Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Exposing Evil - Pat

I read chapter 5 the second time the same way I drive down the road and know there is a dead animal in the middle of the road, batting my eyes really fast over the gross part so I don’t have to get a clear image stamped in my mind. On Christmas Day we went to see Mission Impossible 4 – Ghost Protocol. A couple of the movie locations were Bangalore and Karnataka, India and I could not help but think of what was reality there. I found the information below on this web-site when I had read Chapter 5 the first time.
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

Exposing Evil - Ashley

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

Ready, Set, Stop - Ashley

“Do you believe God is good?”

“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

Ready, Set,Stop - Pat

Well ladies, it’s week 4 of our book study and I have heard from many reading the blog. I am so glad you are participating that way; however, I really would love to hear from you.

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!

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Oh, by the way - Brace yourself for Chapter 5!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gloriously Ruined - Ashley

“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

Gloriously Ruined - Pat

The intensity of the surrender that God is leading us to increases with each chapter. I wondered if Kay Warren did that with intention or if when the final period was laid the progression was realized. However, noting that this was her journey would explain the progression. Journeys are progressive, even our spiritual journeys with God. Spiritual journeys always begin with God drawing us to Himself and a deep desire within us to know Him “in deeper more extraordinary ways” (page 60). It is that deep desire that compels us to move forward in pursuing Him in ways completely contradictory to our natural inclinations and our comfort levels.

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

The Kingdom of Me - Ashley

I have heard these three steps all my life: “Deny yourself”, “Take up your cross”, and “Follow Me”. But the way Kay Warren unpacks these truths in chapter two shook the foundation beneath my weary feet and shined a vibrant light on the truth of what real “Surrender” looks like.

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

The Kingdom of Me - Pat

Wow! I can so identify with Kay Warren’s struggles in chapter 2. I loved how she taught about surrender and identified practical ways surrender looked in her life. “Voluntary surrender is the key…He only assumes the leadership of my life when I voluntarily yield to Him. Every other moment of surrender to Him grows from His initial invitation to join His kingdom.” (pg. 43) “Your ‘cross’ … an attitude of radical obedience to God in which you willingly accept any consequence for Jesus’ sake.” (pg. 46) Kay said that dying to self was not easy and took years of practice involving all the details of our life. This morning my daughter asked me to curl her hair. While curling it, I told her when she had free time she needed to practice curling her hair and she would get good at it. That goes with anything in life, even dying to self. The more we do it the better we get.

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 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.