Intimacy

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote a couple years ago.  As we enter into Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish Fall Feasts, it seems particularly appropriate. I hope you find yourself, as the Beloved, in this story.

For her, this chance was her last gasp, her last fragment of hope to be healed and restored from the wasting sickness that had aged her, made her pale, given her dark circles under her eyes, stolen her strength, stolen her energy, stolen her hope. But would she dare?

The oppression her culture imposed upon her because of her condition made everything harder. She had tried to find help, wasted all her resources on “cures” that didn’t. Everywhere she went she had to call out, “I am unclean!  Step aside or be defiled by my touch.” She wasn’t even supposed to be in public except for an emergency situation. As she gave her warning, people turned around, wide-eyed and then condemnation filled their faces, as if it were her fault. The most religious wouldn’t even look at her. Well this WAS an emergency!  It was her last gasp for life before she gave up, shriveled up and gave in to death.

Then she saw him, the Rabbi, Yeshua. Well, at least she saw and heard the cluster of activity and people surrounding him, moving slowly along with him. From  houses, from market booths, from begging mats, even from the aristocracy, people called out to Him, “Yeshua!”

“Son of David!”

“Heal me!”

“Touch me!”

She could see people straining to reach Him, straining to touch Him, just a touch, just a look, just a word! They were starving for Him and all He had for them. He was surrounded.

Yet with a kind smile in His eyes, he kept moving, talking, healing, bestowing love on people as He went along. His disciples tried to create some room for Him to move, giving him some distance from the pressing crowd. To do what she must, would cost her the last shred of dignity she still possessed.

As a good Hebrew man, Yeshua wore his tallit, his prayer shawl, with the fringes on the corners. Culturally it is a garment made for intimacy with God. As a man prays, he entwines his fingers in the fringes of the shawl, as he does his wife’s own hand; the reminder of the Word of God and how close, how much a part of his heart it is to be. In the culture of the day, only a man’s wife or children could touch this intimate place on his shawl. For a strange woman to touch it would be treated as adultery.

She could see the colors of His tallit from a distance, and she knew this place of intimacy with the one who sent Him was the key to her healing. Her heart was bursting with this sudden chance. “If I can just touch the fringe of his tallit I will be healed.”

In a burst of adrenaline she rushed the crowd on one side of Him, using the brief shutter of repulsion and the opening made as she shouted out, “Unclean!” one last time, and lunged to reach her arm and then her fingers through as she grasped the intimate fringe of His tallit.

Immediately and finally she felt energy and strength rush through her body.  Color rose in her cheeks as spontaneous recognition of hope fulfilled flooded her heart.  Color began to drain away again as she realized she might be healed but now in serious trouble; so she began to dart away to hide.

“Who touched me?” she heard the Rabbi ask? His disciples were confused. “What can you mean?  Everyone is touching you Yeshua.” “No. Somebody touched me and power has flowed out of me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.48 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace. (Luke 8:47-48 NLT)

“What?” Her eyes popped open. Did he just say that? her mind raced as she realized no one was going to stone her to death. Look, His eyes are full of love and peace and He’s looking at me! He called me daughter! As His daughter I am permitted this intimacy. As one who is intimate with him I have broken no law, I cannot be punished, no law will judge me, I am free! I am clean! I am healed! I am restored! I am His!

Amen!  This is what we have been granted in the new covenant. As partakers of the Body and Blood of the King, we are permitted every intimacy with Him. Our fingers are entwined in His prayer shawl, entwined in His own fingers. When we take His body into ours we become one flesh with Him. From this intimate place we are permitted to know the thoughts of our King and He shares them with us. We are permitted to know His heart’s intention that, when spoken, transforms.

In the physical, it is a common thing for people who have received an organ from another person to have memories from that person’s life. When we partake of our Father’s blood in the blood of Jesus, I believe we are also given access to His memories, His thoughts toward us, the plans He made for us from before the foundation of the world.

