The Weeping

All I know is that I am to run to Mercy and take as many people as I can with me.

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I was only 12 or 13 years old when the couple that I regularly babysat for were called to the mission field. He was a night stocker of groceries at the local grocery chain and slept during the days, and she worked at a local bank during daytime business hours.

They lived in a modest house in my hometown, and both worked hard to make ends meet and build their new life as a now family of four. I never asked them about their “American Dreams”, but perhaps that doesn’t matter, because I instead saw what happens to a person when God gives them a dream. They weep.

Their “Call” came through an introduction to a foreign nation to a foreign people by a missionary. This missionary shared his heart. He shared his love for his people. And my friends, Steve and Andrea were gripped to the core with a knowing that those people in Thailand, were to be “their” people and they were to sell all they had and move to Thailand.

I don’t know if I’d ever seen a grown man cry like Steve cried. His 6 foot, 6 inch frame would shake and tears would fall as the love for the people God had just put on their hearts began to grow and enlarge their capacity. His wife Andrea also was so overcome by the pulling of her heart to this nation they had never lived in, and people they did not yet fully know, and she would cry as one waiting to be reuinited with her family.

They began to ask, “How long do we need to continue to remain in America when God had clearly moved our hearts to Thailand?” They cried out for Thailand in their prayers. They spent their meal times fasting and praying for this thing that God had called them to. And in doing all of this, I watched them change before my eyes.

When they sold their home and temporarily moved in to an old farm house in a remote part of the area they discovered that it was infested with insects due to its long tenure without tenants. This home gave them more opportunity to save more money towards their mission goal, and as Andrea would smash spiders in the house, and chase off garter snakes, she would say, “I’m training for Thailand!”

The “Call” of God on a person’s life begins to change them. His desires become the gloves that the hands of the one “called” fit into. His heartbeat is the One that they hear when they lay their head down on the pillow at night. His longing for His people becomes the ache and the tears that run down the faces of those who have said, “Yes, I will go.” And suddenly their everyday life seems to lose focus, and the opportunity to share in the harvest of what God is doing begins to take shape as the only life worth living.

I am in that ache.

I weep more often. I find myself wishing for more time in prayer. I feel His call on my life, and it stirs in me like nothing else can.

My whole life has revolved around ministry since I was a small child. I love the Lord. I love being in His service. I love His church (with all her messes), and I love His servants whom I have had the privilege of joining the yoke with in many countries, states, and cities. And yet…

God spoke to me last Spring and told me to clear my calendar in order to learn some things He wanted to teach me. Not fully knowing what was in store, I answered “yes”, to some events that God used to shift my heart and renew my purpose. I wrote about them in earlier blogs.

I attended “Azusa Now” in Los Angeles, California in April and joined with over 65k people in prayer and intercession for our nation. A month later, I attended Reinhard Bonnke’s School of Evangelism, and have been weeping ever since. If you’ve forgotten about how good the news is that the Gospel brings, listen to Reinhard Bonnke preach on the “Jesus and the Adulterous Woman“, and like Paul Manwaring says, “You will fall in love with the Gospel all over again.”

God is renewing His call to me to the harvest fields. To the unsaved who need to know Him, who need to hear Him and who need Mercy and Grace to meet them right where they are. So right now I am in the season of weeping as the “Call” of God becomes formed in me. As I wait for my mission to match my commission, I weep, and pray, and fast.

If you find that my eyes puddle with tears more than they used to, all I can say is “God is forming me, and breaking my heart with the things that break His.” All I know is I am to run to mercy and take as many people as I can with me.

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Have You Seen His Credentials?

wwwdrummondhouseplanscom-multigenerational-floor-plan-no-2278-mail-levelIf ever I am at a hotel with cable TV, it is my weakness to be watching the Home & Garden Channel, otherwise known as HGTV.  This was the case a few weeks ago when a friend and I took a trip to Sitka, Alaska to watch my husband and the other fishermen there during the short herring fishing season, scoop up the schools (of fish).  It really is an amazing sight to behold.  But when we were not hiking, photographing, eating or sightseeing, we would be back at the little house we rented, and I would turn on HGTV to see what the shows were about.  This is where my “aha” moment began.

