This morning when I awoke, the Lord was speaking to me about peace. This past week He was teaching me something new about it and now He was continuing the conversation.
As I lay hands on a couple different people this week, I released peace to them. They came in fear or in some level of strife going on in their lives. Being mature believers, they rightly sought the Lord and the fellowship of another believer to share their burden and receive prayer. This is a good way to keep the enemy from isolating you in his lies. When I released peace to them, each of us felt the transfer. When they mentioned it, I found myself saying, “Yes, I can only release what is in me. If I don’t have peace, I can’t give you any.” Often the Lord teaches me right in the middle of doing whatever He gave me to do. I heard myself say those words and it resonated with me as truth that didn’t come from my own mind.
The previous week, we had been experiencing a low in our financial position. When I made a needed purchase, I was suddenly stressed that I hadn’t asked the Lord about it beforehand. When I took it to Him, my insides were in an uproar and I asked him what I should do. I immediately heard, “Have peace.” Have peace? Not, peace be still. Not, be at peace. But, “Have peace.” I knew that was not from my own brain. In that moment I knew what He meant; Peace dwells within me. It is up to me to choose to have peace or to have turmoil.
It took me a few minutes to wrestle with my soul and remind it that the Holy Spirit dwells in me and I can choose to keep all that struggle for myself our I can give it to Jesus and rest in His love for me. I can trust my comforter and BE comforted by Him. I decided in those moments to live from my spirit and give up the soulish fear.
I think we often think of spiritual things as imaginary as opposed to real structures. It might seem strange that I can be aware of the Kingdom I carry within me and release a tangible missing substance from that Kingdom to people and places I go. I can also release them to myself! “HAVE Peace,” He said.
The principle of releasing what is in me comes from the understanding that the Holy Spirit lives within me. If He lives within me, then all the fruit of His Spirit also resides in me already. I am not working it up, but as I live in Him, the same fruit that is within me is also continuing to be produced in me and released to the world around me.
In Luke 10:5-6 we see that peace is a tangible commodity that we can impart or take back: “Once you enter a house, speak to the people there and say, ‘God’s blessing of peace be upon this house!’ If a lover of peace resides there, your peace will rest upon that household. But if you are rejected, your blessing of peace will come back upon you.”
Have you ever had someone say, “I always feel safe when you’re around,” or “You”re so full of joy, I always feel good when you’re here.” Sometimes we just overflow the Kingdom within us. Other times it helps to take a breath and consider who I’m about to talk to or the place I’m about to go into and become intentionally aware of Who and What I carry within me. (Praying in the Spirit is so helpful.)
The world is so hungry for the Jesus in you and me. They don’t know Him, but they recognize the virtue of Him when they feel it in us and they want Him. Let me encourage you to become aware of Who and What already belongs to you in our position in Christ. The Holy Spirit lives within you and the more we live from our spirit and not from our souls, the more He also rests upon us. When you don’t feel peaceful, remind yourself that Peace himself lives within you always and decide to “have peace.” From that awareness you will always have something marvelous to give away to the hungry.
I’m not a theologian, nor do I care much for religious rhetoric. In fact, I really wish I didn’t find myself muddling through so much frustration regarding religion and church related issues. I wish I could just sit back and enjoy this time of still being in between churches, but stepping outside of one local body has continued to affect my view, bringing clarity and challenge.
Often, when you stay in one place, under one teaching for an extended period of time, though the teaching can be wonderful, your view of the body as whole can be skewed, leaving a narrow minded view. If teaching is twisted or off-base, it’s hard to see it clearly until you step out.
Taking a fresh look at many different denominations, many flavors of church, and seeing the Holy Spirit at work and moving in all of them, has been very refreshing, and helped me to examine what I really believe from new perspectives.
One controversy that greatly affects the way we view God and ourselves is the battle between traditional theism verses open theism.
After reading several articles on the subject, it seems that open theism is gaining a lot of ground in many churches across the board, but has only been a concept in the last decade. You may, like me be asking, “Well what is that and why does it matter?” It really does matter what we believe, because slight changes can make a huge difference.
My former pastor’s wife often gave the example of an archer hitting the bull’s eye. She said a slight change in the direction you are pointing your bow, can throw off an arrow’s trajectory by miles. We must keep our aim on the target.
Much of what follows comes from a conversation I had with someone who has studied this out. Following that, I confirmed it through other sources.
Theism means that you believe in a god.
Traditional or classical theism is the belief that the scripture is inerrant, and that canonized scripture is the foundation of our belief system about who God is, who man is, etc.
It holds that God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscience (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once), etc… God is bigger than the canonized scripture; therefore, you can experience things that are extra-Biblical, like heavenly experiences, etc., but everything must still be judged against the character and nature of God as found in the canonized scriptures.
This gives you a target, a true north, a foundation: an unchanging bull’s eye, when our sites are set on it, it will keep us going in the right direction. Since the character and nature of God are unchanging, immoveable, eternal, it is a sure foundation upon which to stand.
God is good. God is light. God is love. God is justice. God is jealous. Many, many more unchangeable attributes of God are described in scripture.
Because God is omniscient, He has the play book. He wrote the story, and already knows the beginning and the end. He is Alpha and Omega: the beginning and the end.
We do have free will in that, but He already knows the choices we will make, and the story from heaven’s view point though it is still happening, has already happened. We aren’t puppets, and we have relationship with God, but His view is far above those choices.
This is why it was so important for Jesus to fulfill all the prophecies of the Old Testament. There is much about scripture we don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean they are irrelevant or in error. A classical theist can be ok with new ideas and revelation, as long as the foundation is still in tack.
Open Theism basically says that though God is ultimately in charge, He can change His mind, thus changing the story, and that our free will holds the play book. God chooses not to have foreknowledge of our choices, thus leaving the story and how it is played out up to us. Its focus is on relationship with God, but in that relationship, God is changeable.
This is based on scriptures where Abraham pleads for God not to destroy Sodom and Gormorrah, and the story of Moses changing God’s mind on destroying the Israelites.
I would agrue God valued the relationship, but still knew the outcome. In fact, many times in my own life, I have felt God has wanted to know what my opinion was on something; however even allowing my choices, He already put in motion for me things on the other side of that for my good. My steps are ordained, and I’m so grateful for His ability to do that, putting us in the right place at the right time.
Open theism says God doesn’t have to be true to what is in the written canonized scripture. In essence, His nature is changeable.
There is no true foundation, nothing solid to stand on, because it seems they are saying that though there is God, we are the master’s of our own destiny, because we have free will.
I agree we have free will, but in the mystery of that, God already orders our steps, and weaves His story, because He already knows the choices we make. To me that makes God far greater and wiser than any man controlling his own destiny. In fact, the whole idea, reeks of the influence of humanism. I am my own God.
Ultimately, if we believe in open theism, we have no bull’s eye. This can lead to people saying they heard from God to do things contrary to the character and nature of God as outlined in scripture, and it be acceptable.
For example, “God told me to divorce my wife, because she’s not on the same spiritual level as me anymore.” It doesn’t matter that God’s word says to lay down your life for your wife and love her like Jesus.
