The Counselor

God the Father, and God the Son, desires to communicate with His children. And He has provided the means of communication through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, who is present with us now, and forever.

The Lord has spoken to me through journaling for many years. This has given me a written account of His teachings and encouragement that I can refer to again and again. His message to me has been consistent, weaving a common thread which I accept to be His mission for my life.

In John 14:16-17, Jesus tells us that He will ask the Father, and He will give us a Counselor to be with us forever, the Spirit of truth who lives with us and in us. In John 14:26, He says that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in His name, will teach us all things and remind us of everything that Jesus has said to us. This is a gift given to all believers. It is the “still, small voice” heard within our spirits. I believe these are words of instruction and encouragement given for our own personal edification. But some of them are spiritual truths that can be enlarged upon for instructing others in their Christian walk.

As I reviewed the words of knowledge the Lord has spoken into my spirit, I can see that my life of service has been ordained by Him. It has been good for me to write this testimony to His presence in my life. Because doing so has renewed and re-enforced His call to be His witness and His servant. He has given me direction and instruction which I cannot disregard.

However, I regret that I have not attained what He intended for me to be, nor have I accomplished what He has ordained. I have tried feebly to be obedient, but I have failed to see His perfect will for me come to pass. Perhaps, I have allowed the flesh to sway me into believing that I lacked the initiative, the faith, the boldness and the compassion that is necessary in being a willing vessel for Him. I can only hope that will be remedied in the future.

It is my prayer that all of my descendants will seek to follow Jesus. My hope for them is Rom. 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” I know that all of my children have accepted Him as their Savior.

I am numbered with the redeemed, and there are many promises in the Scriptures that are directed toward the descendants of the redeemed. They will walk the path of righteousness and will be blessed by the Father. They will grow in His mercy and His love. Like a well-watered garden they will produce good fruit. The promise of Isaiah 59:20-21 is a confirmation that I hold in my heart: ” The Redeemer will come from Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the Lord. As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the Lord, My Spirit who is in you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever, says the Lord.”

I pray that this testimony will be a source of inspiration and motivation to all who read it. Take it and run with it. Where I have failed, may you succeed. God bless you.

Advertisements

God Can Use Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

There are many opportunities to serve others for anyone who will make themselves available and listen to the Lord for guidance. The Lord has given every Christian gifts to be used in service to Him.

When Jack and I returned home from Africa, we were not inclined to sit on our hands and be “retired”. We started attending classes at the Christian Center to sharpen our vision and to be better equipped for the Lord’s service.

Our studies however, were interrupted to go to Turkey. My youngest son was in the Air Force and stationed in Ankara. He and his wife were both having health problems. They needed help to care for their two children since they both had to go to a military hospital in Germany for treatment. We arrived in October and stayed there for three months. During that time we experienced being in a Muslim country where Christianity is outlawed.

After my son and his wife returned from Germany, and the health problems had subsided, we began to attend Bible Study fellowships and worship services with the military personnel. We also became a part of an international choir that gave a Christmas concert. The choir did have some Turkish members who had converted to Christianity and were a blessing to know. We also had the privilege to go to Israel with a group of military men and their wives. Being in Israel was like coming home. Seeing the places where Jesus had actually lived and ministered, was a blessing beyond anywhere we had ever been. We were there for ten days.

We returned to the states and resumed classes at MCC and were soon caught up in reading numerous text books and writing papers. We enjoyed the fellowship of the other students, who by the way were much younger than we were. The Lord gave us much grace during this time.

While attending MCC, I had the opportunity to take short mission trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala with a group from the Center. While in Guatemala we ministered in a medical and dental clinic. The trip to Costa Rica was more of a challenge. The team made a trek through the jungle to visit a primitive village. It was one of the areas where our missionary host was evangelizing. He was also translating the Scriptures into their native language. We walked for seven hours to get there. It was difficult, crossing streams and dodging trees. We were required to wear boots because of the rough terrain and the possibility of stepping on scorpions and snakes. One of the women in the group was stung by an insect called a bullet. It had gotten inside her boot as she was going through high grass. She was in excruciating pain the rest of the day and that night. She and I shared sleeping quarters, which was a platform on stilts, open air, no mattress, with pigs and dogs milling around under it. We did not sleep the whole night. Not only were we cold, but Maria was in such pain that she moaned and cried all night. We spent the night in prayer.

The next morning we were gathered at the host camp in the village for breakfast. I could not believe my own eyes when an Indian woman reached into a hot fire to change the position of the coals with her bare fingers. She also lifted the hot pot out of the coals using her bare hands. It made me cringe, but it didn’t bother her at all. Her hands were conditioned to it with callouses. Our breakfast consisted of a hard boiled egg, a banana, and a cup of thin cocoa. We ministered to the people, laying our hands on them to impart the grace of God in their lives before starting the long walk back through the jungle. It was an experience that I will never forget. It is almost unbelievable to see people living in such primitive conditions in the twentieth century.

The rest of our time in Costa Rica was spent ministering to the church in villages outside of the jungle. We stayed in the homes of the local people which again proved to be a cultural challenge. I know the Lord used us there for His own purposes. We will never know all that was accomplished, but it was a good exposure to the many needs in the world.

