Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When Holy Spirit Power is the Only Option

“If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”  John 14:14

Father, we can’t thank you enough for your faithfulness!  Our hearts sing your praises all day long.  Your love never fails and great it your faithfulness.  Thank you for answering our every prayer with, “yes, you get it!”  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The power went out.  There was no storm, no rain, and no wind.  We thought maybe a fuse was blown as the Deeper Still team bustled about preparing for the summer retreat the next day. Then a team member urgently informed us that a huge tree had just fallen a few feet from the driveway of where the retreat would be held.  This tree had taken down the power lines, which hung dangerously over the cul-de-sac blocking entrance to the driveway. 

A few of the team members went up to assess the damage and to determine if any recourse was needed.   After a brief assessment, only one determination could be made…the power must come back on.  The retreat was the next day.  It was 90 degrees outside.  There wasn’t time for a Plan B. The only option…the Holy Spirit. 

The electrical power had gone out, but the power of the Holy Spirit was very present and in abundance.  As a team, we decided to trust in His power even when we didn’t have natural power. 
In situations like this, there is always a choice.  Panic can easily set in and cause chaos.  It is difficult for panic and power to coexist.  If we choose to depend on the Holy Spirit, He will diffuse panic as we trust in His power. Thankfully that day, we chose Him. 

We gathered around in the warming living room and prayed and sang worship songs to our loving Father.  We lifted up our voices in praise and thanksgiving as we called on our God.  He is always faithful.  And He answered quickly. Within about 30 minutes of praying, there was a power company truck outside whacking away at the tree and restoring the power lines to their integrity.

The Lord went on to continue to amaze us all weekend with one glorious event to another.  One participant accepted Christ for the first time, two others rededicated their lives.  There were two baptisms, a first for Deeper Still!  The Lord amazed us and did above and beyond anything we could ask, think or imagine!  All ten ladies were set free and lives were transformed for His glory!  His power continually amazes me.  All glory goes to Him, the One with the only true power—We give You all praise, glory and honor Holy Spirit! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Now I Have a Secret to Keep

“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

Father, I pray for those coming to a retreat or those who need a retreat to discover the truth of living in the light.  Lord, help them to come and step into the light of Your presence knowing you are faithful to cover them in your grace and mercy.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I have now told all three of my children about my abortion.  At some point, I may write about those experiences.  But for now, I will say each of them received the news with showers of grace and love.  Last week is when I told the last of my children about my abortion.  While we were talking, he said, “Great (sarcastically), does this mean I now have a secret to keep?” 

Thankful he revealed this thought in his little heart, I immediately refuted his fear.

 “No, my son.  I don’t want you to have a secret to keep.  In fact, this isn’t a secret at all.  My mission is to tell my story so others can make a better choice than I made or find healing and hope if they had also had an abortion.  This isn’t a secret.   That being said, you probably don’t need to go tell all your friends right now about it, but if the Holy Spirit leads you to share it, I want you to know you have freedom to share.”

A sigh of relief came over him knowing he didn’t have a secret to keep.  In the words of Aunt Mae from the movie The Amazing Spiderman, “Secrets have a cost.  They are not for free.” 
Secrets are exhausting, draining and down-right depressing.  I would never want to burden my son with a secret. 

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to be burdened with secrets either.  He wants us to come to Him and share every little and big thing with Him.  And He wants to free us so we can have true fellowship with others unhindered by the fear of our secrets being discovered.  Living in the light of truth is a beautiful way to live—knowing we are forgiven and loved and cleansed by the blood of Jesus from all sin.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Deep Wound of Rape

“He reveals deep and hidden things, he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”  Dan 2:22

Father, I pray for those coming to the retreat this weekend and next weekend to allow you to reveal the deep and hidden things so that pain can turn into purpose and hurts can be surfaced for healing.  We know it is not your desire for us to remain numb to the pain lying dormant in the depths of our heart.  Bring those things that lie in darkness up to the surface where your light can shine and bring forth life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

In a car ride three years ago, the Lord began to surface a need for healing that had been buried deep within my heart.  Karen Ellison (founder of Deeper Still), Carla Martin, Kay Smith (team members) and I were traveling to Illinois to serve on the team for the first Deeper Still of Central Illinois retreat.  It was exciting to be on a road trip back to my home state.  The retreat was taking place between where I grew up and where I had gone to college.  It was also only about 30 miles from where my abortion took place.  I was overwhelmed with the Lord’s goodness in allowing me to be a part of this retreat in Illinois.

