost Sheep" how struck I was by it. Here, this shepherd has one hundred sheep, right? and one of the the little guys wanders off. Well, in my New Yorker mind I thought, 'Okay, no big deal, the shepherd has ninety-nine more. What's the problem? No real loss here, it's just one out of so many. Move on and stop your belly-aching.'

It says, "If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?" (Matthew 18:12)

I remember being so truly surprised by this. "Go to look for the one that wandered off" leaving the other ninety-nine behind? Is that really smart? I mean seriously the guy goes off to look for the one, maybe finds it, maybe not, comes back to the others and now they are all gone. What happens then?  This doesn't sound like a very good plan. What was so special about this lamb anyway? I'm totally serious. I did not get this parable at all when I first read it.

The more I have read this story over the years and have read it to my children, I see it's not so much about the "worth" of the lamb as it is about the love the shepherd had for his lamb. Jesus is the Great Shepherd and He is all and only about love.  It says in 1 John 4:8b "...God is love." The Great Shepherd loves us, His lambs, and would do everything He could to find us. He will not just let us go off and wander, get lost, or leave. He searches for us until He finds us.

"And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about hte ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:13)

Isn't that amazing? Only Jesus would or could tell a story like that to convey His love for us. Jesus loves us. I am testimony of His love and His tracking me down and bringing me home time and time again. Not once, in my time of following Jesus, have I ever felt, "I blew it this time. Jesus will abandon me now." Nope. Even when I had strayed from Him, at my lowest point in my life, I still cried out to Him and He came running. I don't know how He cares for not just "one-hundred" sheep, but billions of us down here, but HE does. He knows each one of us by name and will not allow one of us to be lost. That's some great love.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pit in My Stomach

It is amazing to me how everything can be going along swimmingly, but before you know it something in my life is found to be drowning. I'm in that place again- pit in my stomach.

With most things I trust the Lord to get me out of a jam, help me take my foot out of my mouth, open my eyes to a new plan, but when it comes to people, well, God just doesn't control them. Out of His love for us He allows us to make decisions, to allow Him in or to shut Him out. So, when you have a disagreement with a person and pray, "Lord, help them see my heart." Well, He can try, but if the person of whom you are praying for doesn't want to hear from God- well- you're outta luck. 

I'm being misunderstood-again.
I'm being falsely accused -again.

I have no idea how this will turn out because there is a 'person' involved. Will the person see my heart? Will this person apologize? Will they actually humble themselves?

 I've got a pit in my stomach.

Why? because if we can't resolve this thing- where do I go from here? I thought I was walking down a lovely road, and now it appears that there is an immovable, huge, tree fallen right where I was headed.  Do I start down a new path? Do I chip away at the tree and try to forge ahead? 

I'm tired.
I am just so tired.
Tired of being misunderstood. Tired of fighting. I really am. I think I finally get why people just give up. I want to give up and for the first time in my life I don't think that 'giving up' is such a bad thing.

What's to fight for? Who listens? Who really cares? I really wonder. I mean do I stand up and go through the plethora of things I've done to show where my faithfulness lies? Do I say here's my resume- that must be proof of my heart? Do I say, "Look at my kids-they're not turning out too bad." -that's some sort of a proof. But honestly, like the song says, "If you don't know me by now, you will never, ever, ever know me."

I'm done fighting, proving, convincing.

Lord, may your will be done, not mine. Help me to fight if you want me to fight. Help me to walk away if you just want me to walk away. Oh, Lord, I need to hear your voice and have your amazing peace.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A King's Ransom

One day I was watching a Sherlock Holmes episode from the series with Jeremy Brett. Holmes was hired to find the Duke's son who had been kidnapped. Of course Sherlock deciphered the mystery and found the only son and heir of the Duke. It had been agreed that Holmes' payment would be six hundred pounds, but upon receiving his payment the check read twelve thousand pounds. Sherlock's response was, "A King's Ransom." The Duke replied, "Yes, because you have saved my son."
 (In U.S. dollars Homes expected to receive around fifteen hundred dollars, but received more like twenty-eight thousand dollars).

I had never heard the term 'A King's Ransom' before, but something in me was touched. I looked up the term on wikipedia. It simply said, "large amount of money: an enormous sum of money."  It started me thinking about the ransom that was paid for me. What had my Father in heaven paid for my ransom? He paid the highest price ~a King's Ransom. A King's ransom for me. God the Father sent his only Son, Jesus, as payment for my lost soul. Jesus is my ransom! "For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
 that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life."(John 3:16)

So if I received a 'King's ransom' what does that say about how God sees me? God sees me as His own. His family. His child. The enemy had stolen me, kidnapped me, and God the Father wanted me back. He would not stand by and allow the enemy to have a hold on me. To have a hold me for all eternity. So, He paid the highest price for me and for you.

"Greater love has no one than this,
 that he lay down his life for his friends."
 (John 15:13)

As we come upon Easter and reflect on the cross
remember God gave His one and only Son as a ransom for you~
His beloved daughter or son.
YOU are HIS.
YOU are His child.
And He has done everything He could to save you,
to ransom you.
His love is so great~
It is the love of the Father.
Happy Easter Everyone!