Church Body, Inspire

One Way

For the 60’s generation that dropped out, turned on, and tuned in Chuck Smith pointed them to Jesus with an contagious smile and a finger pointed heavenward.

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Society marginalized the long-haired, hippie freaks, but Pastor Chuck opened his heart and church doors to their exuberant, alternate music and groovy way of dressing. While experimenting with “free love” they discovered authentic love in the pages of a little black book. For God is love. The combination of unconditional love and Smith’s magnetic presentation of the Bible launched the first wave of the “Jesus Movement.”

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Pastor Chuck Smith moved to heaven today. Because of his ministry, I went from bartender to Bible study leader. I left drug use and promiscuity to become spirit filled and experience incredible intimacy in Christ. May I suggest that we bring back a favorite gesture of those days? In honor of Chuck’s new residence in heaven, let’s point others to Jesus with the “one way” sign! 👆

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Church Body

Don’t Assume

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I recently received a copy of the blog post below. Sometimes we go through seasons where it feels like spiritual war erupts on our door. Spiritual battle is not new to any Christian; we see it all throughout the Bible. With over 30 years in ministry, Skip and I know what spiritual attacks look like. Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of it, you want to run away — hole up in a safe place and wait for the storm to pass.

But oftentimes, God has different plans. Instead of running and hiding, He gives us marching orders and sends us out. He tells us to armor up in order to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph. 6:14-20). We are to stand our ground and listen only to His voice and no others. We are to stand solely on His Word.

We just know God doesn’t want us to assume anything about the war we are in. He wants us to follow Him into battle and let Him have the victory. Here are some good instructions for charging into battle:

Don’t assume you know all the facts after hearing one side of the story.

Don’t assume the person is guilty just because strong charges are made against him.

Don’t assume you understand a bloggers heart after reading one post.

Don’t assume that famous author, preacher, athlete, politician, or local celebrity wont read what you write and don’t assume they wont care what you say.

Don’t assume the divorced person is to blame for the divorce.

Don’t assume the single mom isn’t following Jesus.

Don’t assume the guy from the Mission is less of a man or less of a Christian.

Don’t assume the pastor looking for work is a bad pastor.

Don’t assume the church that struggles or fails is a bad church.

Don’t assume you’d be a better mom.

Don’t assume bad kids are the result of bad parents.

Don’t assume your parents are clueless.

Don’t assume everyone should drop everything to attend to your needs, and don’t assume no one will.

Don’t assume the rich are ungenerous.

Don’t assume the poor are lazy.

Don’t assume you know what they are all like after meeting one or two of their kind.

Don’t assume you should read between the lines.

Don’t assume you have interpreted the emotions of the email correctly.

Don’t assume everyone has forgotten about you.

Don’t assume they meant to leave you off the list.

Don’t assume everyone else has a charmed life.

Don’t assume a bad day makes her a bad friend.

Don’t assume the repentance isn’t genuine.

Don’t assume the forgiveness isn’t sincere.

Don’t assume God cant change you.

Don’t assume God cant love you.

Don’t assume God cant love them.

What’s your battle? What does war at your door look like? God’s marching orders are the same. Stand your ground, don’t assume anything, and watch Him charge into your war and onto victory.

To check out the original blog by Kevin DeYoung, click here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/02/28/dont-assume/

Church Body

Innkeepers

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Two weeks ago my good friend Debbi Bryson came to Albuquerque to teach at a women’s event at our Nob Hill campus. Debbi is a gifted encourager and teacher. She persuades everyone who crosses her path to follow her as she follows Christ. She doesn’t just tell you to seek God; she says, “Let’s seek Him together.”

One of the things Debbi and I have in common is our heart for lost people. On Friday night we met at the Nob Hill campus, which is right in the middle of downtown. The heart of this campus is rooted in the history and nostalgia of early Albuquerque, but also hopes to reach its current residents, many drug addicts and homeless.

We spent time in prayer before heading to dinner. We asked God to reveal to us the lost people who need Him most. He would answer that prayer as fast as we stepped out of the front doors to go to dinner. As I walked toward the restaurant a few blocks away, Donnie came up beside me and asked for help. Familiar with the homeless lifestyle I didn’t want to offer him money but I wanted to give him something. From experience I know most homeless live on handouts and scraps.  I offered to buy him a hamburger. He readily accepted. As we walked down Central, Debbi soon caught up with us and asked if we were headed for food, so off we went in search of a hamburger.

