Posted in Journal

Seek HIM First!!

Last week I wrote these words in an email to someone….

“… I am going to a Morningstar conference this week…not to be fed although I might be in some way. I am going mostly because I support Heidi Baker and the work that she does through Iris Ministries and I want nothing more than to go and minister with her in Mozambique for a month, hopefully soon. God put this ministry on my heart…I don’t know why but He definitely did it to the point that it has become one of the desires of my heart. He in bringing Heidi to Charlotte and so I go. I will hear her message and see what God is doing there and in my life. Will I be fed? Probably God will feed me in a more unexpected way but I don’t know. God is God and He can do what He wants. I know this, God has set this one up so I am just going to sit back and see what He does.”

well this is what God did…

Very first minute of the conference this cute little girl comes to me excited because her name is also Melissa. She asks me “of all those that are speaking this weekend who do you most want to hear from?” Without hesitation I said, “Heidi Baker!!!” Oh! Heart revealed!! as those words escaped my heart and rolled off my tongue. I immediately came under conviction, but too late. HE IS A JEALOUS GOD! Had my heart been where God wants it, I would have wanted to hear from Him. Too late! Couldn’t take back those words no matter how much I wanted to. No use even trying. I felt almost sick and I am pretty sure I felt His heartache. The musicians started singing a song that said God doesn’t get disappointed in you. Was this true? Sure felt like disappointment. I had failed and repentance was my only option and I did repent and I cried out to a God that is so merciful to me and yet I knew that sometimes there is just a price. Too hard on myself? I’m not convinced.

In the excerpt above I said that God would probably feed me in a more unexpected way. Was I being fed through discipline? If so, this wasn’t the cozy comfort meal I thought I was going to get. From that first moment and then all weekend God spoke about setting up idols. Idols in people like Heidi Baker and idols also in the things going on around me. Although the seeking for “more” may be great, I heard Him say to check myself in things going on around me during this conference…things such as prophecy and miracles and healing; things such as the books I buy and read and even the worship music. I felt God say things may be good and even be of Him, but for me not to make the same mistake twice….”seek Me first in all things” and I remembered Pastor Sammy’s teaching that some of these things are signs following after and I understood that even the music, which we many times say leads us into worship, can only lead as it follows a heart that is in the right place of seeking Him first.

Heidi Baker never came. Because of schedule conflicts her time of ministry was changed to a conference for this upcoming week. Right or wrong, Morningstar never told this until the very end. But as God dealt with my heart, I knew somewhere deep within and even beyond understanding in a way I can write about.

Very early yesterday morning I left the conference. I was confused and feeling very much “put in my place.” Honestly, I was also disappointed and empty and sad and almost desperate. My experience was not at all the refreshment I sought so I am left to wonder at what the Lord is doing. I know in my mind that the Father’s discipline and His love cannot be separated and I do so want to know His love in my heart. I have the option to go to some of the night services over the next couple of days to see Heidi Baker and hear her message on God’s love. I will opt out for reasons that have nothing to do with any offense or even disappointment and continue with my regular life and work schedule. Somehow I feel I have already heard what Heidi will say at the conference and would even say to me if I could speak to her one on one, SEEK HIM FIRST!!!! and here I have heard it from God Himself.

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Don’t abandon ship; someone has to throw the life-preservers

Interesting things have been happening in prayer these days. God has spoken about revelation driven prayer and hearing His voice through the things that He brings to my mind during prayer time. I have been given confidence that some things I have for so long excused as just my imaginations are one of the ways He uses to speak to me. This was made very clear for me during our prayer meeting yesterday.

We came into prayer last night feeling very discouraged. Everyone. We were tired and everything seemed the same old, same old. Even our conversation was frankly boring. Someone asked God to help the people get into his Word (fairly common prayer, I guess) but just like that I heard God say, “You first.” It was so clear that it couldn’t be ignored so I immediately relayed what I heard. We opened our Bibles and began to pray the scriptures. During this time we asked God to show us what was on His heart. To have us pray His heart, His prayers. We have said this prayer many times before too but yesterday things just were different.

