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

Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts

August 30, 2022

What Is The Level of Your Faithfulness?


I have previously shared my testimony of walking in the wilderness and what it was like to have my faith tested. So, it was with much interest that I ran across an article from Open Doors USA about the testimony of a Christian pastor held in a Turkish prison and experiencing the silence of God. In case you are unfamiliar with this organization, Open Doors USA seeks to strengthen and encourage Christians throughout the world who find themselves in danger because of their faith in Jesus. Pastor Andrew Brunson had been a pastor of a small Christian Church in Turkey for 25 years when he found himself serving a sentence for espionage and terrorism, which would result in him spending two years in a Turkish prison cell -- 735 days to be exact.

 Pastor Brunson is candid in his admission that those two years were difficult because he did not feel the presence of God, and it resulted in a season of testing for his faith. In his interview, he reveals, "I was the only Christian in prison, and the only Christian I had any contact with throughout my two years was Norine [his wife]. So I was very alone, isolated in my faith. I prayed for peace so much. I did not feel much peace. Grace was taking me through, but finding strength, determination, peace and joy was actually much more difficult than I expected. So I didn’t feel people praying for me. I had grace, but it was an unfelt grace. My first year in prison, I broke repeatedly."

Many of us can identify with what it looks like and feels like when we've been broken before God. And many times, we, too, experience the silence and what we think is the absence of God. When asked what he learned through this season, Pastor Brunson responded, "There are actually a number of things that came out of my imprisonment in my own heart. Even though it was two years of the silence of God, I came out with a different intimacy, more confidence in my relationship with Him, which comes from having been tested and proving myself. It’s the difference between a soldier who has been trained and has skills, and one who has the same training and skills but has also been in battle."

That last thought, my friends, is at the heart of this post. As my husband and I enter into another year of our unique ministry of Inner Healing, I am increasingly aware of the difference in the faith of a Christian after they have received Inner Healing from Christ. Each one comes to our table, where they have an opportunity to meet with Christ; where He prepares a table [meal] for them in the presence of their enemies, just as David states in Psalm 23. And when they feast on His power to overcome the strategies of the Enemy in their lives; feast on His authority, love and righteousness, they leave a different kind of Christian -- one that truly knows what deep level faith is and how to walk in it. It's as if everything before was experienced through the doctrines and teachings of the Church, but when they experience what Jesus did while on assignment on earth -- hearing and seeing what the Father's will was for them -- those doctrines and teachings pale in comparison to a new level of real spiritual knowledge and awareness, gained through witnessing Jesus's presence [in the spirit] throughout their lives. No one can remain the same after that upgrade in your faith!

Pastor Brunson stated that his time in that prison was a test of his faith and he believes it is stronger today because his faith was tested and he learned what true perseverance was. Before prison, he knew his faith was strong, but until it was tested in the midst of God's silence, he had no proof of the strength of his faithfulness. He hadn't proven it to himself. For my husband and myself, we see that the Beloved's that come for ministry are also able to understand how they've been tested when we can show them the strategies of the devil to keep them from their purpose in this life. They can understand things about their relationship with God that they weren't able to recognize before. They can see that God hasn't abandoned them or forgotten about them; they can finally see that God didn't "allow" the bad things to happen, but that they have an enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and that when free will is exercised by themselves [or others against them], that IT IS NOT GOD'S WILL FOR THEM

Like Pastor Brunson, we can move into a more intimate, strengthened faith with God when we see the truth that God sent us to this earth with an assignment to advance His Kingdom on the planet, and it has been the devil's plan to keep us from that assignment by bringing sin into our lives. And that sin has kept us in bondage to the lies of the devil until the very moment when we have the opportunity to receive the truth from Jesus's own lips! We can cast away the shame, guilt, rejection, anger, unworthiness and whatever other demon spirit the devil has attached to us, and step into a new identity, washed in the blood of Jesus! 

