Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
· In cross border trafficking, India is a sending, receiving and transit nation. Receiving children from Bangladesh and Nepal and sending women and children to Middle Eastern nations is a daily occurrence.
· In India, Karnataka, Andha Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu are considered "high supply zones" for women in prostitution.
· Women and children from India are sent to nations of the Middle East daily. Girls in prostitution and domestic service in India, Pakistan and the Middle East are tortured, held in virtual imprisonment, sexually abused, and raped.
· Some Indian men believe that it is good luck to have sex with scalp-eczema afflicted prostitutes. Infants with the condition, called "pus babies," are sold by their parents to brothels for a premium.
· Every year between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked into the red light districts in Indian cities. Many of the girls are barely 9 or 10 years old.
I don’t know what to do but I know I no longer want to be guilty of ignoring, denying, or pretending it does not exist. Kay Warren stated on page 103. “In God’s value system, these responses are as wicked as endorsing, cooperating with, or embracing evil.”
Oh God forgive me! Oh God forgive us! Show us how you can use each of us to help the helpless and make an impact against the evil of this world.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
After reading this chapter I prayed for the Lord to open my eyes to the evil lurking around me. Within a few days I had this encounter:
No words were needed as our eyes met. The light and glimmer, which once filled her “baby blues”, had long been snuffed out since her mother’s sudden death. Today her eyes told a different story that pierced my heart and made it hard to breath. Only cold and sadness could now be seen revealing the loneliness and desperation in her heart. Her smile was weary and her words were few for evil had come and stolen her childhood and ransacked her world. She was malnourished, cold, alone, and living in an unlit makeshift home with numerous holes in the floor and walls. She did not choose this life. It chose her!
Spiritual moans of help pierced my heart, and I was keenly aware of the evil lurking right in my backyard. In the days to follow I began to realize the magnitude of what was needed for this precious child; it was much bigger than me. The easy thing would be to let the “truth” of what I had seen fade away because it was too disturbing. But I prayed the Lord would haunt me with “her eyes” if I attempted to turn the channel in my mind.
I knew for certain three things:
1- God had opened my eyes to this unjust evil.
2- It is not too big for Him.
3- He had gone before me and prepared the way.
It was time to fight for this precious girl and many others like her. What a privilege!
Lord God, continue exposing the evil that is right before our very eyes. Forgive us for closing our eyes and muffling our ears to the people who are hurting and desperate all around us. Equip us with Your Armor to fight, and give us the courage to stand. Thank You that we are never alone; You are always with us. In the Mighty name and blood of Jesus Christ we pray – AMEN.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
“Do you believe the heart of God is good towards YOU?”
“What do your actions reveal regarding the two above questions- in good times, difficult times, and unbearable times?”
Many years ago my family went through seven years of unfair and unbearable trials leaving everyone of us deeply wounded, completely undone, and questioning if God even cared. I stayed on “my face” before Him day after day begging for His victory to break through the mire, the mud, and the continuous lies, but the fiery darts continued pounding and tearing at our hearts. In the end of the seventh year another huge disappointment came, and I felt more defeated and confused in my Christian walk than ever before. At this point I could barely open my Bible without doubting the goodness of God or believing He even cared.
One Sunday morning at the end of all hope I ran into our Pastor, and he asked about my family. All I could say with a heavy heart was:
“Pastor, I have seen good, and I have seen evil. And I have seen evil win!”
I could tell he was not expecting a response like that, and he stood there for a moment and pondered my words. He looked into my eyes and spoke firmly and lovingly these words of truth.
“Yes Ashley, just like Jesus’ family, followers, and friends saw that day on the Cross. They watched Him get brutally beaten, betrayed, and hung. They saw “evil” and they saw “good” (Jesus), and they saw evil win (or so they thought).
---BUT GOD had a plan, and His plan was GREATER!”
A lightening bolt as if from heaven jolted my heart, and a light broke forth in the darkness where I had been dwelling. It was the “goodness of God’s heart towards me” that I had not believed. I asked for forgiveness, and His peace consumed me.
Our victory did come at the very end of the seventh year, and oh how sweet it was. I can look back now and see many miracles God did in and through our family through that difficult season. We also now have great empathy for others who face the same mountains.
Please evaluate your heart and ask yourself daily –
“Do I trust that the heart of God is good towards ME?” Read again and ponder on the words the Pastor spoke to me, and may the Holy Spirit bath your precious heart and mind in the truth that it brings.
Monday, December 19, 2011
I could not read chapter four without that unsettling sense of fear threaten to overtake me! Was there anybody besides me who felt that way?
About eight years ago, after I had surrendered my heart to Christ (16 years ago) and my life to ministry (10 years ago), the Lord allowed me to walk through a hard season of life. I was walking close to Him yet He allowed something very unfair and hurtful to take place. Why? Was God good or was I just bad and being punished for my bad past? Today I can see many treasures I was given and experienced during that time. I had some of the sweetest moments and encounters with the Lord. I wrote my first Bible study, Quest for Wholeness: Healing the Broken (now published). On Fire Ministries was birthed during that time. This was such a season of change and strengthening in my faith. Now I can say, I am thankful I went through it, but I could not say that then.
