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!