Early Morning Angel Visit

Several years ago the Lord began waking me up at 4:30 a.m. to spend time with Him. He desires to spend quality time with His people. His bride.

Once the day gets started, there is rarely a stopping place to break away and spend time basking in His Presence. The Word tells us to pray without ceasing. We should have a prayer in our hearts and on our lips at any given time throughout the day. Yet, to sit at His feet requires pulling away from other things. Hence the reason God likes to wake us up to spend that quality time before our days begin.

Since those 4:30 a.m. training sessions, the Lord and I have reached a mutually agreeable time that we like to meet. That is at 6:00 a.m. I have become very serious about this spiritual discipline…most of the time. Winter seems to be more difficult, especially when it is cold and wet outside, or when I am extra fatigued from a busy schedule or sickness. This morning was all of the above.

I woke up, rolled over and looked at the clock. 5:30 a.m. I mentally calculated how much time I still had to sleep. Thirty more minutes. On the heels of that thought came the nudge of the Holy Ghost that assured me if I went back to sleep, I would likely sleep past my 6:00 wake up time. These were my thoughts as I sunk back down into the hazy mist of slumber.

That’s when the angel came. In that fuzzy place between awake and asleep. The visit was neither imagination, nor a dream. My eyes were closed, yet I saw it come rapidly face to face with me. I’m not sure if it flew, as I saw no wings, but only knew that it rushed up to my face. I also say “it” because the face seemed neither male nor female. This could be due to its close proximity to my face.

The angel said clearly, “You know you should get up. Come on!,” and motioned urgently with its hand to follow. Just as fast, it was gone. It was as real as a breath expelled from my body.

In the two seconds that I took to consider these instructions, I slipped back into slumber. When I woke up again, it was almost 7:00 a.m., and time to get up to get ready for Church.

I knew I had missed a great opportunity to be with the Lord. He had desired so much to spend time with me, that He sent His angel messenger to wake me. Two seconds of hesitation robbed me of something precious.

Don’t let anything rob you of time alone with God. Click To Tweet

In the few moments I had, I knelt and repented that I hadn’t come earlier. When I got to prayer meeting at church, I spent more time repenting. I know absolutely that I’m forgiven, but whatever the Lord wanted to share with me is either forfeited, or at least delayed.

The Spirit of the Lord was so precious during worship service, for which I’m thankful. I just wonder what might have happened if I had met with the Lord when He first shook me awake that morning. What blessing might He still be waiting to pour out when intercession has built a wall of petitions high enough to reach His Throne? What healing? What deliverance? What victory?

In my prayer of repentance, I asked the Lord to help me have the withal to recognize and respond immediately at the unction of the Holy Ghost. The Word says to be instant in season and out of season. This morning was definitely a cold, wet winter season that I needed to be instant in. I’m sure there will be upcoming opportunities to see if I learned the lesson.

May you be blessed by Sis. Mickey Mangun (The Pentecostals Of Alexandria) singing, “I Miss My Time With You.”

INVITATION TO SHARE YOUR STORY:

– Do you and God have a mutually agreed upon meeting time and place?

– Have you ever missed a special time or blessing with God because you hesitated to act?

-What spiritual discipline do you have the most trouble mastering?

As always, please feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER, and email me: Pat@PATVICK.COM.

A Lesson On Living (Not Dying)

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”
(Psalm 118:17)

Death is inevitable. This reality strikes fear into most people’s hearts, but when you learn the lesson of this thing called life, it will bring you comfort. The truth is you cannot live to the fullest until you acknowledge your mortality. Then, and only then, can you start truly living.

God’s Word instructs us to number our days. When you consider the brevity of twenty-four hours, then you can begin to appreciate a week, a year, a decade and a generation. You must then ask yourself, what can I do with this allotment of time that God has granted me?

I visited in the hospital today with a friend who is on a heart transplant waiting list. Even though his body is weakened and frail, he is possibly more alive than he has ever been. His senses were heightened. Every word was chosen meticulously for the meaning he wanted to convey. No trivial conversation polluted his speech.

He’s living for today. This minute. This hour. This breath. And it’s enough, because he knows it’s all he’s promised. He doesn’t feel cheated, as it’s all any of us are promised. Right now. He has simply learned to appreciate the gift of now.

How can I make now worthwhile? What can I talk about that will bring value to this moment? What can I think about that will proliferate goodness into the gift of now? What eye contact can I make that will infuse depth into this conversation? Will they feel the gratitude that I am willing my flesh to convey in this embrace? These are the questions he is asking himself, and we should ask ourselves, while we are living.

His eyes follow his wife around the small hospital room with admiration as she organizes their lives. Forty years of til death do us part, and all they know for sure is they have this moment. They’ve said all the things, and tied up all the loose ends. All that’s left to do is love deeply and hope, “and hope maketh not ashamed…” (Romans 5:5)

My friend was surrounded with lines, and probes, and beeping things. He was also surrounded with books. Two stacks within touching distance, and one under his hand. Lifelines. Why does a man who isn’t promised tomorrow read books? Why does he give himself to learning and growing? Because he isn’t dying. He’s living.