We also had a plan to stop at the abortion clinic in Champaign, IL where I had the abortion to pray over the land.  It was a good plan, but God had an even better plan.

Part of my story involves a rape on my college campus.  I don’t believe I have ever written about this part of my story, but felt the Lord wanted me to share part of this today.  On the way to help serve at the first retreat in Illinois in 2014, Karen asked me how the Lord had healed me of that rape experience.  I was like a deer in headlights.  I had only recently begun to acknowledge the rape and had never really sought healing for it.  I didn’t know what to say.  Karen suggested we find the fraternity house where it happened and pray there.

While on the college campus, we found fraternity row.  All the houses looked so similar and it had been 21 years since it happened.  Not remembering which house it was, we stopped on a corner with four fraternity houses surrounding us to pray.  I bowed my head but no words would come.  Then from somewhere deep within, sobs surfaced and turned into wails as I stood bent over with violent pain flowing from the depths of my soul.  This pain had been bound up, packed away, not given any air to breathe.  Now, it was opening, this wound covered in scar tissue, never allowed to heal.  It was rising to the surface.  I thought the pain might be too much.  This pain was more than I thought I could bear.  My friends surrounded me praying, like a canopy, protecting me and shielding me as the Healer did His surgery. 

The next few times I shared this part of my story, pain and tears continued to come as the Healer continued to heal this area of my heart.   However, after sharing this part of my story a few times, it became easier and easier.  Now I don’t feel the intense pain I once felt and I’m able to talk about it. 
This is how the Lord heals us.  First He reveals an area of our hearts that needs healing.  Then, he gently removes the scar tissue so the wound is exposed to the air for healing.  He breathes life to the areas once dead and numb.  This may cause temporary pain.  But the pain is only temporary while He does the surgery.  So many people avoid the surgery in fear of the pain being surfaced.  I am thankful I didn’t avoid facing the pain of my past that day in Illinois.  If I would have said, “I don’t need to go there and pray, really, I’m ok”, I would have missed the healing the Lord had for me and that pain would still be lying dormant in my heart festering.  And I surely wouldn’t be writing this today—I would still be paralyzed and numb, unable to share this part of my story. 

Rape is a real hurt.  It is a thief that steals more than can be physically counted.  But the Lord wants to restore what was stolen and mend the areas that are broken.  I no longer consider myself a victim, but rather victorious.  If this is part of your story as well, my heart hurts for you.  I pray that you too will allow the Lord access into those wounded areas so He can do the surgery required for healing.  Reach out to friends you trust who can stand around you during the healing process, praying for you.  If needed, see a counselor.  This is only my story of healing, but the Lord heals different people in different ways. I don’t know the process He will use, but I do know He is the good Healer and the Great Physician and He wants to heal you. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

加油 Add Oil

“’Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.’ Then he said to her ‘Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels, do not gather just a few.  And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels and set aside the full ones.’” 2 Kings 4:2b-4

Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit and anointing.  Lord, we recognize our need for you.  Father, we pray for our Chinese sisters who are having their first retreat next weekend.  Lord, will you add your oil (anointing) and pour out Your Spirit on them and those attending. Do above and beyond anything they could ask, think or imagine.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

One of my Chinese friends would say the phrase “Add Oil” often while ministering together.   This phrase intrigued me and I loved it!  After looking it up, I found the phrase was a common Chinese expression of encouragement.  The phrase in English would read, “jiā yóu”. 

After being with my friend Joy from China who said this, I was writing and frankly felt a bit rusty.  I was texting a friend asking her to pray since I “felt rusty” and without thinking said, “I think I need to add some oil,”  referring to feeling rusty.  Then I laughed out loud at what I just typed.  Add oil.  Yes!  I need to add oil! 

In ministry, we need the Holy Spirit.  Without His oil, we will be like a rusty hinge making only noise. 

We have to add His oil to everything we do.  We need His oil.  And we need to be full vessels in order to be able to pour out the oil inside of us to others. 

