Thursday, 30 January 2014

according to the Spirit

Last Saturday night, I (Kristin) awoke from a nightmare.  In the wake of the fearful dream, I sat motionless on our bed, asking God for help and assurance.  You see, in the dream, I was dying.  But beyond that, in the dream, I was crying out "Jesus, Jesus!"  but could not get my voice above a whisper.  In the nightmare, I could not feel the presence of God or see anything like a "light" or any of the things I was looking to see or feel.  It was dark, empty, and scary.  I began to doubt God's ability to save me from the grave...then I awoke.

Immediately, I began praying, asking God to help restore my confidence in Him and all the truths I know about Him from reading His word.  And He answered.  He gave Isaiah 43 to hold on to.
43 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I knew in the moments I sat there in the dark, praying, that God wanted me to share this the next morning at church.  During the church prayer time before the meeting, I took the prayer need listed to "Pray that the Spirit will be at work this morning, helping us to employ the gifts that have been given us..."   I knew in my heart that I would go to the prophecy microphone to share.

God arranged it, no doubt.  The flow of the songs we were singing led right to the word I wanted to share :

What heart could hold
The weight of your love?
And know the heights
Of Your great worth?
What eyes could look on
Your glorious face
Shining like the sun?

Your name alone
Has power to raise us
Your light will shine
When all else fades
Our eyes will look on
Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You, God?
You are holy, holy, holy
God most high and God most worthy
You are holy, holy, holy
Jesus You are
Jesus You are

(Read more: Matt Redman - Holy Lyrics | MetroLyric)

As I shared, I knew God wanted to speak to those with nightmares, both of the night and the day.  Lives that felt like nightmares due to oppression, sinful choices, or other circumstances along with those who battle nighttime dreams of great fear.   And the Holy Spirit was at work.

Four ladies came forward at the end of the service, two of whom struggle with nightmares (including ones of their own death, like mine) and one of whom feels that she's living a nightmare due to the oppressive circumstances in her life.  Only one of the women is a regular attender at our church.  Many women gathered around these dear ladies, engaging in prayer on their behalf.  One lady came to me and shared my word was directly for her.  She is not a regular attender.  In fact, though her husband is highly involved at our church, she attends another church.  But for "some reason" she was at Kingdom Life last Sunday. 

It has been many months since we've seen the Lord move through his people like this.  The fact that the previous week had been our Corporate Consecration Week of Prayer and Fasting is no coincidence, I am sure.  But can't every week be like this?  Where the Spirit is moving in and among us, using our spiritual gifts to touch the lives of His people?  I pray so.  Lord, let it be so.

Let me encourage you this week to be praying for the Spirit to move in your respective churches.  God wants to use his flock to reach those inside and outside the fold.  Don't let your pride, fear, or any other sinful response cause you to stay silent or inactive when you feel God prompting you to go.  Even if your church is not one where gifts like prophecy or words of knowledge are held up as "for today," God expects his people to be speaking words of encouragement, hope, and gospel-truth "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."  (Eph. 5:19-20)

Friday, 17 January 2014

fast and furious

Wow.  Coming home to Nassau has us off and running!  Beginning Sunday, we will be at church every night next week for "Consecration 2014," a yearly week of fasting and prayer in our church.  Sunday afternoon, we will also be hosting the College of the Bahamas students for lunch.  Then we have Kendall's 11th birthday on the 31st, a men's speaker arriving February 1st for a mini-conference, the Waite family arriving February 15th (also Keith's birthday) and the Planks arriving later in February.  Phew!  February promises to be fast and furious folks!

And in the wake of our two recent losses, our beloved pet and our dear Keva Poitier, we are still grieving, trying to put away Christmas decorations, and get back into the swing of school.  There are many other items on our plate as well right now, but we will be informing you of those in the days to come. 

God is near to us in our broken-heartedness.  His Holy Spirit is our Comforter.  We see the goodness of God.  We are excited for the days ahead, though the "last days" of late have been difficult.  It is a new year and we know God's mercies await us each day of it.  Here are some sunset pictures I took back in December.  Though they cannot capture the glory of God, they speak to it.

Psalm 19:
"The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above
proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat."

Thursday, 2 January 2014

hellos and goodbyes

As I type this, the thermometer on my parents' back porch is reading 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  Quite a change from the usual 80-85 degrees of Nassau!  Lots of snow has been falling in the 5 days the girls and I (Kristin) have been here in Butler, PA.  It was a sight for sore eyes as we awoke Sunday morning to the beautiful white flakes falling down on the quiet scene outside our windows.  A blanket of newness.  We did not know what awaited us that day or the next.  But God gave us a beautiful winter wonderland to come home to that first morning.  Our "Hellos!" had been a happy time the day before as we met mom and dad at the airport and gave hugs all around.  It was a warm day last Saturday, about 40 degrees and lots of sunshine. 

After attending my parents' church, First Baptist, here in Butler, we went to one of our favorite breakfast places for a meal, then headed home.  After having our traditional Christmas dinner that night and cleaning up all the dishes, I sat down to check email.  A lump quickly formed in my throat as a picture I was not prepared to see showed up on an IM from a lady I've never met back in Nassau.  It was a close-up of our Kali-dog's collar.  Dread grabbed me.  You see, on December 18th, Kali went missing.  We had high hopes of her returning to us and had many people across the island keeping their eyes peeled for sight of her.  But when I saw the picture of Kali's collar there on my computer, there was no denying it, she was in fact the dog that had been hit by a car at the foot of our neighborhood several days before.  A kind lady I've never met went back to the seen of the accident where the person who had taken Kali's body away had left her collar.  It was hers, no doubt about it.  I didn't know what to say or do in that first moment.  How could I tell my girls?  We loved this dog like no other pet.  Now God had taken her.  For us, she was one of the brightest parts of our move to Nassau.  It seemed as though a small little piece of us was now lost forever.

The next morning, after a night of sadness, we received even harder news.  Keith called me via Skype saying he had difficult news.  Keva, our dear sister in the Lord and one of our closest friends at Kingdom Life, passed away Monday morning at 9:30.  She had entered the hospital about two weeks ago, was put on a ventilator, suffered what appeared to be a stroke, and simply never woke up.  Keva is nothing short of amazing in her persevering love for God.  For the last 7 years or so she has been battling illness related to her total kidney failure diagnosis.  Amidst it all, she has continued to serve the church, love her family and friends all the more, and praise God with all that is in her.  It is possible that she may be the most joyful saint I've ever met.  And now, she is with her Savior.  Such a loss we cannot even fathom for our little church of 65 or so.  Keva was a part of every facet of our church and her loss will affect everyone there. 

Keva and me.  August 2013
Keva when we first met, August 2010
Please keep Kingdom Life Church in your prayers.  This is a time of grieving for all of us, but especially for Keva's family and Cedric and Alexine Moss.  Keva was like family to them, and was known as "Auntie Keva" even to our own children.  She was a member of our Care Group, and I cannot even imagine having meetings without her in this new year.
Keva Poiter, second from the right.  Always radiant.  She was the guest of honor this year at our Mother's Day Lunch