Also within reach were prayer cloths. A multicolored stack, as varied as the people who sent them. Flimsy little scraps of material that shouted, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE! WE AGREE TOGETHER IN JESUS’ NAME THAT YOU ARE VICTORIOUS! YOU ARE NOT DYING! YOU ARE LIVING!” I could tell by the way he pulled them close and gave them a squeeze that he believes their message.

I knew he had figured it out, this thing called living, as he spoke about people. Family members, grandchildren, Church family, visiting ministers. This one called. That one said. Lord Jesus, bless them. The law of kindness was in his mouth, and thankfulness was in his eyes, as he spoke about the people. He’s learned that stuff and flesh are temporal, but souls are eternal.

The final way I knew he had decided to live, wasn’t in what I saw, but what I felt and heard. The witness of God’s Holy Spirit declared to everyone in the room, and spilled into the corridor with utterances assuring,

“LIFE is here!”

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.“ (Ezekiel 36:26)

DEMYSTIFYING DEPUTATION: How Does It Help Our Missionaries Fulfill Their Calling?

My husband holds ordination license with the United Pentecostal Church International. (Referred to as UPCI) The UPCI is a fellowship of Christian ministers who have united in order to evangelize the world for Jesus Christ. We can do more together, rather than individually.

Jesus said when the gospel of the Kingdom was preached to the whole world, the end of the age would come, and He would return for His Bride, the Church.

In order to preach the whole gospel to the whole world, the UPCI sends out Missionaries to lands, both foreign and domestic. These Missionary Heroes are held in the highest esteem because they are willing to leave everything behind and follow God’s call to teach and preach the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to people anywhere and everywhere in the world.

This is an all consuming task. It takes every bit of their time, energy, strength, emotions and finances, yet they do not complain, because they are fully persuaded that the Cause of Christ is greater than anything they must give up.

Since it would be rare for our Missionaries to hold a secular job, it is the UPCI’s responsibility to provide a reasonable income for them to live productively in the land where they labor. This is achieved by having Partners In Missions. (Referred to as PIM) Exactly as it sounds, it is an opportunity for individuals and/or Churches to partner with Missionaries by supporting them with monthly offerings and covering them in prayer.

Each geographical area has a set budget amount that must be raised by the Missionary before they can go. Once they have raised their budget amount through PIMs, they go to the land of their calling for a four year term. Before their budget is raised, and after each four year term, Missionaries travel inside the States to collect PIMs.

This process is called DEPUTATION.

Each district (state) has a District Global Missions Director (DGMD). My husband is the DGMD for the state of Tennessee. It is the Director’s job to help facilitate the Missionaries being scheduled to visit Churches throughout the state where they serve. So, each Missionary and their family will travel inside a state for approximately two weeks, visiting as many Churches as they can, before traveling on to the next state.

Why is this important?

When a Missionary visits a Church while on deputation, they share the burden that God has placed on their hearts for their country. They connect local congregations to God’s work all over the world.

Deputizing Missionaries connect local congregations to God’s work all over the world. Click To Tweet

How do they do this?

For starters, they will likely tell you how they received their call to go, and all they went through to make it happen. How they prayed and sought the Lord for direction. How they made application to the Global Missions Division of the UPCI. How they interviewed with the Global Missions Board. How they told their family and friends goodbye through hugs and tears. How they sold or packed away most of their possessions. How they attended language school to make sure they could communicate in a foreign country. How they have made plans to homeschool their children while living in a car or camper for months on end. How they have been traveling, or will be traveling throughout the United States for so many months until they have acquired enough PIMs to fill their budget. This will take about three minutes to tell, because it’s not what’s most important to them.

Next, they will get a glimmer in their eyes, and begin to tell you about the country of their calling. They will share practical information first like the population, what the country produces and exports, its climate, its indigenous animals, and what types of foods there are to eat.

After that, they will become very animated when they begin to talk about the people they will be ministering to. That is what’s most important to them. The people. They will tell you about waitresses, nurses, truck drivers, school teachers, doctors, government workers, stay at home mothers, factory workers, teenagers, idol worshippers, and precious little ratty kids with boogers smeared across their faces who do not know Jesus. They will show you pictures of them, and call them by name, because they know them, and love them.

You will sit through this presentation with your heart on the verge of exploding from the need to do something, and you will weep. You will weep for the faces. You will weep for the hopelessness of humanity without a Savior. You will believe the Missionary when they say that you can make a difference to one person, to one village, to a nation.

Some give by going. Others go by giving.

