Friday, July 12

Unexpected Healing.

Tuesday night I was ravished.
I was completely ravished by the intense love that God has for me.
Completely carried away and taken over.
I have, in a new way, been in awe and overcome by God's great power and love since Tuesday night.

I am thankful to attend a church who is into tapping in to ALL that God has. Who is in to digging deeper then just the surface of Christ and really diving deeper into everything He has to offer us. So many times churches shy away from the supernatural  parts of Christianity. And honestly, I don't blame them. I grew up in a charismatic setting where I saw the "gifts" of God abused, not always abused but still at times abused.
Abuse makes you skeptical and for me it made me cynical to anything 'super spiritual'. It has for a long time 'weirded me out'.  You know things like tongues, prophecy, deliverance, words of knowledge, fainting in the spirit, the whole blowing in your face movement, healing etc... Those 'super spiritual' things.

Growing up I was taught to pray for things like the gift of tongues. Because if you didn't have it then you couldn't really prove that you were indeed filled with God's Holy Spirit. I vividly remember going through what was then called 'The Holy Ghost Car Wash' when I was 14 at a youth camp. I remember about 20 people yelling in my face, pressing my chest, blowing on me, holding my hands up and claiming the gifts of tongues over me. I finally got down to the end of the 'tunnel' and nothing. Not a word of 'tongues' rolled off of my lips. Skepticism grew. If you know anything about my personality AT ALL then you know that is far from 'my scene'. I am an observer, not a participator. I am not the one who runs down to altars. I am the one who sits quietly alone in the pew. But I really wanted it. So I thought, and for years I thought this, that I went through all of that for nothing. I love the Lord and know him but he wouldn't give me that gift so I must not be filled with his spirit. Since it is a 'sign' ya know. Something must be wrong with me.

Fast forward to the age of 22. Through lots of studies, books and a lot of prayer and encouragement from friends, my prayer language hit me one night while at a Wednesday night worship service. I cant explain it, it just came. And from then on, I grew intrigued with all of his gifts he offers his children.  Though that is the only one I have personally received and experienced I have hungered and thirsted for more of Jesus. I want everything He offers us. I have watched friends receive amazing "words", accurate prophetic words, I have heard stories of healing and watched healing take place in the lives around me. I fully believe in the POWER of Jesus and I wanted to experience it in my own life.

Fast forward again to Tuesday night at my church.
Our church hosted what they call Mid-Cities U. This year, we had a pastor come in who walks out in these 'super spiritual' gifts. The title of this event was called 'The Supernatural Life of the Ordinary Believer'. It was all on tapping into the well that is in us and releasing the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within every believer. It was one of the most powerful events I have been to in awhile. One tuesday night, We 'practiced' what we had been learning. We practiced on hearing God and waiting for words from him for the people we were praying with. I am still so BLOWN away by what God said to me through the lady I was praying with when I think about it, I get chills.

Then, the Pastor entered us into a time of healing and prayer. He began to call our different illnesses, pains and diseases that he felt God was telling him needed prayer over. I sat back in great anticipation of watching others be miraculously healed, not realizing I would be one of those. He listed off several things then he said, "there is someone in here who has been experiencing tightening of the Jaw." My whole body grew cold and I know for sure my face grew white. He was absolutely talking to me.

For the last 2 weeks-ish my jaw has been so tight that it was getting hard to eat, talk or even chew gum. It was even growing sensitive when I touched it with my tongue. Then he asked everyone who had anything that he listed off to stand up. I did not want to stand. I was familiar with this. I have stood for things before and nothing happened. Phillip made me stand. I am thankful he did. As I stood I released my doubt and told God that I believed that though my ailment was small, I knew He could heal it and that He would. The pastor asked those sitting around the ones standing to get up and lay their hands on them. The lady who had just prayed over me turned around and asked me what I needed healing over. I slightly rolled my eyes and embarrassingly said "my jaw, it's really tight". She proceeded to place her hand on my jaw and began praying in the spirit. I don't know what happened to me exactly but I started crying. Not knowing exactly what words were being exchanged between her and the father I began to cry and I knew something powerful was being said and something was happening. I felt heat radiate from the palm of her hand which was ice cold just the moment before. She stopped praying and leaned in and whispered, "have you been using your mouth to be critical?" Stunned, I nodded and shamefully said Yes! (being critical isn't my nature so I was really embarrassed.)
She prayed more and God clearly spoke to her. She began to tell me that in the last two weeks I had been really critical towards someone over something and I needed to repent. She reminded me that God gave me a mouth to speak truth and life not death over people. She said she felt as though God had been tightening my jaw to shut me up. Conviction consumed me and all I could do was repent. Because I have in fact been using my mouth to criticize. So I opened my mouth, repented and immediately my jaw released and the pressure was gone. Never in my life has anything like that happened to me. I felt overwhelmed with joy, I was impressed, shocked and in awe that God loves me enough and cares enough about my voice and the way that I use it, that he will close it until I use it for his good. 

I was reminded of the passage in the Bible about how if its your right hand causing you to sin then cut it off. My mouth was causing me to sin and since I can't exactly cut it off, God stepped in and was closing it. My healing on Tuesday night was more then just a physical pain, it was spiritual. I am overwhelmed by his grace and power this week. I cant quit messing with my jaw now. I am still so impressed by what happened. 
God's love is so much stronger then anything I have ever tasted.