Another example might be, “God told me to curse this other church.” It doesn’t matter that God’s word says not to curse your brother, but to love your brother as yourself.
It also leads to no accountability for prophetic words. If I say God told me something, but it doesn’t come to pass, then I can just pass the buck back to God saying that He must have changed His mind.
Never does the consideration come that I maybe fallible, or may have misunderstood the timing or meaning of what I heard. It leaves no room for the fact that we are in error; therefore, we have no reason to ask for forgiveness and try to make things right. This leads to shattered, disillusioned souls who thought God said, but then God changed His mind. Nonsense.
To believe this way, opens ourselves up to all manner of deception, twisting, and going far off course.
Last evening, I listened as a gentleman explained that he was concerned for a friend who was ingesting new beliefs that were contrary to scripture. His friends comment was “I don’t care as long as it leads me closer to God.” I’ve heard similar things over and over again recently.
My dear friends, what “god” are we seeking to get close to then? And for what benefit? Ourselves?
Yahweh of the Bible through His son, Jesus, said in John 14, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” His commandments, His character, His nature is first and foremost revealed through His word. If we are going against His word, then we are going against Yahweh.
I love fresh revelation. I love experiencing a close, intimate relationship with my creator. Yet, He is still God, and still holds all of His unchanging character traits. I love that I have free will, and I’m not made to do things, but I’m also grateful I don’t hold my destiny in my own hands, that He weaves my story together for good, and already knows the outcome of my life. When He calls me more than a conqueror, I can trust Him, because He already sees me as being that.
Whether a person is in church leadership or not, check what they are saying against the written word of God. I didn’t for a long time in my walk, even though sometimes things said from Christian leaders didn’t settle well with me. We can not afford to do this anymore. What we believe matters!
Across from me, on the sofa, sat someone I considered a close friend, I tried to absorb her words. “Pastor committed adultery.”
At the time, my fragile faith easily shattered. I fully trusted no man, as I uncovered time after time the betrayal in my own memories that I had stuffed inside out of survival. I struggled to process what she told me. A small amount of trust in our pastor had been built over time, but now the crashing and burning of it imminently loomed.
What was my friend’s motivation? Was she lying to smear his reputation? Could the charges be true?
I made the call to hear for myself. A few days later, our pastor welcomed me to come into his office, but I could hear something in his voice. Regret maybe?
A few weeks before he had approached me after church, saying gently that he wanted to be a father figure to me. Did he? Could I trust him, if he had committed such a sin?
As I sat across from his desk, I reluctantly asked the burning question. His head bowed. I saw tears collecting in his eyes. With the pain of grief, he locked eyes with me. “I know how much this may hurt you,” he sighed. “But I have to be honest with. You need to know the truth, because you have lived with so many lies.” His voice broke as he continued. “I have lived with regret for most of the time as a pastor.”
I swallowed hard. I wished I could put my fingers in my ears. Was I really ready to hear this confession? Would it crush my trust further? Why had I even come? Why was I driven to know what was in this man’s closet?
He proceeded to tell me that as a young pastor, he grew arrogant, thinking himself above a fall. He spent too much time alone with his attractive secretary, emotionally attaching to her, while his wife held down the home front. And he fell. Fell hard. It had happened years before, but the blow still felt fresh, in the gut.
He made no excuses for his behavior. Simply with great remorse, he asked me to forgive him. He regretted being one more male figure, especially pastor figure, who had failed me: one more man on the list who now I would question, struggling to trust.
Years later, I totally respect this man. He fell, yes, but he didn’t hide it. He repented. He didn’t blame his failure on someone or something else. He owned it, even though it had happened way before me, but the regret he lived with for the rest of his ministry, the rest of his life, was palpable. This act would remain a thorn in his side, even though he knew he was forgiven by the Lord, and had received Christ’s forgiveness.
Coming from the stance of the one abused, hearing such a story did further shatter my trust in the beginning. Some would even say, how could you extend trust towards such a man now? He didn’t deserve it. This man, however, like David in the Bible, truly repented, turned, and tried to make things right the best he could. Like David paid the price of his firstborn son from Bathsheba, he also had consequences.
For my former pastor, the dark cloud hung over his head periodically for he rest of his life. There are consequences to our behavior. What we do, does effect people, sometimes for generations past us. Yet, God forgave this man. And so did I.
There are others in leadership who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, who like the enemy, are seeking those they can devour. For these, like Saul, who refused to repent, they will eventually face the Great Judge who brings all to the light.
One of my life chapters in the Bible, is Psalms 32 TPL. It is the cry of repentance from David’s heart. As I read it this week, a different part caught my attention. “This what I’ve learned through it all: All believers should confess their sins to God; do it every time God has uncovered you in the time of exposing. For if you do this, when sudden storms of life overwhelm, you’ll be kept safe.” The time of exposing, hmm.
See, God is really good, merciful, and full of grace. There is a time frame He gives all of us to turn, to allow Him to uncover things in our lives, the secret things, the behind the closed door things. If we will allow Him to convict us, bring truth to us, repent, and bring healing to us, then when the storms of life come, we will be kept safe.
If we refuse His prodding, His gentle leading, His convicting, then we will still experience exposure, but it will be through the hard storms of life, and we will not be kept safe.
All of us have things in our hearts that need to be uncovered and dealt with by the Lord. Some just have more severe consequences than others.
Sadly, for church leadership, church culture has made it much more difficult for them be vulnerable. This is no excuse for the wolves mind you. Please hear me say all of us need to be held accountable for the things we do. It’s called the body, a family, a community of believers.
Seemingly, across the board, church leaders have been made into celebrities, put on pedestals, and are looked to as gods, with others idolizing them. They aren’t allowed to be human, make mistakes, be vulnerable. For that matter, how many sitting in the pews are willing to be vulnerable with each other. Aren’t we mostly waiting for someone to cast the first stone?
Often, those in leadership aren’t held accountable for their actions. This breeds abuse. If exposure does happen, it’s hidden, and people turn their heads the other way, until it directly hurts them. If it is dealt with, then often times the leaders are left on the side of the road bleeding, while the next great man of God comes on the scene.
I really believe we are getting ready to experience one of the greatest shifts in the body of Christ that has ever occurred, and I believe that time frame of exposing by the Lord in grace is coming to an end for many people. Something has got to change in us, in our mindset, in our hearts.
We are all called to be kings and priests before the Lord, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. There was never supposed to be a go between. We all are meant to have Jesus as our head, and we are all the body, though we have different functions.
Yes, we will always have some form of leadership, just as a family has fathers and mothers to lead the younger children until they grow up in maturity to be fathers and mothers. We are all to be accountable to each other, not condemning one another, but in love holding each other to the standard of the Word, walking in grace.
When someone messes up, they should be confronted, counseled, restored, if they are repentant. If they refuse the time of exposing, then they are choosing the storms without protection. In other words, we are instructed to cut ties, and let them go, but that’s only if they refuse to repent when it is really sinful things they are involved in. In this case, there is nothing more that can be done, but allow God to deal with them.
None of us are without sin. Though we are made new creations in Christ Jesus, we still struggle with our human nature, like my former pastor did. Let’s not put them on the pedestals, but allow our leaders to vulnerable, human even, and truly love each other.