Immediately I saw the hill behind the church and from the very top of the very tallest tree on down all I could see was the blood of Jesus running down it like rivers. Maybe more rushing down it and the blood was covering absolutely everything in its path. Every corner, every crevice…everything. I began praying this scene and declaring this scene but admittedly I started feeling awkward because it was a different kind of prayer for me and I became aware of those around me and so I stopped, it ceased – the prayer and the flow of what I had been seeing. I knew that I had stopped what God was trying to do.

But toward the middle of our time I was asking God for salvations and He gave another “scene.” Don’t you just love second chances? I knew immediately that it was connected to the the Full Flame Evangelism course (Reinhard Bonnke). In that course we watched a short movie about a group of people on a ship that ran across some that were overboard. The message was that people are drowning and we have the ability to rescue them but we each must decide if we will risk our own lives to do so or not by jumping in. What God gave me was just a bit different though…

There was a ship with many, many people beside it in the water. People were floating around and drowning but it was as though they were very comfortable and didn’t know that they were drowning. There were a few that were fighting for their lives but they were for the most part ignored by those floating. Those floating had no idea they were getting ready to die. Some people were still on the ship and they each had a stock of life preservers. When they could get someone’s attention, they were throwing them out into the water and then dragging them into the boat to safety. Those aboard the ship faced two obstacles. They had to find a way to get the people to pay enough attention so they could warn them of their impending death and they had to avoid the lure of jumping into the water themselves. See no one fell off the ship. There were no problems with the ship. The problem was that the people were lured to jump. Some had jumped with good intentions of helping but for most something of the water had enticed them and I heard God say to me, “Don’t abandon ship. Someone has to throw the life preservers.”

Just like that discouragement was gone and I settled into what I had been asked to do in prayer and intercession…and definitely not feeling the same old, same old.

Posted in Journal


Yesterday our pastor asked if we really wanted to follow Jesus. “Yes” Well, now who wouldn’t say that? Then Pastor hit us with this- did we really want to follow Him if it meant Calvary? “Yes, Amen!” I said, but as soon as the words were out of my mouth the weight of those same words were on me and that weight is heavy. hmmm Calvary means death. I knew this and I believed that I believed what I said. Then not five minutes after the service ended I chose to be offended by a criticism; which led to a feeling of discouragement and an unexplainable loneliness that I allowed to ruin the peaceful day I had planned; which led to a pity party and then while wallowing (that is an ugly image but have to admit, accurate) I started feeling badly from the cold I thought for sure I was over. I was sad and my feelings hurt, I was tired of coughing and I was just so lonely and discouraged—and in an instant it was as though if anyone were listening I would have screamed “UNCLE!!!! I can’t even handle a cold, how can I handle Calvary?”

…and then it dawned on me. He knows! He knows I am not in any way skilled at climbing any step of this mountain. He knows…so He says “follow” which means He is right in front of me. I started picturing God far enough ahead on the path that I can see the view but if I am not careful in my pace and attention as He travels ahead I might allow a branch to snap back and hit me in the face. That will definitely get my attention. But I also picture God close enough to grab my hand and pull me up some of these steeper inclines when I stumble. Even for lack of attention and especially at times when I cry “uncle!”

Posted in Journal

Granny’s Eulogy (reprinted in honor of her on this Grandparent’s Day)

What a glorious day! I am so happy for granny today. She is with my grandpa, J.P., (Pete to most) the man that she loved so much. She is with my little sister and I am sure they are having a great conversation about us. Don’t I miss the good, strong coffee and those long talks and the lemon pound cake? She is with her sisters and her parents and so many others that have gone before…but mostly, she is with her Lord and Savior. She has seen Jesus. She now has a perfect mind and a perfect body and she is going to need it to carry her crown to that throne because I am quite sure that she would never have expected the amount of stars that I just know are in her crown.

