Refreshing the Soil

This morning as I was washing the clinging soil from the carrots and leeks I’d just brought in from my garden, I was also listening in on a weekly prayer call full of wise and godly women.

The crisp cold water released the pungent fragrance of the leeks and the sweet refreshing scent of the carrots that had grown strong in my raised beds. Our leader told us that today was the National Day of Repentance. As I stood feeling the cold water and cleaning my harvested future meals, I began to discern what the Lord was saying.

As I washed the soil down the drain, I thought about the qualities of the soil that are necessary for those veggies to grow so big and strong and healthy. Soil fertility. Good soil is fertile soil. Soil that is full of resources and therefore able to produce.

Good soil grows good fruit, good crops. As believers, if there is no fruit, something is wrong with our God-relationship.

But! If there is good fruit, fruit in abundance, then not only do we need pruning, but we REALLY need our soil to be refreshed, restored and made fertile again.

How does that happen? Repentance and intimacy.

If I try to grow next year’s crop in last year’s soil, I may still get a harvest, but it will be less than last year. I may have a greater pest problem. I may have deformed crops. All of these are characteristic of depleted soil.

But just let me add some new resources to my soil, fresh from my time at Jesus’ breast, and watch new life thrust itself out of the soil and produce an abundant harvest again!

Sometimes when we have had a long history of producing good fruit, we get in a rut of things that “work” for us that are part of our former relationship with Jesus, but that Jesus has now left behind.

He has moved on in our relationship, but I am still clinging to THINGS that used to be part of our relationship. Somehow, I have let go of His hand. Jesus isn’t doing it that way anymore. My soil has given to the crop all the good resources I got from Jesus and is depleted.

I remember being at a conference and they were calling for “seeds to be sown, and people were running up to the stage to drop money in the basket.” Translation; put money in so money would come back to you. The lady next to me, a stranger, said, “This works! You need to do it!” THIS works. THIS religious exercise. THIS thing devoid of relationship with Jesus.

But Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” When Jesus wants to refresh us, we need to let go of the old things. They did work then. But now, “See I”m doing a new thing.” Isaiah 43.19

In the last 2 weeks, I have talked to many believers needing help, because Jesus was upending some things in them. Through dreams and difficulties and just plain uncomfortableness, Holy Spirit was pointing to things in them that have been there a long time. Things that NOW He wants to help them uproot and remove once and for all.

In the last year, we have been through a season of shaking, so repentance should be a natural. In this season of repentance, Holy Spirit is bringing to our attention fears, misunderstandings, wrong thinking, strongholds, and cultural norms that He wants to help us tear down once and for all. THIS is true repentance and it leads to true FREEDOM too!

In all of us are “the patterns of this world” but Holy Spirit says, “Don’t be conformed to those old dead things, but let me transform you by replacing your thoughts with my thoughts instead!” (Paraphrase of Roman’s 12:2)

“Yes Lord! Please do it! On this National Day of Repentance, do it! Refresh my soil with newness of life, abundant life so that a new and flourishing crop may grow again.

Dear reader, I bless you to feel the discomfort of Holy Spirit poking at the thing he wants to take from you and you unburdening yourself of it, so you can receive ALL that He wants to give you instead. I bless you in the freedom of repentance and intimate refreshing.

 “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:8

Love Bootcamp

Have you ever felt like you’ve been in a holy kind of boot camp, where the Holy Spirt is trying to train you in something, teaching you a very important life lesson, (actually the most important), and you keep losing your grip on the next level of the climbing wall and slipping back down?

Well, honestly, I’ve never even attempted to climb a wall. They’ve always looked insurmountable to me. With this wall though, the Lord has been so gentle with teaching and training me. He certainly has not been a drill sergeant with me, but more like a caring, encouraging coach.

Yet, sometimes when His words hit your heart, you are like “Ugh. Lord, I’m still missing the mark?” Please, don’t hear me saying anything about performance based love here.

The wall for me, the lesson the Lord has been so gently, but relentlessly trying to teach me, has been understanding what real love looks like.

Even a little has been difficult for me to understand, partly because I didn’t have many good examples of love growing up. At best, it was a twisted, selfish, human love I knew. Also, God’s love is simply so incredibly different than what most of us experience in life.

