Friday, April 6, 2018

Who Wants to be Radically Obfuscated With Me?

When I was in college, I helped start a women's household and led it. A women's household consisted of a group of women who lived on the same wing of a dorm. They had a certain charism (ours was on the Eucharist) and would get together for prayer and different activities. 

Okay, I'm about to be vulnerable with you in what I am about to share. My household sisters gave me a nickname. That nickname was ZORC. It stood for Zealous, Obfuscated, Radical, Catholic. Do you know what the word obfuscated means? I didn't know what the word meant and had to look it up in the dictionary (we didn't have google back then). The word means perpetually confused! 

Now wait, before you think my household sisters were being mean, they actually meant it as a compliment and out of love. You see, in the natural I usually didn't have a clue as to what was going on around me. I wasn't up on the latest gossip, trends or even the latest news. However, whenever we would get together, somehow I would know exactly what needed to be said. You see, I did have a strong relationship with the Lord, would seek his will and he would give me wisdom and insight. I would then end up sharing exactly what the other women needed to hear!

I want to get back to that kind of radical dependence on God! He was always the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I thought about at night! He was my main source of wisdom and knowledge!

In recent years, with the invention of the smart phone, I have succumbed to checking my phone first thing in the morning before I spend time in prayer. I have gotten caught up in the noise of the world which causes distractions when I do go to pray. I suspect I'm not the only one. We want to know the latest gossip and latest news right away. Is this however choosing to eat from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" instead of the "tree of life" as described in Genesis? 

What would happen if we put down our phones and sought God along with his wisdom and knowledge first? Is this too radical of an idea? 

If you are willing to be a radical Catholic like me, let us return to our first love! It is the Easter season! There is abundant grace available for us to draw closer to Christ, even more so than during Lent! Let us take advantage of this grace, seek the face of Jesus and become his worldly obfuscated followers, knowing by His wisdom and grace exactly what to say in any given situation! 

If you are trying to reach me and are not able to leave a message!

Monday, March 12, 2018

What is the Treasure You Seek?

Matthew 13:44 - The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field. 

Jesus is our treasure! When we find that treasure, realizing how precious it is, our only response is to leave everything else behind and follow him! When we do this and behold the treasure, we become treasure!

Last night I had a vision of Jesus with a sifter, sifting out the sand and impurities from the gold and jewels. He then took the jewels and put them in a treasure chest. These jewels represent those who have given their lives to him and have allowed God's love to transform them. I then saw Jesus saving up the treasure until the right moment when he would pour out the treasure for the sake of others who don't yet know him, so they can then become treasure!

We become beautiful when we behold Christ. If there is ugliness in the world, it is because people have forgotten or don't realize who they are and whose they are. They don't realize they are made in the image and likeness of God and they belong to him! They don't realize they are beloved!

Let us respond to the call, after a time of hiddenness, and allow our lives to be poured out as a beautiful offering so others may find their way back and also become God's treasure!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Don't Choose the Hard Road of Mashed Potatoes!

I have written about perspectives before but I feel strongly that whatever perspectives we have in life can make all the difference in the world! Especially as believers, we need to have a Kingdom mindset and Kingdom perspective!

Romans 12:2,  says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds."

The world has many popular sayings that are accepted as truths when in fact they are not! One of them being, "If you make your bed, you need to lie in it." What this saying means is that if you make a mistake or decision, you need to live with the consequences of that action. That is a false idea and statement! Through Christ, we do not need to live with our mistakes and failings! He is not just our savior but also our redeemer! In fact, he loves and longs to redeem our mistakes!

As a follower of Christ, it is easy to get into the mindset that we need to strive to get closer to Christ; we need to fix and make right our own mistakes. Having that mindset is like trying to hike up a mountain of mashed potatoes. It will cause you to sink and slide back down. Instead, if we are baptized believers, we should have the mindset that Christ, through the Holy Spirit lives in us. We have died and it is no longer us that lives but Christ that lives in us (Romans 6:3-5). He cannot be closer to us than he already is. Freedom is not something we need to strive for. We already have freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1)! He desires for us to recognize the freedom we have so he can break forth and live his life in and through us! He will also fix and redeem any mistakes we make along the way as we are walking out our freedom when we put our trust in him.

