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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Breaking Through

Recovery.

It's a transitional place.  You're not completely there in your healing, but you used to be a whole lot worse.  Maybe it's a physical recovery.  Maybe it's a financial recovery.  Maybe it's an addiction recovery.  Maybe it's moving past the psychological traumas of your past.  You're moving forward and progressing, but have not arrived yet.

It's a great place to be.  But, it can be a frustrating place, too.  You just want to get there already.  You might start to wonder if you'll ever get there.  You might be tempted to lose heart and give up. 

And, then it happens.

Breakthrough.

Like a baby chicken who's finally broken through its egg.  It emerges whole. 

Like the man who was told that he would never walk again, being watched by hundreds as he lifts himself from his wheelchair, that one miraculous day, and walks down stage to receive his college diploma. 

Like a couple who's overwhelmed with a mountain of bills.  They chip away at it as best they can.  Then one day, an anonymous check comes in the mail to cover it all.

Breakthrough.

It can be unexplainable.  It is the moment where our Father's promises to us are extremely tangible.  Where we are lifted -- yes even catapulted! -- into a new place in our healing, maybe even completely healed.

It's a heavenly act.   An act of a Father that loves us and wants to see us (maybe even more than we do) healed, restored, and fully recovered.

And, yes.  He is... just that Good.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Know Your Opponent

Know who your enemy is.  Be able to identify your opponents.

That is extremely good advice when it comes to war.  If we don't know who we are fighting against and if we aren't able to identify those that are against us, our success rate will be low and there could be a ton of collateral damage.

There is an Enemy.  And, he means business, let me tell you. 

His objective?  Kill.  Steal.  Destroy.  He's mean and he's a liar.  Jesus called him the father of lies.  He is the devil and he's real.

One thing I am learning... he tries to confuse us in identifying who our opponent is.  Though HE is our enemy, we can begin thinking our battle is with one another -- that our struggle is with flesh and blood.  And, yes we will have our friction with others.  But we need to know who our true opponent is -- The one that is NEVER interested in reconciliation or things that are true or things that are right or things that bring peace or things that bring justice.  His focus is only on tearing down. 
He is our enemy.  Our opponent.  Are you able to identify him?

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Gotta Tell Ya!

Good stuff is hard to keep quiet about.

A great recipe.  A sale that is more like a give-away.  An amazing new product you recently discovered.  Things that are too good to keep to yourself.  You find yourself posting it on Facebook, Tweeting it to friends, texting your family members.  How can you keep such a great thing to yourself?  No one has to talk you into it, hype you up so you can get the nerve to tell people, or can discourage you from sharing such an awesome thing.  Sharing comes from the natural excitement of your discovery. 

And, so it is with the Good News.  We share because we have discovered something that is just too good to keep to ourselves.  What Love!  What Joy!  What Freedom!  We don't need a pep rally to motivate us -- we share because this kind of News has captured our hearts with its Love, set us free with its Grace, and changed us forever.

And, THAT is something to talk about!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Got This


Top Two Hardest Places To Wait:


1) Hospital Waiting Area 
As comfortable as the staff and hospital try to make you feel, there is nothing that can remove the overwhelming heartache you feel.  The anxiety.  The helplessness.  The dread of bad news.  All you can do is watch the clock and wait for the doctor to appear through the double doors to give you an update. 


2) By The Phone
When will that call come?  The call from your son that is off at war.  The husband that stormed out of the house two days ago.  The daughter that won't speak to you anymore.


The thing with waiting like this is that you don't have control.  You can't be the one to fix it, change it, make it better, or make it happen.  And, maybe you're not used to that.  Maybe you're used to being at the helm.  You're the one that usually calls the shots, gives the orders, makes the plans.  You're the one that motivates others -- and in fact are the one that others look to to give them direction.  You're the go-to person.

But not this time.

