God’s Equations

equationWe all know our abilities…what we are good at and what we aren’t so good at.

And one thing I am not good at is math.

I cannot do math in my head.  I use my calculator for everything.  Don’t make me give you change for anything because I cannot do it.  Never have been.  I remember in 4th grade our teacher called us up to the front of the class one by one to be a cashier and give the correct change back to our customer.  I was mortified when I had to go because I could not do it.  And still can’t unless I have a calculator!

Word problems….no way.  I feared those in school.

Geometry….hated it so much because I thought it was useless and I didn’t understand it.

But…if you give me a formula and let me plug in numbers, then I am good!  Equations were always easy for me because they made sense.  Things equaled out and I could understand equations like E=mc².

However, I have learned that sometimes God throws out the window everything that makes sense mathematically.  God is not limited to perfect equations.  We cannot write out the equation and have it make sense to us when it comes to the power of God.

Tithing is one area of my life that I have seen God do more than I could possibly imagine.  In the beginning of our marriage, we did not tithe (a tithe being 10% of your income).  We were worried about our finances and all the bills we had to pay so we would pay those first and then give to God what was left over.

But God turned that mindset of ours around.  He spoke to us one day and helped us both see that we needed to trust in Him more and give that full tithe back to Him.  We weren’t letting God show us all that He would and could do for us because we were limiting His power by not trusting in Him and giving him our first fruits instead of our last.  I love this verse God showed me from Malachi 3:10

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.

In that simple addition problem that Mark shares on Page 51 from the Feeding of the Five Thousand story, 2+5≠7.  In this story, 2+5=5,000.

Now that doesn’t make sense.  How did God multiply those five loaves and two fish to serve that many people?  Impossible, right?

And that’s why I love God’s equations.  Because they don’t make sense.  Nothing equals out to what it should be (at least logically).  But what God does makes complete and perfect sense to Him.  He takes the impossible situation and turns it into an overflowing blessing.

When my husband and I began to fully tithe, we saw those blessings flow.  He blessed us beyond our ability.  Why?  Because I believe we were willing to “give beyond our ability” (page 57).  We finally claimed Ephesians 3:20 and saw God do amazing things. ephesians 3-20

As far as your Jericho’s go, do not trap God into this perfect equation and limit His power.  Don’t try to figure out how God is going to answer this prayer.  Pray circles around your Jericho without any preconceived notions of how God should answer it.  And then let go of your Jericho and watch God “open wide the storehouse”.

 

Journal Questions

  1. Why are you afraid to give control of your Jericho and its outcome to God?
  2. Write out a God equation from your life.  What about it doesn’t make sense to you?
  3. Thinking beyond finances, what ways can you give above your ability?

 

Lord, we are so grateful for your almighty and limitless power.  We tend to keep you in a box and don’t allow you to show us just how much blessings you can give.  Make us into people who will give beyond our ability so we can see the blessings you will rain down from heaven when we do. Help us to let go and trust you with the Jericho’s in our lives.  Hear our prayers, Lord.    Amen.

Do A New Thing

IMG_7990Have you heard the saying, “Change is good”?

Do you ever want to throw your hands up in the air and shout, “Not always!”

For me, I have a love/hate relationship with change.  On the one hand I love change and I get excited about doing a new thing.  I jump at the chance to try out something different.  I get set in my ways and so doing something new is good for me.

But, on the other hand, change brings fear.  And for some reason my body reacts in crazy ways when change comes.  I get anxious, nervous and stressed.  Even though there is excitement in doing something new, my mind is thinking about all the many issues that could arise because of this change.  And there are times when I have let this fear keep me in the safe zone so I would not be exposed to the those things that will never happen, even though my mind says they could.

On page 36, Mark Batterson writes,

“If you want God to do something new in your life, you can’t do the same old thing.  It will involve more sacrifice, but if you are willing to go there, you’ll realize that you didn’t sacrifice anything at all.  It will involve more risk, but if you are willing to go there, you’ll realize that you didn’t risk anything at all.  Make the sacrifice.  Take the risk.  Draw the circle.”

