Thursday, July 20, 2017

Speak Up

I needed a getaway.

More than I realized.

The past year of my life has been packed full with activities, demands and that ugly word I so despise - depression.

At the end of last year, I informed Depression that she would not be making the transition into 2017 with me.  And for the most part, she hasn't - although she still finds ways to sneak back in if I'm not watching out for her.

Fast forward to last week, I attended a Speak Up conference for the first time ever.  I'd heard about it for years, but never made it a priority to go.  

This year was difference.  

Thanks to the persistence of my friend Carissa Yoder, I found myself sitting among hundreds of other writers and speakers at Calvin College wondering if there was still a message hidden somewhere inside of me and how, in Heaven's name, would I dig it out if I found it... much less find the time to share it?

God met me there.

He met me through the faces of several people.

He met me through the woman who told me that the only holdback she had with writing was TIME.

No kidding?!  

She had forty some years on me at least.  I sat listening to her tell of her life in the idyllic beauty of her life out west.  She told me about her lack of pets, children, husband and time... yes... time.

I stared stupidly as I tried to compute her words.  

No time?

I pictured my life back home - demands piled higher than my eyeballs.  A life where finding "time" is both laughable and seemingly unreachable.

Conviction slapped me in the face.  There will always be excuses for not writing.  "Time" is forever fleeting - no matter how full... or empty my hands may be.

Ironically, I never saw my new friend the rest of the conference.  


After that, God grabbed my heart through the overriding message of the Speak Up conference - WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.

Those words fell like a healing balm on my heart.  I felt wanted.  Protected.  Needed.  Lifted up.

Renewed and refreshed - the calling He gave me rang louder than ever inside my soul.

New friends and old - what a gift!
And then there was FRIENDSHIP - That weekend, God broadened my circles.

He gave me the gift of renewing old friendships and discovering new.

The enemy does his best to make our world feel small and insignificant, but God calls us to step out and discover how big His plans really are.

And finally, FEAR.  I watched as some fancy little layers were peeled back to reveal the truth of what was hiding in me.  Fear of man.. fear of failure.. and fear of man again.  

And in the knowledge of this newfound truth, I found the key.  By letting fear dictate my actions, I had opened myself up to the presence of Depression.  By refusing to do the thing God had asked of me, I was left vulnerable to all that Depression has to offer. 

What is the message you carry?

How do you plan to deliver it?

When do you officially become a writer or a speaker?  

Do you even have the right to try?

These are all questions I ran into at Speak Up - and conviction fell heavy.  

I do have a calling.  I do have a message.  

And I've also let pride and fear close my mouth and shut my laptop (hence the date of my last blogpost).

I wonder if you've felt the same?  Truth is, we all are invited into the calling of speaking up.  Our messages aren't all the same nor are the sizes of our audiences.  But we can't deny the truth - God gave you a message - don't deny the world the gift of hearing what He has to say through you.

Speak Up!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ways of Royalty - Identifying the Orphan Spirit - Day 16

Day 16 - Ways of Royalty

Read 1 John 3:1

Our Father God knows us intimately – but He longs for us to know Him as well. Many people have asked how to know when God is speaking to them. This question always brings to mind an illustration we have done with our youth group.

Consider this – suppose you are in a large room of people. Everyone is talking and you are blindfolded. You are told to go find your dad. You listen to the noise and soon you hear your name called. You immediately dismiss it, because you know that wasn’t your father. Soon everyone in the room is saying your name, but there’s that one voice – that tone you recognize so well... your dad.

For some of us, the sound of his voice brings discomfort due to a painful childhood. For others, hearing your dad call your name evokes love and anticipation. Earthly fathers are often how we envision our Heavenly Father – and that can be helpful, but it isn’t always accurate.

Our Abba Father is a good Father. Satan tries to distort our view of Him – from day one he had Eve doubting God’s character. If he did that to Eve, we can know and expect that he will do that to us as well.

When a child is adopted, it’s important for the parent and child to spend time together to build a bond that cannot be broken. Our adopted Father is always ready to spend time with you and I – it is vitally important for us to take time with Him. He’s always with you – be aware of His presence and soon you will recognize His voice – no matter how many other things are calling out for your attention.

