One Prayer Most Christians Don’t Say

At 10:30am I finally sit down on my bed, open my Bible and ask God to speak to me from His word. I had a full day of accomplishment. I worked out for an hour and made a new friend at Planet Fitness. I started drafting an e-mail newsletter and had an hour-long conference call with a client about a marketing project. I landed a ghostwriting contract and posted my stories for tomorrow. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep because of an unsatisfied crave.

Crave is an urgent desire that must be satiated. This could be a good thing if you crave healthy, good-for-your-soul food, music or books. Or a crave can drive you to do things you would never think of doing such as selling yourself for drugs. Either way, God has put in our soul a desire that only He can fulfill.

I dutifully read my assigned readings following the ‘read through your Bible’ in a year plan. And then suddenly, three scriptures kept commanding my attention. I wrote them down. I journaled my thoughts and tried to go to sleep. I couldn’t.

Several scriptures convicted me to the core. I bolted upright and imagined King David in his might and glory penning these words. He was the one who slayed tens of thousands, commanded armies, caused a pagan queen to cross an ocean and a continent because of his renown.

An emperor and heroic commander penned these words that pierced my soul:

With your hand you drove out the nations
    and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
    and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
    and the light of your face, for you loved them. (Psalm 44: 2-3)

God’s right hand, His arm and the light of His face brought victory.  David declares:

You are my King and my God,
    who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.[d] (Psalm 44: 4-8)

David’s source of might was God’s right hand and His arm and the light of His face.  David’s accomplished his mighty exploits because he had an intimate, hand to hand, arm to arm, face to face, touch to touch, breath to breath relationship with God. He was utterly dependent on God.

I was convicted of how much I depend on myself and my own strength, might, connections and smarts to get done what I need to get done. I can get A LOT done WITHOUT God. I was terrified by my own independence.

I repented of depending on my own strength. I laid down my giftedness, my skills, my talents and connections. I asked Him to teach me how to depend on Him. I laid down my sword and trust in myself.

I don’t hear Christians saying this prayer because we don’t like depending on anyone. We celebrate independence and the self-made millionaire who doesn’t need anyone. We don’t want to need anyone or count on someone.

I’m immersed in a world chasing likes and shares as an editor of an online publication and social media manager. We want our video or our post to go viral. We want fame, fortune and popularity and we can deceive ourselves into thinking we will use this for God’s glory.

The chase for likes and shares creates pressure to hype or manipulate information to get people to read your post or share your video. We become a prisoner of our own hype. God’s victory doesn’t depend on my fame, fortune or hype. Winning God’s way comes by relationship alone.

A friend of mine at the International House of Prayer Kansas City told me how he quit writing for several years to get to know God. His relationship with God was more valuable then his journalistic ability.  I tried to imagine myself not doing what I’m good at for several years to seek God. Frankly I don’t see how I could do that because my family financially depends on my writing and business. God knows my situation and He has opened doors to people I would have considered 10 years ago out of my league.

The prayer coursing in my soul is to know how to depend on Him. To know victory by His right hand, right arm and the light of His face. A win that comes from a touch-to-touch, breath-to-breath walk with the living God.  A win that doesn’t come from my own ability to wield the sword or my talent to shoot the bow.  But a win or victorious season from hearing and responding to Him.

 

What I Learned From the Girl Who Wanted to Stab Me

an-angry-woman“Gloria put the knife down,” I said to my petite roommate shakingly holding a butcher knife in her hand. The knife was aimed at me. “You don’t tell me what to do you bitch,” she screamed at me. “I hate you! Who do you think you are?”

I stood back and realized if I stayed, I would have to beat her up to defend myself. I whispered a prayer under my breath, “God if I stay I’m going to kick her ass. What do I do?”

A voice whispered loudly to my heart. “Leave now.” I walked out and went to my neighbor’s house. I called my pastor’s wife and told her what happened. She laughed when I got to the part about beating Gloria up.

“Do you think you could have taken her out?” She laughed. “Yes, I would have thrown her off the lanai (patio). That’s how mad I am.”

She advised me to go hang out with some friends for a few hours until she could figure out what to do. Later that night, Gloria was gone.

