Archive for March, 2014


Recently I’ve been focusing on getting physically fit and healthy. I’m not getting any younger and if it’s within my own choosing, I want to be healthy for my children’s adulthood and potential grandchildren.

My iPhone has opened doors to be fit with apps which allow me to measure my steps and my workouts. It even gives me cardio training suggestions. I have a goal to actually run a 5K this summer so I have an app that gives me a training plan. It even talks to me through the whole thing. Genius.

But with all my energy on getting my physical body in shape, I’ve let my spiritual man become a couch potato. Relaxing in the successes of the past doesn’t keep those spiritual muscles in shape so when a crisis hits, I’ll be huffing and puffing to keep up or worse yet, fail to even try and allow the enemy to steal my joy, my relationships and my strength.

So for the next few blogs I’m going to outline a few exercises you can do to get spiritually fit and healthy. And just like all fitness motivators will tell you – it won’t be easy but you’ve got to push through the pain to get the victory. Unlike your physical body, which will eventually give out no matter how healthy you are, your spirit stays with you forever.

My focus is not on gaining additional favor with God, to somehow look better in His eyes. He will not love me less because of my perceived failures. He adores me! And you too! You are choosing to get spiritually strong for your own self…because you’ll be able to step into the destiny God has for you with confidence.

Take a few minutes right now to open God’s Word and get a spiritual lift from reading a Psalm or two. The Holy Spirit is your personal trainer in this journey you’re on – use Him to teach, train and guide you to be a strong and healthy believer! Read Isaiah 41 and be encouraged.

Isaiah 41:9-10 – “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’: I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Today’s motivation: Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

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Two well-known evangelists died within the last two weeks.

Both evangelized the world with their beliefs. One was known for loving and sacrificing everything to tell all about the love of Jesus. The other was known for spewing hate and rhetoric about the judgment and wrath of his god. Steve Hill taught us to love all people, regardless of background or lifestyle. Fred Phelps taught us to hate everyone who doesn’t look or act like him.

It’s sad that the hater is going to get more press than the lover but the squeaky wheel always gets the attention. Rev. Phelps and his family comprise the Westboro Baptist Church. They are well known for picketing funerals of war veterans, and a variety of other venues – anywhere they can scream and spew and spit (on camera, of course). They hold up nasty signs and shake their fists at the world. I’m not going to get into details because the internet is full of articles in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years.

My last blog post was about the effect Steve Hill’s “yes” to God had upon my family and the world. What about Fred Phelps? Did he truly believe he was saying “yes” to a mandate from God? Probably. But that is not the God I know and love, the God who loves me and everyone else in the world. Rev. Phelps gave the words Christian, Baptist and church a really bad name. The media will make much of his legacy of hate but now he’s gone and we’re still here. We can choose to truly be God’s hands, and feet, and voice of love.  My God sent His only Son because He loves all of us. That’s a message too long stomped upon by the Fred Phelps’ of this world. It’s time I stepped up – time I was brave in the face of adversity and showed the authentic love of Christ…even to those who don’t look like me, act like me, or even like me. We’ve got a lot of lies about God to overcome – not by words, or signs, or social media – but by demonstrating the sacrificial love of Jesus. Steve Hill gave us an amazing example. Here’s to another “yes, God.”

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SteveHill-50percentLast Sunday morning heaven welcomed one of the most dedicated and faithful servants I have known. Evangelist Steve Hill battled cancer for the last few years but throughout the struggle, he and his lovely wife Jeri stayed strong in their faith, continuing to serve God through their ministry, in the U.S. and around the world. There are plenty of websites and blogs you can read to give you more details about Steve’s battle and his life.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about “what if?” What if Steve Hill had not said “yes” to the direction God had for him? How would my life have been different?

Steve’s “Yes, Lord” changed the way I live, love and serve. Think for a minute. My Facebook timeline would look a whole lot different since most of my FB friends have also been impacted by this one man’s ministry. I probably wouldn’t even have some of you as friends or acquaintances. My family was totally changed because of the Brownsville Revival in the late 1990s. Many of you know of my husband’s dramatic encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit in the altars of Brownsville Assembly of God. All of the pastoral staff from our church had travelled to witness the revival firsthand. All came back changed, renewed, revived, transformed and anointed.