If you are in a season where you are hungering for more of God and you are desiring for everything that he has to offer below are a couple of links that I want to encourage you to check out. Theres not a gift out there that God has that he wont give his children. The power of Christ that is within you is real. It is tangible. It is powerful. You just have to learn how to use it. That is something I am still learning. And will always be learning.

Mid-Cities University with Guest Pastor Jim Laffoon from Mid-Cities Community Church on Vimeo.

   Sermon 03.13.11 - Hi-Jacked: Tongues from Mid-Cities Community Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 11

Jinja: Pillars of Hope.

The drive from Kampala to Jinja is a beautiful drive.
Lush trees.
Green Grass.
Tea Leaf fields.
And bumpy roads.
I am thankful my friend Wynne drugged me up for the almost 4 hour drive to Jinja. We both wore Sea-Bands, chewed bonine gum, took bonine pills and drank lots of water. I had to sleep off the motion sickness I had for the first hour but after a little sleep all was better.
We arrived at Pillars of Hope, which is a small little ministry just off the Highway before you enter Jinja, around noon. The kids weren't there so some guys went to fetch them on their Botas (spelling??). A Bota-Bota is a junky motorcycle that EVERYONE in Uganda rides.
There were only a few kids that day. A few very sweet kids.

We didn't have much of a plan that day so we just played with them and heard their stories. We brought out our sidewalk chalk and drew pictures. I was drawing with one little boy and as I would draw a picture, he would write what it was in english. I was so impressed at how well he spelled for an 8 yr old.
We also played a bit of soccer and painted many finger nails and many toe nails. The girls LOVED our glitter polish we brought along.
We also made many more friendship bracelets, busted out in a Justin Beiber dance party and sang songs.

It amazed me as I sat back and watched the faces of these children light up at just our desire to 'play' with them and sit with them. These children were different then the children from the day before, they were sweet, reserved, shy, tender and a little unsure if they should warm up to us or not.
We were informed that teams no longer visit these children. They are no longer getting the support they once were and it broke me. You could see it on their faces. You could see the confusion. It saddened my soul. I was glad we were there. I was glad that they had a day were they could just play and hear how much Jesus loves them and he sees them. Jesus never forgets them, he is always there.
My sweet husband, Stephen and John went to the local market while we girls stayed behind and played, danced and sang, to buy the kids some 'lunch' and soda. Phillip loved getting kids soda every where we went. It became his 'thing' he did. It is such a joy to see the kids get soda. They giggle and shake those bottles fiercely. They laugh at the fizz swirling in their mouths and at the water that builds up in there eyes as they swallow down the soda bubbles.

After we wrapped up our visit we loaded the kids up in our van and took them all home. We also got to tour their new income generation plan.
Y'all. I have never in my life seen so many chickens crammed into one tiny room. It was crazy.
They love these chickens. I think in a 12x12 room (about) there were like 150 chickens.

After our tour, we headed off to our hotel. I may never let Stephen (Wynne's husband) live the choice of hotel down. I am not a diva by any means but I do LOVE a nice place to sleep. We (Phillip and I) always joke about how we are hotel snobs. We kinda really are... This place y' stretched us to a whole new level. It was, straight up, an African hotel. I was terrified to close my eyes to sleep. There were dried up bugs in our bed, one of our team members had the sink in their bathroom fall OFF OF THE WALL and almost land on her feet, there were spiders in our rooms, holes in walls, carpet halfway pulled up in some rooms and the mosquito nets didn't fit the bed...if they had any at all. They basically laid right on your face. The water coming out of the faucets was literally brown. When you showered and dried off, the towel was then dirty. (The bus might have been a more comfortable place to sleep...just sayin')
It brought every ounce of AMERICAN out in me.
It brought up every spoiled rotten bone in my body.
Though it was sick and I was being rotten, I dealt with it.
Later that night after an amazing time with Sole Hope (check them out!!!) I laid in bed, on top of the cover (not daring to get in them) and a reality hit me like a boulder. It shook my core hard. I fought back the tears welling up in my eyes. I realized just how terrible I was.
How spoiled.
How comfortable.
How rotten.
This place...
This place, that was so gross to me, was a place that millions would think is luxury.
Millions would give anything to stay in a place like this.
A place that may not be a Westin but a place that is shelter.
Has running water.
Though not the cleanest, it is still water in which you CAN bathe and get a bit more clean.
It is a place that had a toilet and toilet paper, not a hole in the ground and a pile of leaves.
It is a place where you can lay your head on a pillow and not a rock or just the hard red dirt.
This place took my heart to a place I didn't think it would go. I decided laying there in that bed with a pesky mosquito buzzing in my ear that I would love this place and love it for everything that it was and not hate it for everything it wasn't.
Sometimes God uses things like African hotels to speak to our hearts. To open our eyes and take us to new levels. But we have a choice in those moments, we can choose to be mad at our situation and hate where we are or we can choose to love it and find the beauty in it. Not the tangible beauty but a beauty that lies deeper then what is on the surface. The beauty that Christ sees. The beauty that isn't there in the obvious. That night God spoke to me through a hotel in Jinja Uganda. He challenged me to not consume myself in my surroundings. To not hold my American comfort so tightly. I could have been given a much different life then the one I was born into. Sometimes a funky little hotel is good for the soul. Despite the chance of getting bed bugs, I am thankful that we got to stay in that hotel. It definitely was an African experience. And I am sad I didn't take a picture. HA!