I love trees! I have always loved trees. So it was only natural that after my husband, John, and I moved into our new house, I developed the habit of sitting in our screened room in my spare moments and staring at the majestic live oak in our backyard.
On one occasion when I was enjoying its beauty, a typical Florida storm began to form. The wind built to a high intensity in moments. As I watched the branches of the mighty oak sway in the strong breezes, I made some observations. read more
"You have the choice of resigning or being terminated, effective immediately." My heart sank. The president of the company had just walked into my office, pointed his finger at me and uttered those words. How could this be happening to me, and what was I going to do? As the director of a retirement community, I lived on the property, so I was losing my job AND my home.
What was the incident that had cost me my job? Reading the Bible and praying for a needy Christian resident on my day off. As a result, I was suddenly without a job, homeless, threatened with a lawsuit, betrayed and slandered. Great fear bombarded my mind. WHAT was I going to do? read more
I came home from a women's leadership meeting at church one night to find everyone had already gone to bed. Feeling hungry, I went into the kitchen and fixed myself a bowl of fresh blueberries. They were in season and they were magnificent.
Then I heard it. It was a strange noise I had never heard before. It sounded like the lower notes of a cello and it was occurring at five- and 10-second intervals. Not only was this unusual but my dishwasher and the entire kitchen counter would vibrate at each interval. read more
One of my most poignant memories of my late father is of him seated at his desk with his Bible open, studying. My dad wasn't a highly educated man, but he was devoted to Jesus Christ and had an insatiable hunger for biblical knowledge.
I remember watching him many times as he pored over passages and prayed for understanding. Years later, I had the privilege of getting a seminary education, and one day during a class lecture, I thought of him.
Surrounded by my fellow graduate students in a stately lecture hall, my eyes began to water. I was imagining how much my father would have loved being in this class.
He never made it to seminary, but because he held out before me the example of someone who "trembled" at God's Word, studying it became my own desire. I observed what he did, and I sought to emulate him.
My behavior was not unusual. Children who are nurtured and trained in the safety of their parents' love seek to embrace the parents' qualities throughout their lives.
Not every one of us has the experience of love and protection in an earthly sense. But in a spiritual sense, we can all attest to having that experience with our heavenly parent--God, the Father.
We are commanded to imitate Him: "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]" (Eph. 5:1, The Amplified Bible). As His beloved children, we should resemble Him and act like Him.
There's a good reason for this. Our nation and the world are longing to see the reality of God in the lives of His people.
The apostle Paul wrote, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8:19, NIV). There are many for whom a demonstration of the reality of the One we worship is long overdue.
If only they could see Him reflected in His church! If only our brokenness didn't cause us to reflect so poorly on our precious Lord!
What is the creation waiting to see? I believe above all things, the unsaved desire to see the reality of Christ's sacrificial love.
Sadly, it seems harder for us to exhibit unconditional love toward those in the family of God than to those on the outside. We hear too many stories about brothers and sisters who are wounded by other members of the body of Christ.
This kind of behavior isn't lost on those who are looking for God. The unbeliever may not have any great knowledge of who (or what) God is, but he or she is quite adept at identifying who (or what) He is not. I believe the biggest beef unbelievers have with us is our lack of real, sacrificial love for one another.
We simply must love one another more. Now is a moment when hearts are being taken captive to fear. Men and women are desperate to know if there is any hope--any security out there.
Let's tell them, "Yes, there is hope, peace, protection!" Better yet, let's show them the evidence of the hope we have: Let's show them how we love one another. read more
I have been ministering in churches, in home fellowship groups, at Aglow meetings and at conferences for more than 25 years. From the very beginning I have prayed for the sick and have always seen healings and miracles. But there has been an increase in the last nine years.
About ten years ago I found an interesting passage in Isaiah 35 while sitting in church waiting for a meeting to start. I felt as if God said to hide verses 3-6 in my heart and let them incubate. Throughout the next year I read them over and over and looked up some of the more significant words. read more
In order to gain God's greatest blessings, we must embrace His highest purpose. My sincere conviction is that if this happens in our cities, God's blessing will spread to entire regions, and healing to our land will occur. Without the abiding fullness of Christ in the church, we will have no more impact in the world than a political party, whose strength rests in numbers and finances and not in God.
Consequently, every serious Christian must recognize two priorities. We need to return to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ, and we desperately need divine intervention—or our nation will perish.
In Psalm 90 Moses utters a prayer that everyone who has had enough of his own feeble efforts should pray. In somber and earnest supplication he implores, "Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your majesty to their children. And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands" (vv. 16-17, NASB).
This is a heartfelt prayer, one that is full of deep thought and candid reflection. Moses was not willing to "try something" and ask the Lord to bless it. He prayed, "Let Your work appear." He appealed to God to confirm the works of His hands. What is divine confirmation? It is when the Lord works with you and fulfills your words with His power (see Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:4). God identifies Himself so completely with what you are doing that He backs you up with power. It is endorsement of the Almighty upon an individual's life.
