Grocery Store Encounter

It was getting late one afternoon, and I suddenly came face to face with a problem. We had four, five-gallon water jugs for our water cooler, and they were all empty. So I loaded them into the trunk and headed out to the grocery store to fill them up.

The water system was set up just inside the grocery store. I made my way over and began the tedious process of filling the jugs. Everything was going fine, and I was about halfway done when a man that I instantly recognized walked by me, heading for the exit.

An older man, he was a good friend from a church I used to attend. It had been a few years since I had seen him. I remembered that the desire of this man’s heart had always been for the Lord. We’d had our disagreements on different things, but his love for God was completely obvious to me. He was someone I admired.

Even though I hadn’t seen him for quite some time, I recognized that something was different. He looked worn out and weighed down. I called his name, and he turned. He saw me, and a tired smile spread across his face as he shook my hand and asked how I was. We made small talk for a few minutes and caught up a little. As we talked the Holy Spirit was moving in my heart and giving me insight into the current condition of my friend. I remembered him being a source of encouragement and joy, but the Lord was showing me that the joy had been stolen, allowing hopelessness and discouragement in.

I was still trying to discern what God wanted me to do when our conversation came to an end. My friend said good-bye and walked out the door. Instantly I heard voice of the Lord in my heart telling me to go pray for him, so I left my water jugs and quickly walked outside. My friend wasn’t too far away, and it only took me a second to catch up to him.

He turned as I called his name, and I asked him if I could pray for him. He told me I could, and in the middle of people walking all around us, I began to pray for my friend. The Lord began to reveal the pain of my friend’s heart and then began to speak words of love and encouragement. The Lord began to speak through me about how my friend’s heart had lost hope, but that He was there to restore hope and build my friend up again with love. Every word was being directed straight to my friend’s heart, piercing it like an arrow. All of the people around us seemed to fade, leaving just God and us.

When I finished praying, my friend lifted his head and smiled a real smile. He thanked me and shared a little of what had been happening in his life. What my friend needed was for his Father God to touch his heart, and that’s what happened. We both said good-bye and walked away with our hearts full of joy.

-Excerpt from Life Resurrected.  Get your copy here.

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

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Betrayal and Broken Windows

 

It’s interesting how God seems to bring us opportunities to minister to others in the exact areas we’ve experienced pain and trauma.  God builds testimonies in us for the benefit of not only us but for others who have experienced or are experiencing some of the same things.

One night I found myself in front of a man handcuffed and laying on my stretcher (I’m a Firefighter/Paramedic).  He had been arrested for breaking a window when he found his wife with another man.  He had also cut his arm, which was why I was there.

He was emotional and distraught for good reason.  It takes courage to discuss the areas in which we’ve experienced the most pain with others, especially strangers who are upset and cursing left and right.  I felt the familiar “nudge” of the Holy Spirit to tell the man how sorry I was and that I knew what he was going through.

Just those few words were enough to form a connection.

He looked at me with pain in his eyes and began to share some of his frustrations.  I began to share with him some of my own experience walking through betrayal and gave him the only hope I could, Jesus.  I told him that the only way I survived was because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I told him that he’s going to have to find a way to survive and I sincerely recommend the way of Jesus.

It’s in the pain of trauma that many of us begin to consider things that we wouldn’t otherwise.  Despite the anger he was feeling, the words God was giving me were hitting his soul.  His heart was softening.  I encouraged him to seek the Lord, as He is the comforter to those that mourn.  I shared how Jesus rescued me from despair and transformed me.

As we arrived at the hospital, the man looked at me and told me that he was ready to change.  He said he wanted to go to church and asked my partner (a believer) and I for information on local churches.  My partner gave him the info for his church.

It’s important that we recognize we aren’t the only ones dealing with what we deal with.  If God has built a testimony in you He wants to use it to help others.  We must be willing to love others in that way.  Please leave any comments below!  Blessings,

 

 

 

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

An Important Lesson From Our Friend Job

 

I found myself really having a desire to read through the book of Job.  So I did.  I split it up into two days and holy cow, what a rough season Job endured.  I’ve read Job before but I’m not sure how anyone could read it and not be affected every time.

Job is relatable because he suffered in many of the same ways so many of us have or are right now.  I’ve found that Job is, while it may appear to be a straightforward narrative, a very deep and complex book that needs a lot of attention to truly understand what is going on.  Especially at the end when God responds to Job.

There are many important lessons that can be taken from Job but one stood out to me in particular.  Job repents for behavior that I believe many of us (myself included) are guilty of.

Chapter 42 verses three and five find Job trembling after listening to God for four chapters worth of discourse.  Throughout those four chapters God really does a number on Jobs theology.

