A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

January 18, 2022

How Hungry and Thirsty Are You?

First things first ... I'm not sure why this website was down yesterday and most of today. And to be honest, after wrestling with it during the last 24 hours, I don't think I'm responsible for it being back up, but I am thankful it is. So, thank you for your patience, and thank You, Lord Jesus, for hearing my prayers!


Now, for today's thoughts ... My husband, Mark, and I are so blessed to lead a small group of Believers, whose common goal is to first, seek the Kingdom of God in our lives, and then to carry out our assignments to bring the world back into relationship with the One who created it [and us]. We are growing in our recognition that we are all created with an assignment for the Kingdom of God. We are responsible to be accountable for what we achieve for our King while on earth. That sounds like a tall order, and all of us know that we are unable to do it through our own abilities. 

We are a diverse group; coming from different religious backgrounds and faith journeys. In fact, we often find ourselves in the midst of deep conversations as we reconcile our belief systems with Scripture, and as we delve into what the Church has often labeled "the mysteries of God, or Christ". Yet, speaking personally, Mark and I have found that God rewards us with increased spiritual insight when we determine to solve those mysteries by understanding His Truth. 

In fact, as we have sought to know both the Logos Word and the Rhema Word, it has stirred a desire in our hearts and spirits that cannot be quenched. [NOTE: The Logos Word of God is the ability of the Bible to communicate the logical, literal meaning of God's general will through Scripture. The Rhema Word is when the Holy Spirit "quickens" Scripture to speak to your spirit and, oftentimes, the result is a deeper revelation that is imparted to activate your faith for a specific purpose or understanding]. That searching for more in the Word has lead to a consistent yearning that can best be described by what Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 ... Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...

And because of that yearning, I have come to understand righteousness at a deeper level. It is God's standard of purity; the perfect consistency between His nature and His actions. Our God is Holy, therefore He cannot tolerate sin, and His Righteousness demands Judgment. Only through Jesus can we obtain righteousness that is acceptable to God. It is Jesus's purity that God sees in us, when we receive Him and seek more of Him. And the more I seek Him, the more hungry and thirsty I am for Him! I can totally identify with David, when he declared in Psalm 63:1, O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

Simply put, just like David, I cannot get enough of God! This world offers nothing to satiate our hunger, nor satisfy our thirst like what Jesus provides. And that is what each of us in our small Ekklesia share. We may be at different stages in that journey, but it is our hunger and thirst to grow closer to God, and to seek His righteousness, that keeps us in community. And also what makes us different from many of our fellow brethren in faith.

Every so often, someone who has become dissatisfied or disappointed with the mainstream Church will hear of us and visit, with a sincere hope that their discontent can be appeased. We have learned to be upfront and honest in explaining that we go places in Scripture that will most likely be new and even controversial. We are not interested in maintaining traditional doctrine, if it means keeping God in a box and diminishing a fuller understanding of Scripture. We are by no means trying to corrupt or alter Scripture, but rather to strip away any man-made deviations that have obscured God's Truth down through the centuries. That means we may seek answers to our questions in historical documents; apocryphal books of the Bible; Books that were removed from the Canon; the cultural context of Jesus's time on earth; writings of early Church fathers; and other Hebrew and Bible scholars who have studied the etymology of the Bible --- all while taking our findings back to the Bible and comparing them with what Scripture declares as truth. 

It is our hope that others, who have the same hunger and thirst to know more of our God, will join us. We are not afraid to discover more of His unlimited nature. We dare to ask the hard questions that are often brushed aside in Western Christianity. And we are brave enough to consider the unconventional answer. We have confidence that the Lord knows our hearts and we trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to a righteous and uncorrupted revelation. If someone who ventures into our group decides such willingness to take bold risks to gain more knowledge of God is outside their comfort zone, we let them know we understand and it is okay. We don't fault them. We know that this remnant is not for everyone. Our goal is not to gain a huge following. It is simply to feed our longing to know God and Christ more. 

Ultimately, I can only speak for myself when it comes to the reality of why I think God has created this hunger in me [and I am blessed it is present in my husband, as well]. We discern that now, and continuing into the very near future, it is going to be imperative that we identify the forces coming against God's people on the earth. I want to know God's heart and His will for His people, because our studies of the Bible and its history have shown us that the battle will come against those who have faithfully sought the Lord and His will; those who are able to perceive and enter the realm of His Kingdom here on earth to receive our marching orders. He will need the righteous to stand against Evil as He fights for us. And when we understand how He has acted and revealed Himself through history, ancient writings, and even disputed theology, we will be better equipped to fulfill our assignments and purpose. I pray that those who have chosen to play it safe will awaken in time to join the ranks of the remnant, who, by their steadfast faith, will not flinch or shrink back from their calling. 

Lord, let me dwell in Your shelter, but when called upon, let me stand on the spiritual shoulders of those who came before me  ... Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, and the prophets; the twelve Disciples; all those who have endured persecution throughout the ages for the sake of declaring mankind's victory in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. While in this life, I hunger and thirst daily for You! Reveal more of Yourself to me so that I may nourish others, and create in them the same yearning for You! Let us quench the needs of our very beings at Your fountain of knowledge and revelation, and come away more convinced than ever of the depths of our God!

Psalm 14:2    The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand (act wisely),
Who [truly] seek after God, [longing for His wisdom and guidance.]


January 14, 2022

What Does Your Faith Look Like?


I have never walked [nor appeared] conventional in the eyes of the world. I know that from a very early age, I saw life through a different lens. It was like I could see things, events, and people in their "real light", rather than the false image that were projected. In fact, when I was eight-years-old, my Third Grade teacher asked us to write about how we saw our personality. I made it very clear that I did not like "fake" people. Now, that doesn't sound very friendly, kind, or pleasant, does it? It wasn't that I called anyone out; it just meant that I chose to be very discriminating as to whom I wanted to associate with. And I use that word "discriminating", not in the sense of today's cancel culture, but meaning that I could perceive the difference between genuineness and superficiality.

As I grew into my teens and early adulthood, I continued to look at things differently than my peers. At the time, I could not have explained my inner thoughts, but I now see that I had a gift of discernment that allowed me to interact with people of all natures, regardless of what social labels they were attached to. I usually felt like I was outside looking in, but also found myself accepting [and being accepted] by those who society elevated to the "popular" crowd, while also identifying and connecting with those who out on the margins. But I always felt "separate". Not in a bad way. I wasn't interested in judging people; I simply knew I was different. Our society likes to put us in a category, and I think my peers found it difficult to figure out exactly where I fit. I had no idea how that would play into my walk with Jesus.

From the beginning of my faith journey, it didn't look like the mainstream or customary "salvation experience". Unlike many, I did not grow up in a "church-going" family, nor did I make a decision to give my life to Christ as a child. I was in college, [when through my own free will, and some would say, bad choices,] I found myself voluntarily leaving college, on my own, with no job and no source of income. My father was extremely disappointed in my choices, and being unwilling to admit I had failed by making those choices, I declared that I intended to go back to school and finish my degree [which I did, a year later]. But that situation found me crying out to Jesus. I knew about Him from my believing mother and grandmother, but I did not know Him. Yet, through His grace and mercy, and His unceasing pursuit of me, He rescued me from that lonely and scary time. So, I was now acquainted with Jesus, but not yet inclined to surrender my life to Him.