The Missionary will then present specific needs. Projects that they are also raising money for. It could be to raise money to open a Bible School, or to rebuild a Church that a hurricane has destroyed. It could be to start an orphanage, or dig a well for a particular community. The needs are a never-ending story.

At the close of their presentation, the Missionary will give you the opportunity to fill out a pledge to be a monthly Partner In Missions and/or to give a one time offering to their special projects. You will want to do both because you will have realized by this time how blessed you are to have the choice.

As you leave the sanctuary, you will probably pass the Missionary ‘s table where they have beautiful items displayed from the country of their calling. You will touch them, and feel connected to the real people who crafted these items with their own hands. You will shake the Missionary’s hand, and hold on a few seconds longer than necessary; willing them to feel your heart-wanting them to know they’ve made an impact in your world-wanting to make an impact in theirs. You will tussle the hair on their children’s heads, standing there so tall beside Mom and Dad. Brave little soldiers.

As you get in your car with your little family, and head for a restaurant, you know you will never be the same. You’ve realized, maybe for the first time, that the Kingdom of God is bigger than you thought, and humanity is more lost than you thought, and you must do more to bridge the gap.

As you lay down in your soft bed with a full belly that night, you will begin to feel a stirring in your spirit…

a face…

a place…

the name of a country…

a call…

…and while you are contemplating what it all means, the Missionary family will be driving down the road to the next Church, in the next town.

This is DEPUTATION.

Warm Regards, -Pat

CALL TO ACTION:

Have you ever been moved by a Missionary’s passion for the country of their calling? Tell us about it in the comments.

-Have you ever felt like you might be called to the mission field? 

Have you ever been on a Mission Trip? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Visit GLOBALMISSIONS.COM to find out more about Missions in the UPCI.

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, shoot me an email PAT@PATVICK.COM, and SUBSCRIBE HERE to my newsletter.

Murphy Built A House

As I sit here on this snow-blanketed, January day, my mind drifts to warmer times. I long for hot sand, crashing surf, the call of seagulls, and the sight of my grandson’s chubby legs chasing them. I feel especially close to God at the beach. It reminds me that He is big, I am small, and that’s just fine with me.

It was at the beach a few summers past that I got acquainted with Murphy. I never actually met Murphy in person, but I know him all the same. I know that Murphy is an early riser. I know that Murphy is a builder, who has an eye for detail. I know that Murphy built a house.

As it’s my habit to wake early in the morning, this morning at the beach was no exception. I relish the silence and the clean swept sand of early mornings. It’s easy to see what the surf has taken away, and what gifts it has given, before the sand is full of footprints.

I sat down on the deck with my Bible and coffee, and took in the beauty of the morning. That’s when I spied it. A sand castle. I immediately headed down to the water’s edge to take a look. It was quite elaborate, with towers and windows, strong arched doors, and intricate details of shells and rocks. I knew it was Murphy’s house, because it said so right across the front.

As the day wore on, the beach began to fill with feet. More and more people passed by and would stop to admire Murphy’s house. All was perfect for a few hours, until the wind picked up, and began pushing the waves closer and closer to the castle.

Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

I know what you’re thinking. Murphy shouldn’t have built his house on the sand. Nevertheless, he did. And now, there’s a house on the sand in imminent danger of being washed away. I watched all day to see what would become of Murphy’s house, knowing that I couldn’t change the flow of the tide.

That’s when a beautiful thing began to happen. Although I never saw anyone who I assumed to be Murphy tending to his house, I did see others. People passed by all day, and when they saw a portion of the castle that was in distress, they would step in and patch it up. Over and over this happened, none of them knowing that others had labored on Murphy’s house before or after. Selfless labors of love.

Why did it matter to complete strangers that Murphy’s house was in danger? Perhaps, if Murphy hadn’t written his name on his house, they would have been able to ignore its plight. But he did, and that made him real. Murphy built a house, and his house was in trouble.

HOW MANY MURPHYS DO YOU KNOW?

How many family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances do we know who truly love God to the best of their knowledge of Him? They have the best of intentions to live their lives for Him. They have gifts and talents that they want to use for His service. They are passionate about their walk with Him. Yet, they have built their house on unstable sand because they don’t have a firm foundation of DOCTRINE and DISCIPLINE.

ARE YOU HELPING MURPHY REPAIR HIS HOUSE?

It’s so easy to shake our heads sadly and say, “They shouldn’t have built their house on the sand.” But for whatever reason, they did. Perhaps they didn’t realize they had choices of building sites. Perhaps they simply built with what they had, and where they had it. Perhaps no one ever taught them DOCTRINE. Don’t assume that they have rejected it.

Perhaps no one ever taught them doctrine. Don’t assume that they have rejected it. Click To Tweet

By doing nothing, we add to the demise of their house. If their house falls, they could become so distraught and hopeless that they won’t ever build again.

Wouldn’t it be better to follow the example of these random beachgoers and do what we can to shore up their structures. Show them where they went wrong. Help them to bring their houses up to code.