When we got to the restaurant, we sat Donnie down at a table, ordered him a meal, and I paid the waitress. She was stunned at the gesture. Debbi looked right into Donnie’s eyes and asked him if he was tired. He explained his trials with drinking and being a prisoner of alcohol. Debbi and I assured him that he could be free, through the love and power of Jesus Christ. Donnie told us that every day he goes into the bathroom and cries because of this prison. He wept the tears of a broken man. Debbi and I wept at the power sin has in our lives and those around us wept as they realized what we were doing for him. Debbi had a gospel tract in her purse for such occasions and I gave him the number for Joy Junction and told him to call. We prayed over him, encouraged him to seek Jesus, and said goodbye. We could only hope the seeds we planted would be watered by God’s love.

The next day, Debbi retold our story to a group of 100 ladies. She said that we cannot expect to be able to fix every broken person God sends us. He alone can fix them. We can’t meet every need they have and sometimes we need to send them to the “innkeepers” in our lives. She then told the story of the Good Samaritan. You probably know it well. Jesus is teaching in Capernaum and lawyer stands up and asks Jesus what he must to do inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him what the law says and the lawyer quotes it: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus affirms this is the right answer. Then the lawyer asks a pointed question, “And who is my neighbor?”

We pick it up in Luke 10:30-35:  Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'”

Yes the Samaritan offered his hand, cleaned up the man, and picked him up off the road, but it’s what he did next that we need to pay attention to. He took him to the innkeeper. He gave the innkeeper money to house and feed him, and then said he would be back with more to cover what else was needed in his absence.

We can’t always do everything on our own; we just don’t have the resources. But we can have innkeepers in our life to direct people to in times of trouble. I keep the phone numbers to a few different agencies in my cell phone for such occasions. I hope Donnie sought out help at Joy Junction and read the tract Debbi gave him. I hope he continually hears the words of our prayers over him and remembers Debbi looking him in the eye telling him he can be free.

Here are a few of my “innkeepers.” Keep these in your cell phone or in your car and ask God to send you some wounded people who are half dead. He might answer your prayer the next time you get in your car.

Joy Junction (505) 877-6967 (emergency housing, meals, and clothing)

Albuquerque Rescue Mission (505) 346-4673 (emergency housing, meals, and clothing)

Love INC (505) 255-5683 (assistance with food, clothing, household items, and counseling)

The Storehouse (505) 842-6491 (food and clothing)

Care Net Pregnancy Center of Albuquerque (pregnancy options counseling):
Administrative Office (505) 880-8373
NE Heights Center (505) 880-0882
East Mountains Center (505) 281-5408
Rio Rancho (505) 896-2306
Valencia County (505) 565-3838

Family Advocacy Center (domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual assault)
Non-emergencies (505) 242-2677
            After hours (505) 243-2333

You can read more about Debbi’s ministry at http://www.biblebusstop.com/

Church Body

Coming Home

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Recently, one of our on-staff pastors unexpectedly passed away. Les Palmer oversaw our Chaplain’s department and was always on hand for walk-in prayers and counseling. His death leaves a large hole in our staff. At his funeral, his oldest son gave a eulogy. Les, named after his father, noted in the days since his father’s death that he came to realize his father had long arms because Les touched lives all over the globe.

I realized that’s exactly what I want. Long arms for the Lord. I love teaching the Word of God because I know it changes people’s lives, but I also want to be His hands, feet, and arms. Wrapping around those in need, those who are broken, those who are wounded.

Having a heart for outreach means over the years I have prayed ardently for the Lord to use me in tangible ways. And He has ardently answered my prayers. Through prayer and our church, we have taken on many visions the Lord has provided. When 9/11 happened, I cried out asking God, “What can I do?” He made the way for Mercy Bands to be created. I still have people approach me and thank me for the band they have now worn for ten years. Over the years, through His vision, our Women’s Ministry has raised funds for organizations like Crowns of Hope, The Albuquerque Children’s Home, the SAFE House of NM, and even spent a semester giving our time and talents to serving at the Ronald McDonald House.

Last year it was a vision from the Lord that caused us to rally around the need for awareness of human trafficking in the US in our Free Them campaign. Many of our congregation members had no idea there were slaves being bought and sold right in our own city. Through handouts and a large media campaign, we taught the women how to recognize a possible victim of human trafficking, the importance of buying fair trade items when possible, and through their generous gifts we raised over $10,000 for the human trafficking cause.