This time it's not on you.  It's on Him.  It's on the One who waits with you -- indeed, sits with you and holds your hand in the waiting room and by the phone.  It's on the One that reminds you who's really in charge here.  It's on the One that has promised to never leave you nor forsake you and has already taken the hit for you and the ones you love.  It's on the One that works ALL things for the good.

And, it's on the One that gently whispers in your ear,

"Relax. I got this."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rock Star!

I think the most amazing people in the world are encouragers. 

Those that aren't focused on how they can seem important, become great, or stand above the rest --but, those that reach out and make others feel important, great, and lifted up. 

When we think about our favorite people in the world and those that have influenced our lives for the good, it's probably not the ones that showed us how great they are.  It's the ones that helped us see how special we are.  They are the ones that launched us upward and encouraged us to fly, not pushed us downward to make themselves feel more important.

In a world where many want to be a 'Rock Star' in their own respect, it is easy to lose sight of what true greatness is.  We seem to think that greatest is all about who gets to the top, gets the greatest recognition, and the most attention.

But, how far that is from the Truth.

The greatest among us is the servant of all.  Yes, they are the Rock Stars!  Those that walk in Love.  Esteem the lowly.  Feed the hungry.  Ones who do not silence others just so they alone can be heard.  But, do speak boldly for those who are silent and can not defend themselves.  They are lovers of Laughter and Joy --includers of others as they Dance and love Life!  They are givers of Hope and teachers of what is Good and Right.  And, they are those that are not afraid, no not hesitant at all --

to Encourage!

ROCK ON!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cup Choice

Forgive.  It's an action word.  And, it's a choice.

I did an object lesson yesterday with a group of children. 

They were each given two paper cups.  And, I held a huge bag of popcorn --representing all sorts of grievances from other people.  When the popcorn was thrown at them, it was now in their court.  They didn't ask for the popcorn to land in their territory, but there it was regardless.  What were they going to do with it?

They had a choice.

They either took those offenses and held onto them -- putting them in the cup that represented their own heart.  Or, they tossed the wrong-doings into the cup that represented God -- choosing not to hold a grudge, but casting all their cares (including the mistreatment of others) into God's capable Hands. 

Then we went on to imagine if this popcorn were rocks.  Even huge boulders.  What a weight, what a burden on us if we chose to put the rocks in our own cup.  The only one that would suffer would be us.  But, what a freedom if we put those boulders in God's cup. 

The obvious answer was, of course, throwing it in the 'God cup'.  Letting it go and giving it to Him.

But, this can be easier said than done in the real world.  Someone slashes you with a verbal sword.  Someone mistreats you over and over.  Someone betrays you.  Someone lies.  Someone breaks their promises.

What do you with it?? 

We have a cup choice.
This is where our relationship with God comes in.  The more we know His Character and His Justice, the more we know that He is our True Defender.  We trust that He sees all, knows all, and is able to bring Justice to every situation -- like a Daddy defending his child. 

We cast it all on Him because we know how much He cares for us.  He's able to carry the heavy load and begin the healing process in our own hearts, making us whole.  And, He doesn't stop there.  He heals us, helps us forgive, but will also give us eyes to see the people that hurt us through His loving perspective.  To our amazement, what was intended to harm us (even destroy us), becomes the very tool that God uses to change us and give us a heart of compassion for others that says, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where's Waldo?

"Where's Waldo?"

They still make these children's books.

The task?  Finding the same guy in various settings and locations. 

The pages are very busy with activity and crowded with many faces.  It might take some time to spot the fellow, but he's there -- the one searching for him can be sure of it.

And, the same holds true for the One that is everywhere and with us all the time.

We can spot Him in every setting... if we take time to look.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blind-Sided

Some days start out with a smack in the face.

And, that's exactly what happened to my daughter this morning.  She shares a bunk bed with her sister and a book that was on the top bunk, fell and hit her right in the nose.  What a bloody mess!  The poor girl went from a peaceful rest to a gush of blood and tears.  How unfair.

Life can be outrageously unfair like that. 

