Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The blessing of a godly husband

One of God's greatest blessings to me is my husband John.

I'm feeling rather bad because I've been either at work (12-16 hour days) or on the phone to work, a LOT of time during the past 3 weeks. I've barely cooked for the family, haven't been there to enjoy time with John, and haven't been as affectionate as would be normal. Most men would probably complain and encourage me to get a different job!

But John knows my heart. He knows my passion for this work and how I want to get this operation up and going and for it to be successful.

So, instead of complaining, he encourages.

This morning he came to me and shared a devotional that he'd read and had caused him to think of me. The devotion was out of Exodus 16:1-12 ; about when the nation of Israel left captivity in Egypt. How easy it was to look back, when current hardships came instead of trusting God and moving forward. He told me that he's impressed that he sees me doing that very thing; he doesn't hear the words "I want to quit" out of my mouth, that he keeps hearing me speak words of hope for the future.

So I confessed the truth to him that I've thought about quitting plenty of times. But my spirit is never at peace when I think of that. I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be. No matter how hard it is.

I did not receive adequate training to prepare me for anything (nor did my poor staff since I was the one who was supposed to have trained them!) But with each mistake made, with each situation that goes poorly, I am learning a better way to do things. Certainly this is not the best way for things to be handled but it's what I've got and, by God's grace and power, I'm going to make it work.

But what a bonus that I get John!

That, when I'm home from a terrible, discouraging day, I can get words of strength, hope, and encouragement from him.

What about you, has God blessed you with a partner or friend who's there for you? What kind of difference does that make in your life?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Battling Giants

Have you ever been in a situation that you felt was impossible?

I've been in such a situation lately. I was supposed to start a new job on August 1. I'd been given the final you're hired (conditionally to passing an Immigration customs enforcement background check) near the middle of July. They called me in 4 days before I was to start to help them prepare for an audit. So I juggled the job I was still working, while coming in as many hours as possible to help out. I was given a bunch of polices all printed and in disarray and a CD and told to put all the policies, with the corresponding forms, into a binder. I finally set aside the printed papers because they were a mess (missing pages, in no kind of order, etc.) and just printed everything out and organized into a large binder. I'd also been given some standards on which we were going to be judged so I went through those and wrote down corresponding policies that we had, and well as ones we did not have and questions.

Then I went through a one week general orientation that everyone who will be working there went through. This orientation was a welcome-to-working-in-a-correctional-setting kind of training. Then I went through 2 days of learning an over view of each department in the facility. Then I was handed that binder that I'd put together (only it was about half the size of what I'd put together because someone had taken out a LOT of the policies and forms) and told that supplies had been ordered so myself and my team needed to figure out how we wanted to set things up as they came in and to get ready and train my team and set it all up. I kept asking for a list of what was ordered and finally got one 2 days before we opened (all in all we had 4 weeks prior to opening; 1 of which was spent in that general orientation, 2 days on site and then I had 13 days with my team; half of which came in a week later then the initial group). The list I was given did not include but half of what myself, an ER RN and a wound care LVN could figure we'd need. So I set about trying to get the other needful items ordered. I kept asking the man who hired me questions since I really didn't understand the set up but he was vague and never really told me anything.

Then we opened on August 29.

Fortunately my boss' boss came in on August 29 and began showing me the company systems. The problem was that at that point I was both doing the job and learning the job along with my entire staff who were in the same situation. Also, this woman had her own job she was doing while giving some time to me. To say that it's been crazy would be an understatement. I worked all of Labor Day weekend because my thought was that if my boss' boss was there and willing to teach me, I'd take all I could get from her. She left on Wednesday the 7th. I still do not know all the systems, am not sure if we have all the supplies we need, am still learning the policies (a 4-inch binder of them), and have found that many policies simply say that the H.S.A. (who is me) will make the site specific procedures. Add to this that the physician is over the top difficult to work with and talks a LOT so it's difficult to get work accomplished, plus he orders a bunch of unnecessary tests and sends people out inappropriately, all of which makes a lot more work for the rest of the medical team. In the midst of this our nurse practitioner went off on sick leave for 8 days.

