The Two Big C’s – Cam and the Church

Leading up to the Super Bowl, there was talk among some people about a prophecy spoken over the Carolina Panthers. If you haven’t heard about this before, you can find more information here. In short, there is a prophecy that when the Panthers win the Super Bowl revival will break out. I don’t know how the two will weave together or any details, just simply that their win at the Super Bowl will be a demarcation in time that will separate the before and after in a way that is spiritually historical.

When the game started Sunday, I had a feeling that it just wasn’t going to happen for the Panthers. And part of it was because of Cam Newton. I had a sense that it would almost be a horrible thing for him if they won this year. How would he ever learn humility? One thing that really stuck out to me during the first few minutes of the game was Cam’s jersey number, number one. Now obviously this wasn’t the first time that I had seen his jersey number, I just previously had never paid much attention. But this time, as I watched I thought to myself, why do people expect humility from a guy who chose number 1 for his jersey?

Then yesterday, the day after the Super Bowl, I was watching a program ESPN did on Cam  on YouTube. Not sure when this originally aired but I was shocked, like eyes WIDE OPEN shocked, when I saw Cam’s high school footage and he was wearing the number 2 on his jersey. So I begin to think, okay…when did the switch to number 1 happen? The piece goes through his Florida State Days, his Junior College days and his Auburn days…all the number 2. So today I do some research on the internet and find that Cam wanted the number 2 but the player at the Panthers who had the number 2, Jimmy Claussen, wouldn’t give it up. The crazy thing is, a year later, the same player Claussen switched from the number he wouldn’t give to Cam, to a different number all on his own. Now tell me that isn’t strange!

What is my point with all this? My point is simple. Could it be that the Church is right where Cam Newton, jersey number 1, is at this point in time? Full of potential? Full of purpose? Poised for revival? Totally equipt to do the job set in front of them? Equipt in a way that is new and different and maybe never seen before? But being held back by one thing, the same thing. In the fourth chapter of James scripture teaches us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Could it be that the one thing that is holding back Cam, is the same thing that is holding back the church? Could it be that the Lord is holding back because he is waiting for a completely surrendered, completely submitted Church? Could pride be the resisting force in all of this?

I believe God is calling to his people and saying that it is time to take the ax to the root of those things that are holding us back. It’s time to acknowledge that if there is any area of our life where we don’t wake up and realize how desperately we need God, there is a self-seeking, sub-rebellious pride still alive and well functioning in that area of our lives. Maybe we see the need for God’s help in our marriage, or our health. But the areas where you feel you have got it together, where you know what you are doing. Could those areas be where pride is growing in the shadows?

I think that Cam, like the Church, needs to return to his roots. It’s time to pull that number 2 off the shelf. Who cares about the jersey’s that people have…hey – they’ll be worth more in the long run. What a testimony it would be, and what a heart change it would show, if he were to reach for that number 2…because after all, there is only ONE who is above all things.

 

cam newton

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What Do You See?

fall

I was riding down the road today, and something was bothering me. At first I couldn’t figure it out – but then I realized what it was. The trees still have all these fall colored leaves on them, and I feel like it’s Christmas. So I start talking to the trees and I say “Listen…I am going to need you to start LOOKING LIKE IT’S CHRISTMAS!” And suddenly, something drops in my spirit.

I hear the Spirit of the Lord ask me a question…”so you are going to let what you see determine what season you are in?”

Man. What a question. As I drove down the road, and the revelation of what was being said began to slowly unfurl itself in front of me – questions and truths started falling in my spirit the same way the leaves were falling from the trees.

How often do we let what we are seeing with our natural eye determine what we are believing? If the Lord speaks something to you – why do you let what your natural eye sees deter you from believing the promises of God in your life? If the Lord says it is December the 4th, then why let some orange and yellow leaves tell you something different? Even when the leaves are real? 

But isn’t this just what the enemy likes to do? Take our eyes and point them towards what we can see in the natural to distract us from what is taking place in the spirit? In the natural you absolutely can go up to the trees and touch, and smell, and even eat the leaves if you want. But does that change the fact that we are 21 days away from Christmas? No! Should that change your heart from being filled with the spirit of Christmas? The spirit of the season you are in? Of course not! Should you let what you are seeing effect how you are feeling? If your trust is in the Lord, then – NO!

