Great is His Faithfulness

From May of 2016 through May of 2017 I served as one of five members on the Senior Pastor Search Team for Mount Zion Baptist Church (MZBC) in Huntsville, Alabama. Each of the five of us has an independent, unique testimony of God leading us to whom we believe to be His next shepherd for MZBC. This is my testimony as it unfolded, shared through excerpts of my scripture and prayer journal.

Why do I journal scripture and my prayers?

I once heard Adrian Rogers say, “The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory,” and it stuck with me. For quite a number of years I have intermittently journaled scripture that God is using to convict, challenge, or encourage me along with my prayers.  I have learned that it is a particularly worthy task during times of trial.  As search team grew increasingly more challenging I realized God was going to work mightily and I wanted to be certain to record it for myself and my children as a lasting testimony of His faithful provision.

Why am I sharing excerpts from my journal here?

It never entered my mind as I was journaling that one day excerpts of my entries might be shared, but after God moved in such amazing ways I felt led to share portions of my journal for three primary reasons.

1. So my MZBC family can see what God has done and have confidence as we move forward together as one body

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 [NASB]

It is a daunting choice for the body of MZBC to trust that the rest of the search team and I have sought, heard and followed God’s leading. Only God knows the hearts of men, so I certainly understand any hesitation in trusting.  My shared prayer journal excerpts clearly highlight His strength and my weakness.  They are a raw testimony of our perfect God interacting in a powerful way with a very imperfect person to reveal His plan. My hope is that by sharing this deeply personal and intimate journey with you, you will also share in the confidence I have that God has indeed done mighty works and led us.

2. To encourage others God longs to speak to them personally

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 [NIV]

One vital point of personal sanctification for me through this journey was a renewed and strengthened conviction that God longs to speak to all of us personally, deeply and intimately.  I hope that this personal testimony of my floundering faith and God’s steadfast love and patience will encourage others to persevere in longing for and listening intently for the voice of God both through His Word and prayer.

3. To glorify God 

“We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.”  Psalm 78:4 [NIV] 

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,  so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 15:5-6 [NIV] 

The excerpts don’t adequately relate the magnitude of all He has done, but even in their inadequacy the hand of God is undeniable.  He has done mighty and wonderful things, may He be glorified.


Before you begin reading: I hope you will be certain to read the included scripture passages.  Each passage was hand journaled, meditated on and offered as a prayer to the Lord on that day. Reading them will provide context and insight to the included thoughts and personal prayers.  Also, “Context Notes” and a few personal emails have been included and identified as such beneath some journal entries to provide additional details and clarity.


May 11, 2016 – The journey begins…

Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’  And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are these all the children?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him; for this is he.'” 1 Samuel 16:10-12 [NASB]

From the outset of the search process, on a daily basis I fervently requested of the Lord that He clearly speak “no” and “yes” to me, just as He did to Samuel to reveal His man for His glory.


October 19, 2016

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.  The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night.  The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.  The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  Psalm 121:1-8 [NASB]

 “Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word.  Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.  Let my lips utter praise, For You teach me Your statutes.  Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.  Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts.  I long for Your salvation, O LORD, And Your law is my delight.  Let my soul live that it may praise You, And let Your ordinances help me.  I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.”  Psalm 119:169-176 [NASB]

Lord, I long to be in the center of Your will with search team, I am weary and insecure… I beg of You to send Your deliverance in the form of Your man for us. I beg You to give me an absolute peace when Your man is before us.  I long to walk in Your perfect will for us. Guard my heart from pride, arrogance and bitterness.  Show me any root of it so I may repent and You pluck it out. Give me Your precious wisdom for the days ahead and peace to walk through them.

October 21, 2016

 “Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.  I hope for Your salvation, O LORD, And do Your commandments.” Psalm 119:165-166 [NASB]

Immediately after I journaled the previous entry [10/19] I received an email from Dr. Bruce McCoy (Alumni Director at SWBTS) and he said he was very excited to let us know that Kevin Moore of Lamar Baptist Church was willing to submit his resume after praying about it last week.  I pulled up his church website and bio and he sounds exactly like who I envision God bringing us.  I pulled up his most recent sermon and it was on the exact passage God led me to journal yesterday, Psalm 119! I listened to him preach all day yesterday and read excerpts of his books and I am blown away with excitement. I don’t know if he is God’s man for us or not, but I certainly hope he is.


October 22, 2016 – I received and read much of Relentless, Kevin Moore’s devotional book on Psalm 119.


October 24, 2016

 “and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us–a land which flows with milk and honey. “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” Numbers 14:7-9 [NASB]

My God is a mighty and awesome God.  I cannot believe the journey and His faithfulness. I have prayed nonstop for Kevin Moore since I got his name on 10/19. I have listened to more than 20 sermons and read his writing and I believe as God told Samuel “yes” to David, He has told me “yes” to Kevin…  I believe Kevin is His man for us, but even if he is not, I can be encouraged because God at the least has granted me a portrait of the man He has for us.  In the middle of the night two nights ago I was reminded of Joshua, I see the potential – the promised land – and I know there are giants in the land but I know, like Joshua, that God will fight the giants for us.  So I call out the giants and ask God to defeat them one by one…


October 24, 2016 – We still have not received Kevin Moore’s resume, I felt led to share my testimony with him:

From: Karen Harmening
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 8:39 AM
To: Kevin Moore
Subject: Bruce McCoy

Dr. Moore,
My name is Karen Harmening, I am serving on the Senior Pastor Search Team at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  Dr. Bruce McCoy prayerfully gave me your name last Wednesday (10/19) as a recommendation for our consideration for our senior pastor position.  I have been praying for you by name at length daily and through the night watches ever since, most recently including your wife and children in those prayers as well. This morning as I was lifting you up I felt compelled to share with you (and Mrs. Moore) my personal testimony of God’s leading us to you.

At the outset of our search process I felt led to meditate on the account of God’s guidance of Samuel in selecting David.  Thus my prayer and ultimately my belief became as each candidate was presented, God would give me a “no” until He would finally give me a “yes.”  The no’s came with much prayer and study, but for me they came clearly.

September 28th our search process took a distressing turn, it prompted four days of heavy prayer and intense pursuit of God’s direction. On the fifth day God gave a plan of action, I emailed Dr. Patterson and every dean at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary requesting assistance in our search. They were all personally very gracious in assisting me but it had not resulted in any strong leads.

Last Wednesday (10/19) we had a team meeting which I left with an even more profound sense of urgency.  We met at 6:00 AM, so I had ample time to seek God when I came home.  I prayed over His Word and asked Him to speak His encouragement to me.  He led me to Psalm 119, a favorite, where I spent much time meditating on, praying and journaling verses 169-176 specifically.  I then journaled a prayer once again expressing my utter brokenness and dependance on Him in which I cried, “I beg of You to send Your deliverance in the form of Your man for us.”  Encouraged by the faithfulness of His Word, I closed my Bible and journal and checked my email, at which time I found a new email from Dr. McCoy.  He told me he had “encouraging news” that he was able to pass along the name of his “top choice” for us at that time.

I immediately went to your church website and read your bio, which read exactly as I would describe the needed shepherd for Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  I then pulled up your most recent sermon and listened, it was on Psalm 119 and God was saying through you exactly what He had spoken to me in my brokenness and desperation just moments before. I wept.

I have since listened to somewhere around twenty sermons, have ordered both of your books and read much of  Relentless.   Holy Rebellion should arrive today, I am looking very forward to reading it as well. I have prayed for you daily, literally hours upon hours, and intermittently through the night watches.

God has used this time for great sanctification in my life, specifically in the areas of faith and prayer.  I don’t know that God is leading you to us, but I know beyond any shadow of doubt that God is leading us to a man just like you. Going back to my prayer for God to graciously give me the guidance He gave Samuel, you are the only man he has given me a resounding “yes” to.   I will continue praying for you and your precious family daily until we all know His leading for both you and us.

Dr. McCoy graciously provided your email address this morning so I could share this with you, but expressed it would be prudent for you to share your resume with us through him if you feel so led.

In Him –
Karen Harmening


October 24, 2016, 8:57 AM – Dr. Bruce McCoy received Kevin’s resume while en route to an event, he pulled off the road from driving so he could forward it to us immediately.  I think he may have been as excited as I was.


October 26, 2016

 “Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.  The arrogant utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.  I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD, And comfort myself. …  If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.  I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.” Psalm 119:49-52, 92-93 [NASB]

I spent yesterday and the night/ evening before fasting, praying and meditating on scripture- God’s Word is living, active and ever faithful.  I am revived today by His Word, my eyes are fixed on Him for I know He is faithful and He will make a way when there seems to be none.  Lord I am praying for You to move, for You to clearly reveal to the rest of the team what I feel You have spoken to me…  I pray that if Kevin Moore is the man You have for us that You will move the hearts of each of the team members to him. I pray that if he is Your man for us that You will reveal that to him and to his wife, Stephanie. I pray that if he is not the man that You will hasten bringing Your man to us, I pray that You will orchestrate things to pave the way for a great revival that we will become a people characterized by a great and deep love and commitment to Your Word, that we would love deeply with patience and perseverance… Show me any sinful way in me that I may repent and be washed white as snow. Guard my heart from the pride and bitterness that so easily entangles me.  Guard me from my tendency to be a pleaser of men. Let me clearly hear Your Spirit leading me through His gentle whispers, make my heart attentive to Your leading at all times.  Let Your Word richly indwell me and flow through me. In Your precious name I ask all these things.