I pray that we all seek love, hold on to mercy, and walk humbly with each other and our wonderful God. Doesn’t He deserve a bride worthy of Him? He will have her. We must be ready.
Leaning over the side of the bed and tilting the alarm clock towards me, I read the time for the fifth time that night, 3:30 a.m. Wide awake again. After losing my last child in an early miscarriage, weeks of insomnia had set in.
“Will I ever sleep again, Lord? Please help me rest. I can’t do this anymore.” My tears wet the pillow.
You will rest in me dear one. The familiar voice soothed my fears for a moment. I released a deep sigh, scooting my back against my husband’s for support.
The next day, after settling my three little ones down for an afternoon nap, I fell into my bed, wondering when the cycle of exhaustion would ever end. Anxiety plagued me like the flies in Egypt.
I glanced over to an empty easel mocking me in the corner of my bedroom. It had been since before the girls were born that I had time or energy to pick up my brush. As I stared despondently at the stark, metal frame, the Lord’s whisper came again.
It’s time to paint, my love.
“Paint. Ha! I can’t even see straight Lord.”
Pick up the brush, little one. Paint your freedom.
I knew what He meant. Paint all the pictures of redemption He had given me in my darkest moments, where He had burst into the black, sucking hole and pulled me upward, bringing His light and love.
I stared at the easel again. “Ok. Lord, I will try.”
That afternoon, I dove in. With paint dripping from the brush, I laid the colors in, black, white, swoosh. A large, steady hand emerged gently holding a woman who slept peacefully in the palm. Can I trust that hand to hold me? What if He drops me into the abyss below? Worship music played low in the background. Tears came. A flood of them.
My mind drifted back to a wraparound porch. My age, fifteen. My grandma stood in the sliding glass door, offering me another glass of lemonade. Whiffs of black berry cobbler drifted through the open door. A cool breeze refreshed me as I twirled the paint brush in my fingers. Contemplating the next color to swish across the sky of my cabin scene, I peered at the smoky blue hue on the top of the mountain ridge in front of me. The trickling sound of the stream below soothed my aching heart.
“Safe. I was safe then,” I thought. For the first time in my life, I could breathe deeply in my grandmother’s care.
Would God keep me safe in His hand? Did I have a choice? I’d tried running, hiding from the Almighty before. How well did that work? Stuff and hide my life, as if I could from His all-knowing eyes. Yet His eyes, though they saw, never condemned me.
Lastly, an angel wing appeared covering the woman. The same wing I had seen wrapped around me when I began the uncovering of my past. It protected, shielded, sheltered me from the battering ram of condemnation and terror that always seemed lurking around the corner.
Stepping back from my first piece, I sighed and then cried some more. The psalmist words welled in my heart, “He who dwells in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91.
Many years have passed since that day. Many paintings have been tucked safely away in my closet. Until last fall.
I woke up from a dream, an odd dream of rescuing a girl from a prostitution ring. “What does this mean, Papa?” My name for the mighty Yahweh has been very tender in this past season. Immediately, I saw in vision form, me standing in a room, a studio of sorts, teaching a painting class.
I want you now to begin showing others how to paint their freedom as well.
“What? That’s too personal. I can’t do that.”
Yes. You can do all things through me. I will give you strength and help you. In the stillness of the night, He continued to bring clarity to what he was asking of me.
My heart raced, not for fear this time, but anticipation of something new. He was giving my heart’s desire, wrapping up all my dreams of how to help others, my love for art, and leading others into freedom into one neat little package. Amazed, I stared at the ceiling. “When Lord?”
Take baby steps now.
February 1st, of this past year, I began this journey called Blossoming Hearts Studio, where I offer painting classes once a month. It’s in its infancy, much like I feel still so many times, a toddler waddling forward.
People tell me, “I can’t paint. I’m not the creative type,” but we all are made in the image of God, and He is creative, so we have that ability to create as well, though the method may be different than mine. More than that though, it’s not about creating a masterpiece. It’s about connecting with the Master, about giving yourself space to breathe, to be. It’s about opening up your heart and allowing Him to touch places maybe He’s not been able to through other means.
I recently heard a talk in which the speaker stated that in his counseling sessions, he always has crayons and paper for his clients. He instructed them to draw as they talked about their pain. Somehow in the creative process, it freed them to be able to bypass barriers that had kept their hearts closed off, and they were able to embrace healing in a new way.
Though I’ve only been doing this for a short time, my greatest joy has been working with survivors. After beginning, two doors quickly flew open. Once a month, I now lead classes for Switch (an organization, which rescues women from human trafficking) and periodically, with another group of survivors who come from various backgrounds and abuse. It brings joy to my heart to see those so broken, come and find some space to step out of their situations for a moment, and find peace. At a recent class, one young lady came in with puffy eyes from crying. She sat alone across the room. As she was leaving at the end, she leaned over and whispered, “I came in crying. I’m leaving happy. Thank you.” That, my friends, is my greatest joy, to see the Holy Spirit at work, healing the brokenhearted.
If you are interested in being a part of this in anyway or would just like more information, please contact me at email@example.com or like my Facebook page: “blossomingheartsstudio” and follow our events. Monthly classes are available, as well as birthday parties and special events if you are local to the Greenville, SC area, and artwork is available at http://www.kingdomwinds.com. My utmost desire, through it all, is to allow the Lord to use this to touch and heal hearts, allowing each one to blossom in His loving care.
My friendship with the Holy Spirit began when I was a teenager. Before that, I knew Jesus as my savior, but not as my friend.
At the time I met the Holy Spirit, my life had been turned upside down, inside out. My parents divorced, my mom remarried: from Baptist to Pentecostal, from severe abuse to a new man in the house.
I quit high school my freshman year, because of health issues, yet found myself forced to return to school, spending most of the first few months of my sophomore year in the nurse’s office. In this time frame, Holy Spirit began this relationship with me.
In the beginning, He used new friends, youth pastors, moves from state to state, strong impressions, and His word to lead me. Like most people, when I would feel like I should do something He was leading me to do, I would pray prayers like, “If you really want me to do this, Lord, make all the stop lights green.” And He would honor those prayers and lead me through those childlike requests. Yes, I really did pray that prayer when I was taking my first teaching job, and yes, every light for miles was green.
It was in the middle of a very long season of inner-healing counseling though, that I really began to mature in my walking with Him, because without Him, I would have fully sunk into the murky depths of depression and anxiety. He became my life-line, my best friend. Truly, during the darkest times of my life, I heard His voice in my heart, and saw images of Him coming into the middle of my abuse that completely rocked me, transforming the way I saw Him, others and myself.
The process was such that I would never wish on any enemy, yet on this side of it, I would not trade the relationship I gained with God for anything. In the moments of our lives when it is darkest, He always comes to our rescue. I’ve learned to ask the questions when hard times hit, what do you want me to know about you, about me, about this situation?
Now, my friendship with Him is moment by moment. He’s involved in, well, everything I do, in my thoughts, in my decisions, in everything. Do I miss hearing him sometimes? Sure. Or misunderstand things? Often. Do I ever doubt what I’m hearing in my heart, like is this just me talking to myself, making this up? Absolutely. Until, He faithfully confirms it in ways I could never make up.
