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Friday, July 6, 2018

Go! Go! Go!

Go! Go! Go! 

It’s what emergency response law enforcement is trained to do when a killer is attacking. GO! Not stay. Not stage. Not stand there. Go. Go until the situation is neutralized. Go until there is no longer a threat to human life present.


What training this requires! How hard it must be to go against your natural human instincts to run from harm. In a real time situation, these response teams need to be brave enough to go toward the danger, not away. Their motivation to save lives must be stronger than their desire for self preservation. 


Our training as Warriors of the Light isn’t much different. Though our battles are found in the unseen realms, our charge is the same “GO! GO! GO!” Not stay. Not stage. Not stand there. Go. Go because the threat is real and the Attacker is active. He is seeking whom he can devour and in these last days, his rampage is obvious. 


Jesus, Himself, used the word: GO!

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” 

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

‭‭Mark‬ ‭16:15-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/mrk.16.15-20.nlt


Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:18-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/mat.28.18-20.nlt

We have full permission, have full authority, and can be fully confident in this Command. Now is not the time to be spiritually passive. Now is the time to engage. 

But listen! We only move forward with God. He sends us out, but not by ourselves and not with our own agenda. This is a War that can not be fought with just intellect, based on what we see with our natural eyes. For the devil is sly and can make himself look like the good guy. He wants to trick us and divert our efforts. If we don’t fight along side God, we will find ourselves fighting against Him and not even realizing it. How important it is then for us not only to be Warriors for God, but also Lovers and Listeners. We must first hear His heart before engaging in the Battle.

So, GO! GO! GO! 

but go with Him, not against Him. 


Sunday, June 24, 2018

In Every Season

Do we only love our children on sunny days? Does our opinion of them change with the seasons? No. What an awful thought. My love for my children has nothing to do with the changing weather. I love them when it snows. I love them when it rains. I love them when the leaves turn colors and when they grow back again. The seasons and the weather have nothing to do with my affection and faithfulness to my children. 

And the same is true with our Father. He is not a fair-weather friend. He doesn’t leave when He sees the clouds rolling in before the Storm. His Opinion of us remains constant through every trial and testing. He loves us through and through and will never leave us, no matter what.  

So...

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

Romans 8:35, 37-38 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.8.35,37-38.nlt

Friday, June 22, 2018

Thunderstorms & New Songs

"Thunderstorms are like bad dreams that come to life," Josie whispered, as she wrapped her blanket around herself a little tighter and stared out her bedroom window. 

It had been Storming all night long and she wondered when the Clouds would finally run dry.

"Will the Clouds ever stop crying, Daddy? Will the Thunder ever stop booming? They scare me and make me sad."

They will, darling. No Storm can last forever. This, too, shall pass. The Clouds will roll on. The Thunder will eventually lose its Voice. What's important to remember is that you live in My House. And My House is your Protection. Though the Winds howl and the Rain pounds harder, I Am still with you. See, I'm right here. I never left you, just as I promised. And I never, ever, ever will. 

Standing up to close the curtain, He gave her a little wink. "Hey, I have an idea. Let's not focus on the Storm. It only bullies us into Fear, anyway. Let's play a game. How about the staring game?"

"Oh, Daddy," she cried, "I never win that game! I always blink first!"

She was right. It was actually impossible for Him to lose because He never took His eyes off of her for even a split second.

"HaHaHa!" He chuckled loudly, "Very well. Then, what shall it be? Cards? Charades?"

"How about we sing a Song, Daddy?" Her face brightened with the thought of it.

"Oh, now that's a great idea. Singing always makes our hearts feel better. What shall we sing?"

"I think we should make up a Song! Remember the last time we made up a Song? It was when I broke my arm. We made it up when they were putting my cast on. By the time we finished singing, they were all done." Josie said.

"That's right," her Father agreed. "And now when we think back on that memory, we remember the Song more than the broken arm!"

"Yes!"

"Well, then let's Sing!" her Father cheered.

He took her hands and they began to take turns coming up with a New Song. She sang,

"Over and over and over, 
I roll through Your meadow of flowers. 

And with every turn I can see, 
each one has budded for ME!"

"Oh, I like that!" her Father said with a laugh. Let me try.

"And if you just listen, 
the birds are all singing, 
for you in such sweet harmony!"

