Sunday, April 2, 2017

ACE #441: Will You Obey?

When God tells you to relay a message to someone or to give them specific instructions, you do it, then they reject least you've been obedient. 

Naaman almost missed his blessing, his miracle, his healing because he got all in his feelings and it didn't come from or in the way he thought it should.

Please get out of your own way and out of God's way and simply be obedient. You're gonna fool around and miss the manifestation of His glory. Your breakthrough doesn't depend on the messenger or even your convenience; it depends on your ability to trust God and your obedience to His instructions.

2 Kings 5 New International Version (NIV)

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.[a]

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

ACE #440: The Promise...

There's been a prophetic word spoken to me several times.  The very first time was 10 years ago and it has been repeated on occassion year after year. But it has yet to come to pass.  That's a long time, isn't it?
This is what I realized in the holding pattern:
1. Recognize if the speaker is authentic
2. Recognize if God said it to me
3. Realize God's timing is perfect
4. Understand His ways are not our ways
5. Pray about it
6. Search His Scriptures
7. Trust His plan
8. Keep sowing & working
Hebrews 11:1
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
James 2:18
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
...and yet will I trust Him.
Keep the faith.  Stay in peace. Hold on to the promise. God cannot lie!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ACE #439: What Really Happens 'After Church'?

This article was posted in a newsletter last summer for the Kentucky Annual Conference of the AME Church.  I thought it was important that I share it more broadly with our audience.  I have updated it to reflect more recent activity. Enjoy!

For a little over a year, my husband and I tried to figure out what ministry we could do together.   He was already doing a Men’s Basketball Fellowship Ministry.   I was serving as the coordinator for the Women’s Fellowship Ministry at our church and as the long-time church pianist.  At the time, we were both working on a college campus, so our days were fairly exhausting by the time we finished our daily commute and tended to our daughter.  Even still, we knew there was more ministry work to be done, not just in the church, but in the community and beyond.  As we both reflected on our professional careers and the thin line we had to maintain between our professional positions and our witness for Christ, we wanted to be mindful of how we represented and conveyed the messages about the God we serve. 

One morning while sitting at my desk at work, the Lord clearly said that it was necessary to reach beyond the four walls of the church building, especially if we wanted to reach our students who often seemed misguided, broken, confused, hurt and unsupported.  I shared the idea with my husband; he was hesitant at first.  Writing is my thing - not his.  He agreed that this was where we would begin; The ‘After Church’ Experience blog was born on September 13, 2013.  Little did we know that this occasional publication of online articles would expand into what would become part of our “greater works” for the Lord. 

What is The ‘After Church’ Experience?

The 'After Church' Experience is an online platform designed to minister to people outside of the four walls of the church building. We recognize that life's biggest challenges happen "outside" of the formal church experience. We want to ensure that our busy lifestyles make room for God. We challenge ourselves and others to show we are unashamed, undeniable, and uncompromised in our love for Jesus Christ! "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

Out of the birth of this small ministry has come the idea about a week night Men’s Prayer Call that Robert leads along with our pastor.  It was his desire to see the men of the church grow and strengthen their prayer lives to cover their families and to become greater leaders in the church.  As for me, something else developed that was really a personal call for obedience – the bi-weekly Bible Study Buddy Conference Call for non-clergy.  I had often heard people talk about the difficulties of studying and interpreting the scripture as well as the time constraints they have during the week.  This new venture was perfect timing.  We studied the Minor Prophets, rotating between Thursday evenings and early Saturday mornings.  It was taxing, but well worth it.

Participants for both ministries hail from Kentucky and as far as Texas and Maryland.  With more than 50,000 total page views, readers for our blog have represented several countries including the United States, Germany, Argentina, France, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, India, the United Kingdom, China, Ukraine, Indonesia and Russia. 

The online ministry has also expanded to include audiovisual presentations, because that’s his thing.  We’ve also adopted the tagline: It’s what happens ‘after church’!  After all, that is what true discipleship is all about – going out and making disciples – by any means necessary.  We are grateful for the vision God has given and continues to give us as we work within His will and His way. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

ACE #438: What Happened to Your Fire?

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I have had the Men of Standard CD, Feels Like Rain, for many years. As I've become older and more spiritually mature, I have learned many lessons from it. The song, Don't Lose Your Candlestick, is one of my favorites. It talks about how we, as Christians and ministry leaders, lose our candlestick - our fire, our light - because we have become distracted and burdened down, functioned out of His will, and put the Lord on the back burner. Therefore, our fire has burned out. We don't pray the same. We don't serve the same. We don't teach the same. We don't preach the same. And, oh, how I've felt this feeling over the years, especially in my music ministry...when I know I haven't played the same.

In Matthew 5, Jesus shows His disciples that being a light in the world is a compliment, but also a great responsibility to carry forth the message.  He outlines our responsibility as light bearers so that, ultimately, the Father can get the glory.

Maybe, like Samson, you've lost your power...maybe you've lost your fire...maybe you've even lost your favor...but IF you just ask God for His grace and make yourself available back to him, FIRST, you'll get your fire back.

To anyone who feels that your fire has burned out, I encourage you today to get back in line, get back in God's Word, get back in your prayer closet and get back in His will.

Don't Lose Your Candlestick