So why not apply this truth to all the other areas of your life? Maybe in the natural that person you know the Lord wants to connect you with seems risky, but what about in the Spirit? Are you supposed to put your trust in people or God? Maybe in the natural it seems like someone has let you down…but are you looking at the leaves on the trees or are you asking the Lord to show you truth in a situation through your spiritual eyes?

The eyes we see with in our spirit have a much different perspective then what our natural eyes see, matter of fact, they see from heavenly places. Our natural eyes can fool us with what is in front of us, and because of the REALity of it – doubt and unbelief can easily take root in your spirit and soul. But the Lord beckons us to be a people who see and hear what the Spirit is saying to His bride. (Rev 2-3) You cannot be a person who walks by the spirit until you allow the Lord to shift your perspective into one that sees by the spirit.

Stop looking at the outward man. Stop evaluating people based on the checklist you have made that says they have it all together. Surrender to the eyes of the Lord and acknowledge that God has the right to use whoever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants and realize you will only be able to see this in the Spirit. Stop looking at what people are doing – what your husband, or wife, is doing, what your friend is doing  – and start asking the Lord to show you in the spirit who that person is…chances are the enemy has been using some leaves on their tree to distract you from the truth of who they are and who they should be to you. Or most importantly – who HE says they are.

All in all, the question seems to me, to be this – will you believe it when the Lord tells you what season you are in, or will you choose to look through natural eyes at the leaves falling all around you? Will you have eyes to see past the waving flags of the enemy, sent to distract you from what God is doing in your life, to deter you from your destiny, and will you choose to focus upon the promises of the Lord?

The Lord is speaking to us. He is saying “I am doing a new thing,” and asking us all, “will [we] perceive it?”

Well…God said it’s a new season…so, will you perceive it?

new thing

 

When You Can’t Contain What You’re Trying to Carry

I wonder how many times the tile of a bathroom floor has caught the tears of a mother? A mother who has stolen away from the world just long enough to let the hurts and hang ups of life escape out of her heart and soul and run down her cheeks,  caught by the tile floor. The tile that offers no comfort and is as cold as hearts that cause pain. A mother who steals away into the solitude of the bathroom because she wants to keep her kids from the knowing. The knowing of the gritty reality that life hurts. And sometimes in the midst of it all, grace is hard to see. Next to impossible to feel. A mother who wants to keep her babies far from the pain, so she locks herself far from her babies.

I wonder how many mothers have visited the deceptive warmth and solitude of this isolated sanctuary. This cold, hard place that can make hope seem like a memory and faith like a bad joke.

Maybe if we would come out of our pretend sanctuary and step into the sanctity of God’s grace, and trust Him enough to bear our souls with one another a little more – maybe we wouldn’t feel so alone. Maybe we wouldn’t have so many tears spill onto the solid surfaces of our lives – the cold tiles and the cold hearts.

Maybe.

Maybe if we realized that our trust never belonged in anyone but Him…

No matter the maybes, the one thing that is…

we may have felt alone, but we never were, never are. And every tear that slipped from the edge of our eyes, as proof that we could no longer hold what we were trying to contain – every. single. tear. was counted. And the end returns to the beginning in the eternal truth that we were never meant to carry the weight of the world.

And that’s why we can’t.  He has always known, and always been ready to exchange our yolk for His, our grace for His, our strength for His. The one question that seems to always remain – will we say yes? Will we put our hope in God? Will we make the decision to praise, while the tiles collect the tears?

“As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God? ” I remember this as I pour out my heart: how I walked with many, leading the festive procession to the house of God, with joyful and thankful shouts. Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me. The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night — a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God, my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression? ” My adversaries taunt me, as if crushing my bones, while all day long they say to me, “Where is your God? ” Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭42:1-11‬

Prone to Wander

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.

– Come Thou Fount 

Why are we so prone to wandering?  The apostle Paul summed it up when he said, basically, all I wanna do is right, but I find myself doing wrong. (Romans 7:19)

I’m so grateful for the character of our God. I’m so grateful that our wandering is matched by the love of a God who gave His son, knowing we would wander, knowing some would never find their way. I’m so grateful for Jesus. I’m so grateful for a God who, when my heart is far from Him, He is always willing to pursue me. I’m so grateful for this example of limitless, unconditional love. Love without expectations. Without conditions or limits. 

