Spring!

The first thing the Lord did when He created man was to place him in a garden. So many times Jesus spoke of farmers, crops, and flowers. One of my favorite scriptures is from Matt. 6: 28-29“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

 

I have been quite busy working in my garden and loving every minute. There is something about digging in the dirt that brings fulfillment to my heart and fullness to my soul. Psalm 23 that states, “He restores my soul.” For me, one of the best ways for my soul to be restored is to have dirt under my fingernails. Last year was such a busy year for us and by the end of 2017 I was quite burned out. I seemed to have lost the joy of everyday life. Talk about a dry spell. So the Lord in His mercy has had me to pull way back on many things, re-evaluate everything I was doing in ministry and just rest. No, not sleeping, but finding rest for my soul.

How would the Lord restore my soul? My body was fine. My spirit seemed to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. But my soul? Dry, tired, no joy and even a feeling of sadness. I needed restoration.

Matt. 11:28-30. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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I began to ask, “Lord, how do I walk with you, how do you do it?” I thought I needed to be at every meeting, in touch with every person I knew, take care of all the problems of my children (ouch!) and the list goes on! Talk about two big issues.

Number one: Who is in control? I quickly discovered it was not me!

Number two: I had a big case of FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out!!!

As I surrendered Number One to the Lord and am learning to release others to him and to say “No” to other things, BJ is still traveling to many meetings and prayer assignments. I am staying home, planting flowers, digging in the dirt.

The second one seemed to be a little more difficult. I had a big case of the “what if’s.” What if no one remembers me? What if I miss out on the Big Thing? What if everyone is there…. And no one misses me? You see, we all want to be invited to the party! No one likes to be left out.

And guess what? Most everything, all the meetings, went right along without me just fine. Does that mean I’m done, not important? Not at all. You see I have found peace working in my garden. The Master Gardner is right there with me, enjoying the beauty He created and I help to grow.

When the time comes, if it comes, I will be back out there, going and doing. But my prayer is that I will be wiser than before, I will pray to hear if I am to go or to stay.

If I go, he will direct me, I will walk in joy and fellowship with others and love the busyness of it all, especially the opportunity to teach, share and pray with others.

If He says stay, I will be content to stay, be quiet and be still and KNOW that He is God. You see, that is where my soul will be restored. That is where I will find his rest. That is where I will find Him: In the garden looking, smelling and enjoying the lilies. I will be walking in the unforced rhythms of His grace. In my garden.

 

 

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Pioneer!

This morning Billy Joe, and I had such a sweet experience with the Lord. I was reading Dutch Sheet’s new book, The Way Back, which starts with the song, ”Pioneer” by Nancy Honeytree Miller. As we listened to this song several times it touched my heart as deeply today as it did when it was recorded in 1993, and has become the theme song of our ministry over the years.

You see, I married a pioneer.

Pioneer by Nancy Honeytree (click to listen)

About 20 years ago I sat and wept in my driveway. We were comfortable in the church we had planted 15 years earlier. Yet the restlessness in our spirits was evident as we prayed. A feeling of transition yet again permeated our souls. Uncertainty was looming before us. God was calling us to new and uncharted territory. Again. At the time there was no paradigm for a prayer network prayer ministry, but it seemed this was where God was pointing. PIONEER. This song defined our hearts, our souls, our lives.

Gary Nored

Since the 70’s we had heard and pursued a call from the Father to come out of the comfortable and step into new, uncharted areas. But in those uncertain times one of the best gifts God gives to pioneers is other pioneers who have also traveled the unfamiliar territories. They become your life long friends.

We were pioneers in the early 80’s when we stepped out of the Methodist pastorate to plant a new kind of church called Charismatic. A few other pioneers joined us.

We were pioneers in the mid 80’s when we, along with three other pioneer families, took our children out of public school to bring them home to educate them ourselves.

Now we were being called out to raise up a prayer network of intercessors to pray specifically for reconciliation and revival in the state of Mississippi. This song gave words to the strange, unsettling yet sure voice we had followed since our commitment to the Father back in 1971. Stepping out into this new, unknown place, his everlasting arms were sure, solid and held us firmly. Again we found a few pioneers on this new trail too.

