Love Attacks

I had the most embarrassingly funny moment at a shopping center in Brisbane this week.  Like most of my crazy moments in life, God used it to show me something beautiful.  I just love His perspective.

Being an American in Australia, I got to the shopping center a little shaky.  I lived in Australia years ago so you’d think I’d be fairly confident at driving on the OTHER side of the road (competent, YES…confident, not quite yet).  Maybe it was the fact that I missed the turn off to the parking tower and had to circle the giant center a few times, or that it took me 5 goes at parking our new little Mazda 3 straight.  At any rate, I was super excited to be on an outing and having driven all by myself, though slightly flustered.

Inside I quickly found my current favorite shop and enjoyed browsing through the home wares section. After a few minutes, I looked up and saw a familiar face from a distance. There was a guy standing some yards away intensely eyeing a kitchen knife, and I was certain this was our good friend Rod (who I had not yet had the pleasure of seeing since we’ve been back in Australia).  Rod seemed to have cut his hair super short since I last saw him last in November, so being ME I figured I’d sneak up and give him a big, surprise hug from behind and then shower him with love as he’s a dear friend of ours.  

I got super excited as I prepared my sneaky love-attack…..and when I pounced, I did it with all the affection and silliness of a little sister-type!

And y’all….much to my horror….this man was NOT Rod.

He was most likely taken aback, but could have been a little less direct and rude with me when he informed me that he was not who I thought he was.  Of course I apologized and my face was probably several shades of maroon as I crept away from him in humiliation.  I actually had a hard time looking at him in the eyes for a second as he very quickly walked away from me (actually, it looked almost like he was escaping from me!).  I made a quick exit as well, giggling to myself as the initial embarrassment wore off.  

Again later, I saw him from a distance and he seemed to have a lighter attitude and more of a spring in his step.  I hoped I had not freaked him out too much and he was now able to laugh about it.

When I shared this story with a friend that day at lunch, she made a most interesting comment that got me talking to God about it. “What if that’s the only hug that man has ever received from Jesus,” my friend said to me.  1 John 4:17 says that as Jesus is, so am I in this world.

 Galatians 2:20 says that I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives IN ME.  And what about Romans 8, which states that I have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead living within me?!  

What if it was a complete GOD SET-UP because this man NEEDED A HUG???  That’s a different perspective indeed.

The more I processed this with the Lord the more He spoke to me about it from several different angles.

 What if God Himself desires to sneak up on us with that same kind of love and excited affection, yet we abruptly shoo Him away like this man did to me?  What if, like this man, we are too intense and focused on our tasks that we forget that God just wants to give us a cuddle?  

How often have I pushed Holy Spirit away because I’m so focused on getting stuff done that I don’t feel like I have time to allow Him to love on me.  And what if the man’s attitude changed because he actually did encounter the love of God for a second, through me?

How much more does God want to love on us, celebrate us and see us changed by just a moment with Him.  

And sometimes, all we need is a good hug and someone to celebrate us.  How amazing to know that Jesus always celebrates us!

As you can tell, I took away a few important lessons from this most embarrassing moment.  I do think that if I had the opportunity again, even through the embarrassment, I’d still do the same thing.  

The Love of Jesus transforms the world, even through a stranger’s hug.  I’ll never apologize for how I carry the Love of Christ.

I think I’ll go allow Him to hug on ME for awhile now.  There’s nothing in the world like His love.

~ Mandy Woodhouse

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God’s Name

Don’t shout out a quick or flustered “Oh My God”, “Good Lord”, “Jesus Christ”, or put a Dammit behind God’s name. There is no power in that.

Actually, on all of those you are using God’s name in vain.

God’s name when used properly has unlimited Power to bless, heal, save and protect.

Use it properly!

~XXOO Michelle

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of His name.~ Exodus 20:7 MSG

Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses His name that way. ~Exodus 20:7 CEB

Enough

I have had ENOUGH – means you’ve reached your tolerated level.

That’s ENOUGH – means you have reached an acceptable amount.

But what really is Enough?

ENOUGH – means adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire.

So why do we always throw in those doubt words…..

Like:

Coulda Shoulda Woulda

Need to

Hafta

Outta

Maybe

Possibly

Almost

Why do we keep buying the lie that we are not worthy enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, loved enough, liked enough, old enough, young enough, have enough or do enough.

