Monday, March 12, 2012

Sermon Dialogue 3/11

We are almost at the end of our "Ephesians" series! Sunday's sermon was eye opening & encouraging for me.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:10-12

Until we take our last breath we are fighting a war against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". The opposing team is bold enough to think they have a chance to win on God's territory. They are out for blood & will take it any way they can. (Para phasing Justin's illustration) Our enemy is NOT the red character with horns & a pitchfork trick-or-treating on October 31st. He is crafty & intelligent. He has mastered the art of destroying lives. He is the father of lies & the greatest illusionist of all time. He studies our weaknesses and if we don't fight back, he will use them to devour our faith. He wants us to forget that God says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in WEAKNESS."

If you're like me, I have struggled with the SAME things for longer than I can remember... Feelings of insecurity & all the ugly emotions & lies that are attached to it! It hinders my walk with Jesus. It creates walls in my marriage. It keeps me from living life with purpose (to share Jesus FREELY). It makes me forget who I am in Jesus and how deeply He loves me. But I don't need to be stuck here. Christ's power can be made perfect in this weakness of mine. God has given me everything I need to stand & be victorious.

"14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. " (Ephesians 6:14-17)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Justin, Anabelle, and I went to Traverse City on a spontaneous get-a-away last weekend. There is something special about breaking routine, not having Internet, being surrounded by nature, and of course quietness. I think this was God's way of prompting me to ask Him some tough questions that were lingering in my thoughts. If left unspoken, these thoughts can easily allow the Devil to breed discontentment, anxiety, doubt, and fear in my heart. I am SO thankful that God graciously allows us to be vulnerable and honest with Him. I really believe He honors these kinds of conversations. As long as we come before Him in reverence, never forgetting who He is. King of Kings & Lord of Lords.

I poured my heart out to Him like my life depended on it. I found myself wandering from one thought to another & sharing feelings I wasn't even aware I had! His words for me as I rambled on and on were simply "Be still & know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

I brought marriage & parenthood before Him, His reply, "Be still...I am God"
I brought our family's needs before Him, His answer "Be still...I am God"
I brought JRoad's needs before God, His answer "Be still...I am God"
I brought the needs of hurting friends before Him, His answer,"Be still... I am God"

How badly I needed to hear these words! As I read Psalm 46, I thought of how much our lives have changed in the past 3 years (family & ministry related). Through each change, God has remained our constant & consistent REFUGE, STRENGTH, FORTRESS, and EVER PRESENT HELP! I find so much peace and confidence in this truth. Only God knows what the future holds for our family & Jericho Road but we can trust that He WILL remain FAITHFUL!

There's more:

When we got home from our trip, I found this Psalms 46 commentary:
"This psalm encourages to hope and trust in God; in his power and providence, and his gracious presence with his church in the worst of times....let not those be alarmed who are led to the Rock, and there find firm footing. Here is joy to the church, even in sorrowful times. The river alludes to the graces and consolations of the Holy Spirit, which flow through every part of the church, and through God's sacred ordinances, gladdening the heart of every believer. It is promised that the church shall not be moved. If God be in our hearts, by his word" (

This was God's answer to my prayers for Jericho Road. It is His church & His dwelling place and will be graciously present even in the worst of times and no matter where we end up meeting. I don't know the details of my husband's wrestle with God when ministry gets tough. As his wife, I always feel the need to share my highly emotional opinions & throw bible verses his way to keep him encouraged. The truth is, God has given him all the encouragement & peace he needs. Justin has such a high level of trust because he knows that "God's church shall not be moved". As a reward for trusting, I believe that God has given him a super-natural ability to be emotionally & spiritually stable & discerning through the most difficult moments.

"4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day. " Psalms 46:4-5

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I stumbled on an entry I wrote on 11/11/08. As I read it, I was re-living the passion I felt as a young single woman who was ready to conquer the nations in the name of Jesus. I knew that my God didn’t give me the “spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline”. Looking back, I definately lacked the “spirit of discipline”. But I knew I had the spirit of power and the spirit of love because the duo kept me sleepless & begging God to send me! Somewhere, anywhere outside the US. A year later, he sent me…. to Muskegon, MI. I can look back and laugh now because I see that God’s ways are so much greater than my ways. He knew exactly what He had prepared for me that year.

I still love Jesus…deeply. I am passionate about this calling he’s given Justin & I here in Muskegon. I want to be faithful to everything He’s put before me. But a part of me does long for the passion I felt for making His name known among the nations. Only He knows what that will look like for the Thorntons. For now, this nation needs him plenty!

11/11/08 “Break my heart for what breaks yours”

“So many things excite me about the future. I’ve always had the desire to travel the world, meet people coming from completely different walks of life , experience their culture, hear about their values, dreams, desires, fears, and have my eyes opened to their needs.. There’s a whole world out there filled with people God created. People that He loves just as much as he loves me… it’s doesn’t make sense for them not to know this. I want to start praying for them more often. I know that my Father’s heart breaks for these people. People who are lonely, starving,thirsty, sick, and cannot understand the concept of love because they’ve never experienced it. I want my heart to break for these people too.I don’t want to just “feel sorry or sad for them”. At the very least, I want to stop thinking about myself long enough to remember to lift them up in prayer. I want to get to the point where I’m so burdened for their causes that I want to set aside my own wants and needs… Just in case God decides to use a nobody like me to somehow meet theirs.