As I sit with Him in the intimacy of communion, fully receiving from Him, I am permitted to know the works He has prepared in advance for me to do. I am given the blueprints, the strategies. I am permitted to receive all of Him into all of me.  I am daughter, I am friend, I am bride. I am His.

Based on Luke 8:43-48

Elohim

I heard a whispered, “Elohim.” I knew that Holy Spirit had said it. 

Suddenly I felt the Presence of the Holy Trinity!  The room grew heavy and crowded.

Elohim; Divine family, perfect love, friendship

Elohim; Divine trust, unity, cooperation, even

humility. Elohim

Ancient of Days,

Holy oneness, rivers of joy; Elohim

Grace upon grace; Elohim

My master, my savior, my husband, 

my friend; Elohim.

Creator of Heaven and Earth; Elohim

God of oneness, intimate friendship; Elohim

Most powerful union; Elohim

Jesus, Our Perfect Husband

Jesus is our perfect husband.  He loves us more than himself, he chooses us before His own comfort.  On the cross, He chose us over His own life.

In Genesis, Adam is the first husband ever.  Adam had heard the word of God, the warning about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17).  Yet, when Eve, who had not heard the word directly from the Lord, offered him the fruit he took it, because it was appealing to the flesh. 

Similarly, Abraham, the husband of Sarah had heard the word of the Lord saying that Abraham would have a son by his wife Sarah.  Yet, when Sarah impatiently offered him a young woman, Hagar, who appealed to his flesh, he too received the elicit fruit from his wife and satisfied his own flesh. 

In both cases, the wife offers something fleshly to her husband. In both cases, the husband does not say, “That’s not what God said.”  Neither husband corrected his wife, nor did either one deny himself.  Instead, both husbands received the fruit of the wrong tree with big consequences for themselves, their wives and their generations.  

As an aside, perhaps a big role of wives as helpmate is to demonstrate denying ourselves to our husbands in order to help them to do the same?

So I have expressed this idea about Adam & Abraham being examples of husbands who did not deny their own flesh and maintain the word of the Lord, but submitted to their flesh instead.  

Sometime later, (Exodus 4:24-26) Moses, the friend of God, had disobeyed the Lord and not circumcised his son as the Lord had commanded. The Lord was actually going to kill Moses!  So Zipporah, his wife, grabbed a knife and did the deed to save her husband’s life.  Then she said, “You are a husband of blood to me now.” There are many questions about her statement, but it is important to understand that circumcision was a blood covenant with God. It represented obedience to the word of the Lord and the, literal, denial of the flesh. Apparently, the covenant and Moses and his generations being under it, was important to God!

Jesus is our perfect husband.  He too was tempted by the flesh.  After fasting for 40 days, the first temptation the enemy brought to him was against His flesh, “If you are the son of God, why don’t you make these rocks into bread.”  But Jesus did not.  Jesus denied the desire of His flesh for food and spoke the true word of God instead.

Whereas these other husbands, rather than deny themselves, took the fleshly thing that they wanted and brought consequences upon themselves and their wives; Jesus denied himself and spoke the word of God instead.  He brought a covenant of blessing upon us instead.

Adam and Abraham were husbands under the covenant of the flesh.  The broken hymen making the two one flesh and creating a lifelong blood covenant of marriage.  But Jesus is a husband of the New Covenant.  The new and eternal covenant.  He sacrificed His life’s blood for us.  He sacrificed His flesh.  He sacrificed to remain holy, so that we too could live holy lives.

I believe this is the role of fasting in the Kingdom of God; to accustom us to denying our flesh in favor of following the Word of God.  We are to get accustomed to choosing life in the spirit over life in the flesh.  As Kingdom people, this helps us make all of our decisions with clarity that can be muddled through feeding our flesh in abundance.

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 

(Luke 22:19-20)

 

In this season, my family and I take communion together on most days. The intimacy of communion is much like intimacy in marriage. In the physical intimacy of marriage, we offer our beloved our body. It can be a vulnerable moment. Jesus said, “This is my body, given for you.” I hear Jesus’ vulnerability and courage in His words.