Have you ever suffered in any circumstance of life and known the “blessings hidden in the messiness of that suffering?” (pg. 90) If you can, share about the treasures God gave you during that time. Your situation may be just the encouragement another sister in Christ needs to hear today!
Become a follower of the blog!
Click on the small icon to the right of "Followers" of the blog at the bottom right hand side of the blog and follow the easy steps.
Oh, by the way - Brace yourself for Chapter 5!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
“My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” 1 John 3:18
As I read chapter three, truth unfolds and what is hidden deep in my heart is revealed. The Lord has lead me to give and take action many times, and this has become somewhat easy for me. However, the truth is I do not allow my heart to get “too involved” and that is disturbing. I keep my distance and make excuses because there is enough hurt and struggle in “my own kingdom”. To dare take on someone else’s pain might overwhelm me. The minute I feel overwhelmed with another person’s needs/hurts, I tend to “short circuit the process” of what God is trying to do in my heart (as she describes on pg.73-74) and retreat back to “my kingdom”.
Kay suggest at the end of this chapter to make a list of why you might hesitate to ask God to “ruin” you. Being as real and honest as I can – here are a few of my hesitations:
- Those I’m trying to help might hurt me.
- I might not be able to make a difference, which equals failure in my eyes.
- I might get taken advantage of.
- I might not have enough time or enough to offer.
- It might take away from my families needs.
- I might get rejected.
These are indeed understandable hesitations. But every one of them is selfish in nature and, not one is justified.
In the past years we have adopted a “family in need” for Christmas. The norm for us is to buy gifts, deliver them, pray for the family, get emotional, and then mark this “good deed” off our list. We feel good about our actions and then go on about our business – not letting our hearts get too attached, too involved, or too “ruined”. (Again- I am being honest.)
It is no accident the Lord has brought the pages of this disturbing book before my eyes, and it is not just for a good read. Starting now I want to surrender my protected heart to the deepest hurts and needs of others. I want to wrap my arms around the necks of those in need of a hug so they know they are loved. I want to walk alongside those hurting and battle with them through struggles. I want to be His hands and feet wherever He leads and allow Him to gloriously ruin me. May the walls around my heart come crashing down so that I no longer choose to short-circuit the process!
Monday, December 12, 2011
Kay wanted to know Him “in deeper more extraordinary ways” so much that she would not chance missing Him to stay seated in her comfortable church pew and doing life as usual in the affluent county of the place she calls home. Somewhere along the line the transfer to compassion for hurting people showed up which is where I knew I dropped the ball. Compassionate people go and touch and do for the sake of the hurting. Even when I have gone and touched and done for the sake of the hurting, I would say it has been more based on the desire to know Him “in deeper more extraordinary ways,” but to know Him that way means a transfer must take place within me to a deep rooted compassion that can only be given to me by God Himself.
Her pen pierced my heart once again on page 71. “Giving financially loosens the grip of materialism and selfishness that we all struggle with, but it can be a way of quieting our conscience while keeping our distance from those in need.” How many checks have I written to subdue the drawing towards compassion? I fear - too many.
Oh God, have mercy on me and help me to really die to myself! Help me not to short-circuit the process of what You are doing in my heart because it hurts. Change me into a compassionate person because Your heart is in me. Forever alter my heart to go, do, and touch for the sake of hurting people. I want to never be the same again.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Denying Self – As much as I desire to deny myself, I realize that much of my life is about (as Kay describes it) – “The Kingdom of Me”. I fight daily to protect my domain and to be right leaving little room for anything else. In her statement “most conflicts are rooted in selfishness”, I am made keenly aware of the selfishness that has entangled my life and snuffed out the Holy Spirit fire in my heart. I am challenged to search my heart and allow the Lord to reveal and uproot this life-killing weed. I am also challenged to stop and ask myself what am I fighting for……..My kingdom or His?
Taking Up My Cross – “But your 'Cross’ is not literal; it is instead an attitude of radical obedience to God in which you willingly accept any consequences for Jesus’ sake” (pg. 46). I love the way she goes on to explain personal crosses, many of which I can identify with. I have overbearing and small crosses everyday that I attempt to move, ignore, or fight. It is not often I think of embracing them. However, I often beg God to remove them. My heart is encouraged, enlightened, and invigorated by Fenelon’s observation on pg. 50.
“God prepares a cross for you that you must embrace without self-preservation. The cross is painful. Accept the cross and you will find peace even in the middle of turmoil. Let me warn you that if you push the cross away, your circumstances will become twice as hard to bear. In the long run, the pain of resisting the cross is harder to live with than the cross itself.”
