Friday, December 19, 2014

XXXII: A New Chapter


As the year ends and a new one begins, I have been overwhelmed with so many things.  I have had a full schedule, which included home schooling my three children, college classes I am taking, classes I am teaching, Ladies Bible Study, and volunteer work with our church and our home school co-op.  That is just the condensed version!  I have been working on a vision and allowing God to develop His vision within me.


I normally write something challenging and tonight is no different.  However, this challenge has to do with allowing God to develop a passion within you, which lends itself to a vision given by God to lead you to a destiny He has prepared for you to do.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."


I have not shared this testimony with very many people but I feel that tonight it is time to share what is on my heart and has been for a very long time.


I don't remember exact dates.  I'm sure my parents do because they remember almost all of the places and dates of engagements they have had the privilege of ministering the gospel as children's evangelists.  I do remember it was summer Georgia camp and it was the first year that I had been awarded the awesome opportunity to be a "camper".  I normally had to stay with my parents in the lodge or in our 32' Terry Taurus RV or "the trailer".  This time was special.  I was just like every other kid... with concession stand benefits.  ;-)  (EK's & PK's get all the fun)


I remember going to the events throughout the day and making friendships that lasted... well, let's be honest.  They SAY they'll write all the time, but I don't recall ever getting a letter.  LOL.  BUT WE MEANT WELL!  I remember the water balloon fights and the shaving cream wars.  I remember the cafeteria food (not quite so fondly but, eh, part of the experience).  Out of all the fun, I remember going up for prayer during altar call.  I had given my life to Christ, but I wanted more.  I knew what it was to be a child of God, but I wanted to experience something deeper.  I had heard all about the Holy Spirit and even seen some of the manifestations of His presence, but I wanted Him to show ME who He was.   I went forward and a camp counselor prayed for me.  As she prayed for me I became overshadowed by a heaviness I had never felt before.  As I began to weep, I started to feel this presence come upon me like a weighted blanket.  I cried the big hot tears knowing that everything I had, had to belong to God.  I was His girl and He was everything to me.  I was filled with the Holy Spirit and began hearing sounds in my ears.  The counselor let me know that it was the language of the Holy Spirit and that it was 'OK' to speak them.  As I said them out loud I remember feeling a release of the heaviness that was the awesome weight of God's presence.  I was now light as a feather and praising God with my new language!!!  I was 7 years old.


The next night was the last night of the first camp week (we were there for 2 weeks).  I wanted God to do it again.  I wanted Him to show up like He had the night before and I wanted to feel His presence as close as a warm blanket wrapped around me like the previous evening.  Having been baptized in the Holy Spirit, I wasn't afraid of His presence any more, I was addicted to it!  As the evening came to a close, and my father gave the altar call, I headed straight for the right hand side and dove in.  As I was praising God, and worshiping in His presence, God began to speak to me.  It wasn't an audible voice, but a knowing, an understanding of what He was planting in my heart.  He said, "I have called you to the nations... French nations... Africa, Europe, North America, Asia... You are to preach to the nations."  I knew then... I saw then.  I had a vision.  I could feel the hunger to see what God gave me a passion to run towards.  I felt the pull of the people who needed to hear what a loving God wanted to say, but was looking for someone who would go.  That night, I had a clear understanding of who I AM in the Kingdom of God and the body of Christ.


Jump ahead 25 years.  I have made many mistakes.  I have lived through many bad choices and consequences that will be with me for the rest of my life.  I can testify that through it all, God's call on my life has never faltered.  His thoughts of me and plans for me have never changed.  His faithfulness has never been withdrawn, and His grace and mercy has never run out.  In fact, they are new every morning!


The past few years, God has opened doors that I thought were not only shut, but locked from both sides.  He has given me opportunities, to refresh the French language that I have worked hard to learn in High School with a passion, and opened doors for me to go to France to learn, to teach, and to preach!  In January I will be going for 5 days to Paris for a training trip as well as focusing on prayer and intercession for the country and the people that I love.  In June, I have an amazing opportunity to lead an 8 day tour of my students and their parents to Paris and the surrounding area on an educational tour (and will be praying and sowing in the spirit for future harvest).  This is also a trip that my husband Joe will accompany me and will be his first trip out of the country.  (On a side note, this is a great way for God to open up a door for Joe to be able to have a leisurely experience for his first trip abroad!)  Later this fall, I am hoping to be joining an amazing group of women back to Paris and then to Morocco to work with Muslim women, sharing the love of Jesus Christ!  All because I said, "God, I want more of you so take all of me."