Context Note:  I was driven to a period of prayer and fasting by the realization that there were some significant mountains in the way of Kevin coming to MZBC.  I was praying specifically for personal wisdom and guidance, and for the removal of the mountains if Kevin is indeed His man for us.

October 30, 2016

 “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”  And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:22-24 [NASB]

Lord I long for You to bring Kevin Moore as our pastor but I am so fearful there is no way around [candidate A] being the man.  I know we will be fine if he is chosen but I long for the clear proclamation of Your Word.  I know You are able, I believe beyond any shadow of doubt to turn [candidate A] away from us if he is not the best fit for us and I beg of You to do it.  If I am wrong I pray You will turn my heart toward him so I can know this is “David” and not Kevin like my heart currently testifies.  Help my unbelief that robs me of peace. Pour out Your wisdom and discernment on me as You freely offer to do so, so that I may walk confidently where You lead.

Context Note: [Candidate A] was an extremely strong candidate, a very good and godly man whom I have great respect for, I just did not hear God saying “yes” to him. My prayers were not against him personally, just against him coming to MZBC if he was not God’s chosen man for us.

November 1, 2016

 “Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;  but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;  just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”  1 Peter 3:3-6 [NASB]

Lord grant me this gentle and quiet spirit that trusts in You.  Help me to “do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” I need Your wisdom, Lord.  I need to know beyond any shadow of doubt who Your man is, if I know he is Yours I will have no fear, but I fear making a mistake and misunderstanding Your leading.  Please remove the wrong way so the right way will be obvious, I long to walk in obedience to You, not my will but Thine be done.  Move the mountains to bring Your man to us.

November 4, 2016

 “Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications!  Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!  And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous.  For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.  Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart is appalled within me.  I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.  I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.  Answer me quickly, O LORD, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit.  Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.  Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.  Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.  And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies And destroy all those who afflict my soul, For I am Your servant.”  Psalm 143:1-12  [NASB]

Lord I am hopeless. I am crushed and broken. I am questioning if I have ever heard Your voice, perhaps I am deluded and imagining it all…. I cried out to You and asked You to give me noes and a yes to the candidates, I very clearly heard both – I think…  Speak to me, Lord, I need to hear You, I need to know I am Yours, I need Your truth and direction, I need a miracle, Lord.

Context Note: The enemy is assaulting me with lies, saying that the Lord does not speak to me, that I can not and have not heard Him. I absolutely believed God said “yes” to Kevin, but He has not moved the mountains, in fact, they have multiplied and intensified as I have prayed.  The enemy, using worldly logic, has nearly convinced me I can not hear my God, a devastating deception since I long for nothing more than to hear Him.

November 5, 2016

“I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever.  Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.  Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.  Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.  The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.  The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.  All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You.  They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power;  To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.  The LORD sustains all who fall And raises up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time.  You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.  The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.  The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.  He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.  The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.  My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”  Psalm 145 [NASB]

AM – I thank You that You are near me as I call upon You.  I love You and I fear You. Lord, the desire of my heart is that You bring Your man to MZBC. Lord, I long to have Your servant who will boldly  and clearly proclaim Your Word, that he will tell of all Your deeds in such a way that hearts will be torn and repentance will flow leading to a holy revival. Open my eyes and give me Your wisdom, enable me to see Your path clearly so I may walk in it. Lord I long to obey You. Turn my heart according to Your will. Show Your glory so we may tell future generations of all You have done at MZBC.

PM – Lord, I feel like You are telling me it is going to be [candidate A], I am so confused and disillusioned as to why You let me get so excited about Kevin Moore. I can see so clearly how You could use him here, but… it seems inevitable that [candidate A] will be the one… I don’t understand what You are doing, Lord. I am so disillusioned.

Context Note: The source of my disillusionment was that as I was praying I felt God was strongly impressing on my heart that Kevin was going to withdraw.  It was such a strong and unsettling impression that I immediately shared it with Scott as though it had already taken place.


November 6, 2016 – Kevin Moore withdrew his name from consideration because he did not feel release from God at this time to leave his current church family whom he deeply loves.


November 6, 2016 through February 1, 2017 there was no mention of Kevin Moore in any search team discussions.


November 7, 2016  – 3:00 AM

Yesterday 11/6 Kevin Moore withdrew his name.  I am still struggling with questioning my faith, the purpose of my prayers and whether or not I have heard God in any of this.  I am so confused by it all.  How can I move forward in confidence when I don’t even know how to hear God, apparently?

 “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness, Answer me with Your saving truth.  Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.  May the flood of water not overflow me Nor the deep swallow me up, Nor the pit shut its mouth on me.  Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me,  And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly.  Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it; Ransom me because of my enemies! …  But I am afflicted and in pain; May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high.  I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the LORD better than an ox Or a young bull with horns and hoofs.  The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.  For the LORD hears the needy And does not despise His who are prisoners.  Let heaven and earth praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them.  For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, That they may dwell there and possess it.  The descendants of His servants will inherit it, And those who love His name will dwell in it.”  Psalm 69:13-18; 29-36 [NASB]

 “Then they spoke against God; They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?  “Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out, And streams were overflowing; Can He give bread also? Will He provide meat for His people?”  Therefore the LORD heard and was full of wrath; And a fire was kindled against Jacob and anger also mounted against Israel,  Because they did not believe in God And did not trust in His salvation.”  Psalm 78:19-22 [NASB]

Lord, help me to trust You, the enemy has surrounded me and I cannot hear You for his screams against me. Silence him, Lord, so I can once again hear You.  Wash me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness…  Lord, I long to hear You, I need to hear You.  I am desperate for the assurance that I am Yours, that You love me and desire to use me.  I am in the mire, I am drowning, I can’t see You, hear You or feel You, yet I choose to praise You now because I know Your Word is true and You have promised to never leave me nor forsake me.  You have promised to be near me when I cry out to You and though I do not feel You or see You, I trust that You are there and You have not abandoned me.  Lord, I believe, but please help my unbelief.


November 8, 2016 – I requested and received permission from Britton Latham, MZBC Student Minister, to order Kevin Moore’s book, Relentless, for college ministry use.  I gave my copy of Relentless to Terry Slay, MZBC Minister of Education, to consider for use in adult ministry at some point.


November 14, 2016

 “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.  For each one will bear his own load.  The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  Galatians 6:3-9 [NASB]

Lord… I humble myself before You, I surrender my frustration, my anxiety, my discouragement, my hopelessness…  all of it related to search team – all of it I surrender to You.  This is Your church and we need Your man.  I have begged of You to turn [candidate A’s] heart away from us or to give me a clear “no” and You have done neither.  Lord, I am assuming that the lack of a “no” and the fact that [candidate A] longs to come to MZBC and said he “is willing to wait” must mean that he is the one You are leading to us.  I surrender this sadness I feel to You…. If I am wrong and [candidate A] is not Your man for us I pray for You to miraculously intervene.  If You would give me a “no” I would be willing to stand again, but I do not hear it if You are saying it.  Please, God, if he is Your man [for us] give me something to be excited about.

November 15, 2016

 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.  And have mercy on some, who are doubting;  save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”  Jude 1:20-23 [NASB]

Lord, I need Your help to stay in Your love, I am weak and weary, my flesh wages war against the spirit. I bow before You this morning asking You to pour out Your Word, Your presence and Your wisdom and discernment on me.  Give me confidence in the path You have set before me.  I have begged You to give me a “no” if [candidate A] is not the guy and I have not heard a “no”. I am wrestling with such a sadness… It is so hard for me to see how he can be the right choice, but I am stepping out on the faith that I have asked You to turn his heart away or give me a “no” and neither has happened.  If I am wrong I beg of You to show me.  If I am actually walking in the right way on this I beg of You to give me some sort of affirmation or peace.  I long to see revival at MZBC, if he is the vessel through which You intend to usher that in I will rejoice, but please, please show me if we are going in the wrong direction…  I pour myself out at Your altar, take me, purge me, use me for Your glory.

November 17, 2016

 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face  so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:16-18 [NASB]

AM – Lord I am fasting in secret today crying out to You on behalf of MZBC as [candidate A] is praying about whether or not to pursue coming to MZBC.  I am fasting and praying specifically asking that You clearly lead him. If he is not our man block his path here, turn him away, unsettle his spirit so that he can not come. If he is Your man I pray that You will give him and me the peace that can come only from You.