He offered His blood for us freely.  He poured it out, not trickled it out. “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  In His words I hear His confidence and excitement about the New Covenant He is about to create.  His anticipation that we will be free of the old covenant of burden and empowered by the new covenant of His love.

To paraphrase Paul in Romans 7, our old husband, with his demanding to-do list, was about to die.  Jesus knew we would be free from the law. Under the new covenant (or marriage to Jesus) we have “died to the power of the law, when you died with Christ.  And now you are united with the One who was raised from the dead.” (Romans 7:4)

Next time you take communion, know that your spiritual husband, Jesus, sacrificed His all for you. He chose you over His own life so that you can be in eternal covenant with Him.

He is our perfect husband and has set us free.  “And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:2) Our perfect husband chose to provide the blood of the covenant, so we can have the consequence of blessings.  Choose Him in return.  Live in your blessings.  Know your husband and all His glories fully.  It will mean a lifetime of exploration and wonder as you behold your beloved.

It’s never too early to wish you a wonderful resurrection day!

 

 

Occult Copy Cats

This week was spring break and my daughter was home from school. She loves the show, It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth.  I watched an episode with her and the guest on the show, Chad Gonzalez, caught my attention.

Chad talked about a former witch doctor he met in Africa who had been very powerful in the demonic world.  The man was now a follower of the Lord Jesus.  But in curiosity, Chad asked him about how he had operated in his old life.  The man said something that really caught my attention.  He said, “Christians are lazy!” He said that in his old life, he would get up before the sun, go outside and sit alone.  He would think about the curses he was going to do that day.  He would meditate on them in his imagination until he was certain that when he spoke the curse, it would happen just as he imagined it.  Whoa!  That was so convicting to me about my prayer life and the prayer life of most believers.

In charismatic circles we have all heard that the devil doesn’t create anything.  He only takes the things of God and copies them.  For instance, psychic versus prophetic.  In each case, the person is receiving messages from the spiritual world, but in each case the person is tuned to a completely opposite station.  One to the kingdom of darkness and the other to the Kingdom of Heaven.   We also know there are demonic tongues that copy the gift of speaking in tongues.  Again, each person is speaking a language from the kingdom they serve.

You can list all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and they have been copied in some form by darkness.  That does not mean that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are evil.  Of course not! They were ours first! It simply shows that the enemy is a copycat.  He knows the spiritual laws that God created and he uses these principles to accomplish his evil intention through humans who have the authority on earth that he lacks.

Last week in my time with the Lord, He said, “Whatever you wish for, whatever you do, bring it before me, let me hold it in my hand and I will bring it to life.”  Wow!  It amazed me then and it amazes me now.  My creator, my Father, the one who gave me life and sustains my life desires to bring  life to the dreams that He has put in my heart. His big Papa heart desires it for you too.

If a witch doctor who serves demons can spend hours dreaming of evil to do with his demons, how much more should we be willing to spend time throughout our day with our Papa.  Those demons hated that man and always intended his destruction. Our Father loves us and, according to his own word, has good plans for us.  Plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  Plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

If a person who serves evil can see demonic power manifested through their hands, how much more should we expect to see the power of God manifested through us if we give ourselves to His principles.

How beautiful to change my conversations with the Lord about my dreams into times of daydreaming with him about what it WILL look like when it is accomplished in Him.

When I was thinking about this principle of imagining with expectation, this verse came to mind. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24  Jesus has already revealed this principle to us, we have been slow to believe Him.

We are the royal priesthood of the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are permitted to bless and not to curse. When people in your life are struggling, rather than deliver a laundry list of requests to the Lord for Him to do, what if we meditated on what it would be like when they are…healed, restored, empowered, set-free…whatever it is you have been asking for them.  Then go to them and pray for them with full expectation that when you do, your prayer shall be fulfilled.  I have a feeling this looks much more like the hours Jesus spent alone with the Father than what my prayer life has looked like until now.

I hope to hear glory stories from you of Jesus showing off through you because you spent time imagining with Him!

 

 

The Occult and the Power of Our God

This is a recent speaking event.  We dipped our toes into a very large topic, but I hope it opens your eyes and makes you love our Father even more.