This is profound and powerful. My crosses are painful. I have spent years attempting to resist, avoid, ignore, and remove each of them. It is time to embrace the very things that I have begged God to remove. Trusting that in my embrace His peace will consume my heart.
Follow Me - This section wrecked me, and I am grateful. I have a new perspective on what “follow me” looks like. Jesus does not want my eyes searching to and fro looking at what He is doing in someone else’s life or not doing in mine. No, He wants my eyes fixed on Him so that every step I take I am following Him. My steps may be encircled by “hurt”, “unfairness”, “sickness”, “stillness”, and even “death”, but as I trust Him He will plant the soles of my feet onto “His Highway of Holiness”. I choose today to walk in faith, obedience, and surrender.
Prayer: Lord, enable me to whole-heartedly deny myself. My instinct and nature is to self-preserve, but I chose today to embrace my crosses. May I keep my eyes fixed on You and follow You daily. I need You Jesus; I surrender all! In Jesus name, Amen
Monday, December 5, 2011
Her marriage confessions were meaningful to me. She shared that she had wasted too much time arguing about meaningless stuff with her husband. Ditto. I am a slow learner too, but my husband and I are also realizing loving each other is more important than being right.
I too have been put on a shelf by God after a profound encounter with Him in which He showed me I had been called and appointed to full-time ministry. The season of sitting on the shelf was the most difficult of my entire Christian walk. I am a doer. I want to make a difference. I want my life to have significance and make an eternal impact on those around me. But, when God sits you on the shelf and says, “not now,” you will question everything that you know is real. How many times did I point to someone else in ministry and say, “What about her? What about him? Why do they get to do and I don’t? Did You decide I was too big of a mess? This last question has been one of the greatest hindrances for me in ministry and in life. I guess that goes along with the bad past, but I am learning more and more to remember that life and ministry is not about me – that I have been bought and paid for and given a robe of righteousness simply because God extended His glorious grace to the least of these! Praise His name!
I want to leave you with a challenge. Go to http://www.kaywarren.com/ and type in “ego assessment.” Listen to her 42 second message. Download and print the ego assessment. Take the ego assessment into your quiet time and ask the Lord to reveal, redeem, and restore your attitudes that are not His kingdom focused.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
“To want to serve God in some conditions, but not others, is to serve Him in your own way. But to put no limits on your submission to God is truly dying to yourself. This is how to worship God. Open yourself to God without measure. Let His life flow through you like a torrent. Fear nothing on the road you are walking. God will lead you by the hand. Let your love for Him cast out the fear you feel for yourself.” – (Francois Fenelon Pgs.32-33)
The truth lying in the midst of these words from chapter one disturbs my heart. I say with my lips I want to serve God, and I make efforts with my actions daily. But the truth is my actions are conditional and measured:
- I will submit, but not die to self.
- I will surrender, on my terms.
- I will trust, when I understand.
- I will go, when I know where and how.
- I will love others, if they don’t hurt me or do things I don’t approve of.
- I will sacrifice, if I remain comfortable.
- I will let go, when I am not afraid.
- I will give, when I have extra.
Prior to chapter one, my immediate answer to Kay Warren’s question would have been an immediate yes. She forced me to reevaluate my answer. Yes, in the comfortable circumstances of my life. Yes, with a lovely home and a church catering to my need for comfort. Yes, to sending money to help those less privileged than me. Yes, to focusing on a poor family at Christmas. My yes’s all reveal my desperate desire to do for His kingdom and hold onto what makes me comfortable. This came to light at about page twenty-one when Kay asked herself “How does becoming a seriously disturbed person affect the way I live?” She exposed my greatest hindrance to “really” saying yes to God with her confession of her previous problem, personal comfort.
Greatest hindrance number two showed up on page twenty-five. I want all the information up front. How about you? I mean for goodness sake, couldn’t He just give us the costs up front. When I decided to build a house, I had to count the cost up front therefore I needed to know how much the total cost would be. The problem with this may be that He did give us the cost up front, we just don’t like the possibilities of what that may look like in our life. Remember the living sacrifice of Romans 12:1 which is our reasonable service/worship to the Lord. Or how about Galatians 2:20, For I have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me… One more, Luke 9:24, Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (said Jesus).
If that wasn’t enough, she dug up one more greatest hindrance, my own ordinariness. Reading this section reminded me of extra-ordinary people in the Bible who struggled with their ordinariness. Moses (Exodus 4:10), Gideon (Judges 6:15), Mary (Luke 1:48), Hebrews 11… God chose the people of Israel because they were the least of all peoples (Deuteronomy 7:7). Why? But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Here is my personal prayer; you are welcome to join me:
Oh Lord, open my eyes to see as You see, open my heart to love as You love, open my mind to understand Your personal call in my life. I give you my hindrances and ask You to transform them. Help me to say yes before I know the question. In Jesus most powerful name, I pray. Amen.