What Just Happened with the SWAT Team?

20 May

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So, last week was Police Week, and I went to a Police Academy as a Prayer Volunteer with a Christian radio station. Approximately 900 children were there as well as all these different departments with the Houston Police Department. The bomb squad, two different helicopter squads, a lot of other departments, and the SWAT team were there.

Before going, I spent a day getting focused and prayed up. I didn’t watch TV other than the key parts of the Astros game and a few minutes of news. I prayed, sang worship songs, and asked God to use me. I fervently prayed that hearts would be prepared to encounter God. All the way there on the 50-minute drive, I prayed and worshipped.

Well, God did a mighty work. I had trouble figuring out how to put what happened into words when I tried to explain to one of my granddaughters the excitement of the time there. It all sounded wrong and I regretted saying anything.

Then God stepped in and told me exactly what happened. Thanks to somehow stumbling across a sermon by A. W Tozer on YouTube, I learned that it was all about the Holy Spirit. Instinctively, I had known there was nothing I could give as a Prayer Volunteer. It had to be God working through me. As a former minister in prisons as part of a team, I learned that when we all focus on God, the Holy Spirit does incredible things. We all operated as one, even though we didn’t even discuss a game plan. It was all God doing everything through us back then.

Back to the event–until two extra folks came toward the end, there were six of us there as part of the Prayer Volunteer team. Two people walked around with Buddy the Prayer Bear. A mother and daughter stayed at the radio station tent, and one was the supervisor. Then there was me, all chomping at the bit in the Spirit to pray for police officers and plant seeds of the gospel somehow with children.

The radio station had bracelets, magnets, and “business cards” with Buddy the Bear and the station’s radio ID to hand out to kids. I gave out hundreds one at a time while blessing the kids, telling them God loves them, and being genuine and focused on reaching souls for Jesus.

At the radio station tent, the supervisor, Ricky, shared with a few of us how he had a rough upbringing and first heard of God because the public school brought them to a church. We were putting information about finding God into the kid’s hands, and I realized these were public school children who I have such a burden for. I often pray that God would make a way for me to minister to school children.

Then there were prayers with police officers. It was such a powerful time. I’m behind the Blue all the way and recognize that police officers truly are good guys, with rare exception. They deserve our support!

The Holy Spirit was there! Praying was kept brief but I could tell it was the Holy Spirit guiding me as to how to pray. Everything I did was in pursuit of witnessing, and it included supervising a couple of teen girls as they waited in a long line for the bathroom while their entire group was far away watching a live demonstration of a police chase (the three of us missed the best part of all the demos).

The very last thing that happened before it was over was that I was in front of the SWAT team and almost all the kids suddenly ran off with their groups. The SWAT guy named Stilts had been writing autographs, and I joked about having nothing for him to write on. Then I had him sign my lanyard. He explained that Stilts is his SWAT team name and everyone has one.

The members of the SWAT team were like friendly giants, engaging me in conversation. They all signed my lanyard–Lurch, Spongebob, Gucci, and Moose, who told me Stilts was the guy in the famous picture who carried a woman and her baby to a boat during Hurricane Harvey.

Then I asked Moose if I could say a prayer for him and the department and he said sure. He held out his hand across the table, to hold my hand. I said a prayer and another of the guys joined in before we finished. They were just awesome about it and seemed as blessed as I felt. That fact really blessed me, too. It had been that way with every prayer.

So many seeds planted! So much love of God was spread around and many prayers prayed. It was an outpouring of God there through the Holy Spirit. But it wouldn’t have happened that way if I had gone in an attitude of self-sufficiency. I desperately sought God prior to going, and it made room for the Holy Spirit.

It’s more than all of that, though, I’ve waited for literally years to be used by God again in this way. God keeps showing me that the wait is over. I am to live the way I did before the event–every single day, and that’s what I’m striving to do and determined to do without fail, by the grace of God.

 

The Power of Moving in Faith

16 May

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The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (a book and movie) is a riveting true story of a devoted Christian family in Haarlem, Netherlands, that helped many Jews to survive the Holocaust. What’s most incredible about what happened to Corrie is the way God’s light shone through unimaginable darkness. Starting with the German occupation of the Netherlands, their lives went from disturbing to difficult to excruciatingly painful to impossible to survive.

Although other family members ended up dying in concentration camps, Corrie survived, as did most of the Jews she and her family helped to feed and hide. What she went through was a triumphant expression of not only the existence of a loving God but also the supernatural power that comes with moving forward in faith.

On my own Christian journey, I’ve experienced that God can and does do the impossible, but His amazing acts happen in response to faith and obedience.

A stark example is what Abraham, the father of our faith, did. He waited a very long time for his miracle child of promise, Isaac. Then one day God clearly told him to go and sacrifice Isaac on a mountain. This is in Genesis 22:1-18. Abraham did not delay in obeying what the Lord told him to do. He literally believed God wanted him to kill his son but at the same time he knew God would bring his son back to life because of the promise.