Basically, it all just feels like too much. As if I'm under a pile from which I do not see myself (or really anyone else if they were given the exact same circumstances) having the ability to create order and stability.

So I'm meditating on Jesus' words from Matthew 18:27:

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Sure I know that he was specifically referring to salvation in this passage. But I think there's a principle that can be lifted out here about how our God can do what we can not. So, since I know that God gave me this job, and that He desires me to bring Him glory, then I'm choosing to believe that He will give me the abilities beyond what I have in the natural to bring this all together. I'm counting on Him for stamina and endurance, mental ability and wisdom, and for me to get things done no matter how many new obstacles keep coming my way.

My husband John keeps reminding me that Joshua and Caleb had to take the promised land; they didn't just get to walk into it, they had battle giants to enter into what God had for them. Perhaps all these problems are my giants to battle.

What about you, do you have any giants in your life right now that you're looking to God to do the impossible regarding?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Be very careful when you turn down a Facebook Friend Request...

My names Tony C and...okay...I'm a social media geek.

Now I'm not saying I need a 12-step program or anything like that...just yet...but there are few days that go by that I'm not in touch with someone via one or several social media tools.

Come to think of it...I'm using one now.

Where I attend church, I've been adopted as the social media dude. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, YouVersion and Blogger are all in my arsenal to decimate information about the love of Christ and demonstrate that love firsthand. I've seen my share of skeptics that believe the internet in good for nothing but evil. Quickly I always counter with- If Satan's there, then Christian need to bring Jesus to the fight. In my opinion, nothing ticks off the Master of Lies more than Christians parading Jesus on his claimed turf.

So what does this have to do with how God communicates with me? Is He one of your Facebook Friends or something? Where's the connection?

As I stated, Facebook is nearly a daily ritual for me. I pull it up on a tab and leave it open most of the day at work taking time to occasionally venture over and see what's happening on my News Feed. At lunch, I often shut my office door and spend a little one-on-one with Abba Father in the name of the Son. Before doing so, I check the continuously updated prayer request list on my desktop and glance at my Facebook profile page where the sidebar list of ten friends is always rotating new smiling faces into view. I pray a general prayer for them too.

Here's where my story gets interesting. Since the beginning of the year, I've tried focusing a bit more on that revolving friend list. On many occasions, a particular person will stand out to me. Not long after implementing this exercise, I felt a surge leading to contact one of the friends about church. I was by no means more than an acquaintance to this person, but I stepped at on faith that the Spirit was drawing me to this person. So, I sent a Facebook message...

The very next day this person contacted me back enthusiastic about my message. Within a month, he was coming to church. Add another month, and he was attending my Sunday School class. Since starting, he has been faithful in attendance going on several months. Praise God!

I don't believe in coincidence, so I opened up to more leads under the assumption these were people God was directing me to contact. Invites, words of encouragement, offers of support and prayer have all been on the table so far, and without fail, the response from each has been met with genuine warmth and appreciation. To God goes the glory always!

Honestly, if someone had come to me just a few short years back and proclaimed God was communicating with them through Facebook or MySpace, I would have smiled politely and probably eye rolled when they walked away. The very thought shames me today (as it should) for a number of reasons. None probably more shameful than I'm the very guy that has the following as the signature for all my emails:

For with God nothing shall be impossible.  Luke 1:37

Practice what you preach Tony C...practice what you preach.

Thanks Tracy for having me on board. I write not only for Kingdom Bloggers each Friday but also on my personal blog at Tony C Today. Love to have you come be a part!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hearing God Isn't Only For the Holiest People

I used to think hearing God speak was a mystical experience, made available only to the holiest of holy people. And at best, it was a one-off – kind of like Abraham. He heard God say, “Go,” and then nothing for the next 20 years. Let me say for the record, I’ve been a Christian since I was 6 and I’ve had direction and leading from the Lord, but I never heard his voice. I didn’t know I could hear it and so I didn’t pursue it.

In 2003, I moved to a new community. My Man, my Boy and I changed from urbanites to suburbanites. It had been years and years since I had to choose a church and even then, I usually followed a friend. I didn’t know anyone in my new community so I made a very logical plan to choose a church: I picked 3 churches and I was going to make a visit to each of them 3 times and then I was going to make a decision.