That would take another 13 years of living in the world, seeking to feel comfortable in my unconventional skin, while knowing there was more to this life than I was experiencing -- still feeling I was on the outside looking in; like I was waiting for that "something" that would ultimately define me. It would come in the form of a serious auto accident, with me once again crying out for God as my car flipped 5 times. I emerged from the car, needing only 6 stitches in my head, and a moment of clarity that it was time to ask Jesus into my heart. There was no physical reaction; no instantaneous altering of my mind or spirit -- or at least none that I was aware of. All I know is that my faith journey began that day in 1986 and has continued to change me as I have allowed Jesus to grow me into who He designed me to be, and into a closer image of Him. And in doing so, I have often not resembled other Christians.

But, as I contemplate my faith journey through the experiences of my life, I see that I have always looked through different eyes, and have always been a risk-taker. That does not fit the mold of a conventional Christian. Often times, in modern Christianity, we are convinced that there is "a model" to follow in our faith, and that stepping outside those lines can lead to a radical faith that does not serve the Body of Christ. So, is there room within that structure for those of us who were made to walk the unconventional path?

I love the series called The Chosen, which follows the journey of the disciples of Christ as He called them from their diverse lives into an unprecedented manifestation of faith. Some seemed like ordinary fishermen; others were from all strata of society -- tax collector to "woman of the night". They all had different personalities and traits, but all were chosen for those specific attributes which would be needed to withstand the world's ridicule and objections. All were capable of walking out a radical faith. Are you? Because that is what it is going to take to traverse what is coming upon the earth.

Those Disciples were willing to walk with Jesus into an uncertain future. Are we not faced with the same challenge? But they trusted Him. We must do the same. He is the Creator of the Universe, who personally created each of us to do His will on earth. He never promised the journey would be smooth or safe. Yet those Disciples were men and women who were willing to take a risk in following Him and believing Him; right up to that moment of His last breath on the Cross. But they showed us that their faith did not dissolve in their confusion or fears at finding themselves without His physical presence. Like us, they soon had His Holy Spirit to guide them and counsel them as they continued to risk everything to carry His message of Salvation and the Kingdom to the rest of the dying world.

We have that same opportunity to take those same risks; to be radical in our exhaustive and extensive efforts to reach those who do not know the Lord we serve. It is time to be bold in our testimonies and to let go of our fear of man. It does not matter what people think of us; only what Jesus thinks! I do not want to stand before Him and have Him show me that my unwillingness to embarrass myself before strangers, or to step out in an unfamiliar crowd -- or Heaven forbid, speak His truth that the traditional Church scoffs at -- meant that one of His stray sheep lost the opportunity to receive encouragement to turn towards His steadfast voice and outstretched arms.

It is not easy to step out in faith. I get it! No one wants to be singled out as "different" or "radical". But Jesus is our model. Those Disciples are our model. Jesus showed us that a human being can have faith in God to lead us through our darkest times. There will be nights of sleeplessness; struggles with forces in this world and the spiritual realms; ostracism from the world and religious authorities; separation from family; and even times of uncertainty and questioning -- all experienced by Jesus and His followers. But our God never changes! What He did for Jesus and that dissimilar band of followers, He can and will do for us! 

I want to leave you with this final thought ... I do not dismiss that God can stir a spirit of revival in the hearts of men, and that we could see a reversal of Satan's plans for the world. God would love nothing better than to see a renewal and regeneration of the earth and its systems. We would all love to see that victory! But should we continue on the current path, I will still count it victory, because our faith will grow stronger and more effective! We will walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before us in declaring the power of God and Yeshua! Just let me finish my race as Jesus and each of those radical believers did ... worshiping my Father in Heaven; declaring His glorious Kingdom; and praising Him for His power in my life to help me accomplish His will. That's how I want my faith to look ... right up to my final breath.  

Matthew 21:21     Jesus replied, “Listen to the truth. If you do not doubt God’s power and speak out of faith’s fullness, you can also speak to a tree and it will wither away. Even more than that, you could say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and be thrown into the sea’ and it will be done.


January 10, 2022

What Does It Mean To "Rest In The Lord"?

It is not difficult to understand the emotions that many people are encountering in these confusing times. It is natural to feel uneasiness and trepidation when we are faced with so many threats of drastic change in our lives. But, as Christians, we know that there is no room for fear or anxiety in our relationship with the Lord. In fact, there are approximately 192 references in the Old Testament to "resting in the Lord" during times of turmoil; with approximately 48 references in the New Testament. But just what does "resting in the Lord" look like? We think that's a principle that we should easily understand, right? But how many of us actually do it, or can explain to another how to rest in the Lord?

I will tell you that, personally, I have been waking up around 3:30 each morning with varying thoughts that I can only describe as "unsettling". I recognize that many times they are a word of knowledge for someone I am to intercede for before a ministry session. At other times, I know it is an attempt by the Enemy to torment me and force my attention away from both my purpose for the Lord, and my peace in Him. So, last night as I once again found myself awakened in the Fourth Watch of the Night, I chose to ask God what He wanted me to know in these early morning hours. I heard in my spirit, "Learn what it means to rest in Me". 

So, I got quiet and committed my spirit to hear His voice; to listen to the direction He would have me go in discerning what His rest would mean for me. In those hours before dawn, I got the outline that would lead me to deeper study. On a very fundamental level, I received the understanding that resting in the Lord is a function of all three parts of my Being. "Rest" in my body can result in restoration, rejuvenation, or repair. "Rest" in my soul occurs in my mind, my emotions, and my will  -- where the idea is to surrender and let God's presence "settle in" to those three components of my soul; to feel comfortable and confident in His company. "Rest" in my spirit is best described as being absent from my body and soul, giving me the opportunity to recharge and plug into my Source. 

I think the best overall picture that encompasses the fullness of rest in all that I am is exemplified in that moment in the spectacular show "The Chosen", when Jesus returns to his tent after spending a long, exhausting day healing everyone who came to Him. He is in desperate need of rejuvenation and repair to a body that is in pain; nothing is left but surrendering to the companionship of the Father; and in His depletion, He plugs into His Source of strength and energy. That image is a comprehensive display of the fullness of Rest. 

After receiving that early morning instruction, and upon arising, I spent the next few hours studying the different interpretations of "resting in the Lord" by exploring the various definitions in the Bible -- 23 different words in Hebrew and 15 in Greek, to be exact. [The richness of the Hebrew and Greek versus our one English word, "rest", astounds me!] So, if you will allow me, I'd like to share some of these distinct, yet complimentary, connotations of what it means to "rest in the Lord"...

Exodus 33:14 says,  The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” Here, the word "rest" is the Hebrew word nuwach, meaning rest, remain, be quiet; a physical settling down at some particular place. Sometimes it means a complete envelopment and permeation, as in the spirit of Elijah resting on Elisha. Here, we can comprehend the support of the Lord in the meaning of rest.

Psalm 37:7 says, Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. "Rest" is the Hebrew word damam, meaning to be dumbfounded, astonished, brought to silence. The New Living Translation, interprets this passage to read, Be still in the presence of the Lord; wait patiently for Him to act. This gives us a sense that "rest in the Lord" is a state that amazes and astounds us as we wait in His presence. 