Gloria had schizophrenia and the church I was involved in was very naive about mental illness. We had prayed for her to be delivered from tormentors, but we didn’t have a healthy view of treatment and medication. Getting medical treatment or taking medication was interpreted as an admission of not believing God for healing.

Gloria should have gotten help
I wonder what happened to Gloria who probably stopped taking her medication because of our faulty view of God’s process of healing. Since I’ve had my own mental illness issues where I received therapy and have a daughter who has challenges that require counseling, my view of God’s healing process has broadened. My daughter kicked my narrow walls down when she was born.

My daughter, D’Andra, has Down syndrome, a chromosonal disorder which means she has an extra chromosone. That extra chromosone opened a storm for me as I learned how to navigate believing for her healing while securing treatment despite my horrible theology of faith and healing. Here’s what I learned from Gloria to help my daughter.

Getting help isn’t a sign of lack of faith in God
A very wise woman broke my chain of faulty theology when I asked her, “My daughter has a lot of services available for her for free. Would I be showing that I have a lack of faith if I take advantage of those services?”

She shook her head and said, “You take advantage of every available treatment and service to help your daughter. That’s not lack of faith. That’s called being a good mother.”

God can use doctors, therapists, counselors etc. to heal you
She then shared with me how people who take medication the doctor prescribes for their illness or pain could help them serve the Lord better. God could use doctors, medication, treatment and counseling to bring healing as well as prayer. If you combine all these available options, you have more open doors for God to release healing.

I wish I would have know the power of God healing a sick mind through medication when Gloria was threatening to stab me. Maybe I would have asked Gloria if she took her medication. I know I would have been more compassionate although I needed to flee an unsafe situation.

If you need medical help, a counselor or psychologist or psychiatrist, go get treatment. It is not a sin to receive medical treatment or counseling. Receive prayer but go get help.

Don’t look down on people who need help
If you know someone who needs medical help or counseling, please don’t look down on them. Don’t put the ‘something must be wrong with you because you don’t have enough faith for healing’ judgment on them. Christians have told me this when I confided in them about a struggle. Telling me that I don’t enough faith did nothing to help me. Telling me that I don’t have enough faith made me feel condemned and hopeless.

If someone has told you that you don’t have enough faith for healing if you seek out medical treatment or counseling, they’re wrong. God gave doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, nurses, surgeons as well as medical practitioners as a gift to bring healing.

God gave them the wisdom to help diagnose your problem so you can serve Him better. So be free to get help. Do everything you can to get the help you need.

An Open Letter to the Women Who Marched

open-letter-protestor-michael-kowalczyk

I applaud your exercise of your first amendment right to free speech. I thought of joining your cause and several of my friends marched with you. I had some friends who marched in Washington, D.C., another friend who marched in New York City and my cousin who marched in Kansas City.

I wanted to march with you on January 21, 2017 but I couldn’t fully buy into the pro-abortion platform. The reason I wanted to march with you was because of my pro-life values that drove me to not terminate the pregnancy of my daughter with a disability. I understand that many protesters were taking a stand for the disabled, immigrants, refugees, the poor and marginalized.

I feel very torn between my friends who are pro-life and pro-Trump and could not support your march. I wanted to march for my daughter because frankly I’m concerned about her future under Trump’s administration. I watched the news coverage all day and prayed.

I prayed that you would be heard. I prayed that God would heal the division in our nation. I prayed for peace.

One of my friends texted me and said she would have loved to march but couldn’t because of the pro-abortion stance. There are millions of women like my friend and I who are just as passionate as you are about the defending the plight of the immigrant, the poor, the refugee, the disabled and the marginalized.

But we will not shed our stand for life. While I’m pro-life, I’m pro all of life. I believe that the pro-life movement has been weak to advocate for ALL life, for the single teenage mom who decides to keep her baby, for the baby who ends up in foster care or an orphanage, for the homeless, for the immigrant and marginalized. I believe God is pro ALL of life. He is pro-people, pro-freedom and pro-truth.

I’ve never voted on one issue like most of my pro-life friends. I’ve tried to keep an open mind because I have people who I love that had several abortions. I refuse to condemn or judge them. My heart is to reach across political issues that divide us and bring us together.

