Faith is a lifestyle

kenneth-e-haginKenneth E. Hagin’s testimony is the reason Rhema Bible Training College exists. It’s hard to fathom sometimes the deep, unwavering commitment Bro. Hagin had to the Father. Of course, we all know that to those whom much has been given much is required.

My favorite Bro. Hagin stories are the ones where he was just living life—paying bills, running errands, etc. I was recently reading The Midas Touch for a class and came across this statement “I was putting on my socks one day and the Lord spoke to me…”

I had to stop reading for a moment. Wait a minute. Bro. Hagin put on socks?!? Then I started laughing…of course Bro. Hagin put on socks! He was a man, right?

Rhema’s goal is to train ministers of the gospel, men and women who follow God in everyday moments and also in extraordinary ways. We are repeatedly told that the stories shared in classes are for us to see that God will move in our lives.

This is the main reason I was drawn to Rhema. I didn’t want to go to a college that only dealt with hypothetical situations.

rbtc-sealI wanted to go to a college that not only challenged me but also equipped me to walk out my beliefs.

I wanted to go to a college that encouraged me to start living out the truth on the job, in the grocery store, and running errands.

Bro. Hagin’s mandate from God was to “teach my people faith” and his legacy continues through the thousands of Rhema graduates around the world.

If Father God is calling you into ministry, you need to check out Rhema Bible Training College. Come and see what He is doing in the student body’s lives. A great way to do that is during our Spring College Weekend. For more information please visit, www.rhema.org/rcw

Living out the story

Aren’t cliff hangers the worse? 

To be Continued…

No one wants to see this at the end of a TV episode. And don’t even get me started on movies with 50,000 parts. Or book series where the next book isn’t coming out for another 18 months. 

Just tell me what happened!

Thankfully, the Bible tells us the whole story of Jesus. 

This is also why I’m trying to take it easy on the apostles as I read through the gospel. They didn’t have the full story like I do.

Come on, Peter! 

Thomas, what’s your problem?!?

James and John, did you seriously just ask Jesus to give you the best seats in the house? 

Here’s how I look at it: When I start doing everything Jesus asks me to do–without running my mouth first–I can pick on the apostles. 

By tracing the the faithfulness of God throughout His story, I am learning how to trust Him when I don’t have the full story (which is a lot).

Marvin Yoder, my teacher for Bible Interpretation, taught us about the Principle of Application today. I loved Mr. Yoder’s thoughts on seeing ourselves doing the works of Jesus and the early church. 

As Christians, the Bible is the final authority in our lives. However, if I never apply it to my daily life, it’s still just a story.

If Jesus healed, so can I.

If Peter could stand before a crowd and know exactly what to say by the Holy Spirit, so can I.

If Paul and Silas can sing praises in jail after being beaten for their faith, so can I.

 I’ve reached the point in my faith where I’m convinced that not taking the Bible to heart, that not living out the scriptures as practical, do-able truths is the number one reason the world sees the gospel as powerless. 

 

 

 

 

Time to Get Honest

 Let me be the first to say that I’m the queen of Fine-and-Okay Land. When something’s not fine and okay, the LAST thing I want to do is talk about it. 

So I won’t–if I’m not pushed.

Sharing our stories, our struggles, is not always fun or easy. 

But I honestly believe that the reason most of us never move past the past, especially Christians, is because we never allow ourselves to be fully known, we never share our struggles.

Of course, I’m not advocating running around sharing the most intimate details of our lives with complete strangers. I’m assuming (this might be a big leap) that we all are aware that healthy boundaries are vital. 

And here’s the moment I get really honest…

Most Christians destroy any opportunity to keep a conversation going. 

Let me demonstrate:

Me: How are you doing today?

Hat Lady: I’m blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath…

Me: Oh…my day stunk.

The conversation just died right there.

Yes, Christians are all of the things Hat Lady just said. I firmly and fully believe it.

Though, how are we going to encourage an atmosphere of openness in our churches when the conversation dies in less than 5 seconds? 

If the desire of our heart is to have a church overflowing with hurting and broken people, we need to be more honest and become better listeners.