This is what Aquila and Priscilla did in the New Testament for a Jewish man named Apollos. He loved the Lord God of the Old Testament, and was serious about his walk with Him and his work for Him. He was doing all that he knew to do in teaching others the Law of Moses in the synagogue. When these two laborers heard Apollos speak in the synagogue, they took him aside and, “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:26) 

WHAT WAS THIS MORE PERFECT WAY?

Apollos had only been baptized under John the Baptist’s baptism, which was only unto repentance. He had not yet heard about baptism in Jesus’ name. Nor did he have the revelation of Jesus being the Mighty God of the Old Testament manifest in the flesh.

After his new friends took him aside and taught him the doctrines of Jesus’ name baptism and the Mighty God in Christ, Apollos went on his way teaching the Jews publicly that Jesus was the Christ. (God manifest in flesh) He also became a faithful minister of the gospel, and very beneficial to the New Testament Church, whose ministry was endorsed and valued by the Apostle Paul, himself.

The end of Apollos’ story would have been very different if Aquila and Priscilla had listened to him teach in the synagogue and sadly shaken their heads, saying, “He shouldn’t have built his house on the sand.”  Instead, they raced the tide, and patched up the breached walls of his house until he had enough knowledge and will to rebuild on The Rock of doctrinal Truth.

 

*******APPLY WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED*******

-Did someone labor to keep your spiritual house from washing away before you understood foundational doctrine?

-Who in your life can you reach out to and expound the way of God to more perfectly?

-Are you familiar with these DOCTRINES? The Oneness of God, Repentance, Baptism in Jesus’ name, The Infilling of the Holy Ghost With the Evidence of Speaking With Other Tongues, (Acts 2:38) Holiness, The Rapture of the Church, Jesus’ Millennial Reign, The White Throne Judgment -If not, I’d love for you to ask me.

-If you’d like to LOCATE A CHURCH near you that teaches these biblical doctrines, visit UPCI.ORG.

Warm Regards, -Pat

As always, please feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter, and drop me an email: Pat@PATVICK.COM 

A Book Review of “Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (As it relates to the Christian life)

We had been extra busy with our travels this past year. (Belize, Oman, Jamaica, Trinidad, Malaysia. Not to mention all of our travels inside the States.) I needed a breather. I had big plans for this winter. Just some quiet time to refocus and recharge. I was going to have a staycation to read, write, study, pray and fast.

Besides being a Pastor, Global Missions Director, business owner, and farmer, my husband also takes ministers on guided duck hunts. It’s not uncommon for him and my boys to be away a few days each week during duck season, hosting clients. That being the case, once the holidays have passed and the last half of duck season is in full swing, is usually the perfect time for me to plan my Staycation.

Things don’t always (rarely) go as we plan. Unexpected circumstances usually dictate that some measure of impromptu/ad lib living be implemented. We live ever-changing lives from day to day, and often, hour to hour.

When my grandson’s preschool closing unexpectedly, naturally, Memaw was recruited to fill in keeping him a couple days a week. Mind you, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but the Little Prince is a high energy, full throttle, hands on kind of guy. Nothing else gets accomplished when he’s on the premises. This meant that everything I would have done on those days was shuffled to other days. Hence, not much time for a staycaytion in December, plus all of the holiday decorating, cooking, shopping, and end of year parties.

Then there was the weather. Everyone knows you can’t control the weather. It’s winter, so you expect it to be cold. Single digit cold, however, is too cold. Now, you may not know how that affects duck hunting. Ducks need open water to find food. If they don’t have open water, they stay put, usually on wildlife refuges. If they aren’t flying off the refuges to look for food, there are no ducks for hunters to hunt. Hence, the reason I had anxious hunters at home for two weeks of my staycation. That was my last week of December, and my first week of January.

Lastly, came the flu. Influenza. Most of you know it is as nasty as it sounds. First my son, next my daughter, then myself. We actually cancelled midweek service at Church because so many of our families had been stricken by this malevolent bugger. Perhaps you think that gave me extra time to stay at home and do my thing…really? You thought that???

Maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mr. N. Flu Enza, or perhaps it’s just been a while, and you have forgotten his particular charms. Body aching like it went through a car crusher. Skin sizzling like it’s about to combust from fever. Limbs convulsing from being chilled with hypothermic blood…Happy Staycation to me!

I said all that to say this, things change. That’s just living. It’s important for us to learn how to adjust to changes in a healthy way. Enter this little jewel…

My changing circumstances reminded me of a little book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. You can find it at SPENCERJOHNSON.COM or AMAZON.COM.

It’s a parable about two little mice, named Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, named Hem and Haw. These four characters represent four distinct ways of responding to changing circumstances within each of us. Sniff and Scurry represent our simple ways of responding, while Hem and Haw represent our more emotional responses.