The Lord used his call on my life to minister to the poor in many different avenues. One was to establish a food pantry at MCC. I served as director for five years, then other opportunities opened up to Jack and me which made it necessary to travel for weeks at a time. We volunteered for 3 months with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, LA. We had purchased a motor home to have living quarters while we traveled and worked. The motor home was 33 feet long and we pulled a Plymouth Horizon behind it so we would have convenient transportation when we got to our destination. Traveling with this 50 feet of heavy steel was no picnic for me, but Jack enjoyed it. (We have many unforgettable experiences to tell about that motor home which would be a chapter in itself.) I worked in the habitat office, while Jack worked in the field, helping with getting permits from City Hall and doing many “gofer” jobs. We had to drive 45 minutes to work each day from the state park where we parked the motor home. The drive was horrendous! Rush hour traffic in new Orleans is a nightmare. The Lord had to have sent His angels to protect us. Our term of service came to a close and we returned home, tired, but happy to have been useful.

A Lay Witness Mission Came to the church where we lived. The leaders of the mission stayed in our home that weekend. We were impressed by the Lord to join this ministry of sharing our testimony with the denominational churches. We saw this as an opportunity to help the denominations open up to the power of the Holy spirit to enable them to be of greater service to the world around them. We went out at least twice a year on a mission. We simply shared the love of Jesus and told of how He had changed us and ministered to us. We believed the Lord would use this ministry to open the hearts of the congregations to receive his power and love for them.

Another way we served was through the American Red Cross. We were moved while watching Hurricane Andrew bear down on south Florida. We inquired about joining and found ourselves taking many classes of instruction before we were qualified to help in disaster areas. The length of the tour of duty was 3 weeks unless otherwise determined. We stayed with the Red Cross for 7 years and went out on 8 disasters. The hours were long and tiring and clients were not always happy with Red Cross regulations. The lowly interviewer got the brunt of their frustration. All in all, however, the good accomplished overrode the hassles.

The NOMADS, an outreach of the United Methodist Church and part of Volunteers in Mission, became another venture in service. We had heard of them while we were in New Orleans, but had no idea how to contact them. As the Lord would have it, we were eating in a Red Lobster and overheard a conversation of the people in the booth behind us. When we heard the name NOMADS mentioned, we turned around and asked them how to make contact with the ministry. They very graciously gave us the name of a couple who were members of the group. We called the phone number we were given, obtained the necessary information to enroll, and within a few weeks we were part of the ministry. Our first assignment was in Rio Grande City, Texas. There we helped to remodel a Hispanic Church. The work was not easy. But the volunteers were very dedicated and loved the Lord. We would all meet every morning for worship before beginning the day’s work. From there we moved to El Paso, Texas, where we were based, but the work was in Mexico. We all piled into a very old van to be transported to Juarez to work on the construction of a dormitory to be used by future teams when they came to Mexico to work. The plan was to send teams to help construct decent housing for the Mexicans who were living in cardboard shacks in the vicinity. We worked with the NOMADS for the next five years, going out for three months at a time. We sold the motor home but continued with the ministry for two more years, working on assignments where housing was furnished. Our last mission experience with them was in 1999.

During these years of service, Jack and I both had some health challenges. I had surgery for breast cancer, and also had a heart attack. Jack had triple by-pass surgery. Another big lesson in the sovereignty of God. He showed us in Romans 9:16 that He is in charge and we are simply to live our lives under His Lordship. We learned to depend more and more on His mercy. He loves us and wants to show us that he is merciful. These were great trials for both of us. However, we were not ready to settle down and not continue to reach out to the need in the world. We knew that we could trust God to see us through the storms of life. Following Jack’s surgery, we worked in Homestead, Florida managing a camp for persons who came to help rebuild after Hurricane Andrew. The pace was much slower and the work was mostly paper work that Jack could do while recouping from the surgery.

I have said all of this and mentioned the many ways that God can use us, any of us, to further His Kingdom simply by being willing and available to His call. It is my hope that when He speaks to you, the reader, that you will answer Him by looking for opportunities to serve for His glory.

God Can Use Anyone (part two)

They are people of vision who are unafraid of sacrifice, surrendering all private life to bear the Gospel theme; They leave behind security, embarking on a quest to reach the ripened fields where none have heard that Jesus lives and He is Lord; They dare transplant and make a new home on foreign soil, though knowing none, adapting other tongues and ways, so precious souls may then be saved; They dwell not on adversity, but ever consider the vast reward of lending aid and spreading love as emissaries of the Light; They go where others fear to tread, for dedication of their call; How blessed are places where they labor….the missionaries sent by God. (author unknown)

Jack and I were married for less than a year when we received the opportunity to go to Africa with the Lutheran World Ministries. The director of the Alleluia Gang had a son who was a missionary working in Cameroon. He had requested a volunteer to supervise the digging of water wells in six different villages. We prayed about it and believed the Lord would have us go.

We corresponded with him and his wife, getting particulars concerning the possibility of our acceptance. There was another couple who had also responded. So we left it in the Lord’s hands, believing that if it were His will that we go, then it would be done. In a few weeks we were notified that the other couple were not going because of lack of proper medical care in the area where residency was required. So this began a series of inquiries concerning what we needed to do in preparation for the venture.

The first thing that needed to be done was to close out Jack’s businesses, a dry goods store and an oil and gas distributing company. We began to sell out the store and to explore leads in selling the oil company. In addition to these, the house where I had lived before we were married had been sold and we were waiting to have the closure completed. We also had a trip scheduled to go to Haiti to conduct a vacation Bible school that summer. We were somewhat overwhelmed at all we needed to accomplish before leaving for Africa. We simply asked the Lord to take charge, knowing that we could not do all of this in our own strength. In His faithfulness, all was accomplished none too soon. We had our last vaccination on our way to the airport the day we left. We marveled at the timing and precision of the Lord!