Isn’t this the cry of every church? To be filled with broken hearted people who need Jesus to rock their worlds?

Here’s what I’m not saying: Stay stuck in your past. Always talk about it and never change. 

Jesus Christ can and will redeem and restore you no matter how broken you are.

This doesn’t change the fact that broken hearts take time to heal.

What better place to heal than in a loving family of fellow believers who are committed to listening and helping each other move toward the best God has for us?

 

 

 

 

 

Redemption Stories, Part 2

I enjoy listening to other people’s stories, especially men and women  who really love Jesus because of their redemption from a rocky past.

I think about the lady who annointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and washed His feet with her tears…

All of her sins were forgiven! She was so thankful. 

I know that I can look back  over my life and see all my past sin, pain, guilt, shame, and hurt–I’ve been healed from so much!–that God’s goodness is overwhelming in comparison. 

Some people get really uncomfortable about such open displays of gratitude. “Can’t you tone it down a little?” they ask. 

All Jesus says is, “It’s okay. I really appreciate your act of worship, your sincere devotion.”

There are many Christians who feel like they did Jesus a favor by accepting Him, but what did we have to offer?

Enough baggage to fill a cargo plane? 

Empty attempts to gain the approval of others?

In Romans 8:17, it says that we are joint heirs with Jesus, meaning that we are each other’s inheritance. 

This is awesome news for us because it means that all of God’s blessings are given and not earned. Though,  it got me to thinking:

Jesus got the bum end of the deal. 

 I don’t mean this disparagingly, either.  It’s just that in light of His great sacrifice it’s hard for me to be real uppity about how awesome I am. 

Without Christ, I am nothing and I have nothing, so all I have for Him is gratefulness and a heart full of worship.

This is why I get so excited to hear redemption stories and to share my own. 

We were redeemed at great cost and the chance at a do over is more than we could ever imagine. 

Redemption Stories

unityThere is great power in our personal stories (Christians call this their testimony, but story fits just as well here).

I heard several after Mr. Kirk Dubois finished up announcements on Thursday. He invited students up to share how they ended up at Rhema.

Looking at my fellow classmates now, you would never know about their pasts. Coming to Christ radically changed their lives–and the lives of many of their family members as well. 

Today is Good Friday. At 3 PM, Jesus died on the cross. He was falsely accused, mocked, and ridiculed. The events of His Crucifixion were foretold in the Old Testament and by Jesus Himself.

Isaiah 53 says:

He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed (MSG).

What gets me in this passage is Jesus was “a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand”. The King James calls Jesus a Man of Sorrows. 

Many people claim that no one understands their pain, their suffering.

First off, that’s simply not true. There are others (probably more than you realize) who can identify with you. 

Secondly, Jesus knows your pain.

Blow by blow Jesus was beaten and all of His blood was shed.

Our sins are the reason Jesus willingly laid down His life. 

As you observe Good Friday, maybe even for the first time, meditate on these truths.

Our stories were redeemed because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

Walk to Beautiful

I did something last night that I haven’t done in a long, long time: I stayed up until 2 AM reading a book. 

Good stories, especially true stories, intrigue me more than anything.

Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne is a captivating story of one man’s troubling childhood and how he became successful despite the trials. 

walk to beautiful

There was no way I could put the book down.

No matter how many chapters I said were the last.

No matter how many times I told myself, “30 more minutes, Audra.”

How could I stop now? The story was holding me captive! 

Jimmy lived in a world raging with violence and with no sense of normalcy, but he still had hope.

This one fact is amazing to me.

 

We are all hardwired to hope, which is why I think the saddest thing to see is hopelessness prevail. A sense of utter hopelessness is the #1 reason people commit suicide.

What I love about Jimmy’s story is how he wrestled hopelessness to the ground, tied it up, and ended it’s life–not his own.

Inspiration is awesome, no doubt, but inspiration that leads to change? Yes! Sign me up!

The biggest obstacle Jimmy faced as a boy was loneliness because people saw him as another juvenile delinquent when he was just an innocent kid. He only knew darkness; he’d only seen glimpses of light.

