Living and Reviving a Courageous Faith Like Elijah

I still can’t believe it. Three months ago a replica of the Temple of Ba’al/Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch, was built in front of New York City’s City Hall, very close to Ground Zero.  September 19th was the public unveiling.

The Institute of Digital Archeology, in partnership with Harvard University, orchestrated this movement. ISIS destroyed this temple in Syria in October 2015, and they wanted to rebuild it in the US as a symbol of defiance. Who is it really defying?

It is no wonder that Elijah’s bold faith on Mount Carmel has been on my heart recently. I pray for a modern-day revival as we experience modern-day paganism.

As we look to 1 Kings 18:16-39, Elijah had been a quiet prophet during Ahab’s (and crazy Jezebel) evil reign as King of Israel. Elijah had warned them that, according to the Lord God of Israel, there would be no rain or dew for several years (1 Kings 17:1). After three years God tells Elijah to present himself to Ahab, and God would send rain on the land.

Elijah met with Ahab, who asked to gather all the people from Israel onto Mount Carmel. Ahab brought 450 prophets of Baal .

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” –1 Kings 18:21NIV

Elijah then told them the was the only of the Lord’s prophets left, yet Baal had 450 prophets. He told them to get two bulls, choose one for themselves, cut it up, place it on the fire and not light the fire. He would do the same.

“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God. Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’” –1 Kings 18:24

So those prophets called on the name of Baal for about six hours until noon. But there was no answer. They even danced around the altar they had made.

At noon Elijah started mocking them. “Shout louder! ‘he said. ‘Surely he is god. Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened. ” –1 Kings 18:27.

Isn’t this like a reality show? I think it’s funny. Haven’t we mocked others? Obviously they did it in the Bible also.

The people of Baal even started slashing themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom until they bled. (Ouch—so not appealing). Then they started frantically prophesying until time for their evening sacrifice.

“…But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins.” –1 Kings 18:29b-30.

Elijah took 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he did something even more courageous to show his faith.

He built a trench around the altar, arranged the wood, cut the bull into piece, and laid it on the wood. He asked the Baal prophets to fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood. He asked them to do it again, then a third time. The water soaked the altar and even filled the trench he had made.

Now remember it had not rained for three years! Water was a treasure. Elijah boldly wanted to prove that no fire would be coming from him, but ONLY from the Lord. With wood not being able to burn wet, it showed only a miracle would cause the fire.

Then Elijah stepped forward and humbly prayed to the Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel…

“’Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is God!’” –1 Kings 18:38-39.

What leadership and faith lessons can we learn from Elijah?

What will it take for the US to cry out that the Lord is God?

  • The majority voice isn’t always the Truth. Elijah was one prophet. His lone voice spoke the words of Truth, that the Lord our God is the only true God and the only One God who responds and is worthy of our worship. May we have courage to speak Truth alone when other voices are loud.
  • Identify the problem as first step. Elijah asked how long they would waver between two opinions—Baal or God as Lord.
  • Boldly demonstrate your faith. Elijah did in two huge ways:
    1. He rebuilt the altar that was in ruins and dedicated it back to God. May we do the same for our nation, for our state, for our communities. It’s not too late.
    2. By Elijah asking the Baal people to pour precious water on the altar three times, he showed his belief in God’s miracles. Nothing is impossible with God. All we need is the faith of a mustard seed.
  • Cry out to God—Elijah humbly prayed aloud. When is the last time you prayed aloud? Let’s cry out to God today, every day.

God is the same yesterday in the days of Elijah, as He is today. Now, more than ever, with our country building temples of Ba’al in NY and symbolically in our homes, may we humbly follow Elijah’s example. I pray for the fire of God’s revival in our homes and on our nation as we fall prostrate and proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Reflect:

What may be a “Ba’al” in your life?

Renew:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin AND will heal their land.” –2 Chronicles 7:14

Resources:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/palmyra-arch-syria-new-york

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/75760/despite-earlier-denials-arch-temple-baal-stand-nyc/#ZHv994SDsfxmZjdQ.97

http://digitalarchaeology.org.uk

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How to Handle Life’s Curve Balls

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What do you do when unexpected curve balls in life are thrown your way? Dawn and Chris Carr know how to handle curve balls. They have always been such a precious couple in my life. They met when they were 19 years old at college and were inseparable. We as Dawn’s best friends knew they would marry.  They married right after college, in September 1997.  They epitomize–then and today– a Christ-centered marriage.

For their whole marriage of 18 years, Chris awakens daily at 6am to have his quiet time and Bible reading, eats breakfast with his family, then he leaves for work.  They pray together, laugh together, work hard together, and have fun together as a family. Life often seems so perfect in the calm before the curve ball.

Their curve ball came in 2003, when Dawn was 30 years old. While enjoying their two-year-old son Carson and pregnant with their second child,  Dawn was diagnosed with colon cancer. Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes, recalling the shock. How could someone so young have to hear the “C” word, especially Dawn who was pregnant? For that matter, why does anyone need to hear the dreaded “C” word?