I want to underscore that we have peace with God through Christ's sacrifice. We are not looking for divine acceptance but divine endorsement. The question is not one of salvation but of power in this life to change our world. How, then, can we truly know that we have found God's highest purpose for us? How can we, like Moses, obtain the endorsement of Almighty God?
If we want our works to have permanence, then they must be the eternal works of God and not more of man's ideas. Jesus said, "'For the works which the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me'" (John 5:36). Ultimately, we only glorify God when we, like Jesus, accomplish the work that He has given us to do (John 17:4).
You may ask, "Does God have eternal, enduring assignments for me?" Yes, but the first "work of God" that is accomplished in us is not our work but His, that we "'believe in Him whom He has sent'" (John 6:29). We must abandon all hope of finding true spiritual success apart from dependent, steadfast faith in the person and power of Christ.
This forsaking of our ideas to embrace simple obedience to Christ is the "work of God." We must see that we cannot attain to the works of God unless we first become the workmanship of God, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). At this very moment there are eternal, powerful works prepared for each of us. Yet, until we see that the Father's highest purpose is to reveal in us the nature of Christ, we will not qualify for the power of Christ, which is God's full endorsement on our lives.
If we will find the eternal works of God, we must know His eternal plan. He desires to bring the living Christ into each of us as individuals; then as Christ-filled individuals, we can transform our congregations. Finally, from the launching pad of a Christ-filled congregation, we will see things impacted and cleansed with the Spirit of His Son.
Satan has sought continually to hinder and delay this "summing up of all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:9-10). Yet such is our mission, and, in knowing the plan of God, such is our victory. Therefore, in battling for the soul of our cities and our nation, our victory is not in knowing how to command demons but in knowing the commander Himself. We triumph in being rightly aligned with the supreme plan of God, which is to fill all things with Christ.
Therefore, if we want to obtain the endorsement of God upon our lives, Jesus must become as real to us as the world was when we were sinners. He must become our mind, and we must become His obedient body. My prayer is that the vision of attaining the likeness of Christ will be branded upon all our hearts and that, as sincere followers of God's Son, the Father Himself will back our lives with power for His purpose.
Adapted from When the Many are One by Francis Frangipane, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This book demonstrates how Christians of every color, culture and denomination can work together to transform our communities. It calls us back to oneness with Christ, so that the power and character of Christ will flow through us to bring transformation. To order a copy click on this link: read more
Anyone who has traveled with a specific destination in mind knows that before you head out on the road, it helps to map out your route. If you're not lucky enough to own a GPS, then you at least need to use a road atlas or go online and map out your route using a mapping service such as MapQuest.
As many people travel down life's highway in search of happiness, they figure they'll run into it somewhere, someday. They head off in a general direction, assuming happiness will pop up on the way like a highway sign directing them which way to turn, how many miles to go, and what exit to take to get there. Happiness, however, isn't like a tourist attraction, an all-you-can-eat buffet, or a theme park. read more
Have you ever prayed and felt that the ceiling of the church was a sheet of brass? Has your worship ever felt as though you were speaking into a hollowed log? Or have you ever prayed for a specific need to be met and felt like your words were lost in outer space? Biblically, prayers can be hindered (see 1 Pet. 3:7), delayed (see Dan. 10:11-13), and under some conditions, not even heard by the Lord (Mark 11:25). If prayers can be hindered, then so can the manifestation of your healing. read more
On one of my lunch hours, I went out and bought a new cell phone. I was ecstatic about the great offer a co-worker had clued me into—more minutes for literally the same amount of money I had been paying for my previous service, and no roaming charges! What a deal!
But I had no idea when I walked out of the cellular store reveling in my purchase, bag full of manuals, brochures and terms of contract in tote, that this new phone had many more capabilities than the ones that had first attracted me to it.
Back at work, I set the phone on my desk, unable to take time at that point to go over the extensive directions. I figured I would just leave it there and wait until the weekend—or some other convenient time—to delve into them.
When I finally activated the phone three days later and set up my voice mail and ring tone, I found myself at a crossroads. Should I brave the textbook-sized user manual? After all, my phone was turned on and functioning. I knew how to send and receive calls. What more did I need? I was good to go.
But the salesman’s pitch about the numerous features my phone had still rang in my ears: “You’ve got caller ID, call waiting, free phone calls to other people in our network…” So, I peeled back the shrink-wrap from the owner’s manual and began to skim it.
At first I was in awe. “Wow,” I thought. “I can send an e-mail from my phone! And would you look at that, I can access the Internet…hmmm, it even has voice-activated dialing. I wonder what else this compact wonder can do?”
Soon, however, I was overwhelmed by the thought of trying to implement all the special functions. “Where would I begin?” I wondered. “I don’t have a lot of time to fool around with all these settings, and I’m not very good at high-tech stuff.”
Eventually, I gave up. “I’m not going to be able to figure this out. I can just use the phone for normal calls and not worry about all this other stuff. Or maybe I’ll get to it later.”
