25 May 2011

JOURNEY 201¦1 ‘Battlefield’

Wow! I have felt so disconnected for the past week and a half … unable to access my online networks and to communicate words of encouragement.

I have been on the spiritual battlefield!

As such, I felt it appropriate to share some critical ‘keeping’ points which have aided me in my fight – some thoughts which have helped to stabilize my thinking and to focus my faith on the LORD God Almighty.

Sing! Sleep! Stand! Submit!

Praise is a powerful weapon in the hand of one who trusts in Jehovah. Acts 16:25 tells us the story of Paul and Silas who had been beaten and thrown into prison – unpleasant circumstances for anyone. However, I like what it says about their experience starting in verse twenty-five: ‘And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed.’ (Acts 16:25-26)
     When things were the darkest – at the midnight hour – Paul and Silas decided to … Sing! Praise is powerful! And it is not just power to you, but to those who are watching walk through the raging storms of life. They recognize that you, in the same circumstance as they, must have access to a unique Source which enables you to respond differently, with joy and peace. And it stirs up a hunger within them to know the God that you know. It breaks chains of bondage for you and those around you. So many people desire to impact the world in a positive way. Well, Paul and Silas did it! Their praise caused the earth to shake and brought deliverance to those who were hurting.

Understand that while there will be times when you need to sing in your place of confinement – there will also be times when you simply need to sleep. In my upcoming book, I look at twenty-one principles to keep you anchored through life’s toughest moments. The title of the book is When Storms Rage. In it I review the life of Peter and the dramatic character transformation which took place in his life. Once impulsive and fear filled, Peter submitted to God’s processing and developed the very nature of Christ. In fact, he progressed so greatly that he was not even moved by imprisonment and the threat of death.
     Acts 12:5-6 highlights his story: ‘Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.’
     The story goes on to account how God sent an angel to save Peter’s life by miraculously delivering Peter from the prison. An angel intervention is always remarkable. However, the action of Peter which preceded the angel visitation is what got my attention. ‘That night, Peter was sleeping …’
     Unlike the early days of his walk with Jesus – when he found himself in the middle of a storm and wondered (along with other disciples) how Jesus could sleep in the midst of it all – Peter had finally attained a level of trust and intimacy with and of the LORD which enabled him to sleep in the midst of turbulent circumstances, in the presence of his enemies. What a tremendous peace! Philippians 4:7 speaks of the peace of God which passes all understanding and guards your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Know that God’s Word is true and that His peace truly does guard your heart and mind – and life!

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of standing is Stephen. A faithful follower of Christ, Stephen found himself in a stormy situation which put his faith to the test and his life on the line. Yet his response was not to tremble with fear, to run, to curse or to complain. His response was to stand and then to submit! Acts 7:55-60 draws us into the final moments of Stephen’s bold stance of faith. ‘But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. Then they [his accusers] cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him… and he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.’
     Stephen did his part to stand for righteousness and then submitted to the sovereign will of God. I know that some will balk at the idea that it was in God’s plan for Stephen to die. However, God is all-powerful and, as such, He has the ability to stop anything. Therefore, if He does not prevent an event, the reasonable conclusion that one must reach is that He permitted it to occur. God will sacrifice one to save many – just like He did with Jesus. And as believers, we are called like Stephen to stand in defense of the gospel and to submit to the ultimate plan of God, to give our all (and even our life if necessary).

Are you facing what seems like insurmountable odds?

Remember how Romans 8:37 tells us, that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who loved us. You can lose home, finances, relationships and even health. Yet there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. You can experience victory and peace - no matter what you are facing today.  I say this even as I pack up my home which I have lived in for fifteen years, uncertain of where I am going, still unable to find employment after three and a half years, facing stalled progress with getting my book published – YET still trusting in the faithfulness of God. Sometimes the greatest miracle is not in God stilling the storm, but in Him stilling you in the storm.  I wish you the peace that He has granted me.

Sing, Sleep, Stand, Submit!

Have a blessed rest of the week …

15 May 2011

Psalm 27

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes,
came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an army should encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war should rise against me,
even in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the LORD;
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.

For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
in the secret places of His tabernacle shall He hide me;
He shall set me upon a rock.

And then shall mine head be lifted up
above mine enemies round about me;
therefore I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy;
I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me and answer me.

When Thou saidst, "Seek ye My face,"
my heart said unto Thee,
"Thy face, LORD, will I seek."

Hide not Thy face far from me;
put not Thy servant away in anger.
Thou hast been my help;
leave me not, neither forsake me,
O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me,
then the LORD will take me up.

Teach me Thy way, O LORD,
and lead me in a level path because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies;
for false witnesses have risen up against me,
and such as breathe out cruelty.

I would have fainted,
unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;
be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen thine heart.
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

14 May 2011

restoration ...