And that’s what I want to focus on here.  When we pray those bold prayers to the Lord and circle our Jericho, wanting change to happen, we have got to be ready for it.  And that requires making a sacrifice, taking a risk, and drawing the circle.

Being in the ministry, I have had to make sacrifices.  It’s just part of ministry life.  I’ve made little sacrifices and big sacrifices.  The big ones have involved moving.  The last move we made to where we currently live was because I took a job as the Children’s Ministry Director at a church.  We moved an hour and a half north so I could do what I felt God calling me to do.  My family sacrificed to move  here, too.  It was hard for me knowing that no longer was I just making a decision for myself, but this calling God put on me was affecting my husband and two children.  However, as I look back, I can see it really wasn’t all that big of a sacrifice because everyone adjusted fine and we love where we live.

Change also involves taking a risk.  Whatever it is you are wanting God to change or do in your life, you will for sure be labeled as a risk taker for wanting it.  As I said before, fear keeps me from wanting to take that risk as I’m afraid of what may happen that I possibly don’t want to happen.

When I envision taking a risk, I see a track filled with hurdles.  I run around the track as Ihurdles seek the Lord, waiting for my Jericho to be delivered, but I keep running into these huge hurdles I must jump over.  Those hurdles are the fears in my life.  They want to prevent me from taking the risk and believing God and what He has promised for me if I follow and believe in Him. But, I must keep going and never give up.  I must never let go of my Jericho until God has delivered.

Once I decide to make a sacrifice and take a risk, I have got to draw the circle.  I must keep praying and never give up.  I don’t need to lose hope in the One who has promised to “give me the desires of my heart if I will take delight in Him.”  (Psalm 37:4).  Giving up is so easy to do, especially when our prayers aren’t answered when we want them to be.  But, circling is the key in prayer.  Keep going.  Don’t stop.  Never give up.

Are you willing to accept the change for which you are praying?  Are you ready to “go big” for God by sacrificing, risk taking, and circling?  I know I am.

Journal Questions

  1. What sacrifices have you made in your life for the Lord?
  2. What are the hurdles in your life that keep you from stepping out and taking that risk?
  3. What keeps you from continuing to circle your Jericho?  Why have you given up?
  4. Mark says on page 39, “Stop praying for it and start praising me for it.”  Instead of praying for your Jericho, write out a prayer of praise for God delivering Jericho into your hands.
  5. In what ways will God get the glory in your Jericho?

 

Father, we give you thanks for all that you have given us.  Help us jump over the hurdles that stand between you and I and make the sacrifice, take the risk, and draw the circle.  We praise you and we love you.  Amen.

Bold Prayers Honor God

Is anyone else pumped about this book?

The Circle Maker, in just these first few chapters, has totally changed my perspective of prayerprayer.  I thought my prayer life was pretty good.  I talk to God and listen (although I know I need to listen more) and then I sit back and wait and watch how He works.

But, what I’m learning from this book is that I am not taking everything to God in prayer.  I am not praying for some things like I should.

Why?

Because I am not bold enough.

I lack the audaciousness it takes to go to God with my big dreams (my Jericho….which I said yesterday was to be a published author and a speaker/teacher of the Word). I guess I feel that maybe this dream I have is too enormous and won’t ever happen so why bother praying about it.

Anyone else feel this way?

I love what Mark Batterson says though, “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers.”  (page 15).   When I hear that I realize this is so true.  When we pray with boldness, we are saying that this dream I have is impossible for me, but not for God.  Because we know that “nothing is impossible for God.”  (Luke 1:37).  We recognize that God is powerful and we do not fear going to God in prayer.  And we are saying that God cares about our dreams.  I think a lot of times we aren’t bold in our prayers because we believe God doesn’t have time to listen to our “wishful thinking” dreams.

Wow…how so far from the truth is that?