In the story, the mice and the little people get up every day and find their way through a maze to find cheese at various cheese stations located throughout its corridors. They have been enjoying a large stash of cheese at Cheese Station C for an extended time, and become quite comfortable and satisfied with their situation.

The cheese at Cheese Station C, however, begins to dwindle, over time and little by little. One day the mice and the little people arrive at the station, as they have done for a long time, only to discover the cheese is completely gone.

Sniff and Scurry do what their names imply. They immediately put on their running shoes and begin to scurry about and sniff out in the maze to find more cheese. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, have purely emotional responses. Their reactions range from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, as do ours most often, when our circumstances change.

Finally, Haw decides he must go out into the maze in search of new cheese. He knows if he stays, he will die. He feels empathy for his friend, Hem, but cannot afford to wait any longer, and sets out on his own. In the end, he does find new cheese and learns a lot about how to react to change in the process, leaving a handwritten trail for Hem should he decide to come in search of new cheese, as well.

So, you may be wondering how this little parable applies to your life? How is this a spiritual concept? “Who Moved My Cheese?” isn’t written from a Christian perspective. It teaches a principle, however, that can be applied to any area of our lives.

Things change. That’s just living. Learn how to cope in a healthy manner. Click To Tweet

Nothing stays the same. Weather, seasons, finances, jobs, health, age, relationships, opinions, Church, responsibilities. These are all extremely fluid.

What you want, and feel you need, in each of these areas is the metaphorical cheese. As Christians, our relationship with God is the cheese.

When circumstances beyond our control change in any area of our lives, we have a choice of how we will respond. Often we think that to respond in the simplistic ways of scurrying around and sniffing out a new venue for keeping our relationship right with God during difficult times is backward and foolish. We usually tend to use our highly intellectual or highly emotional reasoning.

Telling God how unfair our situation is. How we don’t deserve what has come upon us. How angry we are, even at God Himself, for allowing this change of circumstances. How we are going to refuse to be budged from what we’ve always done, and always thought, and always seen results from.

Denial can be deadly. Click To Tweet Panic paralyzes. Click To Tweet Stubbornness is a form of rebellion, which is sin. Click To Tweet

Anything worth having, takes maintenance, and once that something is gone, it is worth seeking after.

As Christians, we must always remain focused and aware of the Cheese -Our relationship with God.

When circumstances in our maze of life begin to change, we should respond in the most simple way in order to locate more Cheese. Neither anger, fear, distrust, accusations, nor any other emotional response, will solve the problem of locating new Cheese. Nor will any highly intellectual program, performance or plan.

A friend of mine, Scott Armstrong (@PastorSA), recently tweeted, “Date the methods. Marry the message.” How simple, yet profound is that? The sooner we figure out that it’s not the methods that sustain us, but our relationship with God (the Cheese), the less traumatic it will be to put our noses and knees to the ground in search of Him.

Quite simply, the only way to find what new thing God is doing through your changing circumstances is to search diligently for Him. It’s what Sniff and Scurry would do.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, email me at PAT@PATVICK.COM, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my mailing list.

Warm Regards, -Pat

Gray Hair. Don’t Care. (It’s My Birthday, After All;)

My fifty-first year was short, but mighty. It’s been my favorite so far. I did a lot of living, a lot of learning and a lot of loving in the past three hundred sixty-five days.
A LOT OF LIVING
January brought our fourteenth trip to Belize. We think of it as our home away from home. I climbed Mayan ruins for the fourteenth time, and saw the country through the fresh eyes of my youngest son and nephew.
In March, I conquered my fears, and pushed past preconceived notions, when I flew Etihad Air to the Middle East. In Oman, I trekked sand dunes, swam in the Indian Ocean, and ate the best food I have ever eaten in my life. I was mesmerized by the brilliant fabrics, frankincense wafting in the air, and the gorgeous doors of hospitality.
In the UAE, I took in Dubai from the bird’s eye view of the Bourj Kalifa.
I saw an indoor ski slope in a Dubai mall (AN INDOOR SKI SLOPE!!!), and stood in the hush under what must have been thousands of butterflies in the Butterfly Room.
Covered from head to toe, I toured the magnificent Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
June brought our thirtieth anniversary trip to Jamaica where I did nothing but soak up sun, sand and food. Oh, and I did meet a husband and wife, also on their anniversary trip, who had also recently visited Dubai. The big world is getting very small, indeed.
July took me to Trinidad where, at the lowest point of the Pitch Lake, I walked on a molten sea of tar, and at the highest vantage point of St. George Fort, I prayed a blessing over the country with outstretched hands.
August was my tour guide to Malaysia. Both Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur (via Hong Kong). I have yet to sort out my feelings from this trip, as there was so much of…everything. Sights, sounds, smells, people. So many people. No more space to spread out, so everything climbs up, up, up.
Besides traveling outside of the country, there were plenty of trips interspersed stateside to make most people dizzy. School of Missions in St. Louis, Missouri. Family vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Ladies Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee,  Ministering in Tulsa, Oklahoma, UPCI General Conference in Kansas City, Missouri…I digress…
  A LOT OF LEARNING
I learned that people are people all over the world, and that God is God in every nook and cranny of it, as well.
I learned that no matter what language a person speaks, you can always communicate with a smile, a hug, or the squeeze of a hand.
I learned that people can tell you are sincere if you show respect and appreciation for their customs.
I learned that preconceived notions about people only breeds fear and hate.
I learned that these bodies we live in are fragile, yet they can be sturdy as nails when the need arises.
I learned to wear compression socks when I fly long distances.
I learned that eyes leak when hearts are longing to reconnect across datelines and timezones.
I learned that food poisoning makes you feel like you are dying, and wish you could, but then you don’t, and you are glad.
I learned that when you travel with friends, the journey is so much sweeter.
I learned that the work of God is bigger than me, and I will do just about anything to be a part of it.
A LOT OF LOVING
Husband, Children, Daughter-in-Love, Grandson, Twin Grandsons on the way, Men and Women of God, Family, Extended Family, Church Family, Community, Friends. Heart Connections. I love them all even more as I turn fifty-one than I did when I turned fifty.
So what if I’ve got more gray hair than I did last year. I’ve done a lot of living, learning and loving over the last three hundred sixty-five days to get it. Gray Hair. Don’t Care…It’s my birthday, after all;)