As I've so often said, this life is a journey to become more like Jesus. Each of us has a purpose and an assignment, and we should expect the enemy of God to try to detour us from the path God has written in our Book of Life. After all, didn't Satan do the same thing to Jesus? Our journey is an opportunity to persevere and overcome the attacks from our adversary, and when the testing of our faith comes -- and it will come -- we can choose to rebuild and restore our faith to new levels; and we can form new perspectives about who we are from God's point of view... trading false images for truth.

So, because the Bible tells us that persecution will be on the rise in the End Times, we should take this time to not only get ourselves free from bondage and false identities, but prepare ourselves for the testing of our faith. It will be a time of proving to ourselves that our faith is authentic and that God will be faithful to us, even as we are faithful to Him. As Pastor Brunson reflected on his imprisonment, his words struck my heart: "... there’s already more of a cost to follow Jesus now than there was when I got out of college, and it’s about to very quickly accelerate... One of the things I think God was doing in me was having me go through this breaking and rebuilding so that I would learn and practice certain things that would strengthen me to be an encouragement and resource to others who are also going to face difficulty." May we all commit our hearts to do the same.

#Faith #EndTimesFaith #ChristianPersecution

Romans 8:35   Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?


July 5, 2022

Obedience, Faith and Discipleship: The Road To Jesus


I have really been endeavoring to seek the wisdom and counsel of the Holy Spirit in how to walk closer with Jesus. I don't say that out of a desire to be more "religious" or to meet any kind of standard that the organized Church might put on me; but out of a heart that discerns what shape the world is in, and a longing to more fully follow Him in this season. To that end, I have been studying a particular passage in the Bible, as well as diving into a deeply powerful book, called The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Dietrich was the martyred Lutheran pastor who defied Hitler and the Third Reich while attempting to expose the mass murder of Jews in his homeland. He was hanged as a spy mere days before the Allies arrived in Germany to liberate the concentration camps, and although he did not live to see that evil empire defeated, what he wrote about following Jesus is especially poignant and instructive for today.

In light of all this history, here's where my head and my heart are ... What does it mean to be a true disciple of Jesus? How do we get there? What is the cost? First of all, we must all understand that what Jesus taught about discipleship over 2000 years ago still holds true today. We are not any more enlightened, or sophisticated in our faith than the first disciples who answered His call to follow Him. If anything, we are more involved in the world and our selfish ambitions. 

So, what is the significance of Obedience when considering Discipleship? Mark 2:14 gives us a clue ... As Jesus was passing by, He saw Levi (Matthew) the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax collector’s booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he got up and followed Him. Notice that it was Jesus who initiated the call to Matthew. And the call was responded to immediately with obedience. There is no evidence that Matthew had any prior knowledge or relationship with Jesus, the Christ. And I want you to understand that Matthew didn't respond out of faith, because as of yet, he had none. 

It is as simple as this: Jesus called and Matthew responded out of obedience. There were no promises of wealth or status if Matthew followed Him. In fact, by being obedient, Matthew left his life of relative security for a life the world would categorize as absolute insecurity. Yet, in reality, there is no life more secure and safe than one spent in fellowship with God's Anointed One! We leave a life that is bound in rules, parameters and legalism for a life that has infinite possibilities when we bind ourselves to Jesus. Nothing else in this world matters but following Him! Matthew's story is a testimony of a man whom Jesus summoned, and the response was one of obedience; forsaking all else to follow Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

Keep this in mind as we take a good look at Luke 9:57-62 and hearken unto the words of the Messiah... As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He said to another, “Follow Me [accepting Me as Master and Teacher].” But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the [spiritually] dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and spread the news about the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Notice that Jesus is addressing three different people here, all who profess to want to follow Him. How do our 21st Century responses compare to the 1st Century responses to the call of Jesus? First of all, the first man offers to follow Jesus without waiting to be called. But Jesus gives the man a warning -- He shows the would-be disciple that life following Him will not be easy nor comfortable. Even foxes and birds have places they call home, but His life is one of never knowing where He will sleep that night. In fact, Jesus knows He's on the way to the cross and suffering is His fate. Today, how many times do we see our fellow Christians declare that they are ready to be a follower of Christ, yet there is no evidence they've been called by Jesus nor that they have considered the cost or consequences of following Him in this fallen world? They know nothing of the suffering or what life with Him will require. Jesus's lesson to this would-be disciple is that no man can voluntarily call himself to such a destiny. To be genuine, the call must come from Jesus and the response must come from obedience alone; from a change of heart that instinctively knows the life to which they are being called.

