Tuesday, January 10, 2012

His Word

His Word

In Psalm 119, the author writes: “I will delight in your law; I will not neglect your word.” These words have so challenged me in my spiritual walk. I have shared them with the children and the youth at Potter’s House. I have memorized them and written them in my journal a million times. And after listening to Pastor Carla challenge us to “love the Word” this year at the last Women’s Church, I had to share them with you.

A story is told in the book “Jesus Freaks” of a congregation from a small village that did not have enough money for a Bible. So a number of men from the village spent the entire summer working for a missionary, hoping to raise enough finances for even one Bible. After the summer was complete, they told the missionary what they were hoping to do with their pay. He answered them, “You don’t have to pay for that. I have a new one right here you may have.” They men weeped for joy and ran back to their village rejoicing. Sometime after their return home, the missionary received a letter in which they thanked him again and again. When they had arrived home, they took the bible and tore it into small portions, so they could all study and share with one another. They were so overjoyed…

Another story tells of a little girl who when asked to spit on the Bible to save her life watched many do so – adults and children, but when it was her turn, she refused. She bent down and kissed the Bible. Holding it close, she was killed.

This story breaks my heart, but it also brings me to a place of challenge in my own life. How many Bibles do I have in my homes that sit unused on the shelf…when so many hold only one page of a Bible with such joy? When is the last time I thanked God for His word? Or held my Bible close?

I believe this is a year in which God is wanting to restore a LOVE for His word. We should take delight in our times with Him, reading His word. We should look forward to it each day…instead of being drug to it; we should have to be drug from it!

Let’s fall in love with our Bibles all over again. It is a love letter after all…queue the butterflies, candle light, and violin music…

Broken & Spilled Out

Broken & Spilled Out

My mom use to sing a song called “Broken and Spilled Out.” Years ago I danced to this song at a children’s camp…and then a few years ago my father and her sang it as a duet to conclude a message he had shared on a Sunday morning. Each time, it spoke to my heart and yet for many years, I didn’t fully understand what the words meant and why they often brought many to tears. I didn’t understand until I saw it lived out…when I connected the lyrics to lives lived all around me…lives daily emptied for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have often heard of the woman who came to wash Jesus’ feet. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus told his disciples that wherever the gospel would be preached, her story would be told. I can’t imagine the courage it took to enter a home unwanted and throw yourself at the Savior’s feet while others looked on in disgust. She needed no water, her tears fell freely. She needed no rag, she offered her hair. What a humble act of worship and devotion. If the story had stopped here, I don’t know that any would have doubted her sincerity. But this is not the end…this despised woman reaches to grab a jar of expensive perfume. The crowd gasps. Surely there were better uses for it than to wash some dirty feet. But there was no gasp from Jesus, no disgust, no misunderstanding. Jesus knew what she was doing…she was holding nothing back, living a life broken and spilled out before Him…and this was the worship He loved most of all.

There are others stories…the poor widow who brings her two coins to the temple offering after the rich man brings his bags of coins. Jesus turns to His disciples and again says it was HER offering that He delighted in the most. Again teaching that it’s not the size, but the amount that truly matters.

David may have been pint size when He defeated Goliath, but God had ALL of Him…and God can do great things with a surrendered life.

So the questions arises, Does God have all of me? Am I holding anything back from Him? This is a time where God is calling His women, His daughters to break their jars at His feet and give Him every ounce of who we are. He’s saying, “Empty your jars. Let me have all of you. See what I can do with a spilled out life.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking Up

