Lessons From My Pastor

So, I’ve been posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I felt in my heart to also start posting on Sundays (at least one Sunday a month). God has been training us for the ministry, so I thought I would share what we’ve been learning thus far. God bless! 🙂

Lesson Number One: Humility.

Several weeks ago a few of the members from our church had a meeting. They were unhappy with my parent’s leadership and decided they were going to let them have it.

In the weeks prior to this meeting I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I knew this was coming… it was just a matter of when.

On the day of, I remember going to church early with my mom to pray. We had no idea that these particular members were planning to show up until my cousins (who are also pastors) came in person to give us a heads up.

To preface, God has spoken to Sam and I about our calling to be Pastors before. Sam is also a pastor’s son, so you can imagine we were in no hurry to be in the ministry. These cousins had prayed for us and felt from the Lord that God had brought us back from Texas to be trained by my parents.

Being born and raised in church and part of a pastoral family- We felt like we knew it all. What could my parents possibly teach us that we haven’t already learned from them?

And then this meeting happened. It was not pretty. These members were just downright mean. I couldn’t help but think to myself, Don’t they know who my parents are?

I’ll be honest, I got a little ugly myself. I insisted that these ingrates be kicked out of church. After all, I argued, Paul says, “expel the wicked from among you”. My parents, however, were the picture of humility. By the end the night- these members were hugging and kissing them. My parents could’ve easily pulled out their resume with 1) the number of churches they’ve pastored, 2) the number of souls saved under their ministry, 3) the years of experience they have, etc. etc., but they didn’t.

I was angry at first. My thoughts were: how will they know who you are unless you tell them? But to them “it doesn’t matter who we are, but who God is.” I’ve observed my parents in the weeks that followed and they treat these members like nothing ever happened.

And although I was angry at first, I remembered that verse from Isaiah 53:7,

He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet He did not open His mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughter

and like a sheep silent before her shearers,

He did not open His mouth.

My parents understand that the work that God is doing in HIS Church is more important than their pride. Their attitude was like of Jesus and I admire them for that.

As for me, I had to humble myself before the Lord so as not to give the enemy a footstool with my anger. Clearly I have a long way to go, but I’m blessed to be able to learn from them.

Bring on lesson #2! 🙂

Testimony Tuesday: Ready or Not- Here I Come

Someone unexpected invited themselves to my church today. They asked me out of the blue if they could join me for Sunday School.  I was pleasantly surprised. I used to have encounters like this all the time. People who didn’t even know me would ask me to pray for them… but that was a simpler time and well, truth be told, it’s been awhile. I say that it’s “out of the blue”, but I know that these encounters are divine- orchestrated by God so that these men and women can hear about Jesus. I may not see them coming, but God has them all planned out.

“The Glory Will Be Greater”, that is my theme for 2018 and I can already see this unfolding in my every day life. I feel like I am finally ready to get ready and do what God has been calling me to do. This encounter was merely confirmation that God is going to do great things this year, just not in the way I’d expect him to.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

-Proverbs 19:21

How often do we make all these plans that are contrary to God’s purpose for our lives, when ultimately it’s his purpose that prevails? For me, these past 2 years have been just that. Sure, I wanted to do his will, but many times I struggled with discouragement, fear, doubt, etc., so I convinced myself that I simply was not able to. I convinced myself that I wasn’t ready and that it was okay to “hide out” in the meantime. Like Jonah, I ran from God’s calling, but we can’t hide from God and sooner or later we have to decide that “ready or not, here we come”. I don’t want these pleasant surprises to be distant memories- I want them to be every day occurrences.

This year, let your desire to fulfill God’s purpose be greater than all of the negative emotions we often feel when we step out in faith. Give him all of your plans and watch him do above what we can ask or think.

Stay tuned for more testimonies. 🙂

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (Book Review)

I have been reading the book “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer. You may know her as the actress from War Room (a movie I would highly recommend, btw). You may also know her as Tony Evans daughter OR as the preacher who called out Oprah Winfrey.

To summarize, Priscilla outlines 10 strategies that Satan uses against us:

  1. Against Your Passion
  2. Against Your Focus
  3. Against Your Identity
  4. Against Your Family
  5. Against Your Confidence
  6. Against Your Calling
  7. Against Your Purity
  8. Against Your Rest and Contentment
  9. Against Your Heart
  10. Against Your Relationships

She discusses these strategies in depth and ends each chapter with a call to PRAY and bible verses to “accentuate” our prayers.

P= Praise.

R=Repentance.

A= Ask.

Y= Yes (to God’s promises).

Using this strategy, Priscilla urges readers to wage war against the enemy and his schemes to kill, steal, and destroy. The back of the book even has blank pages for us to write down our prayers for each strategy he *attempts* to use against us.

So far, I love this book, but then again- I love Priscilla Shirer. I  think it is a great resource for those of us who may be struggling to pray or struggling to understand why we are going through less than favorable circumstances. Because we have an enemy, that’s why, and he wants nothing more than to see us defeated.

