Global Gates of Mission

flagsA friend asked if I was planning on blogging about my trip to Mexico when I returned home.   Truly, I could not wait to begin journaling and sharing with everyone.  It has taken me a week to process all that happened.  Below are my musings, my collections of thoughts and divine encounters as I weaved in and out of the beautiful city of Guadalajara and connected with its precious people.

First, let me begin with the idea that our journey with Jesus is just that…. a long, intimate journey consisting of amazing encounters and resulting in an evolution of thoughts and beliefs. I tell people all the time, it is NOT a sprint to the finish line of eternity, but rather an intentionally paced cross country event.  It is the process of getting out of our head and our fleshy thinking and into the deeper things of His Spirit.  When we lean on our own understanding, we will always fall down and have to start over.  In this season more than any other, I am learning that I must trust in my precious heavenly Father with all my strength.  My peace and abiding love must come from a place of complete dependence on Him, for I realize I have great lack without Him and His power.

So, back to Mexico…. when I was invited to speak at a women’s gathering in the bustling city of Guadalajara, I was humbled beyond description. No one knew that over 10 years prior I had a vision from God where I was standing on a platform in a foreign country proclaiming the goodness of God to a sea of faces.  I instantly knew that this invitation to travel to Mexico was a direct fulfillment of that heavenly assignment.  I have shared many times in the states with diverse groups, but never preached or shared the gospel outside the comforts of my own country.  I knew God was setting me up for some divine happenstances that only He could orchestrate.  Within a matter of weeks, the invitation to speak was growing…. the Pastor called and asked if I would speak in the main service on Sunday morning to his entire congregation. He then proceeded to tell me that a woman had never preached in his pulpit before.  Little did I know that this man of God had been praying for virtuous women to rise up in order to share and testify before the churchgoers.  Since no one had accepted the invite, I was able to step into some holy shoes.  It was if Spirit was saying, “Tag – you are it!”

Once I agreed, another invitation came to travel outside the city to a “poor village” (this is actually what the locals called the village) and share at a sister church there.   This appointment allowed me 2 opportunities to share Jesus’ love and goodness with some of Mexico’s poorest residents.

I will elaborate on these trips but, I want to include that our obedience to the will of God on our lives will often result in more opportunities to bless and give to others. Your obedience and mine are closely tied together and will make a greater impact than we could ever imagine.  Today, I pray for each of you to say ‘yes’ to whatever opportunity presents itself to testify of God’s love, power and goodness.  You never know what or who you will be affecting for all of eternity.

These invitations came at a huge price, as is often the case in our submission to the Father’s call, but it is worth the cost-whether it be monetary, a matter of sacrificing our time or a matter of what we consider to be inconvenient.  Since I had never spoken with an interrupter before I knew I was going to be stretched way out of my comfort zone.  Saying yes to the Lord will always take you places you have not been before….are you ready to accept this challenge and become transformed?

The greatest blessing in living among the people of Mexico and sharing God’s love with them was hearing their stories, their angst and their struggles. There is nothing more sacred than when a small child cries in your arms and tells you of how they are bullied at school and then meekly asks for prayer to make them stop.  Or when a group of ladies bring a 10 year old boy up front who is deaf and has skin cancer….his body a mere skeleton.  Perhaps it was when the elderly man looked into my eyes and begs for prayer because his leg is in excruciating pain and needs healing so he can return to work in order to provide for his family.  There is no sick leave for the poor, or workman’s compensation for when you are injured.  No quality medical care or doctors for the lowly.  There is only a pure and simple trust in knowing Jesus is your only answer to the hardships of life.  Many requested prayer for their marriages to be restored or prodigal children who had gone astray and were now living a life of addiction.  Their problems are the same as ours, and yet they understood that the only attainable solution for them was to turn to Christ.

The small girl, named Maria, who came to me for prayer on Saturday night had a mother and she quickly joined us for prayer. Hastily, her mother began to confess to me that she too held hatred in her heart and lots of unforgiveness.  Humbly, she asked me to pray for her and as I did so, she was completely released.  Straightaway, you could see the visible change in the countenance of both their faces.  Though I could not comprehend the thanksgiving coming off their lips, I knew it was praise to our God.

For the next 2 days, as I served at that church in Guadalajara, little Maria was my constant shadow. Even though we could not sit and talk together, she stayed by my side and pulled on the essence of God’s love within me.  One of my favorite experiences was Sunday afternoon. Maria and I had the chance to stand at the alter, and sing worship songs to our heavenly Father at the top of our lungs.  She in Spanish, and I praised in English, but our God understands all things and indeed knows all!

To hold these people in my arms as they cried, changed me as a person. I realized that as western Christians we really have a lot of options to meeting our needs – some are healthy and some are not.  Sadly, God is sometimes our last resort.  We can run to our bank accounts, our savings account and credit cards for comfort.  We turn to our many social activities to mask our pain or indulge in eating, drinking and entertainment to dull our sorrow.  We engage in frivolous relationships to get our deepest needs met and yet we are still drowning in our troubles.  I have personally done despicable things in order to lay ahold of things I craved, all the while, groaning, and complaining while engaging in the sultry deeds.  If only I had turned to Christ sooner.

I fear we don’t know or fully understand our identity. As children of God, we oftentimes fluctuate between being royal youngsters in God’s kingdom, yearning to become Deborah the Sage or David the giant-slayer! Neither of these roles get at the heart of living with our true identity which is found ONLY in Christ.  I see so many proclaiming these identities and falsely believing that if you wear the uniform, then the identity is yours.  So you and I dress ourselves in godly Bible studies and activities, and yet continue to live with the anguish that we really are not satisfied.  The truth is, our identity in Christ says, You were formed by a loving and powerful Creator who has a marvelous plan for your life and whoever you are in the Lord, go… BE… rest.   In other words, live like who you are – a son or daughter of the KING OF THE UNIVERSE, which means you are royalty.

Our response should be to crawl up in our Father’s loving arms and embrace Him so we can become intimately connected through experiencing His love. We can never find our identity in the stuff we do, or the things we wear, or the holiness that we pretend to exude. Our identity only comes through our birth rights, never our performance. When you accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for your sins, you became His child. As His child you are now part of His royal family and you are entitled to everything He owns-and He owns everything.  You will not be able to know your true identity by memorizing the entire bible or quoting a bunch of scriptures.  Nor will it happen just by sitting in a church pew week after week.  The transformation that you and I want only happens as we surrender everything to Him and give Him first place in our life!

This was the greatest lesson I encountered in the 8 days south of the border. I had no tv, internet, girlfriends or A/C.  I wasn’t able to communicate fully with anyone except my interpreter.  Most of the time, I used by body language and my eyes to speak what was in my heart.  I believe the deepest message God spoke through me was through my tears.  Often times, words would escape me and all I could do was weep before those who came to hear me speak or simply just hold someone while they poured out all their cares on my shoulder.  Even though I could not understand so much of the language that was being conveyed, I believe the essence of Christ that I possessed was given away to those I encountered.   That is what transforms a community, a city, and a nation.  His character, His identity, His life, His love!

The presence of Christ was so tangible in all the meetings that we held. People were impacted, simply because HE showed up in the room to love on His people.  When you and I can become conduits of His love and allow that to flow in and through us, it will change atmospheres, people and nations. Because of His great name, He shows up to meet the needs of the people!  He walks into the chambers of our heart and rearranges everything….if only we allow Him to do so.

I will never forget the words spoken by a young man in his thirties in the Sunday morning service, “I looked around the sanctuary, and everyone was weeping and I thought to myself, I must too!” He had never been in a church service like that and instinctively knew that the people were encountering God’s love and he desired that for himself and his wife.  If only we would all say “Yes, come Lord!”  I promise, that is a prayer that will always get answered.

Jesus said, Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:35NLT

Most people don’t care about how much you know or eloquently speak, they are looking for and needing a love and kindness that will change their reality for the better. I humbly ask you to take this challenge with me.  To lay down whatever is before you that is blocking you from laying ahold of more of Him.  We can only give away that which we possess.  What are you hoping for today?  Is it more money, more friends, more “stuff”?  Or have you felt the tugging at your heart to put off some things in order to grab ahold of more eternal and weightier things?

A very real part of me did not want to return to the comforts of my own community back in Texas. I am ever cognizant of the luxuries that I have as an American, but also as a citizen of a fairly affluent city.  My time in Mexico forced me to rely on Holy Spirit to a degree that I don’t engage in back home every day.   I knew I had the potential of slipping back into some counterfeit affections or frivolous comforts when I returned.  Therefore, I have made a daily declaration that I will do whatever it takes to obey Him because I know that true and lasting joy is only found in giving Him all the praise.  It has become my joy to lay it all down so that I can obtain MORE of Him.  Not my will be done, but HIS be done.   I AM IN LOVE!  And if Oprah Winfrey’s couch was in my living room, I would be jumping up-and-down on it.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, remember back in 2005, when Tom Cruise appeared on the Oprah show? He was promoting one of his movies, however, he began to gush about his new love.  He proudly stood, strutted across the stage and then began to jump up and down before everyone on Oprah’s beautiful white couch.  Out of his mouth, he yelled, “I am in love with Katie Holmes!”  His soon to be bride, sat in the front row blushing with girlish excitement.  Whenever any of us have fallen head over heels in love, we tell anyone who will listen.  Finding that deep euphoric love of Christ is compelling me to do things I would not normally do.  I want to shout it from the rooftops.

Shake off the dust as you arise my friends….the song of love is playing across all the lands. Can you hear the notes and frequencies beckoning us to become the hands and feet of Christ?  To carry out God’s love to the darkest places, the hardest places?  The harvest is ripe.  Jesus is alive and He lives inside of you!!!

Jesus deserves our everything! Our life, our song…..our possessions…..Everything!  But all He really wants is our hearts!  When He is the owner of our existence, then everything is in proper balance.  The peace you and I so desperately crave is available, only I promise you it is not found in the trappings of this world or its imperfect systems.

I want to give Him everything, and nothing less. My life is His – bought and paid for in full!  A finished work!

As David said “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.”-and not until.

My Gateway to Love: Take ahold of more of Him!

 Take courage….be brave! Do it afraid!  Bill and Lisa Roitsch have decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back.  Follow them as they follow Christ at:  www.powerofhislove.com

 

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Staying Connected

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Top ten suggestions on how to keep your marriage love alive or what I wish I knew on my wedding day:

  1. Do everything in your power to help facilitate the other person being what they were created to be and to do, without keeping score. This is a covenant; you bring all that’s you (good, bad and the in between) and give to your spouse. Totally giving yourself to the other. Yes, it takes time to build that kind of trust but it’s a process of truly becoming one that’s worth investing your life’s energy into. Think about what your marriage can be if both spouses give all they can to the other.
  2. Embrace and learn to celebrate the differences of each other instead of trying to form the other into your image…. which is not to say that we couldn’t use some training from our spouse on what’s good and appropriate for the other. Learn to love the other how they need to be loved not how you want to or how it is convenient for you to love.
  3. Focus on the good in the other person and the good aspects of your marriage instead what is not so good and what hasn’t happened yet. Balance your expectations for life and your spouse versus what happens through certain chapters of everyday life. The main reason relationships get sideways is expectations that one has in unrealistic time frames. We grow and change at different rates. Remember marriage is not a commitment for a couple of years but a lifetime.
  4. Don’t believe that the honeymoon will end. In fact, if done correctly the honeymoon is only the beginning and should continually increase in love, romance and trust.
  5. Confrontation is healthy, inevitable and necessary. How to do it with respect for most is a life long pursuit. Make the issues, the issue. As long as you both may live, don’t say words that tear the other one down. Don’t use phrases like “you always, you never.”  Never allow the word divorce to be spoken.
  6. Be nice to each other. Remember your spouse is not the enemy. Don’t take your frustrations out on each other.
  7. Be transparent. You now have a partner to help navigate the challenges of your life. Don’t keep temptations, weaknesses and especially sin in the dark. Be honest about your stuff and hopefully it’ll bring the same honesty forward in them.
  8. Life & marriage are what you make it; you have the opportunity and the power everyday to make it kind, warm and joyful.
  9. Make your parent’s ceiling your floor. It has always been God’s plan that each generation learn from their parent’s mistakes, but also to take their strengths to a higher level. Both set of parents want the richest blessings for their kid’s marriages: physically, financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
  10. And when you forget all the above, remember the 12 most important words in marriage:  I am sorry, I love you.  Please forgive me, I was wrong.

