Thursday, September 22, 2016

Raise the Sails of Change

Happy Autumnal Equinox, everyone!  It doesn't much feel like Autumn in this part of the world, but based on the weather report, I think we'll be feeling the difference fairly soon.

As we anticipate the change of seasons and all the fun events this change shifts our minds toward, I'm praying that I will be especially aware of the need to be thankful for provision, for life, for freedom, for America (as disjointed as it sometimes seems), for family, for ministry, for God's Word... for His love, His promises, and His steadfast, unchanging character.

Do we have tough days?  Oh boy, do we ever!  Do we have the grit to make it through?  That depends entirely on how prepared we are... how grounded we are in prayer and in God's Holy Scriptures.  I challenge you today, if you've been praying for a fresh breath from the Holy Spirit, as you're reading your Bible, keep in mind that the words are more than just ink printed on the page.  Those words are The Inspired Word of God given by Him to those appointed in their due time to communicate God's interaction with the people of the past so we can be aware of his interaction with us in the present.  If that's not enough to put a new breeze in your sail, you might want to make sure you've got your sail raised!  Let's raise the sails of change.  The start of a new season is a great time to change course, start anew, redirect, refocus... recommit.  If you're not already doing daily Bible study or reading, why not find a One Year Bible or find a one year Bible reading program.  You can start today!

Karissa

Friday, September 9, 2016

Courteous Listening

The act of being courteous takes very little effort.

I’m one of the worst to get involved in what is going on at that moment in my life, probably trying to figure it out, fix it, find a solution….you know, MOVE ON WITH IT.  All the while, I frequently miss what’s happening right in front of my face.

When we stop and think about it, a lot of us probably come across as disinterested, impatient with, and/or bored by what others are saying.  In politeness we nod, maybe touch an arm as if to say, “I hear you.”  I know a lot of the time we’re sincere, but more often than not, we’re probably thinking about the next thing on our own agenda forgetting what we’ve heard only five minutes later.

If I’m thinking about this, the light bulb may be going off in your head, too.  Maybe all of us can put forth a more concerted effort to be effective listeners and be as truly attentive as we try to make people believe we are.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fear: Terrorism of the Mind

It is no secret.  We live in perilous times.  Twice this year Ann and I have participated in church services where intense personalities and intense moments precipitated the need for  weapons to be pulled and placed in the pew beside their owners.  In neither case, praise the Lord, did the weapons have to be used, but having been in the room observing the circumstances, there was a distinct urgency and likelihood that force could have been needed for the protection of innocent church goers.  It's amazing the difference eight years can make.  That happens to be how long I've been at Downing Ministries.

When I first came to work here, the thought never crossed my mind that on any given Sunday I might be the only person standing between an intruder with deadly force and hundreds of unarmed worshipers.  The reality is, due to the typical placement of sound equipment, I'm usually closest to the entrance or up in a balcony where I can oversee everything happening below.  I'd be lying if I said I don't survey my surroundings for items light enough for me to propel toward a target but heavy enough to inflict an injury that could buy precious seconds.

I'm not sharing this to get into a debate about 2nd amendment rights.  If you go there, you're taking my words out of context and twisting my stated intent.  I'm sharing this to let you know that Christianity isn't just under attack in Asia and the Middle East.  Christianity is under attack on every continent, in every country, in every kingdom and municipality across the globe.  This includes your town... your very home.  Why?   Because Satan is real and is working to kill as many God-followers as possible so the message of the Gospel can't be spread to a world in dire need of its hope.

Th word "kill" implies mortality, the certainty of death, but did you realize that you don't have to be physically dead in order to be a dead Christian?  If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, He makes it clear in John 15 that pruning is going to take place.  Satan knows this, and not only is he real; he's the original terrorist.  His motto could be "Terrorizing minds since before Christ's birth," and for once, he'd be telling the truth!  Don't believe me?

Have you or someone you've known experienced the fear of being ostracized for not going along with societal norms?  The fear of being targeted as a hypocrite and hate-monger for standing firm in your scriptural beliefs?  Do you shy away from conversations about controversial subjects out of fear for who might hear, read, or have something to say about what you believe?  It's all terrorism of the mind, and I assure you it is inflicted by Satan.  He is, after all, the author of fear.  It is my belief that denying what I know to be true about God's Word is the same as denying Christ himself.  Come what may, I pray that I'm one the Lord can count faithful in standing firm until He comes.  While I'm aware of the seemingly new dangers that come with my work, I refuse to become paralyzed by the fear Satan wants to use to control my mind and behavior.

