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!

Monday, July 20, 2015

House of Bread

Ruth 1:1-6  (NKJV)
“1 Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread.”  (Emphasis added by blog author)

This story starts out with a lack of food.  In Bible days, bread was considered the main food group, much as we consider protein the main food group.  They would never have a meal without bread.  So, when there is a famine, there was a definite shortage of bread.  The part that God was showing me was how this reflects in the church today.  People are hungry for more of God.  

In John 6:35 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”  In the old testament, the bread in the tabernacle was called “showbread”, or in Hebrew it means “the bread of His presence”, (Leviticus 24:5-10; Exodus 25:30; Numbers 4:7) and it represented the relationship between God and man, the presence of God and the provision of God.  It was to be kept and eaten by Aaron and his sons (priests) and only in the Holy Place.

On Sunday, God began to bring many things together for me to see in a way that only He can.  First, there are the people in the church.  I am reminded of a book I have read many times called “The God Chasers” by Tommy Tenney.  If you are hungry for a deeper relationship with God, I highly recommend this book!  In chapter 3, which is titled “House of Bread”, Tenney says “People leave the house of bread for one reason… The reason that they left the House of Bread is that there was no bread in the house.”  Where people find old bread or no bread, they will not stay.  We as the church tend to have an experience with God and that is awesome but if we are careful, we begin to make bad bread or give away old bread!  If God is there, the bread of His presence is fresh.

*My Testimony*

Thursday, me and my family were blessed to be a part of Revive Indiana.  With this awesome revival team, people volunteer their time to serve in any capacity with the same goal, share the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ through love, listening, discerning, and responding to people in need!  My team was first to arrive on location after hearing about the bread give-away nearby.  We were greeted by Rob who talked to me throughout the day as if I was in charge of the volunteers.  He told me that all the bread leftover had to come back with me.  UUUUMMMMM…I don’t know where to put it!!!  I am just a team leader but I felt God say, “will you say yes to Me?”  So, after serving 894 people (about 3,500 people when we counted how many in their household), we decided to load up the cars and trunks with bread. 

He then told me how we were getting pallets of bread!  We took back everything we could to the church to be given away but Rob asked me to call him in the morning to get the rest of it.  I prayed Thursday night and said, "Ok God.  I don’t have the resources to do this but you do so if this is you, make a way."  God spoke so simply.  He said, "Will you say 'YES'?"  

I got to the church for prayer on Friday morning still praying the same thing.  After prayer I went to the office at First Assembly (where my husband and I are members).  I called the Rescue Mission and was invited to bring the bread and some teams in to love on the people there that came for lunch!  So, now I have bread and an open invitation… I needed transportation.  I talked to one of our ladies in the office about the use of a church vehicle.  She started to tell me that ALL of the vehicles are checked out for Home Mission week and she didn’t have anything.  After a minute of explaining why I needed it she offered to look again.  BUS #4 WAS JUST RETURNED FROM THE SHOP… READY TO DRIVE & I COULD USE IT!!! I was about to jump out of my shoes!!!
SO, now I have bread, I have a vehicle, I have an invitation and I just need a team!

(The harvest is plentiful… Matthew 9:37)  During breakfast I was directed to a certain gentleman who does ministry at the Rescue Mission.  However, that door was closed because he had a full schedule that day and could not go.  As I was walking out of the gym to go to the team leader training, God highlighted Steve and said "Ask him.  He’ll go."  I did and he was on board immediately.  I later found out that he is the director of the Men’s ministry at his church that goes there every Tuesday.  He even offered to drive the Bus since he was experienced at it!!!

We ended up with 15 people.  We picked up the bread which filled the back of the bus and 4 cars!!!  At the Rescue Mission, we prayed with people, gave away bracelets and Bibles, and some came to Jesus!!!  BUT, we still had bread left over!!!  We decided after that to come to one of the low-income apartment complexes and hand out bread… We got to pray with people that I have been praying for and working with for 6 years!!!  It was beautiful to see kids running out and leaving with 6 or 7 loaves of bread and their parents coming out to see what was going on!!!  After all of that we brought the remainder to the church to be given away to ANYONE who will use it!