He didn’t understand but he obeyed; and God stopped him from sacrificing his son, just as the knife was raised in the air. He provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice. And God’s promises to Abraham were fulfilled and are still being fulfilled. (Later, Jesus, God’s own Son, actually was the sacrifice paid for all of our sins.)

Do you want your life to be filled with wondrous acts of God? It can be! To make it happen: Live a God-focused life–put God first! Then cooperate as God leads you on what may seem to be a completely indirect path to the desires of your heart. He’s always up to something good! If you’ve been blessed to see a vision of what God has for you, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s now up to you to make it happen. Steps of faith and trust that God will bring miracles to pass are the only ones that keep you on the path.

Anytime you find yourself having to do a very hard thing in order to live a life of faith, be encouraged! By obeying at such times, you advance the kingdom of God. You are getting closer to a time when life will be lived in a continuous stream of God’s power and favor to accomplish His wonderful purpose for your life. Nothing the world has to offer could ever begin to compare with the wonders of a life of faith.

4 Heavenly Gifts We Can Enjoy Now

15 May

jump-1209647_1920Life gets hard when we’re focused on things of the world. Here, so much about life seems unfair. With our minds on heaven, we can remember that God is perfect in rewarding his people. Some of our rewards are reserved for the Second Coming of Jesus, as it says in Revelation 22:12, when Jesus spoke to John in a vision:

“Then I was told: I am coming soon! And when I come, I will reward everyone for what they have done” — Contemporary English Version

There are plenty of gifts that we have full access to right now, and they can make life on earth a heavenly experience, as long as we live by faith. Four of those gifts are: Prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Holy Bible, and the peace of Christ.

The Gift of Prayer

Until the moment Jesus died on the cross, direct access to God was very limited and was reserved for one priest at a time in the Holy of Holies. The very long, very thick curtain leading into that sacred place was supernaturally torn from top to bottom after Jesus breathed his last breath. This was God’s very clear way to demonstrate that through faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross, we are given direct and total access to God himself at all times. We enter the Holy of Holies now through prayer. The best way to understand the importance and power of prayer is to read about the prayer life of Jesus.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

God gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit when we become believers. We are never alone. God himself has made our bodies his holy temple. He will guide us, which provides reassurance that no matter what we encounter, we can respond with confidence and faith.  (John 3:6-8)

The Gift of the Holy Bible

Numerous verses make it clear that the scriptures are God’s words recorded by men. By reading the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, we come to know the plan of God from the beginning. He created us for fellowship with Him. The word of God is powerful. We miss out on what the world might describe as “pure magic” if we neglect His Word. It says in Psalm 12:6:

“And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.” New International Version

The Gift of Peace

No matter what you are facing in life right now, you can have the peace of Christ. It is unshakeable, and it is available to born-again believers. Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” –John 14:27 New King James

Who doesn’t love great gifts? Don’t forget to enjoy the divine gifts that are already yours through Jesus. It’s because of these things we can actually do and enjoy what it says in Philippians 4:4-9.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

–Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

Have You Found Your Jam?

14 May

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It’s time to add a new definition to the dictionary. “Jam” isn’t mere fruit-jelly because my “jam” is the absolute spice of life. What has you going back for more forever and without hesitation? It’s something you can always find energy for, even when you were previously completely out of gas. My jam is God-given opportunities to minister. That sense of knowing that I’ve been called, I’ve been sent seems to bring every cell in my body and brain to life.

God recently surprised me by giving me a new jam. It’s an unexpected jam, but it makes perfect sense, based on all that God has done in and through me. And my jam is…drumroll, please…praying for people in person and interceding as a lifestyle throughout every day. The topic of prayer, such as reading the works of famed prayer master E. M. Bounds, gives me jittery butterflies of anticipation. I want to absorb all that I can about prayer so that I can give my very best to my jam.

It’s not just me and a chosen few who have God-given callings. When we follow Jesus and choose to live as Christians, we all have a calling that gives us the fullness of joy. There are phases of life when we are being prepared to walk in that calling. In my 40 years as a born-again Christian, I first waited a God-led 12 years and then had 6 power-packed years of being out there in the world, walking in my calling, sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus. It involved singing in prisons; writing, hosting, and editing a television show for kids; rapping in prisons; and producing an “album” of original music.

Then my calling changed. Helping to raise up godly grandchildren has been my behind-the-scenes jam for 10 years–and prep for that gig lasted 12 years! (Till just now, I didn’t realize there was a pattern of a dozen years of waiting!) The waiting part is exciting when every day is spent seeking God’s face. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say being in my jam is the best part of life.

Do you know what your jam is? Are you jamming?

The Russell Brand “Type” Discovery

30 Sep

Jesus typeI just accidentally discovered that by pressing Control-N on my keyboard, I instantly get a fresh, new document page. There have probably been thousands of occasions over the years when I’ve been frustrated that it required so many steps to accomplish that task. I don’t know if this was part of my latest Microsoft update or if it was always there, but I can only imagine how much time I’m going to save from here on out.