Then the LORD will be zealous for His land
And will have pity on His people.
The LORD will answer and say to His people,
"Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied in full with them;
And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations.

So rejoice, O sons of Zion,
And be glad in the LORD your God;
For He has given you the early rain for your vindication
And He has poured down for you the rain,
The early and latter rain as before.
The threshing floors will be full of grain,
And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.
"Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust
and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
"You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
Then My people will never be put to shame.
"Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the LORD your God,
And there is no other;
And My people will never be put to shame.

Joel 2:18-19, 23-27

11 May 2011

Living Imagination ...

Reviewing a publishing contract!!!
Getting ready for Bible study!!!
Trusting God, Praying for Wisdom, Feeling Good ...
Praise God!!!

'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.'
Romans 8:28

JOURNEY 201¦1 ‘Imagine … the Best’

Earlier this week, I put up a post called 'Imagine … the worst?' It was all about the difficult things that we think up, the horror of when they actually occur and the reality of who God is in the midst of it all. If you have not had the opportunity to read it, I would encourage you to do so.

My favorite quote from the post says this:
'When you have imagined the worst that you can think up - and it actually occurs - there is a comfort that comes when you see that it did not kill you. The world did not end. It did not destroy your relationship with God. Life can and does, indeed, go on and God is still God.
     In that moment, you discover a strength and confidence you never knew you always had. You find a reason to smile, when by all human accounts, you should be crying. You find a reason to praise and you defy the enemy who thought you would curl up and die.’

POWERFUL! I love when God tells me to write things that make me jump.

Yes, we can imagine the worst and not be fearful, knowing that we have everything we need in Christ, that the Holy Spirit ignites us with perfect power, that El Shaddai truly is the All Sufficient One.

So, today I want you to imagine … the best!

I mentioned last week that last Wednesday was not a good day for me. However, I refuse to be moved by this circumstance. This is a storm I have faced before. Therefore, I have been fighting – singing songs of worship and victory, speaking the Word of God, starving my fears and feeding my faith. As part of that process, I have also been reviewing past journals to see what God spoke to me ‘yesterday’ to give me faith for today. As such, I would like to share an entry from my journal ...

8 October 2010
Ephesians 3:20-21 'Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.'
     That verse came to my mind as I watched a trailer for the Velveteen Rabbit (a movie over a year old – why were they showing the trailer?). It’s 1:04 in the morning. The little rabbit told the boy to imagine something ‘big’. So the little boy pushed up his sleeves and thought really hard and a tall sunflower popped up. And as the little rabbit started to comment on the child’s wish/dream/imagination, that he expected something bigger – the boy turned his head to look behind him where the side of the building had vanished and a tremendous, expansive, vibrant, lush, vast garden/meadow had appeared.
     I saw the roles of that boy and rabbit flip flop in that short trailer. The boy apparently had not used his imagination before. But, then he dared to dream. The rabbit who dared him to imagine was taken aback by what he perceived a small wish or imagination. They both marveled at what appeared.
     In an instant, God is about to manifest more than I ever thought possible and He will turn my head to reveal the WHOLE of what He has provided. And it won’t just be for me … I can’t hardly wait!

* Thousands coming to the saving knowledge of Christ – at one time
* Empty eye sockets filled
* Missing limbs replaced
* Crooked backs straightened
* Cancerous cells eradicated
* Hair growing back Skin issues cleared
* A home where each of my children have their own bedroom
* A ministry benefitting single-moms
* Buying a house or paying off a mortgage for one single mom – EVERY YEAR
* An army of saints equipped to impact the world for the Kingdom’s sake
* God’s  Kingdom men and women – His order – invading politics, business, entertainment, sports, education and the literary world – just to name a few

* Unlimited financial resources to do good works in the name of God 
* Young people discovering God and their purpose early in life
* Protection for our young children from violence, kidnappers and sexual predators
* When Storms Rage … blessing many believers, calling those that are unsaved to call on the name of Jesus – for the anointing of God to rest upon EACH AND EVERY COPY
* Godly sons, each with a godly wife – a healthy, lasting and Christ-centered marriage
* Dreams and visions revealing more of who God is and what He desires to do in the earth
* Spiritual gifts to encourage the body and turn the lost towards Jesus
* For others, the peace which exceeds expectation and goes beyond explanation – just like God has provided for me

Just like God told me in 2005, ‘Anything you can think up, I can top’ - exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ask or think/imagine. Imagine that!

Why don't you go ahead and do some imagining yourself!

09 May 2011

Imagine ... the worst?

Today I felt a press in my spirit to re-post excerpts from a post titled 'Imagine the Worst' which was originally published on October 12, 2010. I encourage you to take a few moments and read the original article located in the archives. I  pray it will bless and uplift you.

Have a Blessed Day!