It wasn’t long into the show “Property Brothers” that I found myself talking to the TV.  Much like a fan watching a sporting event, I could hear myself arguing with the people in the episode.  In this show, there are people who are looking for their dream house and the “Property Brothers” are there to help them find it.  Usually what the people want is out of their price range, so the Brothers, direct them to “fixer-upper” homes where the potential for renovation will give them what they are looking for.  This is when I get talking.

The prospective buyers walk through these sub-standard homes and begin complaining.  “This kitchen is hideous!” Or “I could never see myself in this house!”

I roll my eyes.  I’ve seen this show many times before, and the whole premise of this show is that these Property Brothers can turn a mess into a masterpiece in just a few days.  They are absolutely amazing!  Somehow the house-hunters in this show don’t acknowledge that fact. (It has to be in the script, that’s all I can conclude.)  The Brothers will say, “We can take out this wall here, and open this kitchen up to the east there, and make an island here….” and the House Hunter will reply with comments like “I’ve never taken down a wall before, and I can’t even imagine doing that.”  Or, “I don’t want a fixer-upper.  I don’t have any experience in renovating.”

“GAHHHH!!!”  I’m yelling at the TV now.  “Don’t you people ever watch this show?  Haven’t you seen what these guys can do?  Who asked you about your renovation experience anyway?  Have you seen the credentials these guys have?  Have you seen their work?  Don’t you know this show is all about them?”

The Brothers go back to their headquarters and design renovation plans for the three homes featured on the show then present them to the clients for them to choose which home and which renovation plan they would like to go for.  This is when the show gets good.

“O, Wow!!”  many of them will say.  “You can do this?”  “That doesn’t even look like the same house?”  “Are you kidding me?”

The choice is made, and the clients, although excited about their choices enter into the next phase–  nervous expectation.  Some of them hound the builders.  They come during the demolition and freak out over the mess. “You’re going to fix this aren’t you?” Some of them ask.  “This is never going to be finished.”  “I had a dream that you made this house an ugly freak show, and I just need to come and check on your work to see if my dream was true.” some have said.

This is where the Brothers have to send the clients away.  The clients have to be left “in the dark” so that the builders can complete their work without the interruptions, and so that there is a surprise in the final product for them to enjoy.

Here God starts speaking to me.  While I am yelling at the House Buyers and telling them to just shut their mouths and trust the Brothers, I realize that my life can be mirrored in this show.  With God as the Master Craftsman of my life, I can be found arguing with Him, freaking out at my circumstances, and re-iterating over and over to Him my lack of credentials to improve the mess I am in.  I question His motives, nervously check His work against my imaginations, and impatiently wait for something good to come of my trouble.  I get mad when He leaves me “in the dark”, and I don’t have the answers to all of my questions.  I am impatient.  I am afraid.  I am Cate.

Somewhere in my spirit I hear the Holy Spirit asking me, “Cate, have you seen His credentials?  Haven’t you watched this show before?  Don’t you know He brings beauty from ashes?  Who said the outcomes are up to you?  The Expert is in full control.”

Yeah, I’ve seen His credentials.  I’ve seen His splendor in the midnight sky.  I’ve given birth to four of His finest creations.  I’ve watched Him transform my life from bitterness and fear, to faith and trust, and I’ve watched Him transform the lives around me.  And I am reminded of this scripture from the Psalms:

Psalm 127:1

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,

the builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the guards stand watch in vain.

Yes, Lord.  You are to be trusted.  Yes, Lord you have my life in your hands.  Yes, Lord I put my faith in you.

As the show ends with amazed clients looking at the most beautiful home they have ever seen, I too, will stand in awe of God’s goodness when this life is over, and I get to see the plan He unfolded, and the miracles He performed to bring it about.  He can make a mess a masterpiece!

 

Click the link below to hear my song:

I Want To See You

And the Flame Passes On

I live in America.  The greatest persecution I have experienced so far comes when people complain about my conservative views deeply rooted in my faith in Jesus.  Sometimes the complainers are loud, or plenteous in their angry words.  Sometimes they get television time and rant about their intolerance of what my faith declares.  Sometimes they say they want to kill people like me.

