Replacement Theology

Open your hearts to understanding. Allow the Lord to go deep and don’t avoid letting light into dark places in your soul. There are things that have been hidden that have to be revealed to heal and mend. God wants to heal and restore MORE than you can imagine. He’s uprooting every stronghold of abandonment and replacing it with sisterhood, fatherhood, and brotherly love. The Lord is healing emotions as he does this. Allow him in. It’s not introspection, it’s “replacement theology”. As you allow yourself to see the ungodly spirits and mindsets that have been at work in your life and your family, listen for what God wants to replace that with. Decree those life giving words over your soul until they sink in and find their place. Trust God in the process. He is with you. 

Suggested reading: 1 John 3

(Excerpt from The Passion Translation) “… 3 And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.”

Are the Waves Rocking Your Boat?

I just spent the last two weekends at youth conferences. The Holy Spirit moved mightily in spaces he created and in full power when invited openly. There were mountaintop moments. More of these are to come for people. Yet, in the middle of that, there were afflictions trying to steal joy and attention. Afflictions cause us to examine what we believe. They cause us to have to choose what we will choose to believe.

Afflictions often attack our area of strength or joy. For example, my knee started hurting a few months ago after just sitting on the floor DURING prayer and worship time. It just felt out of whack. When I was to go with the students to a conference where there would be dancing and joy, it acted up the week before to the point where I could barely walk! So I did the opposite of what seemed logical. I chose to exercise. It got better that night for a while. I got prayer. One woman saw me dancing and new knee parts coming. I praised God for that, but it wasn’t going to come at that moment. Yet, I danced at the youth conference. It got more sore at the next one. AND, the Holy Spirit moved in powerful ways through each of these things. I got more prayer. A student was overcome with a spirit of intercession and saw the battle raging against me. It was intense. This battle is over more than a knee, or your health. In Mark 4, we read of Jesus and the disciples on a boat in a storm. During the storm, Jesus was able to sleep in the boat. Waves are crashing in to them, yet he is sleeping. What kind of mindset is that?!

Jesus knew that when he rose, when he chose to stand up, he would be able to speak and calm the storm, yet he felt no urgency to do it right away. He wasn’t worried the storm would kill him.

I think I need to say that again. Jesus wasn’t worried that the storm would kill him. Yet, The disciples faith was challenged as the boat rocked. They saw what was happening in the natural realm and forgot that nothing could touch them because they were with Jesus. It was not HIS time to die. We get so caught up in the swirl of the moment that we forget the big picture! Look at the big picture of your life. Look at your purposes and promises. Nothing has changed. You may be frustrated or disappointed but God’s not worried.

One of my son’s, Jack, was at the last conference and last night we had a powerful move of the Holy Spirit in our midst, mountain moving. When he got back last night he fell off of his friend’s hover board and hurt his wrist badly. I believe God tried to warn me, but I forgot the word for him I had “choose wisely”. Jack has a strange habit of laughing when he’s in pain. He belly laughs. This gift of JOY is Jack’s strength. Last night he said, “When I get hurt, I usually laugh. This time, I only let out a chuckle,” he said with concern. There is temptation to worry! That is the scheme of the enemy, but God says, “Trust me and have joy in the midst of this.” He is still our healer. He still carries our infirmities and diseases. He is still on the throne. But we must face our fears. Will you let your life situations rock your boat?

The disciples were not new to storms at the sea. They were fisherman, AND they were with Jesus. Maybe this storm was BIGGER than all the rest because Jesus WAS so close. Yet, what did they look at? Did they look at Jesus with peace? No, they were overcome by the tossing of the boat and the water in it. Jesus said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Matthew 4:40)

I believe that Jesus is SO close to us. I’ve seen him fully present in power in the last two weeks, yet I’ve also seen storms hitting people to draw their attention to the enemy’s work. He’s desperate to get a little worship because God is getting SO MUCH! Our king is on the throne and he’s not getting off!

When the area we take the most joy in is removed, or threatened, how will we react?

One of my greatest joys is dancing in worship and the other is kneeling to pray. When I do each of those lately, I feel the affliction. Where will my attention be? Will I continue to fix my eyes on what God is doing in the moment, or will I be consumed with thoughts of lack, or even a thought about the affliction. I know God will heal it, he always has. He’s faithful to the end, but how will I react in the waiting?

Will I trust him and go forward with the things I need to do? Yes.

God, our Father, is for us. He is FOR us. He’s not waiting on the sidelines, watching us be destroyed. He’s active in the midst of us saying, look at what I AM doing. Celebrate it! Don’t let your troubles keep you in a bubble. I’m your DADDY. Do you think I’ll fail you? Trust me in EVERY circumstance. Submit where you need to submit and let me lead.

I believe control is being challenged in this season. There are remnants of control we still have to surrender. We want things to happen a certain way, but we have to believe we are in the hands of God no matter what our circumstance.

One thing this knee affliction has just reminded me of is that I cannot kneel right now, I am forced to STAND UP. Have faith that when you stand up and exercise your faith, the storm will cease. When many of us stand up and exercise our faith, the devil will find out that we really do believe he is defeated. It’s time to rule and reign as the children of God. Children are meant to play and enjoy the works of their Father. He delights over his children! Realize today, that God is delighting over you and set your mind to delight in him and in those around you.

Remember the disciples in the boat? They could have reacted differently. They could have seen the storm and said, “Praise God, Jesus is in the boat. Nothing can touch us. But, they let their minds and emotions get tossed by the wind and they looked away from Jesus. He was still in the boat, SO NEAR.

Scripture reading suggestions: Mark 4:35-41, Acts 3:1-10

Pray with me:

Thank you Jesus for your abiding love. It goes where we go and stays where we stay. Help us to remain in it and not let our hearts wander into the camp of fear and distraction. I will not fear death. I will not focus on the storm. I will speak to it and stay calm. I will not worry about what I think I might miss out on. I will not lament over what I didn’t get. I will live fully present in the moment so I can see where you are hovering and working around me. I will not be overcome. I will be calm in the boat and rest until I need to stand up and speak.

I believe you God, that you will fulfill all you have spoken. I will stand in faith. I will trust you to heal my every affliction and I will not let it become my identity.

I thank you Father that Your joy is our strength! We can have it no matter what the circumstance! No matter where we are! We can rest in storms and have faith when waves hit us. Wherever we have to go, your light will shine through us. Nothing is impossible with you. Thank you that you are with us in our every destination. Keep our eyes on the opportunities that can happen in every moment of the day. We praise you for your enduring love and steadfast connection to your children. Thank you Daddy! You’re the best! In Jesus’s name. Amen!

Living Above the Muck in Life

This week so many anxious thoughts tried to keep me occupied in busyness. My son is graduating this weekend, I have a large party with an unknown number of people coming and family coming to stay the weekend. On top of that, my husband is the preacher of the weekend at church. On those weeks, it usually becomes apparent what the theme of the message is. This week it is “God is my Defense”. The accuser was busy this week! Whether there are old lies pelting your mind, or human beings rising up in accusation against you, God is there as our defense.

I didn’t think I was really “actively” worrying, but I was constantly thinking about the details and could not rest in the moment. My son called it out when he said, “Mom, you need to take a bath.” I used to take a bath when I needed to have some alone time with God to relax. So I asked him why he said that. He said, “I see the word STRESS on your forehead.” I asked God, “Ok, I’m obviously not managing this as well as I think I am so what is the strategy you need me to adopt to keep myself in the moment and in a state of joy?

This is how I moved past it and into a state of productivity and joyful accomplishment again. I thought it may be helpful to share for others.

1) I recognized that sinking was not an option. My neck and shoulders were tight with stress and that would lead to a headache, so it had to stop. I had to let that heavy yoke go somehow. I could not afford a day of rest so I ran to God and prayed,

Lord, take this heavy yoke off of me and give me your yoke. Your yoke is easy and your burden light, so I release myself of every other yoke that is on my shoulders. Take the weight off! In Jesus’s name.

2) When I have no strength of my own, and feel weary, the joy of the Lord is my strength, so I listened to preachers who preached out of pure joy in the Lord and HAD joy. (Georgian Banov) I could choose joy and believe that God was the same today as he was yesterday. He was not worried. I was filled with the Holy Spirit yesterday, the week before and today and tomorrow will be the same. He is constantly with me. The devil was defeated at the cross and so he’s old news. He lives to get attention and that’s his primary weapon. I realized that again. The devil has been given a sentence of destruction and he’s only living out his time here. I saw Jesus bring a big foot down to the earth and crush all the things that opposed Him. Yes, everyone is under his feet.