I pray that we can truly hear each other instead of shutting each other down because of our own perceived stereotypes. I refuse to stereotype you as a rude, profanity-speaking f-bomb dropping woman. By the same token, don’t stereotype me as a militant right-wing, pro-Trump, Republican pro-lifer that doesn’t care about social justice issues.

We share a common history of struggle for our rights and dignity. Can we stop screaming at each other, caricaturizing each other and listen to each other? Please drop the labels and let’s talk. My friend, Lee Grady, wrote a column about the Christian foundation of the suffragette movement.

Lee wrote: “It was Christian suffragette leader Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) who said: “The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.” Mott did not live to see American women win the vote in 1920, but she laid the foundation for that victory.

If we truly want to stop the poison of injustice and elevate the dignity of women in the Trump era, we will need more than sassy outrage from Hollywood stars. We need a gutsy, courageous, grassroots Christian women’s movement that is not afraid to stand for both gender equality and sexual purity; we need compassion for pregnant women as well as a mother’s heart to protect unborn and unwanted children.”

Let’s come together and pray for our nation. More than ever, we need peace and wisdom. May God bring healing to our nation and wisdom for all us to become the solution instead of looking to the government for the answer.

Bridging the Racial Divide in the Church

racism-church

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,

“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”

Progress is slow on racial reconciliation in this country, particularly given recent events. But why do lingering divisions exist in the Church, the very communities built on the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation? Finding racial unity in a congregation is a complex task that requires a deep recognition of racial differences in how Christians understand and practice their faith. In a recent study that builds upon our research on racial tension and the Black Lives Matter movement, Barna examined the divergent ways in which black and white Christians approach discipleship, individually and collectively, revealing insights that may contribute to the realization of King’s dream of an unsegregated hour of worship.

What Is Spiritual Progress?
The term “spiritual progress” is open to interpretation, and when asked to define it, differences in perspectives begin to emerge between black and white Christian leaders Black Christian leaders are more likely to describe the process of spiritual progress as “spiritual maturation” (31%), while white Christian leaders prefer the phrase “spiritual growth” (21%). The language of “maturation” implies more of an internal transformation and the development of wisdom through life experience, whereas the word “growth” tends to suggest an approach that entails reaching key milestones.

When both groups define “discipleship,” white believers are more likely to refer to it as a “process of learning to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, seeking to observe all that Jesus commanded, by the power of the Holy Spirit and to his glory.” Black Christians instead commonly refer to it as “The process of transformation that changes us to be increasingly more like Christ through the Word, the Spirit, and circumstance.” For black Christians, spiritual progress tends to focus more on life experience rather than achieving goals, about maturing into a Christ-like character as they weather life’s storms. Read more.

Walking in the Tension of a Quiet End and Exhilarating Beginning

crossroadsA few days before Christmas, my friend, Lucy Haley-Hurn ended her fight with Cancer. Lucy was surrounded by loving friends and family when she met the One she served her whole life on December 21. I’ll never forget the prayers I cried out to God for Lucy and her fiancee Ashley to find suitable property. Or prayers for the details to come together when they found property. And prayers for Lucy when she was in the hospital. I thank God that He answered our prayers by bringing healing from the disease that her spirit refused to succumb to.

The day after Christmas, three young men sang ‘My Girl’ in front of the Melting Pot on the Plaza in Kansas City for a couple, Paul Winters and Briann McDowell. While the melody rose through the cold night air, Paul grabbed the Zales bag with the ring and got on his knees. “Will you marry me?” She nodded yes and I wept through this happy moment.

In one week,  a friend’s life ended and another friend’s life was beginning a new chapter. Celebrating a friend’s engagement and a funeral the same week starkly reminds me of what’s truly important while walking through the tension of a new beginning and an ending. New beginnings and endings strip us of our pretense to reveal priorities driving us and force us to answer questions we don’t want to ask.

Endings are always bittersweet and beginnings exhilarating especially when relationships are redefined. We answer questions that we don’t want to answer such as:

Why am I really doing this activity? Am I involved in this task or activity to please someone, to make myself look good or because I’m too afraid to say no?

Is this person a friend or are they using me to further their own agenda? If I fail or make a mistake, will this person stay in my life or kick me to the curb? I know Paul found a friend for life in his future wife,  Briann. They have an incredible passion for helping children and they are a perfect match. My friend Lucy was one of the few people who would not kick me to the curb.