Why can’t ENOUGH just be ENOUGH?

No striving

No wrestling

No doubting

No second guessing

Just Simply Take God at His Word!

You ARE adequate and sufficient for His purpose because He says you are.

You Are Enough because He is ENOUGH!

~XXOO Michelle

For His divine power has bestowed on us absolutely everything necessary for a dynamic spiritual life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises of inexpressible value, so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature.

~ 2 Peter 1:3-4 AMP

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Restored Ministries

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A Deeper Unity

Oneness, the desire of both God and man.  It is the heart cry of The Father, and it will be the great lie of the antichrist.  The Father longs for his children to get along so well that we move and act as one.

Even we long for unity between ourselves and between ourselves and Our Father, though we often can’t see our way to Our Father’s heart or to reconciliation with our fellow man.

And, admittedly, it is often a difficult and trying venture to maintain between ourselves “the spirit of unity in the bond of peace” and to live with Christ as “one in Spirit.”

In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Christ prayed that we would all be unified with one another, with The Father, and with himself.  He gave two means for this unity, our common name and his personal glory bestowed upon us who believe.  

The unity from a shared name is the easiest to realize and mimics that unity found in natural families that share the same last name.  It mainly requires that we just accept each other and help each other.  

The second means that he gave for our unity, his glory bestowed on us, is a deeper unity, and it requires some cooperation to achieve it, for we must have some understanding of the nature of this inherited glory and then respond to it by nurturing it in our individual lives and in the life of the church.

The best way to describe these two aspects of unity is to observe the unity between children in a family as they grow into adulthood.  

As children, all that is needed for a mutual feeling of unity in the family is the simple fact of a shared name and ancestry.  As children mature and grow and discover each other’s unique gifts and powerful ways of expressing the family identity, their bond of unity matures; their unity is now partly based on the shared “glory” of the family legacy.  

There is still the unity of the shared name and blood, but now the unity is deepened by the broader understanding of what it means to be part of the family.

Christ spoke, “I have given them my glory, that they may be one.”  In the Old Testament, God said, “My glory I will not share with another.”  So, what has happened under the new covenant in the New Testament?What is this glory of Christ that Christ now bestows on us his followers?  

Christ’s glory while he was on earth was the fact that he was God The Father’s sole representative to the world.  

If you wanted to find out anything about God during his day, you had to come to him.  Knowing him was the key to the kingdom.

Now, we are in charge.  

Today, if someone wants to inquire regarding the nature of the kingdom, they must come to us. Granted, they might be able to read the New Testament for themselves and enter into a covenant relationship with Christ based solely on their own reading and Holy Spirit led prayer.  However, practically speaking, most people need someone to tell them about Christ and explain to them who he is.  

That someone is now us.

Christ’s glory has at least three unique aspects: his devotion to the Father, his devotion to the kingdom, and his devotion to us.  He perfectly reflected The Father’s love.  This glory that is now ours has at least three unique aspects: our devotion to Christ, our devotion to the kingdom, and our devotion to one another.  When we are “walking by the Spirit”, in obedience to Christ, we can powerfully express the Father’s heart to the world, just like Christ did.  

In fact, Christ himself abides  powerfully and passionately in each of us, working through each of us as we play our individual parts, for each of us is now a unique and invaluable member of the “body of Christ”, the church.

To facilitate our working together as a team, each of us has been endowed with one or more “spiritual gifts” as described in Romans chapter 12, 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, and Ephesians Chapter 4.  Ironically, these gifts that were designed to unite us have sometimes been the very vehicles that drove us apart.  This is not altogether bad, for if we disagree and move apart for the sake of peace, then we may expand into new territory and reach people with whom we otherwise would never have come into contact.   

However, at some point, we may have to be mature enough to come back together to work together with those with whom we may not fully agree, especially in complex projects such as community evangelism and city wide revival.  

Cooperation is needed because individual churches often excel in one aspect of the kingdom while neglecting other just as important aspects of the kingdom.  No one church has the market cornered on truth. The full expression of church life requires the various proficiencies of the different denominations.  