The challenge I have for you:

1.  It doesn't matter where you have been.  David was a shepherd boy when God chose him, was wanted by the king for treason and sentenced to death, was crowned king, committed murder, and adultery, and still God kept calling Him!  Rahab, the great-great grandmother of King David, was a prostitute and a gentile who made a lot of bad choices.  She then chose to honor God and risk it all.  God then honored her by placing her in the line of royalty and the eternal kingdom of Jesus!  There are so many stories in the Bible of how God uses our mess for His glory because He desires to show His love to us and to have our love in return!  I love 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 which says, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence."  He uses what the world says is unusable to make sure that we can't take the credit!  If you have counted yourself as worthless and unusable, think again.  All God needs is an open "Yes" and He'll start turning things around immediately!


2.  I challenge you to seek Him first in all you do!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, "11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."  God's plans are to give you the dream, show you the vision.  This is a future and an expectation (hope) of the future!  When you seek Him first, you will find Him and He will answer!  Don't forget the biggest and most important part of it all... seeking Him and being found by Him!  In Him is everything, including what we need to see our dreams and visions come to pass!


3.  I ask for prayer.

This is an awesome thing that God is doing and prayer is the key to seeing the hand of God move!  There is power in inviting God to come into our lives and circumstances so that He can do a mighty thing for His glory!  Please pray that God would give me strength and wisdom.  More importantly, that He would prepare the people and prepare the path before me.  I want to walk in His will and completely in His power.  Moreover, I want to see His Kingdom grow as more people come to know His love and have an awesome relationship with Him! 


I do not like soliciting and do not want you to think this is one big commercial.  I am trusting God to bring sponsors and partners with us to sow into the Kingdom and invest in the vision God has given.  IF you feel God is calling you to do that, please feel free to contact me via message or email.  mrunion28@gmail.com. I can answer any questions you may have and tell you how you can sponsor us as we walk in this amazing journey that started with a simple "yes".



I pray that your holidays are blessed with the Love of God no matter where you are and that God's presence and His Holy Spirit is real in your life.  I pray that as you seek Him, you discover the intimacy and closeness that He longs to have with His people.  God bless you as you seek and serve Him. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Side By Side



I have been struggling off and on with balancing my life to where all the things/people in my life have enough attention to be satisfied.  I compromised and spread myself so thin, that if I were a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you would never know there was peanut butter on the bread!


The more I did, the less I actually accomplished, and the more miserable I tended to become.  I was a ministry junky!  I love the high of being in the presence of God, seeking His face, experiencing the mighty move of God, and being a part of what He is doing.  And that’s not wrong. 


It is in falling flat on my face and realizing one important key that was missing.  


I remember a story my parents told me a long time ago.  I’m sure so many parents have a story similar to this one so don’t judge.  However, my parents were children’s evangelists when I was young.  We traveled to a new church every week to reach kids for Christ and not only lead them to salvation but also the fullness of a life in Christ, which includes the infilling of the Holy Spirit!  One evening, after a crusade, they were preparing to leave and go out with the pastors of the church.  I was very young and had fallen asleep under a pew.  The lights turned off and I was still asleep.  They left and I was still asleep.  Still high from an awesome move of God, they went on to dinner without me!  (I know what you’re thinking… HOW COULD THEY?  I know, right?!?!)  They did finally realize they were missing half of their children (I only have one sister) and they came back for me.


In the past few weeks, God brought this story back to memory.  I have being experiencing some awesome things in my life and watching God work great and mighty things.  None of them are wrong!  BUT, there is something missing.  I looked to my right and to my left, and I could feel something missing!  My husband!



In my pursuit of great things, I had left him in the dust.  In going and going and going, I had edged him right out of my schedule.  It’s funny because I used to think of relationships as meters, like a parking meter, that needed to be fed periodically so you don’t get a ticket.  In fact I was going to write about “Feeding the Meters in Your Life”.  God lovingly reminded me that if we only feed the meter in order to keep our car parked without a ticket, we are stuck in the same spot, going nowhere and paying dearly for it! 

I was miserable, even in my joy, because I was constantly thinking about him and how much time I had before I had to pay the meter again!