I have several difficult life situations I’m attempting to walk out right now. Again and again when I’ve asked the why questions, “Why can’t this end now, Lord?” Or, “Why am I still being treated this way, Lord?” Or “Why is this happening all at the same time, Lord?” (you know, the questions you aren’t supposed to ask God, almighty) I’ve gotten the same consistent answer.

“I’m teaching you how to love with My love.” Sometimes, that has been a daily reply. Yet, so many times, I struggle and fight it instead of just leaning back into it.

It’s hard to love people who don’t like you, especially “Christians” who were once close. It’s hard to love family members when they are difficult to deal with, maybe facing mental or physical health issues that require you to put your needs aside. It’s hard to love teens that just want you to leave them alone (at least, they say they do). It’s hard to love people who seem to consistently reject you, and yet God says “Reach out again. Keep loving. Don’t give up.” It’s hard to love people who come to you broken, hurting, when you still feel the same way a lot of the time. It’s hard to love the prodigal.

It’s really hard to love the one who abused you, or even harder; who abused someone you love, like a child. It’s hard to love the way God does.

Heidi Baker recently relayed a story about how God challenged her on love. She had just experienced the murder of many of their pastors in Africa where she is a missionary. She struggled with her emotions over the horrible losses of those she loved. She questioned. She grieved.

Finally, the Lord spoke to her heart. “You have authority over those you love.” She knew what He meant. “Do you really love your enemies? Those who just murdered those you care most for? Do you truly love them?” It was then, she knew what she had to do. Put action to her words of love. That’s His kind of love.

Prophet Bob Jones once said after he had a heavenly visitation that the only question he was asked was by God was “Did you learn to love?”

Do you get that? That’s our one and only pursuit on this big ball of dirt, to learn to love like God does. As Paul said, To know how wide, deep, long, high is the love of God. That’s it. Our one calling. Our one goal in this life.

Jesus said it this way when asked what was the greatest commandment. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

We have put a way longer list of expectations on ourselves through religion and culture haven’t we? Yet, the ONE lesson to learn is not exactly easy.

I was spending time with the Lord a few days ago, and He zinged my heart with these words.

“Daughter, the love you have had still has selfish aspects to it. I’m teaching you what pure love really is, without the dross. I’m using this time to perfect that in you. I love your honesty. I love your willingness to love, to give even when it hurts. Love is not afraid of being hurt. Love is not afraid of suffering. Love is not afraid of rejection. Love freely gives with no expectation of anything in return. Your love has needed a return. (Ouch.) Mine doesn’t. My love is not needy. It always gives. It always believes the best. It never gives up… True love is not afraid of anything. Just keep loving. Keep your heart open to my love. Love never fails.”

One of my favorite and least favorite things about 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, is that it begins with Love is patient. I’m so grateful for it when receiving it, but oh, it can be so hard to live it. Love is patient. It’s patient with me, and all my mess ups, brokenness, and heartache. But it also asks me to love others patiently.

The one thing that will never fail is LOVE. The one thing that will always win is LOVE – God’s kind of: lay down my life for another, suffering, beautiful love. The kind of love that hung on a cross for me.

I’ve only begun to taste it, to experience dribbles of it, but it is the most wonderful, amazing, and terrifying thing, (in the sense of when I experience it, I am completely undone), I’ve ever known – the true love of God.

If you want to know what God is made of, He says in 1 John 4 that He is LOVE.

I’ll leave you with this, because I feel it is such a beautiful picture of the love Jesus Christ has for us. May we fasten this seal of fiery love over our hearts. Let’s celebrate this most wonderful love.

“Who is this one?

    She arises out of her desert, clinging to her beloved.

    When I awakened you under the apple tree,

    as you were feasting upon me,

    I awakened your innermost being with the travail of birth

    as you longed for more of me.

Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore.

    This living, consuming flame

    will seal you as my prisoner of love.

    My passion is stronger

    than the chains of death and the grave,

    all consuming as the very flashes of fire

    from the burning heart of God.

    Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being.

Rivers of pain and persecution

    will never extinguish this flame.

    Endless floods will be unable

    to quench this raging fire that burns within you.

    Everything will be consumed.

    It will stop at nothing

    as you yield everything to this furious fire

    until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore.”  Song of Songs 8:5-7 TPT

Disruptive Love

You gotta get a hold of this love. The Father’s perfect love for you.  You-Have-Got-To-Get-A-Hold-of-This-Love!

It will ruin you for every fear, it will ruin you for anxiety, it will ruin you for stress, it will ruin you for anger.