Compromise has its place, but don't be fooled into dying on the vine.  Satan would love nothing more than to see you pruned away.  And when you think of it, please be praying for churches all across the world, and I ask that you pray especially for people like Ann and me who do not always have the benefit of knowing a lot about the areas where we're called.  We go knowing only that He's said "go" and that with His guidance, protection, and the gift of common sense, we'll be kept safe as we carry the truth about Jesus and His love through song, and though imperfect, through example.


Written by:  Karissa Petty

Saturday, August 6, 2016

To Know He Hears

I can remember as a kid, I’d often try to get Mama’s attention, which wasn’t an easy task; she was always focused on whatever she was doing at the time.  Mama had a strong work ethic, and when she was in the middle of a project, she didn’t have much time for anything else.  I’d say, “Mama” and a lot of times hear nothing back.  So I’d say it again, “Mama!” The second time I always added a little more gusto.  She may not turn towards me, but she’d always say “What do you want?”  She just knew that I “wanted” something if I called out to her.  To tell the truth, just the fact that she acknowledged me was enough, really.  But of course, if she felt it was something she needed to do or listen to, she’d tune me in.

A lot of times we think He doesn’t hear us the first time, so we ramp it up a little and call out again.  Of course we believe it when He says in His Word that His ear is always open to us.  Sometimes we need to hear, “What do you want?” and it’s enough just to know that He’s listening.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It's Simple: The Lord Provides

Guest blogger this week:  Karissa

​I'm not going to get into anything majorly complicated... no deep theological truths except to say that the Lord provides.  Now that everyone has collectively said, "well, duh."  Moving right along.

June was a ridiculous month here at Downing Ministries.  The van was in the shop twice totaling almost $2,000 in repairs, my GPS went out, my cell phone croaked, my computer had to be replaced because of a $3 part, and we would typically have 12 or more concerts / events scheduled in a given month... no, not June 2016.  How many did we have?  3.  T-H-R-E-E.  Tres.  Trois.  As in 4-1.  I'll say it again; June was ridiculous.

To be honest with you, there is no way we should have pulled through the slump.  On paper, it absolutely doesn't add up.  Been there?  We had some wonderful friends of this ministry who stepped up in a big way.  You know who you are, and I thank you ever so sincerely.  Even so, things still didn't add up.  So what makes it work?

Ann and I are both firm believers in God's economy.  The Bible says we should tithe 10% of the first fruits back to the Kingdom.  Obviously, your pastor doesn't need bushels of wheat, 3 fatted calves, and a peck of corn these days.  So what do we do?  We tithe the first fruits of our labor in the form we receive them today... dollars.

I'm not telling You that if you give 10% to God that you'll automatically be without debt and accidentally strike gold while mowing your lawn, but if you give out of an abundance of gratitude for what He's provided and out of a heart that yearns to be obedient, You'll be amazed how many times God will prove that with Him there is no such thing as an impossibility.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Seeing the Unseen

I’ve always been grateful that God planned for me to be a singer all of my days.  Well, as long as I have a voice that can be tolerated :).  When considering careers, I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I believe that’s because singing is my calling.  May I add that I don’t think I’ve ever taken that lightly.
 
Coming with that career/calling is quite a bit of uncertainty.  During the month of June, Karissa and I worked 3 scheduled dates.  Typically, there would have been at least 10 – 12.  Of course, that didn’t mean that the ministry was on hold.  There are always dozens of things to be done here at home in order for the ministry to continue; however, you know that income for the ministry comes from being “out there.” 
 
Needless to say, these are the times of trusting in HIS provision and not trusting what’s in the bank account.  Have you been there?  You may have been quicker to remember and trust His promises than I usually am.  If you’re in that place right now, the time of not seeing with your physical eyes, will you join me in seeking out the faith He’s already given us to believe when we can’t see?  If we seek Him, we will find Him…He’s already given us our faith!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

LIFE... The Perfect Birthday Gift

I’ve just had another birthday…and I say “Yeaaaaaaaaa…I’m still here!”
 
Seriously, God help me please to always be grateful for yet another day.  On those worst days, they are a big deal…life is precious.  As long as God is alive, so am I…..HE SAID THAT! 
 
I have a good friend, AnnieB, who each year, in referring to my birthday, says she wants me to have a birthday present from her in honor of my Mama for giving me birth.  Now, that’s a special “gift” indeed!
 
I want to purpose this next year to give my life as a gift to Jesus…He gave me my second birth.  I am alive physically because of Mama….am alive spiritually because of Jesus.  Now….THAT’S LIFE!!