Thursday, December 18, 2014

HIS Passionate Commitment

I don’t know where you are as you begin to read this…whether you are at your office in the midst of distractions and noise, or in the quiet of your home… or not so quiet home, in line waiting for something or traveling in your car, but, wherever you are and however your state of being is, this is my prayer – that before you read through this, you first intentionally tune out this busy world and silence yourself to allow God’s Words to fill your being and move your soul.

Because this is the gift He brings to us…remember why we Celebrate and Rejoice!!

And… my dear brothers and sisters…those of you that are in the darkness right now, these words are for you, as I earnestly pray that you will cling to this hope and know His passionate commitment to you.

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.

For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.

You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned.  They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.

 And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.

The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah 9:1-7

Father, I pray we will know you as our Counselor, may we cling to your strong arm as you guide us.  You are our Mighty God, and your arms which hold us are full of strength. You hold us dear as your sons and daughters for You are our Everlasting Father, may we grasp your unconditional love for us, and may we rest in Your protection as You are the Prince of Peace.  As this world is full of darkness, may we know Your light, and understand how passionate You are to rescue us from the darkness.  Thank You, we love You, Jesus,


- Sue Parrott

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gift of the Cross

Recently I was re-arranging a room in our church that we had a cross leaning upright in a corner.  Nailed onto the cross was a large variety of cards in which people had written down things they wanted to ask forgiveness for, and then pounded the card onto the cross.

I began to carefully pull the cards off and lay them on the ground; not thinking too much about the task at first as my mind wandered to Christmas and how I was going to decorate this room for the season.  My mind continued to focus on thoughts of the gifts I had yet to purchase, and the various plans I needed to complete for the holiday season.

I paused at my task, as my mind wandered. Slowly I blinked and my eyes refocused on what I was doing.  Glancing down, in my hand was a card that said, “Forgive me for being angry at my wife.”  I then looked down before me and saw all of the cards scattered at the foot of this cross.  Each one representing a broken person asking God to forgive them for all kinds of things. I reverently continued to take down these cards one by one, as silent tears slipped down my cheeks; I placed them at the foot of the cross. Overwhelmed with the understanding that this…, this is His gift.  This is Christmas.  He gave Himself, his birth, his life and his death for forgiveness to the broken.  Forgiven and restored so we can be in relationship with Him.

 And as we celebrate Christmas, how can we truly reflect what His gift means to us?

Celebrate! And share joy with others!  The giving of ourselves, our joy to others that are broken.   Sharing this gift Jesus has given to us is the best gift we can give, better than any gift we place at the foot of a tree.  This gift we receive at the foot of the cross.

"He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed."  I Peter 2:24

- Sue Parrott

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Measuring Stick

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 NIV)
One Christmas when our children were very young, their artisan granddad surprised our family with a six-sided, solid oak, measuring stick. One side serves as a seven-foot ruler while the remaining sides are dedicated to recording the growth of our five kids. Every year at Christmastime we take that stick from its resting place, and with all kinds of anticipation, the kids gather ‘round to see how they’ll measure up against the previous year’s mark. It’s usually an uproarious occasion because, more times than not, our kids are shocked and delighted by their growth.
 As we near the end of this year, and if we could hold a measuring stick up to the full height of our spiritual selves, like a child at Christmas, would we laugh with surprise at our growth? If we were able to hold a mirror up to our inner man, might we gasp in wonder to detect a tiny resemblance of the Savior?
When we spend time in the presence of the Lord, we are changed. We don’t know how it is, but it is!  Just lately, like me, have you begun to notice a deeper, heart-felt compassion for those you are interceding for?  As you’re led to confession, does your sin seem more offensive and God’s grace greater?  Are you quicker to turn complaint to praise and fear to trust?  Has a quiet, intimate, listening to The Word become an exercise you can’t imagine living without?
Jennifer Dean in her book, Live a Praying Life, puts it this way: “Through the ongoing discipline of prayer, we are brought into direct and intimate contact with the Father’s heart. As we continually behold His glory, we are changed into His image. Miraculously, our lives begin to reflect Him; our desires begin to mirror His desires. As He has constant access to us, He aligns our vision, recreates our desires, reproduces His heart.”
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the growth You are bringing about within us. Spending time with You is such a joy. Just being with You, listening, abiding in Your presence, has changed us.  We don’t know how that is, but it is! We know it’s true. Thank You for the invisible work You are doing within us, Your church.  Please continue the job until it’s complete so that we might be used for Your glory alone.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