He is God. I am not. And trying to understand God is like trying to understand the cosmos, except more inconceivable, because He created it. So, it’s more a matter of me listening the best I can, and following His lead.
I know most people are at this point wondering, “Well, what about me?” Some even may doubt the existence of such a God who would want to actually have a relationship with the created. Many struggle with statements like “I don’t hear God,” or “He doesn’t care about me like that.” But I’m here to tell you affirmatively He most certainly does desire a deep friendship with each of His children, and you can hear from Him. The Bible is clear about that.
John 10:3-5 “My sheep hear my voice. I call them by name, and lead them out… The sheep follow me, for they know my voice.”
First of all, I need to believe that God has given me the ability to hear Him.
Sometimes, that may look like a quiet whisper in my mind. Sometimes, I may pick up my Bible, and the pages fall to the verse that is perfect for my day. Maybe it’s strolling through the woods on a fall afternoon, and He speaks through the environment. He can speak through people, animals, nature, artistic expression, music, books, etc.. He is a very creative God, and knows exactly how to talk to you best, if you are listening.
Pay attention. Slow down. Expect Him to speak to you. He will.
How do I know it’s Him? Well, for one thing, it lines up with His character. For example, the Holy Spirit will never tell you to lie or cheat or go against the law of love, because He is love. Love is patient, kind, gentle, etc…
It won’t go against His Word. He won’t tell someone to have an affair, because that violates His word and His character.
It will lead you closer to Him. It won’t push you away from God. Hearing Him draws you near. You become more in love with God than ever.
Having God involved in my everyday life is an adventure. I don’t know how He will capture my attention today, speaking His love to me, but He will. For certain, the God of the universe longs to have a friendship with you. He is speaking. Will you listen?
Cars, semis, pick-up trucks, and motorcycles zipped around us in a game of Russian roulette. At least that’s how Atlanta traffic feels to me. Yet, to our far left, the cars glided with ease at great velocity, speeding out of sight unhindered by the weaving, honking, frustrated drivers around us.
“What’s that lane?” our new driver in the family Sarah, inquired.
“The Palmetto Pass Lane,” her father said. “You pay a fee that gives you permission to travel down that lane.”
As my husband spoke the words, another voice echoed in my head, “Daughter, all my children travel in different lanes as well.”
“What?” I thought. “Aren’t we all on the same playing field. You don’t have favorites, and we aren’t supposed to work for our salvation.”
The voice was quiet for a minute, and then continued. “Some are willing to pay a price to be in the fast lane with me. “ I waited for an explanation, but none came, until my quiet time the next day.
I can’t really take credit for the following conversation, because I feel these words were coming straight from His heart to mine. I will write on this more later, on hearing God, but for me my quiet time normally consists of journaling the thoughts that I believe are coming from the Holy Spirit. I’d much rather listen to what I feel He has to say, than voicing my stuff to Him. I am a fallible vessel, as we all are, so, I’m not writing this as a “Thus saith the Lord.” I will put it in the form of a letter though, from the heart of Father God to His child.
Sometimes I want you to travel in a special, fast lane. There is a price or cost to it. Not all are willing to pay that price. And I never force that on anyone.
Being in the fast lane, does cost something. Intimacy cost something. It’s not a works based effort. It’s a love based effort. It’s not the servant slaving for the master to earn a piece of bread. It’s the son drawing closer to His Father and wanting to steward his inheritance well. A lazy, loafing son, though still a son, will not receive the same privileges as the obedient, diligent, faithful, loving son. There is a cost to intimacy.
To have intimacy with me, you must be willing to lay down your comfort, and come away with me. Sometimes it will cost you sleep to wait on me and seek my face. This is different than seeking my hand. I’m longing for children who all they want is Me. This is a joy, not a work. You aren’t doing this as a religious act or duty, checking it off your list every day. This is a hunger and thirst for Me that can’t be filled anywhere else, but in my presence.
You aren’t coming and seeking me, because you have to, but because you want to.
For those willing to pay the price of intimacy, by laying down their time, their comfort, their agendas, their lives, there is a great reward awaiting them. I do elevate those who have come after me in the secret place, who are content sitting at my feet and learning from me.
The early church went through great suffering, as many still are going through today. They were martyred for their faith, not their works. They didn’t love their lives unto death. They were willing to give up what they couldn’t keep to buy what they could never lose.
I didn’t steal, kill, or destroy their lives. That is always the work of the enemy. I always come to give you life, light, healing. I am not an evil God demanding you sacrifice all you have to earn something from me. I am good. Evil spirits demand sacrifices. That’s not me.
I’ve always longed for friendships, intimacy and relationship with my children. When I say, “Are you willing to give up everything and follow me? It’s not a works based question. It’s a heart-based question. Is there anything in your life more important or valuable than me?
The rich, young ruler held onto the things that he possessed here. He only saw what I was asking him to give up. The request was not works based. It was about his heart position.
He had already “worked” as perfectly as he knew how, every commandment checked off his list twice. He was an obedient servant, but he had not entered son-ship. The things he owned, owned him.
He stood before me blind, yet didn’t know it. He was so blind, he could not discern that the greatest treasure stood face to face with him. I knew what was in his heart. His riches had his heart. That’s where his security, sense of well-being, and social status came from. He was a slave to his wallet. If he had only seen the greatest treasure in front of him, he would have been eternally rich in me, lacking no good thing.
This is what it means to pick up your cross and follow me, even to die daily. It’s not about what you do right or wrong or check off your list, but about your heart position, about being a son/daughter, who is in an intimate relationship with His father, living out of that position, delegating My kingdom from heavenly realms to earth.
This is why when the early church laid down their lives in martyrdom, they did so in victory, in joy, in love. It wasn’t some duty. They, joyful from intimacy, saw the treasure before them, ME, was far greater than their temporary, decaying life here. Martyrdom wasn’t the goal, but if it was asked of them, they gladly endured it, for the joy set before them.
I am a good, good father, giving good gifts to my children, and my goodness follows after you for generations. Come, come away with me. Seek the greatest treasure.
With Love, Papa
As I sat on the screened-in porch, with the early morning ray of sun bursting through the limbs of the ancient oak tree, I pondered the things He had just said. Often, I roll over in bed and go back to sleep, when He calls my name at 5:00 am (for the third time on my vacation), but when I stumble out of bed anyway, I find Him. I find Him waiting for me, speaking His truth to my heart. There has never been a time that the price has not been far worth it.
Sometimes, it has cost my dignity, like when He whispers go speak to a stranger, and even more, to pray for them. I have never want to go do that. I don’t want attention drawn to me, but when I have obeyed Him, even when I thought, “This is crazy. What will other people think?” There has always been an encounter with the living God waiting for me that brought reward to me, and also a blessing for someone else. Most of the time, the reward is simply more of Him. But honestly, what reward could ever be better. Maybe one day it will cost the ultimate, my very life. I pray that if that day comes, I will joyfully lay it down, for the lover of my soul, not out of duty, but out of loving intimacy. Isn’t He worth it all?
“Hold onto what you have so that no one will take away your crown,” (Rev 3:11) If you have been taught to live in sin-consciousness, I just stirred up guilt and fear of loss. How does that agree with a God whose perfect love casts out fear?