My brothers and sisters in Christ living in Iran, Uganda, Sudan, Turkey, Central Africa and many other countries are experiencing much more than this.  They are being cut into pieces with swords and bayonets.  Many pregnant women have had their wombs cut open and their babies chopped up with knives.  Many of my brothers have been doused with gasoline and set on fire.  Many have been beheaded, beaten, and bludgeoned to death.  Many are running for their lives, and many are imprisoned in inhumane conditions.

Granted, all violence begins with ideas, and in my country, the ideas of wiping my “kind” out can certainly turn into actions at any time.  For this moment in time, however, I have been granted a tremendous privilege from God to publicly declare my faith, and live it out publicly without the consequences of death.

I think of the early church who was persecuted so heavily by the Roman government.  I think of those burned alive as garden torches for Nero’s landscape designs.  I think of those who were imprisoned until the time that they could be thrown into the arenas with hungry lions for the public’s entertainment.  There were the children…the young lives dressed in the fresh skins of sheep who were sent out to the arenas to be chased and devoured by packs of hungry dogs.

I have to, over and over again, remember that the faith that I carry as a flame inside of me isn’t an “idea” or a code of moral living.  I carry the passion of one who has found Jesus to be everything He claimed to be.  I believe He was born of a virgin, died a criminal’s death as penalty for my sin, and was resurrected after three days with all authority over death, hell and the grave, and because He lives, I too will live even after my body dies.  My faith is a flame passed on from my mother who received it from her mother and aunt, who received it from parents, relatives, and friends.  They carried the truth that continues to be the Truth that sets all free. Because this Truth is Jesus, and He is not dead.

Every government in history has had their opportunity to wipe out the Christians in their countries, and many almost succeeded.  But this flame keeps passing on!! While I hear of my brothers and sisters being decimated in other countries, my prayer becomes, “God may my flame burn even brighter to carry what they carried.  As long as I am living, God, may it be said of me that I carried the flame of faith honoring those who have gone before, and for the generations yet to be born. May I pass the flame faithfully from my life to my children, and to my neighbors, friends, and enemies.”

Hebrews 11:32-40

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging,and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Remembering the persecuted church today, and praying that my life will carry their flame.

Vows We Make Part 2

Yesterday, I blogged about the decisions we make in life when we are young and/or vulnerable and how many of those decisions become secret vows that set our course in different areas of life. This subject has fascinated me over and over as I have studied it in my life and in the lives of people around me. When you begin to hear the phrase, “Oh, I would never….”, you can be sure there is a vow in place somewhere, and that decision is rooted in some experience or belief.

All of us have made some solid decisions in life based on experiences we have had. Many of those decisions were positive, and many are negative, but that begs the question, “How do I know if my decision was a positive one or a negative one?” And it would seem that all of us would love a formula to have our “Best Life Now” because we want to be known for someone who makes good decisions.

Without putting decisions in the framework of morality, what I have to say from here on out will be of no value. So I begin my discussion on decision-making from the belief that there is such a thing as a moral law, that in order to have a moral law there is a Moral Law Giver, and that Moral Law Giver is God as revealed in the scriptures of the Holy Bible. I have to start here because, all logic associated with decision-making finds its basis in how we view our life’s value, or the value of our neighbor, and the purpose of life itself. Value and purpose cannot be determined by science, mathematics, or chance. When I make the decision to trust someone or not to, I cannot tell you why I “ought to” or “shouldn’t” without a moral compass that directs those decisions, and all of us feel there are things we “should” do and things we “shouldn’t.”

Morality has been seen as a code of conduct that one adheres to in order to please God, but I want to add to that thought that Morality is not just a code of ethics or beliefs, it is also an invitation into something greater. For example, when God says “Thou Shall Not Steal”, He is not just drawing a line that you dare not cross, He is also inviting you into a life of self-control, a life of care and protection of another, and the peace that accompanies a life that is not haunted by the fear of robbery. Everyone longs to live in a neighborhood where they don’t have to lock their door at night, and where everyone watches out for their neighbor. Isn’t that true? If it isn’t, we would see many more vacation packages offered for inner-city vacations. “Thou shall not steal” opens up opportunity for that kind of life.