Isaiah 17: 7 says, “In that day men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.” It was only a few hours I ago I was drawn to this verse…and in the last few hours I have been incredibly challenged by those nineteen words.
As a mother of five children all under the age of eight years old, my life is not the least bit boring or void of its distractions. Just this evening as I attempted to prepare a worship set for next Sunday, my son Jordan, clad in pirate attire, was serenading me loudly on his guitar and new microphone…while my oldest kept me up to date on every other sentence from the book he was reading…and Gideon helped my husband sweep the floor (by eating the food left down there from dinner! Yuck!)…and Shiloh pirouetted around her 2 year old side kick…whose attempt at dancing always ends with a belly flop or a scissor hold. Oddly enough, I accomplished my task…but not without my share of stops and starts and restarts and “Don’t put that in your mouths” and “Your sister is not a jumping pillows.”
Then tonight…as I sat basking in the silence of a sleeping home, I found this scripture and it reminded me…that in all the distractions that life has to offer – my eyes need to be fixed on the Holy One, looking upon their Maker. How easy it is to get side-tracked, to push our devotional times with Him to the side in all the chaos, to forget to be Mary’s sitting at His feet in our rush to do Martha’s work.
But if we can just keep our eyes on Him…Those days are always the best of all…because those who seek - FIND. We will find Him in the most ordinary of moments making life extraordinary. We will find patience when we need it, strength when ours is failing, hope when the way looks impossibly dark, courage when we don’t know if we can fight, peace in the chaos…
So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to be looking up from here on out…looking up to Him “from whence comes my help.” Let’s not let the busyness of life pull us from our place at His feet, looking up into Daddy’s loving face. Let’s not let the troubles of this world, steal our attention. GAZE INTO THE EYES OF YOUR BELOVED and “in that day” you are going to FIND He is everything.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

She's No Quitter Either!

On Wednesday night I couldn't sleep. My heart was burdened by numerous needs and I felt led to pray. My heart went to Michelle Doherty who was in the fight of her life to see her daughter, Sophia healed. I suddenly had a vision of me reading the Word with her over the phone. I decided it was a God-thing and called her when it was almost midnight. She shared that Sophia was struggling and it had been a day of constant warfare. We "locked arms" in faith and turned to God's Word. We read together from Psalm & the New Testament, building faith. When peace came, we stopped and rested.

The next morning Michelle wrote to say that baby Sophia had turned the corner and was vastly improved. Since then she's continued to do better each day. Yesterday Michelle was able to hold her over 2 hours. What a precious gift!

I know many of you are hanging on and believing for breakthroughs for loved ones and difficult situations. Don't quit believing. God hears. He won't overlook or forget you. He doesn't have favorites. Bathe yourself in His Word and refuse to give the loved one or situation up to the enemy. There is no surrender in God's vocabulary! :) No retreat. There is only "stand therefore" until the breakthrough comes.

I'm standing for loved ones AND difficult situations this weekend. You're not alone. Let's stand as one and share in our victories together!

Much Love,
Pastor Carla

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm No Quitter

During the recent fast our church did in preparation for the prayer gathering in Detroit, God gave my husband and I clear direction for life and ministry. This resulted in his resignation from Heart Cry International as CEO so he could focus his mind and energies on The Potter's House. Since we KNOW that this coming year will bring much growth to the ministry at home, his renewed focus is essential. We're excited about what God is doing and will do in 2012.

For me this meant a big change as well. I instantly became CEO of Heart Cry International, picking up the job I once laid aside. I never wanted to have my own ministry apart from the church...but God had other plans. I've determined to embrace the change and grow as a leader. This means tackling some of the jobs I could avoid while Ron was leading...things that involve math and numbers. Ouch. Not my strongest point.

Numbers make me want to quit. Seeing how low the numbers are when I have big bills to pay challenges my faith. It was easier to have faith when I didn't know the bottom line in the HCI checkbook. :) Now I am must choose to believe when I KNOW we're facing impossible situations. The temptation to quit and run has crossed my mind...just like it crossed my mind when I spent 2 months away from my family in Nigeria...like when we had the staff uprising in Haiti a few months ago...like when I get overworked and too tired. Quitting sometimes seems like a good idea!