Upon arrival if Africa I was aware of the oppressive spirit that greeted us. Africa is known as the “dark continent”, a name that fits it well. We took a taxi to N’gaoundere where we were to get a land rover to drive to Poli, our destination. We had attempted to learn a few words of the Fulani language when we were preparing for this assignment, but it did not help much in making ourselves understood. Jack knew some French, therefore we managed to make connections. We stayed with missionaries in N’gaoundere for a couple of days hoping that our missed baggage would find us before leaving for Poli. (But it did not, we left without it. It arrived three weeks after we got to Poli.) After making repairs to the land rover, we embarked on our five hour journey to Poli. It took us nearly two hours to drive the last 25 miles over an unimproved road filled with big holes and mud ruts. Finally, we drove into the mission compound which was to be our home for the next nine months.

Our home was a stucco covered mud block house. It had four rooms plus a storage room and a room where we had improvised a shower, consisting of a black plastic shower bag hung from a rafter. There was a one seater behind the house for the deposit of necessary disposals. The house was wired for electricity which was powered by a generator. We were blessed to have a refrigerator and a bottled gas cooking stove. The furniture was not the overstuffed comfortable type we enjoyed in the States. However, we adjusted to our new accommodations by the Lord’s grace.

Jack soon became busy with the work he had come to do, to supervise the digging of the wells. Which were dug by hand not drilled with a machine. He was off in the bush nearly every day, sometimes staying out for a week and returning for the weekend. Since I had not been assigned to any particular job, I had much time on my hands. When Jack was there I at least had meals to prepare, which I did from scratch, and sometimes making up the scratch. Our laundry had to be done by hand making it necessary to hire someone to do it. I tried, but just did not have enough strength in my hands to complete it.

The house did not have screens over the open windows. There were shutters that we could close if it became necessary. However, they did not fit tightly enough to keep out the dust storms and the locusts. The locusts were a delicacy for the villagers and they came to gather them up, take them to their homes and roast them.

The compound housed a number of Bible School students who attended the Bible School established there. Most of them were married with children. One day, as I was praying for the Lord to show me what useful thing I could do, I noticed four small boys in front of our house playing. I had taken Sunday School materials and English language teaching materials with me just in case I might have the opportunity to use them. So I started to communicate with the boys to see if they would be interested in learning. They were eager to learn. I did not know at the time that they already spoke three different languages. The boys started coming to our house for two hours every day. Soon some adults also came. I had no girls in the group because education did not include girls. Girls learned from their mothers all they needed to know about keeping a home and raising children. I asked some women if they would like to learn to sew. I did not have a sewing machine but I taught them to make a hand stitch. They brought clothing to me to be patched, which was like putting patches on cloth so threadbare it looked like cobwebs. We did not communicate with words. We communicated through hand and facial gestures. Most of these women had never held a needle before nor used a pair of scissors. I was blessed by the opportunity to show them, but they stopped coming after a few weeks because they had to work in the fields, which was customary for women.

One of the trials I had to face was culture shock. I became homesick, wanted to see my family in the States and was tired of the hot dry weather, the dust covering everything in the house, the strange looking snakes, the spiders, and the thousands of ants. Plus the drudgery of the long seemingly endless days. I became disenchanted with people living in mud huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors. After all, in this day and age, people were supposed to sit on chairs, not on mats, and they were supposed to eat their meals with utensils, not their fingers. Also, they were not supposed to carry things on their heads, arms with hands attached were meant to carry bundles. I began to count the days until we could go back home to the States.

The Lord used this time to teach me many lessons in perseverance, patience, long-suffering, and discipline. These are all very hard to learn but necessary to be a servant of the Lord. I knew I was cured of the culture shock when I saw a woman walking down the road carrying a bucket with her hand instead of on her head. I thought to myself, how odd, everyone knows that buckets should be carried on the head not in the hand!

Jack and I were blessed with the fellowship of our host family. We met with them often for Bible study and prayer. We enjoyed the antics of their three children and marveled at their ability to communicate with the African children. The seven of us went many places together, all learning experiences of the customs and culture of Africa. Just going to the open market was an educational experience. Food was very basic and usually laid out on the ground to be sold. There was no refrigeration for the meat, it was hung or laid on tables and was covered with flies. When we got really hungry for meat, we bought it anyway and scrubbed it with bleach water, as we did with the vegetables before eating them. We did not get sick from the food, but we both came down with malaria, even though we were taking chloroquine every day.

When our term was about to come to a close, out of the six wells started, only one well had been completed. The diggers had run into rock and the government had to be notified to send in teams to use blasting material to get through it. The delay in getting this accomplished was too long for us to extend our visas. Jack’s experience had been quite different from mine since he had lived in the bush and worked with the men to dig the wells. It was a challenge and learning experience for Jack too. He kept a log of each day while there. I hope that he will put his story on paper so that others can learn and appreciate the trials of living in the African bush.

We thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity for this experience. Not many persons are blessed as we were, not having formal training in the field of missions, to go, to see, to learn, to love, and to be loved. We met many dedicated missionaries who have given their lives to serve the Lord through the high calling to spread His Gospel. God bless them.

God Can Use Anyone

The Alleluia Gang was ministering at a Holy Spirit conference in Columbus, Ohio. One evening, we were eating together in a Pizza Hut. A Haitian pastor came over to our table to greet us and said that he was attending the conference and had enjoyed our music. We invited him to sit with us. He began to share about the work the Lord was accomplishing through his church in Haiti. He talked about the land of Haiti, of how the people are stricken with poverty, malnutrition, and disease. He shared about some of the struggles he had encountered as a pastor to minister in the community where his church is located.