Some time, during the first 3 weeks, I saw another church closest to my home that I thought I would add to my choices. Initially it wasn’t on the list because it was a Mennonite Brethren church and I had been trying to distance myself from the culture since leaving home after high school; I certainly didn’t want to be part of the faith.

On the 4th Sunday in my new community, I walked into the MB community church for the first time. As I walked into the foyer, I heard a voice – it seemed audible in my head, but it wasn’t. The voice said, “This is where you are going to serve.” Um, excuse me? That certainly wasn’t my voice. I wasn’t looking for a place to serve; I was looking for a place to meet my needs. It wasn’t Satan either because that would be sending me to work for the other team. That left only God.

I didn’t return to any of the previous 3 churches. I had found my church because God spoke to me and I heard it.

It’s been seasons of ups and downs at that church and throughout it all, I heard God speak. (You can read about it some of the recent changes in a post I wrote, here). Over the past 8 years, I’ve had other conversations with God. I’ve seen friends leave and I wandered whether it was my turn to leave but God always reminded me about what he said to me the first time.

Epilogue: God is always speaking but men haven’t perceived it (Job 33:14); once I learned the truth, I’ve been actively pursuing conversation with the Lord. Holiness is desired but isn’t required to hear God.

My name is Andrea York and I want to be a trophy wife. Every Wednesday, I join Tracy and the other Kingdom Bloggers for a weekly commentary of various topics and I write regularly about kingdom living on my own blog, Write Down the Revelation.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Was That You?

By David of Fire  Grace
Thanks Tracy, for hosting this week's round of Kingdom Bloggers! I love your blog, and enjoyed my last guest post quite some time ago - like 2010!

This week you'll be hearing personal stories from the Kingdom Bloggers about how God speaks to us. They are personal as our relationship with the Lord; no pattern, no formula, no cut and dried, sure fire way to know that it is God. However; as His sheep, we grow accustom to hearing his voice.

Here is what happened to me:

Many years ago, sometime in the early 1980s I got fired up about Jesus. Some how I was set on fire in my spirit and started to devour the Word of God. I bought a set of Moody Bible Institute study guides, along with Unger's Bible Handbook, a Concordance and a Lexicon. I set to work to learn all there was to know about God! Although I had a genuine conversion experience and would close my eyes and feel the presence of God, I hadn't really heard his voice - yet!

My relationship with Jesus was using him as a spiritual bellhop, asking, asking, asking, but never expecting to hear him. I did all sorts of Bible stuff, went t seminary, and then Bible School. Still, asking, asking, asking, and not hearing. I have a relationship with the book, and I could one-up most folks in Greek, Hebrew and traditional Christian Doctrine; and I had a bad case of spiritual smugness along with a dose of intellectual elitism.

Growing up was tough, because the church never really discipled anyone. They just rammed Bible down our throats and asked us to work our way into a personal ministry which was mostly setting up chairs, or making coffee. The praying and preaching was done by the professionals.

There was one man who believed in me. He invited me to do a talk about study on a men's retreat. he knew that I had read hundreds of Christian books, and watched me go through the Bible studies and school. All of the talks were reviewed by a peer group. It was tough going for me and my feelings were easily hurt, but I persisted.

After months of prayer and preparation for the retreat, there I stood with 60 men in front of podium. They had an intercessor in the chapel praying for me, for the talk, and for the me to receive it. I started - and some where about 3/4 the way through I felt inspired to talk about my conversion, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and my comical view of the woman taken in adultery.

It was all unscripted, but God moved in a way I had never seen Him. 

When it was all over, one of the priests gave me a hug, and then I heard the voice of the Lord. "I am calling you to ministry." Simple, clear, and certain, that I was heard. It is pretty cool that God speaks Anglican, because I thought it would be in the Episcopal Church. I was wrong, and God was right. I would be over 10 years before I really heard God on a regular basis in so many situations I can't name them all. It is common place for this Christian, and the key to fulfilling my destiny!

How about you, can you look back see that God was in control of your destiny?
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