Thursday, July 21, 2016

Restored Glory

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:10 ESV

In High School, as a member of my school’s marching band, I played the flute and piccolo.  as a member of my church’s youth group, I was on the praise team and often played my flute on a Wednesday night.  I loved to worship with my talents, wholeheartedly!  It was truly a joy in my life that I have always treasured. 

After having my son at the age of 19 out of wedlock, I struggled to provide for him and made the difficult decision to pawn my flute and piccolo in order to get diapers and formula.  The enemy had taken so many things from me, one by one.  I have cried countless tears over the loss of so many things that had brought joy and were now gone.  Fourteen years have passed since then and God has been restoring me little by little. 

Last year at Revive Indiana, we were in an evening service when I saw Kaila for the first time.  She was playing her violin and worshiping the Lord with such joy and passion.  It brought back a flood of memories of the joy that worship brought to God as I delighted in Him and the music He had given me.  I remember tearing up as she danced around with her violin as free as a bird with the sweet melody coming from her violin.  God gave me a beautiful vision that night of being able to play my flute with her and worshiping once again in complete fullness of joy that only comes with the presence of God. 

January, 6 months later, I received a flute in the mail.  It was ordered from Amazon.  It isn’t the most expensive flute on the market but it plays beautifully!  As I opened the Amazon box, I saw the case.  It was a black case with an embroidered design on the front.  I didn’t read it right away but hurried to open it and assemble my new flute.  I played it for a minute, testing the keys and admiring the shine on the nickel plating.  After the initial excitement calmed down I noticed an engraving on the flute.  It had a beautiful design and in the middle it says, “GLORY”.  I looked again at the front of my case and in the embroidered design was again the word, “GLORY”.  I posted a picture on Facebook and captioned it, “Restored Glory”.  God had restored what was once taken from me. 

It took about 5 months before I had the courage to open it up and actually play music.  However, one evening in May, we were home on a simple average night.  My husband had asked me numerous times about the flute that was “just sitting there” and when would I finally play it.  I picked it up and put on some praise and worship music.  My fingers fumbled as I began to remember the notes and the sounds and my muscles began to find the positions they were once very familiar with over 15 years ago.  The memories flooded back in and I wept as I played, giving my hurt and pain to God for Him to heal my broken heart. 

Then, this past weekend, God called me to come back into worship.  Kaila was at the Revive Fort Wayne engage day on Saturday.  When I saw her, she gave me a hug and confirmed that she would be playing in the evening service.  The first thought through my head was, “I have a flute now!”  I briefly told her this story and asked if she would mind if I played with her.  She had no problem and was excited about it!  I talked to a few others and ran home to get my flute.  

That evening, not every note was exactly perfect during practice.  I wasn’t the best of the best, not that I ever was.  However, my fingers remembered their places and my heart remembered the joy and freedom of lifting what you have before the Lord and the joy and pleasure He takes in our “sacrifice of praise”.  

The message He then gave me, which I challenge you with now, is this.  He said, “I am restoring My Glory in the hearts of my people.  As they seek me, they will find me.  As they open their hearts to me, My Glory will be established in each of them in an intimate and personal way.  As my people are restored, so too will My Church, the Bride of Christ, be restored of the things that were ravaged and stripped away by the enemy.  She will once again dance freely and take joy in My presence, without shame or condemnation.  She will remember the joy of her salvation and take her place as the light and salt of the earth once again.” 

I challenge each of you to seek Him with your whole heart.  As you do, He will restore you and bring you to that perfect place in Him.  All we have to do is come to Him and He will do the restoration.  Give Him your past and He will give you a bright and shining future!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Running the Race: Off the Beaten Path

Phil. 3:14 (NKJV)
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We are excited to be running this race with each of you.  We have officially begun to assemble our Core Ministry Team!  Each member has a vital role on this team because we know that there are no small players in God’s Kingdom.  God has consistently confirmed His promises to us as well as His purpose for us.  We are the laborers being matched with strategic senders.  I praise God for His strategy and we will continue to press towards the goal, the prize He has for us!  Oh what a glorious day that will be!

If God has placed it upon your heart to help support us as we run our race, establishing and building the Kingdom of God around the world, please visit  Time to Revive: Mary Runion.  For more information about what we are doing, feel free to contact me at the information listed on this link.  I would love to talk to you about our vision for missions as well as out ministry and financial goals!

Isaiah 45:2-3 (NKJV)
“I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.  3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.”