Take a moment and take a trip with me-

For an instant, I want you to IMAGINE

Imagine the very WORST thing you can think up

Not what we have been taught as believers is it? We’re always told to hope, to believe, to envision the promises of God manifest in our life....

[yet even in imagining the worst]

... we know that Christ has given His life for us. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son, that whosoever should be believe in Him – would not perish but experience eternal life (Jn. 3:16).’

We shall be with Him for all eternity and no circumstance on earth can change that reality.

The one who accepts Christ has put on incorruption!

Even if the body is destroyed, the spirit will live on in eternity. 'So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.’ I Cor. 15:54-58

You see, as a believer whose foundation is the Word of God – when you imagine the worst – you cannot help but to also realize the best.

When you have imagined the worst that you can think up – and it actually occurs – there is a comfort that comes when you see that it did not kill you. The world did not end. It did not destroy your relationship with God. Life can and does, indeed, go on and God is still God.

In that moment, you discover a strength and confidence you never knew you always had. You find a reason to smile, when by all human accounts, you should be crying. You find a reason to praise and you defy the enemy who thought you would curl up and die.

In that instant you realize and boldly declare:'What can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Rom. 8:35, 37-39

08 May 2011

07 May 2011

He speaks 'cry' ...

Earlier this week, my friend and I were chatting about the Christian walk. We were discussing how it appeared that everything you prayed for as a new Christian got responded to quickly and affirmatively but how that does not appear to be the case once you have some years of walking in faith.

My best attempt to reconcile this was to liken it to when my children were babies. I knew that they were completely dependent upon me and unable to fend for themselves. They would cry, and I would respond, quickly and affirmatively. I learned what the different cries meant.

There was a cry that meant ‘Change me’ and there was the cry that meant ‘Feed me’ and the cry that meant ‘Burp me, please … I am about to explode!’  There was the cry that said ‘I’m sleepy’ and, of course, there was the cry that simply meant ‘Please hold me ... I just need to know you are near.’ 

They would cry and I would respond. That was my job as a loving parent. However, there was also a point where they had to use the language that I taught them and they would have to verbalize what they needed/desired before they would receive. They had to grow up.

It was a great discussion on spiritual maturity. However, God always has something else in store. He always keeps me balanced. Therefore, even as I talked about the need for maturity as a Christian, He let me know that He is still that same loving parent – despite the fact that he calls us to mature.

Wednesday was not a good day for me. I received a terrible report – one which sent me reeling and almost caused me to faint. However, the LORD caught me and pulled me back to center, reminding me who He is and what He has said. And He let me know that He cares for me so deeply. And as I listened this week to a speaker online, that intense love that He has for me captivated me.

Redemption World Outreach Ministries had a conference this week. It was their ‘Kingdom Momentum’ conference this week and the guest speaker for Wednesday was Sheryl Brady. It was powerful! She shared her heart about the overwhelming love and presence of God. And something happened at the 50:58 mark of the video clip when she said these words … 'He even understands what the tear meant that rolled down your face in the middle of the night across the bridge of your nose onto your pillow … He hears and He knows. He knows what you’re saying and He knows what you’re not saying…’
Those words arrested me and reminded me that, even though He does require that I grow up and use the language that He gave me, He understands when I cannot utter a word. He knows my heart when I cannot form a word and all I can do is cry. He speaks and understands 'cry', a fact that is powerful yet not entirely surprising. We are made in His image afterall. As a mom I could understand the cries of my children because I am crafted in the image of God who speaks and understands 'cry'.

Indeed, He knows the meaning of every tear, every sob and every sigh. And when I weep, shedding more tears that can be counted (by me), crying what becomes a flowing stream or river, He sees each individual tear and can tell what each one represents. Then He responds.

I am so thankful that Mother’s Day is this weekend. I have a wonderful mom and God has privileged me with the awesome responsibility of being a mom. However, more than that, I am thankful that I have a Father, my Heavenly Father, who loves me and knows me and understands me even when I revert to being a child. He hears my cries and He knows what each one means without me speaking a word.
  • He knows the cry that begs ‘Change me … I cannot change myself’
  • He translates the cry which says ‘I am hungry for YOU … please feed me'
  • He understands the cry that screams ‘I am about to explode!’
  • He knows that one tear that says ‘I am so tired I don't know what to do’
  • He comprehends the river of tears which whisper ‘I need You to hold me, to know that you are not only near, but here.'
I love that about Him! And today I want to encourage you. If all you can do is cry, if you wonder if He sees that one solitary tear, when you ponder whether He knows what it means ... take confidence that He knows and He cares and He is attending to every need.

He cares for that which concerns you (I Peter 5:7) and He loved us all so much that He sent Jesus to die for us (John 3:16). He speaks every language under heaven and He speaks and understands ‘cry’.

04 May 2011

strong enough ...

Please say a prayer for me ...

