Wilderness or Pasture? It’s all in your perspective.

Perspective is so important in life, and it’s easy to stay focused on ourselves to the degree that we are consumed with feelings and attitudes that are not from God. As I was in a place of deep intercession this morning. I began to cry, “There are no unwanted children! There are NO unwanted children in this world. Everyone of them is wanted.” Oh, how the lies settle into our soul when we don’t see the bigger picture God has planned for our lives. His timeline seems long sometimes, as we wait, but he is developing us in the place we are at.

To those who feel rejected, God says, “I see your heart. You are not misunderstood. You just don’t understand how MUCH you are wanted. You have listened to a voice of deception and not seen the whole picture. Don’t focus so much on your own heart and look at the heart of the ones who you think have given up on you, or hurt you. Do you fully understand why? Do you understand what sacrifice looks like yet?

The wilderness is not a bad place! It’s a restful place, a pasture, where David sang to the Lord and overcame the lions and bears he alone faced. God gave him a promise while he was still there, even anointed him, yet he had to grow up in faith and stature to be able to carry the title of king. He had to learn, be trained in warfare and prove himself or he would have not have been the king who overcame as he did, who did not let the world or its ways affect him. Note, David didn’t get a personal trainer to do it. He didn’t even get a mentor! A shepherd is left in the quiet and focuses on his sheep.

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If you feel isolated, or alone, remember Samuel. Remember how his mother gave him up for a greater purpose to be alone with God in the temple at a young age.

Understand the sacrifice Hannah had to make when she cried for a child and then promised to raise him for God. She wept. She wept! But she said, “Yes”, knowing her relationship would be limited but that she had to prepare him to live dependent on God and his voice alone. How great the temptation to feel alone in that place. But Jesus said, “I will never leave you.” Can we be content with him alone? Is he enough? 

There are different groups of people who may be reading this.

There are Hannah’s

Remember the story above.

There are humble kings

Remember David. God was developing him in the pasture. His calling was not recognized by anyone but the prophet. David’s father didn’t even include him in the lineup when Samuel came to select one of his son’s as king. He was still “out tending sheep”. The prophet knew who he was looking for but, note, he didn’t take him along with him and raise him up. That was not in his power. No, all he did was call him out. Then, David was content to man the sheep or to serve until his time came, when the people recognized him as King 15 years later!

David always honored Saul, even when he knew he had been anointed future king. Could he walk as king yet. No. He just went back to his sheep and cared for them well. He walked in fear of the Lord, wanting to be ready when the time came for him to lead a great people, God’s people! With reverence and humility and never exalted himself or pushed his way to the top. He waited for his time and seemed to understand the need to grow until the time came to take on more responsibility. 

There are prophets going through death to self

Remember Joseph. What did we hear from him at first. “I… I…. I’’’ I had this revelation. I had that revelation. It was more than his brothers could take, and he was rejected by them. Sold into slavery. Mopped floors in the palace, was misunderstood and thrown in a dungeon. Yet God allowed it. He had great revelations from his youth, but he needed to learn something. Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character” (NLT).

When the time comes to be recognized, you will not exalt yourself, so rest and take care of what is in your garden right now. Just walk in what you have and shepherd well what is right in your pasture. Don’t envy what is not yet yours, or lust for what you do not yet have. You are gaining wisdom, patience, self-control and learning to love. Relish the opportunities to be humble. Be content and serve well with what you have. In time, as you are faithful with little, God will entrust you with much. Remember that a prophet needs to be SURE of the voice he/she is hearing, so if you have a call to speak on God’s behalf, RELISH all the opportunities for pruning and correction that come your way. Stretch and practice your gifts, but don’t be eager for responsibilities you are not ready to walk in. Surely Joseph thought his time had come when he got that wise dream interpretation, but he had to wait two more years. God was preparing him for a certain time. A CERTAIN TIME. Striving in the dungeon would have done no good. How humble he had to be before he went before the Pharoah to interpret that dream. It was a hard dream. It determined the fate of nations. 

What can you do while you wait? Enjoy the fellowship of the Lord. Learn what is His voice and what is not. Do what God instructed Jeremiah to do in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things you could not know.”

Savor the revelation God gives you. Hide it in your heart until he makes it come to pass. Test those words. Speak out only what he gives you permission to say. Cherish the rest and let it give you joy. Live in humility as David did. Learn from him. Jesus himself was called a “son of David”. What an honor.

God Meets Us In Our Hunger

Dear hungry friends,

How hungry you are, not just hungry for food, but HUNGRY to see what God has been doing in your lives all along. It has seemed like a wilderness for such a long time but God knows what he’s doing! I felt God lead me to fast ahead of the fast and I completed my 5 day fast yesterday. That way I could encourage you all with what he was doing and give you hope in the hard moments. This will be long. You may want to soak on part of it at a time. It took two weeks for me to have all of these “aha” moments. I did a lot of waiting on God. I asked. Then I waited. Then I heard. Repeat.

God will reach us anywhere if we seek him like this, not just during the Chasing God evenings (for my Vineyard friends), but wherever we seek him with all of our hearts. God started breaking down my walls before the fast. Now, I should explain. I didn’t have an awareness that I had walls, but I did have an awareness that I was not as compelled as I have been in the past to love on people. I loved people, but I know what it felt like to flow like an unhindered river of love and it just wasn’t happening every where I went, so I was asking God why? What happened to me?

I found myself feeling vulnerable and letting it happen. I consider myself a pretty vulnerable person… but perhaps I was wrong. Love hurts you know. It hurts. I’ve loved a lot of people in some crazy, deep ways. Are they all sending flowing love back to me? Guess. Nope. They fail. But also – I fail. Yes. We all suck at times. I had a little fit about it one night.

Very early the next morning I woke to the words of the song  “You Are Not Alone”.  I got up and curled up on the couch, turned on the song and tears began to flow. I left it on repeat. I couldn’t read my Bible or do anything. I had to just sit with God and let him heal me. No matter what I did, the tears leaked. I tried doing something, so at 6:30 a.m. I sat at my jewelry making project. No creativity came. I was blank – just leaking tears out of my soul. I think years of pent up sadness were leaking out. Things I’d “gotten over” were still hurting and held on to. I began to see them and confess them. I just sat and asked God, “Come and take it. Heal me.”

I entered a fast. It wasn’t my first fast, but in this one, God let me see that I had to surrender my will. I was HUNGRY, physically, and had to pray to for him to give me the food from heaven he gave to Jesus. He did. He’s so good. This has not always been the case on previous fasts, but on this one I was in pain, literally. But, I learned there was still pain in my soul. I didn’t really know why I felt alone, or why I felt sad, but the tears came and I was thankful that God was sovereignly taking over my emotions. God washed my soul with tears on this fast. He let out the sadness and the pain I couldn’t put my finger on.

