The Next Day Part 2

Continued from last nights post….The Next Day Part 1

These are complicated questions to answer.  There is so MUCH history that goes into it.  There are way more questions than answers.  Or…answers that you want to hear, anyway.  I encourage you to dig deep…ask the questions…seek the answers.

A question like, HOW did it end up like this? Deep-rooted systemic decisions and policies that were made intentionally by people in power dating decades….centuries ago…that have led to the problems we have in the City of Richmond today.  If you want to learn more, Ben Campbell, at Richmond Hill, has a wonderful class – Richmond’s Unhealed History – 9 Lectures on the History of Richmond 1607-2009.  It offers a whole new perspective….that is NOT what you read in the history books in school growing up.  We need more people to get involved in the social justice issues that impact not just the City of Richmond, but the metro area as a whole.

Others may ask…why don’t YOU move?  Why do you stay?  As a matter of fact, Frank himself has asked me that same question more than once.  He thought I would be packing it up after that night.  But, I will tell you what I told him.  A year before Frank got shot, my car was vandalized when the windows were shot out.  It later was stolen and dumped off in Petersburg.  People then asked, why don’t you move?  If I had moved in early 2007 after that happened, who would have been there the night Frank got shot?  God doesn’t NEED us to do a thing.  He can do it on His own, without our help.  But, what a priviledge it is to be used by my Almighty God.  So, He called me (and now Louis) here to SBH.  We won’t leave until He calls us some place else.  I have committed my life to I will go where He sends me.  Will you?

Just yesterday, Mom sent me a devotional newsletter email called Inspired Faith.  I will end this post with that word…

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.II Chronicles 16:9 NIV

God has called each of us to obey Him in the place He has us. In His eyes we all have a ministry. Many serve Him in a local church through a variety of ministries, such as music, teaching, youth work, or by being a part of the church staff. Others serve on the mission field, on the job, at school, or at home.

God knows you and He knows your heart desires to serve Him. You are someone that He will use to make a difference, to share His love, and to touch the hearts of others. What has qualified you for this high privilege of being used by Him? Is it your talents, your personality, your education, your influence, or your résumé? It is none of these; rather, it is the response of your heart toward Him. God is always searching for those whose hearts are yielded to Him so that He can work mightily through them.

Sometimes we can be led to think that God’s work is dependent upon us, upon what we do, and upon what we know. The truth is that God wants us to be totally dependent upon Him. He is the Treasure, we are the vessels; He is Vine, we are the branches; He is the Living Water, we are the channels through which He flows.

The apostle Peter was someone who needed to learn this important truth. Jesus taught him the futility of trying to get results through his own efforts by allowing him, an expert fisherman, to labor all night and come up empty. Afterward, when He followed Jesus’ word to cast out into the deep, Peter pulled in a catch that was beyond his dreams.

As His servant, remember that your ministry is His idea and not yours. He is the One who knows you, who has called you, and who has equipped you to serve Him. Remain true, remain faithful, remain restful, and remain totally dependent upon Him.

God is not looking for those who are clever,
but for those in whom He can be wise;
He is not looking for those who are talented,
but for those to whom He can be all sufficient;
He is not looking for those who are powerful,
but for those through whom He can be almighty.

by Roy Lessin, DaySpring Cofounder

Do Whatever He Tells You

My Journals from the Last 5 Years

Just today I found my journal for 2007….here are some clips from it.  I’m glad I found it and had a chance to read it again.  It reminds me of God’s faithfulness and what he was stirring in my heart 3 years ago!!!  There’s definitely a theme of hearing and doing!  And bringing God glory.

12.31   James 1:22-25

  • When the Holy Spirit reveals something…ACT.  Do something about it.  Don’t walk away. Or you’ll forget.  Blessings come from listening and acting.

1.6       ComChap Church Service (don’t know the scripture reference)

  • Go out into the world…uncorrupted – a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.
  • Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.
  • May my life bring glory to God.  I want to be fresh air!!!
  • Church – end of service…read lambs among wolves…the windows being shot out of my old car.