Isaiah 30:15 gives us the importance of resting in the Lord, and the consequences of refusing it. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence in your strength. But you would have none of it. You said, 'No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle. But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! "Resting" is the Hebrew word nachath, intimating quiet and quietness; to be set on. There is rescue and salvation in allowing oneself to be set upon by the Lord. Refusal of that, or choosing another path, results in unfavorable punishment.

Matthew 11:28 reads, Then Jesus said, "Come to Me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Here, "Rest" is the Greek word, anapausis, meaning refreshment, or to refresh so as to recover strength. Again, that scene in "The Chosen" comes to mind; when we abide in the rest offered by the Lord, we regain the strength we need to carry out our purpose.

Hebrews 4:9 says, So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. In this instance, "Rest" is the Greek word sabbatismos. This speaks of the joy in a perpetual sabbath to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by Believers in their fellowship with Father and Son! It is not the same as the commandment to keep the Sabbath according to the Law. It is the rest of God, Himself! It's full fruition is in the future, but Believers can enter into it now in whatever way they enjoy their indissoluble relationship with God. The idea of this kind of rest is amplified in the next verse...

Hebrews 4:10: For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. Here, we have a different word for "rest"; it is the Greek word kutapausis. It accentuates the basis upon which a Believer can enter God's rest. We can enter that divine state when we are confidently assured within our full Being of our position in Christ, and outwardly when we live peaceably in an assurance of God's daily provision for all our needs. 

As you can see, there's a lot to consider when contemplating what it means to rest in the Lord. There appears to be limited, intermittent times of rest when we need to replenish our strength. There is also that timeless, permanent, endless, and constant rest that comes when we enter into God's continuous provision and presence in our lives. There we find the optimal rest that the world cannot take away from us. So whether the world continues to descend into chaos and lawlessness, or we are miraculously delivered into a new age of revival, we are assured of our "special rest"; a full, complete, and everlasting state that we abide in. It is a place of quiet confidence, and peaceful, untroubled strength from which we collaborate with the Lord during our time on this earth. It is worth seeking and maintaining, and it is my prayer that each member of the Body of Christ discovers this blessed state of rest, in body, soul and spirit.

Hebrews 4:1-3  God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter His rest.

January 7, 2022

The Kingdom of God Is the Answer To All Things!

As I contemplate all the disorder and chaos that the world has seen throughout time [and in the last two years of our lifetimes], I cannot help but discern how far mankind has fallen from God's original purpose for us. We were designed as images of the Godhead; to be a branch or colony of God's Heavenly Kingdom, maintaining Heaven's order here on earth. It didn't take long for the one who rebelled against God in Heaven to reassert himself here on earth and to infect the nature of man with a disrespect for divine law and moral code. And very quickly, men lost the idea of Kingdom living as they developed societies and cultures that served themselves.

Yet, our Creator never abandoned His desire to reconcile our relationship, nor did He give up on His ultimate goal of establishing His Kingdom colony here on earth. In fact, He was so committed to us and His plan that He sent a part of Himself, His own Son, as a guarantee that those who would believe in Him, and pledge their loyalty, could never be separated from His Kingdom. And no matter what the world sowed, there would be those who would stay dedicated to living, promoting, and executing the Kingdom.

And what exactly does that look like here in the midst of a contentious twenty-first Century? First of all, I think we need to come to an understanding that the "Kingdom of God" is not just a "Church" concept. It was Jesus's absolute goal and the answer to everything in the world! In the Sermon on the Mount, in the Book of Matthew, we see Jesus's treatise on the Kingdom of God. And I do mean "treatise", which is defined as "a written work dealing formally and systematically with a subject"; in this case, Matthew exhibits how God orders His Kingdom government in Heaven and intends for it to be mirrored here on earth.

So, all that's conceptual ... what should it look like in reality? Everything in our lives should come under the control of the Kingdom of God. That includes our personal lives and how we live them; our economy; our education systems; our society and how we treat each other; our international relations with other nations -- everything! It's easy, as modern Western Christians, to consign the Kingdom to the Church, but that limits it. The Kingdom, as Jesus saw it, was absolute; it gathered all of life and earth's concerns under its umbrella, and established a divine order by which it all functions -- just as it does in Heaven. 

As I listened to President Biden's live speech on the anniversary of the January 6th event at the Capitol, I couldn't help but think how much we need that understanding of the Kingdom now! Our society needs a transformation to "Kingdom living" in the way we view each other and our differences in politics, lifestyles, beliefs, and opinions. There is room for dissimilar viewpoints, but Jesus introduced ethics and moral law into His discussion of Kingdom on earth. His message in the Sermon on the Mount was grounded in the transformational Kingdom Thought that there is freedom for all men in the principles and solutions of Kingdom living. 

The principles of the Kingdom of God transform hearts, which transforms the social order of all men on earth. We can discover the fullness of life [and all it offers] when we organize and construct our lives around the Kingdom. During the centuries, we have lost the idea that the Kingdom of God provides the answers to all things. Our lives no longer function with the Kingdom as our goal or our main influence. We have given that authority to other men. But I am happy to say that there is a remnant that is re-discovering what man and the Church lost. We are redefining our lives, as our spirits recognize the fullness of all it represents; that it is more than our present sanctuary and security; more than just a future hope. The Kingdom of God contains the totality of God to meet the totality of man's needs NOW!

If we ever discover and step into the truth that the Kingdom of God is the answer to the chaos in the world, and that we can be transferred from that disorder and chaos into the realm and order of God's Kingdom, then the deception of the world will be clearly seen for what it is... the strategies of those who seek their own power and influence over the masses in order to control the way the world systems operate. And they control it through self-centered love, fomenting division on many levels ... race, gender, age, wealth, education, opportunity, and social class. All that creates disorder, and the foundation of God's Kingdom in everything is order.

When we can be true imitators of Christ [which was the goal of our original design] by becoming Kingdom citizens, we will find purpose and order in our lives -- even through our trials and battles. That's what brings meaning to our lives and the answers we seek in the midst of our journey. We are not promised the fullness of the Kingdom until Christ returns and we are translated into bodies as glorious as His, and we enter into our citizenship in the Heavenly Kingdom. But until then, we can be intentional about Kingdom living here on earth ... 1) understanding where we are now and that nothing in this life is accidental or incidental; we are here for a purpose; 2) believing with a spirit of expectancy that God will honor His promises to those who have faith in His Son; 3) stepping out in faith and obedience to God's moral laws; 4) knowing that our names are written in God's Book of Life, along with our victories and His grace in our times of need, which are a part of this life; 5) being willing to live separately from the world; being intentional about being righteous, even when you're swimming against the current of the world; 6) putting God's opinion before man's; refusing to submit to the fear of man, and what people think of us, instead preferring to please God in all matters; 7) and finally, we can choose to act as a Kingdom citizen in all our circumstances -- at our jobs, in our families, in our marriages, and even in the midst of the evil we see in the world.

The bottom line is this ... we are no different than the Disciples and the followers of Jesus in that first Century. We find ourselves as outcasts in a world that defiles the Divine nature of God. But there's good news, too! We are part of the remnant that God has always chosen to represent Him throughout history. We are coming into the fullness of our identity and our purpose, and we are not afraid to be deliberate about declaring that it is the Person of Jesus Christ -- not the religious institutions of Western Christianity, the traditions of Eastern mysticism, nor the New Age belief systems of humanism and relativism -- it is Jesus who is the manifestation of God on earth. It is the Person of Jesus Christ who unlocks the prison doors of spiritual darkness and leads mankind to freedom from his self-imposed blindness. 