My story will be different than yours, or course. The promises of God will become real in your life if you choose to endure, even just a little while longer. Put your lives in order. Choose to be steadfast. It’s time to let go of the emotions, the fears and hand them to the Lord. It’s time to open the wells of your heart and let out what has been buried. “If you will listen to my voice,” I hear the Lord saying, “I will lead you out of the wilderness and your ministry, your new life of action with Jesus will begin.”

God led me to Matthew 4 this morning and showed me the process Jesus went through just before his ministry launched. If you need hope on your journey right now, pay attention to the  model of Jesus’s life. He is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Here’s how Jesus launched. If we are like him, joining in his suffering and growing up into the fullness of Christ, where are you in this process? 

  • He went to the wilderness with no suitcases, no defenses, vulnerable and dependent.
  • He chose to live by every word that God spoke – no food for the flesh.
  • He went where there were no distractions, but the devil, of course.
  • At the end, Jesus decidedly declared to satan,
    “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
  • The devil left.
  • Angels came to minister to him.
  • He went to Capernum. He began to fulfill the prophesies over his life.
  • He began his life message, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
  • He selected his new family of brothers. This would grow as more believed.
  • God had prepared them also, and they left all to join him.
  • Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Don’t run from the process – Embrace it.

I share my story so you can know you are not alone and to help you YIELD to what God wants to do in you at this time. How did this start? In the last two weeks things have been “bubbling up” that I didn’t know were in me. I started paying attention to what triggered me. Things I thought I didn’t struggle with anymore were happening again. Yet what I realized was that there were remnants. God is looking for a remnant. (That’s a little pun for my praying friends 🙂 A holy remnant, so he’s bringing up our own remnants and showing us why they have been stuck there, behind our walls. This post is a testimony of some of the key things that bubbled up inside of me before and during the fastHere are the things that have welled up inside of me through this fast, and then, how I saw Jesus through them.

1) I realized something and confessed it…I had a longing  to be loved by people I love. I wanted to be loved back.

God showed me that Jesus didn’t get that for a season either. He still doesn’t get that from us in the way he longs for. In the Garden he asked his friends to pray and keep watch but they fell asleep while he interceded for himself to the point of sweating blood. When the soldiers came and as he hung on the cross his friends didn’t want to suffer with him. They could not let go of their fleshly lives. On the cross, while he hung there for others who were dying in their sin, he was alone. Have you felt alone? Know that Jesus understands.

2) Loyalty 

God spoke the word “loyalty” to me. What did he want to teach me about that?  How did I handle when people weren’t loyal? I hurt. I just hurt. I got over things, but I was made in the image of God and I was a jealous for the affections of my children. I let that out. I shared that I was hurt. I sobbed in front of my family and let them comfort me. Yes, there was some self-pity in there. It was a little ugly and selfish, but I needed to be known. Have you ever felt like that? Have you longed to feel known?

When I got it out, I was clear and I could hear. Then I realized I was not loyal either. I had been a bad friend on so many occasions. How many times had I grieved God when I passed a hurting person or said a harsh word. I repented to him and to my family. But it’s not all bad. God feels like I feel, but he loves anyway. God reminded me of Hosea and how he showed us his nature as a jealously in love God. God is jealous for us and we are made IN HIS IMAGE. He is jealous for you, for your loyalty and your love. We are so like him. Think about how he feels about you. He just wants you for his own. He wants your full attention, for you to be FULLY PRESENT and FULLY ENGAGED with him like a couple newly in love who have eyes only for each other. They can sit on the couch all night and be content because it just matters that they are together. That’s how our loving Daddy holds us in his heart. I love that kind of love. I was reminded that we love, because he first loved us. That’s what makes it work.

Of course we want loyalty, but we have to love unconditionally, like Jesus did, even when all those flee or just are too busy.

What stops that? Then God reminded me of the principle of judgement. When we have a judgement, it affects how we love the people we judge. It stops the flow of love and power. In addition to that, we have to be love conscious and not enemy conscious. Our enemy is not people. They know not what they do. The stumble around in disappointment wondering if God sees them, but if we see like Him, we will know their pain, that they long just to be loved and for something they can hold on to so they can rest. We are an unfaithful people, disloyal in so many ways.

3) God has emotions. We can have emotions and we can let them out.

Jesus wept.  Jesus is the exact likeness of the invisible God. If Jesus weeps, our Father weeps, his emotions come forth. He created us with all the emotions he has but he has no walls so he lets them out.

If he’s a jealous God he has emotion. He has longing. We see from the story of the Lost Son in Luke 15 that the Father saw his son from afar he broke down and ran. He RAN to him. No matter what his son had done, the longing in the Father’s heart was for him to return.

He needed his son home because he was a part of him. We are a part of God. His breath is our breath and he misses us when we are far away in a distant land. “Come home,” he says to us. I feel the pain of the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son as I imagine what it was like in the years his son was gone.  Can you feel the sobbing heart of the father as he sees the empty place at the dinner table, he’s crying inside… “come home”. Just come home.  Our father loves us that much. Nothing can stop him from embracing you when you come to him, even if your expectation are low, even if you expect just to be a servant, Papa God says… “NO! You are my SON! Bring him the best robe! Put a ring on his finger! Give him new sandals. Celebrate, MY SON is home.”

4) If you feel you have fallen short…

God has been freeing me of limitations I have put on myself, AND of the feeling of obligation. What I have felt like I have’t been able to do, God has been doing for me. I have only understood in part and grieved about what I could not know. This is why God says, “Be anxious for NOTHING but in EVERYTHING give thanks.” It’s hard to do that when we want to know when and how and why, isn’t it? He showed me last month that the seeds of prayer that I planted were in good soil. As I saw this in a vision, tears began to flow. Tears of thanks. Those tears fell on the soil and the seeds grew into beautiful sunflowers.

Post fast – Today God showed me HOW he had been filling in the gaps when I felt like I was not getting all the things done that I wanted to see done through my life.  I sobbed this morning as I saw the visions and dreams and words and prophesies come together in the form of a timeline, all interlinked. Revelation and understanding started flooding my spirit! The pieces began to come together all at once so I could see his goodness! God is alive and real and working on your behalf. He shows us the dreams of his heart but not all the details. I suppose this is so we will learn to trust him. Has he whispered that to you lately, “Do you trust me?’

5) We are one Body with many parts. You don’t have to do it all.

We are ONE BODY. Have you been doing your part? Have you wondered if you were? If you have been obedient in the moment to God, then be encouraged. He’s been working on the bigger plans and the house is being built. You may have felt like something had to be done, but you didn’t get to do it.