The weekend of 1.19-20.2007 – Kay Arthur Conference at Thomas Road Baptist Church “Whatever He Says, Do It!”  My friend Grayson and her mom, Judy and I attended this conference, which was so full of good stuff.  This is just a few of my notes from it…

  • Guard Your Glory! Don’t exchange your Glory for idols.
  • Glory = honor, true unchanging essence of God
  • Whatever He says – DO IT!!! -> is bringing God glory
  • God, help me guard my glory.
  • John 17 -> Glorify God on earth, accomplish the work HE gives you to do.
  • Guard your Christlikeness!
  • Numbers 14:21 – may it begin now – with us guarding our glory

I don’t remember everything that was going on at this time, but these were the messages I was hearing from the Lord.  I started crying from almost the moment I walked through the door of that conference.  For the Lord was doing a real work in me….preparing me for something.  In addition, we studied the story of Jesus turning the water into wine in John 2 (paying close attention to vs. 4-5).

John 2 (NLT) (click to read the whole scripture)

4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Throughout the end of 2006 and early 2007, I do remember saying to Him….What do you want from me?  I’m not ready.  Not me!  It’s not my time!  (vs 4)  But it was clear that I was at this conference to hear “Do whatever he tells you.” (vs 5)  It was time to take a risk and do whatever He tells me to do…in spite of what others may think.

Within a week, Marcellous was in the hospital and KK was living with me!  Who woulda thought?

Be Still.

Psalm 46:

10.  “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

By the end of the summer….God had told me…not in an audible voice….but in a peaceful kind of way, that He was going to provide the other 1/2 of my pair in December of that year.  I sensed it…I felt it in my spirit.  I was shocked when Marc confirmed it soon after.  He came to me….explaining that he really felt that I was going to meet someone in 4th quarter.  Can you believe it?!?!  We couldn’t!!  We could both be right!!!  We both heard the same thing just differently…because December is in 4th quarter!!!

Now, some of you might be thinking…I don’t understand.  You heard from God?  Did you hear Him speak?  What does that mean exactly??? God communicates in many ways.  One secret to hearing Him…is being silent every now and then.  Kinda hard to hear Him when there is a lot of distractions and noise around.  The Lord often speaks to me through Scriptures.  When I am reading…like back in Luke 10:1-7, the Word becomes alive.  That is why it sometimes is referred to as The Living Word.  You can read scripture over and over….and think you have learned a ton…everything.  Then…days/months/years later you read it again…and something else jumps off the page…like lambs among wolves.  Other times, He uses other people to share with you.  There are many many ways to hear from the Lord.  (You might also remember the stories about Saul/Paul, the burning bush, donkey, etc. as well!)

When you do hear, I’d encourage you to write it down.  Journal.  I must admit…that’s the only way I remember this story like I do…because I keep a journal.  Habakkuk 2:1-2

A couple of  scriptures you might want to read, but there’s a whole lot more!  1 Kings 19:9b-20,  Acts 2:1-4, 17

There have been many times that I needed an answer at a major fork in the road (like moving to StLouis or not) or even something more simple.  or I just needed some reassurance and some peace. I got still and heard from Him who has all the answers.

So…tell me….what is your favorite scripture regarding hearing from God? or tell me about a time when you clearly heard from the Lord.  I’m tired of doing all the talking! 🙂  It’s your turn now!  Feel free to comment!

If you want to talk about this more….don’t hesitate to contact me!  Would love to chat about it with you.  Or…go to your Pastor if you have one…and explore more.


SWF Seeks Other 1/2 of Pair

In addition to all the craziness…I still hadn’t met the other half of my pair!!!  Allow me to refresh your memory.

Born in 1963….I was never married.

December 2005….at 42 years old I prayed for the bone….God answers!

December 2006…at 43 years old…Don brings me Luke 10:1-7 and the Lord speaks to me…to pray for the other 1/2 of my pair….not for my future husband.

2007….I was still meeting with a small group of women.  The 3 of us were not married…and decided to write down what we were looking for in a husband.  So…we each created a list, made copies and shared them with each other, so that we could pray.