Instead of life and peace that Jesus came to infuse in us, you may have been taught to believe in a God who is just waiting for you to mess up…again, so that he can take from you, punish you, distance himself from you. That sounds to me like someone who steals your hope, kills your dreams, punishes with sickness and will destroy you if you don’t get it together. That is not the Good Father I have come to know, but is the exact description of the work of our enemy that Jesus described in John 10:10.
Many children of God are being fed a vomitous “gospel” of mixture. Because of this unholy blend they often come away fearful and condemned when they are seeking God in His word. How can this be? This is not the Good News that Jesus came to reveal.
Crowns have to do with reward. Reward for faith. We know that our God likes to bestow rewards upon his children. What good parent doesn’t?
“But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 AMP
Simple. He rewards those who believe He exists and show an interest in getting to know Him better. He is much easier to please than we are.
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV
We do work for the Father and with the Father. Remember that Jesus only did what He saw the Father do and said what He heard the Father say. Sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves and do things that we think need to be done or how we think we should do it. We forget to talk to the Father about it.
However noble the things we do without the Father may seem, they will burn up like wood, hay and straw. They stem from our flesh, from our little orphan hearts still trying to earn our place. Those things come out of our place of insecurity and trying to earn what already belongs to us. What is left over after the fire that is the gold, silver and precious stones; those things will be our reward, our crowns. So when Jesus said, “Hold onto what you have so that no one will take away your crown,” I believe He meant, hold onto the truth of your identity in Christ, your identity as a son of the most high God and all He has made yours, the truth of what has been done for you, and whose you are now. If I know whose I am I will not act from insecurity and I will not lose my crowns.
Look at 1 Corinthians 3:15. “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss.” No crowns. “Though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” The person who worked hard but without the Father’s initiative and plan will still be saved, but have no gold, silver or precious stones for their crown to be formed. They will have worked without benefit.
I don’t know about you, but I want my crowns. Jesus paid the full price so that I could fulfill my destiny and attain the crowns. It will be our privilege, like the 24 elders of Revelation, to throw every crown we receive back at the feet of Jesus. For believers, there is no punishment. There are only rewards to be won or lost.
In this life we may have to live with the natural consequences of poor choices, but we do not move out of the Father’s love. The Day of Judgement for us (believers) will only determine how much reward we receive so that we may continue to honor the Father.
The things that will earn us crowns are often much simpler than we make up in our minds. What if a golden crown awaits you because you spontaneously hugged someone in line at the grocery store when Papa gave you a moment of HIs love for them? What if you just speaking words of life by calling out the gold He allowed you to see in one of His kids resulted in a precious stone placed in your crown? I think that is as complicated as “take care of my sheep.” Wait to be gently inspired by God to move, then do it! His way is so much fun! His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
His inspirations are generally not things that require planning, skill, a title or a credential. They only require time spent to develop friendship with Papa. They require conversations with Him, getting to know His heart and asking Him to help you see people the way He sees them (prayer). Lastly, they require the muscles built by practice of instant obedience. Not obedience because of fear, but obedience because you are in love.
Remember, practice means you have done it many times and not been perfect at it, but you’re getting better. Papa is ok with your imperfection. He cheers you on your journey toward more of Him. As you grow in your trust, He will inspire some more difficult assignments, bigger leaps of faith, but by then they won’t feel like they are bigger.
Well doesn’t God correct us? Yes, because our Father is a good father. Even His correction is pleasurable! He is a perfect Father, His intent is never to control nor to instill fear. Instead, He helps us to see it from His perspective. He corrects us as mature children who He is teaching to reign with Him.
It is critical that we come into agreement with God about our identity in Christ Jesus. It is crucial that we unshakably know whose we are and what is mine because of that fact. That we have been made sons and daughters, co-heirs with Jesus, that our words carry authority; life and death are in our tongues. That a kind word from us can prophesy the course of a life. We need to agree so that in the glow of this amazingly Good News we become those who bring life and peace.
Producing crowns is a by-product of resting in the finished work of Jesus. Quite literally it is the same thing as abiding in the vine and thereby producing fruit without effort. Out of the love you receive from Him while resting in His arms, you fall more deeply in love with Him. When he gently prompts a desire of His heart, it has become your desire too. You begin to see the way He sees and feel the way He feels towards yourself and others. (Sounds kind of like, “love your neighbor as yourself.”) He puts things in your heart to do, then gives you a crown for doing it. Simple. He is really looking for any excuse to bless and honor you, because He is in love!
Rest in Him. Enjoy talking to him, hearing from Him, learning His good thoughts and intentions toward you and then do whatever He tells you to do, and only what He tells you to do. This is a lifestyle of rest that produces crowns. Trust in the finished work of Jesus for you.
Paul, the apostle of grace, at the end of his race said in 2 Timothy 4:8, 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. That sounds pretty secure to me.
That chapter begins, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead,” if anyone knows the value of Jesus’ finished work for you and for me, it is Jesus himself. He is the one who will judge us on the Day of Judgment. Do we believe He will not find his own work sufficient?
Our identity as the Chosen of God is what allows us to partake of the abundant life Jesus paid for us to have. Because it is critical that we grasp the fullness of our identity in Christ as God’s Chosen, it is the constant place of enemy warfare against us.
To know how securely you are swaddled in the Love of God is no small thing. It is what the whole structure of our armor in Ephesians 6 is designed to protect. Every time we waver from this security, we fall for the same old enemy trick that fooled Eve and Adam.
As I was reading in Revelation this morning, I came across several verses that helped me to see why so many of the people my husband and I see for ministry are in such inner turmoil. These are men and women who love God, but who have sat under teaching that says that the Father and your place in His family are only as trustworthy as the last thing you did for Him.
These children of God have their hearts set on the Lord. Most of their waking thoughts are about God and how to please Him, but they have been taught that His love is tentative and they must be veerrry careful as they walk the tightrope of family relationship with Father God. In the world we would call that family dysfunctional, yet it gets passed off in churches as the way our Father functions toward us.
These beloved sons and daughters are tortured in their minds and in their hearts. They veer back and forth between just giving up this impossible mission and working ever harder to please this God who, they have been taught, is resentful and resistant to their advances.
If I know the heart of my Father toward me, then I don’t get sidelined by doubt when I read a verse like this: “To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:26) If I am insecure in His love, in think: “Well what if I am not victorious…?” “Does that mean I might not be victorious?” No! Let’s put our armor back on.
God speaks what is not yet as if it is. If you don’t yet see full evidence of the victory you have in Jesus, agree with Him and with His Word, declare that you ARE victorious in Christ Jesus. He will bring it about. Your job is to trust in His faithfulness.
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. (Romans 4:13-17, emphasis mine.)
Jesus fulfilled the law. Sometimes I think we forget that God is an eternal being. He created time and is not bound by it. His promises and His covenant did not begin and will not end with the time-blip of my lifespan. For instance, when Jesus died for my sins, did he only die for the ones I committed until I got saved, approximately 2000 years after his work? Or is it too much that my whole lifespan is covered by His promises and covenant.
