Thank you, precious enemy, for all of the good you’ve done.
I’m learning how to judge myself. I want to be more like the son!
My friends would never hurt me. They would never say the things you’ve said.
But thanks to you, dear enemy, this old flesh is dead.
Jesus has so many friends. They love him more than life.
He also had an enemy, full of bitterness and strife.
There had to be that enemy to nail our saviour to a tree.
There has to be someone like you, to crucify me like you do.
I’m finding strength where I’ve been weak.
I’m learning how to think, then speak.
So please, dear enemy, don’t stop yet.
All of my goals have not been met.
I’m striving for a place divine, where Fathers ways are also mine.
PLAYERS OR PIECES
© Maciej Sekowski | Dreamstime.com
The CHOSEN Youth Conference has just ended, and I’ve been reflecting on how things were just a few years ago. When I was a thirteen year old girl, I attended Camp Destiny hosted by Gateway, but it was so much different. Back then, I thought it was all about what I looked like. My mom took me shopping for new outfits, and I was set to go. Of course I was changed by that camp in some ways. I definitely learned where I had more work to do in my faith, and let go of some unforgiveness. I think I was so insecure in myself that I had a hard time trusting God. I definitely didn’t know God like I know Him now.
This year’s CHOSEN Youth Conference was different in so many ways. For starters, all of the speakers came from Gateway. They brought the word and ministered in power during each session. Although I was unable to come during the day, God showed up in the night sessions as well. Even though I knew God was going to do something great during this time, I was still kind of in limbo. In other words, I’m not a teenager anymore and I wasn’t a worker. The enemy really hit me with condemnation saying, “You don’t fit in. What are you doing here? This isn’t for you!” I pressed past how I felt and worshipped in the night sessions anyway. You see, I’ve been in a dry place spiritually lately. Not where I want to be, but not where I’m going, so the devil tried to hit me while I was down.
I can’t write this post without mentioning my sister, Vickie Bowman. Without fail, she came and found me before service silently slipping away from the hustle and bustle for just a moment to give me a hug. She’ll never know how much that meant to me each time. She didn’t have to do it, but it was a powerful reminder that I’m still a part of the Gateway family, even though the past five years have been really hard requiring me to miss more church than I would’ve liked.
I’ve been at Gateway for eleven years, but I didn’t see the speakers as just Ann, Vickie, or Josh. I knew God had something to say, but it was up to me to listen. On the last night of the conference during praise and worship, I sobbed like a baby. I was definitely not concerned with what I looked like or what people thought! It was about experiencing God on a whole new level. The anointing was so powerful that you couldn’t deny it. I left that night feeling refreshed and renewed, knowing God’s not done with me yet. I can truly say there’s nowhere else I would’ve rather been this past weekend than watching those youth and workers lives be transformed. Minute by minute. Session by session. Anyone can get something from God at a youth conference! It just solidified everything that God is doing in and through the people at Gateway, and I’m honored to be a part of this family.
I remember being in Walmart and hearing a kid scream “give me, give me, give me!” I wondered if I ever sound that way to my Heavenly Father. One day I had been in prayer. I stopped and started going over what I had been saying. I had been talking to God like I was a kid sitting on santa’s knee. There had been no thankfulness or worship in my prayer time. Daniel was thrown in a den of lions for praying. I bet he hadn’t been praying for a camel upgrade. Can’t you see Joseph when he was in the pit praying for shoes to match his coat of many colors?
One of the many things that impresses me at Gateway Believers Fellowship is the corporate prayer time. The selflessness and maturity in the prayers has challenged me to grow in my own prayer life. I want to come to God with need, not greed. I desire to show God my gratitude and not attitude. I still ask for some of the material things I desire. My main priority is to come with adoration and worship.
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” – Jam 2:23
Most places in the Bible, the word “friend” means “intimate companion” or “close associate.” In one place in Isaiah, God talks about Abraham, his friend, and the literal meaning there is “love.” There have been some crazy things said about “friends” in the name of “spirituality.” I’ve heard people say we don’t need to have friends, only disciples. I know people who think that, if you have a friend, then you’re just co-dependent. I just kind of shake my head at those folks who, because they have no friends, try to come up with a spiritual reason why everyone else should feel guilty for having friends. I figure if God loved Abraham and called him His friend, then it’s okay for me to have a friend, too!
In fact, I am incredibly grateful for my friends. It takes a real friend to stick by you when you’re going through tough times. It takes a true friend to be willing to watch your back AND get in your face when necessary. It’s only my closest friends who really understand the joy I feel when I’m celebrating a victory or accomplishment, because they’ve been there with me through every step of the way. Friends are valuable and priceless… just ask God.
So, cultivate true friends. Pattern your friendships after the incredible examples we have in the Bible… God and Abraham, David and Jonathan, Paul and Barnabus. Celebrate and treasure the friendships God has brought into your life. Friends don’t expect you to be perfect… they just expect you to be YOU.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
People see the smile on my face these days, but most people have no clue what I went through only a few short years ago.
My junior year of high school started off like everyone else’s. I had a full course load of classes and doing well. One day I woke up with a back ache. Without going into lots of details, I was without a doctor for year, but the back ache turned into excruciating pain. Not knowing the severity of the problem, I remained in school, but Lortab became my constant companion. Sobbing in front of my friends because I was in too much pain to eat was an almost daily occurrence at the lunch table.
I love going to church, so I got a tens unit and had it on full blast so that I could sit through the service. In case you don’t know this is NOT normal. In January, I finally got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. An x-ray revealed that I had a stress fracture, which is common among athletes and gymnast. I’m a bookworm, so this was quite a shock to me and my family. The doctor said only one in 1 million people have this happen to them. I was just happy to know there was a reason for the pain. My doctor didn’t want to do surgery right away, so we tried back braces for a few months. This is when I was at my lowest point.