This year, the Lord has given a vision for our service men and women and their marriages. Did you know since 9/11 over 2,000,000 service men and women have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and that nearly 20% of those returning from war are likely to suffer either PTSD or major depression? We’re still at war and the casualties are closer than we realize.

This year our desire is to Heal Them, by raising awareness to the struggle some of our service men and women face as they return home to loved ones and try to find their “new normal.” Our hope is to restore marriages through: 1) fervent prayer for these service men and women and their families, 2) collecting donations to purchase supplies for our Samaritan’s Purse Patriot Packs and 3) preserving marriages by giving these couples tools to restore their damaged relationships.

Our campaign just kicked off this past Mother’s Day weekend; I hope you will join me in this daunting task of restoring the sacred marriage covenant God holds so dear. For more information, check out helpoutnow.org. Let’s come together to show our service men and women how long the Lord’s loving arms are!

Church Body

Law of Men vs. Law of God

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In 2009, San Diego County officials interrogated and threatened a pastor and his wife who were hosting a Bible study in their home. Their attorney, Dean Broyles, of The Western Center for Law & Policy, recounted the shocking encounter between the county employee and the pastor’s wife: “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say “Amen”?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say “Praise the Lord”?’ ‘Yes.'”

After questioning the couple, the representative informed them that their weekly meeting, averaging around 15 people, was against county regulations and because of it they faced a hefty fine. A few days later they received a written statement citing a violation of “unlawful use of land.” They were asked to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit.” Over time, such a permit could cost thousands of dollars. The anonymous couple chose to submit a complaint to the county, explaining that enforcement of the regulation is in direct violation of their First Amendment right to religious freedom.

A few weeks back, friends of ours faced this same situation. Stephanie and Chuck Fromm have lived in their San Juan Capistrano house for 18 years, and recently received a notice of violation from the cityalong with a $300 fine for holding weekly Bible studies in their home. They were told they face an additional $500 fine per meeting if they continue without a Conditional Use Permit. Like the family from San Diego, the Fromm’s are not backing down; they plan to continue their weekly meetings and face the fines. “We’ll meet and they can charge us,” Chuck stated, clearly standing his ground. His wife Stephanie noted, “We’re not pot-stirrers. We are surprised and sad…we love our community. We will stand up for our faith and for the use of our home.”

There are times that the law of God must supersede the law of men. The early church met from house to houseand Christians spanning time and continents have continued to do so ever since. In Exodus 1, we read of a king interrogating two faithful Hebrew midwives and commanding them to abort all male children born to the Jews. But the women practiced civil disobedience, fearing God rather than man. As a result, the nation of Israel continued to thrivedespite one king’s command.

What do you do in the face of adversity against your faith? Deuteronomy 3:22 tells us, “You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.” With God on your side, whom shall you fear?

Church Body

Home Coming!

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“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NIV).

You’re more likely to meet my friend Terri Kruger, head of New Mexico “Wounded Warriors“, at a graveside than a mall. Instead of a cafe, she often shares an MRE (meal ready to eat) with a soldier. One day she met me wearing a bright white smile along with her blue and red t-shirt. I asked her, “What’s the occasion?” And she answered, “Greeting our troops home from war.”

She often joins New Mexico’s “Blue Star Mom’s” (mothers with children in active duty) at Albuquerque’s Sunport to welcome our soldiers returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Waving flags and offering big hugs, these mom’s make it their aim to greet every son or daughter at their homecoming.

Because of Terri, I added my name to the Blue Star email list and joined a multitude of patriotic citizens in greeting our brave men and women home as they return from war. From newborn infants to Vietnam Vets; from motorcycle gang members to a Saint Bernard wearing Uncle Sam’s hat, our group forms a tunnel of love. Festooned with flags, banners, noisemakers, and tears, the soldiers walk through our midst. While I shouted, “thank you” or “welcome home”, I couldn’t help but think about our homecoming in heaven. There a great cloud of witnesses await our arrival with proclamations of joy. And best of all, the Lord will declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

My first homecoming celebration honored Leroy Petry, a man like Terri, who understands that love means sacrifice whether leisure time, lifestyle, or limb. A Santa Fe native, Leroy joined the U.S. Army Rangers through the influence of his cousin on September 1999. On September 11, 2001, he was still in training until assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Little did we know that the firefighters, police officers, and port authority were the first recruits to the war on terror. Leroy would join their fight on the front lines in Afghanistan. He helped bring the battle directly to those who started the conflict. On May 26, 2008, Leroy and 70 members of his platoon targeted a building containing known combatants. Although Special Ops often take place at night, this attack happened in broad day light.