“‘You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.” …  When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.”  2 Chronicles 20:17, 21-22 [NASB] 

PM – God, I praise You for Your faithfulness, even before You have worked.  I pray that You will intervene and guard against us getting anyone other than Your best man for us.  I trust You to fight this battle and turn this man’s heart from us if he is not Your man for us.  Work a miracle, I beg of You and guard us from a mistake.  Bring us Your man and protect us from everyone else.

November 18, 2016

“‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”  Louisa M. R. Stead, 1882

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,Just to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood; And in simple faith to plunge me’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease; Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

AM – Lord, thank You for speaking to me through song today.  Pour out Your grace on me so I may trust You more.  I fasted all day yesterday and prayed throughout the day, night and this morning.  I have wept before You crying out to You to move the heart of [candidate A] away  from MZBC if he is not Your best man for us.  I plead again with You now, if he is not Your choice for us turn his heart from us.  If by the end of the day he has indicated he wishes to pursue coming I will have to trust You that this is Your will unless You clearly show me otherwise.  You are able to turn his heart and I must trust in that.

PM – Great is Thy faithfulness O’ God my Father!  I praise You for answered prayer above and beyond anything I can dream.  You told me not to say “no” to [candidate A] even though I had no peace about him, I spent the past two days agonizing in prayer for Your intervention and You performed a miracle! [candidate A] said last week he thought MZBC was where he belonged and he was willing to wait, and last night and today You turned his heart to the [type of] church to which You are calling him instead of MZBC.  I praise You for the delay that kept him from wrongly coming to MZBC.  I thank You for sparing me from having to say “no” to him…  But most importantly I thank You for showing me that You do speak to me and that when I humble myself and seek You I can indeed discern Your leading as You make it freely known to any who pursue You.  I worship You with a full heart tonight, praising You for Your deliverance, Your faithfulness, Your provision, Your love, and so, so much more.  Patiently waiting with expectancy for You to bring Your man to MZBC.


With the withdrawal of Candidate A we are down to 0 candidates.


November 19, 2016

 “I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them.  I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily, And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.  His shoots will sprout, And his beauty will be like the olive tree And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.  Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.  O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; From Me comes your fruit.  Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them.” Hosea 14:4-9 [NASB]

So I’ve been praying since yesterday, through the night about Kevin Moore again…. I have not been listening to Kevin’s sermons lately because it has been too painful knowing we will not have him here. After praying I decided to listen to the most recent sermon, it’s the intro to Luke and is titled, “Your prayer has been heard.”  Trying to not read too much into it, but how I long to have such an amazing story of God’s deliverance in bringing His man – all for His glory! How I would love to share it even if it was only with my family and the few who have walked it with me.  Continuing to pray for a miracle… if not him, then someone like him.

Context Note: What I was “trying to not read too much into” was that before pulling up the church website, in humility, I asked the Lord to graciously guard my still wounded heart by clearly speaking to me through the most recent sermon to continue to draw me to, or to repel me from Kevin.  The thrust of the sermon was trusting God to hear our prayers, that He is powerfully able to respond to our prayers and to bring to pass what He has spoken.  At the end of the sermon Kevin said “are you believing that God can move mountains?” Knowing that had been my heart’s cry to God over the past month, I was profoundly impacted by His gracious lovingkindness in so clearly encouraging me once again.


November 21, 2016

 “He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.  The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn back.”  Isaiah 50:4b-5  [NASB]

…I had a crisis of faith a couple of weeks ago where I questioned if I had actually ever even “heard” God in this search process.  On the heels of that I had to vote on [candidate A], I clearly did not have a “no” but also had no peace about him being the one.  I walked in obedience by saying “yes” to further discussion, a serious step…  Through prayer and fasting I clearly heard God say he was not the one and why – then [candidate A] confirmed God had spoken the same thing to him as well.  What a blessed, gracious, compassionate act of my Lord and Savior to confirm He does speak to me and anyone else who desires to hear.  In my crying out to Him for wisdom He has responded by opening my ear and awakening it to listen as a disciple.  Lord, this heart is prone to wander, but I pray that Your tender faithful voice leading me and prompting me will keep me on the course You have set for me in life that I may bring glory and honor to You.  For search team, Lord, I believe Kevin Moore is who You have led me to as You led Samuel to David.  If I am wrong it is my failure to discern Your leading and I pray You will quickly speak to me and lead me otherwise that I may walk in obedience to You. If Kevin is Your man I pray You will stir his heart and Stephanie’s. I pray in Your perfect time You will give him the longing and peace to come here in obedience to You.  I pray that You will guard us from the opportunity to bring anyone other than Your man.

Context Note: When I was fasting and praying over [Candidate A], I felt the Lord strongly impress on my heart that he was not called to MZBC because he is gifted for and called to a broken or dying church.  It was such a strong impression that I immediately shared it with Scott. The next day [Candidate A] notified us that God had turned his heart and confirmed that very morning that he is not called to MZBC, but is instead called to a “place of dry bones.”  I was overwhelmed by God’s gracious loving provision in so clearly answering prayers and powerfully reassuring me of His faithfulness to speak and lead.

November 22, 2016

“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.  Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.  Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.  Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.  He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.  All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.  For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.  Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.” Psalm 25:4-12 [NASB] 

Lord, show me the way You will have me walk for search team.  I believe You are leading me to pursue Kevin Moore to resubmit his name for consideration, if I am wrong turn me away from him.  If I am right in what I believe I am hearing from You and that You actually are leading Kevin to MZBC, I pray that You will make the path straight before us, that You will move the hearts of the team to him and begin drawing him to us…

Context note: After God so powerfully used Kevin’s withdrawal to move some of the mountains that were in the way of his coming, I desperately wanted to contact him to ask him to prayerfully consider resubmitting his resume. After discussing it with Scott we both agreed it would be best to seek wise counsel first by calling Dr. Bruce McCoy.  Dr. McCoy and I spoke at length and agreed it would be best for Dr. McCoy to call instead to ask him if he had any inclination to reconsider.  After talking with Kevin, Dr. McCoy called to tell me with a high degree of certainty Kevin would not be reconsidering.  Dr. McCoy graciously committed to prayerfully search for other strong candidates for us, which he did.

November 23, 2016

 “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.”  Psalm 104:33-34 [NASB]

Lord I choose to praise and worship You today for the deliverance You will eventually bring in Your perfect time.  After talking with Dr. McCoy yesterday it certainly sounds like I was misunderstanding Your leading regarding Kevin Moore.  I genuinely believed a second time that You were opening the door for him.  I do not understand why I keep getting confused because I feel like my heart has been set to follow You and not my own selfish or worldly desire.  I will continue to lift him up in prayer as often as he comes to mind, but beg of You to remove him from my thoughts if he truly is not Your man for us.  I cry out to You asking that You bring Your man and make it just as obvious to us as a team as it was to Samuel individually, that there will be no division when he comes and we will all know and be excited about him.  I surrender all to You, desiring to be used by and follow only You and Your leading.

November 26, 2016

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.  Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You.”  Psalm 33:20-22  [NASB] 

 “Commit your way to the LORD,  Trust also in Him, and He will do it.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…”  Psalm 37:5-7a [NASB]

Lord I guess I really did misunderstand what You were saying to me regarding Kevin Moore.  The whole thing is so confusing.  Perhaps I didn’t hear You say “yes” and just thought it instead – but it seemed so much clearer than anything else I have “heard” from You. Give me peace about this, guard me from fear and insecurity about not being able to discern how You are leading.  Lord, speak clearly and loudly to me – I long to follow You in obedience, teach me to hear so that I can.  Bring Your man swiftly to us, Lord.  God, please bring us a man who loves Your Word, communes with You in prayer and preaches Your Word boldly and clearly, and as a result will love us deeply.

November 27, 2016

 “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:45 [NASB]

I shifted my quiet time this morning from searching out scripture on prayer, discernment, wisdom and guidance to simply studying in Luke in preparation for Christmas.  It seems so foolish to believe Kevin Moore is the man God has for us, so I have been telling myself that he must just be a portrait of who God has for us, but the tension remains that I believe I clearly heard God say “yes” to Kevin.  Just as I asked Him to say “no” and “yes”.  I don’t want to believe, hope and pray for him to come if I am being foolish or just simply confused and not hearing God correctly.  But if I did hear God correctly and it was “yes” to Kevin specifically I want to be obedient to believe God to bring to pass what He has spoken.  Lord I cry out to You for clarity, show me what to believe and I will believe it. Speak to my heart and affirm the exact truth I am to believe.

Context Note: I “shifted my quiet time” to studying Luke in preparation for advent because I did not want to think about or pray for Kevin anymore, it made absolutely no sense.  Luke 1:20 convicted me initially, but verse 45, journaled above, was like a dagger through my heart that drove me to press on in praying for him daily.


December 6, 2016 – The MZBC ministers chose the theme “Relentless” as emphasis for January-April.  The church will read Kevin Moore’s book, Relentless, together, scheduled to begin February 1, 2017.