"That's great, Dad!" she squealed. And then continued,

"They sing that my Father so loves me. 
Their Song is so loud in my ears! 
How can I not hear them? 
How can I not listen? 
Their Song scares away all my fears!"

Josie suddenly stopped. "Listen, Daddy! Can you hear it?"

"Hear what, darling?"

"The Rain! The Rain has stopped. We sang right to the end of the Storm!"

"We sure did, Precious," He said with a smile. "Now, I think it's best you get some Rest. Tomorrow we will have another exciting day together." 

Josie closed her eyes and dreamed of meadows and flowers and singing birds. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dad

I didn't realize how many pictures I had taken of them. Dozens and dozens of photographs of my husband with our two daughters. At the park, pushing them on a swing. At the pool, splashing and being silly. Applying sunscreen. Applying Bandages. Applying Love. Feeding them. Combing their hair. Letting them comb his hair. Cutting their birthday cake. Sitting with them during their first haircut. Reading books. Riding roller coasters. Riding bikes. Changing diapers. Giving baths. Wiping tears.  

It seems every memory involves him. Even the ones we don't have pictures of. Like the night he spent cleaning up vomit all over our bathroom walls. Or the night he ran to the pharmacy for medicine at 1am. Or the night that he showed his superhero powers by killing a bat in our house at 3am. He fought for his kids and protected them, even as they slept, unaware of the danger.

In it all, I can’t help but think of how close our Heavenly Father is in our lives. I bet if we were able to collect photographs from throughout our life, we would find that He would be in every picture, in every moment. From conception to death, we would see His Hand, His Face. We would find Him rejoicing with us. Crying with us. Wiping our tears. We would see how He picked us up when we fell and held us close to Himself. We would see Him laughing with us. Dancing with us. Singing over us in pure delight. And we would see Him there in every restless night. Cleaning up our vomit. Healing our wounds. And fighting our 'bats', even as we slept. Our Heavenly Father was here. Our Heavenly Father will always be there. He is our Hero. He is our Dad.  

Friday, June 1, 2018

House Assessment

How easy it is to assess someone else's house. I don't even think I do it consciously. I walk my dog, and I notice the weeds growing up on someone's property. I might think to myself, "It would just take a few minutes of weeding and their yard would look so much better." I go to a friend's house and notice the broken doorknob in their bathroom. "Why, all they need to do is grab a screwdriver. It would be fixed in 2 minutes." I'm quick to see, quick to assess, and even quick to judge.

I wish I could say I do the same when I walk back into my own home, though. I've grown used to seeing the broken towel rack. I've become accustomed to dealing with a dysfunctional toaster oven. I no longer notice the peeling paint in the bedroom. What I would quickly notice and judge about someone else's house, no longer stands out to me in my own. 

So on occasion, I need to take a step back. When Spring cleaning comes around, I try to look at my house objectively. Now, I don’t beat myself up about it. I simply try to look around with an impartial perspective. And it’s amazing what happens when I do. The things I grew accustomed to looking at and even made excuses for, are suddenly seen for what they are. Like my overcrowded closet filled with clothes I hardly wear. I realize how much hoarding I’ve been doing and start weeding out the unnecessary items that are only taking up space in my home. Or my dirty living room windows and ripped window screen. It hasn’t even been on my to-do list to clean and fix up to this point, simply because I’ve grown used to putting up with it.

It’s usually in these moments that I realize I have no room to judge other people’s homes, for I have enough to be concerned with in my own! The same is true in all aspects of judging people. How easy it is to see the dysfunctions in other people’s homes, marriages, kids...and quickly criticize them - as if I’m some sort of expert! HAHAHA! Who in the world am I fooling? Well, if I’m standing there judging others, I guess I’m only fooling myself. 

But listen, I should never assess myself by myself. If I do that, it could lead to striving and self-righteousness as I judge myself and try to fix myself. Like in everything I do, I must grab the Hand of Grace and let Him walk me through the halls of my ‘home’. Only He can shine Light on the the things that need repair, only He can help me fix the broken parts, and only by His Grace can it get done - without an ounce of condemnation.


Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, 
it will be measured to you.
 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/mat.7.1-5.niv

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Times Up

I hate when time runs out. Like the coupon that expired the day before I go to use it. Or my membership benefits that I never really took advantage of. Or the sale that I missed, even though the commercials warned me that time was running out. It’s a terrible feeling for thrifty shoppers! Once that window of opportunity closes, it can’t be reopened. Ugh!

Noah and the people of his day experienced first hand what it feels like to have time run out. Though it took Noah sooo long to build the ark, he knew a day would come when his labor would cease and time would be up. And it wasn’t for him to decide when that time would be. In fact, it wasn’t even his job to close the ark door. It was God, Himself, that decided the timing and it was God, alone, who would close the door. 

My friend, you and I are in a very similar situation. If we listen closely, we can hear the ticking of time as we inch closer to the Door closing on us, as well. It’s the Opportunity that’s presented to every human being on earth - the opportunity for Salvation through faith in Jesus. If we choose to receive it, the benefits are immediate and everlasting. If we choose to reject it, our regrets will be everlasting, as well. 

Jesus tells us in the Book of John:

"
Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.”
‭‭John‬ ‭10:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jhn.10.9.nlt

And also...

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.6.nlt

God has made it clear that there is only ONE way to Heaven, and that is through faith in His Son. But this Opportunity to believe and be saved will not last forever. There is a cut off date. There is an expiration on this outrageous offer. And when times up, times up.

But until that point, Jesus will relentlessly pursue us. Revelation says...

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/rev.3.20.nlt

He won’t give up trying to get our attention. He won’t give up on wooing us. He won’t give up because He loves us more than the ocean is deep and His heart breaks at the thought of losing anyone in eternity.

But don’t misunderstand. Though He loves us to the moon and back, time is still ticking and one Day the last second will pass and it will be too late.

He puts the choice in our hands. He forces no one, for He has given us free will. But I beg you - don’t gamble with your eternity. We do not know when the Door will close. It could be today.


The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.

This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

“Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.

“Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”

So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.” 


So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.


Noah was 600 years old when the flood covered the earth. He went on board the boat to escape the flood—he and his wife and his sons and their wives. With them were all the various kinds of animals—those approved for eating and for sacrifice and those that were not—along with all the birds and the small animals that scurry along the ground. They entered the boat in pairs, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth.

When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.

That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives. With them in the boat were pairs of every kind of animal—domestic and wild, large and small—along with birds of every kind. Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.

Genesis 6:5-22 and 7:1-16 NLT
‬‬
http://bible.com/116/gen.6.5-22.nlt
http://bible.com/116/gen.7.1-16.nlt


"When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.

"And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business - eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building - until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be 'business as usual' right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed."

Luke 17:26-30 NLT

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Run For Help

When you grow up with siblings, it's bound to happen at some point in your childhood together. One of you gets hurt and there are no adults around to take care of the one that got injured. When it happens, pure panic strikes the other siblings. They want to help, but it's above their pay grade. They may not be strong enough to carry their sibling home. Or they may have no idea how to handle a flesh wound. They realize in that moment that the only thing they can do to assist is run for help. They can't make it better, but they can get someone who can.

This is about what it feels like as we are spiritually helping people. Everyday we see the injured. We are confronted with people's pain, suffering, hardship and heartbreak. We see problems local, national, as well as worldwide. We want to help, and we certainly do all that we can to physically help, but frankly, we usually feel it's above our pay grade. We feel like the sister or the brother sitting next to their injured sibling, and we don't know what to do to fix it. We realize in that moment that the greatest thing we can do for them is run for Help. No, we're not the heart healers, but we do know where to find the One who is. So we run in prayer to our Daddy, the Father of all. We don't hesitate to ask Him because we know He hears us when we call and we know He cares for us. We're not shy as we grab His Hand and pull Him toward the need. 

And, Oh how glad we are that we did, as we see the Rescuer come on to the scene! He is able to do and accomplish what only He can do. He is able to bring Healing and Life. He is able. Yes, He is able! And He cares so much. And He's just so glad we cared enough to run for His Help.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

I understood, probably at a young age, that there's a big difference in how you should act when you're at home and when you're a guest in someone else's home. What big trouble I'd be in with my mother if I walked into someone's home and acted like I lived there. I'd never get away with it. It was understood that I couldn't just go helping myself to someone else's refrigerator, or start turning the channels on their TV, or run upstairs to take a nap on their bed. How inappropriate and rude. 