Jesus came, bringing the Kingdom of God with Him, and challenged us to establish it and expand it until He returns. I believe our time to capitalize on that directive is now. Have we reached that point in history when His return is imminent? When the Kingdom of God finally overthrows the kingdom of darkness? No one can know for sure. But the distinction between the two kingdoms is clearly understood by those called as Ambassadors to the King here on earth. We must come together in acknowledging that nothing in the world BUT the the King of kings, in all His demonstration -- is the only answer. Politics, religion, technology, science, and the authority of man will never solve our problems. Only our Lord and Savior, Himself! I pray that this generation will be the one that ushers in His power, His glory, and His Kingdom forever! 

Revelation 11:15    “The Kingship of the world now belongs to our Lord and to His Messiah, and He shall be King for timeless ages!”

January 2, 2022

"There's A Difference Between What Is Legal and What Is Just"

That statement was made by actor Kevin Costner in a commercial previewing his TV show "Yellowstone".  Immediately, I recognized its significance in relation to the spiritual aspects of abortion. As you know, the highest Court in our land has heard oral arguments regarding the state of Mississippi's abortion law, which makes most abortions illegal after 15 weeks. Currently, the right to abortion is protected prior to fetal viability (which is defined as when a fetus can survive outside the uterus), as established by the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. NOTE: Roe v. Wade allows abortions up to two months after the 15 weeks written in the Mississippi law. But if the Mississippi law [or any portion of it] is upheld, other states could use the decision to make abortion illegal in perhaps half of the country.

I have read articles that say the fact that the Supreme Court has even agreed to hear the oral arguments [when lower courts have dismissed the filing] suggests that there is at least a fighting chance to limit Roe v. Wade, and perhaps even "overturn" it as a federally upheld statute! It would set a course for the States to decide their own laws regarding this abhorrent practice. Here is what is so disconcerting ... There is no federal law protecting abortion rights! In fact, Roe v. Wade is not even a law! Because we, [as citizens and Christians] have not been good caretakers of the Constitution, we have allowed unjust players in our legal system to pull the wool over our eyes!

Not only is Roe v. Wade NOT a law, it is even less "the law of the land'. Let's review a civics lesson, okay? Article 1, Section 1, of the Constitution states, "All legislative powers herein shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which consist of a Senate and House of Representatives". Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, are part of the judicial branch of the government, and have no law-making powers. Since the Supreme Court has no legislative powers, they cannot make, change, or eliminate laws! From my layman's understanding of the law, the Supreme Court can only render decisions on existing laws! So under the Constitution, the Supreme Court is given no legal authority to grant abortion rights at all! For 50 years, we have believed a legal myth!!

So how were political forces able to subvert the Constitution and make a way for nearly 63,000,000 babies to be murdered? When confronted with the 14th Amendment's construct which stated that "no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws", Justice Harry Blackmun [who wrote the majority decision in Roe v. Wade] simply decided that a fetus wasn't a person. In other words, the Supreme Court decided that "personhood" didn't start until birth. Furthermore, the Court focused on the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, and interpreted that to mean that a pregnant woman's "right to privacy" [which does not exist in the Constitution] allowed her to make a decision whether to terminate her pregnancy or not.

Which brings me to the heart of the title of this blog post... there IS a difference between what is defined as legal, and what is just. In this case, "legal" refers to those constitutional laws determined by our earthly government of men. "Just" should be understood as God's standards of what is honorable, decent, upright, honest, righteous, moral, virtuous and principled. Is it important that we distinguish between the two? And does it make a difference how we interpret what is legal and what is just? I believe it does when 63,000,000 lives of unborn babies rely on our answers to those questions. 

And what do we do when the just standards of God come in conflict with entrenched legal precedent [no matter how politically manipulated]? That becomes our "Peter and John moment", who declared that they must obey God rather than man. We must not accept what our spirits know is so offensive to the Creator of each and every one of those innocent babies. We must continue to storm Heaven with our prayers for justice for the innocent who have been subject to such brutal and unconscionable infanticide. And I believe that our prayers will make a difference! Every one of those babies cries out from under the altar of God, crying, "How long, Oh Lord, holy and true, until You avenge our blood and judge those who dwell upon the earth?" God hears our prayers and their cries. The cup of God's wrath upon this sin is nearly full, and He will soon pour it upon our land if we do not right this profound wrong. 

I pray that 2022 ends 50 years of violence against the innocent. Let our words and voices [in prayer] become spiritual weapons as we battle, in the Name of Jesus, the forces of evil and wickedness that seek to sacrifice the unborn. We do know the difference between is done in the name of "legal decision", and what is the "just desire" of our Father in Heaven, and we will never give up battling for justice and righteousness. May this year see our nation's highest Court reverse its indefensible decision of endorsing abortion, and see our land begin to regain a moral foundation. Perhaps it is prophetic that Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued for abortion rights [in Roe v. Wade] before the Supreme Court, passed away this last week, at the age of 76. May the case that she argued -- which legalized abortion in this country -- pass into history with her. It is time, Lord!

Psalm 25:12    Who is the man who fears the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worships Him with submissive wonder]?
He will teach him [through His word] in the way he should choose.

December 30, 2021

If The Lord Is Sifting You, Count It All Joy


I daresay the last two years have been challenging for all of us. We have battled pestilence, uncertainty about the future, and loss of freedoms. Many of us have experienced the deaths of loved ones, sacrificed our jobs, and experienced a level of change that has left us unbalanced and out of alignment with our Lord. And I'm afraid that the forecast for 2022 appears to be no less challenging. 

We can liken it to the "sifting" that the Bible tells us is God's prerogative. It is His right and privilege [as Sovereign Creator] to evaluate our faithfulness through tests and trials. But I believe it is all part of His plan to separate us from the things, ways, and idols of this world which threaten our purpose in being. There is potential [in our sifting] to produce opportunities to mature into becoming more Christlike. And our spirits should receive that with joy!

It is hard when we are in the midst of such life-altering chaos to see it from God's perspective. I understand that it might be difficult to see Him among all the political upheaval, economic fear, and societal divisiveness, because we tend to be focused on how it all affects us. But if we are to call ourselves "the Church" (and truly faithful followers of Christ), then our minds, souls, and spirits should be discerning just how all this offends our Father in Heaven! It is time we see the need to be judging ourselves! And if we are incapable of turning our hearts from idolatry and adultery with the world, then we should expect nothing less than a sifting to shake us up and separate us from that which seeks to make us comfortable in the world. 

What does God need to sift from your life? Is your identity tied up in your possessions, your titles, and how you are perceived by others? Does your security lie in your job, your money, or a guaranteed future? Do you think your affiliation with a denomination, or your religion will insulate you from any form of sifting or shaking from our righteous God? If it is difficult to think about any of this, or thoughts of any further turmoil in your life, then I want to ask you this question: Are you determined to serve the Lord -- no matter what happens -- or are you more preoccupied with preserving and protecting your own well-being? That's a tough question, and one that I have asked myself.