December 8, 2016

Terry called me, I went to his office to talk, he wants to order 500 of Kevin Moore’s books for the church to read as a whole.  The embers of hope and belief that Kevin was actually God’s man for us had almost completely gone out, but this once again kindles the “hope” that Kevin might be God’s man for us.  If I truly heard a “yes” from God about Kevin being the next pastor I want to be obedient to believe Him to bring it to pass. My confusion is I wonder if maybe the “yes” was to Kevin’s role in impacting our body through his book, which is certainly possible.  I want to believe God for big things so I guess I should choose to believe God to bring Kevin until He tells me to stop.  Lord, I believe You are able, help my unbelief that says that is foolish to hope for when Kevin has already said no, essentially twice. Show me what You desire of me so that I may walk in obedience… I thank You for the opportunity to have a week of prayer for the search team…


December 13, 2016 – I emailed to update Dr. Bruce McCoy, the dear man of God who shared Kevin Moore’s resume with us: 

On Dec 13, 2016, at 3:54 PM, Karen Harmening wrote:

I can’t remember if I told you already or not, so I will risk telling you again.
I got permission/ budget money from our staff to buy Kevin’s book “Relentless” for all of our college kids at church, 100 of them.   We will be going through Psalm 119 together with it in February and I am so excited.  I showed the book to our minister of education a while ago and last week he called me to tell me he and the rest of the staff had decided they want to do the book together as a church wide initiative. Our interim is very excited about it as it goes perfectly with what the Lord had on his heart for our body.

It is likely that is what the “Yes” was that I so clearly heard from the Lord regarding Kevin.  I still find myself praying for him daily, every time I have tried to “forget” him God’s Word convicts me and causes me to persist.  Most recently through the accounts of Zechariah (Luke 1:18-20) and Mary (Luke 1:45).  I don’t have the advantage of an angel literally speaking to me and delivering a clear verbal message, but I know God said “yes” when I fervently prayed and fasted about Kevin.  It is likely that the “Yes” was simply to bring the book to MZBC to be used by God to break up fallow ground, which I believe it will.  But, at this point I will continue praying for him until the Lord clearly releases me from it, I would rather by worldly standards foolishly believe something that certainly seems impossible and be found faithful than have it come to pass and me have missed out on the blessing of having taken God at His word, particularly after having asked Him to speak.

If you didn’t think I was crazy before I suppose you may now!  I hope you and your family have a wonderfully blessed Christmas season!
I am thankful to have found His peace that passes all understanding in the midst of what feels a bit like madness around me, and hope the same for you.  The peace not the madness, that is. 😉
In Him –
Karen


December 23, 2016

 “But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.  They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.  And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” Luke 8:23-25 [NASB]

Lord, I cry out to You through the storm of search team, not a distress cry but a cry of faith knowing You are in control despite the winds, I ask for Your intervention to bring Your man. Guard us from every wrong path.  Speak “no” and “yes”. I continue to wrestle with the “yes” I heard to Kevin Moore.  If it was a yes to him as our next pastor I pray You will move the mountains and calm the storm to bring him – I know You are able. If I misunderstood and it was just a yes to the book for the church please give me that peace and release me from praying for him.


January 9, 2017 – Terry notified me the publisher was not able to supply the Relentless books in time for a February 1 start date, start date is postponed to March 1.  Perhaps this, too, is the hand of God. 

On Jan 9, 2017, at 1:01 PM, Karen Harmening wrote:

Hi Terry and Jay –
So sorry about the delay with the Relentless books. I’m choosing to believe that perhaps God has a purpose in the delay, though.

In Him –
Karen


January 12, 2017

 “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”  When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;” Luke 5:4-6 [NASB]

This struck a nerve for me with search team, reminding me once again that in His time He will provide His man.  We have fished all night and worked hard and come up empty but at the appropriate time He will tell us to let down the net.  Lord, I lift up MZBC to You.  I beg of You to bring Your man in Your time.  I pray that You will turn the hearts of the team to wait on You.  I pray that You will give us a clear “no” or “yes” regarding each candidate. Block every wrong path.  Turn hearts of wrong candidates away from us to where they belong.  Enable us on the team to love one another, and to love one another deeply from the heart.


January 22-28, 2016 – Church wide week of prayer for the Pastoral Search Process:

Pastoral Search Prayer Guide

Pray boldly:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.  Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  John 16:23b-24 [NASB]

Please ask of the Lord the following on behalf of the search team:

Convict us to continually humble ourselves before the Lord and pray without ceasing.

  • James 4:10 [NASB] 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 [KJV] 17 Pray without ceasing.

Convict us to faithfully spend time in God’s Word, delighting in it as we wait for Him to reveal His man for MZBC.

  • Psalm 119:169-176

Grant us the wisdom that comes from above, and purge us of all worldly wisdom. 

  • James 3:13-18 [NASB] 13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Increase our faith, grant us the faith that moves mountains.

  • Matthew 17:20 [NASB] 20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Enable us to clearly discern God’s leading to the the man He has for us just as He led Samuel in selecting David, may the Lord clearly speak “no” and “yes.”  

  • 1 Samuel 16:6-13

Grant us the patience, faith and courage necessary to wait with expectancy on the Lord.

  • Psalm 27:14 [NASB] 14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
  • Psalm 106:13 [NIV] 13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

Enable us to love one another deeply from the heart.

  • 1 Peter 1:22 [NIV] Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

Equip and sustain us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Please ask of the Lord the following on behalf of the undershepherd God is bringing:

Prepare his heart to be sensitive and ready to respond in obedience to God’s calling him to us. 

  • 1 Chronicles 22:19 [NASB]  “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD.”

Prepare his family’s hearts to follow him as God leads.

  • Ruth 1:16-17 [NASB] 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Prepare his current place of ministry for the time of transition they will enter as God moves him to MZBC

  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

25 Resumes received for consideration since restart in November

The MZBC ministers scheduled Kevin Moore to speak at MZBC February 26th to launch the Relentless book study.  Perhaps making this possible was a purpose of the January 9th publisher delay that postponed the launch by one month.


 February 1, 2016 – I updated Dr. McCoy at SWBTS again:

—–Original Message—–
From: Karen Harmening
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2017 8:27 PM
To: McCoy, Bruce
Subject: Re: Kevin Moore

Good evening, Dr. McCoy!
I hope you had a very blessed Christmas and start to 2017.

I have been anxious to get home from church so I could email you… our minister of education stopped me tonight to tell me that the staff has arranged to fly Kevin in on February 26th to speak to our congregation about his book, Relentless. He asked if Kevin could have lunch and spend part of the afternoon with my family, which of course I am delighted to do.  I had no idea they were even in communication with Kevin beyond ordering the books.

I am still praying for him daily. On multiple occasions I have pleaded with God to release me from praying for him if he is not His man for us, but I have not gotten release to this point.  Our minister of education has no idea that I am still praying for Kevin or even holding out any hope in that regard.  Which of course makes this all the more interesting!

Would you, as Kevin’s friend (and mine, too, I hope) please pray for him and our church that if God is leading him to us that He will clearly reveal that to both him and us?  Particularly since to my knowledge it is not even a consideration in Kevin’s mind…

Can’t wait to see where God is leading in all of this.  It really would be quite a God glorifying story if He ended up bringing Kevin here.  However, even if it’s just for his visit and book to be used in the breaking up of fallow ground I will rejoice in that none the less.

In Him –
Karen


November 6, 2016 through February 1, 2017 there was no mention of Kevin Moore in any search team discussions, Kevin has not resubmitted his resume or indicated interest in the senior pastor position at MZBC in any way.


February 2, 2017

“Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” Psalm 119:49-50 [NASB] 

Lord I cling to the hope of Your Word today.  You tell us to pray according to Your Word and You will answer. I have set my heart on doing so. I believe You that You will bring Your man to MZBC because we have interceded to that end and that would bring You great glory.  Lord, bring it to pass. Move every mountain that stands in the way and block every wrong path. Let us be in the center of Your will.  Last night Terry told me the staff decided to fly Kevin Moore in to speak to the church before we start the book as a body. I had no idea, and yesterday at 6 AM I brought up to the team that we might want to ask Kevin to pray again in a month or so since a few months have gone by… how strange that he will now be here at MZBC in a month… Terry also asked if Scott and I would take care of Kevin for lunch, which of course we are delighted to do.  O Lord, if Kevin is indeed Your man for us I pray that You will do the mighty works between now and then to change his heart, the hearts of the rest of the team and to make a way where there is none. I know You are able, O Lord, do it if it is Your perfect will.   If I am mistaken in my understanding and You are simply bringing him here for the breaking up of fallow ground, then Lord do that work and give me understanding of Your path and direction so I may walk in obedience and faith wherever You are leading. Teach me, guide me, revive me, lead me, use me.