As we were leaving the restaurant, I simply took hold of his hand to say “Good bye, it was nice meeting you.” I was surprised to feel the power and presence of God when I did this. I knew the Lord was speaking to me about something but I didn’t mention it to anyone. I just walked on out to the car. I told the lord, “If you want me to meet that man again, then you arrange it.”

The next day was Saturday. There must have been at least 5000 or more people at the conference. I was seated in the auditorium waiting for the afternoon session to begin. The Haitian pastor we had met the night before sat down in the seat directly in front of me. I knew that only the Lord could have arranged that. After the session ended, we walked out of the auditorium together talking about Haiti. He invited me to visit there and gave me his address. I said I would like to sometime, but I really didn’t believe I ever would. We parted, going in different directions. I did not see him again during the rest of the conference.

The last workshop to be held was a workshop on healing of body, soul, and spirit. As I walked into the room I felt the Lord’s presence again and heard Him say to me, “You will go to Haiti and you will bring healing to my people there.” I could only say,”Yes, Lord, I will go.”

When I returned home, I asked the Lord to confirm what I had heard. He led me to the Scripture in Hebrews 11 that tells us of Abraham leaving his homeland to wander in a foreign land. I accepted this as a confirmation. But I was hesitant. I said, “Lord, what could I possibly do in a land of so much need?” I had no formal training in the matters of being a missionary. And I was not inclined to venture out in unknown territory. He told me, ” I have given you everything you need, the power of my Holy Spirit.”

I took vacation time from my job, applied for a passport, and wrote to the Haitian pastor to say that I was coming to Haiti. A few weeks later, when I arrived the pastor met me at the airport and delivered me at a hotel. The next day, he took me to his home in a mountain community. He, his wife and seven children lived in a tiny 4 room house. There was no electricity, no running water, no bathroom facilities. The family received me, shared their meager meals with me, took care of my everyday needs, and tried to teach me the Creole language. While there, the Lord placed in my heart a burden for the plight of the Haitian people and gave me a vision to see a medical clinic built in the community.

After returning home from that first visit to Haiti, the Lord opened the way for me to raise funds to build that clinic. I received speaking engagements at various churches and groups, and the local newspaper published an article about the mission. It was not an easy task but with the Lord all things are possible. It only takes a little leaven to leaven a whole lump. And How does leaven work? Very slowly, very quietly, and very gently. The Lord provided enough money to begin construction on the clinic that fall.

I returned to Haiti again that following year to see how the work was coming. The progress was slow due to manpower and initiative. I began to ponder the possibility of being there full time to oversee the construction. The Lord used a hard experience for me to make the move.

After returning to work, receiving a raise in salary, and enjoying the modern conveniences available to Americans, I had second thoughts about living in Haiti. However through a series of events at work, I was demoted from my job as supervisor, was given a reduction in pay, and told that I was not capable of being a supervisor. I was in shock! What was going on? I had been supervisor of the department for 10 years and now my boss was saying that I was not capable. It was very difficult to continue working with the same people in the same department that I once was in charge of, but the Lord gave me the grace to do it. I began to see His hand in this situation and decided that I would go to Haiti and take up the work to complete the clinic. I asked for a leave of absence from the hospital and after some persuasion from a board member who was a Christian and sympathetic to the unfairness of my demotion, was given a 3 month leave.

I rented my house, sold my car, and packed my bags. I moved to Haiti and lived with a missionary family I knew from Pennsylvania. I enrolled in language school and was certain I would be in Haiti the rest of my life. However, the Lord had other plans. The Creole language was very difficult for me to learn. Also, I ran out of money for the clinic. I prayed for the Lord to take charge. I said it was His clinic and if He wanted it finished, then He would have to do it. Two days later I received a phone call from the States. It was the pastor of the Gospel Hill Ministry where Jim and I went to hear the Gospel music. He said that he was coming to Haiti, that their ministry wanted to be involved with finishing the clinic. I praise God for his faithfulness and for His wisdom. The Gospel Hill Ministry not only provided an avenue and covering for me, they completed the clinic and even had a well dug in the vicinity. The clinic was named “The Gospel Light Clinic.” It provides medical care and also spiritual care to the people in the community.

After I returned home from Haiti, I did not return to the hospital to work. I found employment elsewhere and worked two jobs to make ends meet. I wasn’t home very long before Jack, the elder in the Alleluia Gang, came back into my life. We began seeing each other and were married a few months later.

God is so good! His Word is so true! I rejoice in knowing that He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes! (Rom 8:28). He has confirmed much truth to me through His Word. Marriage to Jack confirmed Matt 19:29, that “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for my sake, shall receive many times as much and shall inherit eternal life.”

The Alleluia Gang

A few months following the death of my husband, the Lord led me to the Alleluia Gang, a ministry of praise, worship, song, and testimony. I was attending a Holy Spirit conference with my son and his friend. A choir, formed of a large number of people of various ages, began to sing. I was impressed with the appearance of the group but overwhelmed with the sound of the music that came from them. The anointing on their voices was a testimony of their devotion and commitment to the Lord Jesus. I lifted my hands in praise to God, as they sang and I knew that I wanted to be a part of their ministry.

Sometimes the Lord works in subtle ways of which we are not aware. The friend that was with my son was a cousin of one of the chorus members. She told me who to contact about the possibility of singing with them. I went through the anguish of arguing with myself, that perhaps I could not sing well enough to be a part of the group. Finally, three weeks later, desire to join them won out. I called the number I had been given and was received with grace. I was told a time, place and date to meet with them.