You’ve GOT to get ahold of this love.

The Father’s love is disruptive to what is going on in the world.  In the world right now, the spirit of fear is reigning; fear about our health, fear about our economy, fear about our political system…but “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” (1 John 4:18 NLT)

If you are a believer, then the Father’s love for you is PERFECT.  He has punished Jesus for ALL your (past, present and future) sins.  No punishment is due you.  Only LOVE.

If you get ahold of His love, you will become a disruptor everywhere you go.  You will be a sea of peace in the midst of the wasteland of fear.

If you grab hold of His love, you will be a disruptor in whose wake of abundant life the atmosphere of stress, worry and woe is displaced.  Your very presence (and His in you) demonstrates the Kingdom reality of His love.

You’ve got to get a hold of His love; His love is disruptive to stale spirituality and destructive to performance christianity.

I pray the shock wave of His no-strings-attached love will shake you free of all the religious lies that have kept you tied up and lacking passion.  I pray it disrupts the cautious and boring lifestyle you have lived, and frees you to run wild and free in the fullness of your design, following after the Holy Spirit.

You’ve got to get ahold of this love of the Father for you; then you cannot participate in the spirit of division that is tearing the world apart. Instead, you will disrupt the spirit of division with the reality of His love.  You will be a bringer of unity; bringing people together in love; as family, as children of one Father who loves us perfectly.

You’ve got to get ahold of–wrap your mind and heart around this enormous, perfect love for you!  Rest and let Him love you.  It will wreck your life– and the lives of those you influence, in the best possible way. ❤️

Bill’s Dream

For a little over a week now, my husband Bill and our daughter have been sick with a stomach bug.  Yesterday we all took Covid tests just to be safe.  We shall see.  At any rate, in the midst of this week, we have felt so very close to the Father as we have battled this sickness in a spiritual warfare way.

In the worst moments, we have praised the Father for His faithfulness.  We have exalted Him as Jehovah Rapha, our healer.  We have thanked Him for His good plans for us, plans to proper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future.  You get the picture.  I have more to say about why we have approached it this way, but I’ll save that for another post.

Each time the difficult moment passed and He has also demonstrated His faithfulness in some unexpected ways.  Like this dream that Bill had this morning.  I think it is prophetic and full of truth.  

Bill’s dream – written by him:

I dreamed that the 3 phases of my sickness are really the 3 phases of how the Holy Spirit is dealing with our family, the Church, our city, state and nation.

The first phase: Recognition that we have a problem. Not someone else, but me.

The 2nd phase: Diagnosis (repentance). We go to the “doctor” to describe what is wrong and ask for help.

The 3rd phase: Faith; that He has already healed us and our land. But our job is to wait upon Him in faith. Just like we trust that the medicine has already begun it’s healing work, we need to trust that the Holy Spirit has begun His work too.

It is tempting to jump in and “help” Him, just like it’s tempting to jump in and try to do something to accelerate the medicine doing it’s job in our bodies. But every time we do that, we simply delay the effectiveness of the medicine working. Our job is to rest and let the “medicine” take over and do its work.

The same is true for the Church related to our government. We (the Church) don’t need to jump in and try to accelerate what He is going to do.  He already knows what the disease is, where the disease is and has taken over the battle to defeat it. If we try to “help” accelerate the healing, we’ll just make it take longer.

“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.” (Exodus 14:13   NLT)

Adel again:  Amen.  He is faithful and He will do what He has promised.  Have faith and watch.

The Flood

Has anyone felt overwhelmed in the last few weeks? I have.

Three years ago or so, several friends and I were regularly receiving visions and words of a coming flood; like a tsunami.

The connotation was that it was going to feel overwhelming, but God would be in it. And the results would be good.

I remember seeing, in a vision, people thrashing in the water, fighting it, thereby nearly drowning.

Others tried swimming upstream, wearing themselves out in the rising torrent.

Some refused to step into the water, trying to ignore it altogether, but as it continued to rise, they were swept downstream.

Still others just leaned back into the flood waters, floated, and laughed playing in the waves, trusting that they were held by the Lord.

Before Christmas, a friend reminded me of this vision. She said she has held onto it so many times, leaning back into the arms of the Lord and trusting that He’s got this.

As things in our world seem more and more like rising, torrential waters, like the days of Noah, I have a choice to make.