What’s important in my life? My daughter, D’Andra and her growth in her faith became my number one priority in 2016. Her stormy adjustment to high school forced me to search high and low for a place where she could thrive spiritually. She turns 15 in April and Holy Spirit spoke to me that I would lose her if she didn’t find her ‘tribe’ or youth group now.

As the year comes to a close, the multiple funerals and memorial services I’ve attended in 2016 put a fire in my heart to get on with what God has called me to do. I pray that you will get on with what He has called you to do. Spend some time the first month of a new year answering these questions.

Soak in this Psalm as you answer questions you’ve haven’t been asked in a long time and may Holy Spirit’s wisdom speak to you for 2017.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

When God Calls You Through a Prophet

hearing-God-mountains

“You there…young lady on the back row, stand up!” The white-haired prophet from Florida commanded me. I looked around but my friends on both sides poked me. Reluctantly I stood up.

I didn’t know what a prophet was or a prophecy. Everyone seemed excited about this prophet but I was terrified. I was a brand-new Christian and thought that prophets spoke doom and gloom. I cringed as he spoke.

“Thus sayeth the Lord, I have called you into a place of prominence. You will be like Esther who moves without fear and with favor…”

I shook my head because I knew he was talking to the wrong person. Plus, who the heck was Esther?

The prophet saw me shaking my head, looking at my friends confused. “No I’m talking to you. You’re the right person,” he said. He went onto prophecy about the calling of God on my life to speak the truth before leaders.

I was dumbfounded because I was 18-years-old. I had no ambitions or aspirations for leadership. If I wasn’t at church that Sunday, I would probably be laying on the beach. I didn’t want to change the world. I just wanted to understand the Bible and how to love God and get along with people.

My room mates were surprised as I was about the prophecy. One of my roommates told me that their was a book in the Bible about a woman named Esther. I stayed up all night reading the book of Esther. I was even more convinced that the prophet missed it.

I didn’t see how an 18-year-old beach bum could become a woman of grace, comfortable among world leaders. Even though I thought the prophet called out the wrong girl, there was a fire lit inside of me to know the God who could take an orphan and raise her up to be a queen to bring deliverance to her nation.

I voraciously devoured my Bible and filled up notebooks with sermons that no one ever heard. I locked myself away on weekends to listen to sermons on cassette tapes. I joined the weekly prayer group and led bible studies.

I majored in Political Science and studied the Christian principles of government over Christmas break. I also ran for student senate and got elected. The following year I ran for an executive position as secretary and got elected.

During that time I  volunteered on a state representative’s campaign. I was chosen to be part of a team that the political party sent experts to teach about how to win a campaign. Their teaching has influenced the way I do marketing to this day.

Somehow my name came up with this state representative, Hal Jones, who needed to hire staff. He asked my friend, Kenny and I to join him for lunch. During the lunch he asked about our views on government. I shared with Hal what I had learned from these books about Christian principles of government.

After lunch, Hal wanted to buy the books and offered me a job. I had very little professional office experience and he assured me that his wife, Lana, would teach me everything. I accepted the job offer although I didn’t know the title or my responsibilities.

When I showed up at his office in the state capitol building, his beautiful wife, Lana, taught me how to answer the phone, write letters, handle dignitaries and requests from the media and their constituents. I started the job when the legislature wasn’t in session. That gave me a lot of time to learn how the legislative system worked, as well as research background for potential legislation and attend meetings.

That prophet’s words rang in my ears one day when I was sitting in a meeting with the governor of Hawaii, a prime minister, a supreme court justice, several presidents and other dignitaries of Pacific rim nations. The glory of that moment of the greatness of God who would send a prophet to call out a girl who spent part of her teens on a sugar cane plantation with no dreams for her life had marked me. A year later, I stood next to Barbara Bush, former President George Bush’s wife, on a stage in front of thousands of students.

God demonstrated His glory over and over again in my life by fulfilling that prophecy in astounding ways. He has put me in front of many celebrities, leaders, athletes, artists and influencers. Even today I help get His message in front of millions of women as an editor of an online magazine.

I had many other prophecies spoken over my life in my twenties. And while I don’t believe that you base your life on a prophecy, I’m thankful for those prophecies that were given to an unsure, insecure young girl who wanted to serve God. Those prophecies opened up a new world of possibility and expanded my mind with opportunity.

