Without Power

Luke 9:1-6  (NLT)

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples[a] and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money,[b] or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

All across the state, many of my fellow North Carolinians have been without power as we continue to endure heavy rains and gusty wind from #HurricaneFlorence2018. Even though FLO has been downgraded to a tropical storm, she is slow moving and her circular bands are dumping record numbers of water onto our already saturated land.

without power.jpgWe were without power last night for a few hours. Yes, only a few hours. But lemme just go ahead and confess this to you: I’m a wuss without power. Born and raised in Southern, CA, this city girl, who was transplanted to the country in the late 80’s, is NOT equipped to live like a pioneer. Sure, I can go tent camping. I even enjoy “roughing it” for a few days. But at home? Uh. No. It’s like I forget how to function! Without powerI can’t cook, do dishes, wash clothes, turn on the fan (this is VERY important for hot flashes!!!), use my computer, iPhone…wah, wah, wah. I have become much too dependent on electronics that are useless without power. Electrical power helps me be productive in my role as Home Manager, Homeschool Mom, and with At Home Ministries. The same is true in my relationship with the Lord, and in what He has called me to do. Without His supernatural power, I’m unable to fulfill His plans for my life.

Such is the case with the church in America. She, in many instances, is trying to function without power. She has equipped herself to preach to the multitudes on Sunday mornings by using electrical power to brew fresh coffee, show videos and announcements on the big screen, stream children’s curriculum, share on social media, amplify instruments, and project people’s voices on microphones… But none of these things need supernatural power to perform. Supernatural power doesn’t need to be plugged into a sound system. Supernatural power simply needs disciples who know Jesus. Disciples who know Jesus andhave been given His power and His authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and tell others about the Kingdom of God.

Without power, we, the church, cannot PREACH the Kingdom of God.

Without power, we, the church, cannot PRAY for others to be healed from disease and set free from the demons that torment them; body and soul.

Without power, we, the church, cannot LOVE our neighbors, as we love ourselves.

Without power, we, the church, cannot LOVE God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Jesus didn’t send His disciples out into their community to PREACH & PRAY until they knew Him andHe equipped themwith His Spirit & Authority (Luke 9).

Jesus didn’t send His disciples out into their communities, their nation, or the world to PREACH & PRAY after His death, resurrection & ascension until they knew Him andHe equipped themwith His Spirit & Authority (Acts 2).

Jesus still doesn’t send His disciples out to PREACH & PRAY until they know Him andHe equips themwith His Spirit & Authority (Hebrews 13).

My fellow disciple,

Are you trying to fulfill your calling without power? Are you preaching the Kingdom of God as a spectator of Jesus Christ instead of His friend? Are you praying for others so that they can be healed, or because you want to be their savior & lord? Stop. Confess. Repent. Be still. Know Him. Then….He will equip you with His Spirit & His authority.

My fellow North Carolinians,

I sincerely apologize for my whiny-ness of being without power. I am acutely aware that many of you have been devastated by this storm. You’ve lost loved ones, homes and all your earthly possessions. My heart grieves for you. May the Lord be with you as you endure the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, and may we, the church provide what you need to rebuild.

-Jodie

Cut & Prune

John 15:1-8 (NLT)

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Recently, we hired a local tree company to prune and cut several trees in our yard that were dead or destroying our dwelling. Along with another homeschool family we watched in amazement as these professionals wielded their chainsaws, bucket lifts,
ropes to cut down 5 towering trees with expert precision.

At the end of the day the sun shone more brightly through the newly opened skyline and the breeze blew more effortlessly through our little plot of city sized land. The sweat also flowed more freely as my big, strong man and our kids chopped firewood to be stored for winter (just so ya know: I did split and stack a few logs!!!).