If I fight what Yahweh is doing, I will feel like I’m drowning. If I try to go against it, swimming against the stream, I may find myself exhausted. If I ignore the water altogether pretending it’s not there, it will come all the same. I may thereby endanger myself; being swept away in doubt, fear, and disbelief.

The best choice is leaning back into the waters entrusting my life and the lives of those I love into the hands of God, who loves me, and will work everything out for my good.

In this place of surrender, I can relax even in a tsunami that feels completely over my head. I can’t drown in the love of God. In His arms, I am safe.

I actually can come to the place of playing and laughing in the rising waters, knowing He has this crazy world in His hands. He is on the move, and His glory will fill the earth.

Keep your eyes on the true Lord Jesus. Let Him hold you in the middle of the flood.

First Steps

The first time I cast out a demon, I did it by phone. I really was just helping a friend to know that what the bible says is true. I was not Spirit-filled in the sense of having been baptized in the Holy Spirit, I attended a non-denominational church and had no special training in dealing with the supernatural. I didn’t have my whole life together. I wasn’t the perfect Christian. I just knew that what the Bible said had been changing my life for several years and I knew I could apply it.

So I helped my friend, whose guest bedroom had become, after a guest had stayed there a few months, a place that was always colder than the rest of the house, whose door opened and closed on its own and generally gave her the creeps. I helped her to say what it said in the Bible…”In the name of Jesus, I bind you and I cast you out.” She felt a shift and thereafter the room returned to normal. Simple.

The first time I did a house cleansing, it came at an unexpected time. I was visiting a relative who had recently divorced. A friend and I stopped for a visit that turned into a spiritual battle with all the scary-movie effects…house shaking, voices coming from an upstairs room, family dog being locked in said room by whatever the voice came from…creepy.

I felt totally unprepared and yet, my God held my hand and led me by His voice to know what to do. When we left, the house was swept clean and filled with the Presence of the Lord. The teen that had been heading off in the wrong direction suddenly was the one taking her younger siblings to youth group and attending women’s Bible study with her Mom. I never even prayed for her specifically.

We didn’t pick that fight, it picked us, literally. I didn’t specifically hear the voice of my Father say to take the fight to them, but I did know that the choice was to fight or to run. It was a kingdom against kingdom battle and I knew if Jesus was in my shoes, He would not run. I knew, as a daughter that He would not approve of this breach of Kingdom territory, so we had to say no to the breach and take back territory.

The first time I encountered a battle with a witch, it wasn’t much of a fight at all for Jesus. For a couple years I had been learning about the sovereignty of God, authority and my identity in Christ and suddenly I was putting those truths to work as weapons in a face to face warfare against the spirits that were strongly empowering the person in front of me. I was a little nervous. I only had the weapons that I had been given by study and revelation. Because Jesus held my hand and helped me persist in the battle until the shift came, it was accomplished. My new weapons were tested and proven (to me). Jesus likes on-the-job-training (OJT).

The power of darkness, which had been strong and tangible as I entered the field of battle was first overcome. Then the love of God for her was communicated to her and and the battle ended in prayer, forgiveness, healing and love. That is how Kingdom victories happen. No one killed, no one shamed nor disrespected but rather, new life comes.

As we begin our first steps into this new year, the battle between kingdoms seems to be more transparent than ever. As the Bride of Christ, it is time to step into our role in authority. Will we allow the breach of territory that Jesus has paid for with His blood? Will we be the last-days people who act like godly people, but deny the power of true godliness? (2 Tim 3:5) No!

I encourage you; Jesus promised that we would do everything He did on the earth AND MORE. That wasn’t just for the few. Remember He sent out the 70 and they were surprised it worked for them too! Jesus likes OJT.

Stepping out without accreditation is so foreign to our culture, but Jesus doesn’t expect you to fully know what your are doing. If you take your first steps into life in the Spirit, He will keep leading you along. Stay humble and under His wings. Smile and laugh with Him! Joy is a weapon in our Kingdom!

In the days we are in, the world needs to see the true power of the blood of Jesus upon the earth. In the days we are in, the Church needs to know the power and faithfulness of His empowering grace for us. Trust in the finished work of Jesus and the blood of the New Covenant you are under. Watch in amazement as Jesus brings new life through you to people and places around you. You’re about to have plenty of opportunities…go ahead, take your first steps!