Sometimes we think what we see is our assignment. As an intercessor, I used to get really hung up on this. I’d see things and think I had to do them all. Thank God – NO! I was to pray them into being. Sometimes they were mine, but I wasn’t to carry the load of all that I saw needed to be done. As a mom, I feel that way too at times. No – we’re a family and families work together. Thankfully, God’s got resources and gives grace. He knows we are human. I have longed to write a book but have had many other things that seemed to get in the way. I was feeling like I missed the mark on that, but it wasn’t coming together.

Was it my time? As I write I am sitting with a book my dear sister in Christ wrote. I just came out! Her first book! It’s full of testimonies of miracles and how they flowed. Her journal entries are like many of mine. I felt such relief as I read it and thanks! I just kept thanking Holy Spirit for giving her those words. Yes, I could have written a book, but I could use her book on this topic to do so much! She did her part and I can do my part! I was so excited ( I write more about the story below.) What if God may have been using someone else who had time to accomplish the work you would have like to have done while you were doing what was in front of you. Let them get the credit for the good work. It’s ok. Let go of YOUR need to be known or to be celebrated. If you have been walking on the path with Jesus, then rest easy. What you have been doing matters to God. What matters is that people come to Jesus.

4) You are not unknown by God – A Picture of Intimacy with Holy Spirit

I know this is a lot of writing, so I ask you to take a deep breath before you read this part.

Pause….

Don’t be impatient. Breath in and out, relax, let your body go limp for a minute and invite the Holy Spirit to come. Wait for him. 

Now, read this word and meditate on it. 

Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

He is close. He is as near as your breath and is your breath. As your breath goes in and out of you, picture that breath as the presence of God, a cycle of how he works.

Breathe in…. and he is with you. He hears the whispers of your heart.

Then, breath out. He goes out carrying those prayers and making them happen.

He is an intimate God. He is a personal God. Your spirit is one with His Spirit. He says you are one, but YOUR connection to God is unique, because half of is YOUR DNA. One body, but many combinations of amazing uniqueness.

He hears every thought and knows you intimately. Even as we breath out, not all the air leaves. His presence, like oxygen stays in our lungs, keeps us alive while he works on our behalf.

As you inhale, He quickly comes back in, because we need more of him to live. This is the life cycle of our connection with the Holy Spirit. It is what keeps us alive. Remain in him. Take him in. Release some of him. Get more of him. We can’t live without that next breath and when we hold it in, if we TRY to hold it in, eventually we pass out, don’t we! We think we can hold back, but God just chuckles, I’m sure. Like a kid who threatens to hold his breath, we keep working to control our environment…Yet a wise parent with experience says, “Go ahead! I wonder how long you can hold it?!”  Like this child, who will eventually pass out and start breathing again so the breathing, the intimacy with God, can resume. No, we can’t fight intimacy with God, like we can’t fight breathing.

Today I listened to the song “He Knows Your Name”, thanking Holy Spirit over and over again for my friend’s book and the miracles recorded in it. The tears began to flow again. I saw all that my Papa had been working on to help the Kingdom grow through my connection with my sister, through her friends, and the through the people I had been ministering too and with. He knows my name. It doesn’t matter if anyone else does. 🙂 My Papa knows my name. He sees me. I don’t care who else affirms me or recognizes me; I only want to fulfill his purposes and see my Papa smile. I realize that that is all the affirmation I need.

My prayer this week has been “Deliver me from evil.” Now, at the end of this fast I pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Let it be so, Lord. Let it be so. Amen.

I hear this word from the Lord for you…

“Walk with me on the journey. I will enlighten your soul. I am coming to rescue you. I have seen and heard your heart and I have been fulfilling my promises. Don’t lose faith in Me, the Lord says. Don’t lose faith! No eye has seen, no ear has heard what God has prepared for those who love him and who are called according to his purposes.

For those you have been praying for, remember your own conversion. Remember how it happened. If you haven’t really given your life, now is the time! Give is ALL. Give all that you are, all that you have, all of you! That is what you will pass on to others, because, you see, that you will receive more if you surrender more. That is what you have to pass on to others, to your family. What you sow, you will reap. Not just the bad, but the good. Your children will inherit the good as well. You have chosen me and that example is your testimony. Lead by example and establish what your children will inherit, your physical children and your spiritual children. It will be like day and night. As quickly as night ends and day comes, what we’ve hoped for will happen.

Was what lost, will be found.  (Luke 15)

How do I know? Because God reminded of how it happened for me One day, long ago, I woke up in the pig pen and said, “What am I doing? This isn’t working for me?” I had been resistant, willfully resistant, because I hadn’t tasted and seen yet. I knew nothing else but what I’d experienced. But at that point, I had nothing left. I was empty and needed something more, so I said YES to an invitation that changed my life. I said YES. And in an instant, resistance left and I was a new person who God filled with purpose and hope.

REMEMBER! Remember your testimony. Remember other testimonies. That is how quickly God can move in the ones you love and for those you have HOPED for. Don’t worry a minute longer, just keep extending invitations. God will do the work in their hearts as they see where they are sitting.  Rejoice, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. 

God is putting the pieces together for me today and it is bringing me such joy that I can’t hold back the sobs. “This is true worship.. Your life is your worship to God. When you fully yield to all of yourself to him, and let go of all of your pride, you will find him. I pray you will see how intimately connected all things are and how he has been working on your behalf from the moment of the cross. Let your joy be complete.

God has been working in us to show us our need for him. When we truly see our need, there will be worship that will attract the host of heaven and the glory of God. We will see like never before who our God is. Our beautiful, amazing, incredible God, who loves us like a Papa loves his babies and fights for them to the death.

From “You Know My Name”…

“…I’m walking in your victory, because your power is within me, no giant can defeat me, because YOU hold my hand. I don’t have to be afraid anymore.. YOU hold my hand! I’m so in love with you. I’m so in love with you!”

In Christ,
Anne Huffman, Daughter of God

Testimony of JOY: 

God will remind you of what he has shown you and show you what he has been doing. Years ago I had an encounter with God. He showed me an open blank book. I didn’t know what to do with it or why he showed it to me. I always assumed I was to write it. He said, “Pour  my blood on these pages.” Around that time, God was beginning to teach me about miracles and healing. I was getting so hungry for him. I journaled all that I saw and how it happened at that time. I was seeing the power of God in so many ways that I was just wrecked over and over again. I was so expectant and wanted to teach others how to live in the supernatural ways of God.