Prior to John Chapter 15, Jesus had promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples after shocking them with the news that one of them would betray and another would deny Him. Using imagery, He explained the reasons why trees must be cut and pruned. Jesus declared that those who received His message of salvation would be pruned and purified for eternity. Then He gave a key to the Kingdom of heaven that if used, would be unlocked on earth: remain rootedin Him (receiving love and returning love through obedience) and remain refreshed by His Spirit (life giving power to make disciples). This, He prophesied, would bring the Father great glory!

True disciples have the same promise today.

If we:

  • believe and confess Jesus as Savior,
  • receive the gift of His Spirit,
  • remain in relationship with Him, (bible, prayer, obedience…)
  • remain refreshed by His Spirit, (confess, repent, forgive…)

then we:

  • will produce good fruit, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control)
  • others will see good fruit,
  • others will taste the goodness of the Lord!

then He (our Father, the gardener) will:

  • cut what betrays Him as Savior, (lust of the eyes, flesh & pride of life) and throw it into the fire.
  • prune what denies Him as Lord, (time, talent & treasure) so that more fruit will grow from the branches that have been refined through suffering.

Autism and ADHD

2 Corinthians 12: 1-10

This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up[b] to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.

That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message,even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So, to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I’ve had several thorns in my flesh for the past 18 years.

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We have four marvelous children, all sinners, but nevertheless all marvelous. As their mother, I’ve endured numerous hardships while attempting to train them in the way that they should go. It began at conception. Literally.  Conception. Every single one of our dear blessings from the Lord brought suffering from the second God began forming them in my womb. Nausea, vomiting, dry heaving, back aches, muscle spasms, excessive emotional outbursts…and that was just during pregnancy! I’ll spare you the gory details of childbirth. Thank God for epidurals, because the one I gave birth to “naturally” nearly killed me. I hope to never endure that kind of pain again. Ever.

A particularly painful thorn came in the midst of post-partum depression, a job change and moving to a new town with our three little girls.

Autism.

Ours was a typical story of diagnosis. I knew something was different about our daughter, but I was ignored, talked down to, and treated like a child by several doctors. Finally, when she began stimming in the midst of a well child visit, our PA who was fresh outta med school recommended that she be evaluated. No. Really?! Several years, tears and tests later the label was given. I was relieved to finally have concrete evidence from the “experts” so that I could understand how she was made and how to help her be everything God destined her to be!

Another painful thorn came in the midst of a major transition for our family. My husband began traveling with his job, we changed churches, and I was home-managing, home-schooling and ministering through our non-profit, alone. Alone with Jesus, our 3 girls and our son. I’ll admit, I felt ill equipped to parent a boy when he was born. I grew up with an older sister. My dad was a boy- once, and so was my husband, but I had no relational experience with little boys. After the terrible toddler years, our little boy developed into a young man with a very strong will. Destined to be a leader, he struggled to submit to authority. Continually frustrated with his assertiveness, excessive talking, loud noises and non-stop activity, I frequently found myself frustrated, yelling, crying and occasionally stomping through the house in attempts to mold, shape, or pound him into submission.

It didn’t work.

In the middle of 4th grade we hit a wall. A brick wall reinforced with rebar. It was nearly impossible to complete chores or school without a meltdown from both of us. I cried out to the Lord. I cried out to friends and family for advice. Then I sought permission from my husband to begin testing him academically and behaviorally. I knew that something was different. It was hidden below the surface of his actions, but I needed to humble myself and ask for help.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and an Auditory Processing issue.

I was relieved to finally have concrete evidence from the “experts” so that I could understand how he was made and how to help him be everything God destined him to be!

Since the diagnosis late last year, we’ve implemented a few new things into his schedule, but I still have much to learn in order to teach our son. As I continue to seek knowledge for my head, my heart will continue to seek the Lord for wisdom. I’ll need more grace. Much more. And I’ll need discernment to know how to accept the way he’s made and not make excuses for his behavior when its rooted in rebellion.