3) I met with a friend who was thinking in a forward direction, even though she was having accusation come against her. She knew it was temporary and realized that the good that had just happened in her life often invited the enemy to try to steal that joy away. So we focused on the things God was doing and wanted to do! We left excited. Remembering the testimonies and focusing on what God is doing in our midst already is powerful and redirects our mind to the truth that God is answering our prayers even when we don’t remember.

4) When the voice of the accuser or the worry wart came at me, I just stopped and declared how worthy and good God was. I focused on adoration and prayed in tongues. I let God pray for me before any words of my own filled my lips. If you don’t have that gift of the Holy Spirit yet, ask him!

Luke 11:13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit. In Acts we see examples of the apostles gathering together, being filled afresh and going out again. This is what we do to survive in this world. Come to God. Submit to his presence. Tongues is a way to let God pray for you as he knows best. We don’t have to know all the details of the problem at hand, or the reasons for the accusations. Isn’t that freeing! We don’t have to figure it all out ourselves.
As I prayed in tongues, my mind cleared and wisdom and knowledge came to me.

5) Avoid comparison – It’s graduation party season and I could easily be tempted to compare how well I celebrated as I went to everyone else’s party. Did I decorate enough? Was the food ok? No. I am to celebrate out of who I am, to love my son with the gifts I have, not the gifts others have. There is not a right way to have a graduation party. There is not a right way to have a wedding, a family reunion or any get together. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Live and be thankful for how God has moved in your own heart to bless. Be content with that. Focus on loving and doing good. Your own troubles will find their way to the door. Keep loving others in the midst of your own “mess”. Whether its a medical situation, work or tasks, it can be done as a offering to the Lord.

6) Avoid guilt – Do what God gives you permission to do. Be at peace about that. Many crises will rise up in the midst of busyness. Watch for distractions that will derail the things that you need to really accomplish. Know your place to accomplish the greatest good and what has to be put in God’s hands. He is a good manager of people, so let him. Don’t react and pridefully think you are the answer to everyone’s problems. Sometimes we are to be help, and at times, we help to much. Don’t think you need to help God too much. He’s the Savior, you are not.

6) Keep your PERSPECTIVE! Be content in all circumstances. Look at what there is to be thankful for and praise God for it as a PATTERN of defense against all the stresses of the world.

You are loved and God is fighting for you. He’s not worried. He gives you permission not to be. Go love and know you are loved. In Jesus’s name, Amen

What is Knocking at Your Window?

Have you ever had a sign that makes you wonder? This is what I have been seeing at my window for the last four days, all day. He goes from window to window, depending on where we are, tapping and trying to get in. When my kids were small, we always hoped of attracting an Oriole as a backyard bird. When we saw one flit by it was a rare treat. Now, this coveted, beautiful bird is pursuing US.  He seems not to care about what else is going on in the world. He seems to have nothing that distracts him from his purpose of sitting at our window, singing and tapping.

A window is a prophetic symbol. I believe the things we have been pursuing are now right at hand, in plain view. This bird is normally seen flitting high in the tree tops, but he will occasionally come down for an orange or for sweet nectar.  The color black is the color of the tribal stone for the tribes of Joseph, and his sons Ephraim and Mannasah. It is a color of double blessing. The double blessing comes through death to our selves. When we allow God to be a consuming fire in our lives we are transformed like wood is to ashes. There is a chemical change. There is no going back. As ashes, a symbol of death, we become fertilizer for the garden God is planting around us. God humbles us through the fire of our lives until we let go.

After the fire comes the glory. In surrender, we begin to see like Jesus, to have the mind of Christ. Utterly submitted to death, Jesus gave up his spirit, but he never lost hope. He didn’t see death as the end but always saw from a heavenly viewpoint. Jesus, like the oriole, usually has a much higher perspective because he dwells in heavenly places. Yet he came low so we could get to know his ways and what God really was like. I’ve learned from this bird, that when it flies away for a moment, it ends up on another window, looking for another way to get in.  How long has Jesus been knocking at my door, wanting to sit with me and dwell with me? You may be able to imagine how tempting it is to let this bird in. He is so cute! His colors so vibrant and his persistence is amazing and inspiring. Yet, I know that when if I let him in, my house would get a little messy. When people who are not like us need to come into our lives, it can be a little messy too.  What is he “calling” us to do right now? What is knocking at our window that God wants us to let in? I know this bird will not stay forever. It will move on if we never respond. We can resist the beautiful things God has for us by holding to our fear of messy or of the unknown.