- Dianna Lanser

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Power in Prayerful Praise

I’ve noticed about myself as of late, that my eyes have been looking at the trials or the negative things around me and it is overwhelming me.  The result is not a pretty sight within my soul.  Thankfully, God being the loving Father that He is, sends me gentle reminders to look to His Word for answers.  Here is a powerful story in the Old Testament that speaks to my soul and re-aligns my eyes back on Him.

In II Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites are faced with an overwhelming army that is ready to destroy them.  Jehoshaphat is notified and calls for a fast and then assembles all the Israelites.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard  and said:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven?  

You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. 

 Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.

 Our God, will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Power and might are in your hand….we have no power, we do not know what to do.  His prayer starts with praise acknowledging God’s powerfulness, and then humble recognition that we do not have power and do not know what to do.   How freeing is that?!  To remember who has the power and to simply and humbly let go of the need to know what to do!
Jehoshaphat hears a word from the Lord and he says…

 ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them…. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

After he says this they all begin to worship and praise God.  They did not have the answer of HOW God was going to do this, and they did not wait for God to DO this.  They simply began to praise Him.

The next day they head out in a most extraordinary way.  They lead their army with a choir singing praise. 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”    

As they marched forward in worshipful prayer, God moved in response to their obedience and destroyed the army before they even stepped foot on the battleground. 

With joyful hearts they returned to their city and entered the temple, singing and praising God for His faithful rescue. 

They faced their trial with prayerful praise, they entered into their trial with trusting praise, and ended with celebrating praise. 

So yet again, with a thankful heart, I put my headphones on, crank up the music, and sing His praise,… remembering who has the power.

Hands open, palms up,
A visual of the unseen.
Letting go of my way.

Arms raise to You,
Act of giving –
Giving of self, of life, of needs and wants.

Head bows.
Accepting in pure humility,
Helplessness of self.

Face smiles
As praises pour from lips,
Cannot be contained.

Heart accelerates;
This mystery of dying to self,
Brings joy.

Hands close in fists
Clinging to Your strength and power,
Which is to be revealed.

Not for self,
But for self and life, needs and wants
To shout – Look At God! Look What He Can Do!

Father, You are all Powerful, to You be the Glory.  Thank you that I don’t have to face these trials on my own power.  Thank you that I don’t have to have all the answers.  Thank you that I can trust you as I continue my journey, one prayerful step at a time.  My heart sings your praise.
In Jesus Name, Amen