The lady in the passage mentioned above in 2 Kings 4 had nothing but a jar of oil.  She told the man of God, “I have nothing… but a jar of oil.” 
You may feel today like you have nothing.  You may feel ill-equipped and like you have nothing to offer.  But if you have the Holy Spirit inside of you as a believer, you have oil.  And the Lord wants you to use the oil you have to pour out into the vessels around you—and not just a few.  Add oil to others.  Encourage others.  You never have nothing to offer.  And if you need more oil yourself, ask the Lord and He will pour out His Spirit and fill you with more so that you can pour out into other vessels. It is the Lord’s desire to “add oil” to all His beloved.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dead Inside

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life.”  John 5:24

Father, there are two retreats coming up in the next month. Lord, we ask for you to breathe life into all that has been dead in the lives of those coming to these retreats.  We ask for all that was dead to come to life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

While on a visit to China with Deeper Still, I saw a woman wearing a yellow hoodie with two words written on the back in bold letters.  The words were, “Dead Inside.”  It immediately caught my attention and broke my heart.  What does that mean, “Dead Inside?” Why would somewhere wear something with such a label? 

Most of us would not wear a label declaring that we are dead inside.  But I wonder how many all around us, every day, are actually “dead inside.”  They may not wear the hoodie, but underneath their designer clothes and expensive makeup are hearts and bones crying for life. 

I have a friend who described her abortion-wound as feeling like she was one “walking dead.”  I know this is popular TV show (I have to admit, I haven’t seen it.), but no matter if you like the TV show or not, we all know that “walking dead” is no way to live.
The Holy Spirit wants us to experience new life.  The Holy Spirit is in the business of restoration and renewing. 

In Ezekiel 37: 11-14, we can read of the Lord’s restoration power:

“Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!... Behold, O my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.  I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it.” 

This is a promise from the Lord not only for the Israelites, but for all of God’s people.  He doesn’t want His people being like the walking dead.  He has come to bring us life and life more abundantly. 

If you are one feeling dry, without hope, and dead inside, today is a new day.  I have good news for you!  

Jesus wants to breathe His Spirit on you and bring you new life.  He wants to restore all that was taken and renew a right spirit within you—one that is life giving and full of beauty.  

He doesn’t want us walking around with the label “Dead Inside.”  Take off your hoodie and put on the garment of His salvation, His robe of righteousness that declares, “I am a new creation.  I am alive in Christ!”  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I Can't Forgive Myself

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:1-2

Father, we give you thanks that because of the paid blood of Jesus Christ, we can live free.  We thank you that not only do you forgive us of all our sins but that because of Jesus we are not only able to forgive others but also ourselves.  There is no condemnation to those who are in you.  We give you praise and glory in Jesus’ Name.  Amen. 

The other night my ten-year-old daughter and I were having a devotional time as we do before bed each night.  The devotional was on forgiveness.  She said something I didn’t expect her to say.  She confessed that she believes God forgives her of her sin but that sometimes she has a hard time forgiving herself.  She confided that even after asking God to forgive her, she often will beat herself up over and over again after she has made a mistake and sinned.
I have to admit, I have been guilty of that as well at times.  However, I do not believe it pleases the Lord in any way when we refuse to forgive ourselves of the sins Jesus suffered and died on the cross to forgive and cleanse.  In fact, it grieves Him. 

Another Deeper Still Team member, Carla Martin, said the Lord revealed to her one day that she was often living like His Word said, “There is now ‘not nearly so much’ condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  However, the Lord pointed out to Carla that is not what He said.  He said there is “no” condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  No.  Not any. None.

The Lord has clearly said that if we do not forgive others, He cannot forgive us. (Matt 6:15, Matt 6:14)  What about ourselves?  Does it apply to us?  

Jesus paid a dear price.  Is it not selfish of us and even prideful to not receive the gift that cost Him His life?  He willingly and lovingly paid it.  It is a gift for us to receive.  This is how I explained this to my daughter. 
What if I had a gift I wanted to give her.  This gift had cost me greatly and I had gone to much trouble to get it for her, because I loved her.   I was very excited about her having this gift.  My love for her is the reason I put forth all the effort to purchase this gift for her.   But what if when I went to give it to her, she expressed she didn’t deserve such a gift and refused to take it? Or just took part of it, but not the whole gift.  How would that make me feel?  Would I be happy she didn’t feel she deserved such a gift or sad that my daughter refused to accept the gift I desperately wanted to give her?