Socks for Jesus

“Blue light special on aisle nine. Children’s shoes for ten dollars,” boomed the voice over the speaker. Shoppers rushed eagerly towards the ominous blue light spinning around like a top.

Sarah, my three year-old, and I continued our Christmas shopping ignoring the people pushing by.

Passing the Christmas trees decked in colored lights, we slowed down, as she declared, “Pretty Mama!” Then she clapped her hands to “Frosty, the Snowman”, as I pressed the red nose of the famous character again. The toy’s hips swung back and forth in rhythm.

“Need to get moving,” I muttered.

Turning my attention back to the duty at hand, I asked, “What do you want to get daddy for Christmas?”

With an inquisitive expression, Sarah tilted her head. “But mommy, it’s baby Jesus’s birthday. What we get Jesus for Christmas?”

“Hmm. You are right,” I said, “What do you want to get Jesus for His birthday?”

“Socks,” she said, “Socks, Mama.”

“Why socks?”

“To keep His feet warm. They must be cold in the stable.”

“Of course. You are right,” I said. “Off to find warm socks.”

With all other gifts forgotten, we strolled to the sock aisle. “How about these, sweetheart?” I held up some multi-colored socks for her to see, but she had already spotted the ones she wanted.

Pointing, she said, “No, Mama. Those.” I brought the brightly colored, fuzzy socks closer for her to see, as she nodded her approval.

She held them securely as we finished our shopping.

Later that evening, she carefully wrapped the precious gift in a small box with bright green paper and a red bow on top. “To Jesus.  Love, Sarah” the tag read.

“Hon. What do we do now?” I turned to my husband for advice, after we tucked Sarah into bed. “If we have a birthday party for Jesus, and He doesn’t show up, then what?”

Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head, “I know.”

“What?”

“We will find one of those live nativities and let her leave her present there.”

Surfing the internet, we frantically searched. Sure enough, God provided.

A couple of days later, I bundled the girls up in their matching red, wool coats, pulled hats over their ears, and placed gloves on their fingers. Sarah clasped the precious treasure, as we were off to find baby Jesus.

Her sister snuggled close to my chest, while Sarah grasped tightly to her daddy’s hand with one and proudly to the gift with the other. My sister and five year-old nephew met us there to join the celebration.

Abruptly, Roman soldiers stopped us at the theatrical entrance to Bethlehem, “Why have you come to the city tonight?”

Innocently, Sarah peered up in their harsh faces, “To bring baby Jesus a present,” but daddy quickly added, “To pay our taxes, of course.”

The guards snickered to themselves, as they said, “Welcome to Bethlehem then.”

Shuffling by quickly, we paid our pretend taxes at the next booth, and then entered the city in search of the baby.

Past booth after booth we walked, each selling spices, hand-woven cloths, whittled wooden toys, or other treasures. Whiffs of fresh bread dipped in olive oil, sweet dates, and sheep filled the air.

“Look, Mama. The shepherds!”

Nearby, the shepherds watched over their sheep. Suddenly, music began to play, while behind them, spotlights lit up the sky. A man dressed in a white robe with golden, make-shift angel wings attached to his back appeared, declaring the good news that Emmanuel was born that night. Sarah jumped clapping her hands with joy, while her cousin chased a stray sheep.

“But where is baby Jesus?” Sarah asked, turning to me.

“I don’t know, sweetie. But maybe we should try to find the innkeeper. He would know,” I said.

Behind us, the wise men filed in with camel in tow. “Maybe we should follow them to find where baby Jesus is,” daddy wisely added.

“There’s no room in the inn,” a man said, as he halted us from following.

“But I have a present for baby Jesus,” Sarah said, as she cautiously pushed it forward for the man to see.

“Hmm,” the man replied, “You have heard about the baby, who is said to be the new king? We must keep this quiet from the Romans for they would seek to kill a King of the Jews.” He bent down almost whispering in Sarah’s ear. “Come then, little one. Come see Baby Jesus.” Sarah’s eyes lit up as he rushed us through his door.  “Go out through the back, to the stables.”

The wise men were just kneeling, presenting their gifts to a young mother cradling a baby in her arms. Joseph stood watchfully to the side. Illuminating the perfect scene, a shaft of light beamed into the heavens behind them.

“Oh, Mama. We found Him,” Sarah whispered.

My eyes brimmed with tears. “Go ahead, Sarah. Go to baby Jesus, and give Him the present.”