Now..Marc (at work) was following my story.  He was very aware of everything that was going on…and prayed with and for me.  He took my list home to include it in his prayers on a regular basis.  He’d come into work…and say…. “Hey Mart!  I put in knee time for you this weekend!”  What a dependable prayer partner!!!  He was such a faithful friend!

One day following our worship service at Commonwealth, Pastor Don asked me if he could “get in my business”.  Pastor Don and I were meeting on a regular basis for breakfast.  He was a true God-send!  He was encouraging me in my own spiritual growth and the work I was doing in SBH.  This particular day…he wanted to know if I wanted to get married.  Yes, I said…I do.  But, that the Luke 10 scripture had changed my prayer.  That I was no longer praying for my future husband…but was praying for the other 1/2 of my pair.

Now, those of you who know Don….think about voice inflection.  Don’s response was “Yes!  That’s what I am talking about!  Yes!”  With his arms pumping in the air.  You know Don!  Now…it kinda caught me off guard…so I didn’t ask him why! (Silly me!)  But…he DID ask me…if I got a call…would I go out.  That is a bit of a crazy question.  I had given up blind dates DECADES ago!  But, I trusted Don and his heart. More importantly…I trusted God.  After all…we had quite a crew praying, right!  Why shouldn’t I expect God to answer those prayers.  When 2 or more or gathered….

Later…I did remember to ask Don….and he told me about a “guy”.  But…that “guy” never called….*sniff*sniff*

But…I kept doin’ my thing….loving God and others in SBH, while continuing to pray.

Lookin’ to the Hills

Psalms 121

1.  I lift up my eyes up to the hills – where does my help come from?

2.  My help comes from the Lord.

The kids were attending church with me on a regular basis.  More and more kids became part of my life.  We had sleepovers, watched football games, pick-up street games, etc.  The youth group had officially started at Commonwealth…with Sunday night gatherings, retreats and lock-ins.  Neighbors were starting to call the house “Miss Marti’s House”….and it has stuck.

A women’s small group from my church was meeting at my house several times a month.  I was still regularly meeting with the Lord through reading and studying the Word and prayer….or at least I started off that way.

Not all was great.  I was accepted…by most, but not all.  In some cases, it was clear that I was not welcomed, as a professional white single woman.  The adults didn’t trust me.  Many didn’t understand why I moved in and why I was letting the kids run in and out of the house.  Some didn’t understand WHY in the world would the kids WANT to hang out.  It wasn’t me…it was the “God in Me”… the LOVE and PEACE they felt when they were in my home.  In the presence of the Lord.

Side note:  When I was younger, I used to DREAM of having a houseful of kids….and that we would have the “cool house” where all the kids would want to hang out.  What little did I know…that God would bring that dream true!  What I didn’t expect was that the kids wouldn’t be mine nor…would they be black!

My success at work and my sphere of influence had increased.  I often wondered why God called me to work among some of the wealthiest, and live among what some would call the ‘least of these’.  There was diversity in skin color, but also in education and socioeconomic status.  My two worlds were as divergent as you could get.  I began to wonder what God was up to.  At what point would these 2 paths cross?

Challenges were not just in the community, but they also came at work, where I faced an employee relations situation alleging that I created a hostile work environment based on race…because I talked about my kids.  It was unfounded.

As I reflect on this situation, I realize that Satan will go ALL out, when you ‘sell out’ totally to the Lord.  Satan will only mess with those who he sees as a threat…..because they are in the will of God.  This was simply a distraction.

I also have come to realize….in retrospect…that I must not have been reading and praying like I had done previously.  Let’s just say that my journals are a bit light.  But…I finally figured it out…

I knew where to go.  I went to the Lord.  My help….my strength….it cometh from the Lord.