A prayerful decision was made to operate. When the growing baby in her womb was five months along, anointed doctors made an incision from her breasts down to her pelvis. The nurses held that baby outside of her body while 13 cancerous inches of her colon were removed. They then gently placed the baby miraculously back into her body. Miracles never cease.

The surgery was not the worst of the battle. Her incision down the front of her body had a difficult time healing because, as the baby grew inside of her, her skin and stitches stretched tautly. Dawn could hardly stand up straight because it hurt too much to stretch her healing incision. Not only could she not stand up straight, she also was not supposed to pick up her beautiful two-year-old son Carson. Her incision healed, and Dawn, in her hilarious humor, calls her scar her “front butt.”

How did we respond as Dawn’s friends? What did we do? We prayed and rallied around her. We showed up. We all came to Charlotte, took Dawn out for a spa day with a manicure/pedicure, then rented a hotel suite to have a slumber party. She was real in telling us all the details. We were real to listen. To cry with her. To laugh with her (although it hurt her incision to laugh, she loved and still loves to laugh). To hug her. To hear her. To let her know we love her and value her and are praying for her.

Dawn, Chris, and Carson came to Charleston to visit and stay with me two months later. By this time she was seven months pregnant. I remember us going to Fort Sumter and Dawn trying to push Carson in his baby stroller, and she couldn’t stand up straight. We heard the ferry boat whistle indicating that we needed to get on the boat. Dawn ran like “ET” with baby stroller while Chris ran ahead with our tickets. We laughed so hard. We had so much fun. Dawn laughed through her pain. She is the life of the party.

Dawn delivered baby Zackary on Mother’s Day 2004, the miracle boy. We say he was “born again” on the day he was birthed. Dawn began chemo two weeks after he was born and couldn’t breast feed.  Both Zackary and big brother Carson have hearts of gold. They are good boys, good students, are good role models. I love them as I would my own children.

Dawn and Chris  go on date nights often, and go on “Celebration of Life” cruises each year on the anniversary of her cancer surgery. They just enjoyed their 2015 cruise last month. They savor every moment. Dawn and Chris are such an inspiration, and their marriage is one of dying to self and living for God, each other, their two sons and others. Those are the keys, my friends, to handling life’s curve balls.

Happy 18th Anniversary, Dawn and Chris!

Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” featured Dawn and Chris’s story in December 2012. Enjoy their poignant feature video clip now by clicking on the link below.

 The 700 Club–Baby Born Again, featuring Dawn, Chris and Zackary

Reflect:

–Why does it seem sometimes that bad things happen to us? Please comment.

Renew with One of Dawn’s favorite verses:

–“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

–“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Recharge:

–What can you learn from the testimony Dawn, Chris, Carson and Zackary? Please comment.

Resource:

— http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/amazing/Carrs121206.asp

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Be Strong and Courageous

Each one of us is facing something huge in our life. Today, may you be en-COURAGED to be strong and courageous. What are you facing today?

I have lived in beautiful, picturesque Charleston, South Carolina all my life. Born and bred. Last year the Lord called me out of my comfort zone to join Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Executive Director of Donor Development. It is a humbling, high calling. Proverbs 31 Ministries is internationally headquartered in Matthews, NC, near Charlotte. It was gracious that our dynamic leader and President Lysa TerKeurst allowed me to work from home in Charleston, travel to see donors, and drive the three hours to Matthews monthly.

For several months the Lord has been nudging me to relocate to Matthews.  To leave all the familiarity and loving environment of my family, friends, church, home, precious neighbors, and fabulous city is not easy. God is faithful. His timing is perfect.

Recently I read the Bible story about Joshua and have thought about it ever since. In Joshua 1, the tremendous leader Moses had just passed away. Joshua, one of his chosen leaders, had been called to cross the Jordan River with the Israelites into the Promised Land. Joshua was nervous, really more of a “chicken,” about his assignment. God gave him a wonderful pep talk.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:6-7, 9 NIV

Don’t you just want to lift your chin up, pull your shoulders back, and stand up straighter when you read that passage? I do!  Today, just keep repeating, “Be strong and courageous” as a breath prayer. “Be strong and courageous.” “Be strong and courageous.” “Be strong and courageous.”

God is with me as I transition to Matthews to be with my Proverbs 31 Ministries family. This is His assignment for me. He is opening the doors to make the transition easier. I am excited to be on this God-adventure. To God be the glory!

Whatever you are facing today, remember you are invincible when you are in God’s will. God is with you every moment. He will never leave you nor forsake you. There’s no way we can mess up God’s plan. Be strong and VERY courageous.

Reflect:

–What is the last experience where you felt nervous to face something or someone?  Please comment.

–How do you/did you feel after repeating “Be strong and courageous” as a breath prayer? Please comment.

Renew:

–“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” –Ezra 10:4 NIV

–“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” –1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV84

Recharge:

–How will you respond differently this week when facing a battle or something huge? Please comment.

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