Sunday, June 10, 2012

God Speaks

So here is one of the things God spoke to me about during the Life Action Summit.  I've dealt with this issue before and even written about it here.  But it has surfaced again in the last few months and God made it clear to me what the deal is. 

For as long as I can remember, I have rejected who I am.  I have believed myself to be inadequate as a person and as a Christian.  I constantly admired other people, comparing myself with them and believing I was less valuable because I didn't have this personality, or that body, or those abilities.  I wasted a lot of time fantasizing about who I wanted to be and the life I wanted to have.  God let me see that there is so much pride in my heart.  Pride told me that I deserved to be someone amazing, someone "better", and that God had withheld the best from me.  Whatever I fantasized about being or doing, I was always the best, the most beautiful, the heroine, the super-talented, the one everyone would envy.  I never saw myself as being anywhere close to those ideals, so I didn't try to meet them; I simply lived them in my fantasy world.  I created an idol in my mind....the image of myself as I wanted to be.  And I raised this image up against the design that God created in me.  I was saying, in effect, "God, You cheated me.  You didn't make me good enough.  This is how you should have made me.  This is who I would be if I were in control."  Along with the pride, God also revealed that I have been bitter towards Him for the way He made me.  Consequently, I've allowed comparison, discontent, and envy to rule me for many years.  These things have held me back from reaching out and loving others unconditionally and giving myself fully to relationships.  And God showed me that by rejecting myself, I have rejected Him as my Creator.  He said that everything He made is very good.  (Gen 1:31)  He inspired the Psalmist to say, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)  In my prideful presumption, I made God a liar.  I believed that what He made in me wasn't good enough. 

God has been working on this issue in my heart for many years, and He used some struggles over the last few months and this week of the revival summit to bring it all together.  Before this week, I was dealing with depression and anxiety over the coming summer season at the ranch.  I had nothing left in me to go on in the work God has given me here.  I was in a desperate place, feeling the weight of my own emptiness.  Do you know that feeling?  Amazing how heavy emptiness can be.  Now I believe that God brought me to the end of myself and shredded every last vestige of my supposed self-sufficiency to prepare me for revival.  What He spoke to me so clearly during one of the messages is this:  "You are empty.  You can't do this.  You don't have the sufficiency in yourself.  But that is where My grace comes in.  My sufficiency meets your need.  My utter strength meets your utter weakness.  I delight in using destitute people.  People who have nothing to offer and know it.  Because that is where I can show Myself.  I don't want the world to see your personality, your gifts, or your strength.  I want the world to see Who I Am."  Wow.  That absolutely floored me.  I mean, I really should have known.  It has never been about who I am or what I could be.  The whole reason for my existence is to know and love my Creator.  The reason I am still on this earth is so He can show Himself in my life! 
God asked me to surrender.  He asked me to lay down all I wanted to be and all I was trying to be and throw myself on His grace.  He wants me to embrace who I am as He made me and to allow Him to show people Himself through my life.  I repented of my pride, bitterness, and rejection.  I acknowledged Jesus as Lord of who I am.  I've asked Him to make my life the grounds in which people can see Him and be touched by Him.  He must increase, and I must decrease. 

Now as I step into the summer at His Ranch, here is where the rubber meets the road.  God has lifted my spirits and changed my perspective.  But a brief spiritual high is not going to carry me through.  This doesn't make it any easier to do what's before me.  I have to choose every day to receive fresh grace.  I have to move forward in faith and do the hard things and keep desperately holding on to Jesus to be my sufficiency.  He wants me to depend on Him moment by moment, even for the smallest things.  I know He has brought me here and it is still the place where He wants me to be.  It's easy to be in the place where you want to be.  It's easy when you love it and you think you can handle it.  But when the passion fades and strength is gone and you don't want to be here anymore, I think that's when we have two choices.  We can either quit and run away to a safe, comfortable little bubble where there's no room to grow, or we can bet all our cards on Jesus and find out that He truly is Everything.  Sometimes we have to find out that all our best efforts have been coming out of our flesh.  We have to come broken before God, knowing we have nothing to bring to the table.  That's when we're ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  That's when our lives can bring the most glory to Him because it will be obvious that what is being done is totally from God and not from us.  I'm just beginning this journey.  I can't promise that I won't fall away from this truth again.  But I know God is holding me.  I know He's not going to give me what I need for tomorrow, but only what I need for today.  So I'm holding on, because God is my Rock and my Stronghold.  He is the strong hand that is holding on to me, and there is nothing powerful enough to separate me from His love!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Re-vival (Back to Life)