There is just no way I can talk about Granny and not talk about Grandpa too…As most of you here know when I was fourteen we gathered at this same place after my father died. My granny’s love- well really the love of both of my grandparents was one way that God redeemed my strong desire for and need for love after my dad’s death. Before his death, I had never really known my grandparents, but circumstances and the amazing kindness of some very special people allowed them to move next door and they became not only everyday role models for my teenage years, but nurturing and strong companions. For those few precious years, I had the greatest childhood. Despite everything that had happened, I knew I was extremely blessed. My grandparents made me feel love that was unconditional but also I felt like the love we shared was more special than anyone else’s….I just knew that I was the favorite. Now, that may or may not have been true. From the stories I have heard lately, I am quite sure they made everyone feel this way. I sure hope so. My grandparents were the best…

When I think of them today, I do not think of their wealth because they never really accumulated any. My grandparents were the least materialistic people I have ever known. That being said it is funny that the last conversation I had with granny was about shopping. Last Tuesday afternoon as I sat with her in the hospital room after a very long silence she suddenly turned to me and said, “you know, If I had any money I would go shopping.” “You would? What would you buy?” I asked. She said, “I think I would buy something to wear.” So I said, “Well if you had any money, I would let you take me shopping.” To which she laughed. She loved shopping at Wal-Mart.

Also, when I think of my grandparents, I do not think of education because they did not degrees. But they always supported our dreams regarding higher education and granny never whined about the many, many long graduation ceremonies we inflicted on them like grandpa did.

I do not think of their religious activities because although they loved and feared God and although granny was a member of my beloved Poplar Springs Baptist Church, often they just did not go to church.

I think of their smiles and their sense of humor and joy of living. They loved to laugh and passed that joy to me freely. There was always laughter in their house and in their hearts…even until the end Granny smiled and joked. So funny. But mostly still when I think of them, I think of their unconditional love for me and for others. Love for their family and their ability to befriend and help take care of not only us but people they met in their everyday life. Sometimes complete strangers. My granny showed me what it was to love freely, unconditionally and forever. To not hold offense…by her love for me and by her love for others. She and my grandfather did not always speak their love, but they always without exception lived it.

Now that Granny has gone home, it is our turn to show what we learned from her. Did we learn what she taught us about that kind of love? Did we learn what she taught us about strength? One of my most vivid memories of granny was on the day after my father’s funeral. I was standing in the kitchen and I started to cry. This little woman put her hands on either side of my face and said “Stop that crying and be strong for your mother.” For many years I didn’t know what to make of that although I responded “yes ma’am” and tried hard to obey and for some reason I felt oddly comforted by it. Then I had kids of my own and came to realize that a mother will do whatever it takes to protect her child from pain. It is instinct. That was my granny loving and protecting her child. She was completely heartbroken that my mom was having to go through such pain. My granny loved her three girls. She was a strong woman and mother. There have been those that could not see her strength because they got wrapped up in the fact that she did not drive and had to depend on others. However, she was one of the strongest women that I have ever met and there is tangible evidence of that in not only her own life but also the daughters that she raised…they are all women who faced adversities in life and did so not only with strength but also grace. True overcomers.

These three lived what they were taught as they cared for granny. They have truly honored their mother and father and they honored God in this process. It was not always easy. It was hard to sit and watch someone you love so much slowly move away from you. It was hard sitting in silence without that mother that was once so full of conversation. It was hard not being recognized or remembered by the woman that once made you feel so special. Watching this person of such strength be childlike and in need of constant care was very hard . . . but what a joy when she would look up at you and smile or laugh at the story you were telling. What a delight when she would remember your name. It was hard, but in caring for Granny these women took what they learned from her and have shown us, the next generation and our children about love that is unconditional and forever and what it means to be a family. I have truly been blessed to know my granny and am still being blessed in knowing these women. They have taught me love.

The amazing thing about Granny’s kind of love is that this is also God’s love. God’s love is free. It is unconditional, forever, family and each of us His favorite. He is faithful and He loves you so much and He loves me so much that He will sometimes stop the world or allow circumstances in your life that will put a beautiful, gentle granny right next door to show you just a glimpse of that perfect love.

Nellie Josephine Crowe Burgess…she was my granny. She was my delight.