2022 The Year of Expansion

As I reflect on 2021, I feel expanded; not only in my waistline…I’ll soon return to strengthening and minimizing my physical self, but also in my internal house.  2021 was chock full of opportunities to trust Jesus in greater depths and to be expanded in our faith, in our understanding and in hope.

This year my friend Marti, who is about 10 years older than me, (don’t tell her I told you), has been talking about her new perspective on her future self.  She used to avoid thinking about aging and didn’t want to consider how she might be in the future. But then her daughter gave her a paradigm shift, and now, every day, Marti is advancing the possibilities for her future self.  What’s going on in her internal person is evident all over her external person.  It’s beautiful!

This year, I have felt that the Lord has been doing some remodeling of my internal house.  He has taken some old visions, old dreams and given me understanding.  As usual, His understanding means that my mind and heart have got to grow larger to take it all in.  As usual, my existing “knowledge” (what I understand with my mind and natural learning) only begins to encompass the larger and greater territory of wisdom and understanding that He makes available.

Have you ever had those moments when you are learning something new and you suddenly realize that the scope of knowledge on the subject is WAY bigger than you ever considered!?  Well that is life IN Jesus all the time if you are pressing in for more. Holy Spirit is so generous that the house will never be done expanding.  For everyone who has asked Jesus for more understanding, more wisdom–there are no tiny houses.  I wonder if that’s what He meant by, “In my Father’s house are many mansions”?

This year, the Lord took me back to passions I had in business school and youthful longings full of hope for social justice and expanded my former house with creative strategies that harmoniously blend the two.  He reminded me of what my spirit has always known, that this model of believers in business demonstrating social justice should be the norm, not the exception.

This year I have felt the Lord pushing me back in to the business world.  I’m excited about that.  But IN Jesus, there is no distinction between ministers who work on the church campus and ministers who run a business out in the world. Did you notice that Jesus took almost all of his first disciples from the business world, not the Temple?  Do you remember that Jesus was first an entrepreneur?

I have a heart and a hunger to address some social needs through a Kingdom oriented business.  I believe that is the future of the church.  Not just gathering together in churches for a weekly meeting, but Kingdom business people having an affect on many lives through transactions and interactions all week long.

Those interactions can open the door to natural connections becoming deeper in the intimacy of meals together, discussions and meetings in homes.  How is this better than what we have been doing?  It is a more natural social connection, it was modeled for us as a successful model in the first century church and it includes everyone!  Expansion is not just dependent on the pastor, but happens naturally in everyone’s daily lives.

Last night, I had a group of friends over. One friend, a business woman, was telling the story of how she never intended to run a business, she wanted to “run a household, which is a business,” she said.

“Yes!” my spirit shouted.  I have always seen it that way too.

Back in the day, I read a lot of historical fiction set in medieval Britain.  I remember a character who was a Duchess or some such. At any rate, she was the mistress of the manor.  Her husband had several fortresses spread across his lands.  In wartime, his armies and the many servants, farmers, butchers, blacksmiths etc who lived on his lands would also move into the fortress.  It was the responsibility of his wife to manage the household so that all of those people could be fed through the kitchens of the fortress.

All of the food supplies, medicinal herbs, bandages, wool fiber to make clothing, wine, etc had to be anticipated, and bought or produced for a good price.  In addition to this, she would make money selling extra produce, grains, or animals for meat, hides for leather, specialty products made from things grown on the land, wood for fires, services her workers could perform.  It was so apparent to me how running a household like that was really a business.  How well she stewarded that household spoke volumes to the political guests, tenant/farmers, suppliers and customers about her husband and his wisdom and authority!  Does this sound like the Proverbs 31 woman to anyone?

In case you didn’t read Proverbs 31 that way, she was a devout and diversified entrepreneur. In addition to her various business successes, she ran a household and made her man, who was a wise but seemingly unemployed politician, look good.