After we have gathered up all the boldness within us to pray for our dreams, we sometimes fall short in our prayers because we are too vague.  I like the quote from page 27 that says, “God doesn’t answer vague prayers.”  That got me thinking about my own prayers.  How often do I pray vague prayers?  Sometimes my prayers seem to be remote prayers because I am used to praying the same thing each day.  I am too general and not specific enough.  My prayers need to spell out what I want God to do for me.

Remember the question I had you ponder on Sunday night that Jesus asked the blind man:  “What do you want me to do for you?”  Go back to that place in your journal where you wrote your answer to this question.  I want you to write out a very specific prayer for this.  I want you to lay it all out on the table for God.   Don’t be shy about it.  Be bold.  Don’t be vague.  Be specific.  Write down what is in your heart.  This is a prayer that should be fearless.  No need to be afraid of speaking your dream to the Lord.  Just be open, honest, and audacious.

Because as Mark Batterson says, “God honors bold prayers.” And I believe that with my whole heart.

journalJournal Questions

  1. Read Genesis 18:22-33 (I like NIV best for this passage).
  2. What did Abraham boldly ask God to do?
  3. What can we learn from Abraham when it comes to speaking with the Lord?
  4. What will it take for us to boldly go to God in prayer with our dreams?

On page 25 of the book, Mark lists a few things that I want you do in your journal.

  1.  Write down a list of God-glorifying life goals.  Think about what the goals are for your life and write them down in your journal.
  2. Keep a prayer journal.  I also want this journal to be a prayer journal for you.  Write down any prayer requests you have.  Write down their names and what you are praying for them about (remember be specific).  During the week, you will have the opportunity to share any prayer requests you have with our group on our Facebook page (see post from yesterday….pray for each person’s Jericho).  And if write down the requests others share in your journal so you can boldly pray to God for them.
  3. Define your dream.  Write out your dream.  This will  help in being able to go before the Lord with boldness.
  4. Claim your promise.  Write out a Scripture you want to claim over this dream.
  5. Spell your miracle.  For your dream, how is it spelled out?  To understand what this means, read the “Spell it Out” section on pages 25-27

Father God, 

Thank you for all you have done for us.  We praise you for all that You are…one of those being a God who honors boldness.  Take away any fear that we have of coming before you with our dreams.  Grant us boldness to come before Your throne with praise for our Almighty Savior. 

Hear our specific prayers, Lord.

Amen.

Join Me for The Circle Maker Online Bible Study

I am excited to announce a new thing I will be doing on my blog…an online Bible study!  This is something I have been wanting to do all summer and I think I am ready to launch my first one!

circle makerGod led me to a book and I think it’s the perfect one for the first online Bible study on my blog.  It’s called The Circle Maker:  Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Fears by Mark Batterson.  It seemed like just the right book for me since it’s about prayer and fear.  When I read the summary of this book I wondered why I had never heard of it until just now (it was written in 2011).    But, I believe that God brings you to things at just the time you need them.  The dreams I have I believe God is telling me to keep in prayer, or as this book says, “pray circles around your dreams.”

As I began reading it I knew I wanted to do this study with not only my small group of ladies that meet weekly during the school year, but I wanted to open it up to others out there who would like to read and study it along with me.  This book has a great message and I believe it could definitely change your prayer life.

To see a trailer about this book click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg6ymCcIFDE

This study will be five weeks.  It will begin on Sunday, August 21.  Each Sunday night you will receive an email giving you the assignment for the week along with a Scripture verse of encouragement.  I will write a post on my blog twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) that will highlight a part of the reading (you will receive these via email).  Also, I would love for you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and be a part of my Circle Maker Small Group Bible Study group.  This will be a closed group so no one will see what’s posted except for the members.  I will post questions and hope that you will comment.  I would also love for this group to turn into a prayer community where we can boldly prayer for each other.