In verse three Job states that he uttered things that he didn’t understand.  In verse five Job states, “I had heard of you only by hearing of the ear, but now my spiritual eye sees you.”

I believe the lesson here is simple but profound.  How often do we form our reality of God by what we only hear with our ears?  So many times our impression of God is formed by what others teach us or tell us.  We often fail to seek God for truth on our own.

It’s not that we shouldn’t learn from others but that we have a very real and significant responsibility to ask the Lord to confirm truth by what we find in scripture.  I’ve been guilty of adopting theology that I didn’t seek out for myself.  Instead I just believed what I was told.

Job built his life on a doctrine he received from his ears instead of his spirit.  That led to an intense conflict that he was tormented by for 37 chapters.

Over the last year or two God has really pressed on my heart the importance of searching the scriptures for myself when it comes to my impression of God and His character.  He has led me to consider the whole of the Biblical narrative when considering an interpretation.  As a result I’ve taken everything I believe before scripture.  Some things remained the same and some things changed.

I encourage you to do the same.  Blessings,

What doctrine have you accepted without personal investigation?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

 

 

Fireflies and the Presence of God

 

One of my favorite, and also least favorite, things to do when I was a kid was to go outside at night and catch fireflies or lightning bugs.  It was great to see them all light up at different times inside of my jar.  The only down side was that they made my hands stink.  That’s why it was also one of my least favorite things to do.

A couple weeks ago I was spending some time with the Lord and He showed me a picture.  The picture He showed me was a firefly.  I felt the Lord begin to press something important on my heart.

The light a lightning bug produces is small and alone it can only light up a small area.  However, get hundreds of lightning bugs together and you will see a much larger area lit up.

We are the light of Jesus and we are commanded to take that light into a dark world.  Alone we can certainly light up an area and bring change of some kind to our immediate surroundings.  But there is certainly power in numbers and when the church stands united in Christ large areas of darkness can be changed to light.  I believe Jesus spoke some to this principle when He taught when two or more are gathered He is in our midst (Matt 18:20).

A week or so after the Lord showed me this I had the opportunity to see it in action.  I am the only believer at my fire station.  I do believe that some change has happened as a result of the light shinning through me but it is a pretty dark environment.  Now we have another believer at our station temporarily and I have seen a pretty amazing difference.

The atmosphere around the station is changing in ways that some might not see but are obvious to me.  A marked improvement in purity and holiness has caught my attention.  The change is because there are now two lights in a very dark area where there used to only be one.  We are praying together every shift and doing our best to let the light shine through us and God is being faithful.

Most will notice a single firefly light up in the dark.  However, most will stand in awe when hundreds light up together and then will be drawn to investigate.  Again, there are times God can bring amazing change through a single light but there are also times that the power of darkness is so great that a unified body of believers is needed to bring the desired change.  There are many examples of single people who challenged very dark areas and failed miserably.

We must put aside petty differences and stand together in our love for Jesus to advance the kingdom of God.  Pray that God would send you help in whatever dark place you find yourself in.  If there are other believers, engage them and pray together.  Let your lights shine bright!

Please leave your comments below including any testimonies of the light of Jesus bringing change!

 

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Miss Your Opportunities!

Many of us tend to live in extremes.  Sometimes it seems like balance is very difficult to find in our lives.  I know it has been for me.

Even as we view the history of the church it’s easy to see the pendulum swing from one end to the other.  Years ago an extreme repentance message was preached commonly referred to as Hell, Fire and Brimstone.  There was a lack of love and grace being preached in many cases.  Many were very damaged by that movement coming away full of condemnation.

Now it appears that an unbalanced Grace message has permeated the church and the message of repentance has been missing.  This is equally unacceptable as repentance is a foundational block in the gospel message.  The hard truth is needed but it needs to be wrapped in the spirit of Love as Paul says “it’s the kindness of God that draws men to repentance”.

We also noticed the extreme tendencies when we seek to be used by God in the lives of those around us.  The two positions seem to be complete passivity in which we never take opportunities to minister to others, and creating our own opportunities to minister in whatever way we determine is appropriate.

Both of these positions are damaging as passivity will cause the person needing ministry (encouragement, prayer, service etc.) to miss what God wants to do for them and creating our own opportunities will make many people hate you with legitimate cause.  Creating our own opportunities will surely offend many and make us the least favorite people in the room.  In addition to the lack of love it shows to speak into someones life without permission, it’s rebellion against God because He calls us to obedience.  Obedience means responding to God rather than trying to make Him respond to us which is what happens when we create our own opportunities to minister.