I’m grateful for the thorns in my life, BIG and small. They’ve inflicted pain and infected me with hardship, but all of them, ALL- of – them have been for my good and for God’s glory. I’m thankful for our “normal” kids (whatever “normal” means!), and our daughter with Autism and our son with ADHD. I consider it pure joy that we’ve faced these trails together with the One who made them so wonderfully complex. 

Psalm 139:13-16

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

I have Autism

Our daughter delivered the following speech to fellow homeschoolers at a Gavel Club meeting last week. We received such encouraging feedback that I asked her permission to post her words here:

“Autism isn’t something you should be afraid of because there are lots of people with it all over the world. Today, one out of every one hundred and fifty people are affected by autism. The only reason I know about this is because I have autism. Autism doesn’t make your life miserable, but it is a challenge to overcome. I have had autism all my life and today I am going to tell you a little about how autism works.

ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. First of all, what is autism? “Autism is a life-long disability that prevents individual from properly understanding what they see, hear and sense.” What are the characteristics of autism? “Language is slow and the use of words is without attachment to the normal meaning. Those who are able to use language effectively may still use unusual metaphors or speak in a formal and monotone voice.”

Typically, people with autism are concrete thinkers. That means we take everything you say in a literal manner. For example, when my mom used to say “your killing me,” I thought I was actually killing her with what I was doing. In the movie about the life of Temple Grandin, when someone was talking to her about animal husbandry, she saw in her brain two cows getting married.

Another challenge is communication. People with autism hate to stand in front of a crowd, and for this occasion, giving a speech. None like making eye contact, especially for a long period of time, which for me is two seconds. No one knows why this is difficult for the autistic person, but it is. People with Autism also have a hard time making friendships. They aren’t outgoing or are social people. They usually stand off the side and might not say anything or do anything. For many of them, autistic people are very lonely and friendless in teen years and childhood. They enjoy spending time by themselves. I usually feel it easier to be by myself because it is easier to talk to myself and I don’t have to worry if nobody understands me. If you kept up with how often I would socialize, it is very rare, especially in a single day. After school I would spend hours outside enjoying myself.

 

One huge advantage to having autism is either hardly feeling any pain or feeling it tremendously. I hardly take pain seriously. When I get hurt I usually find a way to bring me happiness. For example, a year ago I was stung by a yellow jacked and sure it hurt a little, but the fun part of all this was that the jacket’s butt was still attached to my arm. People with autism also don’t have very much compassion upon others who would get hurt. Autistic people do take pain differently but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. We do care but sometimes we all need to just man up.

Another easy way to find out someone with autism is that they don’t like physical touch unless if they ask for it. None of them like cuddling and some don’t even like hugging. For a while, I remember not wanting to hug anybody other than family. One word I use to describe my space is “my bubble.” Lots of times I needed my bubble and sometimes I would be ok to get out of it.

Memory is a huge challenge for the majority of autistic people. About 60% to 70% of all autistic people have trouble with memory. Most of them can remember words, but not huge sentences that have three of more different ideas or commands. One example is when your mom tells you to wash and shred the lettuce, peel and cut the carrots, dice the tomatoes and set the plates out for lunch. We cannot think that much. For us autistic people, we can only have a couple of thoughts in our brain at once. If you tried to pack all those things in at once, we won’t remember all of it.

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I remember my whole life being ashamed of having autism. Every time I looked in a mirror I was so ashamed of what God had done to me. I remember saying to myself “I am not a masterpiece.” One day, that all changed. I was outside talking to God and out of nowhere I feel like Paul by being stunned by a bright light. In the midst of the light I head a voice saying, “Malorie, I love you. I didn’t give you autism to make you feel ashamed or not to have friends. I made for you a purpose, on purpose. You are unique and special.” After that, I didn’t feel a bit of shame. I believe God wanted me to make this speech and I’m glad he revealed to me the joy of autism a year ago. I am happy and no longer sad when I hear the word autism. Autism isn’t something that makes a person weird or crazy. We are different, and different is good.”

-MJB