According to Romans 5:1-11 (below in bullet points), Jesus’ finished work and His covenant-enforcing blood paid the FULL price so that:
- We are made right in God’s sight by faith
- We have peace with God because of Jesus’ finished work
- Because of faith, we have undeserved privilege
If my privilege is undeserved, what can I now do to make it better or to mess it up?
- We confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory
Note that Paul did not say, nervously and while preparing for disappointment…
- When we were utterly helpless Christ came and died for us.
We didn’t earn it and couldn’t help ourselves then. Why are we trying now that the work is finished?
- God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
I think that we have heard that verse so often, that we have discounted its power! The Passion Translation says it this way: ‘But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!’ That’s a little better. It also makes very clear that we ARE NOT sinners, not lost and ungodly anymore!
- We have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Jesus
- Our friendship with God was restored by the death of His son while we were still His enemies. While we were still raising our fists to him in rebellion,
- We are saved by the resurrection life of His Son
There is no going back for Jesus. He will not die again, He will not take back His finished work or the covenant it fulfilled. If we do not accept the FULLNESS of our salvation, (Psalm 91), if we believe that Jesus work is not complete and I can still do something to cause the Father to love me more or love me less, then I “trample the Son of God underfoot,” because I have treated as an unholy thing the blood covenant that sanctified me and I have insulted the Spirit of grace.” (Hebrews 10:29)
That is another scripture that is taken to a place of fear of losing our salvation when in fact that very fear is the crux of the verse. “If I keep on sinning after I have received knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left.” My lack of faith in the finished work of Jesus is the sin here. The high priest has sat down, no more work to do. The veil is torn and the way to the Holy one, the Father, is open to us because we are accepted under the blood. We are righteous by faith. We are justified once and for all.
It is rebellion to reject this love-gift and exchange it for your way instead. It is sin to look for a way that is more complete than the blood of Jesus. Accepting the fullness of your salvation and your place in the family of God, joyfully declaring the truth of what the finished work has done for you, agreeing with God about His over-the-top love for you, living the Abundant Life He came to give you is how you show your thankfulness.
22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. (Colossians 1:22-23)
We are Holy in His sight. We are without blemish. We are free from accusation. We are to set our feet unshakably, unwaveringly in the land of hope that is held out to us in the Good News of the Gospel.
We are free from the accusations of the Accuser and we don’t have to agree with him. In fact, our agreement is the only thing that gives them authority to use power against us! And we can take it back even more powerfully by agreeing with our Father about how He sees us instead! Those are the only choices. Don’t be deceived to think your opinion is somewhere in the middle. If you are not agreeing with your Father, you are agreeing with the devil and giving him your authority to use against you by your words.
The enemy is so fearful that we will live in peace and joy with God and man. He dreads that we will know fully who we are in Christ. He fears that out of the abundant life we live, we will be life-givers.
A month ago I was at a prayer meeting and the Glory of the Lord came into the house. I felt the Presence of the Lord behind me, I saw myself as I worshiped with my arms spread out, having foot-tall flames all over my body. I heard the Lord say of us, “My burning ones.” As He said this, I felt the enemy cowering in the corner in utter fear that we should know how we are known in Heaven and how we are seen in the spirit.
Agree once and for all with your perfect, loving and all-powerful Father that the blood of Jesus was the full payment for all the sins of your life. Then exist in AMAZEMENT and in WONDER of what this perfect sacrifice has done for you. Be SHAKEN by the love of God for you, the bigness and all-encompassing nature of His love FOR you.
Be ASTOUNDED that He knows you perfectly, in detail, and can’t wait to encourage you forward in your journey with Him. Delight in His delight of you and sin will cease to be a problem. When you are in love, it is easy to agree with your beloved. On the rare occasion that you miss it, tell your Papa that you are sorry, repent (change your mind to agree with Him again), accept His forgiveness and step forward on the adventure with Him once again.
He CHOSE YOU from before the foundation of the world. He CHOSE to put His love squarely on you. He chose for His sinless Son to suffer in your place so that you could sit with Him in heavenly places and see your life from His perspective. His view is much better. Take you place among the Chosen.
As a child, I went to the county fair with my uncle. The rides spun around with screaming teenagers, while children held tightly to their parent’s hand with one and a cone filled with sticky cotton candy with the other. Whiffs of roasted peanuts, funnel cakes, and saw dust filled the air.
Fun houses perplexed me. I think I’ve only been through one once, because it terrified me. The fun house effect, illusions, smoke screens, mazes, glass tunnel that spun around, floor that was at an angle, and mirrors that make your head the size of a watermelon, and your feet the size of peas freaked me out. I stumbled out of if it feeling confused, befuddled, deceived.
Why in the world do people like that ride? Yet the line was always long with people anxiously waiting to get turned upside down, having their senses deceived into an alternate reality. I guess it was a way of escape from this one. But for me funhouses were never fun.
I was raised as a good little, Baptist pastor’s kid, so the Word of God was real to me. I heard it preached every Sunday, and it filled many conversations. Yet, because my father was an abuser and much of the doctrine twisted, my view of God was at best skewed, and the Word of God, in many instances was used as a tool to condemn and control, rather than bring life and light. Because of being raised in this environment, anything deceptive makes my stomach turn. I really hate feeling deceived, lied to. I have a need for explanation, to know what’s behind the curtain in Oz.
Please hear me say, I am not sitting in a place of judgment on any one doctrine or ministry for that matter. I simply see some danger ahead, if we don’t slow down and discern what we are being led into. It’s out of love and compassion that I share this not judgment, nor do I have all the answers. If it rocks your boat, please know I wasn’t specifically targeting you, but I do hope this will at least help us to stop and pray, seeking out God and His Word.
Let’s see what the Word of God says about some things first.
3 Later, when they arrived at the Mount of Olives, his disciples came privately to where he was sitting and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what supernatural sign should we expect to signal your coming[a] and the completion of this age?”[b]
4 Jesus answered, “At that time deception will run rampant. So beware that you are not fooled! 5 For many will appear on the scene claiming my authority or saying about themselves, ‘I am God’s Anointed,’ and they will lead many astray. Matthew 24:3-5, The Passion Translation (TPT)
14 So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.
15 Rather, let our lives lovingly [d]express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Ephesians 4:14 – 15 Amplified
I’m not claiming to be Bible scholar, and those who know me, also know that I often experience things in God that are out of the box, sometimes way of the box, and by that I mainly mean when I experience the glorious presence of God my senses get very engaged in that. I’m what some call a feeler. I can walk in a room, and know if it’s filled with God’s presence, or the presence of evil, or even a false religion.
For example, when we were looking at houses to buy several years ago, our realtor opened the door to a cute home, but before we even stepped over the threshold, I knew it was owned by Hindus. Sure enough, as we walked through the home, there was much evidence it was. My very stable footed husband helps keep me grounded, but sometimes he has a difficult job. LOL!
Obviously, from scripture as it grows closer to the end of time, there will be stronger and stronger deception. That’s pretty clear. So, how can we allow God the freedom to take us to new places in Him, and yet not fall into deception?
Well, this is in no way conclusive, but these are some of my guidelines.
- Does it line up with scripture in context?