You're not out looking for trouble.  You're minding your own business.  Then suddenly you're blind-sided.  You're put on the defense and forced to clean up the mess.  It's frustrating and wrong. 

It's hard to make sense of such things.   But, one thing I learned from my daughter's bloody morning... 

She was not alone.  I happened to already be awake and was at her side immediately.  In her moment of confusion and pain, I was able to step in and help.  Through something terribly unfair, she was able to experience true support and care from the people that love her. 

And, more so, she allowed us to help her. 

Sometimes when she gets hurt she pushes us away in her pain and fear.  This time, she didn't resist or put up a fight.  She fell in my arms knowing how much she needed someone to help and intervene in that moment of confusion and pain.

And, that alone is a beautiful result of something so unfair.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Be Gentle With Yourself

Be gentle with yourself.
A refreshing concept in a world that puts a lot of pressure on us.

Every day we're flooded with images of models and actors that we might feel like we need to look like.  We have the pressure to succeed.  Pressure to perform.  Pressure, pressure, pressure. 

All this pressure can make us be very hard on ourselves.  Hard to be gracious with ourselves.  Hard to forgive ourselves.  Hard to look in the mirror and be OK with what we see.  Hard to be OK with where we are at in our journey in life.  It makes us hard to relax.  Hard to rest. 

And, it makes us hard to relate to others. 

The harder we are on ourselves, the harder we can tend to be with others.  We see ourselves in their mistakes and their imperfections. And, instead of forgiving and being gracious and merciful, we want to point a finger and condemn.  We are as hard on others many times as we are on ourselves.  If we are not gentle with ourselves, we will have a hard time being gentle with others.

Our Maker offers us a pressure-less place.

He says,
"COME to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

He is gentle with us and remembers that we are made of dust.  He handles our hearts with gentleness. 

The more we allow Him to handle us this way, the more we will handle ourselves (and others) in the same way. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All Done!

Some things just wouldn't make any sense.

For example, what if a wife did her husband's laundry.  She washed it.  Dried it.  Folded it.  And, put it all away.  His laundry is completely finished.  But, he decides to then start pulling it all out of his drawers and re-washing, re-drying, re-folding, re-putting away.  What a  ridiculous concept, right?

Or what about a mechanic fixing a woman's car.  It's had a complete make-over.  New parts.  Freshly detailed.  Completely finished and ready for her using.  But, she decides to begin disassembling the car and re-fixing.  It would be absolute nonsense, for sure.

But, that is what many of us want to do in the work that has already been done for us 2000 years ago.

Our Finisher announced it.  "It is finished."  The heavy work is done.  We don't need to try to do it again ourselves.  We might think we need to.  Maybe we've been told we have to.  But, that kind of understanding is foolishness and burdensome. 

Only He was able to do it.  And, He did. 

What a relief this is for us!  We don't have to try to do a work that is already FINISHED!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SLL

Stop Look Listen!

It's what I tell my girls right before they try crossing the street to go to the neighbor's house.

Each step is so important. 

Sometimes, they look, but they don't stop.  They look as they are moving.  I warn them that the only thing that will do is allow them to see the car as it hits them.

Sometimes, they listen, but don't look. They might be between 2 parked cars and instead of inching out and peaking around them, they will stand, listen and go forward.  They don't give a proper look. 

And, sometimes they stop and look, but don't listen.  They don't listen for the things they might not see with their eyes.  Maybe a truck that has just turned onto the street that they don't see, but can hear if they listen in.

It's good advice for life, too.

Sometimes, I go with my gut on things and don't even stop.  I look and listen as I move forward.  I don't give it a second thought.  This can get me in trouble!

Sometimes I stop and listen, but don't look at all.  I could miss some very obvious things this way.

And, sometimes I stop and look, but fail to listen for things that might be an unseen consequence down the road.  I can't see it in the immediate moment.  And though it seems right at the time, I don't think through the possible future ramifications. 