Want to participate in this online Bible study?  Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Buy the book.  Here is a link to it on Amazon (it’s only $9.58 now): https://www.amazon.com/Circle-Maker-Praying-Circles-Greatest/dp/0310330734/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470532764&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Circle+Maker
  2. Sign up to receive my blog posts via email (see the subscription box on the right hand side of the page to sign up).  You’ll be added to a mailing list for just this study and will receive the blog posts twice a week.  After you subscribe, make sure you check your email to confirm your subscription.  If you already subscribe to my blog and want to participate in this study, just send me an email and I’ll add you to the email list for the small group (email me at:  vanessamyers99@gmail.com).
  3.   Join our small group study on Facebook.  Search for “The Circle Maker Small Group Bible Study 2016”.  This will be a way for us to connect with each other and I hope you will join us.
  4. Pray circles around this online Bible study.  Ask God to move in each of our hearts so that we grow closer to Him.

I am so excited about this online Bible study and pray you will join me.  I know it will be a blessing to you!  See you online for this study on August 21st!

The Children’s Ministry Magazine Interview

I have been quiet these past few months here on my blog.  I have been busy writing in my book.  I am excited to say I have finished writing ALL chapters!  Now it’s on to editing and adding/taking out anything the Lord wants.  After that, the fun begins of trying to find someone to publish it.  But, I’m leaving all that in God’s hands.  I trust He will lead me to someone out there who will take an interest in my book and want to publish it.  I’m excited to see where that will lead.

But…I also have some other cool news!  The Children’s Ministry Magazine at Group Publishing has featured me in their magazine!  Every issue they have a Viewpoint page where they feature a Children’s Minister.  Thviewpointey ask them questions about themselves and also questions about children’s ministry.  For the May/June issue they decided to feature me!  I am so honored by this and wanted to share this article with my fellow readers.  Thanks to Jennifer Hooks and Christine Yount Jones for asking me to be a part of the Viewpoint page in this issue.

I promise I will be back to blogging consistently soon!  One major change I see coming is the merging of my two blogs (this one and KidMin Days).  I will be using this blog address to write about faith, family, and ministry.  I hope you will stay tuned for more!

I Want the World to Know: Lessons from a 21-Day Fast

For the past 21 days I have been fasting.  No, I’m not talking about a fasting from food (which would be so hard).  This fast was from that which distracts me from seeking the Lord and doing what He has called me to do.

For me, the distraction comes in the form of social media and television.  I can really waste some time sitting on Facebook reading everyone’s posts and looking at all their pictures. And television is a distraction because for the past few months I have been binge watching some Blue Bloods.  I love a good cop drama and I guess I secretly like Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg!

So, I gave up all social media and tv for 21 days.  And believe me when I say that this fast was difficult.  The urge to jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter was very much alive and it took all I had not to do it.  And well, Blue Bloods had to be put on hold.  I’m sure I’ll catch up on the NYC cop drama soon.

So why did I do this fast?  If you read my last post, then you’ll see that after listening to a Louie Giglio sermon (The Pinata and the Iceberg), I felt convicted and decided to accept his challenge to fast for 21 days of that which distracts us from the Lord.  I have not been faithful to the Lord and doing what I know He wants me to do.

What does He want you to do, you ask?

He wants me to write a book.

Not a big task at all…said no one ever.

I have procrastinated and dreamed about writing it.  But I have failed to actually be consistent in my writing.  I’ll let months go by before I ever open the file on my computer and start writing.  I want to, but I just don’t.  And I can’t drop any good excuses on the table for it.  All I can say is that I have been lazy.

But, I have been so amazed at how God has spoken to me these past 21 days.  I dove into the Scripture and found the one and only true God speaking to me from those pages. Even from stories that I have read many times.  Why have I never caught that verse before?  I love how I can feel His Presence through His breath on a page.

One of the hardest things to do when you write a book is to get started writing a chapter. You need a good outline before you begin.  For chapter 8 of my book I was struggling to get started.  Then God led me to the story of Abram’s calling and as I read Genesis 12 and dissected it, God showed me the outline for chapter 8.  And friends, the words for that chapter flowed easily from the outline He gave.  I finished that chapter in two weeks! That’s by far the fastest I have been able to write a chapter.