JOURNEY 201¦1 ‘Open Road’

Interesting picture …

This is not my dog. I have a Miniature Pinscher. However, it is a perfect image of what is happening at my house. You see, the fence in my backyard is being replaced. It was taken down Monday. Therefore, Monday evening, I took my MinPin Chico out on a leash rather than let him run out in the back like he normally does. That was a battle! He is not accustomed to being on a leash and he definitely is not use to having company while he takes care of his business. Poor little thing … I concluded that he was going to have to bend his will to mine (and the leash) or he was going to explode.

So, yesterday morning, my mom had a brilliant idea … let him go out in the yard without a leash. Her theory was that he was so use to the fence that he would not leave the yard. I begged to differ – knowing my disobedient pooch. Well, I was WRONG! Children and dogs will make a liar out of you every time. When you say they will do something, they don’t. When you absolutely know they won’t, they do. She put him outside and he took care of his business ran right around where the fence use to be and came back to the house.

So what does this have to do with JOURNEY 201¦1?

I wonder just how many of us are exactly like Chico. How many have become so accustomed to what has contained them that even when the barriers are removed, they respond as if they were still in place?

Understand that there are no boundaries and no limits to a life redeemed by the blood of Jesus and living for God by the power of His Holy Spirit. We have an open road before us.

There is nothing impossible! You are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). For the One who lives in you is greater than he that is in the world (I Jn. 4:4). Refuse to be bound by limitations.

‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ I Corinthians 2:9

However, you can experience all God has for you if you will but trust Him and take a courageous step to move beyond anything you have experienced before.

The open road awaits …

03 May 2011

a fragrant aroma ...

‘Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished;
and he rose in haste and spoke saying to his counselors,
'Did we not cast three me bound into the midst of the fire?’
They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’
“Look!” he answered,
‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire,
and they are not hurt,
and the form of the fourth
is like the Son of God.”
Daniel 3:24-25

Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego had just been cast into a pit of fire because of their choice to honor God. They did what was right and refused to bow to the world's order and their reward was not a rescue but a walk through the flames. It is one of my favorite Bible accounts of all time. It encourages me to trust God even when I do not understand His methods. It reassures me that there is a reward for doing what is right in the sight of the LORD – and not just our protection but as a witness to all the onlookers in our lives.

Have you ever felt like you have been cast into the flames? I have experienced this several times throughout my life and having been sensing it for the past three and one half years. I know it can be overwhelming.

However, I want to encourage you this morning …

To those who find themselves in the midst of a fiery trial; to those who choose to honor the commandments of the LORD, even at great personal expense to self … Keep pressing forward!

The LORD is working in ways that might not be obvious to you. He is preserving you and revealing Himself to those who watch you walk through the flames without being consumed. And there is one other thing that is happening …

'In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No— but at least we don't take God's Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ's presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.' II Corinthians 2:14-17 MSG

This is the verse that I read this morning. As I contemplated my situation in life, it prompted me to think about what I do and why I do it. Whether sharing messages through this blog or providing words of encouragement to a hurting or searching soul – there is a drive, a compulsion to keep pressing forward. It does not provide income, accolades or recognition. Yet it is so rewarding.

A fragrant aroma …

We are the incense of the LORD. Our life becomes an incense, or fragrant aroma, to the LORD and to others. We are bodily censers and incense all at once. We are the censers of the LORD – vessels made for burning incense and our lives the incense or material used to produce a fragrant odor.

Yet, the only way for incense to release its fragrant odor is for it to be burned.

The fiery trials we face are necessary in order to distribute the fragrance that we carry. It is a pleasant scent to those who are being saved. Yet it can be an offensive odor to those who are perishing. But that does not matter. What truly matters is that it is a fragrant aroma to God – a beautiful scent of worship.

Therefore, let us not grow weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9). Let us obtain an eternal perspective and understand the far reaching work of God. ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ II Cor. 4:17-18

In my upcoming book When Storms Rage – 21 Principles to Keep You Anchored Through Life’s Toughest Moments, I ask the question that God asked of me several years ago, ‘Are you willing to stay in the fire long enough for someone else to see Jesus?’

Today I ask, ‘Are you willing to stay in the fire?'

No matter how long it takes, no matter the outcome... If the only way to present a fragrant offering to God and others is through enduring the intense heat of the furnace of adversity … Will you stay in the fire?

If you will – know that your faith, your trust, your praise, your perseverance and your worship will extend to the corners of the earth and will ascend into the very throne room of God ... a fragrant aroma

02 May 2011

the love of God ...

'The Lord does not delay
and is not tardy or slow about what He promises,
according to some people's conception of slowness,
but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you,
not desiring that any should perish,
but that all should turn to repentance.'
II Peter 3:9 AMP

'For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world
that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son,
so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him
shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost)
but have eternal (everlasting) life.'
John 3:16 AMP