Then, we came to a new church and life got different. I really didn’t know how to fit in.  My life of street ministry and women’s prayer groups changed. It’s like moving to a new town and trying to figure it out. My husband went on staff as a pastor and I jumped into intercession for him and church. That’s who I am, an intercessor. I stand in the gap for people. Who were these people? I stretched and grew in new and different ways. My dreams of a book were set aside. There were people who needed deep healing, kids who needed teaching, a pastor husband and the church to pray for and it took TIME. In the doing and praying, there was little time for writing. I used to write all these cool testimonies of miracles and healing in my family journal. I never knew where to share them. I had some amazing stories in the works, but they were yet unfinished.

I felt guilty at times that I did not write that book. Was I disobedient? The accuser did a number on me at times. But, I could not turn away from the people in front of me who needed my attention, and then my family who needed more of my time too, and then our homeless guys we helped, who I wanted to keep loving on called me. My journal of testimonies got dusty. I just couldn’t write it down anymore. I wasn’t living anxiety about this.. I didn’t think… I knew I had to do what I was doing each moment. I’m pretty prayerful about my days.

This morning, God opened up a picture of a timeline to me and I saw how years ago he put someone in my life to walk with, a sister of my soul. We talked of writing often but neither of us had anything published yet. This week I learned that she had been putting all her journal entries together and published a book and now it was in front of me! I have a book in m hand by my dear sister’s name on it called “My Supernatural Life”. I felt such joy! Such joy! It was like holding her close and feeling known all at the same time.

We have this picture that we are like an Oreo. Two parts divided by the state line and about 35 miles.

Her book is so raw and simple. It’s just her journal, much like mine in some ways, but with different experiences and according to our unique place in life. She explains things with clarity though, each encounter is filled with detail so you can understand. Isn’t that what we all want, to be understood?

As I read her book of amazing testimonies of miracles, and of one mission we did together, I went back to MY journal and reread some of the amazing testimonies I’d recorded too. Two sides of the same story! Something started to well up in me and I understood something. What I hadn’t been able to do in writing all these testimonies down, God was beginning to accomplish through my sister!  There were things I always wanted to do and explain to people and she had done that. Relief filled my heart as  thought of all the people I could share this with who would understand ME better through HER writing. It would help train up those I was helping along the path.

I remembered that in Christ we were one body. My sister was doing what I couldn’t do while I had another purpose. Tears started to flow and I felt a sob welling up in my soul. What I dreamed of, she had done. I was so relieved. I saw how all the parts were coming together and what I could do now that my heart had been revealed through her words. There were like experiences, and new experiences, and things I have always wanted to put into words for people.

I thought of all the people who she sought out to teach her, some I knew and some I didn’t, and over the years, many of us sought each other out for knowledge and faith that could only come by sharing the testimony. Those were food for our soul!

Now, God is bringing us together in a movement. Some of us have felt stuck but God is saying “Come up here. It’s time for you to get out of the little place you’ve been holding up in and working. It’s ok to get out of the life raft and onto the boat. Tears well up as I write this. Jesus said, “Make my joy complete by being like minded, being one in Spirit and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

Book Link: “My Supernatural Life” by Lisa Beth Adams

Jeremiah 29

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

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Matthew 26:39-41  Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane praying before being taken captive …

39…he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The Lord has been speaking  this thought to me this morning, “You are going into dark places, but the light shines from within.” Remember the song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” It’s easier to put our light under a basket with a bunch of other little flames hoping the light shines through the cracks and will draw people, but that’s not how Jesus modeled it for us. He was the light of the world. He left the perfect place of heaven and went into the place where darkness lurked around, where his people were lost and confused by  his enemy. He left…

I’ve been soaking, a bit reluctantly, in Jeremiah in this season. I admit that when I kept hearing “Jeremiah” when I woke up in the morning I wasn’t excited. “Jeremiah!” I told the Lord, “He had it hard. They strung him up in the courtyard and laughed at him when he spoke for you. Thanks for reminding me about him…. Yup! I’ll surely keep him in mind and be alert if you want me to say something difficult. Yet, I didn’t want to go into the book and soak on hard stuff.  But, then God got specific and started giving me specific chapters each day and they seemed to parallel what I was seeing around me.

Today I heard Jeremiah 29. For context, in Chapter 28, Jeremiah has rebuked a prophet named Hannaniah, who was not speaking for God. He had been saying,  don’t worry.. you won’t have to go into captivity as Jeremiah says, “In two years God will bring all the sacred objects back from Babylon to Jerusalem.”

“NO!” says Jeremiah. He rebukes Hannaniah. Paraphrasing, he said that Hannaniah had taken off a wooden yoke off the people and replaced it with an even harder one, iron yoke. Because they didn’t submit and humble themselves to a word the Lord spoke about going into captivity under Babylon, they were going to have to go anyway, kicking and screaming!

Sometimes we just want to stay put, don’t we! God called the king of Babylon “my servant”. The people of Israel wanted to stay separate. They believed nothing could touch them, because God was with them, but he was no longer going to be for them in their rebellion if they stayed in that place! Like the Israelites in the dessert after Egypt, they didn’t want to move. Even the captivity of Egypt would be better than the unknown of the wilderness, they whined. But God was in the wilderness leading them to a new place.

Jesus showed us how he handled his hard moment like this. In Matthew 26, it is Thursday evening and Jesus is in the garden praying. He sees the dark place he must go into and cries out in agony to his Father. “If possible, take this cup from me..” yet he submits. Not my will, but yours be done. His act of faith that God, his Father, our Father, knows what he is doing, paid off. One act of submission changed the fate of the world and brought hope to those who could never see beyond the scales on their eyes. He submitted and the deed was done in three days. Three agonizing days, yet three days. I’m glad he persevered, aren’t you?

We all have times we have to act in faith. We don’t need faith to do the same old thing we’ve been doing. The Jews had a challenge before them from God. They were told to do something that didn’t seem logical. God sent a young man named Jeremiah to announce the seemingly ridiculous thing they much do.

“Submit to God!”

At that time, every “prophet” the king surrounded himself with had been deceived. They spoke comforting words that made it seem comfortable and right to stay. Jeremiah came with a “now” word from the Lord. This is a paraphrase, so read the book of Jeremiah to hear this amazing story of perseverance by Jeremiah. He persisted in telling them of a hope of freedom they would receive if they submitted to God.

Listen up! God has a plan and it’s not what you think it is. You must humble yourselves and go where you don’t want to go! Even under a foreign king, GOD IS STILL GOD. He wants you to be humble and go and put you in a place where people will see what happens when my people are surrounded by darkness. God would be with them if they went into Babylon, but all they could see was what they knew and they didn’t want to go. Jeremiah casts a vision in Chapter 29. GO!!! Go to that place and thrive.