Immediately after dropping in from helicopters the Rangers came under strong fire from nearly 40 hostiles. Three enemy fighters hiding behind a chicken coop shot Sergeant Petry through both legs and wounded two other men. While finding cover an enemy grenade landed near the embattled group. Petry, knowing the risk to his life, picked it up and attempted to throw it back. The Sergeant said his instinct was “get it out of here, get it away from the guys and myself. And I reached over, leaned over to the right, grabbed it with my hand, and I threw it as hard as I could, what I thought was at the time. And as soon as I opened my hand to let it go, it just exploded instantly. And I came back, and the hand was completely severed off.”

Although the detonation amputated his right hand, he saved the two other soldiers from serious injury or death. Evacuated to a hospital, Petry was fitted with a prosthetic that bears a small plaque listing the names of the fallen Rangers of his regiment. Instead of seeking a medical discharge, Sergeant Leroy Petry reenlisted and has returned to Afghanistan. On July 12, 2011 he received the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

What about you? Have you been wounded in battle? Are you missing in action? Perhaps you’ve suffered a great loss or now walk with a limp. Before you give up; before you back away from the battle; before you surrender remember who you serve! It is not the president of the United States, but the God of the universe. He promises rewards richer than this life offers. Like Leroy, like the apostle Paul, forget those things which are behind you and reach forward to those things which lie ahead. “Press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

Church Body

Instant Gratification

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“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim 4:2).

I grew up watching a space-age cartoon show called The Jetsons. Futuristic meal prep fascinated me because it provided instant gratification. Push a button or swallow a pill and dinner was ready. Do you remember Tang? Wow! Orange juice didn’t come from an orange, a bottle, or a frozen can. Just add water to the powdery mix and, voila, a nourishing beverage. Even the Gemini astronauts took Tang to the moon. It wasn’t long before we had instant coffee and instant breakfast.

It made me think about the Christian life. Paul told Timothy that Christians must be ready to provide spiritual fruit in or out of season. Believers’ lives must be ever fruitful whether we’re at church, at home, in our cars, or at the market. The spirit provides us with “instant fruit” as the need arises.

This week I went to lunch with a friend in between morning and evening Bible Study. As we pulled into the pizzeria, I noticed two small children strapped into the backseat of a dirty, late model car. A loaf of bread rested between them. Immediately God tugged on my heart. In the front seat, Mom stared blankly into the distance. Dad stood with the door ajar perusing the automobile owner’s manual. Again, God prompted me to recognize a need.

I asked, “Are you okay? Do you need anything?” Not like I could help. I’m not a mechanic. The father replied, “No thanks, we’re okay.”

I caught up to my friend and ordered lunch. But God’s spirit persisted. You need to help them!

I asked the cashier if I could get cash back with my debit card. She said, “No.”

I asked, “Can you make an exception?”

Again, she said, “No.”

Then my friend offered, “How about a gift card?” After purchasing a card, I ran to the parking lot with my meager offering just as their car began pulling away. Into the open car window I yelled, “Hey, I know this sounds crazy, but God told me to help you.”

I handed them the card and said, “I don’t think you need pizza, but I wanted you to know that God loves you. I wish I could do more.”

Dad answered, “We’re here from Gallup for the day. Our son has been in pain. He was just diagnosed with childhood Diabetes.” With that Mom sobbed out loud.

I asked, “Can I pray for you?” They all answered, “YES!”

So, right there in the parking lot, God poured out His refreshing Living Water. We held hands. We prayed. We hugged. And as they left, I knew that God longed to touch them. But He used my hands and prayers to do so. Instant gratification!

Check out Inspired Women Magazine to see an article featuring a portion of Lenya’s book “Holy Moments”. If you haven’t ever thought about God’s fingerprints in your life, grab Lenya’s book and learn how to spot these “holy moments.”

Church Body, Family

Forget-Me-Nots

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Baby blue, soft pink, or delicate white, these small, flat, five-petal flowers surrounded by a yellow center are called myosotis which means “mouse ears.” Forget-me-nots fade in the presence of showy Valentine roses. They possess no intoxicating fragrance like the star-gazer lily. And they prefer riverbanks and streams to the glory of gardens or bouquets.