For several days I walked around in cell-phone ignorance, just moving my phone in and out of my purse, hooking it into the wall to recharge, answering and initiating calls. One day, on my 40-minute commute home from work, I realized that the way I was handling my cell phone is the way many Christians handle the gifts and talents God has given them. He invests so many “features” in us—yet, like me with my cell phone, we don’t take the time out to find out what they are and cultivate what He has placed in us.
Instead, we go on in blind ignorance, using only the features that are more obvious and easy to access. We fail to delve into all the “settings” that God has programmed into us not only to bless Him but also to bless others.
In my case, I saw that I had left areas untapped at times because of fear of failure or busyness or just plain laziness. Like the man Jesus described who hid the talent his master gave him (see Matt. 25:18), I too, had buried His investment in me rather than using it wisely so that it would bring Him a return.
Needless to say, this little epiphany changed my way of thinking. I don’t want to receive the same response from God that the servant received from his master. The master called the man a “’wicked and lazy servant’” and took away the one talent he had given him (vv. 26,28, NKJV).
Shortly thereafter I sat down at my kitchen table with my mound of cell phone instructions and plodded through them. I read a good portion of the manual, and you know what? I’m still finding new features available to me! May it be so in all our lives as we hunger after the Lord and truly seek to develop the gifts He has placed in us!
Is the door of your heart open toward God? Can the Spirit of Jesus Christ come in and speak with you? Are you defenseless to His voice? Can you sense both His pleasure and His displeasure? For us to become sensitive to divine realities, we must live with the door of our hearts open. It is impossible to do the will of God otherwise.
King Hezekiah commanded the priests to carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. The call to clean the holy place was not an option; it was a command. "So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the Lord they brought out to the court of the house of the Lord" (2 Chr. 29:16, NASB).
When the priests entered the holy place, they entered alone; the rest of Israel was in the outer court and beyond. Here, privately before God, they were to remove those things that were defiling this sacred place. No one else had seen these desecrations. They could have remained in secret, and none except the priests would have known; but they did not. They brought out the unclean things. What was unholy was exposed publicly and removed.
From where did these abominations arise? Predominantly they were the sins of their forefathers—the traditions and offenses handed down to them from the wicked generation who preceded them. The careless approach to holiness, the unbelief toward the promises of God, and the idolatry and worship of man-made things were the products of a generation turned from God. They gave to their children, as a legacy, a society oppressed by sin and the devil.
In the new covenant temple, the church, it is our private, inner lives that need this deep cleansing. We have inherited traditions that justify and reinforce darkness of soul within us. Most Christians have little hope that purity of heart is even attainable. The revival that will turn a nation begins in the trembling unveiling of our hearts, in the removal of what is defiled and hidden within us.
I will tell you a mystery. It is in this very place, this chamber of our deepest secrets, that the door to eternity is found. If the Father is near enough to "see in secret" He is close enough to be seen in secret as well. If He has entered us, we can, in truth, enter Him. The key to entering the presence of God is intimacy, and intimacy is secrets shared. To ascend the hill of the Lord, to stand in the holy place, we must have clean hands and a pure heart; we cannot lift up our souls toward falsehood (see Ps. 24:3-4). At this door of eternity we must renounce those things hidden because of shame and, in humility of soul, receive Christ's cleansing word.
Our goal is not merely to be "good" but to see God and, in seeing Him, to do what He does. However, John tells us that he who seeks to "see Him just as He is … purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2-3, NKJV). We can be assured that each step deeper into the Lord's presence will reveal areas in our hearts that need to be cleansed. Do not be afraid. When the Spirit shows you areas of sin, it is not to condemn you but to cleanse you.
Let me give you an example. My wife set herself apart to seek the Lord. Her cry during this time was, "Lord, I want to see You." As she sought the Lord, however, He began to show her certain areas of her heart where she had fallen short. She prayed, "Lord, this is not what I asked for; I asked to see You, not me." The Holy Spirit comforted her, saying, "Only the pure in heart can see God."
In the same way, the Lord desires His church to see Him as well. Thus, He is exposing the areas in us that are unclean. If we will walk as Jesus walked, we must remember that Christ did only the things He saw the Father do (see John 5:19). Out of the purity of His heart He beheld God and then revealed His glory.
This cleansing must become a way of life, but it does not have to take a lifetime. For Hezekiah and the people with him, it occurred in a matter of eight days.
Our prayer should be to bring all the defilement of our flesh and spirit out of the secret chambers of our hearts and give them over to the Lord so that our hearts would be purged.
"O God, thoroughly cleanse my heart; purify me quickly! In Jesus' name."
Adapted from When the Many Are One, by Francis Frangipane, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. In this book the author calls us back to oneness with Christ, and through Him oneness with other Christians. With the character and power of Christ in our midst, the church can again bring transformation to our communities, our nation and our world. To order a copy click on this link: read more