You see, God has divinely ordained plans for our lives, and they involve His Kingdom purposes. We are not here, in this time and this place, for our own benefit! We are here to see His will done as Satan brings everything to bear on his plan to maintain his kingdom of darkness and overcome us. Even as so many of us face the loss of our jobs, homes, and yes, even our lives, we must remain steadfast in our purpose -- to glorify the Most High God, the King of Kings, and the Holy Spirit! If we truly desire to mature into Christ's image, then we must be willing to sacrifice [as He was willing to do] all the comforts and certainties of this world to serve God. And that means everything -- even up to and including our lives! 

I believe that the difficult times we have already suffered -- and those to come -- are a sifting of our motives and allegiance. God wants to sift out all that robs us of faithfully and intentionally serving Him, as we pursue our assignments for His Kingdom. And Satan wants to sift that same loyalty and covenant relationship, purging us of our fidelity and devotion to the One whose Grace and Love sustain us. But we must not let the devil steal our witness of being Overcomers! 

We don't know what this next year, or the next decade, will bring. I believe there is a powerful remnant of the faithful that are storming the Heavens with their prayers and their spiritual strategies to defeat the Enemy's encroachment on the freedoms Christ died to give us. I believe we will see glorious victories. And I believe those victories may well be accompanied by pain and sorrow, just as Christ experienced in His spiritual battles. Just as Jesus experienced, I believe God's called-out ones will become more deliberate targets of the Enemy and his cohorts. There is a flood of deception and lies swirling around us in the world, and we must establish our footing on the solid ground of God's Word and His faithfulness to His promises. Even though we may get tossed around by the winds and currents of deceit, we must stay focused on God's Truth, and the power of Jesus's intercession for us. We can trust Him to fight for us! 

So, let us not be frightened by the efforts of the Enemy to attack our health, steal our carnal security, or destroy our relationship with our Father. Instead, let us see these trials as means to develop and strengthen our spiritual muscles -- producing stamina, endurance, perseverance, and a means to expunge us of our spiritual shortcomings. Through this process, the Bible says we will be made "perfect". And, let us see these trials as a way to walk in true freedom -- letting go of the ties that bind us to this world, and seeking [with like-minded family and friends] only to serve the Lord and trusting Him to accomplish His purpose in our lives! We can count it joy because, through the process, we will be able to walk in true holiness. And that is worth more than any reputation, job, house, dollar amount, or worldly enticement! That is true freedom and my spirit shouts for joy!

James 1:2-4      My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

December 27, 2021

"Mary Kept All These Things In Her Heart..."

The anticipation, joy, and busy experience of Christmas Day is now over. For those of us who are believers in Christ, our souls and spirits have rejoiced that Jesus, the Son of God, chose to be born as a human baby; bringing the Light of God into the darkness of this world. For a few short weeks of the year, we look forward to this celebration, and are filled with an inner peace and happiness that obscures [for a moment in time] the reality of just how dark the world has become. But how many of us are now experiencing an emotional letdown or disappointment as we once again face coming to terms with what might be the harsh realities of our lives?  

It's an age-old dilemma. How can we go from one day, feeling jubilation over our spiritual victory in the Christ child, to the next day feeling as if the bottom has dropped out of that hope? Well, let me suggest a new way to deal with the doldrums of the holiday. Think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Contemplate her excitement and anticipation of miraculously conceiving the Son of God; of hearing the angel Gabriel tell her, "He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” In the Old Testament, the prophets foretold that the Messiah would be the "Son of God", but He is also referred to as  "the Son of David". So, as young and confusing as it might have been for this young woman, she received Gabriel's proclamation that "the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God." And the Bible finishes Gabriel's declaration with these words: "For the word of God will never fail". Some manuscripts translate this to say, "For nothing is impossible with God". 

So, the Bible then shares Mary's words of praise for YHWH, thanking Him for finding her worthy of such favor and declaring all "the great things" He has done for her and His servant Israel, "For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and His children forever". Imagine how hopeful she must have been that the long wait for the Messiah was over and how her personal circumstances and those of her people would soon change! I believe we share in that same hope and joy as we celebrate that long ago birth and what it means to us. We share in the amazement and wonderment of the shepherds and the Wise Men from the East, to whom it was also revealed that the perfect Shepherd of Israel was to be born in Bethlehem. Even the heavens declared His royal birth, as a star guided them to the manger.

Yet, within a few days of the birth of that holy child, it must have become apparent to Mary that the world was not going to receive her baby with open arms. Both the Wise Men and Joseph received dreams from God that the child was in danger. So Joseph bundled up his young wife and baby and they escaped to Egypt as King Herod, the vassal of the Roman Empire, sought to kill Jesus because He threatened Herod's power and Rome's control of Judah. Having escaped Herod's purge of newborn baby boys, it would be two years before Joseph heard from God that it was safe for his family to return to their homeland. 

What must Mary have been thinking? It was obvious that the life of her child -- the Son of the Most High God -- was in danger! It is clear that she would have been fearful. But did she also have doubts about the message she received from Gabriel? Did she question what the future was going to look like? How long was she able to hang on to the hope that she would yet see her child take his rightful place as King of the Jews? We know that she was never able to see her son sit on the earthly throne of David, and had to witness the Roman Empire not only crucify her son, but continue to rule Israel throughout her lifetime. But for modern Christians who are experiencing the too-common letdown after the highs of Christmas, perhaps we can contemplate Mary's experience and learn from how she responded to the fears, disappointments and devastation in her world.

From the beginning, Mary knew the path that God called her to was not going to be an easy one. She would become pregnant before she was married, and she was forced to leave her homeland, only to return to the backwaters of the land of Israel; to Nazareth, a hamlet in Galilee -- certainly not the center of the powerful Jerusalem where it was expected the Messiah would return and rule from His earthly throne. She had very real fears about the state of the world, and rightfully so. So do we! But like Mary, despite our fears, we can rely on the promises of God for our purpose here on earth. Our desire to serve God and His kingdom on earth must become greater than our fears of this world. Like Mary, we must keep moving forward, trusting that God will lead us and deliver on His promises for us -- no matter what the world may look like.

I can only imagine the shock Mary must have felt after the angel Gabriel told her the power of the Most High would overshadow her and she would conceive the Son of God! All the doubts and fears of that reality must have swept over her, but what was her response? She praised God for His faithfulness in her life, and that is something that I fervently believe is the answer to our post-Christmas blues! Read Mary's "Song of Praise" in Luke 1:46-55. "He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear Him." There is power in our praise! So, if you are experiencing any kind of despair or depression, I urge you to encourage and strengthen your spirit, as Mary did, and let your words of praise sustain you through whatever we may experience in the coming weeks, months, or years.

Mary's purpose in the life of Jesus carried a huge weight and responsibility. It was also a source of what must have been intolerable pain and suffering. She watched her son be ridiculed, face religious persecution, and ultimately die on the Cross, a most undignified and excruciating death for a Messiah. The agony she must have felt watching her son suffer! She knew the promises of God and still believed them to be true; but it was quite obvious she would not personally witness them. Each Christmas season, we celebrate that same hope in the victory of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Yet we are seeing the world surrender to the Evil that once tried to defeat Him. We continue to believe in the promise that He is seated on His throne in Heaven, and will one day return to secure His Kingdom here on earth. But we, too, face the reality that we may see more suffering and death before that reality happens, and there is no guarantee that it will be in our lifetime. So, like Mary, in our suffering [whether physical or spiritual], we must learn to fully depend and lean on God. He is our way through the morass of evil that threatens to surround us. We must not let our personal suffering consume us, but rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, and carry us through the sorrows and suffering. I believe God was a consistent presence in Mary's life, and He must be so in ours.