So this morning I was talking to my daughter about the future.  I was talking to her about our current market, long term trends and how to read them, what to expect from historic cycles so that she can begin living toward her future dreams.  I want her to be able to see clearly how to apply the business strategies and innovations the Lord has given her, in the future.  She can start developing plans for the future expansion of the Kingdom through her businesses on earth.  Looking at the past, we can develop an understanding of the future and dream with God. (This may seems strange to those of you who know my daughter, but that is a whole other conversation about planning for the future!)

I believe the path of growth in the Church of the future is the same structure that enabled the first century church to expand so dynamically; 1) Small home groups gathering in intimacy with one another and with Holy Spirit, 2) supported and expanded by believers in the marketplace demonstrating the ethics, favor, blessing and provision of the Kingdom to people who were not seeking Him in the usual places.

So whether you are managing a business or managing a household, I hope your understanding of your personal role in the Kingdom and the exciting possibilities for it just got bigger.  I hope that off in the distance, you just saw with awe and wonder how much bigger His plans for you are than you ever dreamed! I pray that in 2022 your internal house will undergo a major remodel as you press in and ask for more wisdom and revelation.  I pray that 2022 be the year expansion for you and for all those you love. Let His Kingdom come and His will be done in and through your life this year. Bless you!

Mistletoe Kisses

“I’ll be back in a bit, hon,” my new husband shouted over his shoulder as he hurried out the door of our small apartment.  
“I wonder what’s he’s up too?”  I pondered.
An hour passed, and my mind began to race wondering what trouble he might be getting into.  We had been married less than a year.  Our small Charlie Brown Christmas tree leaned in the corner with the few dangling ornaments we had inherited from our childhood. 
An antique Mary and Joseph in a faded yellow dome took center stage on the front of our tree.  
My life was completely different now.  
I never really thought I’d ever get married.  Didn’t think anyone would ever want me.  
Yet, somehow I’d always dreamed of having a healthy, happy family one day.  An unrealistic dream, I thought – something so unlike what I had had growing up.  
During the first few months of our young marriage I had found myself pacing the floor at night unable to sleep.  Trapped.  Trapped by a piece of paper.  A covenant I had agreed to be with this one man I had dated less than a year, for life! But as the months had passed, I had begun to settle down a bit.
My eyes fell on the simple manager scene under the tree.  An uncertain young husband, a newlywed wife holding on to a promise, and a baby – a vulnerable, innocent lamb.  They had a dream too – a dream that this child would one day save the world.  
The scuffling of feet at our door returned my attention to the thought of “Where is Paul?”  Someone bumped the door, then knocked.  “He has a key,” I thought, but I got up to see who it was.  
But then his muffled voice confirmed.  “Open the door, hon.”  
The crispy air nipped my cheeks as I swung open the door to a man with a grin beaming from ear to ear.  In his arms, he held tightly the largest bundle of mistletoe I’d ever seen.  My fears melted into joyful shock.
“What in the world?” I stammered.
He pushed his way through the front door with it, and placed it on the table, which it now covered.  “Merry Christmas!”
He might as well have brought home a buck he had shot for Christmas dinner.  I laughed.  “What are we going to do with all this mistletoe?”  
“What do you think?”  He smirked and then blushed.  
“We have to share some of the wealth here, don’t you think?”  We had other friends who were young married, all of whose names suddenly popped in my head. 
I looked back at my now green covered table.  “How did you manage all this?”
He smiled again, this time a proud, Tarzan-like smile.   I chuckled again.  “Well, I had a little help.”  He paused.  “You know the property at church is pretty large with lots of trees.  I thought I had seen some mistletoe in them, and well, I thought it would be fun to have some hanging up for Christmas.”  
Laughing to himself, he said, “I got over there and Dan, the grounds guy was out with his backhoe.”  
“Oh no.  What did you do?”
“Well, there were no low hanging boughs, so he offered to lift me up in the bucket to grab some of the high hanging pieces.”  His chest almost burst with pride.
“Thank you, sweetheart.”  He got his kiss before the mistletoe ever got hung up.
That happened 24 years ago now.   We have had a lot of ups and downs, been through a lot of very difficult things together, and a lot of beautiful times. For many reasons, this still holds as one of my favorite Christmas memories.   
Outside of all the kisses that year, it reminds me of the simple thoughtfulness of blessing someone you love with the more than enough. Just because.  
The gift was extravagant – it was way more than we could ever use.  Sometimes, because we hear the story of Jesus’s birth over and over, we lose the extravagance of it all — the awe-struck wonder of God sending His own son to be a man, a man of sorrows, acquainted with our pain, our grief, to save us from our sins.  It wasn’t a last minute, last ditch effort on God’s part either.  It was methodically planned before the creation of time itself.  
God blessed us with the more than enough, with the greatest possible gift, with His son, Jesus.  
I had been tempted to reject my husband’s gift that day, because it just felt too much, like I knew I didn’t deserve to be loved that way.  
God’s love is the same way, given freely, not because we’ve done anything to deserve or earn it.  It’s like He’s standing at the door with His arms full of unconditional love — His love looks like a baby who came to save us.  
Will you receive His gift today?  You won’t regret it.  And then you can share that gift with others.  There is always more than enough. 