One of the most powerful acts you can participate in with your spouse is to tell them, “I choose you.  I love you very much.  My goal with you today is connection.”  When this is practiced with intentionality and sincerity, I promise you will huge results of intimacy that you long for.

Love should be at the genesis of every marriage and hopefully it will remain as the abiding force that keeps both husband and wife connected to each other.  When both the husband and wife take responsibility to do what is best in their marriage, love can and will grow.   I always like to challenge every married couple to read I Corinthians 13:4-7 daily and together if possible.  God’s word is our plumb line to keep everything in proper balance and alignment.  When we do marriage HIS way, we will always be successful.

***Bill and Lisa Roitsch are Marriage Mentors who love to coach and disciple marriages to stay together, grow together and stay connected to the pure source of all love and power – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Visit their website at:  http://www.powerofhislove.com

 

Owning IT!

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Taking your meditations of God’s word and allowing it to come ALIVE inside of you and then flow out of you, takes practice.

When you look at the stories throughout the bible and history of man and woman having deep encounters with the presence of God, it usually did not happen in a temple, synagogue or church. What you will see is man having a personal experience with the person and nature of God in a very ordinary, natural way. Take for instance Moses and his encounter with YHWH at the burning bush. (Exodus 3)

Moses’ encounter with the holiness of God is surely an external happenstance, but it is also an inner one. Immediately it changes Moses and drives him outward. This is what a deep inner experience should do for someone. One could call it a transcendent experience, but note that it is based outside in nature rather than inside of a synagogue or temple.

“Often it is in the open spaces of the ordinary world that the inner world is recognized and impacted.”

Immediately after Moses had his heart-stopping experience, YHWH said to him: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt. Now, go! Tell Pharaoh to let my people go” (Exodus 3:7, 10). Our Creator God has just given Moses an experience of an unnamable Presence, and it has an immediate impact on Moses, his family and his world. Rather than invite Moses to worship or attend a church service, God says, “Go make a difference, Moses!”

“The fire burned FOR him, then IN him, and finally THROUGH him.”

As Jesus was sending his disciples out into the community, He spoke, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”  (Matthew 10:5-8)

As believers we have freely received so much and now we are admonished to go give it away!

Unfortunately, too many Christians have released themselves from this instruction and we have all have suffered as a result.   In avoiding our most basic need to give back, many of us have lost whatever we might have gained in our personal and private devotions with the Lord.

What would it look like for every follower of Christ to freely give love, kindness, encouragement, prayer and gifts to anyone who has a need? What would happen to our communities if each of us took to heart Christ’s words? I believe the answer lies in the stories of every man and woman that is recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures who believed God and then acted on it.

I encourage you today my friends, to give Christ away to everyone or anyone you encounter who has a need. In sharing what you have experienced and learned, you really own the Gospel message beyond what you ever imagined. The Good News comes alive for you and others! It is something real and tangible that people can taste, feel and see!  It is in the “giving away” that you are able to be recharged!

“God’s love is like an electric circuit; it never flows in just one direction.”

Allow it to flow through you, out of you and around you to the world you encounter daily. I promise you will grow and flourish personally, but you also will be changing history for the better! Our world needs God’s powerful love, grace and mercy to be shown through His people. We are called to be His witnesses!

Sadly, we see that many people know of no other way. No one told them about the wonderful alternative, a third way…..a BETTER way!

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14NLT

My prayer is that Christ’s followers will present the Gospel in a way that really changes people.

My Gateway to Love: Father, show me where to stand!

 

****This blog was inspired by the writings of R.Rohr – a mystic, a Franciscan friar, and a simple devotee of Christ