But we pray and prayer turns the table on the enemy’s plans against us. That’s why it’s such a vital part of the Christian journey.

So, starting today, I will be sharing my prayers for each of the strategies listed above and every Thursday for next ten Thursdays, along with a summary of each chapter. I can literally feel God working in my heart and mind through these prayers. If you’ve read the book, I’d love to know what your thoughts are. If you haven’t, I think it’s worth the read. Just make sure you have a box of tissues handy. Yup, it’s one of those. *Cue ugly cry*.

 

 

Testimony Tuesday: From a Desolate Pit

So, I shared this on my Snapchat on Christmas Day and felt that it would be a great way to start my first #testimonytuesday of 2018! The first of many, God willing.

This one is short, sweet, & to the point. I was in church one Sunday with my family. I am not usually able to listen to the message because I have a 2 year old.

‘Nuff said.

Anyway, I was in the back of the church because Sarah was being terrible, oops, I mean “terrific”, as only a 2 year old can be. I was holding her in my arms, when she started to yell, “Help me, I’m stuck!” How me holding her constitutes as being “stuck” is beyond me, but I digress. Sarah then proceeds to yell out the names of all of her relatives on both sides, “Grandma, Grandpa, Titi (Aunt), Tio (Uncle), Kobe (dog), Fuzzy (cat)”.

I couldn’t help but chuckle hearing her because I immediately thought, “She is calling on all the wrong names. Now if she called out her daddy’s name… her daddy would come running.”

And all of sudden it was like, BAM. The Holy Spirit started ministering to me. I thought to myself, How many times have I been in this exact same situation? How many times have I found myself metaphorically “stuck” in my circumstances and instead of calling on my Heavenly Father, I look to literally anyone or anything else to help me out of what I am going through? Sadly, all that does is dig us deeper and deep into the hole.

But alas! There is good news! Psalm 40:1-2 says:

 I waited patiently for the Lord,
and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
2 He brought me up from a desolate pit,
out of the muddy clay,
and set my feet on a rock,
making my steps secure.

We have a Heavenly Father who not only hears us when we call on him, but who is able and willing to “bring us up” from whatever desolate pit we may find ourselves in. Be it in our relationships, finances, work, [insert desolate pit of your choice].

We just have to call on his name. 

God bless,

Damaris

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

The only way to combat anxiety is through prayer. 

Have you ever had an anxiety attack? Also known as, “panic” attacks? I have. One minute I am okay and the next I am overwhelmed by uncontrollable fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future, etc. The list can go on and on. I create “worst case scenarios” in my mind… events that haven’t happened, but could.  That fear and the subsequent worry of “what could happen” is what drives anxiety. In fact, worry is defined as “to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.” Wow. No wonder the word anxiety is followed by the word attack. We already know we have an enemy who is armed and ready to attack our minds so that we dwell on those very things we fear most. So, how do we fight back?

Pray, but first REJOICE.

Paul, the author of Philippians, segues into these verses by first exclaiming, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice!” It’s hard to rejoice when we’re anxious. Anxiety steals our joy. I cannot even begin to recount the number of times my entire day has been ruined because of worry. The thoughts come in like a flood and it’s all I can do just to keep my head above the water. Psalm 94:19 says, “Whenanxiety was great within me, your consolationbrought joy to my soul. In other words, God is present in the midst of our anxiety. Surely, it will not defeat us with God on our side. He will lift up a standard against the enemy and the flood of thoughts that come in tow so that we do not drown. That in and of itself is cause to rejoice! Not only that, but we don’t have to live struggling just to keep our heads above the water, but when we pray- we have access to God’s peace. How great is that?

God’s peace surpasses our every thought.  

Think about the worst thought you’ve ever had. The one that not only steals your joy, but cripples you with fear, so that you can’t move forward in what God has called you to do and who God has called you to be. The one that makes you see mountains where there are molehills, so that your thoughts are on a continuous loop of worry. My mom compares this to a hamster’s wheel. You’re running and running, but getting no where. God’s peace, my friends, surpasses even that thought. This peace guards our minds and our hearts in Christ Jesus when we pray and make our requests known to God. No longer do we have to live burdened by anxiety. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Gal. 5:1.

Dwell on these things.   

Paul writes in verse 8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” To dwell is to  “linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing.” We must not continue to entertain thoughts we know will only bring us more harm than good, but rather, we must set our minds on things above and dwell on the thoughts that glorify God.

Finally, brothers.

As someone who struggles with anxiety- these verses are among my favorites in the entire bible. So, whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed- just remember the following:

  • We can rejoice in the Lord and in the strength of his might. We have more than enough reasons to do so!
  • We have access to thought-surpassing, anxiety-defeating heavenly peace when we pray.
  • We can set our minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God instead of dwelling on satanic thoughts meant to cripple us from moving forward.

So, don’t worry, be happy!