- Sue Parrott

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Last Place First

There’s a story in Luke 2.41-49 that I’m sure we’re all familiar with.  Jesus is twelve years old and has traveled with his parents to Jerusalem.  They are on their way home when Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus isn’t with them. 
If you’re wondering how this could happen – let me tell you it’s easy when you have numerous kids, bunches of relatives and multiple caravans.  It’s easy to think they are with someone else, only to find they’re not.  Unfortunately, this is the voice of experience.
When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.  Luke 2.45-46 (NIV)
When his parents saw, him they were astonished.  His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked.  “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Luke 2:48-50 (NIV)
I’ve always struggled with this passage of Scripture because it sounds like Jesus is scolding his parents.  At first glance it seems that he might just possibly be a bit disrespectful.  But after reading this again, I saw something in there that I’d never noticed before.
It says that his parents returned to Jerusalem and then it took them three more days before they found him!  I always thought that it took them three days to get back to Jerusalem.  They had searched in Jerusalem for three interminable days before it dawned on them to look in the temple.
Mary and Joseph had seen the angels, the shepherds and the wise men.  They’d experienced the virgin birth of their son but in the twelve years since all of that had happened they had forgotten who their Son really was and they went last to the place they should’ve gone first!  No wonder Jesus said what he did.
I couldn’t help but wonder, as I read this, if I do the same thing?
I have a problem . . . What’s the first thing I do?  I get on the phone and talk to a friend.  I try to fix it on my own and only after I’ve exhausted all my other resources do I finally bring it to the ONE I should have gone to FIRST.  Why is prayer always my last resort instead of my first inclination?  Could it be that I’ve lost sight of who He is and what He has done in my life in the past?  Could it be that I don’t really KNOW who He is?
I’m building a habit of going to God first, spending time with Him daily and seeking His face continuously but unless I continue to reinforce it, I will easily slip back into old behaviors and patterns.
Let me ask you?  Is He the LAST place you turn to when you can’t solve things on your own or the FIRST place you run to in the good and the bad?
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  (Matthew 6:33 MSG)
Lord, give us eyes to see You.  Faith to seek You first.  Courage to do what You are calling us to do.  May You always be the first place we run.  Instill within us a heart that doesn’t turn away from You no matter how difficult the road may be.  Teach us to steadily follow Your path, no matter what the cost.  Amen.

- Kristi Huseby

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nature of God

Lately, I’ve found myself reflecting on the nature of God – particularly His gracious character. I think of a perfect and holy God who has provided a way for imperfect, selfish and sinful people to be in relationship with Him.  We serve a God who actually delights in a close relationship with us! That’s too much for my ungracious mind to comprehend, but every so often I get a glimpse of this truth, which enhances my love and awe for God.
Allow me to share with you an illustration that helps me understand God’s gracious character. In his book, Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell tells how, as a child, he found a piece of rotted log which he thought looked like a horse head. He took it home, pounded nails into it and proudly presented it to his father as a tie rack. His father remarked how wonderful it was, propped the piece of rotted wood against the closet wall and used it as a tie rack for years. Chapel then writes,
“In my childish mind this creation was a work of art ready for the Metropolitan Museum. But as I matured, I realized my work was not nearly as good as I had once thought. In fact, I understood ultimately that my father had received and used my gift not because of its goodness but out of his goodness. In a similar way our heavenly Father receives our gifts, not so much because they deserve his love, but because he is love.”
I read this years ago, but I still stand in awe of God’s gracious character every time I recall it. God is perfect , yet He receives the imperfect gifts I bring to him. As I seek to hear God’s voice and do His will, it brings me great comfort to know that we serve a God who is gracious to receive me and instruct me in his love – not because I am good, but because He is good.
Father, You are a gracious God! You are perfect, yet You delight in being in relationship with me – I don’t understand it, but I’m grateful for it. Fill me with the knowledge of your grace -- fill me up and let Your grace spill out of me to others. Thank you for your goodness. In the name of Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, I come to You. Amen.

- CJ Ganzevoort

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


What we value in life is reflected by how we live each day.  

It’s not by what we say we value, let’s be honest, it’s by how we live – what we spend our moments in life doing day in and day out.

I love this phrase by Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love - If one person “wastes” away his day by spending time connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one? 

Our culture even in our Christian circles is so “busy”. I know that at times I feel so busy I feel as if I am in a sleepy fog.  Someone may ask me how was my weekend, and it was so full of things it can sometimes feel like trying to remember a dream.  I find myself telling people how busy I am, and it’s “busy” doing good things.  And I often hear others talk about how busy they are as well.  And we all understand it because that’s just the way things are…but should it be?

Do you think that really is what the Deceiver wants for us? To just go with what we see around us, what we feel, what we perceive is normal for our culture.  Day by day to just be living, but not really to be ALIVE, not being able to DO what we are really here to DO.  Not to move where God desires us to move, not to act on the things HE desires us to act upon, not to love intentionally those God calls us to love, and all because we have filled our lives with “good things”. 

How do we know we are doing what HE desires of us without first communing with our Father to ask of Him to guide our daily moments?