Sweet Little Hand In Mine

This morning at Church, while waiting for service to start, I snapped this sweet photo of mine and my grandson’s hands. The sweetness of the moment reminded me of a memory twenty-five years earlier.

My grandson’s daddy, my oldest child, was three, the age of my grandson now.

I was standing in the kitchen, holding his hand. My husband’s Great Aunt Edna was visiting.

She was a classy lady. Always well-dressed, hair fixed, nails manicured. Her home was full of polished antique furniture, draped with crocheted doilies. She brought out the good china for every day occasions, and no one would dare think of accidentally breaking a piece. Kids behaved in her presence because of the formality that she brought into a room with her.

If her appearance and carriage weren’t enough to cause you to take notice, when she spoke, everyone listened. With one sentence, it was apparent that she was a genteel, southern lady.

Aunt Edna saw me holding my son’s hand, and commented wisely, “Right now his little hand fits inside yours, but it won’t be long before yours will fit inside his.”

How right she was.

One day, when Logan was a teenager, he held my hand in his and said, “Look Mom, Aunt Edna was right.”

And so she was.

Through the years, a squeeze of our hands has always been an unspoken conversation between us. Now that my boy has his own boy, those old memories carry an extra sweetness.

As I looked at my grandson’s hand on mine this morning, I was thankful.

Thankful that Aunt Edna spoke a word into my life all those years ago that would cause me to value time with my children.

Thankful that even though they are grown, they were all raised in Church.

Thankful that through the crazy busyness of our lives, we somehow made the time to instill into our kids that God comes first, and Church is a priority, not just something we add on to our lives.

Thankful that all my family was in Church together on the last service of the year.

Thankful that all my children and daughter-in-love are used in the ministry.

Thankful that my three year old grandson loves to raise his hands and worship Jesus.

I’m thankful that men and women of God are my children’s heroes. Click To Tweet

Ma’am, Sir, as the old year rolls up like a scroll that has been read, and the new year is spread out like a blank page, I urge you to take your children’s and grandchildren’s hands in yours.

Three or forty-three, no matter.

Give them a squeeze. Study them carefully. They won’t look like that next year, or in ten years, or in twenty.

Show them by example how to reach high in worship, how to locate the books of the Bible, how to play an instrument in praise, how to clean the Church house.

Time is no respecter of persons. When those youthful hands are wrinkled with age, they’ll be glad someone taught them what is most important.

Trust me.

Warm Regards, -Pat

Seasons Change, So Don’t Be Afraid Of What’s Around The Corner

Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash

This time of the year always makes me a bit wistful, like something is slipping through my fingers that I want to grasp and hold tightly to. Beach sand. Warm breezes. An incomplete thought. Relationships.

This unsettledness seems to be brought on by two things. One is the crisp morning air. I can look out the window and see the horse and cows lift their faces in the morning coolness, breathing it in. Even they know change is coming.

The second is my hummingbird feeder. In the middle of summer, it is the center of much activity. Once the weather starts to cool, it hangs idle. I leave nectar in it longer than most, because you never know when a lone traveler will need energy for her journey. But sooner or later, all my beautiful jeweled hummers leave for warmer places.

It reminds me of a time in my life about twenty-five years ago. We were living in Birmingham, Alabama, and were very active in the Church there. There was a young man in the Church who was from Florida, but was attending college in Birmingham. He spent a lot of time in our home. Everyone who ever met him, loved him. When it came time for his graduation, and for him to move back home, I was so distraught that I could hardly stand it. I just couldn’t bear the thought of him not being in our day to day lives.