If we have a problem, it is not our problem anymore but Christ's because Christ lives in us. Because our problem now belongs to him, it is not a problem anymore. Christ doesn't have problems! He has possibilities and opportunities! This allows us to lean back, rest in him and let him take the wheel. We no longer need to focus on ourselves and our weaknesses! We just need to walk out our freedom in him, letting him live his life through us. Do you see how this perspective can make a world of difference? 

We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord or Lords! We are in him and he is in us! Everything he has is at our fingertips and at our disposal! It is time we rise up and recognize our rightful place in the Kingdom of God! No more wimpy prayers! It's time to claim our inheritance and recognize that we are God's beloved children! Let's let Christ break free in us this Lent so he can live his life through us and touch the hearts of those around us!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Get Your House In Order

Last week the kids and I met Tom at the church for an event. Fifteen minutes before we had to leave a neighbor kid came to the door. It was her birthday so she brought everyone cupcakes. She left and my kids were scarfing down the chocolate cupcakes before we had to leave. Thick globs of chocolate icing ended up on my new rug. We were supposed to leave the house by this time but instead I was frantically scrubbing my rug trying to get the stains out. In the hectic chaos, I guess I forgot to lock the front door. 

We arrived home around 9:30 at night and pulled in the garage. My 7 year old daughter went in the house first and discovered that the front door was wide open. Tom coaxed her back in the van, we backed out of the garage and parked down the street. Tom proceeded to call the police. Out of great distress, I tried to stop him! I explained that I would rather risk my life than have a police officer go through my house at that time! You see, with the busyness of the week, my house was in total disarray! There were toys and clothes on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, piled up laundry on the couch and there may or may not have been underwear on the bathroom floor. 

Tom didn't listen to me begging him not to call. As the man of the house, he felt it was his duty to protect us. Well, not only did one policeman show up but FOUR! I was mortified! I ducked down in the van and let Tom deal with them.

Finally after 4 police officers walked through every inch of my house with flashlights, we discovered nobody was hiding and nothing was stolen. Let me tell you though, that next day I was very motivated and put it in full gear to get my house clean!

Next week is the beginning of Lent. This is a time for us to get our spiritual house in order. Scripture says we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus is coming back and we need to live each day as if he could come back at any moment (Matthew 24:36). During the season of Lent, there is tremendous grace to draw closer to Christ through our sacrifices. 

Why sacrifice? What does it do?

I think there can be a lot of misunderstanding regarding sacrifice. After all, scripture does say that God does not desire or need our sacrifices (Psalm 40). Some might also think offering sacrifices is like striving to earn God's approval instead of receiving his grace.

I like the analogy of a child who doesn't want to eat his broccoli. The parent might then coax the child by saying, "Will you do it for me?"

Does the parent really need the child to make that sacrifice? No! But the parent might say that to the child because the parent knows it would be good for the child to eat his broccoli and the child might possibly be willing to do it out of love for the parent.

Lent is a time to fast. Fasting is a way to cleanse our spiritual palate and make more room for more of God. Fasting creates more of a hunger for God and helps us to value the Lord alone as our banquet!

This season of Lent, let us not be caught off guard or unprepared! Let us take advantage of all the graces available through fasting, sacrifice and prayer to draw closer to Jesus!

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Battle Belongs to the Lord!

Sometimes you go on retreats or to conferences and it is like a mountain top experience, then you enter back into the real world and nothing really changes. I do not feel that is the case with the Encounter conference I went to two weeks ago. I truly believe it was life-changing and the right timing for me. It has been two weeks so I've had some time to process and start applying what was imparted to me at the conference.