As I sat reflecting on all that has happened this last week, and what God was telling me through Ruth, the people heard from far away that there was bread back in the “house of bread”.  I sat there praising God because He was showing me through this great miracle that the Bread is back in the House of Bread!
God is doing a great and marvelous thing in His church right now.  It is happening in hearts and being carried out through the hands and feet of those who love Him.  It’s not to stay in the Church and get moldy, but to spread out to the hungry!  In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus quotes Isaiah in saying “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  

After He reads this scripture from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, He then turns to the people and says, by the way, that’s Me.  Jesus came to show the example.  He came to preach to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to set the captives free, restore and heal the blind, and deliver the oppressed!  Then He told his followers in John 14:12-13 that “… he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  This means we are called to do what Jesus did AND MORE!!!

The bottom line is that the Bread of His Presence is back in the House of Bread.  It’s time to take His Bread, His presence, and distribute it to the masses!!!  Are you ready?
I challenge you to seek God’s Bread of Life as Luke 11 says… He is a good father who gives good gifts to His children… “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?”  (Luke 11:11)  Luke 11 goes on to say that our Good Father gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, to any who ask, so that we can be in His presence and walk in His power!  All we have to do is ask!

Once you have His Bread, SHARE IT!  Don’t keep in in the cupboard to get old and stale!!!  Give it to the poor, the hungry, the captives, the blind, and oppressed!  They need the Bread of Life!  God bless you as you seek and serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, the Living Water and Bread of Life!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bon Voyage

January 15th, I departed for a whirlwind adventure that was to be an awakening of a passion that has long lain dormant.

In 1999 I prepared to launch my senior year of high school, studying abroad as an exchange student in France.  I came back forever changed.  The condensed version consists of beginning the semester optimistically, and full of potential.  However, a series of compromises and poor choices led me to defeat.  Just as Esau sold his God-given birthright for a frivolous bowl of soup, appeasing an immediate, carnal demand by selling his promises, I too traded my promises from God for gratification of the flesh.  This opened doors to addictions and destructive behavior.

As I have repented and began to seek God’s face, He has led me through a long line of open doors to this point.  I am forgiven.  I am saved.  I am redeemed.  There comes a point in time that God will call you to reclaim what is rightfully yours.  The children of Israel were doing just that in Joshua 1.  They were led through the wilderness until they had been built up and purified and had come to the point of being able to reclaim the promises of God for their own.

God opened the doors for me to teach French a few years ago, and take my students to Paris on an educational tour this June!  The company we are touring with paid for the training tour I just attended, in Paris!  God has orchestrated every step to bring me to where I am in creative and unique ways!  As I prayed and fasted over this tour, we saw the chaos erupt in Paris.  It was not an accident that we were scheduled to go at this time.  God told me my “mission” was to pray as I went, interceding for the city.  Not only was I brought there to intercede, but also to go back to claim what I had given away the first time, through His authority and power!

I had three very distinct “God moments” while on the tour.  Yes, I got to sight see, and tour, and even sleep (a little) but there were three very clear encounters with God that will forever be etched in my memory.

#1.  The Louvre

On the very first day, about 8am Paris time, we went from the airport to the hotel, leaving our baggage and then making our way to the heart of the city.  Our very first destination was the Louvre!  We had our tickets in advance and were given about 2.5 hours to roam and meet back up at the front pyramid to head over to Notre Dame.   
I went immediately to see the Mona Lisa and the famous French paintings I had only admired in books such as Marie-Anne, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, and many others!  After seeing what I truly wanted to see, I still had about an hour and thought I would go out front and people watch.  As I headed slowly towards the exit, I felt the Holy Spirit urge me to go down a side hall to see another exhibit.  “Sure, I have time” I thought.  I saw this cool exhibit about Egypt and other things.  When I finished, I still had ample time so I went to head back and noticed another hall.  I felt the Holy Spirit again say, “Why not check out that hall?”  “Ok.  Why not?” I thought.  I went down another hall and saw some statues and other artwork.  Finally there was a third hall and another prompting to take it.  At that hall, I saw a sign that said, “Islamic Art and Artifacts”.  AH HA!  I get it now!  I realized where the Holy Spirit was leading me and paused a moment to gather my thoughts and focus on what He was asking of me.  As I entered the exhibit, I began to pray under my breath over the people who are lost and in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ!  The plates, and cups, and artifacts were interesting and I circled the room, slowly observing and praying.  As I came to the other side of the room, there was a circular staircase leading downwards to more of the exhibit.  I felt strongly to take the stairs and entered a dark room, full of large artwork and artifacts.  There were carpets, tapestries, hanging artwork and door panels.  However, there were also cases of stone with engravings on them.   
While I circled the room in prayer I noticed the placard on the case said that the stones were engravings of the Koran.  I circled the cases in prayer and as I began the circle, I heard God say, “It is not a coincidence that this exhibit is here and in the basement.  This spirit of false religion is trying to take root and destroy every place it is planted.  I brought you here and am bringing others here to pray and uproot the demonic stronghold that is trying to entrench itself.  Pray for the people to see the truth and pray for the bondage to be broken and the captives set free.”  As I prayed, I felt the mission complete and I finished and left.  It was a powerful and humbling moment.  