In the distance of the picture above, you’ll see I have a large pen.  This week it was also Emancipation Day for four little chicks and three turkey poults who graduated from their brooding nest in the basement and had never enjoyed the outside.

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Previously, when we have gotten chicks, we bought like kinds, all the same of what seemed to be the best producers. But this year I picked what I always wanted, variety! The little silver chick will lay olive eggs, the white is one known for being friendly and a good mother, the orange bird has PERSONALITY! And the one who’s a little larger and not seen well here is a Rhode Island Red, a reliable producer with a strong heritage. You see, we need all kinds. It makes life more interesting. It’s also easier to give names to birds who are all unique. I haven’t decided on the perfect names yet but they are the cutest chicks EVER!

As I write, the oriole is jumping from window pane to window pain singing and trying to get close. There is a lot of bird activity going on at our house right now! I’ve had two dreams recently where a variety of animals appeared. In one, I went to feed the ducks and a cow bent down and put his face in the water. I don’t have a cow! I love cows, but the thought of having a cow is a little scary, messy – literally. The next night wild birds appeared in the silver trough where we were raising the three little turkeys, all living together. Now, this bird shows up.

In fact, if you want to talk about different, check out these little turkey poults.

FFEAF6C6-0F80-4CA8-94C8-30E5D70645FAThese three moved to their new pen with the little chickens. They are currently separated so that the turkeys can have a different feed, but they seem to want to be in with the little hens. They don’t know they are different species. They just know they are all birds. I pray we all come to believe like that about each other. We are all different, but we are all children of God and belong together in a flock.

My world is getting interesting on this little five acre corner of the world, yet in each thing I write about here, I see that God is really giving me the desires of my heart and teaching me so much about his ways.

We are soon to get the ducks I once thought would be perfect. That is another story, but the pair of the breed I originally wanted popped up on Craigslist nearby and now, we will have peace at the pond, and fewer snails and bugs in the garden.

Whatever the desire of your heart is, I pray you see God is bringing it to you. It is not far off. It is up close.

Revelation 3:19-20

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

This verse is so often quoted and it can sound so common that we brush it off. How many times have I heard the same things from God and not acted? Far too many. Now, He has come close to speak loudly to me. As I read the whole section in context, it’s a loud message to me.  God measures us with HIS standard, not ours. We can justify what we do or don’t do with many little excuses, but now, He has come close. He is coming close again.

How is God speaking to you?

Will you listen?

Will you open the door?

Will you let him come in?

It may be messy… yes.. but how beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news.

Great things are prepared!

Come to the table!

I see a big banquet table covered in a white table cloth. There is nothing yet on it, but I feel a sense of expectancy as I see all the clean space waiting to be filled with good things. It’s time to expect that God will do great things right in front of us. He is willing and able! Just come sit at the table and wait for him.

This morning I am sitting on my couch re-reading “The Hungry Always Get Fed” by Heidi and Roland Baker. There is a page of photos. In each, there is a photo of Heidi with “one”, one person. There is one of Heidi with a girl named Kakala, a deaf mute all her life, now speaking and hearing. I can’t help but put my hand on the picture and thank God for what happened in that “one”. What a difference a Jesus moment made to that one person! That one life will change other lives.

I was sort of swooning in the moment of what God could do as I put my hand on her picture, and looked for a place to set my coffee cup down. My Bible was nearby so I put my cup on it.  Then I stopped, “No”, and I moved the cup to the coaster.  I picked the Bible up, stared at it, and a fresh perspective came to me. “This isn’t the end. It’’s only the beginning.”