The power of the Holy Spirit was poured out in our own church with many people travelling from great distances to witness this outpouring of power and repentance. My whole family, including my 2-yr-old and 4-year-old sons, experienced services which lasted late into the night, witnessed people laid out across our sanctuary, learned new worship choruses which expressed heartfelt yearning to touch the heart of God. “Enemy’s Camp” and “We Will Ride” are now worship classics, straight from the keyboard of Lindell Cooley into sanctuary platforms everywhere. Prayer teams prayed over people for hours as desperate men and women, pastors and wives, ministry leaders and laypeople, believers and non-believers urgently sought a touch from God.

This little outpouring continued for years. We had training for pastors on Friday afternoons followed by Friday Night Alive services. The chairs of our sanctuary were littered with Bibles, handouts and even shoes as people saved seats from Sunday morning to Sunday night. This transformation of the body of Christ went far beyond Pensacola and Cedar Rapids. There are few people who haven’t heard of the Brownsville Revival or its evangelist, pastor, worship leader, or youth leader. These men, and subsequently those they touched, have impacted the Body of Christ around the world.

Personally? My children grew up believing revival is “normal.” As 20-somethings, they know a church service without the power of the Holy Spirit is just a gathering, not an empowering. Those worship choruses are still beloved in our household – they bring back great memories but also spur us not to settle for cute phrases or catchy tunes. Nothing but touching the heart of God will do. I have friends around the world because I took groups of women to Brownsville for women’s conferences. Women like Dotty Schmitt, Brenda Kilpatrick and Varle Rollins are priceless mentors to me because Steve Hill said “yes, Lord.” I’m no longer satisfied with the way church used to run, the way I used to live, the concept of God I used to have. This little blog couldn’t possibly touch the many ways life as I knew it changed in the spring of 1996.

All of this because Steve Hill said “yes” to God on Father’s Day 1995 in Pensacola, Florida. Now – take a look at your own legacy. Have you said “yes” to God’s plans for you? Maybe you don’t think it really matters in the whole scheme of the universe. I’m glad Steve Hill thought differently.

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I like sweets. I don’t think I’m addicted to them but I really, really like them. I have a candy dish on my desk at work which contains a variety of hard candies. I find myself sucking on a butterscotch or cinnamon candy disk a couple of times a day…probably more from habit than need. I also like my friend Ellie’s desserts. Recently she made this awesome Snickers peanut butter brownie cake that was amazing…and I’m pretty sure I ate most of it. So for Lent I’m choosing to give up white sugar (and products) and candy.  I’m not Catholic and I don’t have any affiliation with a denomination which observes fasting as part of their Lenten practices. But I am fasting for the next 40 days. But one day into my fast, I’m feeling a little bit guilty. No – I didn’t cheat. No midnight candy binges. No intense cravings for chocolate. But how much of a sacrifice am I really making? And what is the point?

Fasting for Lent

Traditionally the purpose of Lent is a time of preparation.  Through prayer, penance, repentance, alms giving, atonement and self-denial, a believer prepares himself for the observance of Holy Week and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

There is really nothing theologically that I disagree with in regards to preparing myself for the greatest day on any Christian’s calendar. Instead of the over-indulgence of the Christmas season, the pre-Easter season of Lent concentrates on self-denial, giving up for 40 days what I may feel is important or essential to my life.

I’ve never really spent much time pondering all the ramifications but this year I felt led to “give up” something. The more I think about this, the more silly I find it. I seriously believe that white sugar and candy are essential?

Honestly, I probably chose as I did because it was very doable and not very tough.  I could have chosen coffee but egads! That would have really hurt. I could have chosen meat (like my Catholic elementary school friends had to) but, you know, I really like meat. And though I enjoy fish and eggs, 40 days is a long time without a hamburger, or spaghetti, or chicken enchiladas.

I’m so thankful Jesus was willing to sacrifice the really tough stuff – HIS LIFE – for me. Makes my choices seem pretty silly in comparison. While I turn my nose up to cupcakes, fudge, cookies and Dove chocolates, Jesus turned himself over to crowds who jeer him, guards who beat him and soldiers/politicians who nail His hands and feet to a cross and kill him. Jesus chose death so that I could choose to fast candy. I’m pathetic.

So one day into my fast I’ve made a decision. I’m going to keep my commitment but I’m also going to spend more time with the other aspects of Lent – the prayer, alms giving, and repentance parts. It’s the very least I can do.

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