February 6, 2017

“…Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.  “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  John 16:23b-24 [NASB] 

I’ve spent the morning rereading my journal through the search process. It encourages my heart to see my heart’s cry has remained the same the entire time: Lord speak “no” and “yes” just as You did for Samuel. Since 10/19/16 I have been praying for Kevin Moore.  I clearly heard You say “yes” to him.  My challenge now is to know if the yes was to him as pastor or just to bring him here to speak to our body and use his book as a catalyst for revival.  Yesterday George asked if the whole search team could have lunch with Kevin when he comes on 2/26.  Kevin agreed and said it would be nice, but there was no indication that he would be willing to consider the position.  He did say he would be praying for us, though. If Kevin is Your man for us, Lord, I pray that You will continue to do Your mighty works, that You will move heaven and earth and all the mountains in between to bring him here. I pray if he is Your man that You will turn his heart toward us, that You will turn Stephanie to us as well.  I pray that You will raise up a pastor [for Lamar Baptist Church] in their midst… to step in where Kevin leaves off.  If Kevin is not Your man for us I pray You will make that obvious to us as well and bring Your man for us in Your time. Turn the hearts of the team members to follow Your leading alone, purge each of us of worldly wisdom and grant us Your wisdom and discernment. Cause us to love and respect one another.

February 9, 2017

“O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.  I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.  They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.  O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”  Psalm 34:3-8 [NASB]

Lord, I rejoice and magnify You because I know You have answered me and are answering me.  You have clearly miraculously intervened to keep us from getting wrong candidates, now I trust You that You will bring us the man You have chosen.  Turn the hearts of every team member to favor Your man, guard us from every wrong path.  Bring Your man to teach and guide so we may become the church You have created us to be. Bring revival, Lord. Break up fallow ground, turn the soil and plant the seeds for a revival that will transform individual lives, our church and our community. Let it begin with me.

February 10, 2017

 “Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…”  Psalm 37:3-7a [NASB]

Lord, I am resting in You this morning. The desire of my heart and my prayer to You is that You will bring Your man to MZBC and usher in revival.  I commit my way to You.  I desire to obey You and seek Your path every step of the way – teach me and guide me so I may confidently walk in it.  I trust that You will do it!  I rejoice this morning that 1 of the 6 candidates, the one I had no peace about… withdrew! Thank You Lord for answered prayer.  I am resting in You this morning, trusting You to move mountains and I am waiting patiently but with expectancy to see what You do!!

February 13, 2017

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,”  1 Peter 1:22 [NASB]

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:  If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious.”  1 Peter 2:1-3 [KJV]

Lord prepare my heart for search team on Wednesday… Lord, I am battling some anxiety that has crept in about how we will down select from 5 candidates we have resumes from.  Only 2 seem viable to me, but I wrestle with the fact that they are all Your servants and it feels like I am judging them in effect since there is little concrete or black & white reason to eliminate any of them since they all more or less meet the established parameters.  I pray that You will go before me, before us and turn each of our hearts in accordance with Your will.  I specifically pray for [candidate B] and [Candidate C] as they are the only two I feel somewhat drawn to.  Lord, You know my heart and You know I am still drawn to Kevin Moore beyond any other, if he is Your man for us You have at least 5 mountains to move.  Lord, I will resist any temptation of “guile or craftiness” to try and make a way for Kevin. I trust You and You alone to move the mountains to bring him here if he is Your man who passionately loves You and Your Word and will lead us to pursue You relentlessly, do it in such a way that You will receive all glory and all honor and that I will hear Your “yes” without even a shadow of doubt or concern.  Bring revival to MZBC.

February 15, 2017

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,” 1 Peter 1:22 [NASB] 

Lord I praise You for answered prayer, everyone voted to eliminate the men I had no peace about.  We only have 2 candidates left now, really one of primary interest [candidate B] not counting Kevin Moore because his resume was removed [November 6]. I have some concerns about [candidate B], his political posts on social media being the primary one.  Lord I pray that if he is not Your man for us You will quickly and firmly turn his heart away from us.  I continue to lift Kevin up to You, if he is Your man for us, move every mountain in between him and us, bring us to him and him to us in Your perfect time. Turn his heart toward us, draw his family to us.  Block every wrong path, Lord, lead us on a straight and clear path to the man You have chosen for us.

February 16, 2017

“Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.  Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”  1 Peter 2:16-17 [NASB] 

Search team is heavy on my heart this morning.  Lord I have less and less peace about [candidate B].  Not that I doubt he is a good and godly man, I am just concerned I am not hearing a “yes” from You on him.  Lord, I confess I still believe You said “yes” to Kevin and if I am mistaken and You did not but that is blocking me from hearing a “yes” to [candidate B], I ask You to set my heart aright, lead me to where You want me to be.  Give me peace where there is none if [candidate B] is Your man for us.  If Kevin is Your man then I cry out to You pleading for You to bring it to completion…

February 20, 2017

 “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:13-16 [NASB]

Lord, I surrender all to You, I sanctify You as Lord in my heart, I desire to walk in absolute obedience to You. The account of my hope regarding search team is that You tell me if I pray and seek You and Your guidance You will answer.  I know that You desire for us to choose Your man, so I have and continue to beg You to make it absolutely clear to me who that man is. My heart testifies that the “yes” I received for Kevin was more than for a book or a single sermon, but I also recognize the heart is deceitful and it could be my selfish desire.  Therefore I once again surrender it all to You, asking You to purge me, cleanse me and purify me so I can clearly see and hear You as You lead.  Lord, reveal Your man to me leaving no shadow of doubt, just as You did for Samuel I pray You will do it for me. Only You know the heart of a man and only You know the true need of MZBC, so show me the way You want me to walk and I will hasten and not delay to walk in it.  I will stand steadfast and resolutely if You will just show me where to stand.  I long to obey You and walk in the path You have set for us, block every wrong path from us.

February 21, 2017

“Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse.  Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.”  Psalm 150:1-2 [NASB]  

AM – Thank You Lord for Your amazing provision last night… Praise God for unveiling another probable incompatibility in [candidate C – during a phone interview]…  In 3 hours we interview [candidate B]. Lord I surrender this to You as well, I pray that You will make our path very clear and straight regarding him, make it obvious what YOUR choice is. Turn my heart if he is Your man, continue to stir my lack of peace if he is not Your man…

 “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.  Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”  1 Peter 4:7-9 [NASB]

AFTERNOON – Lord give us as a team unity of Your spirit and a fervent love for one another, knit our hearts together.  Cause us to be fervent in prayer as we seek Your face and Your guidance.  Lead us, guide us, teach us, protect us.

 “…Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.  “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  John 16:23b-24 [NASB]

PM – Lord I praise You for Your faithfulness, You removed all peace regarding [candidate B] today, thank You for answering my prayer.  Thank You that I did not have to stand alone, thank You for Your graciousness and mercy toward me in that… Today I choose to believe that the “yes” I heard was to Kevin being the next pastor, turn my heart and correct me if I am wrong.  If Kevin is not Your man for us please bring Your man to us and clearly reveal him to us.  Lord, give me a resounding “yes” so I may obey You with confidence.


After interviews with Candidates B & C we are again down to 0 candidates.


February 25, 2017

 “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;  seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1:2-3 [NASB]

Lord, I praise You that grace and peace are multiplied through knowledge of You. I am so excited and expectant about meeting Kevin Moore tonight.  My heart testifies he is the man You are bringing us but my mind worries I am wrong and will be disappointed.  So, through my knowledge of You I find grace and peace in the wait. If he is Your man You will bring it to pass.  If I have misunderstood and he is not, You have something better in store for us.  Because I know You have heard the cries of the godly at MZBC begging for You to bring Your man and revival, I know You are faithful and will answer and I find grace and peace for the day in that.  I worship You, adore You, and praise You.  Continue to mold and form me into who You have created me to be.


February 26, 2017 – The search team and spouses enjoyed lunch with Kevin Moore. We had opportunity to hear some of his leadership and ministry views, but he never indicated in any way that he was considering resubmitting his name/resume for consideration.  Kevin preached at the MZBC evening service for the launch of the Relentless book study and attended a reception at the church following the service.

Context Note: Because I believe the Lord needs to lead each of the search team members individually to His man, to this point I had not shared my conviction regarding Kevin, or any of my prayer and journey details documented here with any of them.  After lunch one team member stayed a little later with his wife and indicated he felt very drawn to Kevin as well, so I was excited to share a few of the details with him at that time.  I am uncertain how the other three team members feel regarding Kevin.


March 7, 2017 – 4:45 AM

“Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name,  ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'”  Jeremiah 33:2-3 [NASB] 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. …  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:1, 6 [NASB]

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”  Hebrews 11:30 [NASB]

I feel the Lord woke me this morning telling me this is my “Isaac on the Altar” or my “Marching Around Jericho” moment.  Neither of those things “made sense” and it makes no sense at all to believe Kevin will actually come as our pastor – there are still so many mountains in the way.  BUT, I feel challenged by God to believe the word I heard.  I begged God to lead me by clearly saying “No” and “Yes” and I have only heard one “Yes” and it was to Kevin.  I have repeatedly begged God to correct me if I am wrong in my understanding and He has not done it.  So today I choose to believe the Lord has spoken, that He has indeed answered my prayers as I cried out to Him for direction and He has told me mighty (and impossible) things.  I choose faith now, with assurance and conviction I choose to believe You Lord, that You will do what You have spoken.  Let this tiny mustard seed be pleasing to You and let the walls fall as I cry out to You believing what You have spoken to my heart, setting my heart before you in vulnerability as I believe You to have spoken to me and to do the impossible.  I pray Lord, as I go to the [search team] meeting that You will work it all out before me, just as the walls fell without them touching them, let the mountains be cast into the sea through Your touch alone.  Let me remain silent so all glory may be given to You and You alone will be responsible for what will come to be.  Bring Your man to lead Your church, bring Kevin Moore, and through his deep and abiding love for Your Word let us as a body be revived.