Once Mary realized that the part she played in God's plan was not going to come as easily as she might have imagined, it was necessary for her to trust God in her path of the unknown. It goes without saying that we, too, are in uncharted territory at this time in history. We've never faced uncertainties and fears such as what we are seeing on the horizon. It is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate the world and find "safe harbor" in anything but God, the Father; Jesus Christ; and the Holy Spirit. Mary had limited information and control over how God would use her. She just simply trusted Him with all her heart, and was willing to follow the path He set before her. We can do that, too, as we emerge from the warmth of the Christmas cocoon into the cold reality of a threatening world. Trust in Him, fully and completely!

Finally, Mary made a decision to surrender her life and the life of her child to God's will. We can make the decision that even though every day cannot be like Christmas, we can surrender the day to God's will for us, not trying to control our purpose, but letting Him, in His sovereignty, direct us to what will please and serve Him. We need to have the courage to admit that He knows what's best for us and His plan, and then surrender every aspect of our lives to Him. It won't be easy, as Mary discovered, but I pray that we each step into her example of greater trust and surrender, as we play our part in God's restoration of the world.

So, in finishing, I just want to encourage everyone to rest in the hope that Christmas offers. Do not let the uncertainty and fears of this crazy world divert you from the purpose God has for you. Let us rise above the post-holiday melancholy and enter a time of renewed hope in the trustworthy, faithful, consistent, and never-ending will of God to lead us and direct us to victory. I believe in Him, and I believe in our capacity to surrender to Him, rather than our fears and despondency. Praise Him, now and forever more!

Deuteronomy 31:8     Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.    

December 24, 2021

A Christmas Message of Hope and Renewal

Throughout the ten years I have written this blog, I have expressed the progression in my opinion and understanding of this Christian holiday -- moving from reverence of our American traditions; to discovering the pagan roots of the holiday; and in the last couple of years to the decision to make my recognition of Christmas all about honoring the birth of our Savior. It seems as if each year, the Lord brings me new understanding of the significance of His birth. This understanding of His birth transcends the way the world has [rightly or wrongly] chosen to celebrate it throughout history, and it always outshines whatever our current state of affairs might be. This year is no different. 

I remember the profound sadness I experienced when learning that December 25th was not the actual day Jesus was born. Although I had always loved the "magic" of Christmas as a child, with the tree and lights and the excitement of giving and receiving gifts, I was glad [after coming to Christ] to move beyond the commercialization of the holiday to worshipping His glorious birth and the real "reason for the season". And then the Lord led me to the truth that He wasn't actually born on December 25th. In fact, God never commanded that we celebrate a particular day of Jesus's birth. I became more aware that Christianity has its roots in the faith of the Hebrews, and God commanded certain customs and rites to be observed for all generations as "holy days", or Feasts. The "holy day" of Christmas is not among these Feast Days, and it wasn't hard to see that God's holy days were replaced with man-made traditions.

It all began when Emperor Constantine perverted the Church and its holy days into pagan-impacted holidays.  His extreme hatred of the Jews resulted in their exclusion from the Early Church, and their subsequent contempt of our festivities. The pagan holidays of "Saturnalia" and "Dies Natalis Solis Invicti" (which means "birthday of the unconquered Sun"), both of which were celebrated on December 25th, when the Romans thought the Winter Solstice took place, made it easy for Constantine to merge facets of the Christian faith with accepted pagan practices, and keep the hated Jews separate and isolated. The history of the origins of associating Christ's birth with December 25th haunted my soul and I found myself becoming "religious" about my disdain for the inauthenticity of Christmas. And my spirit was dissatisfied with remaining there.

So, I made up my mind [and heart] to return to honoring the beautiful stories in Matthew and Luke of the details of His conception and birth. I acknowledged that gifts were brought to Him, but as tokens of His Kingship, His Priesthood, and His role as Savior. Although the Bible doesn't record a God-mandated date for celebration of His miraculous birth, we as Believers need the hope that the records in Matthew and Luke afford us. This reminds me of a post I wrote on Christmas Day, 2012. It relates a story about the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who on Christmas Day, 1864, wrote the words to a poem he titled, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. When Longfellow penned the words to his poem, America was still months away from Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9th, 1865; and, his poem reflected all the years of the war's despair, while ending with a confident hope of triumphant peace.

Longfellow's poem was written from the same despair and grief that our nation is currently experiencing from the pandemic.  He wrote the poem after suffering through the tragic death of his wife, Frances, and the crippling injuries of his son, Charles, from war wounds. In 1861, his wife was burned to death after melted wax from a candle ignited her dress.  She ran to Henry's study, where he frantically tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances-- severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning. Too ill from his burns and grief, Henry did not attend her funeral. (Incidentally, the trademark full beard of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow arose from his inability to shave after this tragedy.)  The first Christmas after Fanny's death in 1861, Longfellow wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." In 1862, a year after the incident, he wrote on Christmas Day, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace." But that next year brought more tragedy, when his son was paralyzed in the Civil War.  His journal entry for the Christmas of 1863 is silent.  How many families today are experiencing that same grief, despair, hopelessness, and disheartenment during this Christmas season? 

But in the spirit of hope that Christmas symbolizes, Longfellow would rise from his abject misery to compose one of the most inspirational poems of any era.  Longfellow's Christmas Bells loudly proclaimed, "God is not dead!"  Even more, the bells announced, "Nor doth He sleep."  It is a message that needs to be heard in the hearts and minds and souls of all mankind today, and particularly in America. Here are the last two stanzas of that beautiful poem: And in despair, I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth", I said; "For hate is strong, and mocks the song of Peace on earth, Good-Will to men!". Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead; nor doth He sleep! The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with Peace on earth, Good-Will to men!".

That was my Christmas message in 2012. Today, I want to leave you with a new Biblical understanding of the birth of Christ; one that was shared with me by a Godly woman of faith. It comes from a teaching by Dr. Jim Garlow, titled The Migdal Eder, Really Understanding Christmas. I hope you will listen to it in its entirety, but I wanted to give you a new picture of just how prophetic and significant Christ's birth was. While acknowledging that Jesus was not born on December 25th, Dr. Garlow is able to shine new light on just how intentional God planned this divine birth. 

Now, if you are like me, the term Migdal-eder was new to me. But it is actually mentioned in Genesis 35:19-21 in reference to Jacob, after he buried his wife, Rachel, on his way to Bethlehem: So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a stone monument over Rachel’s grave, and it can be seen there to this day. Then Jacob traveled on and camped beyond Migdal-eder. Now, that term, Migdal-eder, means "[Watch] Tower of the flock", and refers to the exact place where the sheep, who were to be used as sacrificial lambs in the Temple, were raised. The shepherds assigned to watch over these flocks were highly trained to identify lambs worthy of the sacrifice -- they were to be unblemished, perfect, and wrapped in swaddling cloths to protect them from injury. These cloths came from the priestly garments of the priests who carried the blood of the sacrificial lambs into the Holy of Holies to be sprinkled on the Mercy Seat for the forgiveness of the sins of Israel. They were washed and shredded, in order to swaddle [wrap] the perfect lambs who were picked by the shepherds. It is conjecture [and not confirmed by Scripture], but it is possible that the swaddling cloths that Mary wrapped the baby Jesus in came from her cousin, Elizabeth [the mother of John the Baptist], whose husband, Zechariah, was a priest who served in the Temple. 