When God says “Do not commit adultery”, He is inviting you into a lifestyle of cultivating and nurturing the relationships you currently possess, while protecting you and your family from the consequences of broken vows and insatiable lust. Who doesn’t dream of a family where parents commit to one another in love and nurture?

As I referred to one of my childhood vows in the previous post, that I would never trust a man, I explained that this was a decision I made as a child. That decision was not necessarily a moral decision at the time. It was a self-preserving decision that is characteristic of someone whose trust has been violated. The decision wasn’t wrong until….Until, because of that decision, I decided to cut men down and cut them off before they had a chance to get to know me. When I made it my art to craft sarcasm and quick wit that would cut my opponents off at the knees, that is when God began to deal with my heart. At this point where my decision to protect myself negated the value of others (in particular, men), my conscience became pricked.

Here is the beautiful thing about God. He has invited me and you into a relationship with Him which means He speaks to us on our level, right where we are. When God began dealing with my heart on my vow to never trust, He didn’t say, “Cate, knock it off, you idiot!!” No, instead, He dealt with my fear. You know– the motivation behind my dis-trust? He asked me to trust Him. Scriptures like “God is not a man that He would lie” as well as others about Him being a good Father, and one who never leaves of forsakes me, became the thoughts He asked me to meditate on. These scriptures brought up huge questions in me, and since God is a relational God, He allowed me to ask my questions, and believe me I had many. Then came the invitation: “Cate, I want you to lay your sarcasm down, and every time you are tempted to defend yourself by cutting someone off with your words, I want you to stop, bite your tongue, and invite me into the scenario. I want you to trust ME.”

This is where our vows and values are tested to see whether or not they should be the directors of our path. Right here where we choose between trusting ourselves, or accepting God’s invitation to trust Him. If by my internal vows I have de-valued another or myself, or if I have neglected God or have to ignore Him to accomplish my goals, then I am choosing wrongly, and God will intervene in my heart through my conscience.

Let me give examples of other vows we make that God may challenge us on. “I will always speak my mind.” Although this decision can be very positive for someone who rarely shares how they really feel, this vow can also serve as a bulldozer that destroys relationships if not moderated. If you pride yourself on always saying exactly what you are thinking, there is a good chance you have struggling relationships if not broken ones. Here is where the value question comes into play. Since God values you and your neighbor, He will invite you to lay down your reputation in order to enter into a life of understanding and forgiveness. He will invite you into real relationships with people where there is give and take, compromise, and encouragement. This will include telling the truth, and hearing the truth, as well as biting your tongue.

How about “I will never move to another state.” For those of you who grew up as military kids, or in families that bounced around a lot, this is a common vow that is made. And the vow itself is not wrong until….Until your husband or wife gets that promotion they worked so hard for, but the new employment means a move. Or when your income dries up where you live, and your best means of making a living again require uprooting and changing. Now your vow comes into question, and your value system up for scrutiny.

In order for any one of us to change a direction in our lives, we have to let go of our vows and grab something else–Something solid, something trustworthy. Many have said that faith is believing something there is no evidence for, but I would argue that faith is the placeholder for what we cannot see but that we are certain will buoy us up. God asks us for that kind of faith in Him. Faith to accept His invitation into a life we maybe haven’t “seen”, but we are certain exists because He exists and in Him there is all power, potential, and opportunity. If he asks me to let go of a past vow, it is only because He has something better that will take its place. That “better” thing will only be realized in my relationship with Him, for through Him, I relate to the rest of the world.

Through God, I also honor vows. Vows of faithfulness, fidelity, friendship, and loyalty can only be carried out with the power of God at work in us. When we want to throw in the towel because we just can’t “see” the end result, God gives us strength to finish what we started, and opens up the invitation again into the life he intends for us. Whether you are making vows with God in the center, or letting go of ones He has not originated, you can trust that He, the Moral Law Giver, is also a Good Father, and the author of your script if you dare to read it!

tough decisions

Faith and Faith

This video is one of the finest, most brilliant,  merciful engagement of ideas I have seen, and will prove to be a valuable resource and asset for the battle of the minds waging in our culture on us and especially our children.

Allow yourself to be challenged.