You can use the Bible to say pretty much anything you want it to, if you take scripture out of context. This is how false doctrines develop.
In the 60’s and 70’s, Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Moonies Cult, taught college students to hate their father and mother, leave their families, and come follow him based on the scripture that Jesus taught, “Leave your father and mother. Come follow me.” And many did. Scripture taken out of context can be used to deceive and manipulate.
I remember the example that a suicidal person let the Bible fall open and randomly pointed to the scripture, “And Judas hanged himself.” Stunned, he did it again, his finger landing on the verse, “Go and do likewise.” Now, that’s a sad example, I know, but that’s how many people treat the Word of God.
If there is no context, anyone can a pull out of a verse to say what they want to say. Going back to the original Hebrew also helps with context. Our western worldview often skews our view of scripture as well. There are times I let my Bible randomly fall open, and it really ministers to me, but I still need to read around the scripture to see what the context of the verse is in.
- What’s the fruit?
Is the teaching and the person teaching it producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control – the fruit of the Spirit? Always check the fruit. Good trees always produce good fruit.
If the message seems right, and there truly may be truth in the message that you can glean from, but the messenger has stinky fruit, then I probably won’t submit myself to that person’s teaching for long.
Is the person who is teaching willing to be confronted or do they cut off people who disagree with them, sometimes hiding behind the “Don’t touch the man of God” mantra? If a man or woman is shepherding people, meaning a flock of people are following them, they should exemplify the Good Shepherd’s heart and character, that would be the character of Jesus. If they don’t welcome conversation and questions, run.
- Does what they teach in any way nullify what Jesus did on the cross in His redemptive work for us? In other words, does our salvation depend on our works or on His?
There are several poplar teachers being widely listened to that point to our “suffering” or “works” to make us righteous. We need to be really careful here, because our salvation comes through Jesus and what He has done, not through our works or putting down our flesh through suffering. To accept this deception, is to put Christianity on the level of every other religion.
Christianity is the only religion not based on what man can do, but on the grace of God through what Jesus has done to reconcile us to the Father. It is a priceless gift freely given to us, because God wants His family back. He wants to reconcile us to Himself. This is the heart of the “Good News”, and this will never change.
[ Warning about False Teachers ] In the past there arose false prophets among God’s people, just as there will continue to be false teachers who will secretly infiltrate in your midst to divide you, bringing with them their destructive heresies. They will even deny the Master, who paid the price for them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow immoral lifestyles. Because of these corrupt false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. They are only out for themselves, ready to exploit you for their own gain through their cunning arguments. Their condemnation has been a long time coming. But their destruction does not slumber or sit idly by, for it is sure to come. …
- Is it divisive?
Does it promote the Kingdom of God or is it promoting a man’s kingdom? On this one, often I think this is just immaturity, and not necessarily deception, though the line is kind of hard to draw on some of this.
One church thinks they have got the corner on the kingdom, like they are in the “know”, and everyone else is, well, “not”. All I will say here is be careful when placing judgment on someone whose walk has been different than yours. I know I’m sounding like I’m contradicting myself based on what I’ve already said, but hang in there with me just for a minute more.
Jesus is coming for all His bride, He loves us all. He will pour His Spirit out on anyone who is willing. He really loves to do that with children and outcasts, in fact. He likes stumping the wise and gives grace to the humble.
I used to think, “God is going to pour out His move at MY church, and that’s where it will begin.” But I was wrong. It is not about any one local body. It’s about THE BODY, THE BRIDE, THE CHURCH, and what He longs do to and through us.
The other thing that I’ve seen that is divisive is judging others experiences as invalid because it doesn’t fit in your box. Now again, if it violates the Word in context or what Jesus did on the cross, proceed with caution.
For example, God, for whatever reason, has chosen to take me on an inner healing journey with Him, meaning He has shown me memories of my past that were toxic, and then He has rewritten them with His love, truth, etc. It is basically rewriting your identity in Jesus Christ from the deepest parts of your being.
The Word says out of your inmost being will flow rivers of living water. If the well is polluted, contaminated water will flow, but when it has been cleaned out, the water is pure and delicious to drink.
There are many different types of inner healing ministry that I believe are valid, and sometimes people are instantly delivered from bondages. I’m not the healer. He is. But when someone says that inner healing is demonic, that God doesn’t heal like that, in my opinion, this is also a level of deception because it is limiting God in the way He can minister to people and because it demonizes those who have received healing in a different way.
I have known people that I personally have been praying for that unprompted by me or anyone else, were taken by God to the source of pain in their heart, or in other words, the memory, and then God showed them where He was, and the truth of who He really was in the pain for them. It brought great healing and release to the person.
It’s immature and hurtful to not validate such an experience of a precious child of God. It causes division, when there’s no need for it. Love brings unity. Again, be a fruit inspector. If it’s the work of Jesus, it will bring life, peace, joy, and love.
- Lastly, we MUST, MUST have a relationship with the Truth-giver, the Holy Spirit.
Ultimately, He is the one who leads us into all truth. Our eyes must be fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. If we fix our eyes on any man, we will stumble and fall, but if we fix our eyes on Jesus, trusting His Holy Spirit to guide us, He promises us that He will lead us into all truth. It’s a trust walk with Him. The only way we will truly make it through this life is in walking in close communion and relationship with Him.
Our God is an amazingly diverse, creative healer, redeemer, and lover of our hearts. Let’s never put Him in a box, but allow Him to set us free however He chooses to. May we fix our eyes on Him in a close relationship with Him, stewarding His Word well, so we aren’t caught up in a web of deception, lost in a funhouse that turns out to be not so much fun. Let’s not miss all that He has in store for us in this hour.
The little brown donkey in the above photo is my family’s donkey, Henry. It makes me smile just looking at him. Henry is a sweet boy. We had lived in the country for a few years before we found Henry at an auction house and brought him home. By then we had become familiar with Horses, Cows and Goats, but not Donkeys. Donkeys are different. Donkeys are said to be stubborn, but I think they’re really just very smart, have a good memory, are very discerning and VERY opinionated.
Some time before Henry became a part of our family, a strange and ridiculously frustrating thing started to happen to me. We had not yet become totally dependent on our phones for daily functions, so the digital alarm clock in our bedroom was on my husband’s side of the bed. It seemed like at least once per night I would wake up and look to see what time it was and for one reason or another I could not see the clock. Either a glass of water, or a box of tissues would block it, or the angle was wrong or the brightness was suddenly set too dimly for me to see it.
Sometimes, before bed, I would make sure the clock was turned just right and that nothing blocked my view. But still, in the middle of the night, my view would be blocked. If this happened once or twice, OK, no biggie. But this happened every night for weeks, then months then…being quick, I started to realize that maybe God was talking to me. I was not allowed to see the time for a purpose. But what?
One reason I would look to the clock was because I would wake up from a dream and want to know what time it was. At that time I had started learning how to hear from God in my dreams and sometimes the time you awake from a dream is further communication from God. At that point in our relationship I was getting accustomed to Him making seemingly little things significant for me.
So about the time this slow dawning was happening for me, I broke my watch while working outside. The leather strap, which I had already replaced broke and the pin was lost so I couldn’t wear it. No problem, I had about 4 more, they just weren’t really ranch wear, but I brought out a second one. It got wet or sweaty or something and it stopped too. Really?!