Fast forward a quarter of a century…Our family is now very involved with the Global Missions department of the United Pentecostal Church International, something we could have never foreseen twenty-five years ago. My husband schedules Missionaries to be in Church services all over our state while they are traveling on deputation.

Would you believe that young man from our Birmingham days is now involved in the Associates In Missions program of the United Pentecostal Church?! This means that one day in the future, this man’s family will travel through our state on deputation and my husband is likely to be the one scheduling his services in our Churches. I am looking forward to catching up and enjoying with him the season of life he is in now.

As I’ve grown older and matured a little, I’ve realized that not everyone that God brings into my life is going to be a permanent fixture. We must allow people to follow the path God is leading them down. There are seasons in each of our lives. Often, those seasons overlap, and occasionally diverge.

We must allow people to follow the path God is leading them down. Click To Tweet

People come and go in our lives for many reasons. Schooling, jobs, illness, vacations, military, dreams, passions, travels, bad decisions, good decisions, death and endless other reasons that we often have no control over.

Just remember, life and relationships are a series of changing seasons. Whoever God has placed in your life during this season of time, be a true friend to them. Cherish them. Add value to their lives. Then, when a season of change is in the air, don’t hold on so tightly that you, nor they, can enjoy what is right around the corner.

Life is a series of changing seasons. Click To Tweet

INVITATION FOR FEEDBACK

  • Have you ever been afraid of change?
  • Do you or someone you love feel the need to control every aspect of a relationship?
  • Have you ever held on so tightly that a relationship was damaged?
  • How has God taught you to trust Him through changing seasons?
  • Has God ever restored a relationship that you thought was lost?

As always, please feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, subscribe to my newsletter, and email me: Pat@PATVICK.COM.

 

 

Baptism In Jesus’ Name

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

IS IT REALLY NECESSARY?

Isn’t salvation granted by faith? Absolutely. Baptism does not destroy faith; it fulfills it. If a person truly has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then he or she will follow through with His commandments. Is it possible that a person can be a true believer and yet ignore Jesus’ very words?

It was Jesus at the Great Commission of His disciples, just before He ascended into Heaven, who spoke these words, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16) The obvious implication being that a person who truly believes, will be baptized and a person who doesn’t truly believe, will not be baptized. And that it makes a difference to his salvation.

Let’s also consider the words that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3. He told him that unless a man was born again, he couldn’t see the kingdom of God. At Nicodemus’ confusion, Jesus clarified his statement by saying, “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) From this passage of scripture we learn that the born again experience is essential to our salvation and that it involves two elements, water and Spirit.

Moving into the Acts of the Apostles, we hear a very important message from Peter. Remember, Jesus gave Peter the “keys of the kingdom” in Matthew 16 because of his revelation of Jesus’ true identity. If anyone other than Jesus Himself should be able to say what steps are necessary to salvation, it would be Peter.

The crowd that was gathered on the Day of Pentecost heard Peter preach about Jesus and were “pricked in their hearts,” wanting to know what they could do to right the enormous wrong they had done by taking part in Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter was full of Apostolic Authority when he stood up before the crowd that day and instructed them saying, “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) He summed up his oration with the sobering words, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation. (Acts 2:40)

Peter also tells us in his first letter that just as humanity was saved by water in Noah’s day, so are we still saved by the water of baptism today. “…when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…” (1 Peter 3:20-21)

Paul reminds us that when the Lord delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage by the hand of Moses, every one of them had to pass through the water of the Red Sea. Turning back from this water crossing would mean either death or a return to slavery. There was only one way to the Promise Land, and it required two elements: to travel under the cloud and through the water.

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)

Both Noah’s family and the children of Israel were saved by God’s mercy, but that salvation was still dependent on their obedience to the process He established. It makes one wonder, why believers today want so desperately to avoid the water and the Spirit.

THE QUESTION OF WORKS

Many people avoid baptism, using as their excuse that baptism is not essential because we are not saved by our works.

When the Bible says we are not saved by works, it is speaking of good deeds, not baptism. Works of service are a natural extension of a Christian’s walk with the Lord and very much expected, but cannot be used as leverage to tip the scales in one’s favor for salvation.

Paul makes it very clear in Titus 3:5 by what process we are saved, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (The original greek word for washing used here is “loutron,” Strong’s 3067, meaning to bathe or baptize). Baptism is not works; it is OBEDIENCE to the gospel.

Baptism is not “WORKS”; it is OBEDIENCE to the gospel. Click To Tweet

THE FORMULA FOR BAPTISM 

Jesus sets the stage for the formula of baptism when He commissions His disciples in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Many ministers baptize by reciting these exact words over the person. But it is important to realize that Jesus was not telling His disciples to repeat what He said, but to do what he said. They understood fully that He was instructing them to speak the name of Jesus over those they baptized.