What forget-me-nots lack in bravado they flourish in meaning. German legend holds that while God named the flowers, this unassuming plant cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord.” God replied, “Then that shall be your name.” Religious tradition says that the Lord Jesus created them to remind the world of His mother’s blue eyes. Medieval folklore conjures up a knight in shining armor who offered the posy to his lady. As a declaration of her love and faithfulness, she wore them in remembrance of him.

Do you know any forget-me-nots?

  • Perhaps it is your painfully shy relative.
  • Maybe it is a missionary friend, far beyond the comforts of home.
  • It could be your neighbor who slips in and out without being noticed.
  • What about the widow in the women’s ministry?

I’d like to extol the virtues of one such flower in my life. Forgive me, humble forget-me-not, for gathering you into the limelight for just a moment. It’s time that you received your due. I’d like to remind others of your gentle grace and unfailing faith.

His name is Mark Macallister. He recently left earth to enter into the presence of his Heavenly Father. Mark arrived in my life as my husband’s best friend. Every pastor’s wife prays for a Jonathan to watch his back. When we moved to Albuquerque nearly thirty years ago, Mark appeared with a servant’s heart, a carpenter’s hammer, and a quick wit. He volunteered for the lowliest occupations when no one else stepped up to the need. Without fanfare, he served as child care director, acted as Skip’s secretary and assistant, helped build classroom walls and office cubicles, reached out to the homeless, developed our missions department, and inaugurated Calvary’s first School of Ministry.

However, Mark’s heart far outshone his handiwork. Like the flower, he was humble in the truest sense of the word. Rather than the latest fashion trends, blue jeans and tennis shoes suited him. His nature called for the faraway places and forgotten people. Mark received an undeniable call to countries closed to the gospel. He gathered teams to smuggle Bibles. He raised up short-term missionaries to encourage the underground church. He developed a network of native believers whose lives would be threatened by the government if exposed. Mark loved these people with such fervency that he traveled to the mall the while bearing physical pain and personal peril. Mark knew people in hidden places that no one else knew, except our heavenly Father.

Mark taught me the value of intercession. Mark reminded me to value people rather than possessions. Mark demonstrated to me that man must not touch God’s glory. Mark showed me what a soldier for God looks like. Mark’s strength in weakness caused me to lean heavily upon the Lord in my trials. He’ll always be one of my heroes in the faith. These qualities live on in my heart.

Happily, Mark knew that he was not forgotten. I joined his private prayer chain to intercede for wisdom and wellness. We spent time on the phone encouraging one another. Others became aware of his plight as I shared his story. His unshakable wife Jody and I spoke often of Mark. I will carry a pocket full of posies at the funeral of this knight now in shining armor.

What about you? Is there a forget-me-not in your life? Have you neglected them? Don’t wait until its too late to encourage and engulf them in your love. Perhaps they long for a watering season. “Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty” (Prov. 25:25, NLT).

Church Body, Family

Super Glue

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For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:5-6

Super Glue works. Once two items are glued together, separation becomes a painful, sticky mess. Paper tearsor fabric frays if you attempt to divide the two portions melded into one. Once separated, the original items aren’t ever the same each inevitably retains fragments of the other. Think of two pieces of paper glued together, they’re never the same after they’ve been torn apart. Inevitably, each piece is ragged and weaker because of the separation. That’s why Super Glue comes with a label advising extreme caution when using it.

Marriage can be seen as God’s Super Glue because two lives are intricately woven into one. Jesus said that the husband and wife are no longer two, but one. After this blessed blending, attempts at separation cause irreparable damage. Hearts break, commitments crumble, and families split. Inevitably God’s intertwining of husband and wife extends to children, friends and family connected to the union. So God’s Word provides a strong warning: What God has joined together, let not man separate.

In Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, James Dobson shared a letter his father wrote to his mother before their marriage: “I want you to understand and be fully aware of my feelings concerning the marriage covenant I have been taught at my mother’s knee and in harmony with the Word of God that the marriage vows are inviolable, and by entering them I am binding myself absolutely and for life. The idea of estrangement from you through divorce for any reason at all (although God allows one: infidelity) will never at any time be permitted to enter my thinking.”

Imagine the security Mrs. Dobson must have felt when she received that letter from her husband-to-be. She discovered firsthand that marriage, like Super Glue, should stick forever. Mr. Dobson lovingly attached his life to hers regardless of what tried to tug or pull them apart. Are you married or contemplating marriage? Remember, don’t let what God has joined together come unglued!