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And just as the song described, settlers came behind us and built it better and faster than we could have. There are now many huge Charismatic churches in most cities. The homeschool movement has exploded in our nation. There are numerous prayer networks that are doing it bigger and better and faster than we could have imagined. Most will never know our names, nor the names of countless other pioneers who pursued the call along with us. But these settlers needed and used the paths we had charted in order to build their highways. Isn’t that the way of the Kingdom? Filled with pioneers and settlers, both essential.

The words of this song continue to ring true today, just as the same call continues to resonate within our spirits. Still not sure of what to say when people ask, “Now, what is it that you do?” because there is always a new horizon ahead. We are pioneers, and settling is hard for a pioneer, even at seventy years old.

Now ask yourself: Does this song touch that deep place in your spirit? Do you hear the distant rumble on the next horizon? Are you yearning for more, feeling the transition but unable to define it with words? If so:

You, too, are a pioneer.  

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You are the one to cut the new path now. You do not know where or what you are seeking, but The Father does. He sees, knows and is pleased, always smiling and guiding you to step out deeper into the unknown.

As old pioneers, we are your cheerleaders. We want to give you a hoist up and champion your journey. We want to shout, “Go for it!  Step up higher so you can see farther. Run to find the new thing Father is doing. Cut the trail so others can come behind you. Make the path clear, because they will need this road you are forging to build their highway or maybe even a runway.”

Keep pressing on. You are the pioneer.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14 (NKJV)

Pioneer by Nancy Honeytree  (click to listen)

 

 

 

Choices

Choices
Choices

 Naomi, Ruth and Orpah.

Three women. Three choices. Three inheritances released.

Naomi chose to go back to her people and the God of Israel.

Ruth chose to follow Naomi and embrace the Jewish God of her husband Mahlon.

Orpah chose to go back to her life in Moab although her husband, Chilion, was also a Jew.

Did it make a difference to the destiny of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?

Let’s look and see.

Ruth and Orpah were daughters of a king in Moab. Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, had risen to wealth in Moab and was given these two girls for his sons because of his influence. Yet when all of the men in the family died the women could not inherit the wealth, so they were left desolate with difficult choices to make.

Naomi chose to return to Israel where she discovered that God’s arms are always open wide for us to come home.

Ruth, a gentile Moabite, chose to stay with Naomi, follow this new Jewish God and face possible poverty and rejection in Israel. Yet she too, discovered that the God of Israel is a redeemer, a redeemer of broken hearts and broken lives. She too was welcomed and embraced by Him and His people.

Orpah made a different choice. She went back to her father’s house in Moab. But let’s don’t be too hard on Orpah. Given those choices I might have made the same decision. Her decision was safe and comfortable. She chose the known rather than the unknown. In Moab, her father was still a king, obviously with connections and provision. Even if another marriage was not possible, he could offer a comfortable life.

Haven’t we all been there? A choice to obey and do the hard thing, or to stay back in the place of safety and comfort? God continually gives us choices. Many times we don’t consider how these will affect our own children, grandchildren and our bloodline. His Grace is always abundant when we choose to answer yes to His call.

We are familiar with this story, yet there is a little known twist that puts a different spin on the outcome of their choices and it is applicable to us today.

Ruth and Naomi chose to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Ruth became the great grandmother of King David. Her choice released blessings through her bloodline that not only blessed the nation of Israel but also blessed the nations of the world, including her home nation of Moab, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Orpah went back to her father’s house and obviously married again. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (Thank you to Diane McNeil’s book, Ruth) her granddaughter was named Harafu who was the mother of a Philistine giant named Goliath, the enemy of David.

Lord, please give us the courage and the grace today to make the hard, but right choices so that our children, grandchildren and their children will walk in their full inheritance of generational blessings-the blessings of righteousness, peace and joy.

Today, we choose Life!

Ruth by Diane McNeil Buy it on Amazon!
Ruth by Diane McNeil
Buy it on Amazon!