The Deceiver’s greatest scheme is not for us to commit some great sin, but perhaps to have us waste time.  Really…what are you doing with your moments, your time, your one life?

Mark 4:18, 19 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word making it unfruitful.

 Is your body awake and your mind busy, but your soul asleep? 

Awaken my dear brothers and sisters!
Our Father is calling us out of our slumber.
His love is bursting forth as the brilliant light of the sun dawning.
Rising in gloriousness, silently urging our attention.
Turn your heads towards Him, Let your faces be warmed by His touch.

 Sit up!  Do not lay down any longer in your bed of complacentness.
Throw back the weighted blanket of your own making,
Filled with camouflaged materialism, and misguided comfort.
Do you not feel your body getting stiff from inactivity?
Your mind turning to lethargic apathy?

Look!  Look outside, the trees are dancing, colors are colliding.
Listen!  His whisper is heard in the gentle wind, “Wake Up, My Dear One!”
Come!  Come alive, come play and worship with sweet abandon,
We were made for this day, Now!  Not later.
Live in His kingdom, right now.  Awaken your soul.

  Luke 22:46  Why are you sleeping? He asked them.  “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

 Father,  It is amazing that You desire time with us!  You designed us to need You and created each of us for a special purpose.  Forgive us for getting caught up in the things of this world, and allowing our culture to mold our time wasting habits, filling our lives with the things we think You desire for us to be doing without quietly listening to You, spending time hearing Your voice telling us how You love us, and designed us for a unique purpose for Your kingdom.  Wake us up Lord, so we won’t be doing our good things, but so that through us You will do great things.  May we use our moments for You, to You be the glory! 
Jesus, Our Savior

- Sue Parrott

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Cross Story

It was a busy Tuesday morning and I almost forgot that I promised a friend that I would go pray with her dad that day. Russ’ health was fading fast as complications from a long journey with Parkinson’s was coming to end.  I jumped into my truck and headed to the home of this dying man.  As I sped through the church drive, a sobering thought hit me. “I’m rushing through my day to go pray over a dying man.  I have spent no time in thought or prayer preparing my heart to enter this sacred moment in a man’s life.”  I stopped the truck and confessed my lack of attention for this man’s situation.  I asked God to slow my heart, my mind and pace.  I prayed, “God, I don’t want to wing it!  I need your grace. I need your Word.” 
As I pulled into the driveway, an idea came to mind. “I need to bring this man a cross!”  I backed out the drive and retraced my route back to my computer bag I had left at my office.  I carry a couple handmade wooden crosses in my bag that were specifically designed for situations just like this.  Let me explain.
I have a dear friend. His name is Trent and he’s a man in his late 70s. Over the years, God has called him and his wife into a unique prayer ministry.  It’s a prayer ministry for people they will probably never meet this side of heaven.  Trent has a work shop in his garage and here he cuts, sands, stains and polishes crosses.  These crosses are specifically cut to have soft, rounded edges and they are all the perfect size to gently and comfortably fit into someone’s hand.  A small, simple and detachable card is placed with the cross reminding the recipient of some of Jesus’ comforting words.  It also informs the receiver that the extensive sanding and polishing of each cross provides Trent and his wife the time to pray for those who give these crosses and for those who receive them.  When I first met Trent, he brought me a box filled with these crosses. He offered them for me to give away to anyone that God leads me to pray with.
I entered the home of this dying man with cross in hand.  I was greeted warmly by his wife and daughter as they showed me to his room.  Russ was struggling, every breath labored.  His time to leave this life was getting close.  I showed his wife the cross and explained to her what it was and who provided it.  She took the cross and placed it in his contracted, tension-filled hand.  You could see him squeeze the cross and though he couldn’t speak, it seemed he liked the cross in his hand.   I prayed over Russ and his family.  We cried some and chatted about the hope we as believers have in the middle of the most difficult times in life.  His wife commented on how good it was to be a Christian on days like these. 
That night, Russ’ daughter called to inform me that her dad had just passed.   She said, “Phil, you need to know that he clung to that cross until his dying breath.”  As I put down my phone, my mind went back to those hurried moments, rushing through my day and through a church parking lot to go wing a prayer for a dying man.  I became very grateful for a God who not only loves me but also this precious family enough to slow me down before he put me into a very sacred moment.  I became very grateful forTrent who prays in faith for people he’ll never meet.  But most importantly, I renewed my gratitude for the power of the cross, not just that little handmade cross in Russ’s hand but the Cross that Jesus willingly wore so that we could have life, so that we could have hope. 
- Phil Niekerk