March 7, 2017 –  Search team unanimously agreed to contact Kevin to see if God has prompted him to reconsider MZBC.  

Context Note: I was true to my commitment to “remain silent” (above) in that I did not bring Kevin’s name up or try to persuade the team to pursue him.  After about 45 minutes of discussion regarding other options, another team member finally brought his name up indicating he was very drawn to him.  I think it is interesting to note the team member who brought Kevin up had not previously expressed strong interest in him.  The two remaining members were very quick to affirm they already felt led to pursue him as well, so the Lord led each of us individually to pursue Kevin without our influencing one another in any way.


March 9, 2017 –  Kevin responded that he and his wife, Stephanie, have not received God’s call to actively pursue the search process, but at the same time they do not feel His release from continuing to pray about it.

This was a hopeful response to me, they have moved from a strong “no” in November, to now feeling they must continue to pray about it.  Later in the evening I felt prompted to share part of my testimony with them but flatly refused it. Unable to sleep that night, I made lists in my mind of all the reasons not to share it with them.  By the next morning I relented enough to text a few of my prayer partners to request they pray for me as I spent time in the Word and prayer, that I would be certain He was prompting and have the courage and humility to respond in obedience.  After praying more I was convicted one of the primary reasons I was resisting was sinful “fear of man.”  Kevin and Stephanie don’t really know me, will they think I flippantly credit things to the leading of the Lord? Will they think I am crazy, or worse yet, a heretic? What if they think I am trying to manipulate them?  Surrendering those and other fears to the Lord, I opened Relentless to read the morning devotion, Day 10,  where Kevin had written a very timely message, “The psalmist’s commitment to testify before kings is not a reckless aspiration but a calculated determination to trust the Lord.  He knows that he will not ‘be ashamed’ because God is faithful.  If we shrink back from our testimony fearing shame, we will inherit the shame that God would have protected us from had we been faithful.”  Compelled by what I perceived to be a very clear answer, I shared the following testimony with them.

From: Karen Harmening
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 1:43 PM
To: Kevin Moore
Subject: Re: Greetings from Texas

Kevin & Stephanie,
You are so very welcome, Scott and I were delighted that we were able to make good on my offer of the Harmening home always being open to you!

I have a testimony I desperately wanted to share with you on November 22nd, but God clearly told me “no”, and has not released me to do so until now. I have grown so accustomed to my position of silence that I actually prefer it to speaking now and found myself resistant to God’s initial promptings to share last night.  He spoke Proverbs 25:11, a verse I forgot I knew until He spoke it to me at 2 am in the midst of my resisting, and then this morning Psalm 119:46 through the morning devotional of Day 10 in “Relentless”, using your very own words to convict me further. So I am sharing now in what I hope and believe to be a response to His compulsion.

There is so much I could share of what He has done that I found it very difficult to discern which parts specifically He was prompting me to share with you. I have actually maintained a daily journal from which I have transcribed and compiled excerpts that I read regularly to remind me of all the mighty works He has done thus far.  Out of all of them I believe He has given me just two primary testimonies to share.

First, I know He gave you the November 6th “No” for a powerful purpose.  In the two weeks leading up to your withdrawal it became clear to me that there were significant mountains in the way of God bringing you to MZBC.  I fervently interceded during that time pleading with Him to remove them.  November 5th, the night before you withdrew, He clearly impressed on my heart that you were withdrawing. I shared with Scott what He had revealed that night and though I accepted it as His truth, I was very disillusioned as to how this could fit with the ”yes” I knew He had given me.

November 6th-21st proved to be some of the most profoundly impactful days in my journey with Christ and the refining of my faith thus far.  I watched God hurl those mountains into the sea one by one as only He could do, and could be done only through the removal of your name from consideration. I knew then that God used your withdrawal to answer my prayers for Him to remove those daunting mountains.

November 19th Scott told me the Lord had put you on his heart and he believed I needed to pray about you again.  I was reluctant to do so initially, but sought the Lord as Scott encouraged and He clearly led me to persevere in faith with the “yes” He had spoken to me on October 24th.  There are actually a couple more really cool testimonies from this time as well, but I can not possibly share all of them now or I would literally write a book (not that I’m not already writing one)!

Secondly, I believe God wants me to share that He has never released me from the clear “yes” He gave me regarding you. In addition, it is worth knowing that it is the only “yes” He has given me despite the fact that we have come into contact with many wonderful men of God.  At His leading I have interceded for you and Stephanie daily since October 19th, with the exception of the two weeks after you withdrew. He has steadily and consistently been moving mountains all the while. I know beyond any shadow of doubt He has called me to believe Him to bring to pass what He spoke in that clear “yes” He gave me back in October and has continued to confirm to this day.

In sharing this I am not attempting to persuade or manipulate you in any way, to the contrary that concern is actually the root of my resistance to share my testimonies with you.  I believe there are two journeys taking place, that of God leading the team and me on behalf of MZBC and that of God leading you as a shepherd for His people, and I believe that those journeys are somewhat if not completely independent of each other.  At the same time, though, I also wonder if God is prompting me to share so that you can have just a glimpse of the magnitude of what He has been doing here on our journey to make way for His plan to be brought to completion.

I know I am called by God to believe that He is bringing you to MZBC and I am choosing to walk in faith through what has become the equivalent to a 4 month circling of Jericho.   At the same time, I know God’s ways are higher than mine and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that He may not give you a “yes” and bring you, and perhaps He is using this for the testing and refining of my faith.  Either way I long to be obedient to Him and am pressing on in belief of the answer He gave in October until He brings it to pass or releases me from it, I must be found faithful.

I am fervently lifting you and Stephanie up daily.  If you two decide to set aside a specific period of prayer and fasting I would love to partner with you in that, desiring all of us to be squarely in the center of His will, whatever it may be.

Know that Scott’s and my hearts are forever knit to yours regardless of the outcome and are thankful to know you, our precious brother and sister in Christ.

In Him –
Karen

March 11, 2017

Lord I realized I am battling a fear that You are not going to bring Kevin and that if You don’t I will feel like I wasted time and energy believing You for something You would have never intended to do.  I spoke to Scott that it feels so cruel to have to believe it [in order] to obey You when I am scared You are bringing another candidate instead. But in Your graciousness You brought Job to my mind.  I have read and am reminded of who You are, and who I am, and like Job, “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted… therefore I retract, I repent in dust and ashes.” [Job 42:2,6].  Lord, I trust You that as I have consistently pleaded with You to bring Your man, that Your purpose in that will not be thwarted, whether it was the man You commanded me to pray for for 5 months or someone You bring just now. Show me the way to walk and I will do it, make Your path straight before me and make it broad so I will not stumble or fall accidentally – I surrender all to You and trust You fully.

March 13, 2017

 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”  Jude 1:24-25 [NASB]

Lord, I humble myself before You surrendering my concerns and anxious thoughts regarding search team.  You are the one who keeps me from stumbling, You promise to answer when I cry out in accordance with Your will, and I have, so I trust You today to give me discernment to hear Your “yes” and Your “no”,  Lord, please speak it clearly to me. For the sake of Your people, Your church at MZBC, please do not allow me to stumble in this, but keep me in perfect obedience.  I praise you for the promise that I am able to stand in Your presence blameless through the blood of Jesus Christ alone, and that I may stand with joy because Your perfect love has cast out fear [1 John 4:18].  I worship You, giving You all of my praise.  May Your glory, majesty, dominion and authority be made known at MZBC and throughout the world.


March 14, 2017 –  Kevin called George to indicate he and Stephanie feel led to take the next step with MZBC. Phone interview is scheduled for 3/21/17.