I hope you will see that it is no coincidence that Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem in that particular manger, and that the angel of the Lord came to those particular shepherds to announce His birth. Approximately 700 years before Jesus's birth, the prophet Micah wrote: And you, O Tower of the Flock (Migdal-eder), hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem (Micah 4:8). The "former dominion" of Jerusalem refers to the zenith of Israel's rulership, under the reign of King David. Remember, Jesus comes from the line of David. So, Micah prophesies that at the future "Tower of the Flock", the kingship of David will be re-established. 

And it is no coincidence that the angel of the Lord announced to these particular shepherds, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth [swaddled], lying in a manger. [NOTE: the word "manger" in Greek is the word phat-ne, and means "birthing stall"].  This explains why the angel appeared to these particular shepherds, because first of all, these shepherd knew where to go ... they knew the ancient prophesies of Micah that the Messiah would come from the line of David and would come to Migdal-eder. They knew Micah had also written that from Bethlehem, would come one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2). Also, they were the ones hired to find the perfect sacrificial lambs (unblemished and perfect; without spots), and to keep them swaddled until the day they were to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. They knew where the manger/birthing stall was for the lambs, so they knew where they were going and to whom they were going to! The Messiah would be born in a birthing stall at the Tower of the Flock, and He would be swaddled. They were being called to the birth of the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb!     

I am so thankful to have received this expanded teaching on Scripture and to share it with you on this Christmas Day. It is significant to me that the understanding of this concept does not rely on December 25th being the designated day of Christ's birth. In fact, it it is not the day that is important, but the miracle of His birth and the reason that He came into the world the way He did -- magnifying Himself as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the world. I don't know about you, but I love seeing the connections between the Tower of the flock, the shepherds, the swaddling cloths, and the manger. It deepens my relationship with the story, and shows me once again the Sovereignty of our God and His will. 

So, I pray that this Christmas Day, you are able to see the magnificence of our Lord's birth in a new light, and that whether you are experiencing this day with joy, or pain and sorrow, you can receive the confident hope and inexplicable, triumphant peace that the angel of the Lord promised 2000 years ago. It doesn't matter the exact day that Christ was born ... it only matters that He was born! I wish you all a day of joy with your families, and if like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you are struggling with pain, sorrow, and tragedy, remember that he could not deny that the Living God exists. Celebrate that baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, in a birthing stall meant for sacrificial lambs. He is with you today, and brings His peace, joy, and comfort. Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:14    Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth, peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

December 21, 2021

The Gift of the Atonement


This is the Christmas season ... the time when gifts are freely given and received. We don't do anything to earn them and for most of us, we do it because we want to please those we love. God gave us the gift of His Son, and His ultimate purpose was to atone for the sins of man to bring us back into relationship with our Heavenly Father. He did that by becoming the Lamb of God; the One whose sacrifice took away the sins of the world. His Atonement [for us] is the greatest act [and gift] in all of history, and a testament to the all-consuming love of God.

I know that sometimes we 21st Century Christians still struggle with believing we have to do something to earn God's love. In the materialistic, self-centered, narcissistic world we live in, even those of us who profess our faith in Jesus may find ourselves bargaining with God to make sure we are still in covenant with Him. It's like it's too difficult to believe that Jesus's death on the Cross -- the final Atonement -- is enough to secure our state of being "At One With God". We get hyper-focused on our needs and begin to question if there might be something else we could be doing to assure the promise of the Atonement. 

And what is that promise? How are we to understand the Atonement? The answer to that question is, at once, both a simple and deep one. The central message of the Atonement is that man's sin has separated him from the original relationship between man and God. God is a Holy God and He demands holiness, but there is nothing that sinful man can do to repair the breach. In other words, we can't be "holy enough". So God has provided a way for all men to come back into a harmonious relationship with our Creator. It is an act done by God because of His infinite and incalculable love for us. It was done by God for us and there is nothing we can do to add to it that makes us more worthy. 

But what about all the animal sacrifices that the Israelites did in following God's commandments? It is important that we understand that from the beginning of man's sin in the Garden, God inaugurated a blood sacrifice to "cover" the sin. God, Himself, sacrificed animals on behalf of Adam and Eve to provide garments to cover their nakedness. He also provided a ram as a sacrificial substitute for Isaac in response to Abraham's faith. And He ultimately sent His own Son as a final sacrifice for all sins [for all time] for those who have received faith in Jesus [by His Grace]. These sacrifices involved the spilling of blood, and this is at the heart of the Atonement ... Leviticus 17:11 makes the significance of blood quite clear in the sacrificial system: For the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you; to make you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible. "Making atonement for you" is what "making you right with the Lord" means. You are "at one" with Him; forgiven, reconciled and ransomed [rescued and redeemed from sin]. 

The sacrificial system in the Old Testament exemplified the need for a blood sacrifice, but it was only temporary. Each year, on the Day of Atonement,  the priests would carry the blood from the animal sacrifices into the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of the people during the year. But it would have to be repeated each year because it was not enough to adequately make amends for the sins against God and His Holy Character. The atonement of the sacrificial system was not only temporary, it was insufficient and inadequate. But God had another plan... Jesus, Himself, the Son of God, "went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of Heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior]" Hebrews 9:12..

Go back and read the second paragraph again ... The Atonement is an act done by God! Yet somehow, we humans sometimes doubt that it is enough. And that, my friends, is called unbelief! We believe the lie of the Enemy that maybe we don't deserve the Atonement because we haven't done enough -- haven't prayed enough or in the right way; haven't served in the Church enough; haven't been perfect enough; haven't tithed enough; haven't been "Christian" enough! 

Even Abraham struggled with this notion. God's covenant with Abraham included the promises that are still affecting the world today... that God would show Abraham a land and make him a great nation and the father of many [the nation of Israel was the fulfillment]; that Abraham would receive personal blessings [a great name, and a son in his old age, both of which were fulfilled]; and in Abraham's "seed", all the families of the earth would be blessed [fulfilled through Jesus Christ, by whom we have been blessed with Salvation]. Yet, there were times Abraham struggled with waiting on the Lord and took matters into his own hands, thinking his own deeds might be enough of a subtle attempt to manipulate God into following through on His promises. Abraham was beginning to doubt God's promise of a son, so he listened to his wife's suggestion of arranging [themselves] for a son to be born to Abraham. And we know where that got them! 

The truth is, we often question God's promise of the Atonement for those who believe in faith in His Son. Shouldn't we be doing something to prove we are worthy of God saving us? Shouldn't we be trying harder to forgive everyone who has hurt us? Isn't there something else I need to confess and repent for? But we must discern when our "doing" becomes more about focusing on ourselves and our "works", rather than a genuine response of love towards the One who has done the sacrificial work of reconciliation.

I can explain it in these simple terms, as it applies to me. God has given me a gift to write. And I write for Him, just to please Him, with no expectation of fame, wealth, power, status or "extra points in Heaven". I know He gave me this gift and I use it in response to His love in giving it to me. That should be how we approach the Atonement of Jesus. Here is the heart of the matter: We can do nothing to enhance the gift His Atonement has brought us. Repentance, forgiveness, holiness and righteousness on our part can only be "done" [or accomplished] by the grace of God, which is HIS POWER IN US, to do what we can't do on our own! We can't do anything to add to what Jesus accomplished by His sacrificial death on the Cross! There is nothing we can do to add one iota to the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice He made to purify us from our sins. 