A little before this time, life had changed drastically for me. I had been homeschooling my daughter and now we had a teacher for her. That freed up many hours of my week. At the same time, I had been teaching a women’s bible study, which also required hours of preparation and now the Lord had told me to stop that too. We had sold our house and acreage, so there was much less outdoor work required of me. I was just maintaining the livestock we still had until closing.
Then came the day we were loading up the horses to take to my brother’s acreage–at this point the alarm clock was still evading my every glance and I had broken 3 more watches in one way or another and was down to my last one. (Can we say slow learner?)
The horses, being good boys, loaded up eagerly. We dropped them off, then we came back for our little goats. Check. Then there was just Henry who, though very friendly, chose that day to have one of his introverted moments. He had evaded us when the horses had happily loaded up for the move. Now we had to get him loaded into the trailer and we would be done with the livestock part of the move. Now you have to understand that the first time Henry got in my trailer, I took him directly to the veterinarian to be gelded (neutered). This may have left him some painful memories. Maybe even a hint of resentment?
During this time, with my greatly changed schedule, I had started to wonder why the Lord had pulled me out of teaching (which I loved), and even my work at home (which I loved). I felt somewhat useless. So much of what had become my identity was in transition. All the while He was speaking to me about time, but I wasn’t listening.
I was suddenly free to see friends without a purpose aside from wanting to see them. The Lord brought me people in need who I made time to help. During this period He was speaking to me very clearly about the privilege of making time for people. The absolute honor of moving in Kingdom time, instead of calendar time.
He showed me how he stopped for a woman in need, right in the middle of a seemingly critical mission for a person of influence. (See Mark 5:21-43) Jesus never let anyone or anything rush Him. After all, there is no time in the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean it literally was a life and death situation, but he didn’t rush. But I wasn’t seeing how this applied to my life.
He was helping me notice what it was like to schedule a lunch, or coffee with almost anyone. Every one needed at least 1 week’s notice for coffee, and if you wanted to do lunch, a full month was needed to find a free space for an hour or more. This has become the norm in our day, but He was also showing me our new cultural need, (even for Christians), to demonstrate our busyness. That we need busyness to help us feel important. We want to appear needed or vital in our lives. So as I got comfortable with not needing to impress people with my busy schedule it became fun for me to say, “When would you like to do it? I’m open.”
As I learned to patiently schedule time with friends, I began to feel the luxury of time I had been given. The Father was telling me, “I want you to stop looking at your watch and your calendar and love the people I put in front of you, WHEN I put them in front of you. I have given you the privilege to love them for me. Enjoy them!” Do you feel his smile? I did.
Pretty soon I began to receive phone calls from friends and acquaintances who were having trouble in their marriage, or feeling lonely, or feeling confused about their lives, or depressed, or who were struggling financially or whatever. I would make myself available to sit and listen and help however I could. Now, I had these same kinds of meetings when my schedule was very full. But then I did not have the same sense of urgency to help them as Jesus clearly did. I would look for a free spot in my calendar instead of looking in my heart at their need.
Sometimes, offering my time simply meant that I would listen and pray with them. It is amazing how much listening to them while listening to the Father at the same time, gives opportunity to speak words of life. Even a short meeting could change things for them in a positive way. I began to feel useful again. He showed me the importance of honoring people with my time, freely given.
Because I was now plugged into the source, instead of my calendar there were times I could anticipate the days when He would send me someone. He would whisper to me in the morning and I would be expecting a call. I am His friend and He includes me in His plans.
He began to show me that my identity is in Him, not in the things I do, or where I live or how I live. My worth is in His opinion of me, which is always good. Neither can I find my identity in other people’s appreciation, which can be quite fickle. He said, “You may never see them again. They probably won’t become your best friend, or someone you spend much time with at all. But that’s ok because it’s not about you.”
But now, I was getting ready to move! Packing up a largish house, yard and livestock for a temporary move into storage until the long term move was made. Weeks of preparation. Getting rid of lots of things that had taken up attic space over the years, packing, readying the property we were heading to for livestock, and more packing …and more packing. What a pain in the neck! Imagine if the deal didn’t close?
Now for Henry! Henry had been alone in the pasture for a few days now. The day came when the closing date was just 3 days away. The buyer was touring the house one last time with our realtor. While they were doing that, my friend Margaret and I had put Lil’ Henry in a stall and backed the trailer up as close as we could get it. We thought, surely we could get him in with a little coaxing. (I so wish I had this on video!) We scratched his ears, his chin and tummy and then tempted him into the trailer with food. No go. We tried pulling, then pushing, then a rope behind his butt, then a rope through the trailer bars and behind his butt. Each time we got just up to the step, he would sit down. Or step in and then, just before we could make progress, he would suddenly throw it in reverse! All 600 pounds of him! Margaret and I kept to our feet, but just barely. Grrr!
Ok, now I meant business. I called my husband. Now I was feeling the pressure of time. My whole year of learning about Kingdom time didn’t seem to apply in that moment. We only had 3 days left and no better ideas. We brought back one of the horses and put him into the trailer hoping this would encourage Henry to join him. We thought this would do it for sure.
Well, the 3 of us were huffing and puffing and sliding around, right about the time our realtor (a horseman) and the buyer came out to the barn. The realtor volunteered himself and he and my husband locked arms behind Henry and pushed as I pulled and Margaret cheered as Henry moved forward right up to the trailer and…sat down again! By now the buyer was saying that she would be happy for him to stay. But I couldn’t consider leaving him with strangers. He’s family. I was determined that he would go with us.
On our last attempt to wrestle DEAR Henry, somehow, my last watch crystal knocked into the side of the trailer! Just like that, the donkey spoke. Well, not really, but it became clear to me in the moment, that EVERYTHING must be taken to God and put on Kingdom time. I…FINALLY… prayed for wisdom. I had an idea and called Bob, our horseshoer and friend, and told him the predicament. I called on my community. Bob made time for me and my troubles and suddenly I was on the receiving end of Kingdom time.
In a little while old Bob had a brilliant idea and just like that, Henry was in the trailer and on his way to our temporary home!
This time-less season lasted for me for about 3 years after the day the donkey spoke. I was finally permitted to have my watches repaired recently and I have begun wearing them again. In today’s world I am considered Old School to check my watch instead of my phone. We have phones for that! I have a phone. It has my photos, music, email and, of course, my calendar on it. I use it often, but wearing my watch reminds me to set down the phone now and then and look at people. Often I only see the top of their heads as they peer down at their own phone. But my eyes are open to see what my friend Jesus might want to show me. What is really going on in the room? To whom I need to pay attention?
In our modern world, MY whole world can seem to be contained in my phone. It is easy to feel like you’re are living an effective life if you can just keep up with everything that pops up on it. Take a lesson from a donkey. Take a look and a listen to the people in your life who are the ones who really make your life a life. Learn to live in the luxury of time for others. Stop looking at your phone and your calendar and love the people Jesus puts in front of you, WHEN He puts them in front of you. He has given you the privilege to love them for Him. Enjoy them!”