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No More Words

Have you ever had a burden on your heart for something that just won’t go away?  You pray, yet month after month, or year after year things remain the same.  Something that can cause deep pain or sorrow, and you don’t understand why God does not answer your plea for change.

I think of the story of Hannah in I Samuel 1.  Year after year she felt the emptiness of her womb, and was tormented by her husband’s other wife for the fact she had no children.  It says “the Lord had closed her womb…” God did that.  Why? Why would He allow this woman to suffer this?

 But God was using the pain in her circumstances to align her prayers and passion with His desire and passion. 

It says is I Sam. 3:1  ... “ In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.”

The priest’s sons were wicked and it was a dark time for Israel.  God desired a man-child to raise up as a prophet to be His voice for all of Israel. 

God orchestrated the events in Hannah’s life to bring her to where she was, spiritually, mentally and physically, and in her anguish she pours out her heart in obvious deep pain.  We read in I Sam. 3:10-14

 ”In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.

And she made a vow saying, “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life… As she kept on praying to the Lord…Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk.”

And God heard her prayer and granted her a son whom she brought to Eli to raise as a prophet.  And think about it, if Hannah had plenty of children, she would not have had the passion to pray as she did.  If it wasn’t such a deep pain she wouldn’t have been praying so passionately until she had no more words utter from her lips.  Eli would not have noticed her if she simply stood there and prayed a simple prayer.  It took the deep pain to bring out this passionate prayer.  The desire of her heart answered and God’s plan was set in motion for the nation of Israel.

And look at your own life.  What are you passionate about?  Often something we are passionate about is caused by an experience in our life.  God is orchestrating in your life as well.  He uses the good and the bad to gently guide you, to place a burden on your heart that coincides with the very burden God has on His own heart.  We pray “may we be in tune with Thee.”  Yes, that is what He is doing, using both our joy and our sorrow.  He is doing that within each of us individually as well as collectively as His body of believers.

Seek Him, rest in Him, allow Him to gently guide your heart to be in tune with His heart.  It’s a beautiful mystery how He uses our prayers to allow His will and might to be poured out from the heavens to this world.  He uses our prayers of joy when we praise Him from our lips, and He uses our prayers of suffering that are empty of words.  God can use our dark times just as much if not more than our light to change the world.

 No More Words
No more words, No more feelings, just being…
Sounds are muffled, light is dim, mouth is dry,
Eyes blur from hot liquid crystal, vision distorted.

There is pain…,
Pain in each breath, pain in throat, pain behind the eyes,
The eyes ~ window to the soul…
There is pain in the soul.

 Head turns upwards,
Eyes close and slowly re-open.
Blue sky, swaying green leaves.
Lips whisper, “…God…”, the sound is an inaudible croak.

  This plea, that comes from deep inside.
Then the sobs come, body writhing,
Trying to relieve soul of pain…
When body is spent, quiet returns.

 And the quiet is not empty.
There is a gentle Presence in the silence.
And with no words, and with no feelings, body and soul are just being…
In His presence.

It is amazing to us how You desire to use us to pour out Your glory.  Mold us, Lord.  Align our hearts and our prayers with Your will.  May we be willing to allow You to use ALL circumstances in our lives to tune our hearts to You, give us the passion You desire to burn within each of us.  Help us to say from deep within our souls, Lord, not my will, not my comfort, not for me, but Thy will be done.
In Jesus Name (our true example)

- Sue Parrott

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thinking about Giving Up?

