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He Hears, He Cares…

God has done amazing things in my life over the last 24 hours to encourage me and remind me that He hears, He cares, He answers prayer, 5C8DDE2B-6CC6-407A-9672-2D4C00D27EFAand He has and always had a plan for me and for my life…and His plans are very specific and personal.

Earlier this week, I was in a state of desperation in prayer. I felt that loneliness necessary for going deeper places with God. Necessary, but painful to the core. I cried out to God during morning prayer on Monday and asked Him to please have someone pray in agreement with Him for me! Nothing seemed to come of the prayer right then, but later I felt a lifting of the despair. Although the burden was still present and I could see it, I knew I was no longer the one carrying it.

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Yesterday my mom brought me a letter she had found in a box. It was written in 1980 and it was to me from my Religion professor at Gardner-Webb University. Dr. Ronnie Prevost was my professor but also went to my church. Over the few years I knew him, not only was he my professor but he was my Sunday School teacher and also a father figure. I babysat his kids, so I was close to his wife and all of his family. They loved me. When the boy that I thought I would marry showed up on my birthday with another girl Dr. Prevost is the one that saw how that sent me into a spiral of destructive behavior. My heart was broken and his heart was broken for me as he truly thought of me and treated me as a daughter. In the letter he wrote these words, “Melissa, you need to find your own special place and purpose in this world. You need to do your best to move forward. Just do your best, ok? And Melissa, always keep in mind Proverbs 3:6 ‘In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.’”

That touched my heart to be reminded of how God has ALWAYS put into my path the spiritual parents, friends, and teachers needed to help with that particular part of the path…as I acknowledged Him. My dad died in 1975. The Prevost family was a major part of my life from 1977-1981 when they moved away to work at a college in Alabama. Sometimes I forget all the people God has woven together in His great plan to help raise me and encourage me, correct me and love me. Now please don’t misunderstand, I had the best and most Godly mom and so blessed to have her always there for me, but I have had quite a few others in many stages of life that God provided. I still do, praise God. What a good, good Father who blesses me so!

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Then today….

I received a text this morning from a lady I used to go to church with. I haven’t seen or spoken to her in almost 6 years. She wrote… I can’t get you off of my heart and mind this week. Not sure why, but the Lord keeps bringing your name to me several times a day. When that happens, I just pray.

He hears. He cares. He answers. He has a plan for you and for me. Always has. Still does. Always will.

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Judas Come Home…

I have given a lot of thought over the years to Judas. Maybe because I am the daughter of a man who was also my pastor, who committed suicide. By doing so, my dad betrayed so many…yet mostly God. To me Judas is not just the person who betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  Out of the necessity of trying to figure my own life I have always sought to know him as more. Recently one morning I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me and showing me something new and really unexpected about this from these verses.

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to that yourself!’ 5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:3-5

Oddly enough, I had never considered that Judas felt such deep sorrow that he made an attempt to repent. The only problem was he repented to the wrong people, the religious crowd. I began to consider what would have happened if Judas instead of going out and killing himself had went to Jesus as He was dying on the cross and pursued forgiveness from Him. What would Jesus do? Would He have forgiven Him? Will God forgive anything and everything? These were all questions that were swirling in my mind. I do believe Jesus would have forgiven Judas if He was given the opportunity, but Judas could not forgive himself so he took matters into his own hands and killed himself.

I knew the Lord wanted to show me more; in a sense I felt Judas had something else to say to me. So I continued to pray over this and I also talked to friends about their perspective on Judas and within days someone walked up to me and handed me a book titled, The Gospel According To Judas by Ray S. Anderson. I did not even get past this first sentence in the prologue when I read what was to be only the first of what Judas was telling me.

“I saw it in the men’s restroom in a restaurant in San Francisco, printed in block letters with a blue felt tip pen across the top of the mirror:

JUDAS COME HOME – ALL IS FORGIVEN!”

When I read that phrase it was like someone stuck a red-hot sword into my heart. All the memories- but not of anything to do with my dad…these were memories from my own Judas moments that came into my mind. I remembered the feelings of having betrayed my God…the rejection, loneliness and the feeling of not having a place I could call home. I also began to think about all the many people I knew and know who have also betrayed or lost face in the church or suffered rejection or shame and eventually left.

Then I heard a whisper from heaven saying tell them…tell the Judas out there, “Come home all is forgiven, I love you.” That little phrase really broadened my revelation of the Father’s heart and love toward all of us. It makes me want to go to everyone I know that has run way for any reason, even as I did, and tell them “Come home, all is forgiven, the Father loves you.” This is what Judas was trying to tell me – how big the Father’s heart really is.