Show Me Your Glory

 

Hey friends,  I wanted to share an encouragement the Lord gave me this week.  I hope it blesses and encourages you:

A Word for the Daughters

This is a word the Lord gave me for the attendees of an event this past weekend.  It was for them, but it is also truth for all His daughters.  I hope it blesses you.

My dear daughter,

How beautiful you are to me. Your heart sings to me and I am astonished at your beauty. Beauty within and beauty without.

Every travail of your heart has been felt by me. I share it with you. You are not alone.

In the same way, every longing in your heart to do and be, I share with you too. In fact, I put it there.

I have big plans for you because I already see you in the fullness of all you are in your heart.

People have hurt you, telling you things that hurt you or kept you small in fear. Those were lies. But I AM the truth, I know the truth and I say, you already are.

And I’m helping you my darling! Every step of your becoming I long to do with you. I get excited at your growth and i love for you to get excited to talk to me about it. I AM wisdom after all and I have lots of it to freely give to you.

Freely you have received healing and salvation this weekend. I am making you one who freely gives of all you have received.

Your new freedom will set others free. Your salvation will save others. People are drawn to you because you love like me!

How can they not love you too?! There will be challenges! Sure!

Just like there were challenges when you were a baby, learning to walk. But you don’t even remember them any more.

I’m setting you up my girl! I am setting you up to be all I created you to be. All the answers you need are in my heart.

In the same way you quieted yourself to speak to me and listen to me this weekend — you will find answers when you seek me.

And when you seek me, I will be found by you, because I’m not hiding. You are my delight. I long to spend time with you.

I have anointed you to know my love, to be a carrier of my love in all that you do!

It’s not work, it’s fun!

When I share my plans for you, do not be afraid of their bigness. I am shaping you and carrying you to your destiny.

Only agree that I am right and watch me pave the way. My bigness washes you, prepares you and breaks through for you. You just trust in me. It’s a bumpy ride, so hold up your hands and yell, “Wahoo!” knowing you are safe in my hands.

I love everything and everyone you love. I’m sweet on you. So your interests will always interest me. Include me in your hobbies and in your work, enjoying our oneness throughout your day.

My precious girl, I never tire of hearing your thoughts. Tell them to me. I think about you all day and all night.

I watch over you while you sleep, so rest in me. And if you wake in the night, I am here – so talk to me. Then rest again. 

There’s nothing in your life too big for me.

I am God! I never worry so you don’t have to either.

Together we can do anything. And I’m never leaving you. My Spirit lives inside you, so let’s go! Let’s move!

I am free, making you free, holy, anointed, noble. I know the plans I have for you.

I call you a warrior when you are hiding under the bed.

I call you abundant when you can’t pay the bills.

I call you princess when you feel like a dustbunny.

I call you tender when you have put on hard.

One of us is right, my beloved. It’s NOT you.

So come on! Hurry up and agree with me so I can make you what I have called you.