During a season in which I joined a 40 days of prayer which focuses on seeking God and waiting on Him, I had also been fasting. I knew when God called me to take this extra step that it wasn’t going to be easy.  Food has long been a stronghold in my life and I knew God wanted to strip away all that might hold me captive.

I had expectations of what my prayer and fasting would be like. I thought there would be a heightened sense of God’s presence and somehow He would be more tangible, more real.  I thought I would see Him around every corner, in the hidden places and in the light.

But to be honest, God had remained silent. I had not heard His voice, had not experienced any great miracles (except that I remained faithful in my fasting, which knowing my proclivity to food is actually quite miraculous).   I received no clear direction as to what He wanted me to do or where He wanted me to go. In fact, the road had been littered with tragedy. The problems had seemed bigger and my God seemed quieter.

It had been so easy for me to find an excuse to call it quits and throw in the towel.

But Noah kept building the ark when there wasn’t any rain. The Israelites continued to circle Jericho even though nothing had happened. Paul kept preaching The Way even though it meant imprisonment. Daniel kept praying even though he was destined for the lion’s den. Nehemiah pressed on building the wall even in the face of much opposition.

So why should I give up?

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40.1 (NLT)

What if Noah had given up building the ark? What if the Israelites had only circled Jericho six times? What if Paul had let fear keep him from preaching the truth? What if Daniel had given in to peer pressure? What if Nehemiah had turned tail and run back home?

They would’ve missed out! And their faith? Would’ve been small.

Instead they were able to witness the mighty power of God. And their faith? It was SUPERSIZED!

What about you?  Are you tempted to give up or give in? Are you wondering if God is really there? Is He listening to your heart cry? Does He really care about little insignificant you?

Are you tired of waiting?  Tired of being still?

Don’t give up. Don’t Give in. Keep pressing on. Keep praying through.

Cling to His promises.  Let God grow your faith. If you throw in the towel now, you might just miss seeing His great power at work in your life or in the life of someone you love!

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Psalm 40.2-3 (NLT)

Lord, I am weak, feeble minded, poor in spirit. I want to quit. Give up. Walk away. But You call me to trust even when I cannot see. So I refuse to give up. Strengthen my resolve. Give me hope. Grow my faith. I look to You. Don’t let the Devil get even an inch.  You are my God and I praise You. Amen.

- Kristi Huseby

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Waiting is Hard Work

I want to briefly dissect a really radical example of a posture of waiting on the Lord.  This is going to be a little intense, so hang on…

From Daniel chapter 10.

Daniel had a vision concerning future events and began to cry out to God with fasting & mourning, many believe because of the lack of interest by the people of Israel to return to their homeland from their captivity in Babylon to rebuild the temple.  He prayed, and did not hear anything from God as he fasted and cried out….for 3 weeks!  21 days.  Remember that.

After 3 weeks of waiting, the Bible records that on April 23, while still in prayer, Daniel had another
In this vision Daniel saw an awesome man, an angel, and he was terrified, in fact, he says “My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak”.  When the man began to speak, Daniel fainted and lay face down on the ground.  Then look what happened…

“Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.”  God wanted Daniel to simply listen.

Then this!

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”

This should blow your mind!  Daniel begins to pray and wait on the Lord with fasting and mourning, he hears nothing for 3 weeks, then an angel sent from God shows up and says that he responded immediately to Daniels prayer the moment he began to humbly ask for understanding, but he was blocked by a demon prince who desperately did not want Daniels prayers answered!

Observe Daniel’s continued posture before the angel sent from God.

“How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”
As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

Now he’s ready to hear what the Lord has to say!  Are we ready yet?  Tired of waiting?

We do not know what is happening around us in the spiritual realm as we begin to humbly ask God for his direction and our understanding.  The reason we wait, is because we trust God.  He knows what is happening in that realm.  His work is being accomplished in that realm.  The key to our success in becoming spiritually mature lies in the complete and humble reliance upon the Spirit of God within us and among us, working diligently on behalf of “those who are very precious to God”.  Do you want to be one of “those”?  I do.  Desperately.  So much so that even the angels are amazed by the intensity of God’s passion for Doug Bishop.  Wow.  There is a realm of intimacy and power in our humble seeking and waiting together in prayer, that I believe is going to ignite a fervor among us the likes of which we have never experienced in our lifetimes.  There will be resistance.  It’s happening in the spiritual realm as we pray.  Are we willing to watch and pray?  Are you so desperate for God’s Kingdom to be established in the earth that you plead with him for understanding of his plan for you and for the church?