Joe and Mary, Christmas 2013
This is a key revelation for me…  If you aren’t walking side by side with your spouse in what God has called you to do, it will always bring strife and anxiety.  Even if it is part of what God called you to do, and God is moving greatly, if it is not done together, it will become a point of contention in the marriage.  If one is called, both are called because “two became one” (Gen. 2:24).  That means I cannot leave his side and in turn, he cannot leave mine.  We have to be in complete agreement in order to move forward.  This past week, I have made a vow that I will never again leave his side.  Not in the literal sense, but in the spiritual one.  I will never again try to go ahead of him.  I will be by his side, every step of the way.


This lesson is a hard lesson to learn as I am right in the middle of surrendering to God’s will in this area of my life.  However, I am finding love and fulfillment in trusting God.  “How is that”, you might ask?  Well, first, I am not pushing or pulling my husband faster than God can lead him.  As wives, it is so important to support and help our husbands.  That means allowing him to be led by the Holy Spirit, which is not us, so that we can walk together in the call that God has on our lives.  There are a lot of women trying to fill the position of Holy Spirit in our husbands’ lives. We think that because we have a word from God that we can be the leader but that simply cannot be.  How can the hand say to the head, “I have a hold of the message so now I will lead?  Come down from there and submit to me now. I’m going to be the leader!”  If we are truly acting as the body of Christ that means that we stay in the position God has assigned which means that our husband is the head of the house.  He is the leader.  We walk together or not at all.

Second, that means that we have to be of once accord.  How do we stay in agreement?  Both of us must submit to God.  I can’t resent him for what God has him doing in his half of the marriage, and he can’t resent me for what God has me doing on my half of the whole.  As we both submit to God in our lives, and in our marriage, we walk in agreement.  This is strengthened by praying together, praying for each other, and seeking God’s will for the kingdom, not for our own comfort, convenience, and personal gain.  That will divide us quickly!  It’s not about us!  It’s about Jesus and His Kingdom in our lives and on this earth!


Finally, we like to use a very wise tool to help keep our lives in order.  This tool was discovered quite a few years ago and referred by a dear friend of mine.  Every 6 – 8 months or so, we try to re-evaluate where we are and where God is leading us.  This is a free resource from Michael Hyatt called, Creating Your Personal Life Plan.  I can’t begin to tell you how this has helped us set priorities in our life and make sure that we are not only surviving but thriving.  It doesn’t promise that you won’t have difficult times or circumstances arise, but having a plan and a solid foundation on Jesus Christ will get you through even the toughest times.  The flexibility to say “No” to some things in order to maintain our priorities has been one of the most freeing sensations.  I strongly recommend this e-book to anyone wanting to follow the call of God on their lives while maintaining balance and keeping first things first!  You can find out more about Creating Your Personal Life Plan at www.michaelhyatt.com/creating-your-life-plan.  It is free so check it out!


God bless you as you continue to seek Him.  I encourage you to not give up or be discouraged.  Just because you have to stop for a passing train, doesn’t mean the journey is over.  It just means you get to turn up the music and relax for a few minutes before continuing your journey!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Salvaged Title



About 7 years ago, we had some good friends bless us with a car.  It was an older car (a 1994 Dodge Intrepid).  We were so thrilled with the gift of transportation and praised God for this huge blessing!  It was about a month before our twins were born and we had totaled our previous car when a deer landed on top of the hood while traveling about 65 mph on a highway, after the semi in front of me had hit it.  (That was a complete miracle because if I was just a few inches closer, it would have landed in my lap through the windshield!)

The Intrepid was an awesome car.  It was worn and used but loved, like the shoes that fit and are so comfortable that you just don’t want to ever replace them.  A few years down the road we bought our minivan and decided to combine them on one policy with a better rate.  We shopped around and got quotes.  However, when we did go to start our policy, we found out that our Intrepid had a pretty colorful past.  We were declined by three insurance agencies to cover our vehicle.  They were fine with the Toyota Sienna, but the Intrepid was a “salvaged title”.  I didn’t understand this so I asked the agent to explain what that meant.  She said, “That means at one time, the vehicle was in an accident where the current insurance company had written off or ‘totaled’ the car as a complete loss.  Then someone decided to ‘salvage the title’ and fix the car.  The VIN number is still a valid number but at one point it was ‘totaled’.”  It took us a while but we found a good company that took our “salvaged title” and covered us as we made all kinds of memories with our sweet little car.  