If you haven't yet watched the "Fearless" Documentary", I would seriously recommend it! The guys who started Encounter ministries and put on the Encounter conference, were on it. I cried the first time I saw it. I was so moved to see Catholics doing "Power Evangelism" (a term coined by the late John Wimber). Tom and I were big followers of John Wimber 20 year ago and part of the reason we left the Catholic Church was because we wanted to "do the stuff" like Wimber talked about. Twenty years ago, it didn't seem like the Catholic Church was open to that and it seemed like too big of a ship to turn around so we left and joined the Vineyard church. Wimber is the one that started the Association of Vineyard Churches. I applaud Fr. Mathias and Patrick, the founders of Encounter, that they remained Catholic even though they received an impartation through Randy Clark after reading his book, There is More. Randy Clark is a Protestant. He started the ministry Global Awakening that crosses denominational lines. He even wrote a book recently with Dr. Mary Healy (a Catholic professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary) called Spiritual Gifts Handbook. Saying that I am excited about what I see happening right now in the Church is an understatement!

Anyway, I'm going to be real now, I was desperate by the time the conference came around. I have a heart for evangelization and a strong desire to reach the people around me but I also realized that things needed to change in my life and in my family first. 

As many of you know, I have 6 kids. My oldest is 24 and my youngest is about to turn 5. Just because I've been open to life doesn't mean it has been easy! By the time number 6 came around, I was tired and didn't feel I had much more to give. Number 6 also happened to be our first boy. I feel he isn't just one boy, but ten boys rolled up in one!

Also, since we moved to Indiana, even though it has been a good thing for our family, it has not been without it's share of stress. I think it has especially been hard on Isaac. That first year he would constantly say he missed Florida, he wanted to go back to his "red" house, he wanted to go to Disney World, etc. I think all the grief he was experiencing was also causing him to act out.

Anyway, in the last year or so, things have really spiraled out of control in our home. I don't know if it was the stress of moving here or we just needed a good house blessing (I've been told that a very violent family lived in our house before us) or both. 

To give you an idea of what was going on, there was no peace in our home. My children were constantly fighting, bickering, complaining and being disrespectful. My youngest two were especially out of control. The defiance and disrespect was off the charts! I honestly did not look forward to waking up each morning knowing what I would probably be dealing with. I was at a loss as to what to do. Every evening we would try to pray together as a family but Isaac would never join us and it would usually end in children fighting. I was very discouraged to say the least!

At the conference, renewal in my family was one of the main things I was crying out to the Lord for. God answered my prayer and I returned home feeling empowered and reinvigorated to reclaim my family for the Lord.

The very night I got home, even though I was exhausted from lack of sleep, I sat my kids down. I explained to them about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I also listed the opposite of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I asked them what they were seeing in our home. They agreed, we were seeing a lack of the Holy Spirit in our home. They agreed that we needed more of the Holy Spirit. We then began to pray and cry out to God for more of the Holy Spirit in our home. My daughters all got into it and felt his presence. My son however, still would not pray with us and I kid you not, he even mocked us. 

Okay, so we knew what we were dealing with and there may be a battle ahead. I clung to a scripture given to me at the conference however. It was Exodus 14:14 - The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be still!

In the days following, every time Isaac would sit next to us or on our lap, Tom and I would silently pray over him in the Spirit. We also have been praying every night as a family for more of the Holy Spirit. Let me tell you, there has been a radical change in my kids and in our household! Isaac is even letting us pray over him now. I even asked him the other day, "Isaac, do you want more of Jesus in your heart?" He responded, "Probably, yes." I'll take that, so I prayed with him! His heart is softening! Pretty awesome!!! 

There has still been a battle, but like that scripture, the Lord is fighting for us. One evening when we were praying, one of my daughters was throwing an all out temper tantrum over something trivial. She wouldn't stop. I calmly called her over to myself and began praying over her in the Spirit. Almost immediately, Peace came over her and she stopped crying. Every evening we have been praying fervently, the Holy Spirit has been showing up and his Peace has been descending on us! During the day, my kids have also been a lot more peaceful, pleasant and respectful. My nine year old is ready to tell all the neighbor kids about Jesus's love. I am beyond stoked!

If you are reading this now and thinking, "I desire and need more of the Holy Spirit in my life!" I pray for you now and impart to you more of the Holy Spirit and his abundant gifts in Jesus name! He desires to fill you up to over-flowing with his presence,  his love, the fruits of the Spirit and his grace!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reckless Love

When I was a teenager, I was involved in my church's youth group. One thing we were told is that God becoming human was the equivalent of us becoming a worm. That might be true but this past Christmas I was reflecting on the fact that in Genesis, God looks at all his creation and calls it good.