Jeremiah 29:4-8 “4This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Push your flesh to follow the Spirit! Go and do the new thing that God has for you. It may look very different than what seems sensible and historically has worked. God is challenging us to believe him, to set our old ways aside and follow His ways. If we want the answers to the prayers we have prayed, they come his way, not ours. Remember the old saying, “You can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results.” This was the case in Jeremiah’s day, in Jesus’s time, and in ours. We like the thought of following him, and can deceive ourselves to thinking that we are following him because what we are doing looks good or sounds good. Sometimes there is only one voice speaking something different in a crowd of those who are ok with the same-old-same-old.

Where is he calling you? What is he really leading us to do? How many excuses will keep us in the wilderness when the offer of God is on the table, ready to be received. Come…

Psalm 34

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Go, thrive in the place he sends you. Do it God’s way, even if it means blind faith. Jesus said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because those who come to him must believe that he IS and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

There’s a step you need to take. What is it?

Perhaps you will start here… in bold worship..

The Homeless Man and the Two Chairs

The Vision

I saw a vision of a heavenly scene. Angels came out of double doors and lined up on each side, making an aisle. A red carpet was rolled out from the doorway. In a moment, an older, worn-out looking, homeless man appeared standing there at the threshold. His knit hat was large, frumpy and hung to the side. His coat was big and sloppy and nothing he wore fit quite right. He was standing at the beginning of the red carpet in the doorway. Near the end of the red carpet I saw two chairs. One was an old, steel folding chair and one was a comfy, leather recliner.

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I asked God the meaning of this. The old steel folding chair was the first available, the other nicer one was at the end.The man came down the aisle and sat down on the folding chair. It was good enough to sit on and a rest for his weary bones. It’s what you commonly find in soup kitchens and church basements, something you grab for extra people who show up unannounced. I saw him as he sat in that chair, thankful for the seat, indifferent, but weary and not really comfortable. It was alright. He was used to that.

Seeing the other chair was nicer, I approached the man and said, “No, come here. Sit in this other chair.”

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Although I knew he LONGED to sit in a chair like that, in the dream chair, he was too tired to get up. “No,” he said, “It’s alright. I’m really just fine here.” He’d grown used to taking a back seat in life, to getting the least, the left overs. I was inviting him to something better and it was out of his comfort zone.

A Story

I spoke to a homeless, disabled veteran last night, who usually lives in a tent. He told me how cold it could be before he needed to come in. He was a man of faith, but a loner with humble spirit. From the knee down, he had only cold, red, inflamed stumps for legs and was trying to warm them after a day outside where it was 5 degrees. I asked him if I could help him with that. “No, that’s alright,” he humbly said. I could tell he was one who could “just get along’ and didn’t want to bother people, but I insisted on figuring out a way to warm him up. I found some hand knit hats that were just the right size for each red stump that were his legs. He was excited at the “innovative” idea and those “wrong size hats” knitted by caring hands were waiting and just the right size. God knows what we need ahead of time!

His life got a tiny bit better and he now expected tomorrow would be different than today, at least somehow. I want him to be ready for the next gift God wants to give him. I asked him if he could read the Bible and he said he couldn’t see it. He was too blind. I offered to read it to him, but also wanted to pray for his healing. He didn’t want to “bother” God or me with his needs, but we still wanted to do it. He is worth more than he thinks he is. God has much more for him as he becomes ready to receive, as he is honored as a valuable human being by those around him.

The Power of Honor

I was out of my comfort zone like that once. I struggled with extravagance, with spending money to honor people.

We have a royal Father in God and a King as a brother in Christ himself. What happens when people get a taste of feeling like royalty? Like they are worth something?

My husband used to be an executive at our local hospital. Every year, there would be a Board Forum, a set of meetings and dinners, in a fancy hotel in Chicago designed to honor the board members who served that year. We attended for years and it was out of my comfort zone at first. I was so bothered that all that money would be spent for such “frivolity”. But as I got to know the people, I came to admire the champions they were in the community. This is part of why they carry on with the heavy load of responsibility that they have!

Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

I began to search, watch and see what I wasn’t raised to understand…

It was all expense paid weekend to honor those who served and gave their time to be board members, on top of the full time jobs that they had and the many ways they already gave to the community. It was all about honoring them and about catching a mindset of excellence. Our every need was met from the time the valet opened our car door at the entrance. When you stay in a grand hotel with all expenses paid and are treated like a king, you feel special! You want to STAY there, to move in, and certainly want to be invited back next year!… The hospital wanted the board members to know they were appreciated. In moments when they had to get up before their regular jobs to attend a board meaning, they knew they were valuable. Jesus gave his life, everything he was, so show us our value. Did all that attention and free stuff make these people lazy? No! Just the opposite. They could relax without worry for their needs that weekend so they could share ideas for growth and improvement. They were told and understood that they were powerful agents of change in the world. They took the responsibility seriously.

We are all powerful, all agents of change in the world, no matter what position we hold, we should treat those in front of us like kings and invite them to the royal court of heaven the is filled with peace, love, joy and good things.

God would offer something better. He created him to sit in the chair of royalty, as his son. God wants him to feel loved and truly at ease so he can hear and see clearly the plans for his life. When we have a poverty mindset, it’s hard to envision better than what we’re used to. We need to come closer to God, to be empowered by His Holy Spirit to have power to overcome, yet many who we judge or correct don’t yet have that power active in their lives yet.  2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 

Our job is to lead the lost to the Father, to connect them with the Teacher himself, the Holy Spirit. Once a powerful relationship is established, God takes over and instructs by guidance of the new heart we receive. Without a new heart and a new mind, no ministry is fruitful. Without empowerment, we have no power to overcome. We can’t sit in two chairs at once, can we.

Let’s invite people to an upgrade in Christ, to the new position he has for us – the new chair. We can’t minister to old wounds forever! It’s painful to hang out in that place of looking back. Jesus’ way was a leave everything and follow me approach.

We die to the old man and we receive new minds and hearts.
We don’t fix up the old stuff and cling to it.
We change chairs.
We upgrade.

Jesus called Levi the tax collector, who was a thief and sinner, worthy to eat with. Levi understood the honor. Levi was changed by honor.

I’ve tried to make my own children follow God’s rules so they would fit better into my world, but when I prayed for what to teach them one year God said, “Teach them to connect to my Spirit.” That became my goal of parenting. People don’t need rules when they have an internal compass that responds to God’s voice.