Somehow, for some reason, we can get the idea in the church that it’s all about knowing the Bible, that knowing it perfectly is the “end” of our faith and finishing, but no, it is only the beginning. The Bible is just the launch pad to greater things. It is the beginning of a movement that founded the world. It launches us to love the one who needs a miracle, who needs to meet love. Without it, we woudn’t understand what it looked like in the beginning, but with it, we see a willing God full of power, love, mercy and joy, willing to help his children out of any mess they make if they come to him. He is our refuge, our ever-present help in times of trouble, the miracle-working God who breaks chains and changes the world by instilling hope, sometimes one face at a time.

Through these encounters, we multiply, by loving the one who needs love in the middle of a crowd of people, just – that – one, that desperate one. 

Our encounter with the God of new beginnings and Jesus, his Son, changes everything. He makes us NEW. He is not patching up our old man, our old self. He makes us new. We are re-born as a new creation, not reincarnated until we get it right. No, our God, our loving Jesus, saves us from what our old man, our old nature, and puts HIS nature in us. He give us HIS capacity to love beyond all human ability. It is uncontained, uncontrolled, wild and free – and perfect.

John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Can’t this just be OVER! Where’s my JOY

“‘And a Redeemer wil come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,’” declares the Lord.” Isaiah 59:20

Have you ever been in a situation where you seemingly had no control over what would happen and in the middle of it, there was just a lot of hard stuff to deal with.  It could be a child who has problems, or a parent who is very ill. It may be a job you can’t seem to progress in and no new job is in sight. It could just be a feeling of solitude or isolation, an awareness that you are not where you could be, but you can’t get out of where you are. You can’t force the end of it and there seems to be no end date.

In prayer lately, as we’ve entered into strong worship, several people have said to me that they have seen a vision of a crack in the floor, a chasm. One said there was a wedge of sin, holding the crack open.

Last night I woke up around 2:00 a.m. and was bothered, unsettled. I’d spent the last evening leading a prayer session where we looked at Jesus and the cross and let him reveal our hearts and what was in them. I got up, took my Bible and journal and went to listen for God to show me the way out of it. I hear God speak scripture references to me as I pray and I follow them like a healthy rabbit trail.  I heard Psalm 43.

“For you are the God in whom I take refuge, why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning becuase of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and truth and let them lead me.; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy…”

Would God reject us? Didn’t Jesus pay for that? That seemed contrary to the message of “grace” as we often hear it. Like a child, I wanted to know the full picture and all the details. Verse 5 says, “Why are you downcast O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him…”  Yes, I could feel the downcast soul of his people. I prayed, “Help me understand why?” Don’t we always want to know this! If not, we SHOULD!

The Lord quickly directed me to “Isaiah 59” and it begins, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear, but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear….According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies..”

The GOOD NEWS is that the Lord himself, brought salvation. He saw no man who could fill the gap, the chasm that sin left, so his own arm brought salvation. (V. 16-17). Jesus came with a righteousness as a helmet that guarded his mind from the evil of this world, and put on vengeance and zeal. This is our Savior, our Redeemer! He did this for us. He came to be an offering to the LORD himself. Now, to be like him, we have to become an offering as well, a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1)

The question is HOW are we redeemed and how do we receive the FULL measure of what God has for us?

After we read of this glorious Redeemer, verse 18 shows what he actually still does,  “According to their deeds, so he will repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies…” 

Aren’t we all God’s children? Surely WE would not be his enemies anymore, right? ”But aren’t we in the New Covenant?” you may ask. Yes, the New Covenant exists and is available for us to enter into. Yet how do we enter into the Kingdom Jesus said is “at hand” or “near”. In the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus, in his blood, all sin is atoned for, paid for, but we have free will to choose to sin and that is where we actually become enemies of God, double minded.

Jesus had a really clear message. As soon as Jesus was led out of the wilderness, the first thing he preached was, “REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR.” To repent means to turn away from sin with remorse and not return to it. We have to FEEL the pain of repentance for it to come from the heart. We have to understand the depth of our sin and where and why we have made ourselves enemies of God. There is a lot of stuff we have as part of our “personality” that is really sin, judgement and bitterness. It’s just true. We empower it one action at a time until it a stronghold of the enemy in our soul. This is where the struggle comes from. What keeps us from repeating those sins is not our own fears, but fear of the LORD. He is to be feared. If we see how powerful he is, we will not only fear him but feel secure IN him.We will know the security of being children of a mighty God! A MIGHTY GOD.