Timidly, she approached, gently placing the gift at Mary’s feet next to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

At that moment, her cousin overcome with the desire to also bring a gift, began to sing, “Happy birthday, Jesus.” In turn, we all joined in.   

Mary’s eyes filled with tears, as Joseph smiled. “Thank you,” she said, “Thank you for these beautiful gifts.”

Sarah ran back to our arms. “Do you think He’ll like it?”

“Oh Sarah, Jesus will love it, for He loves you,” I said. We snuggled together, as her daddy leaned over kissing her on the forehead.

“Time to go,” daddy said, but as we solemnly walked away, I glanced back to etch the image in my memory.

For years, we made the same trek to find Baby Jesus, but as the children got older, new traditions replaced the old.

I will never forget that first holy night when heaven kissed earth, and joy broke through our darkness with the real gift, Jesus.

First published in Refresh Magazine, Christmas Issue 2020

A Light in the Night

Darkness enveloped the planet, like an evil vice grip, squeezing out the final breath.  Hopelessness hung in the air as crosses lined the roadways with the bodies of anyone who tried to resist the iron fist.

Greedy, power hungry religious leaders gambled their way to positions of power, making deals with their oppressors further smothering those under their influence.

The vague illusions of a “messiah” who would come to rescue them from their oppressors seemed to fade as the lights of the last Hanukkah had been snuffed out.

Four hundred years of silence from the prophets with the only hope left being a miracle of a menorah that had burned eight days instead of one.  Oil that miraculously didn’t run out left the last flicker of hope each year.  Perhaps Yahweh had not forgotten His promise.

Then the iron fist of Rome would pound again demanding all to bow beneath it’s blow.  A wind in the darkness swiftly blew the candles’ flames out, except for the spark that remained.

That spark impregnating a young virgin had been planted where no human eyes could see.

On the darkest night at the moment when all hope seemed lost, a cry of joy cracked open the heavens.  With the beat of angel wings and a song of glory to God in the Highest, Messiah’s birth was proclaimed.  Not to the high and mighty though, but to the lowest of society, the shepherds out tending their sheep.

Brilliant light pierced the black shroud of the long night.  The death grip of darkness yielded to the flicker of a spark which now blazed in glory, as Messiah broke through the trembling knees of an exhausted mother.

A baby.  He came as a baby.  The light of the world.

He came as a servant, not one to be served.  He came to deliver us, not from an evil political system, but from something far more dangerous… ourselves, our sinful nature.

He came as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, carrying our burden of sin.

He came to love us, not to be loved.  In fact, He was hated by those who should have loved Him, betrayed by the kiss of a friend.

He came to humble Himself to the lowest position, to offer Himself as a lamb without blemish as the sacrifice for our sin, which had separated us from our heavenly Father.

They looked for a strong military leader who would crush Roman rule and be crowned King.  Does that sound familiar in our time?  Do we find ourselves looking for the same thing?

Our hope is not found in a political or religious leader.  Our hope is found in the true Lord Jesus Christ.

The true Lord Jesus Christ has come, the light of the world illuminating our darkness.  For those who receive Him, rivers of joy can flow regardless of the circumstance.

Joy to the world the Light has come!

One day, He will fully return again as the ruling King of Kings, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  He will finish what He begun.

Until then, may we remember what He said.  If we want to be the greatest in His kingdom, then we must be servant of all.  Love one another, even love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Then Paul said that if we don’t love, we don’t even know God, for God is love.

As the world seemingly sinks into darkness at times, keep your eyes fixed on the Man of Light.  We bear His light now.  Let it shine.  Let the Light of His love shine in and through you to push back darkness.  May your Christmas be full of His joyous, love Light.

Is. 53, Luke 2:9, 10, John 8:12, John 13:14, 15, John 13, 1 John 4, Luke 6:27

A Thankful Perspective with a Lesson or Two

Stuck.  Have you ever felt stuck in a negative cycle?

What a way to start a blog the day before Thanksgiving.  Yet, this is 2020, and for many this has been a wallop of a year.

Last night, I delivered a pecan pie to a friend who recently lost her husband in a tragic  accident leaving behind young children for her to care for on her own.  Yet, in her eyes I found joy.

As we chatted, our conversation turned to her husband.  “Sometimes, we get so caught up in how people are good or bad,” she said.  “But coming through this, I realized how important a life is, how important just the presence of a person is,” she paused.  “Maybe we just need to appreciate being together more, and not try to change each other.”