Isaiah 54:3 “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

 

His Kindness Leads Us to Repentance…

Homeless shelters are usually filled with the things left over. This season at Project Warm, our weather amnesty shelter, we have a new building. The men are saying how good it feels there, that they have never had such a nice space. While the sleeping room is more like a big basement, we do have new clean flooring, bright light and consistent heat. They men no longer have to go down in the basement to use the bathroom or look at broken out windows with boards on them. It has a lovely room to fellowship in with white walls and clean carpet! The chairs are padded and there is freedom to come and get a snack, like you would if you registered at a fine hotel and they had homemade cookies at the check in. Don’t you love that surprise! … when they say, “Take one! We just made them for you!” They are invited to hear an encouraging word, but have the power to say no if they want to lay in the other room, because God has options for us and grace to cover us. Most choose to listen. We go to those who can’t and check on their needs, like God does for us.

When we begin to see we have value, our view of life changes. Copies of the Purpose Driven Life line our new bookshelf and they are being taken by the guests. As I saw this red carpet vision today, I was convicted of my own poverty mindset, of my lack of mercy. God is far more merciful than we have been with the homeless. We have agreed with their mindset and actually empowered it in so many ways. Have mercy on us O God! We can’t look at people and judge them for their behavior. They don’t know who they are yet!

He wants us to get used to thinking like he does about ourselves. When were toddlers and fell down, he didn’t look at us and say, “You know, that kid’s not going to make it. He’s obviously not gifted in walking. I guess we’ll just feed him until he gets help from someone, God help him.” No! That’s ridiculous! A loving Father says, “Get up! I made you to walk, you just don’t know how to do it yet! Now, you need to walk so that you can run! When you do we can go to park, or hike in the woods. You can’t do that while you’re crawling, so let’s work on this walking thing! I’ll teach you! You will be ABLE to do more than you can do now!”

After a blunder where I slipped into judgement and law with someone, God whispered in my ear, “The kindness of God leads us to repentance,” Ugh. It felt awful – It looked awful on the downturned face of the person who received my untimely “correction”. She had not yet receive the power to overcome and expected more than she could surrender.

Titus 3 “But when the kindness and the love of mankind of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not by works in righteousness that we did, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by that grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Trustworthy is the saying, and I want you to affirm strongly concerning these things, so that those believing God may take care to be devoted to good works. These things are excellent and profitable to men.”

The Generosity of God, Our Good Father

What would happen if the homeless saw a true reflection of the Father’s heart? What does his generosity look like? What if we said, “Come, follow me!” instead of “Here’s some soup, hope you feel better tomorrow.” I am the first to need to repent. I’ve been serving in homeless ministry for 6 years and slipped and fell into the temptation to be frustrated and tired, to give up on God’s vision for people, to get overwhelmed. I’ve fallen into the rut of hardheartedness and cried out to God to break me out of that routine mindset of complacency. It’s powerless! Thank God he freed me to see again!

I had a  poverty mindset in ministry, hoping to have enough, trying to be sparse about resources, knowing the guests at our shelter would be thankful for whatever they got. I didn’t get it either. I judged by what I had and could see. “But without faith, it is impossible to please God, because those who come to him must believe that HE IS, and that he is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.

God has been saying to me frequently, “Do you trust me?” I asked him back, “I don’t know. I thought I did.” As he moved in my heart, I realized that I wasn’t always as loving and generous as the Father would be. How do I love my own children? That’s how he loves His. I lacked faith for endless resources but God has them for us. We have to have faith that what we see in front of us isn’t all there is to be had.

God’s resources are given with an outstretched hand but sometimes we have to have faith to claim it for ourselves and those who need it. God’s checkbook never runs out, does it! He’s generous, lavish and he wants the homeless and the wealthy to know that when you’re a child of God, there are benefits and privileges. When we serve the homeless, or anyone who’s struggling in a rut, it is more motivational to see what is possible, to have vision cast for you and to see a little of heaven somewhere in your life – to be honored for who God made you to be, not for what you look like now. Yes there are those who are a complete MESS, but tomorrow comes and they sober up and think about their life too. They cling to words of hope, like little messages in their pocket, like an old valentine that reminds us that someone cared.

When Jesus died, he humbled himself unto death, but when he rose, he gave us power and authority to overcome. Most in our shelter have never understood that aspect of relationship with God. What is it like to be treated like a son and heir of something worth inheriting? Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency has made me think about something. Did you ever think about how Donald Trump got like he is? What did he hear growing up from his parents? What did his children hear about themselves? They know they have an inheritance to steward and heard that they were qualified to do it. They had a mentor in their father who modeled a way that led to capacity to succeed. They learned they were royalty and even at a young age, they saw themselves as powerful world changers. Our guests have seldom known that feeling. Most of their fathers never treated them like a true son.

One of our volunteers had an especially great relationship with her dad, who recently passed. He loved her in and through addiction, in sickness and in health, and you could see the honor in her heart for him. She gushes about how amazing he was and shared with the guests all about him when he died. Most didn’t have dads like that. She understands in such an amazing way how the Father wants to lavish love on those who he cares about, because she has felt it in her dad. I have a heavenly Father like that. You do too.

 

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement

All this has led me to dwell on mercy and where I have let my heart get hardened. “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” I am sorry Lord. I repent of thinking less of people than you do. Honor empowers, but harsh words, judgement and pitiful surroundings leave us feeling worthless. Help us to be love in a way that is closer to your heart of mercy and grace.

Father, you look at men like Jesus did on the cross. He hung there, suffering because of them, because he had to be like us, powerless. We aren’t meant to stay that way. He knew what was ahead, the joy to come. He saw the throne, his comfy chair seated next to his Father where he could battle in prayer for each one to receive what he paid for at the cross. He’s holding out the keys to all of us to freedom. Will we hold them out as he did, in humility?.. in generosity?… in friendship with those who are unworthy according to the law? Will we see our own unworthiness? He makes us clean. Only by his blood have we any right to stand free.

Jesus honored man by laying down his life for those who were unworthy.
He didn’t expect them to be fixed before he did it.
They didn’t have to earn it.

They’d just have to receive it. 

Thank you Jesus. You died, rose and gave us your spirit so we could overcome. Now, help us to see like you did on the cross. Show us the vision of who your children are made to be. Help us look past the disguise of what life has done to them and die to ourselves for the treasure in them.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Deep in the Water

I have had continual intercession pouring out of my mouth for two weeks and feel like I’ve been standing on the line between God’s people and the enemy siege holding down territory. Meanwhile, I’ve been seeing a picture of a blanket being pulled back, and praying for God to uncover the thing that need to be revealed for me to be holy and ready for what He has for me to do. This may be while healthy Christians are feeling off kilter. God is uncovering places of weakness so that we can deal with them. Don’t avoid it! I believe God is saying, “Don’t shrink back! Stand! Fix your gaze on Me. Stand, pray in the Spirit and watch. Be continually alert.”

Don’t let yourself feel defeated, but let God reveal what has been covered.