As we contemplate the birth of the Christ child this week, let us see the "big picture" of just what that gift of love has given us. God, Himself, came to redeem us in the form of an innocent baby to the backwaters of the Roman Empire. Yet, He was willing to pay the exorbitant price demanded by our Holy God to deliver us from eternal death into Eternal Life, and it cost Him dearly. He suffered a brutal death and shed His own blood so that we who believe in Him would not have to pay the price we owed. So, let us never doubt that what He paid was enough; let us never think that anything we can offer is needed or warranted. By His blood we are all healed of our sins! Let us praise Him because He is worthy of praise for His great love for us. The Atonement is the greatest gift we will ever receive!

Colossians 1:20      And by the blood of His cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to Himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!

December 18, 2021

How To Receive Your Power In Prayer -- It's All About Relationship!

I've got a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head and they're coming fast and strong, so I hope I'm able to adequately share what Holy Spirit is counseling me. The Bible tells us to "Pray without ceasing", and "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working". And Jesus gave us a very specific prayer to pray ... "Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be your name.Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". Obviously, prayer is something that is valuable [and consequential] in the life of a Christian.

But there is an aspect to the practice of Prayer that I want to address today. Actually, it has become more evident to me since the Lord brought the ministry of Inner Healing to my husband and me. Let me begin by saying that it is always such a blessing to partner with Jesus and Holy Spirit to assist someone to receive Freedom from the bondage of sin in their lives -- whether the bondage originated from their sin, or the sins of others against them. It is more than I could ever express to witness the moment of realization when a Beloved understands [and sometimes for the very first time] just how much Jesus loves them; enough that He suffered the most brutal of deaths to free them from their wounds so that they could fulfill the purpose for which He sent their spirit to earth. When they are able to hear Him speak in the spirit [to their spirit] and know that they can have a real relationship with Him -- one greater than any they've ever experienced -- it's like watching the wonder that a newborn baby experiences when he or she recognizes the voice of their father for the first time! It's an emotional and spiritual connection and association that is unmatched by any other.

That relationship is at the core of our Father in Heaven's desire for us. Through a healthy and intimate relationship with Jesus, we can know the Father, and also build a relationship with the Holy Spirit who teaches us and guides us in all Their ways. And when we finish an Inner Healing Session, we always tell the Beloved that the freedom they have received has become their responsibility to maintain and continue. In other words, Jesus has shown them the truth of why they were in bondage and led them through the ways He wanted to set them free [such as forgiveness, healing in the memories, battling in the spirit, and many other spiritual tools He has shown us]. We encourage them to become proficient in those ways because they will most likely encounter the snares and traps of the Enemy again; the methods of bondage that brought them to our ministry in the first place. But they must now recognize those fiery darts and learn to not only break the habits that ensnared them, but how to bind, rebuke and renounce the lies that Jesus has revealed so that those doors are never opened again. Their freedom must not be taken for granted -- as if they can now live the rest of their lives in a magic bubble, impervious and unaffected by Satan, whom Jesus calls "the dark ruler of this world". 

In fact, we encourage each and every person who comes for Freedom to take the opportunity to expand that experience of hearing and seeing Jesus in the spirit to grow their relationship with Him. The event of their session is not meant to be a one-time, get-out-of-jail-free card. We invited Jesus and Holy Spirit to be present, not only to break the bonds of sin in their life, but for the purpose of beginning to build a powerful relationship that will bless their earthly lives on into their eternal life. That involves what I call "intentional participation" on the part of the Beloved. And the building process must include maintaining the divine connection initiated in the session; continuous interaction with Jesus to discover their purpose on earth and to hear [and see] how to overcome any obstacles; absolute trust in Jesus for all things in their journey; and finally, collaboration with Jesus, which is when the relationship is so strong that they can act without fear as they hear His voice and carry out their assignment for His Kingdom. It is at that point that the Beloved truly understands the Grace of Christ as being more than unmerited favor; it is the power of Jesus in them to do what they cannot do on their own -- which is a collaboration that can defeat any strategy of the Enemy!

And prayer is a very important part of that process. Prayer, in its simplest and most genuine form, is simply having a conversation with Jesus and our Father. And good communication is the best way to develop a healthy and productive relationship. So prayer is always encouraged as a method to continue the freedom that is received. That is the instruction that we leave with the newly freed disciple of Jesus, along with written tools they can rely on as they begin their journey to wholeness and maturity in Christ. But here is where I want to give a word of caution. The journey really is all about consistency and intentionality. We always make ourselves available whenever anyone has a question or needs further guidance or assistance. But, too often, when I receive a phone call that someone feels like the attacks are returning, they usually express something along the lines of, "I feel like I'm losing my freedom". With just a little bit of investigation, invariably they have not made a consistent effort to maintain their relationship with Jesus. It's easy to get caught up in the world again, as one is released from the chains of bondage to past sin. But that is on them! Jesus did the work on the Cross to set them free and then brought His presence into an Inner Healing Session to show them the ways the Enemy tried to block their purpose, and then gives them words of affirmation for how He sees them and resets the clock, so to speak, so they can move forward in a new identity.

Further investigation into the loss of freedom very often reveals what I believe is at the heart of many Christians becoming stalled in their journey. When I ask, "What have you done about it? Have you incorporated [and been consistent] in using the spiritual tools Jesus gave you"?, the answer I often get is, "Well, I have prayed and asked Jesus to a) help me, b) take it away, or c) show me what I'm supposed to do". Or I will get an email or text asking me to pray for deliverance from a specific attack. Once again, I want to stress that prayer is necessary and an effective tool. BUT when prayer becomes the convenient fallback plan, rather than consistent and intentional collaboration with Jesus to become an overcomer, then prayer has become a substitution for stepping into the power of a relationship with Jesus. It is not stepping into that new identity of our freedom in Christ and declaring the power of the Throne of God in our lives! 

Too often we ask others to intercede for us, when Jesus might want to see us use the power and authority He gave us to establish His Kingdom here on earth. There is nothing wrong with joining together in powerful prayer with an intercessor to see the Enemy defeated, but if we do it because we doubt Jesus will answer us, or we think we don't have the right level of faith, then there is something lacking in our relationship with Him. Prayer is not something that is to be done separate from our relationship with Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. It is the intimate communication IN those relationships, and carries the power that comes with that intimacy. We must be careful -- and intentional -- to not let Prayer become a diversion to doing the work of seeking real relationship with the One who set us free. We have been taught since children to pray to God for help in our time of need, but what would it look like if we understood that our prayers are actually extensions of the power we have been given to collaborate with Heaven to bring God's government to our lives and to the earth? That can only happen when there is a heart connection, continuity in purpose, trust, and cooperative efforts between us and our Rock, our Savior, our Deliverer. Prayer is a vital element in our relationship with Jesus. It needs to be more than methodical, routine, and lacking in the power of real communication. Prayer is all about the relationship of your heart with Jesus. It should exemplify your spiritual union with Him, and be evidence of the spiritual relationship you share. So continue to pray without ceasing, building on the continued communication between your hearts, and reaping all the benefits of that divine and powerful connection. You will not only maintain your freedom, but walk in spiritual power to overcome the world!

I Chronicles 16:11    Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!