Some of you are like my salvaged title.  You’ve been in wrecks in your life and have been written off and “totaled” by the people in your life.  You may have even been considered a complete loss by the very ones where were covering you at the time and sent to life’s junk yard!  As deep and dark as that is, I want you to know that there is someone who specializes in salvaging those wrecks and giving them new life!

Jesus salvages the wrecks and restores them to perfection!  He takes those who have been totaled and written off and makes beautiful memories with them.  In John 4 we see a woman who was totaled by life.  She had gone through many men, and was known by the people as a wreck.  Jesus stopped at the well and salvaged her title, restoring her so that she would never be without proper coverage again! (John 4:2-30)  He died to reclaim our title and purchased our wreckage with His blood.  He takes the most fatal wrecks and breathes life into them.

If you have been totaled and written off as a complete loss, I want you to know that Jesus loves you and wants to salvage you!  All you have to do is ask!

If that’s you, pray this prayer with me.
“God, I know I have wrecked but your word says that you came to ‘seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10).  I am lost.  Save me.  I believe in you son, Jesus Christ and that you raised Him from the dead to salvage me from the wreckage.  Thank you for paying the price so I could be restored.  Thank you for loving me!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen”

If you prayed that prayer, you are now a Salvaged Title and you belong to the King of kings and Lord of lords!  He is restoring you and bringing you to a new place in Him!  I encourage you to read your Bible and continue to pray.  As you do, He will continue to show you who He is and who you are in Him!   

God bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Don't Start Over



In Ladies Bible Study we have been discussing Genesis and God’s love for us.  This evening the message God gave was simple and yet so deep.

As we were looking at Genesis and the fall of man-kind, God began to speak to my heart about going back to the beginning.  When Adam and Eve sinned, God didn’t scrap all of humanity and start from the beginning.  Instead He told them what the consequences were for their actions.  The first thing we have to understand is that consequences are not punishments.  In Genesis 3, when God is telling them what will happen, He doesn’t curse humans.  He only curses the serpent (v. 14), and the ground (v. 17b).  Everything else is consequences for their actions.  He even gives them hope that man would crush the serpent’s (satan) head (v. 15).

The message God gave tonight was this:
When you make a mistake, I don’t start over.  I don’t throw it all away and start from the beginning!

We have a lady in Ladies Bible Study that has three children.  Two of them are adopted.  They are a beautiful family and she has shared with us their story of how they adopted their daughter and their son.  As I was praying over this message, God showed me this family.  Their son was acting up and began misbehaving.  At that time, in the vision God gave, they packed up their van and drove to the courthouse.  Frustrated, they were going to sign the adoption papers all over again!  When I asked them why they had to sign the adoption papers again, the mother answered, “Because he was disobedient and now we have to adopt him again.”

That’s when God began to show me that this is what His people are doing.  Instead of coming to God to repent and allowing Him to forgive them, they are going back to the cross to sign adoption papers all over again. 

I want to be clear that I am NOT saying that we don’t need to repent and go to God.  I AM saying that once you are a His child, you do not need to be re-adopted.  We simply need to be forgiven.  There are plenty of people out there who have alienated themselves out of guilt and shame, just as the prodigal son did.  In shame we remove ourselves from The Father but, just as Jesus told us, when we return to The Father and ask for forgiveness, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and restore us to the family!

The awesome part of God’s forgiveness is that even the consequences of our actions are no match for our awesome God.  Hebrews 13:5 says that He will “never leave us nor forsake us.”  Even in our mess God wants to be there for us.  He doesn’t promise to take it all away but He does promise to provide for us and walk through it with us!  When we come through to the other side of it, we will have seen God’s hand upon us, protecting us as we walked through the consequences.  He loves us so much!
It doesn’t matter how big or small the sin or mistake, God is greater than them all!  His love for you is infinite. 

I pray that as you come to Him and as you allow Him to reveal Himself to you that you come to Him openly as your Heavenly Father!  Hold on to His hope and love and remember that He died once so that you could live with Him forever!  He knows that we make messes but He doesn’t want us to stay in the mess. 
God bless you as you seek and serve Him. 

The story of the Prodigal Son can be found in Luke 15:11-31.