As I have begun my pastoral internship the beginning of January, and am now right in the middle of a very busy schedule, Joe and I have had some challenges keeping up the pace.  I have heard runners describe the process as “finding their stride”.  It is when you settle into a rhythm or a pace for the duration of the run.  Running on a track is great and finding that stride seems to be part of the joy of running.  It is the ability to keep moving forward while internally reflecting on life, thinking about plans and dreams for the future, or even just not having to think at all but having a completely clear mind.  However, what if the ground is bumpy and the trail twisting and winding?  What if the track isn’t a track at all but more of a trail, or even better, not a trail or even a path has been forged but just running towards a destination, a finishing point?  The path or ground is unpredictable and sometimes treacherous.  It causes the runner to slow down and focus more on each step taken, the direction to run (especially if there is not a clear path to follow), and the environment and surroundings.  All of this is essential because without focus the runner could easily fall and break an ankle, hit his head on a rock, or in some places come into contact with potentially dangerous animals such as bears and snakes.  As I was considering the runner and how God was speaking to me through this, He began to show me three major lessons. 

The first lesson was “Never run alone!”  When runners run alone they leave themselves vulnerable.  However, with a partner, not only is there encouragement but also help in times of trouble!  Not only are we to have someone running with us as a partner, God never wanted us to be alone so He sent us His Spirit to be our guide and comforter in times of trouble! 

The second lesson was “The hardest path is sometimes the most rewarding path!”  When we focus on Who God is and what He is doing, we begin to see the beauty of where He is taking us and also discover more about who He is in the process!  When we finally reach our destination, we begin to see that it wasn’t just about reaching the finish line but the journey along the way. 

Finally, He began to show me that it takes boldness, courage, and submission to be able to say ‘yes’ to God when He leads us off the beaten path.  As we do, though, we begin to see His hand in a greater way, His provision in greater capacity, and experience His love and joy in a more profound way.  All of it happens because He wants us to know Him better!  I challenge you to say ‘yes’ to Him and DON’T QUIT!  It may seem slower, harder, and longer, but He is worth it!  He is always worth it!

God bless you as you run your race, seeking and serving Him!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Are These Stones Here?

Joshua 4:1-7 (NKJV)
“And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’”
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.””

September 13th of this year, I had the honor of accompanying my parents to the 40th anniversary of the church that launched my father into ministry.  Maranatha Chapel in Chicago, Illinois was planted 40 years ago by Stone Church (also in Chicago) which was where my father accepted Jesus as Lord of his life!  As I prayed, God showed me some things that, at the time, I didn’t quite understand but felt the magnitude of what it meant for us.

In prayer, the Holy Spirit showed me that this trip was significant in that we were going back to our roots, to where it all began so that it would come full circle and that the “baton” would be passed on to me and my husband, Joe to continue the work of evangelism.  I was excited to be able to step into the shoes that have gone miles for the Kingdom of God.  

The service and banquet was amazing and I loved meeting people who have known me since I was a baby and have influenced our lives tremendously!  Pastor Warner preached the message of Joshua 4, “What are these stones here for?”  I thought it was a great message and took it to heart but didn’t completely understand it’s magnitude until this week.  My parents were taking us to our family’s pile of stones and showing us what God had begun in the Knapczyk/Runion family line.

This week, a month and a half later, I completed training in Dallas, Texas as a Missionary in Process with Time to Revive.  The Sunday before departing for Dallas, one of our pastors at First Assembly, Fort Wayne (Pastor Josh) preached Joshua 3 & 4, resting on Joshua 4:1-7!  Not a coincidence but a reminder to pay attention to what God is trying to show us!  I believe He shouts His messages to us so that we can see Him clearly!  Well this was another time that I got excited but forgot about it again, soon after.  

In Dallas we had a lot of information shot at us like a machine gun.  There was planning, training, coaching, and a lot of new names and faces to love and pray for in this new family.  On Saturday, there was a change of plans from the original itinerary.  We all hopped in the cars and headed for Gaston Ave.  This is the original sight of the 40 days of prayer that took place in a 6,000 sq. ft. tent during a torrential down-pour which flooded the field, which birthed Time to Revive in 2006.  As Kyle Martin (founder of Time to Revive) was talking about what had happened those 40 days, God began to speak to me about the stones that were here (spiritually, not physically).  These are Kyle’s stones and the stones that mark what I did then to remind you who birthed all of this.  I pulled up Joshua 4 and shared what the Lord had placed on my heart.  We were led by Kyle to do a prayer walk around the property and as I walked, I found a stone to add to the ones I had received in Chicago to serve as a reminder of where our predecessors have come from.

The next stop was a picture of where God is taking us.  In March of 2016, we will begin #reviveDALLAS!  What is the heart of Dallas?  The State Fair! 