The balance I have found in this has been to wait for God to present ANY opportunity and then take advantage of that opportunity.  A couple of weeks ago we were called (I’m a firefighter/paramedic) to help a woman who was having severe trouble with anxiety.  As I interacted with the woman I had to check my zeal to minister to her and wait for God to present the opportunity.  At some point she looked at me and said, “It feels like every demon in hell is after me”.  That was the opportunity and I took it. I was able to speak into her life what God gave me to speak.  It was an awesome experience.

Opportunities can look very different in every situation.  It takes patience and guidance from the Holy Spirit.  If that person opens up their life to you in any way you have an opportunity to minister the love of God to them however that looks.  It could be just a word of encouragement or even just being willing to listen.  There is no formula.  The important thing is that we are showing Jesus to the world and that can look different in each situation.  It’s looked very different in many of my ministry opportunities.

I know this, when people know that your going to wait for permission to speak into their lives they will feel so much safer around you and open up to you so much more.  That, in turn, will provide many opportunities to minister to them.

So let’s find balance and wait for God to make a way for us but make sure we are taking the opportunities God provides for us!

Have you missed opportunities because of passivity?  Have you turned people off because of your zeal?  How can God bring balance to your heart?

Please leave your comments below!

Blessings,

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Walking With Jesus, A Vision

I was walking with Jesus and He told me to look up and asked me what I saw.  I saw a starry night that was completely clear where I was looking straight up.  I told Jesus what I saw.  Then I widened my view and saw that there were dark clouds surrounding the patch of clear sky I had been looking at.

The Lord told me that as I walk with Him the dark and stormy clouds are broken through to reveal clear sky.  But He told me that if I take my eyes off of Him the dark clouds will come together quickly.  As we moved forward the patch of clear sky moved with us and stayed right over our heads.

The Lord said, “I am the light.  I am your lamp.  If you look at me you will see me.  If you can’t see me you aren’t looking at me.  I won’t hide myself from you if you are seeking me.  I will never leave or abandon you.  Even in the grip of sin my light shines bright for you.  There is no darkness that can stand next to my light.  I am the light of the world and darkness flees every time.”

Then I had this line from a well-known song pressed on my heart.  “My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus Christ my righteousness……On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.”

There have been times in my life when the clouds had surrounded me and I couldn’t see God.  What I sense the Lord is saying here is that it wasn’t because He had left me.  It was because I wasn’t looking at Him.  I took my eyes off of Jesus and put them on the storm clouds.  As those clouds rained hopelessness, dread, anxiety and other things on me, I would begin to sink.

But Jesus is always there with His hand stretched out to rescue us just like He was there when Peter began to sink.  He doesn’t leave and He won’t refuse to shine for us.  He says, “seek me and you will find me” (Jer 29:13) and also “I will be with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9).”

I believe this vision is for all of us.  There is so much pain and tragedy in the world but the light of Jesus shines brighter.  Can you see Him?  Are you looking at Him?  How has His light shined brighter than the darkness of your tragedies?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Prayer Time In The Rescue!

I like that picture!  Anyway,

I absolutely love walking into a strangers house who called for help to find a bible open on a stand just inside the front door.  It fills me with joy because I know I’m going to get to spend some time with God in corporate prayer :).

We were called to help a lady who had some medical issues.  When I opened the front door I saw a bible open to Psalms on a stand.  Me and my happy heart continued on into the house and found our patient.

She was pretty beat up and since it was first thing in the morning, she was in for a rough day.  I got all of the information I needed and we loaded her up into the rescue (ambulance).

As we were on our way to the hospital I asked her what church she went to.  She told me and I asked her what her husband did at the church.  She told me that he is an elder.  I told her a little about how and where we fellowship and about my love for Jesus.

Then I asked her if it would be ok if I prayer for her.  She looked at me with complete surprise on her face and said, “Yes please do that.”  On a quick side note, when two believers are together why should it be a surprise that one would want to pray for the other?  Maybe us ordinary people should be praying for each other more :).

Anywho, I began to pray for her and the Lord filled my heart with even more love and compassion.  He gave me some words to say to her that were just so encouraging and filled with His love for her.  I also prayed for God to heal her injuries and chronic problems.  Peace filled the rescue as we arrived at the hospital.

I was able to check on her later on and she was doing great.  I was able to meet the rest of the family who were all touched by how God ministered to her in the back of the rescue.

Thank you Lord for how you love us and use us ordinary people to be extensions of your love!

I want to challenge you next time you are talking with someone who is sharing some hardship with you to ask the Lord if you should pray for the person right there on the spot.

Also make sure to leave your comments and your own testimonies below in the comments.

Blessings,

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected