8/25/15

Aiming for a Better Target: Heaven

Where we aim in life is crucial; it shapes everything else we do.


I sat in a bus, gazing out at a Middle Eastern hillside. Sheep grazed as their young shepherd sat on the edge of the roadway. His mind was single-focused, far from the busyness of city life. As was mine.

Above the barrenness of the landscapeexcept for tiny patches of green beneath scraggly shrub treesthe expanse of sky drew me in.

The busyness of ministry had captured my thoughts for nearly a week, but now, on a long bus ride to visit the country's tourist sites, my mind drifted to simpler things. Oh how sudden solitude can adjust our perspective.

Suddenly "alone" in my seat, I thought of heaven. I recalled words I'd read in Bible college that stirred my heart as a young girl: "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity *

For a solid week, while it seemed I focused on earthly things, my ministry was securely rooted in the eternal. I shared God's practical truth and reinforced a teaching on the Christian worldvieweloquently shared by one of our speakers. I testified about the day I'd decided to follow the teachings of Jesus. I listened as women shared from their hungry hearts.

And then, as I witnessed God's work of transformation in many, I thought, "How wonderful! This little patch of Earth is becoming a bit more like heavena place of joy and peace, a place where God fills our thoughts."
Thoughts of heaven make such a huge difference 
in our attitudes and behavior!
Lewis wrote: *
     "If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. 
     "It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."

In his book Heaven, Randy Alcorn wrote: **
"Our minds are so much set on Earth that we are unaccustomed to heavenly thinking. So we must work at it. ... We need a generation of heavenly minded people who see human beings and the earth itself not simply as they are, but as God intends them to be." 
Returning home, I thought about some of my favorite scriptures: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).

As we seek those things that are above, we are actually seeking God and His purposes in the world.

I was more determined that thoughts of heaven would fill my mind.

I even placed a target above my computer to remind me to keep an eternal perspective.

  • I could target effective ministry. A worthy goal.
  • I could target better relationships. Again, well worth my time.
  • I could target many things.

But if I will target heavenif I will live with eternity in mindI will get these and other profitable things "thrown in."

And God will be honored.

Where are you aiming? Do you need a better target?

* C.S. Lewis quotes: Mere Christianity, (Harper San Francisco paperback, 2015), p. 132.
** Randy Alcorn quote: Heaven, (Tyndale House Publ,) p. 21.

8/14/15

The Secret to Surviving Life's Floods

When I am inclined to give in to feelings of being overwhelmed ... when circumstances stack up against me until I feel I'm slipping beneath their control ... when I'm struggling because my problems seem insurmountable and constant ... when I tremble, fearing I am not enough to get through a deep trial ...

I know with certainty God has not left me without His presence, His power, His promises, His provision, His peace.

He is a God who rescues, who comes to our aid.

We see this with the Children of Israel, time after time,

"I am the LORD your God, and I rescued you from Egypt, 
so that you would never again be slaves. 
I have set you free; now walk with your heads held high" 
(Leviticus 26;13, CEV).

When catastrophes come, when our enemy floods our lives with more than we think we can handle, we are keenly aware of our need for rescue. Our need is for God. And we can walk in freedom, with our "heads held high," in Him.

God knows our needs, even the ones that threaten to crush us. The ones that swirl around our heads, seeking to drown out our effectiveness for the Lord. I've read the word "rescue" many times in the Bible - some say different forms of the word appear more than 500 times!

Rescuing is what our God does. He rescues us in salvation from our sin (Matthew 1;21), and then He keeps on rescuing us in our foolishness and selfishness - making us more like Christ.
Though our circumstances may not always change in exactly the way we hope they will, our Father rescues us from hopelessness. We learn to rest in the Rescuer and His purposeful love.
The scriptures remind us:

God rescues the weak and needy (Psalm 82:3-4).
He inclines His ear to us and hears our prayers (Psalm 17;6). 
He is our stronghold in the time of trouble (Psalm 37:39). 
He delivers us from our distress (Psalm 107:28). 
He knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7).

Truly, when the enemy comes in like a flood, I know the One who holds my head above the water. I know the One whose name is Faithful and True.

Do you feel like you're going under for the third time, drowning under your circumstances? Stay connected to the One who delights in rescuing His children!

8/7/15

Faith and Revival: Seeking God

Early in August, Life Action Ministries and its division for women's outreach, Revive Our Hearts, enter a special week of seeking God. It is a time of heart examination and prayer for revival (personal, corporate, in the Church).

This "Seek Week" is meant to prepare the teams for another year of outreach both at the ministry headquarters and across the country.



It has been much more than that for me.

It has been a JOYOUS reminder that God is transforming my heart and making me more like His Son, Jesus. He truly is a "rewarder" of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). I've seen growth and change over the years. And I rejoice and give God glory for that.

It's why I personalize and pray this scripture every year during Seek Week,
"Will you not revive me again, 
so I can rejoice in You?" (Psalm 85:6)

There are many scriptures that encourage us to seek the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 14:2; 27:4, 8; 63:1; Proverbs 8:17; Isaiah 55:6-7; Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 6:33)

When we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and He cleanses and purifies our hearts (James 4:8; Psalm 51:10). Oh how we need this!

American Christians, we need to seek, know and rejoice in God, just as at the foundation of this country. 