We all need to respect the reverence of the Catholic liturgy, the freedom of Protestant teaching, the powerful representation of zeal in the charismatic churches, and the intimacy and community of house churches.  As is stated in 1 Corinthians 12, “the eye cannot say to the hand nor the head to the foot, ‘I have no need of you.’”

Within each church, there should be a multiplicity of spiritual gifts in operation.  There are seven gifts listed in Romans 12, nine in 1st Corinthians 12, and five more in Ephesians 4.  There are gifts of leadership, mercy, service, teaching, prophecy, and healing.  There is the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the discerning of spirits, wisdom, and knowledge.  There are evangelists that excel in preaching the gospel, pastors who specialize in caring for the needs of the saints, prophets who hopefully keep the church focused on Christ, and apostles who venture out and start new churches.  Each gift is precious and needed in Our Father’s great house.

The scripture declares two aspects of the acquisition of these gifts.  First, that “the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts to each one as he wills.”  Second, that we are to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially that we may prophecy.”  

So, we see that there is a sacred partnership between us and God.  He does his part, we do ours, and everyone is blessed.

As far as the utilization of these gifts, there is divine order in the way that these gifts should manifest, and we do well if we observe these guidelines.  Ignorance of the proper place and practice of the gifts is just as undesirable as is the ignorance of the gifts.  We must “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.”

When we are diligent to fulfill our responsibility in the ministry of the word of God in the church of God to the children of God, blessings abound.  

People grow and mature, heaven is pleased, and people are saved.  The much ballyhooed revival that has been promised and proclaimed as imminent may actually come to fruition.  

Our Father and Jesus are always willing and waiting to fulfill their responsibility in our lives for Christ is the “author and finisher of our faith.”  As Psalm 80:17,18 says, “Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, upon the Son of Man whom You made strong for yourself.  Then we shall not turn back from you.  Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.”

~ Brad Heilhecker

Lead image by Robert Koorenny – Unsplash

The Divine Disconnect

If we hold onto our faith in Christ’s sin atonement on our behalf, we are righteous and holy in God’s eyes.  

Why, then, the current age of complacency and self seeking in the church? From where comes the divine disconnect?

Could it be that the commands of Christ interfere often with our plans, so we choose to go our own way?

Do we then become practical atheists? Do we start denying the word of God piece by piece until we reach a level of relative comfort, a place where we can barely hold onto our hope of Heaven, but still maintain a steady grip on this life?

Is the alternative that distasteful?  

Is living a Christ centered life that impossible? Or is it just difficult, and we don’t like difficult?

~ Brad Heilhecker

Righteousness

Abundant Life

We have been given life.  

It required nothing on our part but to take that first breath of air. Our heart beats on its own; our brain works overtime whether we want it to or not; and our bodies grow and mature all by themselves.

We have been given eternal life. It required nothing on our part but to pray a simple prayer of surrender to Jesus. Our spirit is now alive, the Holy Spirit works overtime helping us grow in our faith; and we are part of the body of Christ, the church, whether we choose to associate with it or not.

Abundant life is a whole other animal. It is what Jesus wants to give us, but it will require a surrender of everything that we call “mine.”

There are few takers for this offer. People know subconsciously that the life of Christ requires suffering, and only the brave, the desperate, and the determined will sign up for this adventure. It might be compared to bungee jumping and sky diving; it requires an acquired taste for freedom and exhilaration.

As long as we are alive, the offer stands. Jesus stands ready with his arms open wide to impart to us his nature, his vision, and his power. He patiently waits until we are desperate enough to cast out on the sea of life with only our faith as a life preserver. He is much more patient and long suffering than we are; he has plenty to keep him busy while we make up our minds what to do with this brief life of ours.  

May we choose to invest our days wisely, for eternity is a long time to live with the choices that we make in our brief 70 or 80 years here.

~ Brad Heilhecker

The Divine Spark

We live; we breathe; we work; we play. Somehow, running through all of these aspects of life is Jesus.  

As John said, “In him is life, and his life is our light.”  

It is his love that we express, his truth that we proclaim, and his Spirit that directs us.  

He is the divine spark!

He gave us life; he gave us eternal life; he gives us himself, and he makes us like himself.

John also records of Jesus, “He knew that he had come from God and that he was going back to God, so he took off his outer garments and began to wash the disciples feet.” We, too, know that we have been born of God and are destined for God, and we, too, can live lives of humble, helpful service to God through serving the church—”The fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

The service may be menial, but if it is needed and Spirit directed, it is monumental in Our Father’s eyes.

