Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dreaming with God

"I do not forget your 
dreams and desires. 
I placed them there," says the Lord.

Birth of a Dream...
It was in my teen years, after several trips to Mexico ministering to orphans and the poor, that I told the Lord there was nothing else I'd love to do more with my life. From there a journey began and the Lord charted my course... from my home in California to Kenya... Minnesota... Russia... Nepal... China... and Minnesota again.

For the past several years the journey has been focused on cultivating a lifestyle of prayer and sharing this with others. From this place of prayer, God has been imparting His heart to me. Over the past several months specifically, He has rekindled old dreams within me and is awakening new ones. Even as I began writing this, the song lyrics at the top of this post were overheard and I was reminded of His faithfulness to keep me ever aware of His leadership. He has masterfully woven together countless things to get His message across to me in this season. At the core of that message is this: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in... Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." - Jesus in Matthew 25:35,40
Stepping Out...Much of the path ahead remains hidden to me, but God has made some important first steps clear. While I continue giving leadership to developing the prayer ministry at Bethany, God is also opening doors for me to gain much more experience in serving the poor and ministering His love to children in need -- right here in Minneapolis. Ask me if you want to hear more...
Are there any dormant dreams God wants to re-awaken within YOU?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stirred to Stand in the Gap

Did you know that over 27 million people are enslaved around the world and a child is trafficked every 30 seconds... and did you know that the injustice goes on in our own backyards, not just in foreign lands? 
I was moved to tears last week as I attended a screening of the film Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. This exceptionally well made documentary unveils the appalling reality of the global human trafficking crisis. It is time for Christians to gain awareness and commit to pray for Jesus to redeem these broken lives. There is HOPE. That hope is Jesus, the only hope for true and lasting justice. Don't miss this eye-opening film... follow this link to find a free screening near you!

Psalm 9:8-10 "And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will minister justice to the peoples in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge and a high tower for the oppressed, a refuge and a stronghold in times of trouble. And they who know Your name will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Call to Return

Luke 5:15,16 - But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

The Lord has been calling me once again to return to the place of sitting at His feet; to give Him my focused attention, worship, and a listening ear. In recent weeks priorities had become misaligned for me as the pressure of busyness drew my attention into a multitude of directions. I found that even my scheduled prayer times in the Prayer Sanctuary had become primarily task/agenda driven and void of His life. After a few weeks like this, the Lord graciously got my attention with a chorus I overheard while in a time of *distracted* prayer: “I wanna be like Mary, sitting at Your feet, lavishing my love upon You. I choose that one thing, I give all for love, surrendering everything for You. You are my great reward, You’re who I’m longing for. My beautiful inheritance, Jesus” (Ashley Prior). In the midst of being distracted by "much serving" I remembered what got me excited about prayer in the first place: Jesus is worthy to be sought and adored; He wants to be known and loved. Simple.

The passage above from Luke 5 inspires me to take Jesus' example to heart and be vigilant to take time to genuinely commune with God... no matter how busy the season. In the past two weeks, as I've been more intentional about letting God set the agenda for our time together in the Prayer Sanctuary (i.e. leaving the computer and to do list at home!), He has lovingly met me in fresh ways. He is so kind!

Luke 11:38-42 - Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Longing for More

This prayer from A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God gripped me when I first read it over 12 years ago and ever since it's been one I've kept coming back to again and again. It speaks powerfully to where I often find myself... longing to be filled with more longing for God. I challenge you to join me in using this prayer as a launching pad into your own conversation with God today... Imagine the amazing outcome of this prayer being answered!

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Wise Vinedresser

Having grown up surrounded by vineyards on the Central Coast of California, the vineyard illustrations in Scripture usually leave me feeling nostalgic. But a recent read through John 15 on the vine (Jesus), the branches (us), and the vinedresser (the Father) didn't exactly bring warm-fuzzy feelings... 

"Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2

Ouch! I can't imagine that any "branch" feels comfortable during the pruning process... change, removal, or death of dreams, ministries, or relationships brings pain. Perhaps without the understanding that this temporary pain is unto more fruitfulness, the pruning process would be unbearable.  Several years ago a missionary friend composed the reflection below on the vine and branches. Seeing the love and wisdom of God's ways as the Gardener within my life has helped to protect me from feeling offense toward Him. If you haven't already experienced God's pruning in your life, it is sure to come... so it is my hope that these reflections will encourage us all to trust that He does know what is best for each of us.
The purposes of pruning are several: the health of the plant, structure, and fruit production.
When a vinedresser prunes a vine, he looks at the following: is the branch diseased or healthy? If it is diseased, is it contagious and/or spreading? Is the branch structurally sound; are there any defects or branches interfering with one another? Lastly, the vinedresser wants the branch to produce the best possible fruit. For this to happen, he must remove enough of the branch so that much of the sap goes into fruit production and not into leaves and branches. But he must also not take too much of the branch or it may die.
Initially, the branch starts out as a bud or graft in the outer bark of the vine. The point of germination is in the outer layer of the vine. At this point, the branch is very vulnerable to injury. Its bark is soft and green and easily damaged.
In succeeding years the branch is pruned and the character of the branch changes. With each successive year the diameter of the branch increases and much more sap is able to pass through it. The outer bark becomes brown and rough and more resistant to injury. The join between the branch and the main vine becomes stronger as the main vine adds "wood" and embeds the germination point of the branch into the vine itself.
Over time, the "root" of the branch becomes stronger, both through its "root" being in the vine and through its increase in diameter. The increase in diameter allows an increased amount of sap to flow into the branch which can then support a larger amount of fruit.
The vinedresser always keeps the vine's sap-to-branch ratio high by never letting the branches get very long and by pruning off most, if not all, of each year's fruit-bearing branches.                                                    - Robert Baerg
 Lord, give us grace by Your Spirit to love and trust Your leadership, that You might be glorified as we abide in You and bear much fruit to give back to You.