It’s hard to admit that we could “love” Jesus and be enemies of God, but when we tolerate the work of his adversary in our lives, we are used to prosper evil in the world. The evil empowers the kingdom of darkness, and the devil is still the enemy of God, so which side are we on? Do we really love Him and how much? Enough to give up ANYTHING that is not part of God’s kingdom? Even our right to be right.

Can we be on two sides at the same time? Can a house divided against itself stand? Jesus said no. We are God’s house, in our own bodies, and in the church. Right now God is looking for every opportunity to “deliver us” from evil. Deliverance is literally a birthing of the evil and it takes help from God and sometimes prayer from others. But in these days, God is working so powerfully, showing us things about ourselves we haven’t been able to “see” before and freeing us as we yield. It feels yucky, like transition and sometimes in birth we feel stuck and it’s painful. The thing I learned after having several births is that birth doesn’t happen in resistance, it happens in yielding, in allowing ourselves to let go and to relax, even in the midst of pain.

I was asking God for understanding and saw this scene. There were two lenses, like the type you’d fix on the front of a camera. One was over each of my eyes. A hand was adjusting the opening, the shutter, and more light was coming in. I began to wince, to shudder, drawing back, perhaps as I would when you come out into the bright sunshine after being in the dark, but I wanted to run. I put my hands up to block it, but the light didn’t go away.

The eye is the window to the soul and God is urging us to let him shine light into the darkest recesses of our soul, and for a good purpose! Yet, he is patient. Most of us are pretty resistant to this process, so it can take a long time and repeated sessions. He opens the shutter and lets some light in, lets us see our ways and his kindness leads us to repentance. This makes room for more light, more wisdom, more capacity, for confidence. All the things that have been stollen from you by the enemy are defeated in this process. When you are ready to listen again, and ask, God opens the shutter on the lens and more light comes in. You wince less, because you’ve tasted the freedom that came from the process last time. As this process repeats, more and more light can flood your soul and there is room for joy, real joy! Depression flees, addiction flees, co-dependency finds another home and love fills your soul.

Because God wants us to walk in Isaiah 60, we have to go through Isaiah 59. Our Redeemer came preaching repentance. When he healed the sick, he said, “Go, sin no more lest something worse happen to you.” It is our choice to partner with sin and we still reap consequences.

If you want to be unstuck, be still and let some light shine in your soul. Jesus is coming for a spotless bride. That’s why we wear white at a wedding! Jesus gives us a robe of righteousness that he earned. Our only tasks are to love him with all of our heart. A bride in love is consumed with preparation for her wedding!  But remember the parable of  The Ten Virgins. Ten women were waiting for the Bridegroom to come. Five prepared ahead and had extra oil in case he was delayed. Five didn’t think ahead and thought that what they had was enough. When it got dark, they had to go find more oil. At that time, the door opened and shut and they could not get in. No exceptions. Will there be exceptions when the gates of heaven open?

I want to be a devoted bride, in love with my King. I want to see Isaiah 60 happen in my life. “…and nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising..” (Read more for yourself.) “Lift up your eyes and see, they come to you, your sons from afar. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall exult because of the abundance…”  After we go through this process of letting more and more light deep into the recesses of our soul, we are not only redeemed, healed spiritually and physically, but we are now able to STEWARD light and become light. We can look at the face of God without tears of repentance, but with tears of love and adoration because he has taken our shame. Miracles flow because in the process, we have TRULY become dependent of God.

BUT DIDN’T JESUS TAKE ALL OF OUR PAIN ON THE CROSS?

Why do we have to endure it?

Yes, he carried it away, but we have to hand it to him, we have to offer it to him and turn away from it. We have “crutches” that Jesus didn’t mean to remain in our lives, comfort crutches and places where we just are stubborn in our own way. Jesus had to give up everything and he asked that of his followers. He still does. He asks us to lose our life for him so we can gain the life we were meant to have. Most of us haven’t even BEGUN to know what that looks like, what we need to resign to follow Jesus. Most of it is in our heart.

It was at the cross was where Jesus became an offering. According to law, a portion, the first and best of what we produce was to be offered to the LORD. The New Covenant is summed up in this. God produced man. He created him. Yet man sinned. He became an enemy of God. No one could be a suitable sacrifice, or offering, to the Lord anymore. So, God himself sent Jesus, who was a “first fruit” of what would come, many brothers and sisters who would be like Him. He had nothing to repent of so there was no separation between Him and His Father. Yet, to access the blood of Jesus, we have to repent. Then, his blood covers all of our sin and builds a bridge to the living water he promises will flood our souls.