But what a different set of rules when it came to my own home. No, I didn't pay the mortgage or buy the groceries or pay the electric bill. I was just a kid! But I knew it was still my home because my parents called it their home. And their home was my home. I didn't have to ask permission to use the bathroom. If I was hungry, I knew I could help myself to a snack. And if I was tired, I had my very own place to lay my head. It was my home.

I'm older now and own my own home, but I still dwell with my Father. No, not my earthly father, my heavenly Father. I "live in the shelter of the Most High and find rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). I abide in Him, for He is the Vine and I am a branch (John 15). His Presence is my Home.

One thing is clear: I am not a guest in His Home. I am not a stranger in His House. Though, it is true,  I once was. I was once a beggar at His door. Before He took me in, I was homeless. But that is no longer the Reality. That is no longer my status in His House. He adopted me and washed me clean. He now calls me His own and I am His child. I am His and I live freely in His Home, His Presence. I am free to come and go without worry that I will ever be left homeless again. I can help myself to His Food. I can jump in His Pool and find refreshment anytime I please. There's no need to ask permission to Rest, for His Comforter is mine whenever I need Him. I don't have to convince myself of this. I know it. For it is Truth. Just as I knew when I was a child that my parents' house was my house, so I understand His Home is my Home. And I am free to be myself and help myself to all the amenities in my Father's House.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Flipped

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NIV‬

http://bible.com/111/jhn.10.10.niv

Our Enemy, the devil, is always trying to flip this around, convincing us that somehow God is against us and trying to take from us. What a liar. The devil never offers us anything good, even when it seems good. His ‘gifts’ are like the poisonous apple offered to Snow White. It has the appearance of good, but in the end it will steal, kill, and destroy all those who partake. 

Ask God to give you discernment to see clearly the devil’s twisted approach. And know today that God the Father wants more for you than you can even imagine. He comes to us to give to us, not take. He comes to give us abundant Life! 


Friday, May 11, 2018

Repercussions

If only Jonah knew that his decision between him and God would reverberate the way it did. I don't know. Maybe he did know in his heart, but didn't care or didn't believe it. Regardless, his running away from God had far greater consequence than just the ones he would personally experience. Because of his decisions and actions, he ended up putting an entire ship and its crew in perilous danger - not to mention all of Nineveh was counting on him (whether they knew it or not.)

I wonder if Peter knew? If he didn't, he found out quickly that his "Yes" to God would have a widespread, profound effect on many, many people around him. Because he chose to run with God, and rest in His Shadow (Psalm 91), that Shadow overshadowed his own and directly touched others. Peter may not have even been aware of some of the people he had an impact on. I mean, who keeps track of their shadow that closely?

I can think of modern day cases, too. I think of Holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom. She was a woman who refused to stop hoping, refused to stop believing, refused to give up on a God that is Good. She held onto Jesus, knowing that He was holding on to her. The repercussions of her relationship with God and resolution to run with Him has touched countless people. It very well could be that some people have made decisions to follow Jesus, simply because they witnessed or heard of Corrie's faith in action. 

But then there are the sadder cases - like the pastor who decided that he had had enough of this and willfully turned his back on God. Did he realize the consequences - not just on his own life, but the lives around him, like his children, his congregation and his wife? Did he not realize or just not care? He would be kidding himself if he thought that his decision was only going to affect his own life. No man is an island. And you can't remove a Body part without the whole Body feeling it.

So, what about you? What about me? Which direction are we running? Are we in stride with God? Or are we purchasing that ticket, like Jonah did, and going in the opposite direction of where God is headed? One thing is sure - whatever the decision, its repercussions are resounding - whether good or bad.


***

The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”

Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God
of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”

“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”

Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

‭‭Jonah‬ ‭1:1-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jon.1.1-17.nlt


The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon's Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord - crowds of both men and women. As a result of the apostles' work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter's shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the village around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits and they were all healed.

Acts 5:12-17 NLT

http://bible.com/116/act.5.12-16.nlt

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Enough Of This Serious Face

Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified.

No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.