Forgive Me…

Deuteronomy 8

6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

I went on to work on that 2nd day of praying in Jesus name over my singleness.  Within just a couple of hours…my phone rang.  A colleague of mine, Steve, called to ask me if I wouldn’t mind hanging out with a friend of his, Kevin.  Kevin just happened to be coming to town from the West Coast.  Steve and his wife had plans that had them tied up on Friday night, that would leave Kevin alone for the evening.  So, he wanted me to go to dinner with him so that he wouldn’t have to hang out in the hotel by himself.  Needless to say…I stopped and literally looked at the phone…and said, ‘did God just answer my prayer in a matter of hours?’  Why is it that I, and maybe you to, find it surprising that God answers our prayers?  Shouldn’t we expect the answer to our prayers?

After being in shock (and scared to death!!!) for a few days, I finally gave in to Steve…and to God.  I picked up Kevin at the hotel (another funny…but long story…).  Because I hadn’t gotten to go home yet, I asked Kevin if he minded if we stopped by my house so that I could freshen up.  We walked into my house, where I had a wall of crosses on the left inside the front door (so they wouldn’t be missed).  The wall of crosses started as a small collection representing each member of my family.  I understand that it is a Latin American tradition.  It has now grown to a wall of about 40 crosses of different sizes and materials.  Kevin was captivated by it.  I could tell that this was a God moment, as Kevin was literally drawn to the wall and proceeded to take them in.  I said a quick silent prayer and left Kevin alone…with God and the crosses, and went upstairs to change and freshen up.

Kevin later described his moment as ‘holy’ and ‘warm’.  We had a great conversation about the wall, its meaning, and its impact. He shared his favorite with me…and how it reminded him of Peter or one of the other disciples crafting it while sitting on a hill listening to the word of Jesus.  He then shared his ‘life scripture’ with me….Deuteronomy 8.  Kevin owns his own company…where times have been good and bad.  But, regardless of the time, God is always faithful.  These are notes from my journal… “God is bringing you into a good land where you will lack nothing.  Praise the Lord for the good land.  Do not forget the Lord or stop following His commandments.  Do not become proud.  Remember the Lord who provided this, gave you the ability to do this – produce wealth .  Remember the Lord, your God, or face destruction.”

I meditated on this Word every day for the next week or so when I received a sizable amount of money that I was not expecting.  I was totally shocked!  What was I going to do with this money?  I wanted a fence.  I wanted a shed.  I wanted a new car.  (almost NEEDED a new car).  But, I knew I needed to be sacrificial with the money.

After giving money to some needs in my family, I also wrote Rob (remember Rob….my pastor at the new church?) to let him know that I was going to be giving a ‘chunk of change’ to my church.  Didn’t care what it went to, as I trusted him and our board, but I just felt led that day at that exact moment to let him it was about a month later.  I felt like there was more to the story.  God was up to something!  Because I was overwhelmed with the need to e-mail Robby on that Thursday even though it was his day off.

Rob e-mailed the next day following a church planning meeting.  Later, at Starbucks, Rob shared that there had been a struggle between a list of projects/ministries they felt we were being led to do in 2006 and the budget…the fine line between faith and using the common sense that God gave us.  God has used me (and Kevin…and Steve…and the provider of the money) to send a message to our church leadership….not that my money would solve the problem because it wasn’t THAT much!!!…but, to let them know that God would provide and to walk in faith.

When you take God seriously in your life…as a living sacrifice…He will use you.  Hold on!!!  Praise the Lord!  As my friend Marcus taught me…”Hold my rope while I shout!”-Shirley Ceasar.   My encouragement to you….when you take God seriously and read and meditate on the Word, expect God to use you….and be obedient to that which he asks – be ready!  I often wonder…did these moments happen in the past?  Did I miss them?  How many God-moments had I missed in my life?  How many times had I ignored what He asked me to do?  What would have happened if at any point one of us didn’t do what He asked us to do?

Lord…forgive me for the many God-moments I have missed and for the many times that I haven’t been obedient!

Friends, co-workers, strangers, etc…forgive me…for not always being obedient to what God has asked me to do.

I pray that He will give me another chance to be obedient again…for each time I have missed.  And I pray…that I don’t miss them again.