His eyes are on our hearts, and his ears are open to our cries. It is written, “He (Christ) can save us completely, for he ever lives to intercede for us.” We are his life, his inheritance, and his treasure, and he is our life, our inheritance, and our treasure.

He is our past, our present, and our future. Jesus is our life, now and forever!

~ Brad Heilhecker

Christ, Our Life

Show

WORTHY THOUGHT: Jesus came to live and walk the ways of this earth to show us how to live.

Jesus has shown us as an example that God’s Word is life-oriented not information oriented.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” -Deuteronomy 6:4-8

We as parents need to be reminded it is not enough to tell our children how to act; we must show them just like Jesus has shown us.

~ Angela Lipe-Pattengill

Happily Ever After

Is life about Christ, or is Christ life itself? It seems we can be consumed with making our lives about Christ, and still miss Christ himself.

He refuses to become one of our science projects or artistic masterpieces. He demands to be our life. That is – if we belong to him and claim to live in him.

So, how do we find Christ himself? Where does he hide? What does he do with himself? Where do we go to walk and talk with him?

Maybe, when we forget about ourselves and really seek God for God’s sake we are on the path. Maybe, when we help someone just because they need help, we are learning his ways. And, maybe, when our hearts seek his company in the quiet hours, we will discover him waiting patiently in the wings ready to share his heart with us.

When we discover that we are his life, it becomes a little easier to make him our life. When we get to the end of our rope and find him there, we start to trust in him. When we are weak and sick, and he gently comforts us, we feel his love. When we are strong and triumphant and he joyfully shares our victory dance, we become friends.

Like the marriage vows, we find him “in sickness and in health, and in the good times and bad.” The beauty of it is that, unlike wedding vows, there is no “till death do we part.”

This short life is just the preamble to an epic love story where we truly “live happily ever after.”

~ Brad Heilhecker

Will You Stand Alone?

This past two weeks I was traveling around Israel with two couples. It is always a blessing to stand and walk in the places where events from the Bible actually happened. Here are two verses that impacted me as I was sharing them one day.

Acts 10:1-2

There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a Roman army officer in what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man, a “God-fearer,” as was his whole household; he gave generously to help the Jewish poor and prayed regularly to God. (CJB)

I Kings 19:10

He answered, “I have been very zealous for Adonai the God of armies, because the people of Isra’el have abandoned your covenant, broken down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. Now I’m the only one left, and they’re coming after me to kill me too.” (CJB)

As we traveled around, the Holy Spirit was impressing on my heart that most of the people we spoke about, read about and studied seemed to “stand alone.” Both verses above bring reality to that statement.

When we stood in Caesarea and read the account of Cornelius, I realized that he was alone. As a Roman army officer, no one else around him would have been following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even Peter, who went to visit Cornelius to help him understand who God is, had to stand alone.

The second verse is from Mt Carmel. This is about Elijah. He was the prophet who called down fire from heaven to defeat those who were worshipping Baal. Immediately after this event, Elijah was told by Jezebel that he was going to be killed. Elijah because afraid and used the word, “Now I am the only one left…”

Clearly Elijah felt alone. He became afraid and actually ran.

As I spoke about these events, I realized that many people today “feel” alone. They wonder if they are the only ones trying to do what is right. They either become extra bold in their faith, or they become fearful and hide.

When you begin to “feel” alone, remember that even years ago many people had to stand by themselves for their faith. We can go back to Noah, who was the only righteous man. From there forward the list grows long.

The question for us today is, how are we going to respond when we have a moment that “hits us” and we believe we are alone? Are we going to be like Cornelius and “move forward” asking God to bring people our way to help us? Or, are we going to be like Elijah and flee?

We are blessed to have the Word of God that reminds us of ALL who have gone before us. We are blessed to have LISTS of names in the Bible that STOOD strong in the midst of trials. We need to STOP and recognize that God has given us His Word in order to remind us of ALL that He has done.

When we come to the realization that TRUSTING God to walk through life with us assures us that we are NOT alone, than we can find REST in Him. We will RESTORE ourselves to Him. We are then REFRESHED to walk forward day to day.

Love and blessings,

Rose Horton