You are righteous! You are Noble! You are good! You are faithful. You are friend. You are found. You are safe. You are home.

Love, Papa

Forgiveness or Judgement

Sometimes, we need a paradigm shift because we have been looking at the same thing for most of our life, and then one day, our perspective shifts and we see it in a different way.

I was reading Luke 23:34.  “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” In the TPT, it says while they were nailing Jesus to the cross, He said over and over again, “Father, forgive them.  They don’t know what they are doing.”

Truly, they didn’t know they were crucifying the Son of God, or they never would have done it.

Then, I went to the story of Stephen being stoned, and he lifted his head to heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.   He too said with his dying breath, “Forgive them.  They don’t know what they are doing.”  Acts 7:58

As I read these, the Lord began speaking to me.  He wasn’t just talking about the Roman solider who nailed Him to the cross, and Stephen wasn’t just talking to the Jewish leaders who were hurling the stones at them.

Some people insist that for forgiveness to be offered, the one needing it must ask for it.  Yet, in both of these very dramatic cases, forgiveness was not only offered to those who didn’t ask for it, but it was offered and even was a plead for the ones who were abusing, who were actively murdering them.

When the US pulled out of Afghanistan and the Taliban rushed in, I was a mess.  I felt the abandonment and the extreme anger against our government for leaving people stranded and for the Taliban who have taken over.  I knew that it meant the massacre of thousands of believers.

I was so upset that I was making myself sick.

The Lord drew me away to spend time with. As I did, I immediately, saw Jesus standing by a lake tossing rocks into it.  I thought to myself, “How can you calmly be doing that Lord, when your children are suffering and dying?”

He turned to face me with that compassion flooding through His eyes, and said, “Daughter, I never abandon my children.”

Then, he proceeded to motion me closer, “Come with me.”

For the next day and half, all I could see in my minds eye was the same thing. I saw myself standing in the middle of room with these precious Afghans as they huddled in corners.  I saw a glory light all around us with Jesus standing in the middle, and I saw each person with an angel in front of them that was holding them.  From the other side of the bubble, I could hear the door bust through, feet shuffle, the clicks of guns being cocked, and the sound of machine guns being fired into the room.  As each believer took their last breath, the angel flew them away.  It was intense.

Then I heard Jesus say, “Listen.”

With their last breath, I heard, “Forgive them.  They don’t know what they are doing.”

Could that have just been my overactive imagination? Maybe.  But at the end of the second day, I heard, “Enough,” and the vision lifted.

What I believe the Lord was showing me regarding this is that when Jesus willingly laid His life down at the cross He made a way for forgiveness to be given.

Up until that time, mankind’s sins had been appeased.  That’s what the animal sacrificial system was all about – temporarily placing the sins or evil of mankind on an innocent animal to appease the just, righteous, holy God until Jesus could come to be that permanent sacrifice.

When Jesus fulfilled that sacrifice, forgiveness is now already given for anyone who accepts the Son’s sacrifice.  We then also get to appropriate that forgiveness to others, making a way for them to come.

Following Jesus’s resurrection, He said in John 20:22, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.”

It’s still their choice whether they receive what the Lord has already done, but it is already a finished work, once and for all, we are forgiven.

So, Stephen when he pronounced the same thing, I believe in a way he was acting like Christ, and making a way for Saul to become Paul.

The Afghan believers in their suffering and spilling of their blood are also acting as Christ, being that same example.  I believe it will potentially make a difference in some of the Taliban receiving Christ.

Here’s the thing though.  Jesus wasn’t just dismissing the evil being done to Him.  He wasn’t just looking the other way.  He acknowledged what was done.  But He chose to take our place and carry our sins, evils, and make the way for forgiveness to happen, or we would never be able to be reconciled to God.

We also can partner with Jesus in this when we are unjustly suffering and choose to offer the gift of forgiveness just as we have accepted that gift. Perhaps we will make a way for others as well to receive that forgiveness as well.

We act as His agents on earth to bring the kingdom here.  We are His representatives, and we can forgive or not forgive others sins.