But quitting is not an option for me. No matter how bad it looks - even if I don't see the breakthrough or don't have all the answers - I am no quitter. I know I cannot lose UNLESS I quit. If I persist and continue seeking God, the breakthrough and answers will eventually come. All things WILL work for my good. To quit is to give up on God. I can't do that. He never gave up on me.

I've been reflecting tonight on God's faithfulness. So, though I'm a bit tired of financial deadlines and the over-abundance of work, I'm resolved to press on. I will not quit. I will not doubt. I will believe. I will believe because He has NEVER failed me. He WILL never fail me!

I'm sharing this to encourage YOU. Don't quit, beloved sister. You cannot lose if you keep holding on to faith. God WILL be faithful to you. All things WILL work for your good. All things ARE possible with God. He will never give up on you...don't quit on Him. Your answers and breakthroughs are on the way...

I'm no quitter and neither are you! :)

With Love,
Pastor Carla

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Personal Testimony

While in Haiti in June of 2011, I was hit with a heaviness and felt as if a cloud settled over my mind. I've been fighting it ever since. I prayed, stayed in the Word, fasted, worshipped, and chose daily to press on and trust God. It's not been easy! Often I felt as if I was functioning with half a brain and my heart felt overwhelmed. There was an ugly tension in my body that exhausted me physically and made sleep difficult. I leaned on Ephesians command to "when you've done all, stand!" But standing was beginning to get more difficult.

After the Ladies Tea last Monday night I lost my new phone and had a small tearfest. Sitting in my car, I cried out to the Lord for a breakthrough. I couldn't even remember when I last held the phone in my hand. I came home and found Pastor Ron wide awake - a miracle after 9 p.m.! :) We prayed and I felt drawn to read the Word of God. I read through Matthew and Mark that night. In the morning I grabbed the Bible and read through the book of John. Minutes later, the Word of God broke through! My mind cleared and faith took over! This led to an awesome time of prayer and I haven't been the same since. Praise God!

I'm sharing this because I believe there are other women like me who are in need of a breakthrough. Keep doing the basics - stay in the Word, pray, worship, fast and stay in fellowship. Choose joy. Choose to press on. Your breakthrough is almost here! Consume the Word of God like a woman starved for food and let faith rise in your heart. His Word will reveal truth to your heart and mind that will set you free. I'm believing this to be the best Christmas ever for each one of you!

Much Love,
Pastor Carla

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learning to Love Change...by Pastor Carla Ives

I spent years resisting change. I had no problem surrendering the difficult areas of my heart, mind or actions over the years - who wants to keep sLomething that hurts you and others? But when it came to changing my lifestyle, relationships, home, or work my feet dug into the ground and I leaned as far away as I could. I hated change!

Eventually I began to understand that change comes whether we want it to or not. We can fight it, curse it, cry over it, and try to run from it...but change comes. It's a part of the journey.

When you are on a journey, the scenery and climate changes. We just returned from a trip to Maryland and North Carolina visiting our children and grandchildren (adjusting to a long-distance relationship with them was a definite change!). As we drove we saw light and dark, night and day, clear skies and storms. We saw trees and mountains fly by. And know what? We didn't mind at all. It's a part of the journey. It means we're going somewhere. We're making progress. We're growing.

I think I originally fought change because I felt it was the result of failure. I had to change or God had to change things because I didn't do something right. In truth, I now see that change comes because I'm growing and moving with God. He never stops! His Spirit is always moving and carrying me right along with Him. :) Change is a wonderful, purposeful part of my spiritual journey. Though I may not always like how it feels, I have determined to embrace it fully.

I believe we are all going to be challenged with new changes in 2012. Changes in relationships, behaviors, speech, perspectives, spiritual disciplines, work ethic, and personal growth. God is going to speed things up and wants to carry us along with Him as He moves in life-changing ways. If we'll stop fighting the changes and simply say "YES!" we will find the transitions less painful and much quicker in the year ahead. Let's all determine to "go with God"!

I am finally learning to love change!