In the epilogue of the book Ray gives us a wonderful picture of the love and grace of the Lord.

“My choosing of you counts more than your betrayal of Me!” Through His grace I discovered that the calling of God by which we become children of the kingdom does not rest upon our faith alone, but upon His faithfulness toward us.”

Judas please come home, I know how you feel, but all is forgiven and the FATHER LOVES YOU!!!

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Surprise Party

and five hours later when the weight of the glory of God lifted….

One thing I have known well, too well…and that is that lie of the devil named rejection.

I started believing the lie of rejection when I was quite young and over the years I have fought it, hated it, used it and partnered with it…but I have never been able to get rid of it. I grew up with an absent dad. My dad was always traveling while in the Navy and then after he was discharged he became lost in his own world of ministry and school. When my dad was around, he often went through periods of such depression that he would close himself off for weeks at a time. I had a dad that tried very hard but wasn’t able to persevere and killed himself a few weeks after Christmas in 1975…at the time I was fourteen.

So for many years even before fourteen I lived with this spirit of rejection and resulting father issues and depression that came. Yesterday, as my birthday approaches (and my birthday is also my dad’s birthday just so you understand) I started feeling myself cave to such feelings of depression that I didn’t know what was going on. It was a feeling I haven’t felt in quite some time and I felt almost guilty for feeling it…like I was chosing this as I had until recently even accused my dad of chosing. I don’t mess around though with depression. I need help but from who? I went to the only one I know for sure I can trust with this. Someone that would understand and care enough about the roots of my rejection to pray even if they couldn’t understand what I was feeling. I went to Jesus.

I believe with all my heart that God sent me to the IHOPU student awakening last night. I had other things planned but I just couldn’t do them…so I got online and decided to check it out.

So five hours later when the weight of the glory of God lifted….

Not even an hour into the service, this girl got up and was getting ready to pray for people that had that spirit of rejection and Allen Hood (gotta love him) grabbed the microphone and said there are pastors kids and they really have this rejection on them and they need to be delivered tonight. They are here and on the webcast. I knew that he as talking about me….It was like the Holy Spirit took control of me and I started crying uncontrollably and continued as this girl, a pastor’s kid who had been delivered the week before, prayed for ME. And as she prayed and continued praying, I felt the release. It was that divine exchange you hear about. One weight exchanged for another….yes, there was this weight and I knew it was the GLORY- the very presence of God… No big bells or whistles. No falling down or shaking or dancing (well until later and then there was singing and dancing and praising like I haven’t done in a longgggg time : ). There was just the weight…glorious weight of God. I couldn’t move, I didn’t want to. And all that time I was feeling the release. This girl prayed for those that need the love of the Father to fill holes that my father couldn’t and didn’t fill. I believe with all my heart that those holes aren’t there this morning. That this weight took out a lot of things and put in some others. I can’t exactly explain it. Would anyone even believe it anyway?

I just feel different….Rejection is something I knew too well but rejection is a LIE of the devil and I declare this morning that I know nothing of these lies. Still under the weight, I felt God tell me to destroy those clippings and although it took effort to release those lies…I tore them up and flushed them and then I started declaring some things…and still, I declare that I know in every fiber of my being the Father’s love this morning….like Job 22:28

“You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways. …”

I declare it today – NO REJECTION ON ME THIS MORNING only the LOVE OF MY FATHER. For my birthday God gave me one of the desires of my heart. To be free from this spirit of rejection, to be free from trying to please others to get their approval, to be free from trying to get people to like me, to be free from resulting jealousies and anger, to be free from resulting depression rooted in the guilt of my dad’s choices, to be free from ruminations and wondering if everything I said or did hurt anyone in any way every time I speak or write or whatever, to be free from perfectionism and performing, just to be FREE.

I shared my birthday with my dad and we never really had parties…we just exchanged cards and had a cake. For years after my dad died no one really wanted to celebrate such a day. I always understood because I didn’t ever really want to celebrate it either. So I have always just done things that were very low key. A dinner maybe. I have never really even had or wanted a birthday party…but last night God threw me a PARTY. A surprise party.

Five hours later when the weight of the glory of God lifted there was singing and dancing and God gave me such a gift- one of the desires of my heart – and He gave it two days early. He knew, because He knows me, that I couldn’t wait another minute…..HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!! THANK YOU GOD FOR SUCH A GIFT : )

Hallelujah and ALL THE GLORY TO GOD!!!!