It’s so very much unlike the love we give one another. But deep inside, no matter how far I feel, this matchless love always awakens the little bud in my heart that is just waiting to grow…to grow into love like this….love like that…love that shed blood for me…died for me…Love that came for me…love that found me, even before I knew I was lost. 



 

Grandma Jean

Jean Louise Bennett had a beautiful spirit. She was a mighty servant of God. She led her family in all the ways that mattered. She led them to church. She showed them how to be a devoted spouse, even when it wasn’t always easy. She taught them to pray. Showed them how to love the unlovable. Taught them that all they needed was a  made up mind and the blood of Jesus. At 29 years old I am fortunate enough to not have many regrets. But among the few I do have, not getting to know Grandma Jean better is a big one. I regret not bringing my kids around to get to know her better. I regret not gleaming more of her wisdom. I regret not just sitting around and listening to her make others laugh. I regret not being around to taste her infamous pie – or any of the food she cooked for her family with so much love. Nobody went hungry when they were in Grandma’s house.

With all those regrets it is pretty obvious that my memories with Grandma Jean were limited – but there is one that I truly call myself blessed to experience. As it became apparent that she was making her way towards her eternal home we went to visit her at her house. Grandma’s house was physically small but like her, was large in spirit. When you sat in her living room, on her red sofa, you didn’t feel like you were in a small living room. Maybe it was the love in the house that made it always seem like there was enough room for everyone. As we all squished into the room she sat in her recliner dozing in and out of sleep. The television was playing in the background. As I sat across the room from her, quietly watching everyone around me a friend of hers from church came in. I was silently praying and could already feel the Holy Spirit in the air. Suddenly all the men and children went outside. It was as if God had taken his hand and ushered everyone except the women out of the house. Grandma sat in her recliner with her daughter, who was knitting a dish rag next to her – and her friend came over towards her to pray over her and anoint her with some oil. After she prayed over her – my husband’s Aunt started singing “Jesus kept me, another day, yes he did”. The Spirit was so thick in the room I don’t think an unbeliever would have been able to breath had they walked in. I looked around and myself and the other women in the room all had silent tears rolling down our faces. I think the tears were a mixture of a lot of things – pain, grief, the Spirit, joy. But mostly, I think the tears came from all of us knowing. Every woman in that room knew. We knew it was true – that Jesus had kept her another day and in doing so blessed us all with another day with her.

I don’t have many things I care about accomplishing in life. I don’t care about being a millionaire or climbing the corporate ladder. I don’t care about driving a fancy car or living in a huge house. At the end of my life, if my family loves me, respects me and feels about me the way we all felt about Grandma Jean, I will know my purpose on this earth was met. My life will have made a difference and I will be able to go home to meet my Father with the same peace I saw Grandma gracefully take with her on her journey to her eternal home.

The Web of the Spirit

Lately I have been feeling a thirst for the Psalms in my spirit. Maybe that is because they are so full of everything that encompasses this human experience – hope, joy, peace, hurt, heartache.

Often it seems that the Holy Spirit is the least understood and least utilized of the Trinity between believers. When you start talking about the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost people who are not “sold out” for Christ often get uncomfortable. That saddens me. If people only knew the depth and fullness that the Holy Ghost can bring to your life and your relationship with Christ….

In the James Cameron movie Avatar the “higher power” or diety is Eywa. She is made up of all living things. Her power runs throughout their land in an interconnected web made up of nuero trasnmitters. This is all centralized in the mother tree, a place where all the spokes of this web kind of come together. The Na’vi people have tails that they plug into this web and allows them to bring balance to things like wild horses or wild flying creatures and control those things. So where am I going with all of this? That is what the Holy Spirit is – it is an interconnected web that all leads toward the Father and the Son. In the web of life that is the Holy Spirit, I find time and time again that God will use the Spirit to start me on an assignment or give me revelation about something and throughout my day and week I will see that theme reinforced over and over and over. This brings me back to Pslams and David. Earlier this week I was looking for scriptures on identity and it took me to Pslams. And then I was looking for scripture on moods and it took me to Psalms. This morning my e-mail devotional (which I hardly ever read by the way) took me…guess where? – you got it – to Pslams. God is pointing me in the direction he needs me to go to find what it is I need right now. And I feel my soul thirsting for it. I have never read the book of Pslams. This has happened to me before – the Holy Ghost has taken me to the book of Acts and the book of 1 Corinthians. Did I ever finish these assignments? No. So what happens when you don’t follow through with the assignment that God lays on your heart? You miss a blessing. I don’t know what blessings I missed but I know I missed them. All because of my lack of follow through, my inability to be faithful when I don’t FEEL like it, my inability to be faithful when I don’t feel covered in the peace and joy of God. I have to get consistent. God has been ministering this to me for quite sometime.    And I have really got to listen. I am tired of missing out on blessings, on opportunities all because I can’t get consistent. I can’t be a finisher. The word says in Ecclesiastes that the end of a thing is better then the beginning. And I know this. But what have I ever finished?

I thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I thank God for the way it drops things throughout my day and week through it’s interconnected web. I thank God for the way the web of the Spirit connects those who are in the body with me – the way we all say the same things even when we say them differently. I thank God for the current that runs through the web of the Spirit. Always below the surface trying to bring forth God’s glory and His will through unity. I want to be a finisher. I want to be in unity with MYSELF and with other believers.

God showed me where to start – but will I find the tenacity to finish? That is today, and has always been, the real question.

Bits and Pieces from the Beginning

Today is one day along the journey of this walk I am on with the Lord. Before we can go any further I want to share with you my testimony – I pray that someone will read this and get something out of it.

When I was three I started going to an Episcopalian Pre-School that I attended until I was in 3rd grade. That is where the foundation for Christ began. I learned bible stories, chapel was part of our weekly routine. I learned songs of praise that have stuck in my head til this day (All creatures of our Lord and King, lift up their voices let us sing, hallelujah). My parents never really took me to church and though my mother would speak of God at times it wasn’t something our life seemed founded upon. In third grade I moved to public school. This is also the time when my parents separated for the first time. This left me incredibly lonely. Not only had my father, who I adored with my ENTIRE heart, moved out of the house but my brother who was 11 years older then I was suddenly was in a new relationship and almost never in the house. This same older brother gave me a Bible for my birthday that year and when I was lonely at night I would read my Bible and I began to pray to God. I said the same prayer every night and it is so entrenched in my mind that I found myself a couple of months ago mindlessly repeating it one night as I was trying to fight sleep while praying in my bed (Dear God please watch over Mommy and Daddy and Jimbo and Len and Ivory, [our dog] and all the rest of my family and keep them healthy and safe. Please forgive me for all my sins know and unknown to me…..). I also would lay there at night and talk to God. And I felt God comfort me – I felt his presence. He comforted me and wrapped his loving arms around me when I needed it the most. Then  my parents got back together, I was in public school and I pushed God to the back burner in lieu of friends and sports. Somewhere along the line I was involved with a youth group not because I was trying to have relationship with God but because they did cool things like go on ski trips and most of my friends at the time were a part of it. This youth group took us to a place called Windy Gap where we were able to come closer to God in an environment that was completely focused on Him. One night after praise and worship we were told to go to a quiet place. I went somewhere near the tennis courts, in the middle of these gorgeous mountains and laid on the ground, staring at the stars in the crystal clear sky and gave myself to God. Right there among the stars and the trees and cold, crisp mountain air I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. I remember the Christian artist who was at the retreat, I had his CD but have since lost it and I have wanted to find it but never have been able. However I remember the words to his songs – he said “and I just want to raise my hands up, and scream out loud, let the whole world hear my cry, for no other reason then the freedom I found in Christ”. I didn’t realize what that trip would mean for my life or the meaning those words would evolve into.
After that trip as I went through my years in high school I continued growing further and further from God. I ended up doing things I never thought I would have done and being around people I never would have before. I started believing the lie the devil wanted me to believe about who I was. He is cunning and the master of deception and he even knew how to use my own mother to plant this seed inside of me and keep it watered and growing. Deep down I believed I was a bad person, a liar, a manipulator – just a plain bad kid. After becoming a mother I quit focusing on this but the lie never moved far from the surface, ready to float to the top anytime I allowed myself to be alone with my thoughts, or to evaluate all the bad decisions I had made that resulted in the life I was living. I was in a depression that was so deep I couldn’t even see it. I had slowly started drifting and by the time I was able to get my head above water and take a look I couldn’t even see the shore. Before I knew it I was 23 years old with three kids, married to an alcoholic and drug addict. All my true friends had moved away and were busy with college and easing themselves into adulthood while I was trying to deal with raising three kids, while finishing raising myself, with essentially no help, no friends AND trying to keep an addict on track (which we all know is an impossible task). To top it all off – God was nowhere in the picture. I was even baptized and going to church with my mom – hoping it would rub off on my husband but meanwhile feeling pretty sure that it was a pointless endeavor because there wasn’t even a God in first place. Let me tell you – it is a crazy thing to stand in front of a church and let a Minister baptize you when you don’t even believe in God.
