Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Praying for one more night!

Well, it is safe to say that Heaven's Gates / Hell's Flames has been a HUGE success!!! The sanctuary has been packed every night and over 50 people have made the choice to live for Christ each night! People we have been praying for for years have accepted Christ as their Savior. There are no words to express how exciting this is!
We have had an "Artic Blast" hit central Mississippi this morning and the roads are terrible. I took the interstate to work and it was a sheet of ice! Some may think nothing of this, but I have lived in the deep south all my life and have NEVER had to drive on actual ice except for the occasional iced bridge! Obviously not many other people have either because there were NUMEROUS trucks, SUVs and cars in the medians and crashed into the concrete barricades along the interstate. There were police officers everywhere helping stranded motorists and several ambulances and fire trucks passed me on my way. I have never been so glad to get off the road and into work!
Now, my prayer is that we will be able to present the HG/HF ministry one more time tonight. I'm praying that Calvin will agree to do it for whomever will attend and that the cast will have been so moved by the Holy Spirit these last few days that they will be willing to be there.
I'll let ya know tomorrow how it turns out!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Regaining my Focus

Last night and this morning I spent time looking back over different things God brought me through over the past several years and at all the battles He prompted me to share here. I was also made painfully aware of battles I fought, especially this past year, that I didn't exactly win and didn't write about. Maybe if I'd continued to write, I'd have been more victorious? Perhaps. I know that when I write, I seek God more consistently. When I put things in print, they are easier for me to look at objectively.
Maybe thinking about Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames has caused me to take a serious look at my spiritual life.  I don't doubt my salvation nor do I doubt my call to the ministry. I certainly don't doubt my call to care for Calvin as he leads our congregation. I don't doubt my influence on my children or my ability to nurture them in the Lord. BUT the last time we did HG/HF, I was made painfully aware of just how spiritually immature I was and I wonder, am I more mature now than I was then?
Last time we did the drama, Rick and Julie were our leaders. We became friends and spent a good amount of time together. To me, they are "Super Christians". They are steeped in God's Word. Their days revolve around their ministry. Every conversation, every activity, every choice, everything they do ties back to God and what God is doing in their lives or in the lives of people they know. 
After visiting with Julie one on one, I was painfully aware that I had a LONG way to go to be like her....and I wanted very much to be like her. Looking back over the past several years recorded here, I see how God grew me through circumstances that forced me to focus on Him, choose to follow Him, trust Him, etc. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I can see how God used the circumstances over the past several years to reveal Himself and His character to me. In the process, He matured me Spiritually.
Looking forward to HG/HF  and preparing my heart for revival made me stop and think...am I closer to God than I was when we did this last time? Am I more Spiritually mature?
I think I WAS maturing and moving closer and closer to God and following His will for my life.... and I chose to stop seeking God's hand in every detail of my day. A friend told me that I need to seek help for my "super spiritual, but unrealistic, view of life". It broke my heart and made me doubt everything I'd believed God had called me to do. I have second guessed everything I have done since that time. Each time I teach, sing in the choir, do anything for our congregation, and every time I start to tell someone how God is working, I hear her words in my head. Many times her voice stops me in my tracks.
Over the past several months, I have come to realize that I was wrong to allow her comment to derail my pursuit to be closer to God. Where I should have seen her comment as a tell-tell sign of her own spiritual walk, I used it as an excuse to stop focusing on God and His hand in my life and to start focusing on everything else... and I have been perfectly miserable since.
So, as I prepare for revival through HG/HF this weekend, I am committing to seek God with desperation. I want very much to be used again by Him. If those around me don't understand, then so be it. I can't let someone's opinion of me and my relationship with God stand in the way of Him growing me into a mature Christian woman who can be used by Him.
I didn't make a New Year's resolution this year, but now is as good a time as any.
 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34
I resolve to seek God's kingdom and His righteousness first and let everything else fall into place.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Heaven's Gates / Hell's Flames

We'll be doing Heaven's Gates / Hell's Flames at Pearson this weekend. This will be the first time we have done in it in several years.
I'm cautiously excited about it. I love having the opportunity to be part of this outreach again. The message is simple; One Day you will die and you will either go to heaven or hell. You choose now which it will be. The dramas force the audience to acknowledge that their time on earth is finite and that the possibility of spending eternity in Heaven or Hell is something that they must address. Doesn't get much simpler than that.
So, why am I cautiously excited? The whole HG/HF experience is an emotional roller coaster for the cast and support staff. We will spend 3 days preparing for the drama and 3 nights delivering the message. For many, it is the first time they will see God moving in a tangible way. For many it will be the first time they will experience Satan's openly blatant attack. For some, it is the first time they have been in an environment where they are totally dependent on God. Most have not had to memorize an entire dramatic scene, much less memorize it in 24 hours. Between the lack of sleep and the nerves of being on stage, we will all be very much dependent on God to deliver His message of redemption through us.
The last time we did this, we had a lot of divisiveness in our congregation afterward. Granted, it was several years ago and the "Contemporary" movement was in full swing. There was much made over the shift from a somber worship service to the lifting of hands and "rock and roll" music. I'm not sure if the arguments amongst our congregation were a result of the drama itself, or the passionate response from the cast of the drama. The weekend preparing for the drama gave the cast the courage and desire to worship in a more open manner. We were excited - very excited - about what God had done in our lives that weekend. We were very much on a spiritual "high".  This was new to most all of us and a very welcome change. One of our senior citizen ladies, then in her 70's accepted Christ that weekend. She said "I never knew that I was supposed to have a 'relationship' with Jesus'". This was a paradigm shift for most of us at the time....which seems odd now because this is the normal way of thinking now.
Anyway, we were very excited and did not take into account that there was an entire section of our congregation who was not involved in the drama, did not experience the awakening we did, and did not understand the sudden changes in our worship style. Looking back, I see that we were insensitive to their needs and feelings and, while I do believe that the changes that began then were ultimately best for our congregation, we could have been more gentle in the movement.
So, I am cautiously excited about this weekend. I have wonderful friends who will be participating in the drama for the first time and I expect their lives and their relationship with Christ to be radically changed. I know that God will deliver many in the audience from the bondage of sin and guilt with the promise of Salvation.  These things fill me with excitement to the point of giddiness! I am praying that the excitement and renewal born out of this revival will unite our congregation this time rather than divide it. I believe this will be the case. Our congregation is in a different place than we were before. I believe they are ready for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
 I'll let ya know how it goes! I covet your prayers!