I’ve felt a weight, a weight to lighten my own load by letting God show me every judgement and attitude that needs to change. It has been like training for a race. At night, before bed, I have been asking God questions about areas of my life that I just wanted to be better.  I would write a question in my journal about things that just didn’t seem right. I have gone to bed expecting to get answers in my sleep and dreams have come. Ask and you will be given. Expect that the Lord will answer.

I am humbled at where I have failed to love without restraint. I am grieved at the way we treat each other in the church, letting our opinions be like a gate that limits who can enter. Any opinion that is not God’s opinion of a person is a judgement and these become filters that we see people through. I see the unity that could be, and am painfully aware of our lack, and where I have not pushed forward to honestly speak because of my fear of judgement.  I hate that.

God is raising up a glorious church! Wade through the waters!

I’ve had to die to myself in so many ways in the last two months. I’ve seen where my heart has been hard and it is painful to know of the refuse it has left behind and the opportunities that have been spoiled. I feel the grief of God. 

This is the heaviness I have felt and it has required some washing. I have been praying, not only for myself, but for the whole body of Christ.

We recently had record rain and flooding in our town. Many of our basements have been filled with water.  I know my basement is not the part of the house I clean every week.  It’s where I keep the stuff I don’t want to look at every day. The basement is the foundation of our house. Deep within us we have foundational ways of thinking.  God has been looking in our basements and uncovering things that still needs some cleansing.

My street remained flooded for several ways and I had to find new ways to get home. There have been roads that have become newly impassible. Our old ways of doing things may have been good for a time, but what is God up to? What is he saying to us? I believe he is saying time if short. The time is now. You will not be able to operate like you have been. “Detour.”

There were houses in my neighborhood that were like islands in a lake. Just like this visual, there are people who have been overcome by the world. They are surrounded and have been drowning or bailing water trying to stay afloat. God says, “HELP!” Stand in the gap for these. Fight for those you have not loved, because Jesus paid the highest price for him and you/we are his Body. His body. He is here, through us to speak to the world. What do we look like? Are we inviting? Do we limit what God will do tomorrow by our judgements of people. What if Jesus held the sins of Mary Magdalene against her, or the annoying kid who was pestering him during his sermon? He saw the value in people even when they didn’t fit into the guidelines of the law. Do we have our own set of laws that aren’t God’s laws. What is the community of faith supposed to look like?

What is required of us?

I see this picture. There is a person experienced in walking with the Lord; she is covered in armor and bearing a sword in one hand. She is walking, holding the hand of a person who doesn’t yet know how to do that. It is an armed person teaching another how to stand and fight, to resist and to worship and celebrate, but they are walking, living life together, staying accountable. This is what discipleship looks like. It’s no just a Sunday deal. It is doing life together. This can be a hard pill to swallow, as I’m feeling it myself right now.

If we exclude people from our lives who are inconvenient or not “sanctified” yet, we will miss training up those who have been attacked since birth because of their potential. We need to be judging potential and not behavior. I am seeing gifted sons and daughters of God come forward who have been oppressed.  We’ve been afraid of their sin, but God’s not afraid of it. He sees his hurting kids and says, “I want to heal the pain that caused it!”

God is seeking them out and bringing them to us, to the church. They are amazing people who have never felt or understood the true love of the Father. He is restoring them to his heart and largely that comes through US, the church. We need to teach our children to see the potential in people, not judge others who are naughty or nice. Jesus died for us and spent lots of time with humans when we were still sinners, but we have been like the unforgiving servant who required more of people than God did. We are holding debts and grievances that God is not holding against people. It is limiting the potential of the Body of Christ. Jesus prayed for us, “.. that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may know you that you sent me. (John 17:21 NIV). That is deep intimacy! Not just next to, eating dinner with, across the table from.. but in Christ and ONE with each other. One spirit connects us all.

Remembering Miss Ellie

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My mom, known as Miss Ellie to many, passed away Tuesday after my sister arrived to say goodbye. The long journey was over. As I sat with her this week, I thought about her life and the blessings in it.

God taught me a lot through my mom’s life. She was a champion for the unborn in the pro-life movement. She taught me to speak up for those who needed a voice. I don’t remember missing more than a week or two of church during any of my growing up years. From that I learned that following God is not an option, He’s a lifestyle. No matter what trials I have had in life, whether in marriage, parenting, teenage challenges, giving up on God was not something to consider.

Mom never hesitated to show hospitality. I grew up with office parties at our house, bridge club, dinner parties, and many opportunities to learn how to embrace people. My mom and dad are lovers of people and I am glad to have inherited that from them. I remember peaking though the stair rail late at night to see the fun going on. Thirty years later, at my high school reunion, I heard stories from my old friends of their experiences at our house. In my high school years, my mom threw a big breakfast after prom one year. The kids remembered it all their lives. It was so fancy and special. They wondered why anyone would do that for them. But that’s what people who use their gifts well do, they give them away to those who need to feel the love of God. I’m thankful to have learned how to live Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” There are no strangers in my parent’s lives. Everyone is worthy of hospitality.

My mom seldom had a seated moment where she did not have a book in her hand. As her ability to focus declined, she continued to hold on to her love of reading until all she could do was surround herself with the books. Summers were for reading on the screen porch or for relaxing and having conversations with friends on topics that may change the world. Mom taught me that knowledge brought confidence and richness to life and I have tried to impart that to my children as best I can.

Back in 1972 a saying was born when the United Negro College fund was born. It was “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I was a little kid and mom was teaching school at the time. She would teach in many public schools. In Milwaukee she taught kids who struggled to read, or who were disadvantaged. A book brought equality in her eyes and she was a champion of this saying, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.” All children deserved a chance to shine. Again she worked on behalf of those who, without an advocate, may never have a voice.

My mom knew who she was created to be and enjoyed life. She was a faithful wife to dad and they celebrating 62 years of marriage this summer. In a world that has no idea what commitment looks like, in one short year they have become celebrities in our community for what it looks like to love selflessly without complaint or wavering.

Mom began to forget about 10 years ago and Dad began the job of being her second mind. He began with little tags around the house to remind mom to turn off the oven, or to tell what light switch did what. He wrote notes about where he went and kept pictures all around for her to remember people. He didn’t give up on vacations and living life to the full, even when Mom became nervous about being away from home, he kept trying to stretch her and give her opportunities to enjoy the things they loved. He left a suitcase packed, just in case they might get to go on that last trip to Maine they dreamed of.

A year and a half ago, mom needed a place where she would be more safe than home. Dad moved in with us and mom moved into a lovely assisted living home, but Dad did much of the assisting, traveling there twice a day to help spoon feed her meals religiously. He always helped in whatever way he could.