We saw really awesome things as we entered the park, such as the pillar at the entrance, the 10 Commandments monument, as well as the Olympic fountains and statues erected for the Dallas Olympic bid a few years ago.  We stopped in front of the long pool of fountains and was directed to do another prayer walk and head towards the entrance of the Cotton Bowl.  It was at that time that I walked towards the Vietnam Memorial area of the park.  I was under a remodel and mostly the ground was torn up but on the ground were pallets of piled stones!  They were all around the fountain and just waiting to be used!  It was a magnificent thing to see after hearing for the past month and a half about the stones that have been laid.  I felt the Lord say, “These are the stones that you will lay for your children to see as you step into what God is doing in your life and in the ministry of Time to Revive as you build and work for My Kingdom.” 

As we went on, we were (by the grace and favor of God) able to enter the cotton bowl and have a mini praise and worship session, in the entrance, in the bleachers, and on the field!!!  All while a bunch of people were setting up for the Indian/Hindu festival of Diwali (festival of lights), we were peacefully singing the praises of Jesus Christ.  We were not stopped or asked to leave.  In fact, some of us were asked why we were there as we were leaving.  I simply responded that most of us are from Indiana and had never seen this before!  They welcomed us and we thanked them for their warm welcome!!!

All of this was confirmation after confirmation of God’s plan for our lives and fuel to launch is into it!

Thank you to everyone who has supported and prayed for us as we begin this amazing journey as missionaries to Indiana, the United States, and the world!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Menial Minister

This word is for someone, including me:

We have been given an assignment... but many of us who are pursuing a "ministry career" have overlooked the assignments that have been placed before us in the *right now* season.  We have deemed them as trivial or insignificant and menial.  However, God is looking at a few things when he sets an assignment before us, no matter how trivial or menial the task may be. 

#1 Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).  Are we giving a bad attitude when a task has been set before us?  When I first knew I was called to be an evangelist, I was thrust into working with children.  Though I had done so for a long time now (my parents were children’s evangelists and still work in children’s ministry), I knew that this was not my calling.  I did not throw a fit or do a “half-baked” job.  I did it with my whole heart “as unto the Lord” and we saw kids giving their hearts to Jesus!  Then I was asked to lead worship.  When we came to the church we are serving in now, I was asked to teach in the Wednesday evening, 4’s & 5’s class.  I have preached, led worship, and am called to be an evangelist to the nations.  None of this came out of my mouth when I said yes.  I taught and had fun with about 20 - 30 kids every week who were excited to learn their verses, sing their songs and play with “Miss Mary” and “Miss Heidi” every week!  Did I stay there?  No, but almost two years later, and I had grown spiritually just as much as some of those kids grew physically!  When we say “No” to God, we don’t know the blessings and the progress we are truly saying “No” to! 

#2 If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, you must first be a servant of all (Mark 9:35).  I have cleaned toilets, cooked meals, sat and listened to people pour out their hearts (or spew their guts), and taken on numerous tasks that others would think are menial.  BUT, God did not call us to walk around on stilts, above the people.  He called us to walk among them and serve them!  We are ministers.  The Hebrew word for “minister” (verb) means to “attend as a menial or worshipper” (Strong’s Hebrew Greek Dictionary, H8334).  We worship God by fulfilling the assignments that He calls us to do.  Whether it be to be present on a regular basis for someone, because love is spelled “T.I.M.E” or to clean, or cook, or even to teach a lesson to some kids so their parents can hear the word of God!  There is no job too menial for a servant of God!  I am not perfect and God is still working on me in many areas but this area I know to be true; if you give God everything, He will take it.  Even the smallest sacrifices are priceless to Him as the sweet smelling incense of worship is to Him.

#3 Finally, one who is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much (Luke 16:10).  This is where I ask the hard questions.  If you are offended, you may want to ask yourself why?  Why are you in ministry?  Is it for status or personal gain?  Are you here to seek attention?  Maybe it’s for the title and paycheck?  Or, is it because there is a burning desire to see Luke 11 fulfilled when Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to be established on earth as it is in Heaven?  Maybe you have a passion for the lost?  You might even have a heart broken by God to see Him glorified and lifted high?  So what then is one assignment in the grand scheme of things?  Even if it is a stepping stone to something greater, should it not be done with care and passion, as unto the Lord? 

I know it feels like there are so many little tasks and we begin to wonder, “When can I begin to walk in my calling?”  Hold on!  God is either building character in you, or revealing His character to you in this assignment.  When it is over you will have a deeper relationship with Him, a greater understanding of who He is, and a realization of who you are as a child of the Most High God!

Today, I want to encourage you not to run away from your assignments.  The easy ones, the challenging ones, the humbling ones, or any one that God places before you!  Remember what Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13, “11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  This applies to us in every assignment set before us.  He will give is the strength to stand up to the task and the power to complete it through His Holy Spirit!

God bless you as you seek and serve Him!