Hebrews‬ ‭12:18-24‬ ‭MSG‬‬
http://bible.com/97/heb.12.18-24.msg


God has a way of surprising me. Some of the things He says to me are not always what I expect from Him based on my perception of Him. Kind of like when the serious teacher in school, who doesn’t usually crack jokes, says or does something funny. It seems out of character at first. But in reality, his jokester side is actually very much a part of his character. It’s just a side of him that no one has seen up to that point.

Like the day I was reading from Hebrews 12. As I read, I heard the Lord say, “Enough of this serious face. No one in Heaven walks around all serious like the religious people on earth. They are Joyful. And I Am Joyful. Yes, I am Holy and I Am Judge, but I Am also Joyful/Jolly. It’s another faucet of me. And I give you permission to be Joyful, too!” The Holy Spirit’s tone when He said that was like a jolly fellow at a grand party, dancing over to me like John Travolta, offering me a cup of punch, while trying to talk over the loud dance music and people laughing and talking.

In that moment, I suddenly felt like I had been some kind Kingdom party-pooper. While everyone else in the room was smiling, laughing, dancing and having a jolly good time, I was in the corner with a serious, downcast face. It was a party and I was the only one not having fun!

See, there is a NEW Covenant in place! And when we come to God, it’s based on that New Covenant. And after reading Hebrews 12, it sounds like all those in the ‘invisible Jerusalem’ never stop celebrating and proclaiming what Jesus did on the cross and how He is our Mediator of this New Covenant. It’s a party, folks!! People are happy! They aren’t curled up in a corner. They 
are celebrating and proclaiming God’s Grace!

So enough already. Enough of this serious face. It’s time we get in tune with Reality. It’s time we start joining in with the chorus of the throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It’s time we see that we can be Joyful and celebrate, too! 

***


One week after I posted the above blog, I came across these songs/videos for the first time. Perfectly fits! Enjoy - and get smiling! ;)

https://youtu.be/I32vblmQ714

https://youtu.be/xtiUjNT_vAM

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

But As For Me

I could spend an afternoon watching the ocean waves come in. I love especially pulling up my beach chair enough to get my feet wet, to watch and feel the tide wash over my feet and the sandy beach below me. It's fascinating to see how each new wave creates a different picture in the sand every time. Sometimes the sandy canvas is just a string of seaweed. Often times, it's a display of various seashells. And occasionally, a jelly fish or crab becomes visible. You just never know what the tide will bring in and how it will change the landscape of the beach. 

It's interesting to observe, as well, that what is not moved by the waves that break over the beach is my beach chair. I'm anchored well enough into the sand that though all around me is getting tossed and turned, I can relax and enjoy the view, not worrying about being carried off into the sea, myself.

This image is a picture of my resolution in this world as a Believer. We live in a world that pushes and pulls against us like the waves on my beach chair. It's strong and commanding and leaves all the things not anchored down in complete confusion. And if I left my anchored spot and walked into the ocean further, I too, would be susceptible to being knocked over by those same waves. 

But what an Anchor we have. What a Firm Rock we stand on (or in this case, Beach Chair we sit in. ;) We don't have to be moved by the Tide that comes in. The Tide does not dictate our beliefs, our convictions, our Peace, or our lifestyle. Though we feel its pressures, we are not obligated to submit to it - and we should never want to, for it will only pull us into the confusion it creates.

And though others around us may bow to it - yes, even if the whole world is overcome by it, we have resolved to stand firm - to live bravely countercultural. We have decided to rest on the Beach Chair and not be swayed.


***

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua‬ ‭24:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬


But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. For God says, “I will break the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly.”
Psalms 75:1-10 NLT

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Bird House

She would watch Him, always aware of His presence in the house. Like a puppy wanting to follow his master, she would track His moves from the kitchen to the living room and then back again. Her eyes were like a pendulum on a clock as He moved across the floor. She didn't want to miss a thing.

"What will Daddy be doing next?" she thought. He was always up to something. He neither slumbered or slept, so her curiosity was ever stoked.

She watched as He picked up the hammer and headed for the back door. Her heart skipped a beat and in moments she was on her feet and following in His footsteps out the door and down the old wooden steps.

"Where are you going now, Daddy?" she questioned, almost tripping over His feet. "Is this going to be another adventure day?"