SLL (Stop Look Listen).  Wisdom I need to remember.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Time To Live!

ONE DAY.
That's what many of us daydreamers say. 

One day I'll do this or that. 

One day I'll pursue that path. 

One day...
One day... 
One day...

We aren't actively moving toward it.  We are just dreaming about it. 

There is a time to wait.  But, there is also a time to move forward.  And, sometimes we get so used to waiting and being in a pattern of dreaming, that we don't even recognize when we have stepped into the season of fulfillment of all those dreams.  We continue to stand there, and wait, and dream, and say one day -- not realizing that one day is upon us!  And, it is no longer the season of dreaming and waiting, but the season of embracing, living out, and seizing the LIFE we were meant to live!
 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Lonely Man

There was once a man who lived alone in the countryside.  He did not have many neighbors and the friends he used to have either moved away, moved along in life, or moved into the next life.  He was truly a solitary man that, though lonely, had resolved his life would just be lived out in isolation now.

One day, there was a knock at the door.

It was a gentlemen who explained that the man's brother was calling on him for a visit.

"My brother?" the man said.  "I haven't seen my brother in 20 years!"

The gentlemen convinced him, though, that it would be good for the man to take the trip out to see him.

So, with some reservation in leaving his isolated house, he packed his bags and started his journey.  He did not own a car, so he had to first take the bus, then the train, and then a taxi into the city where his brother lived.

The bus ride was crowded and noisy.  The only place he could sit was next to an older lady who was reading the newspaper. She was a friendly little lady and stopped reading as soon as the man sat down.  For the next 45 minutes, she talked and talked about everything and anything.  By the end of the trip, he felt as if he had known her his whole life.  How pleasant and surprising it was for him to befriend someone so quickly.

The train ride was quieter and he sat down next to a young man who was travelling back from a business trip.  The young man had less to say than the older lady but was cordial enough to make small talk.  In their question and answer conversation, they found out that they had relatives that lived in the same city and the young man's children attended the same elementary school that the man used to attend.  Surprised by this 'small world' coincidence, the men continued to talk and relate to each other the entire rest of the train ride.  The man was surprised and thrilled once again that he had made another acquaintance!

When the man left the train, he went in search of a taxi cab.  As he waited for it to arrive, a young woman walked past and unknowingly dropped her wallet.  The man was quick to react and ran after the woman to give it to her.  How thankful she was to the honest stranger!  She insisted that she buy him a cup of coffee in return for his kindness.  So, the man and the woman enjoyed a long conversation together over coffee and danishes.  He was very much taken by her beauty and personality.  By the end of their conversation, he found the courage to ask if they could exchange contact information.  She was delighted that he asked and was eager to see him again.

When the man finally made it to his brother's house, he was filled was joy and happiness.  When his brother saw him he was surprised at the man's countenance.

"Brother!  I did not expect to see you so happy.  I had heard that you were all alone and very lonely -- the very reason for my invite.  But, you do not seem unhappy at all!"

"My dear brother!" the man said, "I was lonely.  I was unhappy.  But, in my journey to see you, I made a friend on both the bus and the train and was surprised and encouraged to see how easy it was to make acquaintances.  And, before my taxi ride, I met the most beautiful woman -- who I think I have just fallin' in love with and might even be my future wife! 

My hope has been renewed!  I thought for sure that I would be lonely and isolated my whole life.  And, maybe I would have been --

if I had not taken the first step to journey out of my lonely place."



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Totally Agree

I agree.

Two words that can make a big difference in a relationship.  In a marriage, I'd say it might be the most important two words next to "I do".

When there is agreement between two people, the power behind what is wanting to be accomplished is doubled.   It is not one mind working, it is now two.  It is not two arms pushing, it is four.  It is not one heart involved, but two hearts connected. 

When I think of agreement I think of my grandfather's horses.  He owned and trained them for recreation and competition in English riding (individual rider) and carriage driving (multiple horses pulling a carriage).