I hear often of women who have had abortions and the men who father those children saying that they believe God has forgiven them but they cannot forgive themselves.   These women and men do not feel worthy of forgiveness.  They do not feel they deserve the gift the Lord wants to give them.  I understand.  I use to feel that way and sometimes I know I don’t receive forgiveness as quickly as the Lord would like me to receive it. 

If you are someone who has had an abortion or has trouble forgiving yourself for other sins, this is not to condemn you.  Lord have mercy.  Not in anyway.  That would be the exact opposite of the reason for this post.  What I do hope is that you will give yourself permission to forgive yourself.  And if you are not sure how to do that, to ask the Lord to help you forgive yourself.  He wants you to receive ALL He has for you.  He wants you to receive the full gift He has for you!  He is beyond excited to give it to you!  For those of you who struggle with this, I would love to pray for you personally.  I will post a prayer below but if you leave a comment, I will also pray for you specifically in a reply. 

God loves you so much and it is His desire for all of us to live in the fullness of Him and without any condemnation, completely free of guilt or shame.  You are forgiven.  You are His. 

Father, I pray for those reading today who have had a hard time forgiving themselves.  They believe You have forgiven them, but do not feel that they can forgive themselves.  Father, I pray they would receive the fullness of the gift you have for them today.  Help them live fully free in You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Please Talk About This

“Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.”  Jude 1:2

Father in Heaven, Lord, we ask for You to multiply the mercy, peace and love of Deeper Still.  We ask for you to expand Deeper Still.  We ask for You to multiply healing of those wounded from abortion to across the nation and the world.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sobs interrupted by gasps of air filled the car. 

We had just left a fundraising event for a local crisis pregnancy center.  The guest speaker was Pam Tebow.  The crowd listened intently as she shared her powerful testimony.  The doctors had encouraged her to abort her son due to health reasons.  She chose life.  As a result, Tim Tebow was born.  Tim Tebow is the famous football player once known for writing scripture under his eyes and his bold kneel for Christ. 

I left the event broken and desperate.  Sobbing all the way home in the car, I thought about the girl I had aborted that never had a chance to breathe her first breath of air.  That night I wondered the “what ifs” and the “what ifs” broke me. 

God had been leading me on a journey of healing my abortion wounded heart for the past 20 years and I have to admit, up until that night I thought I was fine.  I didn’t see the need to go any deeper.  I thought, “I’m good right where I am.”

However, that night my heart whispered more.  God spoke to me during the event and said, “It is time.  It is time to go deeper.”

Three weeks after that event, He led me to the Deeper Still ministry through a friend and I attended the Deeper Still Ministry training two months later.  God led me deeper and drastically changed my life.

A friend recently told me she was hesitant to share her abortion story at her Bible study group because she was concerned there were women there who were post-abortive and that it may cause them pain to hear the topic of abortion.  Our churches remain silent on the issue of abortion for many reasons, but I believe this is also one of the reasons pastors tend to shrink back from this topic.

Can I just say something about this reason for not talking about abortion?  We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when sharing about any topic, but perhaps hushing is hindering the Holy Spirit from doing a much needed work in people who need to hear the hard stuff.  God uses the hard to stir up in us a discontentment for the status quo and open our eyes to our need for Him to heal.  It is easy to ignore the pain when it has been numbed and dormant.

For true healing to occur, a person has to realize their need for a Doctor.  The pain surfacing awakens our need.  Then as Christine Caine has said, "We must embrace the pain of recovery."

In any surgery, there is pain involved.  We can ignore the issues and pretend they aren't there and deceive ourselves into believing they will just go away or we can let the Surgeon do His surgery and embrace the pain of recovery.  After the surgery and recovery are over, we can be healthy and whole!  But, we have to know we need surgery and be willing to undergo the hard in order to be healed.

When churches, pastors and leaders decide to not talk about abortion because it might "upset someone" or because "It is a sensative issue", they are denying that there is an infection in the body of Christ.  If Pam Tebow wouldn't have talked about abortion that night, I wouldn't have seen my need for deeper healing.  It is only when we are faced with our pain, that we realize how much we need the Surgeon.

The pain of recovery is temporal.  The pain of denial is infinite.

If you are a church pastor or leader, please talk about this issue.  Please let your people know there is healing and freedom.  In doing so, you are multiplying the healing of His wounded.  God is a God of mercy, peace and love.
God is multiplying His mercy, peace and love.  Thank you for joining us in prayer as He multiplies His Kingdom.