He turned to her and grinned, "Everyday is an adventure day, darling. Come, let me show you what I have going on today."

Oh, how He loved how she followed. He could always count on her to be the one that went with Him. And He knew she wasn't just after the adventure. He knew she simply wanted to stay close to the One that rescued her. He knew she had not lost her gratitude. She never forgot how He grafted her in, making her adoption official and calling her His own. No, she never forgot, which made her affection for her Father grow exponentially. 

"Today, we are going to build a bird house." Father told her. 

He handed her the hammer as He picked up a small piece of wood. 

"Here, you hold the wood and I'll swing the hammer."

And there they spent the afternoon - joking, laughing, telling stories and building the bird house together. 

"Daddy," she said to Him. "There's really no place I'd rather be than with You."

"And there's no place I'd rather be, my sweet." He responded with a smile big enough to melt even the hardest hearts. "You know...I knew you would follow me today, which is why I chose this project. Do you know that when I found you, you were like an injured bird?"

She looked down and away. "I know. I remember my affliction and my wandering..."

He took her hand, "Yes, I know you do. But you soon found out that life was not over and that I had a grander Plan in mind for you. But you first needed rest and healing. So, I carried you, like a broken bird, in my own Hands and cared for you Myself. I did not give this job to anyone else. I AM the one that took responsibility for your health and recovery.

Tears filled her eyes as He retold the story. "You are such an amazing Dad,” she said. 

"And now, my darling, I am including you in my other rescue missions. The bird house we are building today is no ordinary bird house. This one will be for all the wounded birds that we find together. We will bring them here and they will find their wings and find their voice again - just as you have found yours."

He pulled her in close, giving her a hug that brought peace to every cell in her body. She looked at Him and smiled saying, "Let's do it, Daddy. Let's build this special bird house and find the wounded birds.”

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Diamonds in the Dark

I won't deny it. I cried that day. I wouldn't say I'm much of a materialistic person. I rarely cry over lost or broken things. But this was different. This was precious, special to me. And literally it was lost in the night, gone in the dark. I went to bed with my engagement ring in tact, and woke up to find the center diamond was gone. I felt like I had been robbed in my sleep. I'd had it for so long that it had become a part of me. I never took it off. So losing it was like losing part of myself.

The Father knows just how it feels. He knows what it means to lose a Diamond in the Dark - the people He loves enough to die for. Those are His Diamonds. We are His Diamonds. We are the ones most precious to Him. We are the ones He has His eye on. We are the ones that mean the most to Him in all the universe. 

But how many of His Diamonds are missing. How many of His lost gems fill the earth. How many are without a Home and don't even realize it. They don't know that there is a Ring that is meant just for them on God's Hand. They are lost Diamonds in the night, gone in the dark. And, oh, how He grieves continuously for them, far more than I'll ever grieve for mine. His tears could fill the earth. If only they knew how much He wants them back.

But it is not God's will that they stay lost forever. For He desires that none should perish, that no one should be outside the Ring that it was intended to sit in. God has a place for each of us. His Ring is large enough to fit us all. There is a place carved out for each individual Diamond, so that no Diamond ever has to be lost in the dark forever.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

What Joy and Exhilaration!


as Daddy catapults me upward from His arms and into the air.
I squeal with Laughter in the rush of the moment. 

Is there any place better in this world? Any other place I’d rather be?
To ask me that would be like asking a deer if it would rather be in the desert 
instead of frolicking in the green meadow,
or a fish if it’d rather be flying in the sky than swimming carefree in the ocean.

You are my Home, God.
You are where I belong.
Where You are is where I am meant to be. 
Though others may desire other things,
my heart is continually drawn back to You,
for you are more fascinating than anything in this world.
Your Love is Unique and unlike anything found on earth.
It is pure and beautiful and lovely. You are my Grand Canyon,
and my heart skips a beat whenever I draw closer.

And you are Stronger God.
Stronger than confusion and things that keep us from seeing clearly.
You steady my spinning world so I see things as they are.
You lift me higher so my perspective is the same as Yours.
You let me see the world and people at your angle -
through the eyes of Love and not condemnation and religion.
I see them as beautiful and lovely, because of what Your Son has done.
They are loved and they are all welcome...
welcome to know You the way I do,

welcome to come, just as I have come.