Yes, there is grace, and it empowers us to endure the process of death to self. If we don’t die, we can’t be raised with him and glory and we can’t carry the light we were meant to carry. We wonder why signs and wonders aren’t happening often in the church. It’s because we have a lot of vessels full of unbelief, apathy, denial, selfishness and more.. Oh what a dinghy people we are at times! Lord, have mercy and lead us to your feet so we can pour oil on them in thanksgiving for making a way for us. Thank you for loving us, even in this condition, and now, make our lives a living offering to you. Help us to let go of even the most resistant way to follow your way. 

Then the path will be laid for you to bring revival to our hearts. It only takes a spark in our hearts to see the darkness we’ve been tolerating.

Father, thank you for your recipe for salvation in the Bible. Thank you that all that is required is repentance and you offer us everything! Lead us down that path to the deeper place where you meet us with such sweetness and love that we can’t help but let go of what is destroying us anyway. God reveal our sin and open our eyes. Hold them open so we can tolerate the light in greater measure and call us to surrender in greater measure so you can move through us in greater measure.  In Jesus’s name, Amen.

A Time of Extremes

As we sit “on ice” here in Indiana, I am drawn to the concept of extremes. As I sit in my house, a thin wall separates me from the deadly cold. I’m so glad I’m on this side of the wall. When we dwell in Christ he surrounds us in every storm…

adult beverage breakfast celebration
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are in our third day of extreme cold here in Northern Indiana. This morning we woke to -19 degrees. This is record setting cold. Throughout these three days, I’ve been very aware of the contrast between being “inside” and “outside”.  Whenever things happen in threes I see significance. Jesus body was cold for three days in a tomb and then there was a turnaround, a resurrection. As we sit “on ice” here in Indiana, I’ve felt God stop me as well. He’s stopped me from doing things I would normally do. Not because I couldn’t do them, but I feel no need. God is making room for me to listen and giving me His permission to stop to receive something, possibly for you.

What is put on ice will be brought out when it is needed.

As I sat on my sofa yesterday morning, I heard the wind whipping with fury against the house, as if trying to get me, yet the walls of the house surrounded me like I was a baby in the womb. It’s important to note that. There are places of security that are meant for our protection. There are dividing lines we are not meant to cross. The wall between me and the biting cold was thin, but adequate. I could see through the glass, yet it could not come in.

God’s protection is like this. Psalm 91 reads: I’ll highlight selective portions for you.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in teh shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. … He will cover you with his feathers (pinions), and under his wings you will find refuge…it will not come near you. You will look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked… Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent…
Because he holds fast to me in love. I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.”

How mighty is God’s hand. How able he is to protect us from all harm. I want to dwell in his protection. I want to stay under his wing, so close that his shadow is over me. I will live in that place and not stray from it, will you? There are “ifs” and there are choices we make that compromise our position. God has been opening my eyes to the extremes.

In Matthew 25 Jesus explains the great divide in another way. There is a divide between those who get into the Kingdom and those who don’t. It is a matter of preparation and readiness. Ten virgins take their oil lamps and are lined up waiting for the bridegroom to come. Wherever they are, they are together, waiting for him. Just like this group of women, people will be together, seemingly all for the same purpose, to meet Jesus. Yet there were two groups of people. Five of these women were prepared; they invested ahead of time and thought about what might be required if there was a wait. The others took a risk and came with no thought of the future. They assumed that the little they had would be enough. Jesus parables are always symbolic. So what is the oil that kept the lamps burning? Lamps represent fire. The Holy Spirit came with fire in Acts. Jesus is the “light” of the world. We are like him in that we are light. Is you light burning bright? How do you sustain a spiritual fire?

We wait for a bridegroom. We must know that there will be extended times of waiting and we have to come prepared to wait upon Him. We have to have faith that he will come and prepare so we will be ready when the gate opens. One thing is certain here, five got in and five were left out.

I wonder if those five ladies filled their time with other busy things and were distracted so that they didn’t think ahead to what would be required.