Ask yourself:

 Do I acknowledge that I have been adopted in the Kingdom of God?

 Do I live like I am a child of the King?

 What area do I struggle in the most?

 How do I plan to change me?

We’ve studied many aspects of the Orphan Spirit and hopefully we have reached a place where we can acknowledge who we are in Christ.

Adopted. Forgiven. Loved. Free.

Do you belong?

Yes, you do. We all have a unique role within the Kingdom. Knowing this, may we choose to love one another well as we celebrate the new life we now enjoy as sons and daughters of the King.

Thank you for joining me on this 16 day journey of Identifying the Orphan Spirit.  I'd love to hear from you.  You can comment below or email me at

God bless! 

For more in-depth study, I recommend reading All the King's Orphans and the correlating Study Guide.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Absalom and Jezebel - Identifying the Orphan Spirit - Day 15

Day 15 - Spiritual Fathers and Mothers and a look at Absalom and Jezebel

Our pastors, elders and other church leaders are our spiritual fathers and mothers – yet they are not immune to the Orphan Spirit. The Orphan Spirit is one who desires status and notoriety, and for that reason our church leaders are ones who struggle to lead and serve for the proper reasons.

Pastors need to recognize that part of their calling is to lead the people in their churches, yet at the same time they are there to serve. Unfortunately, many have taken on the role of pastor in an effort to feed their ego. This is completely contradictory to the calling of a pastor. If a church leader looks at his flock as a people who can be used, manipulated and controlled for his own benefit, he has sorely misunderstood his function.

Men and women who have been called to lead the body of Christ must recognize the importance of leading like Jesus. He is the ultimate example in servant leadership.

Imagine a church with leaders who call out the potential in their congregation. Who recognize talents and abilities and provide opportunities to use that gifting. Pastors and leaders must always be aware of the tendency within the Orphan Spirit to compare, control and minimize others. This can make or break a ministry.


Consider the congregation whose pastor refuses to share the load of ministry with his or her flock. The deep-seated need to control has the pastor micro-managing every aspect of church life. If someone steps up with the ability to do something well, the pastor, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, elder… you fill in the blank, may find himself comparing his own ability to that person. If the Orphan Spirit mentality takes over, the lay member is refused the opportunity to use his gifting – or is sent in a different direction.

Done over and over again, the pastor (and other leaders) ends up exhausted, discouraged and lonely with a congregation full of frustrated, unfulfilled, disengaged people.

Christ’s example on earth teaches us as leaders the importance of laying down our lives for others. As parents, we are called to set aside our own wants and preferences time and again as we raise our children - and we do it out of a love and desire to see them succeed in life. In the same way, pastors and leaders must discover ways to open doors of opportunity for their congregation.

Less of me – more of you.

Our minds cannot even begin to imagine what all could happen in the Kingdom when all sons and daughters begin to celebrate and promote one another.

At the same time, lay members have a responsibility in being willing to be lead. Both sides have an obligation to serve.

If competition must exist, let’s create a culture of competition where sons and daughters attempt to out-serve, out-love and out-promote one another. Wouldn’t that be fun?

But prepare yourself – love like this tends to draw a crowd.

Ask yourself:

 How independent am I?

 Am I willing to accept guidance in my life?

 How much do I value and respect my Pastor?

 Am I willing to speak or listen to negativity about my church leadership?

 Do I promote division in my church?

 Do I pray for my Pastor?

(For Pastors and Leaders) Ask yourself:

 Do I lead as an Orphan Spirit?

 As a leader, am I motivated by love or by fear?

 What gives me the most joy in the role I carry?

 Am I a servant-leader? Am I willing to serve or are some jobs in the church “beneath” me?

 How am I promoting members of my congregation?

 Do I fear losing my position? How is this affecting my ability to lead?

 Do I control, manipulate or minimize those I lead?

 How can I be a better leader?

The stories of Absalom and Jezebel are intriguing and both the Absalom and Jezebel spirits or mindsets can be found in our modern day churches. Their stories provide insight into how the Enemy uses people within the Kingdom to destroy the Kingdom. Their target is leadership, but they divide and conquer all that they can along the way.

Take time to study their individual stories and discover how to watch for these divisive spirits inside the Kingdom.  Both the book and study guide offer more in-depth information.