Because Dad is a family man, so he wanted to attend church with our family. We have a large church of about 1400 people with people coming from all backgrounds. They are coming because they hear that lives are changing with Jesus in our church. Many of them have never known the riches of living life growing up with Jesus in their homes. Those coming into the church today may have never been in one before, or they may have experienced religion without seeing people who look like Jesus in any way. Many only have grandparents who, “Have some religion.” They haven’t experienced life with Jesus and didn’t come through life with the long years of instruction or modeling that Sarah and I had. They are young people, old people, and include many young adults considering marriage and young families.

I know that through the last year Mom and Dad have had an impact on their lives by their witness and through what they have taught us. Dad always wants to be where the people are. Instead of seclusion, Dad has kept serving and engaging with people in in this journey since his move. He has even tried to remember all the names of everyone in the church so they could feel as valued when he talked to them.

Life can be hard, but with Jesus, it is a journey of faithfulness and there is joy possible, even in the hardest moments. I am thankful for how my mom and dad got to share their faith, even through this.

When you’re an 87 year old guy in an church full of many young people, you stand out! There are a lot of people who know Ken or and about his wonderful Ellie. The have see him leave events early so he wouldn’t miss a meal with her. They hear about her in the many Bible classes he joins and always see him find joy in every situation and condition.

I am really blessed. Not many in our town have met my mom, because she has been unable to leave the assisted living home she said in, but because Dad gave up all he knew to be where she would receive the best care, about 1400 people have seen something highly unusual. They have seen what it means for someone to lay down their life for someone else, like Jesus did for them.

God loves unconditionally, even when there is nothing we give him in return but our love. We live in a hurting world that has no idea why they would come to church anymore. They don’t know what’s in there. But they saw Dad go to the Hearth everyday to see mom and they asked about his life. He’d tell of all that was going on at the church and they would want that for their families and stop by.

1 Cor. says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Many, even in our “one nation under God” country don’t understand what the sacrifice of Jesus meant to them personally. But he gave up all for us, just as Dad did for mom for 61 years and she returned her love to him by faithfully responding to all his great ideas.

Few people know much about what Jesus really looks like these days, but those who know Ken and Ellie can get a good picture of what “laying down your life” as Jesus did might look like to us.

1 Cor. 13 “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.” God never failed us. He never failed mom and dad. I don’t believe he caused this illness or willed it, but He knew what sort of trials Mom and Dad were capable of enduring and that, when sifted like sand, they would shine and many would see and know Jesus.

Throughout much of Mom’s illness my prayer was the same for her, that she would not give up on God when she could not understand why life got so difficult. God never fails. He is perfect love. I pray for any of you here, that if you have doubts about how passionately God loves you, or trials that seem to hard for you to endure, that you will not give up. Jesus choose to go to the cross because he saw something in you that others could never see.

Those who met mom in the last few years who have no idea what she was made to be. You may have some amazing memories of her smile, her joy of cooking, or how she always kept her home guest friendly. You may remember her volunteering her time to read to children, playing cards, or in the garden club. Those who saw her in the last few years seldom were able to see that warm smile or her talents. She was immobile, could not communicate and not in any way her lively self, but we knew who she was inside and encouraged her to remember that. She was still herself, but this was the time that God would be her strength in physical weakness.

When we don’t look like ourselves, Jesus knows what’s inside. When we don’t know him yet, he is cheering us on to find out who he made us to be. He sees who we really are and encourages us to believe him. When he hung on the cross he looked out at people who were tormenting him and saw those he created, those he designed and knew in their mother’s womb, but they had been trapped in a fallen world. They had lost something he wanted them to have. Their identity. Jesus endured the suffering he did because he knew what it would accomplish. It would restore their hope. He saw who they would be when they were free, his brothers and sisters. He hung there loving people, even when they could not say thanks in their condition.

Do you see a pattern? Life lived in any condition with Jesus bears fruit. Even though mom and dad had some dreams of things they wanted to do, one of their greatest dreams was that their marriage would glorify God, and that many would know who Jesus was through them. Life ended well and the mission was accomplished.

New Life in Empty Buildings

Clean up crew—
The Lord will clean out the old churches. Those that look like they are dying will be abandon. They will seem dead, but the Lord will be preparing to dust the cobwebs and place them in the hands of his beautiful, prepared, shining Bride!!!!! I see glory filling these old churches. Worship and singing mixed in with the life of the Spirit, waves of his presence and restorative joy.
He is wiping away the old thing to make room for a new thing. Let it be done Lord, in the Name of Jesus, so that every church that bears your name will bear the power of your Name.
Remove the cobwebs that have been allowed to remain. I see an empty old church. It has been vacated and is empty. He has removed their keys so that no unholy thing will have authority or voice. No spirit of compromise will interfere with the rebirth!
It seems dead but the Lord is cleaning and bringing life, He is calling deep unto deep, singing new songs over those buildings that the children outside hear and are drawn too. I see a crowd of children coming like ones who are drawn in unison by a sound. As they approach, they start to sing together the song the Lord leads them to sing. Their hearts are connected with the spirit of worship and they walk with the Presence of the Holy One into the building.
The singing continues and penetrates the old stone walls. Sounds of life reorder and restructure the stones and it is as a birthing is happening. I see a lady in white on the floor in the middle of the room, she is in the fetal position beginning to sway with the music. It is compelling her from the inside out, bringing her up to dance in response to the call of the Lord, in harmony with the singing of the children who have come in until their songs come together and they she dances in the midst of them ….WORSHIP!!!! Worship! The Bride arises! The children touch the pews and they transform into a new material, heavenly and pure. They scurry around exploring and touching, releasing the new by the glory that is exuding from them. All things become new. Golden glory blankets the floors.  Old, red carpets are covered with the glory of the Lord. Light streams in through the windows. REFRESHING!
Come Lord! Wipe out the cobwebs, empty your churches of the stench of compromise, of unbelief, of dead works and let them rest, be cleaned and be restored in glory. There will be no unsurrendered voice allowed to speak in your church.
Let the children be drawn to these old, dry places, where no water has been allowed to flow. I see heavenly light over these children, illuminating them from above. Let them bring your glory with them as they enter the doors. Let Mercy reign! Your name will be praised in your churches Lord Jesus!!! Your purity and holiness will be known and those who gather will do so in Spirit and truth with no shame, no fear, but in an atmosphere of perfect love where they wake up and discover the arms they didn’t know they had, as Adam and Eve would have explored themselves in wonder after their creation. They will look at their feet as if they’ve never known them. Their eyes will look up and light from above will flow down upon them and fill them. There will be no stillness in the momentum of the kingdom but a flow, a flow of love, of a sound. This sound will draw their hearts, compel them to be met but the Lord in His sanctuary. The place where they will be reborn.
Ezekiel 37
“7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,[c] and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”