#3.  Sacre Coeur/Montmartre

Yes, I skipped #2 (chronological order) because it was a more personal moment and I felt that this was the second half of the missional calling to Paris this weekend.

We spent Sunday afternoon hiking from Moulin Rouge (notorious for skin and sin) up the steep hill to Montmartre and the Artist district.  I struggled a bit but kept going and asking the Holy Spirit to, well help me not pass out!  BUT, I felt like Rocky when I finally made it to the top!  When we turned the corner into the artist district, I had a huge smile on my face.  I had climbed almost to the highest point of the city and was watching God’s great gift of creativity being activated right before me.   

There were magnificent works of art by some amazingly sweet people who love to talk to you about what they do and why they did it!  I did buy a small canvas from a very colorful painter.  After enjoying this, I headed up the rest of the hill to the basilica of Sacre Coeur, a catholic church at the highest point of the city of Paris.  As you look out from the stairs, you can see down into the valley over the city.  It is amazing!

I looked out as the lights were just beginning to slowly glow for the evening.  I got to the top of the stairs and entered the church, praying through and listening to the service being conducted.  As I came out of the church, I stepped off to the middle, and sat on the top step just looking out over the city.  It wasn’t too crowded because it was Sunday so I had ample time to sit and pray and think.  As I looked out I began to listen to hear what God would say about this place.  I waited and He spoke.  “The ‘City of Lights’ is a beautiful place that has lost its first love.  Their lights are so bright that they can’t see the ‘Father of Lights’.  This is happening all over the Western World, even now, which is why it has been so easy for the enemy to penetrate through.  It is your light and not mine, hovering over the cities.  Pray that they begin to see My light shining through the false security of their man-made lights.”  

I wept and prayed as I realized that God had led me below the city to pray and then allowed me to now pray, literally, over the city and its people.  I poured oil onto the ground, anointing it and praying for God’s light to penetrate through the man-made lights and repented on behalf of those of us who have tried to replicate the Light of the world and relying on it to keep us from the dark that is creeping in underneath.  

#2.  The Palace of Versailles

I saved this part for last because it is the completion of my full revolution.  I started in France, sinned, repented, and came full circle, by the grace of God, to reclaim the promises He gave me long ago (see my last blog post, XXXII: A New Chapter)!  We entered the palace, through a grand foyer and into a large, ornate room.  We walked through the 9 rooms of the kings, Louis XIV, XV, & XVI and saw the hall of mirrors where the treaty of Versailles was signed!   

They took us through grand, decorated doors into the king’s chambers.  As our tour guide talked about the different kings and queens, and how they each lived, I heard God speaking to me. 

King's Chambers
 The king used to come to the chamber of the queen when he chose and she never went to him.  God spoke and said, “You call out to me and want me to meet you where you are, and I love to do that.  I love to come away to your secret place and meet you there.  However, I long for the day when I can bring you into MY chambers.  When I call for you, come!  When I open the doors for you to come into MY presence, enter in without fear or shame!  You are mine, my beloved, and I am yours!  I am calling for my bride, my lover, my companion, my friend.”   

The Queen's Chamber
It was all I could do to keep it together, looking at all the rooms that separated the king from the queen and how ritualistic their intimacy had been reduced to.  God longs for so much more!  He yearns to be with us and not separated by traditions, pride, or fear.

As I left Paris, I felt I had just gone through a high speed chase, in the middle of a tornado!  It all happened so quickly.  It took me almost all week just to process it and write it all down but I feel re-energized and empowered by how much God truly loves us and what measures He will go through just to reach us and be with us!  He truly is awe-some!

God bless you as you seek Him with your whole heart and are found by Him!  He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him!