That prophet’s word was a part of my foundation as a Christian. I long for the prophets to come forth to call out the destiny and purpose in a person’s life. That moment when the Florida prophet called me out, was a moment where I saw God the father calling me as His daughter.

I know Christians shouldn’t look for personal prophecy and I’ve seen abusive practices such as ministers charging for prophetic sessions. Yet I believe that this office and gift is desperately needed in these chaotic and confusing times, especially with young people who want to know what God is calling them to do. I’m a strong proponent of solid bible teaching, but we need the prophets to arise.

I’ve seen prophetic words delivered by leaders at my church and they are spot-on. I’ve prophesied myself over people under the submission of my leaders. I’m not afraid of being tested or questioned because I honor the body of Christ. I don’t consider myself a prophet yet I want my life to be someone else’s prophecy.

What about you? Have you had an experience with prophecy? I would love to hear it. Post your comments below.

My church, World Revival Church is hosting ‘Walking In the Prophetic Seminar’ on Saturday, July 30. Click the picture below for more details.

prophetic_banner

 

 

 

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How One Woman’s Prayer Changed Nations

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My heroes of the faith (from right to left): Steve Murrell, founder of hundreds of churches in the Philippines, author, blogger extraordinaire; my husband Jerome; Rice Broocks, author of God’s Not Dead, apologetics speaker and founder of Every Nation Ministries; Linda, the one who prayed these guys into her husband’s church; Walter, the pastor who influenced Steve, Jerome and Rice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do not despise these small beginnings….” Zechariah 4:10

A young pastor’s wife in a little college town in Mississippi fasted and prayed that God would send leaders to their church. On the fifth day of fasting, Rice Broocks walked in the door. Steve Murrell also joined that tiny church as a student at Mississippi Student University and became room mates with my future husband, Jerome, a college track star.

The pastor was Walter Walker who in a few years would travel around the world with a teaching ministry. Walter would speak to a small group of college students at the University of Hawaii about discovering God’s will for your life. A sophomore student in Political Science hears that message and God calls her to write. The next day she enrolls in the school of journalism.

The journalism student would spend weekends holed up in her tiny bedroom in a Honolulu apartment listening to Rice Broock’s messages about faith. She would laugh until her sides hurt at Rice’s stories when he spoke at a campus outreach meeting about a guy named Jerome who fried chicken necks for their dinner. “He piled them on a platter in the middle of the table,” Rice said. “And then he said, ‘eat up.’”

Approximately 10 years later, the journalism graduate would walk down the aisle to marry chicken neck chef Jerome. Sixteen years later, the journalism student who became a writer and editor with her husband would have lunch with the pastor who inspired her to write, the evangelist who preached faith through his cassette tapes and the pastor who founded hundreds of churches in the Philippines. They met for lunch at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, TN.

Since those days of eating chicken necks, Rice has written the God’s Not Dead books and founded Every Nation Ministries, a network of hundreds of churches around the world on university campuses. Steve and his wife, Deborah, came through Hawaii briefly on their way to a month long missions trip in the University Belt of Manila. That month long trip would turn into decades of planting hundreds of churches.

The woman who prayed for those future leaders, Linda, was also at the lunch. Jerome and our family stayed with Walter and Linda in Franklin, TN. I would have never thought in a million years that we would meet Jerome’s college roommates who have influenced millions of people around the world or his first pastor, Walter, who pastored Rice and Steve.

Linda’s fasting and praying has changed nations through Rice and Steve. She is one of the funniest, most outgoing women that I know who loves God. Her story spurred me to pray for the next generation of leaders. You could have a “Rice” or “Steve” right under your nose without realizing it. Right now they look like a sassy know-it-all millennial with a man-bun but they could be an apostle or pastor in the making. They just need someone to believe in them and invest in them.

Rice laughingly recalled how he was rebuked daily by Pastor Walter. But Rice was also an encouragement to Walter. Rice, Steve, Walter and Jerome’s friendships brought a flood of memories and lots of laughs as we recalled the ministry we were all involved in. I encourage you to invest in someone by being their friend and praying for them. You have no idea who that person is destined to become. And you have no idea where God can take people from small beginnings.