March 16, 2017 – A day of fasting and prayer for the Moores and Search Team

Fasting/ Prayer for the Moores & Search Team

“9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” [Col 1:9-12 NASB]

  • Fill them and us with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
  • Enable them and us to walk in a manner worthy of You, to please You in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of You
  • Strengthen them with all power, according to Your glorious might so they can walk in obedience the very challenging course you have set for them
  • Equip them with steadfastness and patience
  • Enable them to joyously give thanks to the You, who have qualified them and us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

“20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  [Heb 13:20-21 ESV]

  • Equip them and us with everything good that we may do Your will
  • Work in them and us clearly revealing that which is pleasing in your sight

“5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”  [Jas 1:5-6 ESV]

  • Grant them and us wisdom, please give it generously
  • Give us confidence in Your faithfulness and leading, remove all doubt from us as we desire to walk in obedience

“5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”  [Pro 3:5-6 NASB]

  • Enable them and us to trust in You with all our hearts, remove any unbelief from us
  • Guard us from our own understanding
  • As they and we acknowledge You, desiring to walk in obedience to You, please make our paths straight

3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” [Jhn 10:3-4 NASB]

  • They and we are Your sheep, let us clearly hear Your voice, speak to us and guide us, we want to follow only Your leading

“8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” [Psa 143:8-10 ESV]

  • Make them and us  know the way we should go, for to You we lift up our souls
  • Deliver them and us from any detours or pitfalls of the enemy, we have fled to You for refuge
  • Teach them and us to do Your will, for You are our God!
  • Let Your good Spirit lead them and us on level ground

31 “As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. 32 For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? 33 It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. [2Sa 22:31-34 NIV]

  • Remind them and us of who You are that we might find peace and rest in You
  • Arm them with strength as they make difficult decisions and keep their way secure
  • Make their feet like the feet of a deer; cause them to stand on the heights as they follow You

March 21, 2017 –  Phone Interview with Kevin. The team unanimously agreed to continue pursuing Kevin as the next Senior Pastor for MZBC and Kevin agreed to continue moving forward as well.


March 23, 2017 –  References received and background checks done

April 7, 2017 – Team met and unanimously agreed to proceed with Kevin Moore by bringing him and Stephanie to Huntsville for in-person interviews.

May 11-12, 2017 – In-person Interviews 

May 20-21, 2017 – Kevin to meet the body of MZBC and preach in view of a call


The end of one journey and the beginning of the next…

As we prepare for Dr. Kevin Moore to come in view of a call as our next senior pastor, the one thing I desire to be exceedingly evident through the sharing of this testimony is the hand of God.  I am confident in our obedience in the selection of Kevin, and I am extremely excited and hopeful about him coming.  However, my hope, confidence and excitement is not in Kevin, it is in God alone.  I did not persist in praying for Kevin for seven months because I thought he was the one, and was then trying to move the hand of God toward him.  I persisted in praying for Kevin because God called me to it and refused to release me from it, it was the result of seeking to understand and obey His leading alone.  When Kevin makes mistakes, as we all do, or when he and I differ or disagree, my confidence and hope will remain unshaken because the One in whom I have placed my confidence and hope is ever faithful and does not make mistakes.

Kevin’s references describe him with high regard as a man of great integrity, a strong expository preacher committed to the accurate handling of the Word, and a pastor committed to loving his congregation deeply.  Though I have only known him a short time, I would be very comfortable echoing that as true.  It is clear he and his wife, Stephanie, are consecrated to the Lord and are willing to sacrifice much to follow God in obedience by coming to MZBC.  I am waiting with great expectancy to see what God has in store for us at MZBC as we lovingly welcome them into our family and unite with them under Kevin’s leadership as the under shepherd of Mount Zion Baptist Church.

 As we anticipate moving forward together I hope you will join me in undergirding Kevin, Stephanie, and their children in prayer as they make this difficult transition.  Pray also for Lamar Baptist Church as they begin the journey we have just completed. And finally, pray with great urgency for revival, ask the Lord to let it begin with each of us individually, that we, the body of believers at Mount Zion Baptist Church,  may become a blazing torch to illuminate the ever increasing darkness “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.”
Psalm 145:1-7 [NASB]

Stand Firm, The Battle Is His

This morning the Lord brought me back to a favorite account in the Old Testament for a fresh Word of encouragement.  The account of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, has been a long standing favorite, but I’ve not thought of its application to recent days until He brought it to mind this morning.  The specific account is found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.  I encourage you to read it in its entirety  and assure you will be blessed.

“Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.  Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).” Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord…” 2 Ch 20:1-3a

Jehoshaphat was afraid.  I can relate, I must admit I’ve been battling a spirit of fear as I look at the bleak prospects of our current national state and future. In the same sentence though, we find Jehoshaphat immediately turned his attention to seek the Lord.  I find this convicting.  While I have offered up prayers that God bring revival and heal our land, I must admit I’ve spent much more time reading the gloom and doom of new tax implications, fraud accusations and political strife and scandal in general.

“…and [Jehoshaphat] proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord. 2 Ch 20:3b

“All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives and their children.” 2 Ch 20:13

God’s people followed Jehoshaphat’s lead, fasting and seeking God together.  I can see them standing there, fearful, babies in arms and children hanging on to their legs.  They came together and cried out to God in one voice. Oh, how we need to do the same.  The cry they lifted to God rings of what I believe ours should as well.

“For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 2 Ch 20:12b

As I read the choices our nation has voted in favor of, the decisions our elected leaders are making and implementing, I recognize I am powerless to change it.  I’ve voted, I’ve spoken truth and taken stands where appropriate, but beyond that I am powerless.  My powerlessness does not equal hopelessness, though.  Like the people of Judah, let us fix our eyes on God.

God answered when the people of Judah sought him.

 “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.  Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel.  You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Ch 20:15-17

The decisions being made in our nation are against God and His ways.  Like Judah, we are called to stand, which many of us have done and are doing.  But the encouragement comes in knowing ultimately the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah took God at His word.  Their response to His word was to immediately bow, worship and praise God.  Early the next morning they left for the desert, this is my favorite part of the account:

“Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”21 When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving kindness is everlasting.” 2 Ch 20b-21

That gives me goose bumps every time!  Jehoshaphat and the people chose to put the choir in front of the army! Ahead of the army the choir is marching and singing “Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving kindness is everlasting.” Awesome, powerful, moving faith.  It gets even better, though:

“When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.  For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroyingthem completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped.” 2 Ch 20:22-24

While the people were praising God, He was fighting the battle for them.  Victory was theirs as they stood and praised Him.

God has already assured us the victory as well, we have victory through the blood of Christ Jesus.  The battle is already won!  Though circumstances in our nation may change, we stand secure knowing we are His. God has already answered our cries, before we even asked.  The entire Bible stands as His Word of encouragement for us.  Now after we’ve humbled ourselves before Him, seeking His face, all we have to do is stand firm.  As Jehoshaphat and Judah have shown us, praising as you stand makes it even better!

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”  1 Cor 15:1-2

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.” 1 Cor 16:13-14

” Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,  set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Cor 1:21-22

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph 6:13

“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:8

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Can they tell I’ve been with Jesus?

Just a thought to share for today… Reading through Acts this morning, I was struck afresh by a familiar verse, Acts 4:13.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

It struck me that what astonished the rulers, elders and teachers of the law in Jerusalem was not Peter and John’s eloquence of speech, their impressive articulation of theology or any other quality these men of stature would generally find impressive.  It was, rather, their courage.  Peter and John had absolute confidence and faith in Christ which gave them courageous spirits as they testified to The Truth.  They were unschooled, ordinary men sold out for Jesus and boldly proclaiming His truths.

How I long for people to see Jesus in me.  May I leave them thinking, “she has been with Jesus.”  Like Moses, may my countenance reflect His glory in radiance from basking in His presence (Ex. 34:29).  When I am called to testify for my Lord, may I answer like Peter and John, that I “cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  On this journey with Him, I have seen His mighty and gentle hand at work and heard His voice time and again, may I never cease to share Him, His ways and His wonders.

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,  but a spirit of power,  of love and of self-discipline.

8 So do not be ashamed   to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.   But join with me in suffering for the gospel,   by the power of God, 9 who has saved  us and called  us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done  but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” 2 Timothy 1:8-9

13 We know   that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify   that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,   God lives in him and he in God.  1 John 4:13-15

Jesus prays for me?

Though I thought this blog was a thing of the past, I am so moved by the simple truth the Lord struck me with this morning, I am compelled to share it.  As I read through Luke 22, a previously unhighlighted (i.e. unappreciated) verse leapt off the page at me.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

Recalling the story of Job, and knowing that Satan our adversary is as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), I was not surprised by Satan’s asking to sift Peter. What struck me so profoundly was Jesus’ statement, “but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (vs. 32). Jesus, our eternal Lord and Savior prayed for Simon Peter by name. He knew Simon Peter was going to stumble and He was interceding on his behalf, that his faith would be strengthened. The simple yet profound truth that our precious Jesus intercedes for me personally as I struggle to follow Him in obedience overwhelmed me this morning. Immediately more of His Word flooded my heart and mind, affirming its truth.

 “but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25

He always, perpetually, continually, consistently, constantly, eternally lives to intercede for you and me, what an awesome blessed truth!  As I struggle with discouragement as I regularly stumble and fall while seeking to walk with Him, he is praying for continual strengthening of my faith, ensuring the success of my journey with Him.

Just as He told Peter, I am also reminded of our responsibility to be transparent with one another, sharing with, testifying to and encouraging one another for mutual strengthening. Jesus instructed Peter, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (vs 32). Our testimony of Christ’s redemption and restoration from our failures is to be used for the strengthening of our brothers and sisters.