If I love my enemies, then I want them to also be able to receive the free gift of salvation as well.  I want them also to receive forgiveness.

Do they have to ask for it? Well, I believe for them to receive it, then yes, but I have already given it in my heart.

Many times, when someone asks me to forgive them for something they have done wrong, my answer is “I forgave that a long time ago.”

When I come to the Lord asking for forgiveness of my sins or those that I have authority over, like my family line, He has always given it because I believe it is already given.  Yet, I still must appropriate it.

Yes, when I receive salvation all my sins have been placed under the blood of Jesus once and for all.  That is true.  It is also true that His blood is enough for all the sins of the world, and yet, Jesus says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” This is something I don’t fully understand, because it seems to be a both/and situation.

Just as Jesus came to step into that place for others, I believe we can also partner with Him interceding or stepping in the gap for others, just like He does.

Having been a survivor of severe childhood abuse and trauma, I know very well all the emotions that seek to suck us down into a pit, and I’ve also suffered sorely from the results of others sins against me, and still suffer daily from them in some ways, but I’ve also learned that I can walk with an unoffended heart when I chose to allow God to take the offenses and be the final judge.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t ever experience offense, nor is it wrong for me to be get offended at evil.  It’s totally right to be offended at evil, and it’s total right to take action against evil.   I just don’t hold on to it.  I turn it over to the Lord.  I offer forgiveness to the person in my heart, but I still may need to hold them accountable for the wrong done.

For example, a couple of years ago, when my purse was stolen, I just didn’t say,  “Oh, I forgive them. Let’s just forget that ever happened.”    I called the police and filled a report against them.  It is right for the full authority of the law to be applied and the thief held accountable.

So…

Here’s where we can and have very much gone off in a wrong direction with this message of forgiveness.

It doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge evil and look the other way.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t hold accountable abusers.  If we have the ability to speak up, and hold people accountable for their evil actions, I totally believe we should.

The reason evil was able to flood back into Afghanistan is because the force of good that was holding it back suddenly left.  If we don’t act justly, and take action against those who are lawless and evil, then we are allowing that to come to our front door and to take us out.

I know this may sound like a paradox, but just follow me a little longer.

There is a big difference between having a forgiving, non-offended heart, which I think we should all have, while still holding people accountable for their evil actions verses carrying around a heart full of hatred and offense judging the hearts of others or passively sticking our head in the sand because we don’t want to offend anyone or get messy.

The church has done the latter two far too many times, protecting the abusers, while throwing the abused under the bus in the name of God.  Many times, the abused are even told that they should just forgive and forget and bear their burden like a good Christian.  This is completely against the heart of God.

He tells us to protect those who are unprotected, to care for the widows and the orphans which is what we are called to do – to act in justice, but love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Instead in many cases, the church has covered up the nakedness of the abuser to protect their reputations, which have no character to back it up, while throwing the abused out the door.

And we wonder why and how our government and culture has become so corrupt.

We have pulled out the good that was keeping it back and not stood up for those who can’t.

This not only breaks the heart of God, but brings His judgment.  And yes, He still judges, even though He has made the way for forgiveness.  It’s both/and.  Not one or the other.

I’m pretty sure Ananias and Sapphira were judged because they lied to the Holy Spirit, and the holy fear of God fell on the early church.  Acts 5

The fierce justice and judgment of God is throughout the Bible.  I believe even His judgment is from a place of love. If He didn’t have consequences to the evil that humanity has perpetuated, our race would never have made it to the redemption. We would have destroyed ourselves long ago. Yet, because of Jesus, we now stand in front of the mercy seat.  Praise God.

When we truly receive the free gift of forgiveness through Jesus, we can now not only live with a heart set free of our sin nature, we can also be the door for others to be set free as well, by stepping into the position of Jesus and acting as He did.

Whether that is speaking up to the Pharisees to defend the defenseless, or if that’s caring for the wounded on the side of the road, or that’s offering forgiveness when we are suffering for someone else’s sins, we can follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and make a difference in this chaotic world by bringing His kingdom through us.

 

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