What agreement between the horses was required for carriage driving.  Horses are amazingly strong animals and it was extremely important that all the horses hooked to the carriage were in agreement with the task at hand and the direction they were going.  Imagine the chaos if one horse decided to disagree with the plan to move in a certain direction!  But, when they all were lined up and all agreed, it was a beautiful sight.  They moved with such grace and strength.  There was even a sense of satisfaction in it as they moved in one accord.

******

Agreement.

When we think about the relationships we have in this world, are we in agreement with those we should be in agreement with?  Our spouse?  Our business partner? 

How about the Spirit of God?  Do we say 'yes' in our hearts when He wants to move us a certain way?  Do we agree with Him or resist His leading? 

Does your method of agreeing consist of you making the plans yourself pressuring (might I even use the word bullying or putting up a real hissy fit with?) the person until they 'agree' with you?  Agreeing means two wills voluntarily wanting the same thing. 

There is power in agreement.  Are you in agreement?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I CAN'T!

Confidence. 

It plays a tremendous role in how we approach our tasks, tackle our goals and grab hold of all that life has to offer.  If a man sees himself as incompetent, he will approach his tasks with the attitude of "I can't".  Yet, if he is confident, he will step into it knowing that he can.  How important it is then, that we are confident in life.


But, this where is gets interesting.

Our Father's Will can not be accomplished in our own strength and confidence.  If any man walks with God, he will always be lead to this discovery. 

What despair that can create in someone's heart!  They desire to live out the fullness of their potential, but come to the grim discovery that they can't -- in and of themselves.  Their destiny is to fly, but they can't grow their own wings or make their own wind. 

Simultaneously, though, another discovery is made.

In our despair, we look up to find Him holding our set of wings in His Hands and the Wind of Life in His Mouth. 

Our humbling is for a reason.  He strips us of confidence in self for a purpose.  If He does not humble us, we will never realize how much we need Him.  We will never trade our strength for His.  Our confidence for His.  And, we will never know what it means to rise and soar on eagle's wings.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Won't Forget You

"Don't forget me!"

That's what my mom said to me after I got married.

She knew this was going to be a different season of life.  It was unpredictable for her now.  How often would I come back to visit?  Would I choose to come see her?  Would I find other things more important? 

Would she be forgotten now that she was less needed in my life?

I want to tell you mom...
I will not forget you.

How can I?
You were the one that literally pushed me into this world. 
You were the one up in the middle of the night covering me and caring for me in my illness.
You carried the load without a complaint.

You were the one that let me make mistakes and told me to try again.  I conquered fears because of you.

You were the one who spent money we didn't have on piano lessons for me and pushed me in front of the family to sing at every opportunity.  Did you know back then what I would be today??

Did you know how beautiful I thought you were when I was six?  Did I ever tell you?  I thought you were amazing. 
Have I told you how beautiful you have become?  You are more amazing.

So sorry if I ever complained about your cooking.  So sorry if I whined when you asked me to help around the house.  So sorry that I didn't say thank you enough.  I had no idea how hard you worked.

Mom -- because of you, I am me.

And, I will never forget you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No Way! What??

Some of the best things in life come to us as a shocking surprise.

I remember seeing Carrie Underwood receive one of her first music awards in Country.  As she received her award, you could tell she realized how personally amazing this was for her.  She told everyone that just a couple years before, she was at home watching these awards from her living room and now here she was on stage receiving one herself!  A real 'pinch me' moment!  I bet if anyone told her back then that she would be on that stage in just 24 months receiving an award herself, she would have laughed and shook her head.  "Yeah, right!" 

Or the story of the man who went from homeless to a recognized musician.  How amazed he probably was with how life had turned around for him.  I wonder if he'd believe it if someone told him back on the streets that his name would become known to many and his talent recognized?

Or Abraham and Sarah.  The shocking conception in their old age of their promised and long awaited son. 