I see in Jesus’s words that there is a time when we can be fill our lamps with oil so that when darkness comes, we will still be able to see.  I had a picture just now. Have you ever travelled and had to wait longer than expected? Weather delays cause missed flights and airports become crowded with people trying to sleep on the floor. The airline promises that you will get where you are going, but not when. Imagine traveling with small children. When my three boys were small, I thought ahead about what could happen if we were delayed somewhere. I packed snacks, books, and extra clothes in case they had accidents. I had Sippy cups filled with milk for when they were tired. I knew my kids and what they liked and packed those things so I would see happy faces full of joy when I pulled things out of my bag in challenging moments.  It was up to ME to prepare for those times.  If I didn’t, I could count on no one else to provide for my children when I didn’t have enough. I would just suffer their whininess. I could HOPE that someone would just give me whatever snacks they brought, but who KNOWs how long we would wait and it’s likely, that as the women with extra flasks of oil, they would save their provision for their own journey. Who knows when that plane will arrive to take us where we are going.

Jesus says to us, “Be prepared.” You can’t expect that what others have will get you in to heaven. You won’t get there because of what church you attend on Sunday. After all, these ladies all came together and seemed to be waiting for the same Bridegroom, just like we all come together to meet him.  Five were foolish. Five were wise.

When it comes times for life or death situations, we have to be prepared. How did we prepare for this crazy cold? In the short term, we made sure our chickens and ducks would be sheltered and that their water would not freeze and we cleaned the garage so the car could get inside. In the long term, many small steps of obedience in our lives prepared us for this moment so that we are not in a panic looking for shelter from the cold! We have a house and a working furnace and newer windows and food to eat. We have an emergency fund to replace the car battery that died (because I left the lights on). I am so thankful! I’m thankful that in relationship to God, he has led us to security. This is truly what the moral of this parable is. If we live in relationship all along, we will be ready when the bridegroom, Jesus, comes to invite us in.

The five who were unprepared came back after the door was shut. They begged. “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”

In the middle of this frigid, deadly weather I cannot leave my doors open, the deadly cold will come in and the heat I paid for would flood out. I would lose what I’d paid for. I am in a a protected box right now, like the shelter of God’s presence. I am keenly aware that I am surrounded by his protection as I notice the walls, the floors, the ceiling and even the windows that let me see out to what is cold and icy, but block it from coming in. This house wasn’t handed to us, we paid for it over the years. What will it cost to know your Master, Jesus? Invest in that. Build a house of faith and obedience that will shelter you from the extreme cold, from the darkness that is in the world.

God is our refuge, our ever present help in time of need.  Do you know him? Does he know you? We see in the parable that Jesus doesn’t automatically accept everyone who comes, but those who got ready.  The Bible says that we are his temple, his house.  We are being built up into a spiritual house. If you find the cold leaking into your house, physically or spiritually, consider where the drafts leak in. Are you opening doors to evil you should not be? Will it take time to shut them. Do it now! Don’t find yourself entangled in worldly things when others will be celebrating with Jesus.

Here is a prayer for you….

In Jesus name, I ask you God, to choose me. Draw me to you. Your word says many are called but few are chosen, so choose me. Get me out of everywhere I have entangled myself in the world and cleanse me. No darkness will be permitted in my soul any longer. I submit myself to you and know you will take me on a journey of obedience. I’m willing to go with you. I know you are a good Shepherd and you love me like no one else can. Thank you that you will be with me in this. I choose to let go of the world, the lust of the eyes and of the flesh. Heal my emotions and rid me of self-centeredness, anger, hatred, bitterness, shame and guilt. Make me new in every way and keep me humble. If I stumble I will repent. If I fail, you will help me up, but I will not give up. You are my fortress and I will dwell with you. I will stay close to you, Jesus, and you will satisfy me like nothing else can. I long to be in the center of your love. I repent of allowing the world to take over places in my heart where you should be dwelling. Come and redeemed every part of me. Save me to the uttermost. I am yours. Fill me up Lord. Let your Spirit overwhelm me. Here I am.”

Texts for further study:
Matthew 25 – The Parable of the Ten Virgins.
Psalm 91

A song for you…  ‘I want to know you, let your Spirit overwhelm me. Let your presence overtake my heart…”

“I Want to Know You”