I want to challenge you on this.  Waiting is hard work.  We’re not waiting in a bored, eye-rolling, deep sighing, inactive manner like some new-age yoga class.  If that’s what you’re doing, stop it.  It also doesn’t mean cramming little prayers around your busy life and giving God the crumbs in your overbooked schedule.  Waiting on the Lord means coming into his presence with trembling knees and pleading with him to reveal his plan and purpose to us.  Sometimes that plan is to give us rest and relief.  If so, great!  Savor it!  But it also means recognizing the majesty and awesomeness of Almighty God who has a very specific plan for his church in this broken world.  More specifically, it means that God has a very specific plan and purpose for Ada Bible Church, in broken West Michigan and beyond.  If we’re busy with our own agendas, we’ll miss it. Are you waiting on him?

We serve a “hands-on” God who is looking for you to help you.

“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  2 Chronicles 16:19

God, break our hearts for the things that matter to you.  Remove from our desires the things that really don’t.  Help our priorities to line up with yours, and give power to our prayers so that we redeem every moment you have given us.  Allow us, as Daniel, to be counted among those in whom you delight.  Give us a willingness and determination to wait for you. Touch us, strengthen us, encourage us, and pour out your favor and protection on us as we humbly seek you today.  In Jesus name, Amen.

-          Doug Bishop

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I hate feeling empty.  Do you?  When I’m empty, I feel hopeless, worn out, used up, exhausted and alone.

In Ruth 1:20-21 (NLV) Naomi says, “Don’t call me Naomi. . . Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty.” 
We are given only a glimpse of the heartache and sorrow that brought Naomi to the point of such emptiness and despair.  What must it have been like for her to travel home to her native land empty?  Did her heart break a little more with each step she took?  The pain she experienced, as she traveled farther and farther away from the family she buried, must have been excruciating.

When Naomi arrived in Israel, she was exhausted, broken with nothing left to give emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually.

Have you ever felt like Naomi?

I experienced a time of intense emptiness after the break-up of a close friend.  I didn’t want the friendship to end and I worked with everything I had in me to hold on to the last remaining remnants of our relationship but it slipped through my fingers like sand and I was left with a gnawing emptiness that wouldn’t go away;  a pain in my gut that never seemed to lessen.

I hated feeling empty.  Everything inside me screamed this is wrong.  I wanted to rid myself of the pain as quickly as I would a pair of rancid socks.

But without the emptiness how can we be filled?

Think about it, if we’re already full, how can God fill us?

What if emptiness is a good thing?

What if it is part of God’s plan for you, for me?  What if God is calling us to a place of emptiness as we wait on Him?

When we are empty of our arrogance, our own dreams, and our plans . . . God is able to fill us with His dreams, His plans, and His purpose.

The emptiness I experience drives me to my knees and creates a space for God to fill.  Emptiness brings my heart into a place of complete surrender.

Our faith, as believers, is anchored in emptiness.  The empty tomb is the cornerstone of our faith.  We serve a risen Savior, who died and left the tomb of death, never to return!

We have a lot of things in this world that cause us to become empty – empty bank accounts, wayward children, broken relationships, the death of a loved one, poor decisions, regret . . .

Will you embrace the emptiness . . .  and allow God to fill you with His Spirit?

Lord, I confess that emptiness is not what I want.  I would do just about anything to not feel its pain.  But it’s part of Your plan and so I choose to embrace it.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me, of me, so I can be filled with You  - (Chris Sligh)
Do Your work in me.  Have Your way with me.  Accomplish Your plan through me.  I’m Yours!  Amen.

- Kristi Huseby