I think Jesus was very passionate and compelled by love to come to earth to restore and redeem his creation. It wasn't just his Father's idea. I also think he fully entered into the beauty and sacredness of life as a human. If you think about it, he spent 30 years just being and living life. What did he do during those years? He spent time with his family and friends; He helped his dad build things with his hands; He went to weddings where he danced and drank wine; He lived life with everything he had.

This past weekend I went to a conference in Ann Arbor called Encounter. It was very powerful and very obvious that Jesus is still in the business of redeeming and restoring. He will go to great lengths to bring freedom to his sheep and those who are lost.

One of the most powerful songs we sang was "Reckless Love" by Cory Asbury.  These are the lyrics:

Before I spoke a word
You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath
You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it
I don't deserve it
Still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God

When I was your foe
Still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth
You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it
I don't deserve it
Still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God

There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
No lie You won't tear down
Coming after me

God's reckless love was definitely prevalent at the conference. He went to great lengths, pursued us and people responded. He wasn't concerned if it got messy and his reputation could be at stake. All he cared about was pouring out his love, setting his people free and equipping them with more of the Holy Spirit to go forth and reach the world for him!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Way to Perfection

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception! When we look at Mary, we can see a real contrast with that of the world. She is an example of what we are capable of becoming through Christ. With the World, we are getting a full on view of what happens when people don't know or follow Christ. So much is coming to light these days! It is  God alone who makes us more fully human and when we don't follow him, we become less human and make others less human by objectifying them.

When we choose to follow Jesus and receive his life in us, we have an advocate. He is extremely patient and kind and transforms us little by little, chiseling away the rough edges like a sculptor sculpting a beautiful piece of artwork out of marble.

I was not always aware of God's transforming power. I used to be very performance driven. I thought when I decided to follow him almost 30 years ago that I had to be perfect right away. I would beat myself up and fall into despair if I would mess up and do something wrong.

Over the years, I have learned to lean back in him, let him do a work in me and try not to tell the potter he is taking too long.

Last week I even had a dream that shows how far I have come in my way of thinking. In my dream, another woman and I were put in charge of cleaning a swimming pool. The swimming pool was a real mess! The water was a putrid green and filled with debris. I knew if I just worked on it a little bit each day and put a jug of chlorine in it each day, eventually it would be crystal clear. The other woman however was very irritated and impatient. She felt it needed to be completely clean right away.

In the spiritual life, we can often become impatient with ourselves, thinking we need to be perfect right away. However, Christ is the only one capable of making us clean from the inside out. When we entrust ourselves to him, we need to trust in what he is doing and his perfect timing.

In fact he is so patient and kind, he doesn't even want to dwell on the negative stuff we are often focused on. What I have come to realize, is that if I focus on his majesty and greatness instead of my imperfections and sins, that other stuff will work itself out.

Just yesterday I was talking to the Lord about some struggles I was having. It was good I was bringing it to him but he wasn't really interested in focusing on that. Instead he was so kind and began to give me some practical advice regarding the future. 

When I was a kid, my dad had a 25 ft. sailboat. We would always go sailing on Lake of the Ozarks when we lived in Missouri or Lake Pontchartrain when we lived in Louisiana. I loved sailing! We would also anchor the boat in a cove in the Lake and sleep on the boat at night. When we were done sailing and it was time to dock the boat, it was very important to secure the ropes connected to the boat to the horn cleats that were on the dock. If you didn't secure it just right, your boat could drift away.

This is what came to my mind yesterday. The Lord was letting me know that he is like the horn cleat that we need to secure ourselves tightly to. This way, even if things get terrifying in the world, we won't drift out to sea. 

The Lord kindly keeps telling me not to be afraid of things that are to come. These things are going to be necessary in order for people to recognize their need for him and these things will lead to a harvest of souls.

I think it has become very obvious in our world, that what people need most is Jesus!