The pain got so bad that I could not go to church with my mom anymore. Even thinking back to that dark time brings tears to my eyes. I would cry as I watch my mom get ready for church, longing to go with her instead of lying in the bed in agony.
Finally, I had an MRI that revealed surgery would be my only option. We still didn’t know the extent of the injury. I trudged on through my chemistry classes and English papers and could see my upcoming graduation through my haze of survival. God’s grace was the only reason that I was able to get out of bed each morning. When I could only take one step He definitely took two. In June of that year, I had a spinal fusion to repair my back. Much to everyone’s surprise my surgeon said that my back was broken and the vertebrates were floating around in the cartilage. Due to the extensive surgery, I had a long road of recovery ahead.
I can say with confidence that even when I lost hope, not able to see past my own pain, God never did. He saw me becoming a member of my church’s publication team. He saw me graduating from high school with honors. He saw me getting accepted into the Corporate Communication program at my college. I thank God that he never gave up on me! Whatever you’re going through, no matter how bad it may seem right now, you’re not going to stay there. God has plans to prosper you, so whatever you do DON’T quit!
Those things you don’t celebrate and give God the glory for you will lose. Recently, James and I were talking about things that were happening that we knew it was God. We really didn’t tell anyone, which is the first mistake we made. Shortly after that a lot of stressful things started happening to the point that all my focus was on the negative. The second mistake was not celebrating those great things God was doing in our life at the time, no matter how great or how small.
I focused so much on the negative that I couldn’t remember what God had done even though it was recently. That is just sad people, especially since I know better.
We are supposed to put God first in everything even in the stressful moments, but I failed to do that. Every time you experience God moving in your life or you have been blessed in some way, share it with some one. One person is better than keeping it to yourself. Our victories and testimonies are always someone’s answered prayer to help them believe or walk out something in their life.
One way James and I were blessed was we have a post office box that we got when we were married 13 years ago and we use it for most of our important mail because we just felt it was safer. Well, every year we have to renew it and pay the cost to use it. When I went in to make my payment, the lady told me some one had already paid it. I just assumed it was a mistake so I had the lady to double check and she said,”There’s no mistake, it’s been paid.” I have no clue who paid that fee, but I am giving God the glory because as small as it may seem to some it was a big deal to us!!! Recognizing a blessing big or small is very important to your walk with God!
~ Michelle Parrish
In the past few months it seems that my heart has been sensitive towards racism. At Gateway, the subject arises frequently. I had really been meditating about this subject and searching my own heart when we signed Dawson up to play basketball at a church in Elberton. At his first practice, we learned that Dawson was the only white kid on the team. Two of the kids on his team are good friends of his, so he didn’t feel out of place at all.
One evening, his friend’s mother called and asked if Dawson could come to her house after school on practice night so she could take the boys to practice, then bring Dawson home. With everything being so busy with three children, I greatfully accepted her offer. I mentioned how thankful I was for that mom’s offer to one of my family members, only to be hit right away with that spirit of racism. The family member quickly let it be known that there was no way that her child would be in a car with a black family going anywhere. She explained that her parents had taught her that she could love “them people” and talk to “them people” at school, but outside of school, she shouldn’t look their way or speak a word to them. In the same breath, she explained that her daddy loved all people and he wasn’t racist at all!! My initial thought was, “Seriously!!??”
To be honest, I did think about telling the teammate’s mom thanks for the offer but I can handle getting my son there and home, but then I realized she was the answer to my prayers of, “God I have too much on my plate and I seriously don’t know how I can juggle it all.” I decided I was NOT going to let that blessing go because of my own family member’s opinion about the situation. My family member didn’t even know how nice that lady was; they knew absolutely nothing about this lady or her family except for that they were African American. Stepping back and examining the situation, I decided that Dawson was my child and I was going to do what I wanted to do. We had the best basketball season yet – yes, with the black kids and their families. Dawson went to one of the kid’s birthday parties and yes, he was the only white kid there. When the team member asked if he could go and I said yes, they acted as if they were a little shocked. Turns out that those black women who welcomed Dawson and included him were frowned upon by other black people in their families the same way that we were frowned upon by other white people in our family.
Racism works both ways, and I have learned a valuable lesson from all of this. You must do what you know is right, no matter what others think about you. Barry and I are often frowned upon because of our parenting skills, and I admit we do make a lot of mistakes. However, out of all the mistakes that we have made, at least we can rest assured that we have taught our children one of the most important lessons in life: God created everyone in His image. Skin color is just a color, not a personality and certainly not the spirit. We are all created equally by our Heavenly Father, and at the end of the day, we all serve the same Lord!
~ Christi Duncan
I was thinking about our lives like Jack in the box. When Jack is out of the box he is all smiles and happy go lucky. We are like Jack in the box. It seems like out of nowhere our head gets squished by our circumstances and the cares of this world. Our box is closed and the crank is going. You remember how it works. The music plays and the crank gets tighter and tighter untill Jack pops.
For me personally before I knew about praying in tongues and its transforming power, if what you said came against what I believed I would snap in a heartbeat. Now I can truely say I’ve been transformed into a new person and will continue on the path that God has for me.
I’m thankful for God sending me to Gateway so I can be equipped with the proper tools to handle all life has to throw at me. Even though we have the tools, we don’t always use them. People are turned off by Christians because we are so wound up.If we would ever pray in tongues long enough, we would become a whole new person. Then people would be attracted to us.
Matthew 12:34 says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”