Many children in foster care face the same challenge. They want to do better, but no one’s ever modeled what that was for them. Or, in the worst of cases, they’ve succumbed to hopelessness.

All it takes, though, is one person reaching out to help. 

And that’s all I could think about last night as I turned page after page….

 

 

 

 

 

Share your story

I want to share a praise report with you…

A father and daughter were reunited because my dad shared our story with the father. 

The father is watching our video series to help him navigate this new relationship. 

And a couple of other men are now encouraged to reach out to their abandoned children, too. 

I am incredibly humbled by this news, especially since sharing this part of my life has been a stretch for me.  
Thank the Lord for allowing my dad and I to help others. God gets all of the glory because it’s only by His grace any of this happened. 

Abandonment is a big issue in our world. A growing percentage of children are being ditched by the people who are supposed to love them the most. 

Sadly, most of them see God as another bad parent and walk the other way. 

One of the biggest desires of my heart is to help these hurting children–child and adult alike–see the love of God for them. 

The revelation of God’s love will heal the wounds of broken hearts. 

The power of redemption is best expressed through the narratives of redeemed and restored lives. 

I encourage you to share your story and watch how God uses it to change lives. 

Untold stories

I want to write fiction this year. 

Writing this blog comes so naturally. I enjoy writing about life and everyday things. 

The conversational tone is my favorite. That’s why travelogues are my favorite book genre. 
In my college creative writing classes, my attempts at poetry were pitiful and my short stories were not impressive. 
It frustrated me because I have been a reader my whole life. Visualizing a story as I read is second nature. 

So why can’t I write about the stories I see so clearly in my head?

Two of my goals this year are to improve my writing skills and to write a few short stories. 

The only way I can achieve these goals is to change the way I see myself as a writer. 

I’m not some untalented wannabe who is barely scraping by. 

I can write. 

I have a voice. 

I will not give up. 

There are stories inside of me, as well as the everyday adventures I enjoy sharing. 

Christmas memories

Today I ate a Christmas burrito. 

My dad came up with the concept as a fun way to eat leftovers. 

Well, he learned about the English’s version called Bubble and Squeak from our friends, the Vospers. 

The idea of putting it in a tortilla was his own. 

We spent the day packing and purging after a small basement flood on Christmas night. (It came a bad storm that afternoon, which led to an overflow of water on our property.)

No worries, though, because it’s all been cleaned up now. Nothing major was lost to water damage. 

As tiring as the process has been, I’ve enjoyed working with my family and being around our house. 

My favorite part of the day was when my dad found an old journal from his 6th grade year. We read the entries aloud at lunchtime.

Let’s just say that my dad’s always been a funny guy. The journal was filled with pictures, misspelled words, and all the cuteness that comes with childhood. 

I’m not an overly sentimental, let’s keep everything kind of person, but finding this journal has me thinking:

We ought to keep some things from every part of our life. It’ll make for some great conversations later. 

Surviving an emotional hangover

Have you ever had an emotional hangover?

You share something really personal and the next day you think:

“Why did I do that?!? I should’ve kept my mouth shut.”

I’m a pretty private person, which might seem like a strange statement since I blog every day. We share 200-300 words a day, right? Daily blogging has been a stretching experience for me.

Allowing people into my head space every single day is scary. I’m like a Puritan when it comes to my emotions. If my ankles are showing that’s just too much!

There have been many times I’ve shared with you guys and felt sick to my stomach.

“Did I say too much? What did I just do?”

I only bring this up now because I’m working on a project with my dad and stepmom. You’ll get to hear more about my reconciliation journey. For those who are unfamiliar with my story, this series would be a good one to follow. (And that’s all I’m going to say for now.)

This project will be a BIG stretch for me…

I need to find a nice rock to rent and a stash of brown paper bags.

I realize this post is a bit melodramatic. (Aren’t hyperboles fun?)

No one likes vulnerability, but we all crave it. We’re constantly watching and testing those around us to see if they’re genuine.

And yet, many of us are so scared to share.

Dear friend, I’m right there with you!

Fight the urge to hide, okay?

Hiding helps no one.

Find an outlet to share your gifts and stories with others.

Know that I’m here to help you however I can.