What a blessed truth to start this week with, Jesus prays for me! I pray you are equally blessed by that truth today.

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

Perseverance and Redemption

I’m studying through Genesis again and once again I’ve been captivated by the unfolding of His word.  I’ve read the account of Leah countless times and missed it every time, that is until this morning.  The Holy Spirit turned it as a precious gem revealing yet another facet.

Jacob has just worked seven years to earn the right to marry Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel.   After the wedding night he discovers he was given Leah, the older, presumably less attractive sister of Rachel.    Seven days later he is given Rachel as well.   The compassionate heart aches for Leah as she’s seen married through trickery and unloved by her husband.  It is quickly revealed that our surpassingly compassionate Father is not unaware of her plight:

 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”  Genesis 29:31-32

Leah, longing for the affection of her husband, is hopeful the birth of a son will win it but she is undoubtedly soon to be disappointed.  Leah longs to be loved, and still it is withheld from her.  A second and third time she is hopeful that through giving him sons Jacob’s heart will be turned to her.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.  Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.  Genesis 29:33-34

At this point something very interesting happens, it’s the facet I’ve missed every other time:

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah.  Then she stopped having children.  Genesis 29:35

Leah’s focus has changed, she’s shifted from pining for the affection of her husband to praising her God.  Pay close attention to who this son is, “Judah.”  Lest you miss it, remember our Lord and savior is the “Lion of Judah” born from the line of Judah.  Jacob didn’t choose Leah, but God chose Leah for an awesome blessing.  Her earthly eyes didn’t see it’s fulfillment, but I’m certain her heavenly eyes have.  Through her we are given our precious Savior.  Her focus shifted from her earthly desires to her heavenly Father and she is found in a place of honor, loved by her Father and playing a role to usher in the Savior of the World.   

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.   For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Lord I thank you for the unfolding of your Word, for your faithfulness to meet us every day and teach us through the guiding of your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for recording and preserving this beautiful account of your unchanging character and love.  May my focus always be set on you, that you may use me for your glory. 

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
       he rises to show you compassion.
       For the LORD is a God of justice.
       Blessed are all who wait for him!  Isaiah 30:18 

Counted Worthy

After a lengthy sabbatical from blogging my quiet times, I’m compelled to blog this morning’s.  I’m in Acts now, taking a break from my Old Testament study and journeying through the New Testament once again for the past few months.  This morning I’m in Chapter 5, I was so stirred by the familiar words of verse 41, that I couldn’t resist the urge to blog them.

  “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”  Acts 5:41

Prior to this verse the apostles had been flogged for proclaiming the name of Jesus, now we find them rejoicing over the hardship they’ve just endured.  In previous years this verse hasn’t resonated in quite the way it does presently.  Watching the political and cultural shifts in our nation is understatedly alarming.  While we’re not yet at the point of being flogged for our faith (by officials), we are very much at the point of being told not to speak of our Savior.  I’ve watched the unfolding decline of our nation with a heavy heart.  But, in recent days, I’ve become very convicted that these are the days our testimony speaks.  When it costs something to stand up for Jesus, people will listen.  When we pay a price to stand up for Jesus our faith is forged as we experience His sustaining grace through the trial.  The days ahead will be days of refining, lukewarm will no longer be an option.  In preparation, we must heed the words of Joshua:

   14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:14-15.

If we are truly His, when ordered not to speak of Him, like the apostles we must proclaim :

 18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”   Acts 4:18-20

 May my soul pant for him, that I may be fully committed to Him, surrendered in spirit that I may act in obedience, without delay, doing whatever He calls me to do.  When I have obeyed, may I have a spirit that rejoices over having had the opportunity to serve no matter the cost.  May I be counted worthy.

 13″Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”  1 Peter 3:13-17

Chosen In Him… Elatedly Elect!

Recently several friends have asked me to share my understanding of election.  I have been very tentative in doing so, and will very cautiously attempt to provide a brief outline of my beliefs here.  I find it very difficult to discuss election alone, so I will include aspects of depravity, grace and atonement as well.  Bear in mind, I do not claim to be a theologian nor an eloquent author; just an ordinary woman seeking to know Him better.

For a clearer understanding from a theologian’s presentation, read the statement of beliefs on Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s website here.

This is neither intended to persuade nor ignite heated debate; it is purely a brief statement of my beliefs for those who have asked.  Disclaimers in place, here it goes…

I believe our elect status is determined by our position in Christ.  For example, looking at Ephesians 1: 3-8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

We are chosen “in Him” – that is through our relationship with Jesus Christ.   Our Sovereign God, omniscient and unbound by time – seeing the end from the beginning, knew before the creation of the world that man as He created Him, a free moral agent, would choose disobedience, sin and ultimately death.  So, before the foundation of the world He chose His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the perfect sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world (1 Peter 1:20).  At that time God predestined that all who turn and believe in the Son unto salvation would receive the gift of new life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit granted by God’s grace.  God freely offers this gift to all mankind, drawing all to him through Holy Spirit conviction, and the presentation of the gospel message from the Living Word of God (John 12:32; John16:8-11; Romans 1:16-17). Just as in the Old Testament, He sets before each of us life and death, and tells us to choose accordingly (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).  As Charles Stanley often says, “What will you do with Jesus?”  Your answer to Jesus is your choice of life or death.  Accept or reject, it’s up to you to decide (John 5:24; John 3:35-36).   Salvation is by grace, through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  The”work” that brings salvation is believing (John 6:29).  “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:25-26

While I do believe He calls all men unto Himself, I also believe a person’s unbelief and repeated rejection of His offer may result in spiritual hardening (Hebrews 3:7-19).  The hardened unbeliever may be spiritually blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthinas 4:4). If they die spiritually blinded, they will indeed perish, but it is the result of their unbelief and willful rejection of Him (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).  I take courage and persist in praying passionately for our unsaved loved ones, knowing that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)  We know that it is His desire that none should perish, and that everyone would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  So, we may approach His throne boldly, praying within His will, and on their behalf that He will orchestrate circumstances to bring them to a place of brokenness, and that He will open their blinded eyes so that they may see The Way and repent (John 15:22-24).   

In the New Testament it is clear that man’s final condemnation unto death is the result of his rejection of Jesus Christ. Knowing that God’s character is unchanging, and He Himself proclaims His kindness, justice, and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-24), it certainly seems a contradiction to damn much of mankind for not believing in a plan they were never given the ability to believe in.   If men are so blinded by their total depravity that only through a regenerating work of God can they see their need for Him and call upon the name of Jesus, certainly those who remain blind because they were not given the ability to see would not be found guilty.  Christ himself says in John 9:39-41:

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”  Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”  Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

And similarly in John15:22-24:

 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.

Another contradiction arises when we look at the efficacy of the sin of Adam in comparison to redemption through Christ.  Why would sin enter through Adam condemning all, but the blood of Jesus be spilled and not atone for all?  Examining Romans 5:18-19, it doesn’t fit to say that salvation is only available to a select few individuals specifically chosen in advance.

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19

It seems very clear here, just as sin entered through Adam, bringing condemnation for all; so also life is made available to all through Christ.  It clearly states that Christ’s death, being the one act of righteousness, brings life for all men. Meaning all men are given the right to life, and the opportunity to become son’s of God, being made righteous through belief in Christ (John 1:12).  Not all are made righteous, because not all choose Him, but many will be made righteous through faith in Him.

I stand in awe of His plan for us, the elect, the chosen, the redeemed children of God.  I rejoice in  knowing there is room for all at the foot of the cross, if only they will believe.  As I look at my precious children, I am confident their fate is not predetermined.  It is certainly foreknown by Him, but not predetermined by Him.  I will raise them as He has instructed me, training them in the admonition of Him, we will discuss Him and His ways throughout the day (Deuteronomy 11).  I praise Him that I can have full confidence that Christ paid their sin debt, enabling them to be reconciled to Him, our Holy God, if only they will believe.  Prayers of this mother will rise daily, that He will draw them in, revealing Himself clearly to them so they will choose to cling to Him alone.  In the end if they reject Him, I’m left knowing He gave them every opportunity to receive salvation.  His Word clearly tells me He loves them, draws them and has predestined that if they believe in Christ they have the right to become sons (and daughters) of God.

There are many more passages that could be quoted and arguments that could be made.  I’ve presented a few that are most prominent in my mind, answering the original question as to what I believe.  Having acknowledged the disagreement on election, I will also acknowledge my choice to respect those who are committed to a belief in Unconditional Election.  They are certainly able to argue their perspective, and I believe time has proven we won’t agree on the correct interpretation this side of heaven.  So from here, the best thing we can do is agree to disagree.  As passionately as I am convicted on this issue, I am mortified by the attitudes I see displayed on blogs all across the internet.  This is a critical doctrine, worthy of much discussion and debate, but it must always be done in love and with respect.  Jesus’ parting words to us include the following:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

May our words always reflect our love for one another, that the world may see His love in us and know that we are His.