They called their ministry “The Alleluia Gang”. The original Gang was a sixth grade Bible school class that wanted to continue meeting together. They sang a praise service called “The Alleluia” written by the Bill Gaither ministry. It was received so well by those who heard them that their ministry grew into a group of 70 members. The Lord blessed them with invitations from various churches to come and sing. Every service was a ministry of praise that prompted worship. The Gang worshiped as they sang and congregations responded with worship as well. There were four different services: “The Alleluia”, “Living Witnesses”, “His Love Reaching”, and “The Church Triumphant”. Members of the Gang would give a testimony of the Lord in their life intermittently with the songs. All of the services were a powerful tribute to Jesus. Every Saturday evening we met at the director’s home for Bible study prayer, and praise. Most Sunday evenings we traveled many miles to minister in various churches. We were a unique group. The ages and numbers changed periodically, but when I became a part of the ministry the ages ranged from eleven to seventy-five, with 35 members.

I not only was blessed by being a part of this ministry, I was blessed by the relationships formed. It was a lesson in learning to live as the family of God. Humility isn’t easy to learn; considering others as being more important than yourself, being more concerned about the needs of others instead of your own is hard to do and requires a great amount of humbling and love. There was no division among the age differences. All were accepted as brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus. The depth of the Bible studies reflected the maturity and sincerity of the group.

There were 16 marriages between the Gang members during the duration of the ministry, which lasted for approximately 12 years. Mine included. Jack, one of the elders of the Gang, a committed servant of the Lord, became my husband 5 years later.

The ministry came to a close approximately two years after I joined. It became evident that the Lord had used the Gang for the time He intended. The youth were finding other avenues of service, starting their own families, and attendance was dwindling.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Gang family. It was an experience that gave me much joy. It was a delight to know those precious young people who knew and loved the Lord. I have fond memories of our time together. The Lord is so wise. He knew that the Gang would be an instrument of healing for me in my season of grief.

The following is a prophecy given through me by the Holy Spirit for the service, ” The Church Triumphant”. I believe it was intended for the universal church, a word for today’s generation and for generations to come.

“There is no place in heaven nor under heaven where I am not present. I am God. I am Lord of lords and King of kings. My Name shall be above every name. My own will know me as I know my own. You are my servants, chosen by me and by my Father. Chosen to bring glory and honor to my Name. My children, my anointing is upon you, my spirit abides with you. Give me your praise for I am worthy to be praised. Shout to all the world the truth that I have revealed to you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am lowly and meek at heart. Show me your devotion my children, do not depart from my truth. Go now, take these words with you and give them to my people. Give me your lives and I will show you my power. There is no power in heaven nor under heaven greater than the power of my Father. This same power I have given to you, my children, my power of resurrection, my power of peace, my power of love. I am your peace, I am your life, my life shall be your life forever and forever. My children, there shall be no joy, no hope, no mercy, unless my Spirit is given to my people to bring them into my Kingdom. I have given you a charge, a commission for discipleship. Bring my people in to me. I will bind up their wounds, I will change their ways. I will give them new life. My Father has given me all authority over those whom I know. Take all that I have given you my children, my Kingdom is yours, my Father is your Father. Abide in me and in my Father’s love.”

And this is my response of thanksgiving: Oh God, our God, ruler and maker of all things. Great is your Name and greatly to be praised! Blessing and honor and glory and power are Yours! Grant that we may forever abide in your Spirit, that we might partake of your power and your love so graciously poured out on us. You have promised that where two or three are gathered in your Name, there you are in our midst. We know you are here, for we know your promises are true. We love you Lord, we need you, and we want you. Fill us we pray and make us your vessels of love to be used as you desire.

Lord What Do You Want of Me?

The voice of God is calling its summons unto me,

As once He spoke in Zion, so now He speaks again,

Whom shall I send to succor my people in their need?

Whom shall I send to loosen the bonds of shame and greed?

I hear my people crying in cot and mine and slum;

No field or mart is silent, no city street is dumb.

I see my people falling in darkness and despair;

Whom shall I send to shatter the fetters which they bear?

(By, John Haynes Holmes)

I was deeply moved by the words of this powerful hymn. It was inspired by Isaiah 6:8 which reads: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

I believe one of the saddest verses of Scripture is to be found in Ezekiel 22:23, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, but found none.” And another in Isaiah 59:16, “The Lord wondered that there was no one to intervene.”

One of the greatest dilemmas of the Christian life is asking the questions, “What is God’s will for me? What does He want me to do? What does He require of me?” We can spend so much time looking for the answers to these questions that we don’t take time to listen to what He is asking of us. I am no exception. I struggled with these questions for months. I prayed over and over,” Lord what do you want of me?” I disregarded what He was clearly pointing out to me. I avoided doing His will by continuing to ask what His will for me was. I had taken my eyes off of Him and focused on what I hoped He wanted me to do.

I attended a Christian conference in Kansas City hoping to find the answer to my questions. Before leaving for the conference, the Lord assured me that afterward he would be with me in a deeper way than before. He said that I would know Him with my mind. Believing that heart knowledge is much greater than head knowledge, I could not understand this. But before the conference ended, I knew what he meant. The mind is closely connected to the will, and I was soon to learn that he wanted my will.