I added, “Yeah, and not be so concerned about what the other person is doing or not doing that’s wrong or right.  Just enjoy their presence.  Who they are.”  We both nodded in agreement.

The other night I swung my legs up on my daughter’s bed, as she told me how she just wished that her Christian friends accepted her for who she is without wanting something from her, like her to change or live up to some expectation where she can’t even figure out where the raised bar is.  I reminded her that Jesus is not like that and reassured her of my love no matter what.

Earlier this week, I made another visit to the retirement home, another marble jumped more marbles on the Chinese checker board as I patiently reminded my mother-in-law again of what I’ve repeated several times before.  I sighed deeply as I heard the words inside.  “Just enjoy her presence.  Love her where she is.”

The day before that I sat with my mom while she rocked nervously in her chair fearful of the future possibilities of illness again, I peered into her worn eyes and said, “There’s so much mom on the other side.”  I patted her hand and continued, “Jesus really loves you.  It’s going to be ok.  You are going to be ok.”

I heard Yahweh reminding me of what a friend told me.  “Don’t try to change her, change the past, or take responsibility.  Just love her and enjoy the person in front of you now.”

A month ago, I argued with God about my marriage.  “Abba, I feel like we are living two lives.  If this keeps going we are headed for trouble.”  I began listing off to God all things my husband wasn’t doing to make me feel loved as if He didn’t know.  Then I asked, “Should I write him a letter?”

I can feel all the guys cringe.  I knew from past experiences letters only guilted my husband more making him feel like a failure.

“How about you give each other what you are wanting instead?”  I heard the whisper in my heart.  “Do that for thirty days.”  There is a reason the Holy Spirit is called our counselor after all.

So, I had a discussion with my husband, which went really well.

It’s been over thirty days and you know what?  We are both feeling more loved and connected.

For me, it wasn’t so much that I got lots of gushy notes.  The benefits I felt were hopefully more long lasting.

For one, it got my attention on who my wonderful my husband is, and I’ve come to really appreciate his presence.  I also felt like he saw me, that he noticed and valued me for me.  Isn’t that what we really want anyway, to be loved for who we are as a person, not what we do?  Isn’t that the kind of love God gives us?

You know, 2020 has been a rough year in many ways, but I’ve also realized that it is also a matter of perspective.

When I had my eyes fixed on what I wasn’t getting, what I didn’t have, what wasn’t happening, I felt stuck, and discouragement set in.

When I lifted my eyes higher and looked at the big picture of Yahweh and all the amazing things He has done in me, the doors He has opened, friendships He has renewed, and relationships He is restoring, my heart has burst with gratitude.

It has not been the way I would have picked and definitely not what I had pictured in my mind that 2020 would hold.

When does Yahweh’s plan ever quite look exactly like what I’ve envisioned?   

Yet, I’ve truly grown in my faith walk with Him, and He has proven Himself faithful over and over again.

He is teaching me what it means to love people for who they are, to value others, and just enjoy their presence.  In that process, He is also showing me that’s how He is with me.  He loves being with me just because loves who He has made me to be.

If we feel stuck or more on the disappointed side of life maybe we need to shift our focus a bit.  Maybe it’s time to just appreciate the gift of imperfect family and friends in the middle of the hard or just uncomfortable times we are in.  Maybe we can learn more trust by experiencing God’s unconditional, faithful love.

So if you are walking through Covid-19, you just found out someone you loves has cancer, the government is in turmoil, you separated from your spouse, or you are struggling with the fact that things haven’t turned out as expected, He loves you for you, right smack in the thick of it.  He is right there in the middle of our messy lives loving us, caring about what we are going through, and faithful to see us safely through.  That’s a whole lot to be thankful for.

Risk

Risk in the Christian life is required.  It is as fundamental to life in the Spirit as a pulse is fundamental to life in the body.

Risk is why we MUST begin with knowing the truth of Who the Father is and HOW the Father is.   Risk is essential to life in the Spirit as opposed to life in the flesh.  Life in the flesh does not take risks because it does not make sense to the natural mind. 

On the other hand, life led by the Spirit is a life of risk and reward; the reward of knowing Him better, knowing His faithfulness better, knowing His trustworthiness better and seeing the manifestation of His love through your obedience and your trust in Him to take the risk.