We know this is the case for two reasons:

First, we know that Jesus is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The only way the disciples could have fulfilled Jesus’ instructions was to baptize using His name.

Second, we can look through both scriptural and historical accounts and find that when the disciples baptized, they used Jesus’ name. Not one time does scripture record that the early Church baptized reciting His titles. Either Jesus’ disciples understood Him to mean for them to speak His name when baptizing, or all baptisms in the early church were administered incorrectly.

NEW TESTAMENT ACCOUNTS OF BAPTISM 

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost…Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:38, 41)

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)” (Acts 8:15, 16)

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:48)

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:4-5)

“And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16)

WE ARE INNOCENT BY ASSOCIATION WITH JESUS’ NAME

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him in baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5)

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

THE NAME OF JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO SALVATION 

Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”(Colossians 3:17)

It was Jesus’ precious blood that was shed for us. It was Jesus who hung on the cross in agony until the work was done and He could say, “It is finished.” It is Jesus to whom we owe our lives and our allegiance. If we claim Christianity, why wouldn’t we want to take on the name of Jesus Christ in baptism?

PEOPLE DO ALL MANNER OF THINGS IN JESUS’ NAME…JUST NOT BAPTISM 

When I did a search for photos to use with this post, I used the phrase, “in Jesus’ name.” There were 25,471 photos that turned up in the search. I got weary of looking for even one of an actual baptism. There were images of people boating, biking, flying, climbing, taxi driving, sky diving, etc…There was even one really cool photo of a parrot, whose name I’m assuming is Jesus.

Apparently, people do all sorts of things in Jesus’ name…just not baptism. Don’t be one of those people.

We are associated with Jesus by baptism in His name!

Warm Regards, -Pat

I’d love for you to leave a comment, share to social media, or email me Pat@patvick.com

True Repentance

When he was a little boy, we were trying to teach our youngest son, Caleb, to say, “I’m sorry” when he did something wrong. This became a very eventful series of lessons because as he was trying to conquer this new level of manners, he would spontaneously go up to his older brother, Logan, punch him on whatever body part was most accessible, and then yell, “SORRY!”

Over and over this would happen because in Caleb’s mind, he was learning the correct usage of a new word. His parents, however, (and his big brother) wanted him to feel the word. We wanted him to feel the conviction, the remorse, the contrition and the humbleness that true repentance brings. We wanted him to actually be sorry, not to just say sorry. We also wanted him to stop doing the thing that he was continually having to be sorry for, and especially not to pre-meditate the act. Lots to learn here.

True Repentance Is The Death of Self.

In repentance, we associate ourselves with Jesus’ death. Jesus was God in flesh. We often focus on Him being God, but not so much on him being flesh. He was a man who felt desires, temptations, emotions and distractions, having to make the daily decision of whether to follow the leading of the Spirit of God that dwelled in him, or to cater to the flesh in which he was clothed.

It is no different for us today. Regardless of the trial, temptation, addiction or emotion, we must follow Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:39 says he, “fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

True Repentance Is Brokenness.

Pride cannot repent. Arrogance cannot be humble. If we desire God’s forgiveness, then we must allow His Spirit access to our hearts. We must allow ourselves to be broken in His Presence. Repentance is not a simple, “I’m sorry”. It is an honesty before God. It is an opening up and a purging out. It is an awareness of His Holiness and our smallness. It is seeing ourselves in the light of His Word. It is crying out like King David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23)

Pride cannot repent. Arrogance cannot be humble. Click To Tweet

True Repentance Is A Turning Away.

To continue to do a thing that you know is wrong, and ask God to forgive you, knowing that you will do that thing again if given the opportunity, is not true repentance. To pre-meditate on doing a thing, planning ahead of time to ask God to forgive you, is not true repentance. True repentance is a conscious decision to turn away from sin and live a life that is pleasing before God. After a person takes that initial step, a lifetime of commitment should follow. You might be wondering how it is possible to live from this point on without sinning. Jesus did, while living in a body just like yours. Hebrews 4:14 says He, “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

What if I slip up? What if I make a mistake? I have great news for you! Jesus, our wonderful Savior, is full of mercy and compassion. His greatest desire is to bring us into, and keep us in, a saving relationship with Him. The Apostle John says in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We all make mistakes. Just remember that making a mistake is not the same as willful sin. God knows the very thoughts and intents of our hearts. Repentance should be a regular occurrence in our lives, not a one time thing. The Apostle Paul explained it best when he proclaimed in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I die daily.”

True Repentance Is The Christian Way.

No matter who you are or what you have done, good or bad, a repentant heart is essential to your salvation. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30)

Let’s be honest with ourselves and God. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) We have His assurance that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

No matter where you’ve been, where you are now, or where you want to go on your journey with Christ, repentance is the starting place to moving forward in that relationship.