Upon arrival at the conference, I looked over the list of workshops that were available to us. I deliberately chose topics that I was familiar with, experiences that the Lord had already worked in me. These seemed pretty safe and were not threatening. I attended two of those self-picked sessions and began to wonder why I had come all the way to Kansas City to hear the same things I had heard before. I decided to look at the list again, this time choosing the speaker I thought would be the most interesting. The title of one that I chose was “Intercessory Prayer”. I did not have any desire to experience the pain that is involved in being an intercessor. But as I sat there, hearing the words of the speaker, feeling the power of the Lord moving within me, I knew that I had been called to be an intercessor. I knew that this was the answer that the Lord had given to my prayer, “Lord, what do you want of me?” It was my unwillingness to share in the pain and suffering of the world, that kept me questioning. I have often marveled at the words of Paul: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, for I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren.” (Rom 9:3)

The Lord calls all Christians to the ministry of intercession. When there are no more intercessors, there is no more hope for the world. The intercessor stands between God and those who are suffering, pleading for them. Jesus interceded for the world with His death on the cross. (John 3:16-17) And while in the agony of the crucifixion, He pleaded forgiveness for those who crucified Him. (Luke 23:24) The Lord hasn’t stopped seeking for intercessors. I know that He put me in that workshop to impress upon me His call for intercession, and that is a matter of the will to act in love.

Are we willing to intervene in behalf of each other and the world? Are we willing to lose our self-righteousness and selfishness to identify ourselves with those for whom we pray? Are we willing to spend much time in the presence of God to grow in intimacy with Him? Do we have a conviction of God’s righteous judgement? Is our only motive concern for God’s glory? Can we say with holy boldness and courage the words of Isaiah, “Here am I , send me”? Dare we sing the final lines of John Homes mighty hymn?…

We heed O Lord, thy summons and answer, here are we!

Send us upon thine errand, let us thy servants be.

Our strength is dust and ashes, our years a passing hour;

But thou can use our weakness to magnify thy power.

From ease and plenty save us; from pride of place absolve;

Purge us of low desire, lift us to high resolve.

Take us, and make us holy, teach us thy will and way;

Speak, and behold we answer, command and we obey.

……..………………………….

And I humbly consent…Lord teach me to pray.

Facing Challenges

I think one of the hardest things for us to face is change. We become accustomed to familiar things that make us feel secure. When that security is threatened or taken away it can cause a traumatic reaction within us. Jim and I were married for 26 years. I remember the day he died very well. His condition worsened three weeks before, making it necessary for him to need oxygen to breathe. Our daughter, Debra, who was married and living in another city, had come to help care for him. We nursed him until the day before he died when he requested to be admitted to a hospital. I spent the night there with him and went home the next morning to rest. Debbie took over the watch. It was 11:45 AM when I was startled by the phone ringing. It was Debbie calling to say that her dad had just died. I rushed to the hospital with a song singing in my spirit. “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength.” That song kept repeating in my heart all through the preparation for the funeral, and unknown to me was chosen as the processional out of the church. I know the Lord wanted me to remember those words on that day and throughout the days to come.

I experienced the normal feelings of grief, having no purpose, no reason to keep on keeping on. The home that I had loved and felt so secure in had suddenly become a very empty house. I began to stay away from it. I felt empty also, with no sense of direction. Finally, I realized that I really needed to stay there. I was running away from the very thing I needed to help in the healing process. My home had always been a place where I could find refreshing and peace.

The first weekend that I made myself stay there, I walked to the cemetery where Jim was buried. As I stood there looking at his grave and thinking how I just couldn’t go on without him, I heard another song in my heart. The song was a familiar hymn, at first the melody, then the words came to my mind. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’s name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” That became a turning point for me. I began to allow the Lord to minister His love to my aching soul. Soon that empty house did not seem empty anymore because I filled it with prayer. Jesus became a very real presence again and prayer became a life giving force that I cannot live without. The Lord taught me not to be so dependent on anything in this world that I could not give it up for His sake. He has said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33). I can testify to that truth, for He has given me an abundance of love, purpose, and direction.

The center of all I have learned is knowing the power in the name, Jesus. Just to speak His Name in faith, releases His power to bring healing and wholeness. Not only to the one speaking but also to those being spoken to or for whom we are praying. His power is available to all those who call on His Name and believe.

The most important thing for the Christian to practice is to worship Jesus with a thankful heart and to desire to be in His presence above all else.

Jesus is my Lord, my hope, my peace, my joy, and I love Him. Praise His holy Name!

Growing Up In Christ

Since the moment of conversion, I have been growing up in Christ. The greatest thing I know is that God is my Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son, is my Savior. Through His death on the cross, Jesus has provided for my adoption into the Kingdom of God. Through His resurrection He has given me assurance of eternal life. Through the counsel of the Holy Spirit He has given me assurance of His presence with me. He has taught me patiently, provided me with love, courage, hope and peace. He has taught me to trust Him for all my needs and not to fear.

All of this has not been easy. One of the most difficult steps I took was to leave my home church where I had been a member for 17 years. I tried to share my life in Christ with the persons I had known and loved for so many years. I wanted to help them understand the riches that are available to them through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they turned deaf ears to me. The rejection I felt was painful, not so much because it was personal, but because they were rejecting deeper revelation of the Christian life. I sat through many Sunday morning services longing to hear Jesus lifted to His rightful place as Lord of His church. It was easier for them to talk about God, God was out there somewhere in the distance. But to talk about Jesus brings God close and personal. I longed for the fellowship of Christians who looked to Jesus for all their needs and allowed Him to be Lord of their lives.