Hello my friends in blog-land!  (If anyone is still out there.  J)  I know it has been ages since I posted.  However, if you are interested, I’ve done quite a bit of writing on the His Ranch blog over the past year.  You can find that at  Life just keeps on happening, and as much as I would like to keep a running commentary here, time eludes me.  So instead of picking up wherever I left off, I will share what God is doing in the present. 
I spent most of the winter living at His Ranch, taking care of the horses and doing other part-time work around the place.  God also blessed me with the gift of traveling in Indiana and Ohio for awhile.  I spent a month with some friends and horse people in South Bend, Indiana, and was able to get home for Easter, which was an unexpected blessing!  Now everything is gearing up for the summer season at the ranch, staff and volunteers are in place, and we will be opening, Lord willing, on Monday.  As I write I am actually on the road again.  I just spent two weeks with my family in Ohio for a special time of seeking God with churches in our community.  Today I am in Chicago for a short visit with relatives and will be back in Missouri later this weekend.  God has been so good to let me have this travel time, especially right before we dive into the ranch ministry again.  I have been desperately in need of renewal and personal revival.  This is what my time at home was about. 

For the past five years, two of my siblings have served with Life Action Ministries on their traveling revival team.  If you have never heard of Life Action, you should look up their website and see what it’s all about.  The heart of the ministry is to earnestly seek revival in the church of Jesus Christ through fervent prayer and solid Bible teaching that calls believers to repentance and total surrender to the Lord we claim to follow.  The team that my brother and sister have served with travels around portions of the eastern and south-eastern states during the school year, spending one to two weeks at each church.  They hold special services almost every day during this time, called a Life Action Revival Summit.   Two or three speakers, along with their families, travel with the team and share messages from Scripture on things like repentance, recognizing sin in your life, and the Biblical model for life as individuals and families.  The rest of the team, consisting mainly of college age men and women, serve in various capacities: leading worship music, teaching youth and children’s programs, running sound, and covering the summit in prayer.  God has chosen to use this ministry as a channel to work transformation in the hearts and lives of many of His people. 

It has been a desire of my family for a few years to bring the Life Action team to our church, but this was not feasible due to the small size of the church.  God, however, has been working in our local area for a long time, stirring people to pray and seek revival.  There were things going on that we didn’t even know about.  Pastors meeting to pray.  Community meetings called to seek God where pastors confessed to people the failure of the church to follow God.  And this year God opened the way for the local ministerial group to come together and sponsor a Life Action Summit for the churches of the whole community!  This is something that has never been done before in Life Action’s history. They have always gone to large single congregations.  Needless to say, our excitement was high, and we have asked God to do great things!  Months of prayer and planning went into this event.  We were able to use the county fairgrounds for the services.  For a whole week, Sunday to Sunday, people came together from several churches around the county, different denominations, to seek the Lord in a concentrated time for personal revival that will spread ripples throughout our community and beyond!  The spiritual unity that God brought among the people who attended and especially among the pastors was amazing!  A large group of pastors and other men met every morning of the week at 6:00am to pray.  The pastors also met several other times for special meetings.  The singing during the services was charged with energy and people expressed themselves freely to the Lord.  The messages we heard were not new truths, but things we needed to hear in a fresh way, and I believe God spoke to each person about the specific issues He wants to deal with in our lives.  He certainly spoke to me.  I’ve been in a season of depression and apathy that God used to bring me to the end of myself.  He knew that is what I needed to be ready to begin experiencing revival.  In the past two weeks, God lifted my spirits in a wonderful way, and although it is not any easier to go back to what He has given me to do, I am going with a fresh touch of His grace and a renewed faith in the sufficiency of His strength to meet my emptiness.  I believe that kind of faith and utter dependence on Him is what matters to God more than the specific place I’m in, the work I’m doing, or even how successful I am in that work.  He puts us in the places where He knows we will have to choose between unbelief and faith, between independence and God-dependence, between rebellion and surrender.  He doesn’t want half of my heart.  He wants it all.

I will share more in the coming days.  Today I am grateful for the unfailing love and compassion of my Lord.  He is the reason I can walk forward in hope.   He is our Fountain of Life.