Fast forward two or three years later and I found myself giving out – literally. I couldn’t hold everything together anymore and was breaking down, physically, emotionally and especially mentally. I just felt like I couldn’t keep fighting against my husbands addiction. Chasing an addict around is  not only a fruitless thing but it WEARS YOU OUT and I was worn ALL the way out, not only from chasing an addict but from chasing three little children. Suddenly everything that every fiber of my being had been against I found myself succumbing too – and as I buckled under the pressure of living with an addict I found myself in the middle of an addiction. This is not something I share with people – but it is the truth and part of my testimony and sharing it here I hope will help me to share it where God needs it to be used. In a book I have, which is the basis for this blog, called Victory in Spiritual Warfare there is a line from the author where he says “The devil knows how to use exactly what he needs to take you places you thought you would never go,” and that rung so true with me because he did. He used the exact things he need to use, my inability to keep my house anything other then ABSOLUTELY FILTHY and my weight gain to make cocaine appealing to me – and one night, after my husband was telling me how I wasn’t even a woman because I couldn’t even clean a house….I went back in the bedroom where we had cocaine we had been selling (my bright idea to get us out of the desperate financial difficulties that most people with lots of children and essentially no education find themselves in) and I did it, my first few lines in our bathroom. Luckily for me my children mean enough to me that after the first two months I knew that wasn’t for me and did everything I had to overcome that. And I did. It took me over a year to do it and through that time I cried out to God over and over again and thought he had forsaken me. So it was back to SCREW YOU GOD, YOU DON’T EXIST ANYWAY.
Fast forward again to the tail end of my addiction and I found myself ready for a relationship. At that point I had been with my husband for over a decade and anyone who knows anything about addiction knows that it can be a very isolating, lonely existence, not only for the addict but for their spouse as well. And I was lonely – I had always been lonely. I realized it wasn’t that I couldn’t clean my house but that I had been so isolated, lonely and depressed that I was living in a fog so thick, I could barely move. And I was ready to break out of it – so I started working out. That gave me confidence and one thing led to another and long story short I ended up telling my husband I wanted to separate and finding myself in a relationship with a guy. I thought that he was really special and we were so in love but the truth is love was the furthest thing from what was going on. I needed a relationship with someone who was present and not lost to the fog of addiction and he fit the bill. Being with him was a chance to live in a fantasy world where I didn’t have to think about my addict husband, my kids without a dad, how to pay the bills, how to clean my house, how to survive. That was the blessing and curse all in one – I didn’t have to THINK. That relationship didn’t last very long but I wouldn’t take it back because God used it to bring me back to Him. I literally went up the road on a Saturday night up to no good and ended up in church Sunday. But not just any church, a REAL church where God is the center and there are certainly hypocrites but our leaders are for real. I could feel the Holy Spirit when I walked in the church – the same way I felt Him when I was lay in my bed praying as a little girl. And slowly, as I continued to go to church and God continued to grant me relationships that I so desperately needed with people who were HEALTHY and bringing me closer to God – I brought my head above water and was able to see the shore – and not just see it but realize that my world was no longer spinning and I was finally standing on solid ground.
So here I stand today, a year and a half after finding my way back to God and a lot of changed – but a lot still remains the same. My husband, my family, are still in the middle of one of the biggest fights of our life – his addiction. I have faith in God and I hope that he can overcome. But I am not sitting around waiting for anyone anymore – I have taken off my shoes, cleansed myself and prepared for battle. And the crazy thing is that even though I am in the biggest battle of my life – I am so full of joy. It is the oddest feeling to watch your world fall apart around you and still be OKAY. To see everything going to hell in a hand basket but still be okay BECAUSE “of the freedom I found in Christ.” And I just want to raise my hands up and scream out loud – let the whole world hear my cry, for no other reason then the freedom I found in Christ!