Whenever I could, I attended seminars and conferences that were led by Spirit-filled teachers who were grounded in the Word of God. These were a blessing and helped to fill the need within me. Still I longed for a constant fellowship of believers. The Lord understood my need and led me to a group of believers at a church in a near-by town. They met for prayer, praise and Bible study once a week. These meetings became an oasis for me. I divided my worship and service between the two churches for the following year. I was given the opportunity to share my faith with both churches through articles I wrote for their news letters and through personal testimony. The Lord gave me prophecies of encouragement for both bodies. Even though my home church did not respond, I witnessed to them anyway. The love and acceptance I received from my new fellowship compensated for the rejection of my home church.

It is amazing the way the Lord moved me away from both churches that following year. This was accomplished through a word He spoke to my husband. My husband Jim, had been ill for two years with a malignant tumor. He had surgery to remove it but it spread to his lungs. He had gone through chemotherapy for nearly a year, but the prognosis was terminal. I shared with a co-worker at the hospital where I worked about my husband’s interest in country Gospel music. She gave me the name of a place called “Gospel Hill” where Gospel groups sang each week during the summer months. Jim had not been feeling well at all, so when I told him about it he was not interested in going. I didn’t mention it again, in fact we both forgot about it.

The following Saturday, the day the Gospel “sing” was to take place, he came home from work and said that we were going to go. That night the Lord performed a miracle in our lives. After the singing, a message was preached about the saving love of Jesus, a love so great that He not only saves souls but He heals bodies also. The offer was given for persons to come forward for prayer to receive what ever the Lord wanted to give them. We went to the altar and asked for physical healing. When the minister laid his hands on my husband and began to pray, I was astounded by the power of God that I felt surging through me. Later, as we were driving home, Jim shared that he had felt a great warmth all through him as we prayed. He said while at work that Saturday morning he heard a voice telling him to go to the service that evening. We both knew that it was the voice of the Lord he heard and we rejoiced in knowing that he was guiding us. This night was the first time that we were able to share in the Spirit of the Lord together.

The minister who preached the message that night and prayed for the needs of the people was the pastor of a church in a town 25 miles from our home. We wasted no time in going there the following Sunday morning. The moment we walked into that church building, I felt the Lord’s presence with a power that staggered me. I knew this was where He wanted us to be. I felt at home, there was no looking back. We became members of that congregation and both of us grew spiritually through the ministry of that body of believers.

Our youngest son was a member of the Air Force, stationed in the state of Washington. Because of his dad’s illness he was granted a transfer to an Air Base near our home. He had recently given his heart to the Lord. He was born again but had not received correct teaching concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He began to attend the meetings at our new church home with us. After just two weeks of Bible studies and worship services, he asked for and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He has since become a minister of the Gospel and has been an instrument of the Lord in bringing many souls to Him.

The three of us chose to be re-baptized by immersion as an acknowledgement of a deeper commitment to the Lord Jesus. Jim was not healed physically, but he was healed spiritually, a much greater healing.

Called to Witness (part three)

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

The afternoon I returned home from the conference, God spoke to me again in a way that I did not fully understand until it was confirmed with the Scriptures. I was baking a birthday cake for my oldest son, when I noticed that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to move around. My body seemed to be growing very heavy, and I felt tired. I was standing at the kitchen sink and thoughts of the past week were in my mind. I said, “My God, is this what you have prepared me for?” The spoon I was holding in my hand slipped into the sink. I could see that my body was slowly going down. I went first to my knees then backward until I was lying flat on the floor. A beautiful peace filled me that is indescribable. I had my senses about me and knew that it was ten minutes to 5:00 P.M., I was aware of my surroundings, yet I could not move. I am not sure how long I laid there, but I knew that I had to get up before my husband came home from work so he wouldn’t think that I was ill or dying. When I did rise, I felt joyful and happy. I told my husband what had happened but he said that he did not want to hear any more about it.

As the evening wore on I sensed that there was more to know about this experience and I wanted to understand what had happened. I took the Bible and went to a room where I could be alone and undisturbed. I opened it to the first chapter of Acts. Not just a coincidence I’m sure, the Lord had to engineer that. Jesus was instructing the disciples about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, telling them they would receive power to be His witnesses in the world. With these words, I was once again pressed to the floor. Only this time there was no peace. I realized that I had not been an effective witness for Him. I had let other things come first in my life instead of God. Now He was requiring that I give up all these things. I needed to give them to Him and place myself under His rightful Lordship. I did not do this easily. Another day passed before I felt His peace again. When I had finally given all those things over to Him for His keeping, including my husband, children, and home, Jesus was truly my Lord and my heart was full of praises to Him. I wanted to thank and praise Him constantly. I was free! I felt like I did not have a burden in the world.

When I returned to work the next day, I had a most difficult time. I wanted to praise God and pray all the time. This of course, was impossible to do while at work, or so I thought. With God anything is possible. That same evening at home I was thinking about the day. I said to Jesus, “There just has to be a way that I can praise You while at work.” Almost immediately I began to speak in a different language. It was a language that I could not understand, but it didn’t matter. Never had I known such freedom and fulfillment in prayer.

The following weeks continued to be ones of learning. The Holy Spirit taught me through a voice from deep within, a voice that addressed me by my name. I was instructed in the Scriptures. Scripture was quoted to me. I was instructed to love, to be merciful, to work toward justice in the world and to be a witness to Jesus Christ. He assured me that he would never desert me. I knew he would be with me throughout eternity. The promise of the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, is true.