But, that is just how our God rolls.  He keeps His promises and fulfills them in ways that blow our minds.  It's always above and beyond what we would expect.  And, always hard for us to wrap our heads around and believe-- even if we were told.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remind Me Again?


How easy it is to forget things that really should be very hard to forget.

Suppose someone told you something wonderful... like one day you would hit the lottery.  It was a guaranteed promise and there was no doubt of its happening. 

Do you think you would forget? 

At first you might say, "How could I forget such a great thing!?  I'll never forget!" 

But, after say 15 years (and no fulfillment of the promise) would you still remember?  A lot can happen in 15 years.  Or, what if it was 25 years ago?  35 years ago?  If you did remember, would you still believe, despite your failed efforts?  After awhile, you may back off from the whole idea and chock it up to youthful, foolish thinking.  You might reason that if it was going to happen, it would have happened by now. 
 
But, what if GOD made you a particular and wonderful Promise?  A personal one. 

You knew with your whole heart that it was not man's promise, it was God's.  Would you forget if the promise was delayed?  And, if you didn't forget, would you still believe His Words -- words that, at some point, were as clear as anything could be clear to you?

The beautiful thing about God's Promises is that He does not forget.  And, even when we do, He is faithful to bring it alive to us again.  He is not a man that He should lie nor does He play games with our hearts.  He's not a liar nor a jerk. 

And, here's the sigh of relief we can have:  He doesn't start something without finishing it.  He doesn't make a Promise and then burden us to see if we can try to make it happen in our own strength.  What kind of God do we think He is?

He asks us to rest.  Trust.  Believe.  Stay in step with Him.  And, watch.  Watch how He and only He can fulfill His Promises to us!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Calling All Superheroes!

Comic strip heroes are so cool. 

Characters that live among us as ordinary people, but when needed, they are fighting on our behalf and resisting the dark forces of evil around us.  I don't think it gets much cooler than that.  They are both humble and mighty all at the same time.

Supposing they were real, can you imagine if they never realized their superhero identity?  If Superman was just Clark.  And, Wonder Woman never stepped into her title?

"Oh what a shame!" most of us would say.  All that power.  All that potential.  And, none of it used or lived out.  It would be a waste for both the character as well as all those that would have been impacted by them.

Now consider real life.

What if Billy Graham never got brave enough to speak his heart and mind?  What if Esther didn't see her royalty and her standing with the king was for 'such a time as this' and a divine opportunity to save her people?  What if David only remained a harp player and Mary just a girl that married a fellow named Joseph?

What if the Carpenter only remained a carpenter?


So....  who are you?

I don't mean what is your profession.  I mean...  Who are you?  Do you know?  And, if you know, are you acting on it?  If you don't, are you actively seeking the One who made you, calls you, and empowers you? 

One thing is for sure...there is no such thing as 'ordinary' in His Kingdom!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Detours & Dirt Roads


Detours are a pain.

You're on your way to your destination and all of sudden road blocks are everywhere and signs are directing you onto a road you may never have even been on before or knew existed up to this point.  You may sigh as you look at your watch.  This was not part of the plan and not your preference, but here you are anyway and the only thing you can do now is trust the signs around you and keep moving forward. 

There is a flip side to this traveling inconvenience.  Many times my husband will say, "I had to take a detour down this road and I discovered that it's actually a short cut to where I needed to be."  If he wasn't detoured, the discovery never would have happened.  The detour was better than his original mapping out of the trip.

Some detours though can feel like they take you way out of your way.  You end up on some dirt road with cows and horses as your scenery and you say to yourself, "How the heck did I end up here!?  This detour better be right!!" 

Making the most of the journey is the key.  No, maybe this was not your original plan.  But, the One you are following probably has different GPS directions than you and He's asking you to trust Him.  There is most likely something He wants you to learn, see, experience or let go of.  And, He knows that taking you out of your element is the only way it's going to happen.

So we follow.  Detours, dirt roads and all.