The completion of that chapter so motivated me to begin a good outline for chapter 9. The outline is formed and I already have begun writing in this chapter. It feels so good to do what God asks of me.  Why did I ever let laziness and procrastination get in the way?  Am I unwilling to follow the calling He has placed on my heart?  Will I continue to let those two things get in my way?

My answer…No Way.

I am reading Beth Moore’s latest book called Audacious.  In this book she talks about having an audacious love for the Lord and fully serving Him.  Do we love Him audaciously? Do we have the audaciousness to be obedient to His will?  I love this quote from her:

“Audacious love leads to audacious obedience.  And sooner or later, audacious obedience leads to blessing.”  (Moore, p. 65)

I want to be a woman who loves the Lord audaciously.  I want to be a woman who follows the Lord without question.  I want to be a woman who has the boldness to step out in faith and go where God leads and do what God calls me to do.  I want to be that audaciously, obedient woman.

This fast has stirred my blood.  It has got me on fire.  It makes me want to speak out more about His love and faithfulness to us.  Why keep inside what God has done for me?  Others need to hear.  I can only pray that each day God will open doors for me to share Him with others and that I will not miss the opportunity to spread His love.

I can’t help but sing the hymn, Pass It On, as I think about being audacious.

“I’ll shout it from the mountaintop…PRAISE GOD!  I want the world to know.  The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.”

Pass it on, my friends.  Be bold.  Be audacious.  Go tell the world about God’s great love and continue to seek the Lord each and every day.  Blessings will abound when we are obedient and seek God, our Heavenly Father.

21 Days of Seeking the Lord

I have declared 2016 to be a year of obedience for me.  It’s a year where I want to focus on obeying the Lord in all that He asks of me.  I want to allow my heart to follow the Lord wherever He leads and not allow my mind to take the controls and push me off the clear path which He shows me.  I want to follow Christ and not get distracted by everything the world throws my way.

It has started off ok.  I’ve actually listened to most of the little nudgings from the Holy Spirit.  Some things are small and some take a little more faith and trust.  Some are a lot easier to do than others, too.  Step by step I am trying my best to stay on the path He has chosen for me.  It’s not easy and I really want to be better at this.

I am currently listening to a sermon series called “Habit” by Louie Giglio.  (To hear this series, go to this link:  http://passioncitychurch.com/watch/).  In the first sermon in this series titled “The Pinata and the Iceberg”, Louie talks about how he wants this year for us to be a year of seeking the Lord.  And that requires good spiritual disciplines or habits.  It means that we need to have a deep relationship with Jesus so that we can hear the Lord speaking to us.

Louie challenges us to do a 21-day fast.  This should be a fast from whatever is keeping us from hearing from God and having that deep relationship with Him. Anything that we are doing more of than listening to the Lord is a distraction and not a good habit.

About a year and a half ago, I heard God tell me to write my story.  So, I started writing a book about the fears I have had over the last 15 years of serving God in the ministry.  It has been awesome to write about how God has worked through my life and helped me realize that I should not fear.

And now you are probably saying…“What’s your problem? Shouldn’t you be done by now?”  And the answer is yes!  My problem, though, is that I get easily distracted.  I put other things ahead of writing that book, which is what I know I am supposed to be doing. However, I think of other things to do during the free time I have.  Those are my distractions.

And I have had enough of them.

I am ready to finish writing that book.

I want to have a deeper relationship with God.  I want to hear from the Lord so that I can obey Him and do all that He asks of me (like finishing writing that book).  I want God to use me in whatever way He wants.  It’s Your will, Your way, Lord.

I love this verse from Hosea 10:12:

Sow for  yourselves righteousness, reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.

It is TIME!  It’s time to seek the Lord!

I am ready, Lord.  May these next 21 days draw me closer to you so that I can be the woman you created me to be.  I desire to hear from you, God.  Open my ears and heart so that I can listen.

Do you want to hear from God?  Do you desire that deep relationship with Him?

Join me and do a 21-Day Fast.  I can promise that at the end of those 21 days, you will come out with a heart on fire for the Lord and an understanding of the calling He has for you.