I began to see life in different dimensions than before. I knew that I was standing on the threshold of a door that leads to unlimited possibilities. I began to live in expectation because I expected to see God take action in my life and in the lives of others. I learned to walk with Him in obedience which is not an easy path, but it is the only way to freedom and peace. When I am disobedient, he chastises me to let me know that he remains faithful. Then I am repentant and ready to obey.

His counsel is ever present with me, giving me assurance of His sustaining love. The tongue I speak in prayer is afterwards interpreted for me in my spirit. Sometimes it is prayer about some situation that gives me concern, but usually it is praise directed to Jesus. Prayer and praise have become a vital part of my life. The Holy Spirit is quick to point to Jesus. Jesus in the Son, the Baptizer, the giver of life everlasting. He is lifted up above all else. All of life revolves around Him. I rejoice in knowing that Jesus is alive and that He is alive in me. I have been reborn in his Spirit and he is truly Lord. I know the power of His resurrection, and I know that all He has promised in the Scriptures is mine to enjoy because He is faithful and desires to give good things to His people. I live in confidence that Jesus loves me. Through receiving the Baptism of His Holy Spirit, His life is open to me, and I am able to take up my bed and walk in the power of His Spirit. Bless His Holy Name!

I encourage you to seek His face, to knock on His door and He will open it for you. He desires to communicate with His children and to have a relationship with them. He has provided the means of communication through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, who is present with us now, and forever.

“And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised. Which, he said you have heard form me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth.” Acts 1:8

“Peter replied, repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

Called to Witness (continued)

A small group of persons in our church began to express an interest in spiritual healing. I was very skeptical of miracles in this modern age of scientific discovery. However, I was intrigued by the claims of people who had experienced physical healing through prayer. Prayer had become a rather dry experience for me. I had become conditioned to look for God’s presence through relationships with other persons, through social action, and through the ministry of my own church. I had developed a self-righteous attitude for our church and its ministry. I was certain that the only “right” church was this one. God was soon to prove to me how wrong and limited I had become. I began to meet with this group of people to study about spiritual healing and its implications. We met once a month to discuss and share what we were learning. We visited other churches where healing services were held and talked with the people involved. We were given information about a healing conference that was to be held at a camp located in the hills just south of our city. Our minister, who was the leader of this special interest group wanted one of us to attend this conference. I had a week of vacation due from my job ant the local hospital and I decided to use it to go to the conference. Some of the others in the group attended the daily sessions, but I was the only one to stay the full time, sleeping and taking my meals there. The night before I was to leave for the camp I found myself wishing I had not agreed to go. While driving there the next day, I kept asking why was I going, and wasn’t this a crazy thing to be doing, going off to some strange thing all by myself? I decided that this was going to be the end of my search for belief or unbelief in spiritual healing. If I came away from the conference still not convinced, I was not going to pursue it any further.

When I arrived at the camp I found it was located in a beautiful setting. Autumn was in all its glory. I can still feel the warm sunshine, still see the high blue sky, and the blazing colors of the trees. There was a sense of quiet peace all around. I entered the building to register and was told where I would be sleeping. When I returned to the main building, I was met by enthusiastic persons who expressed themselves almost constantly with the phrase “praise the Lord.” The Lord’s name was in almost every sentence. What had I gotten myself into? Being a member of a mainline denominational church, phrases such as this were unheard of or were viewed as being pious and self righteous, accepted only in fundamental and emotionally charged churches. I withdrew from conversation, speaking only when spoken to out of courtesy. I didn’t want to know these people and I didn’t want them to know me. But the Lord had other plans for me that week.

The following morning at the breakfast table, He placed me beside one of the leaders of the conference. I was drawn into a conversation with him. I shared my feelings of aloneness and how I found the pious phrases offensive. He said that praising the Lord was a natural result of being Baptized in the Holy Spirit. That was another term unfamiliar to me. What does it mean to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit? This man shared with me his own experience of the power of God, of being on his knees and praying in an unknown language. I told him I didn’t believe it; God does not make persons act in such an unnatural way. All he said to me was, “Just be open and you will see”. I will always remember those words because I believe that is the key to experiencing the Lord…letting ourselves be open to whatever He wants to do in our lives. That conversation was much like the conversation Jesus had with the man who laid by the pool near the sheep gate for 38 years. Jesus said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” And the man replied, “There is no one to put me into the pool.” Then Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

My attitude started to change from that moment, I began to listen and to let myself become involved in the activities of the conference. The name of Jesus was everywhere. He was lifted up, preached, taught, praised and adored. As the week wore on, I could no longer laugh at not joke about the people there. I was beginning to love them. God was doing a mighty work in me.

One afternoon a prayer for inner healing was given that took us back to our birth, through our childhood and youth. It was spoken with positive assurance that God would heal all the memories of the pain experienced during the past years. It was the most beautiful prayer I had ever heard. In this prayer, God was indeed a loving Father, always present, always knowing, always caring. Afterward, I walked up a steep hill behind the camp to be alone. There I confessed all my sinfulness and asked to be forgiven. I really didn’t know what I needed forgiven for, I only felt I needed it. God in His sovereign way had broken through my human dilemma of pride and self-righteousness. I needed to be forgiven and he forgave me. When I returned to the camp that evening, the songs we sang, and the language I heard were no longer offensive to me. I felt very humble and was touched by the singing. I was able to sing the songs with meaning.

I had gone to the conference wanting to see a miracle. God did not disappoint me. I not only saw a physical healing take place, but had experienced my own inner-healing as well. I could feel my sense of loyalties changing. I no longer wanted the approval of other persons. I wanted only God’s approval of me.