As I watched the GOP Debates last night on Fox News, and heard the candidates discussing America's problemsfinancial debt, terrorism, computer hacking, abortion/Planned Parenthood, corruption, lawlessness, etc.I had this compelling thought: 

"These solutions might help temporarily, 
but what America really needs 
to solve all these problems
 is genuine Revival
America's Christians need to seek the Lord now!"

Byron Paulus, Executive Director of Life Action Ministries challenged us with these words by Jonathan GoForth (from the foreword to Oswald J. Smith's "The Revival We Need"): 
"If we all had faith to wait upon God in intense believing prayer, there would be genuine, Holy Ghost Revival...." 
As I've thought more about this today, I know the sad truth is, many so-called "Christians" are not really believers in the first place, so it's hard for them to "drum up" the faith to believe God for revival! We must have saving faith first! (Matthew 7:21-23)

Richard Owens Roberts wrote:
"Part of the tragedy of the hour is that people are trying to muster up faith. They hope they have inherited it from a grandparent or a parent. They think that perhaps by exposure to people of faith that faith is theirs. Faith is a gift of God, just as repentance is" (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25).

For the Christian, revival is linked to faithpraying faith. Roberts also said, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him. We can pray all we like, but if our prayers are not prayers of faith, there is no consequence."

I have to ask myself, "Am I seeking God with true faith, asking Him to work in ways, perhaps, He has never worked before? 

What am I anticipating God to do?" What are you believing God to do?

Quiet our hearts to seek You, Lord.

8/3/15

The Heartbeat of Revival

My heart is breaking for all that I see in the news. The corruption, the lawlessness, the rebellion and pride — and all the behaviors that come from sinful hearts. It feels like the evil one is on the rampage.

And I keep asking myself, "Where is the church? Where are God's people? How are we reaching out to love others and teach the truth? Where is the evidence we have a connection with God that makes a difference?"


I am thankful I am part of a ministry (and its outreach to women) that calls all its members to a time of seeking God each year. This "Seek Week" is meant to refocus our hearts on the truth of the Word of God—not to make us "feel guilty," but to help us realize we still need the outpouring of grace that we received at salvation, the grace that God bestows on us daily to make us more like Jesus. 

We never outgrow our need for God's glorious grace.

Living for the Lord is not about perfectionism or legalism. 
     It's not about pride or self-accomplishment.
          It's not about self-condemnation or comparisons. 
               It's not about fixing ourselves or self-help.
                    It's about desperately needing God's help!

As Christine Hoover says in her book, From Good to Grace
"Sanctification is led by the Spirit from start to finish. 
He does the convicting, forgiving, sanctifying and transforming." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)

So in seeking God, we simply receive His grace and then respond in bold faith and complete obedience in every aspect of life.

What Seek Week has always done for me is point me back to the power of the Gospel. And then it calls me to pray for and respond to the Lord as He speaks. And part of that response is to pray for revival to come to the Church today.

Life Action Ministries was founded by Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., in 1971. I joined the team that first year and met the Lord in a powerful way. 

I was intrigued by his intimacy with God and passion for the Church. His heart was right and ripe for God to use him in a big way! 

He looked at the world and saw its sinfulness, but then he looked at the Church and didn't see much difference. That was his burden and the thing that kept driving him to his knees.

I believe:
God is sovereign in when He sends revival, but he calls us to prepare our hearts for that good season of refreshing.
The graphic above expressed the desire of Del's heartthat God's people might seek the Lord for revival. And he often said to congregations across America, "Let it begin with me ... with you."
That is still the heartbeat of Life Action Ministries.

Byron Paulus, the Executive Director and President of Life Action Ministries today, recently shared these words:

"We can be at the right event. We can go to the right place. We can gather with the right people. But we can truly miss God. We can miss a glorious visitation."

I'll be praying during "Seek Week" that none of us will miss what God wants to do, and if you are reading this, I pray that this will be your prayer:
"Will you not revive us again, 
that your people may rejoice in you?"
(Psalm 85:6)

Let it begin with me.

7/28/15

Conception: There Are No Accidental People!

In light of the Planned Parenthood fiasco - the sad news about babies' parts being harvested and sold - I find this quote a fresh reminder that there's more at stake than a baby's body. 


In her book, The Making of a Mom, Stephanie Shott says,

"The conditions of conception do not determine the value of a life. In our minds there may be accidental parents, but in the mind of God there are no accidental people. Each one is a masterpiece—each person is a miracle created by God in spite of the way that sweet baby was conceived" (p. 31).
For us to chop apart a human masterpiece, with no regard for the Creator, is one of the tragedies of life.
"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it" (Psalm 139:13-14).

Each one of us is a divine design. And God places within our bodies a unique little soul. 

Stephanie, founder of The M.O.M. Initiative, has a word for all pregnant moms who might read this post today:

"Sweet mom," she wrote, "you were in God's heart before you ever entered your mother's womb. The same is true for your baby. The process of pregnancy is nothing short of the making of a miracle ... a miracle that includes you."(p. 35)

And, she writes (p. 38), "God creates those tiny treasures we call children, but He uses mothers to paint strokes of love, character and integrity into their hearts and lives. You are the brush, sweet mom, and you only get one chance to choose each stroke well."

Let's protect each masterpiece!

Are you struggling with being pregnant? While I do not personally endorse any agencies here, there are so many people (and agencies) you can contact online that would love to help you keep your baby or give it up for adoption. Please don't turn to abortion. And if you have already aborted a child, you will find help too. You don't have to go through these life choices alone.