This time-saving discovery is nothing to compare with what a notoriously vulgar actor recently said he figured out. Russell Brand, who can be extremely offensive to a Jesus lover like myself, recently announced, after being in rehab, that he believes, “We have been tricked into not believing in God.” He then expounds quite eloquently about the futility of life without religious belief. When I had a similar epiphany, it turned my world upside down in the best possible way. I mean, way better than an instant new document!

Have you encountered God yet? Because God doesn’t want anyone to die without knowing Jesus, I’m completely convinced that everyone gets a nudge from God at some point in their lives. There may be a question, like, “God, is that you?” When it is God, it’s potentially an eternal mistake to turn a deaf ear or push the “pull toward God” away. Because what’s really happening is that Someone wonderful you don’t know personally yet is trying to change your life for the better. You have to say yes to God to experience the awesomeness of being part of His family. He, not the world system, is why we were created. That’s why life is crazy-empty without Him, which Russell Brand apparently now agrees with me about.

Back to my new keyboard function — I discovered it when I kept hitting the wrong key to make a capital “N”—over and over. Suddenly I snapped! Hey, what did I just do there? A mistake led me to the light! It’s often a mistake or tragic loss that leads people to God, by the way. A fitting analogy, though probably not really. In any case, don’t ignore the unusual voice popping into your head, when God’s trying to show you a New Way. You’ll be so glad you paid attention!! I guarantee it.

Avoiding Tell-Tale Christian Blowouts: You Can Do It!

19 Jul

Just like God says people have built-in recognition that the heavens are God’s handiwork, even unbelievers recognize when Christians aren’t acting like Jesus. One of the most frustrating things that happens in my life is that I have occasional blowouts. Whether it’s flair of temper, a fit of rage, or a hard-hitting emotional upset, it kind of feels like when a tire explodes and causes a car to run off the road or get into a collision. It is certainly no way to represent Jesus on the earth. Because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, these episodes can be completely avoided. Just the fact that we have these outbursts is evidence that we surely have not recently been with Jesus or we are still growing toward Christian maturity.

When the Storm Hits, Are You Ready?

Staying close to God and remembering that there is no need to freak out about anything must be done daily. We lean on Him instead of falling on our faces—unless we are falling on our faces in prayer. Remembering Romans 8:28 is a great way to start any day, since it’s a reminder that everything is going to be okay.

Romans 8:28New King James Version (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Even though I start each day with a devotional and Bible reading, upon opening my eyes, this doesn’t always keep the light of Jesus shining brightly in me. Honestly, I need to expand my prayer life. A day when something devastating happens isn’t a sign we’ve blown it. It’s our response to unexpected, unwelcome blows that reveals just how spiritual we are. (Not in judgment of each other but when evaluating our own behaviors.)

pexels-boat in storm

It’s like when Jesus was on the boat with the disciples and the boat was literally about to break apart from the violence of the storm they were in the midst of. Jesus was napping through it all. They finally woke him in a panic. He rebuked them for their lack of faith and then rebuked the waves and all was calm and still. We have been empowered to be like Jesus, standing peacefully in the middle of chaos!

Things go so much more smoothly when are connected with God in prayer all through the day. Just now I stepped away from the computer and couldn’t find a laundry list of different things I was looking for, all of which are usually right here within reach. Judging from my response, it quickly became evident that I have not spent enough time with Jesus! This doesn’t make me a hypocrite, that I don’t act so holy. It makes me a forgiven sinner who had a tough workday and little prayer. However, I am aiming higher and will do a better and better job of reflecting light instead of crashing and burning in a moment of darkness.

God Myth: God Listens to All Prayers

18 Jul

People sure do take God for granted. Millions of people have decided that when they get to a certain life milestone, they’ll finally turn to God and religion. There are no guarantees that we will ever make it to such a milestone. God loves us but He doesn’t fall for insincerity or out-and-out fakeness. He doesn’t listen to every prayer, either. Keep in mind that we are made in His image. Is there anyone in your life you wouldn’t give the time of day to because they lost your trust? Well, God doesn’t just honor every prayer uttered or answer every call. This may be a shock but it’s true.

Phone no answer

Psalm 66:18 New King James Version (NKJV)

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,

The Lord will not hear.

 

Isaiah 59:2 New King James Version (NKJV)

2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;

And your sins have hidden His face from you,

So that He will not hear.

God is light and there is no darkness in Him. He’s a glass half full kind of God. I feel compelled to defend him here, even as I reveal that prayers aren’t always getting to His ears, since He sometimes refuses to listen.

Just myth-busting, since sometimes people make assumptions based on things that aren’t actually in the Bible. My goal is to reveal what seems to be a hidden truth and to inspire others to open the Good Book.

If there is anyone you want to have an ear with, it’s God. Nobody loves you more. As we can see here, there are behaviors that shut off our prayers. This is not something any of us should be okay with, if we have an inkling what’s good for us.