I’m most excited about being able the idea of medical missions…. If I could go to any country, I choose Uganda. I read about their child abduction issues in high school and since then, I’ve felt a special connection to this country. I hope to meet Max and Christon one day, our compassion children. <3 Is it possible to love people you’ve never met? MmHmm. After finishing nursing school, I wanted nothing more than to join a team of church planters excited to introduce Jesus to the forgotten people in the ends of the earth. I started feeling this way this way my first semester of school when all my patients were either homeless or sharing homes with ten other families. While we gave their shots, hung their ivs, gave them their bed baths, they were so relieved to be at the hospital. Most of them weren’t even sick. They needed to get out of the cold. They needed food.. a bed to sleep on… warm sheets…someone to talk to them and show them that someone in their empty world cares for them!!! They had no home, no one to call family or friend. I remember feeling so grateful that I wasn’t them, but so troubled because after they were discharged, I’d never see them again. How do you begin to introduce God, and love, and new life?? I wanted to tell them everything I knew. I wanted them to know that someone created them.. And that their creator is madly in love with them…And that he gives hope and new life to those that believe and choose to have a relationship with Christ.

I get a bittersweet feeling when I think about not being able to work as a nurse. I would love nothing more than to show people God’s love in this way. To go to countries where hospitals don’t have flat screen tv’s and fluffy bed sheets. But I’m learning that there are lonely, empty, hurting people outside of hospitals, inside this country, and inside my circle of friends and family. And they need God just as much. I’m still excited about what the future with God holds. Excited that he might decide to use an ugly person like me to help build his kingdom.
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Want to know a secret?

I really admire ministry couples who are in their 60's, 70's, 80's and still going strong. I love hearing stories about how they met, their first years of marriage/parenthood, first ministry adventures, and all the hardship they endured in ministry and marriage. With age definitely comes much wisdom. And much revelation! There is one couple in particular who I ADORE! "The Greenes" Justin and I just smile when we think of them. They've been changing people’s lives for Jesus for years! They are humble, WISE, compassionate...I can go on and on. Their secret...
1) Jesus
2) Family
3) Ministry
In that exact order! They always remind Justin & I to hold on to this order very closely and as God wills, we will be in ministry, together for the next 60-70 years.

As a woman, 1 & 2 can get rearranged pretty quickly. In the attempt to be the perfect wife & perfect mom, I'm reminded that I cannot even be called "good" apart from Jesus. I want to love my family but when I think of what love looks like in His eyes, it's impossible to do apart from Jesus!

Love= patient, kind, not self seeking, not easily angered, forgives, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. These days I am impatient, self-seeking, easily angered, unforgiving, untrusting. This leads me to believe that I've gotten the order all wrong and I need to refocus. In order to serve my family & church diligently, I need more of Jesus.

My husband LOVES his Jesus time. There is nothing & no one that can keep him from that. The first day of being married, he grabbed a cup of coffee, his bible, and found a quiet corner to start his day. 2&1/2 years later, not much has changed. (Except now, he has a baby girl waiting to sit on his lap and be read to every morning). I am grateful that he does 2(Family) SO well. He truly loves his family time. I love knowing that Tuesdays are especially for Anabelle & I. We start the day with Jesus, turn our phones off (sorry world) & enjoy our beautiful baby girl together. Every other day he eat, sleeps, breathes 3 (ministry). He loves Jericho Road.

I can't imagine the weight of being a husband/father/pastor. I can't imagine the internal battles he faces daily. I do believe that his love for Jesus helps him to be a great husband and father, and his love & dedication to his family helps him to be a great leader to Jericho Road (his extended family).

1) Jesus 2) Family 3) Ministry....Now share the secret!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Psalm 51"

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

God's way of purifying one's heart isn't just putting a band aid over past pain, hurt, and sin. He purposely brings those things to light so he can forgive, restore, & take away every hint of shame & condemnation those memories carry. As I pray this prayer, God is peeling layers upon layers of unconfessed sin. He is digging up painful wounds buried deep in my past in order to bring complete healing. The devil wants us to believe that we can keep these things hidden without repercussion. The truth is, they manifest themselves daily in our behavior and habits and affect how we treat our our spouse, kids, and friends. More dangerously, they distort our view of God & prevent intimacy in our relationship with him.

Jesus said "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God". How great is our God who longs to purfiy us so we can "see" and know him intimately. The process is hard for me because I am realizing how dirty my heart is before a holy God. But through it, my spirit is being renewed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Me of little faith"

Two years ago Justin & I were sitting in the parking lot of his "dream building". I listened to him ask God for this building and from that moment, he believed that God was willing & more than able to give Jericho Road (a congregation of 40 at the time ) this 1 MILLION dollar building. My reaction reminds me of Sarah when she was also eavesdropping at the conversation between her husband and God. God promised Abraham at 99 that he would grant them a child. Sarah laughed. Even though I didn't laugh at my husband's prayer, my faith was as small as Sarah's. Faith is a weakness for me. Not faith in the existence of God, but faith in what He is capable of doing & His willingness to do it.

In Mark 9, a desperate father asks Jesus to heal his son. Jesus responds "Everything is possible for one who believes". I don't know the anguish of this man whose son needed healing. But I can relate to desperately wanting to believe in Jesus' promises. I can relate to how he was hanging on to Jesus' word because it's all the hope his family had. With a weak but surrendered heart he cried “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” That is my cry this morning as I am asking God for the "dream building" and for personal needs for my family.