Next we see Jesus actually initiating the call to the second candidate for discipleship who asks to be allowed to go and bury his father first before he answers Jesus's call on his life. This man is conscious of the Jewish laws that burial of the dead must be the same day. Yet there is no information that the man's father has even died yet. Perhaps he is like his 21st Century Christian counterparts whose hearts like the idea of following Jesus, but want to set their affairs in order before making that commitment. Jesus responds with a command to follow Him and to let the spiritually dead bury their own. Because this man is not ready to submit to the call on his life, there is a barrier erected against authentic obedience. If this man's father has truly died ... does he follow the Jewish law regarding burial, or does he answer the call of Jesus? There are times the call of Jesus will look as if it goes against every standard "the Church" has mandated for men. But the true disciple will know that nothing on earth can keep him from accepting that call because it is irresistable.

The third would-be disciple is somewhat like the first; he thinks he can set his own terms when it comes to following Jesus. He earnestly desires to follow Jesus but is beset by the rules of the world, which he feels must be met before he can be allowed to accept the offer. His response seems to indicate that he thinks he must satisfy the order in which his calling will be rendered legitimate. How many times do we Christians today submit to man's understanding about what our calling is to look like? Do we assign a list of objectives to meet before we can call ourselves a follower or disciple? Do we ascribe more value to the title than to our obedience? If we cannot simply surrender to Jesus's call on our life, then we may find ourselves in conflict with both Jesus's desire for us and our own sincere desire to be a disciple. If our response to the call on our life is, "Yes, Jesus, but first ....", then we are not going to act out of pure obedience. That response proves that one is not willing to pay the cost of genuine discipleship. 

As you can see, to follow Jesus in obedience means leaving the old behind for a new life that Jesus is calling you to; this is where faith becomes possible. If we refuse Jesus's invitation and stay in our safe and secure situation, then we never learn to believe out of faith. It is a scary place to be, but the rewards are so great! When we are able to respond out of obedience, then we have the opportunity to learn to trust in Jesus as we enter into true dependence [on] and in relationship with Him. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes so well, "Had Levi (Matthew) stayed at his customs booth, Jesus might have been his present help in trouble, but He would not have been the Lord of Levi's whole life. In other words, Levi would never have learned to believe. And Peter had to leave the ship and risk his life on the sea, in order to learn both his own weakness and the almighty power of his Lord". Both men left an old reality for a new, unknown one, and all for the sake of obeying the Voice that called them.

We must also discern that it is the obedience to the call on our lives that ultimately makes true faith possible, they are interdependent. Again, Bonhoeffer explains it much better than I can: "Faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience". This is what I know ... we must take that definitive step [out of faith] into obedience, and as faith grows, we become "teachable" and the Lord's passion for mankind becomes ours. That includes both Christ's suffering and his rejection. His heart is for those He desperately loves and it is His willingness to suffer at the hands of men and to die despised and rejected by men which are at the center of His going to the Cross. Jesus makes it clear that to be a disciple of His, we must be willing to become like Him, in both the good and the bad of His incarnate existence. 

But have you thought about the fact that Jesus gives us a choice ... IF any man would come after Me....". We have the choice to become like Jesus; we have the choice whether we will follow Him in obedience and faith and deny ourselves in order to become His "disciples" by abiding in Him. But it comes at a cost; one that Jesus was willing to pay and if we are to become His disciples, then we must be willing to follow Him in all His ways. And that word "to abide" means to endure, persist, survive, conform to, to remain [in], and to suffer. So as we grow in obedience and faith and become teachable by the Spirit of the Lord, we grow into discipleship -- moving from being a pupil to being an imitator of Christ. True Discipleship is fearless; being willing to go where you cannot comprehend the road you will be asked to take; yet you are willing to go only where Jesus leads you. You are willing to pay the price of the irresistible call on your life to follow Your Master. My final word is this: True Discipleship is not for the fragile, the fearful, or the doubter. It is not an easy road ... but, oh, my friends, the rewards will be extraordinary when you meet Jesus face-to-face! Do you have what it takes, and are you willing to pay the cost to be called "Disciple" of the Living Christ?

John 15:8    My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.




March 17, 2022

Warning! The Roller Coaster Is Fast Approaching Its Pinnacle!


I had so many alternative titles for this blog post today and it was hard to pick the right one. I first typed, How To Survive in A World Gone Crazy! And then it was going to be, The Time For Fence-Sitting Has Come and Gone! I finally settled on the one you read now. Any of them would have been appropriate, so I'm just going to try to get my thoughts [that are coming rapid-fire] typed out, before they are gone. 

By this time in the Spring of 2022, I would venture that most people in the nation [and the world] are aware that our lives as we've known them are coming under attack -- both in the physical and the spiritual. Everything that we've built our physical lives upon, and trusted in before, is under suspicion. We can now no longer trust our government to tell us the truth. Who is playing whom in the Russia/Ukraine conflict? Who is using whom, and who is really benefiting? Which leads us to the fact that we can't trust our media; propaganda is reported as truth, and the truth is labeled fake news. We can no longer trust our economic system. The dollar as the world's global currency is hanging on by a thread; the elite bankers' option to just keep printing money as a solution to our debt is about to come to an end; and there seems to be no check on inflation. There's all kinds of warnings in which we can't trust that our food supply is sufficient. What we're buying in the stores is last years harvest. Prices of gas and fertilizer are making it nearly impossible for farmers to afford to plant this year. Famine is a very real possibility. And speaking of gasoline, we can't trust that we will have enough energy resources to meet our needs, even though we have been naturally blessed with an abundant supply. Then there is our education system. We can't trust that our children are being taught the values that we, as parents and a nation, hold dear. We can't trust our medical care system. News stories abound of the ways we've been lied to and manipulated, and millions of people died for it. And perhaps the biggest threat in our physical world is that we can no longer trust in the reputation and status of the United States. As a nation, we have fallen from grace and we are no longer respected. 

So, my title reflects this image that I have of a train of roller coaster cars climbing to reach the pinnacle of the ride before it drops suddenly into a steep decline and the riders experience the full force of gravity, and the twists, turns, and drops of a ride from hell. I want to shout a warning because if you are just now realizing that maybe you should have taken your prepper neighbors a little more seriously; or tried a little harder to get out of debt; or maybe even come out of that normalcy bias bubble a little earlier, then I hope you're ready for that sharp curve on the ride that I'm afraid is just ahead of us. The time for preparation has almost expired. The surplus of goods we are used to is quickly disappearing. And all the world's "systems" we've relied on may soon come to an end, so the soft landing we've come to expect may not happen.

But we must also look at the spiritual side of this ride called life. As I've so often said through the pages of this blog, I'm not sure the American Church is ready for the speed and direction that this roller coaster is going to take in the spiritual realms. Yes, if you are a true believer in the power of Jesus Christ [through your faith in Him] to give you Eternal Life, you have no fear of what we may experience in this world until that glorious day of Jesus's return! And, likewise, if you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then you know what His Word says about about what we will undergo during that time before His appearance. 

You should be able to discern that the kingdom of darkness is working in tremendous power in these last days. As we approach the apex of the roller coaster ride [in the spiritual realms], we feel the coming pressure of all that the Dark Side has brought to bear on the human race: the corruption of our bodies through confusion over gender identity; genetic alteration of our DNA; the exploration of artificial intelligence and human hybridization. And those with heightened spiritual discernment recognize that the darkness is permeating every spiritual realm and is intensifying. The final showdown between God and Satan is approaching and the change that is coming upon the earth is a time for both trepidation AND rejoicing.

The change will bring trepidation and apprehension to those who have sat the fence; those who have not been willing to surrender the temporary promise of their worldliness and its benefits in favor of an eternal lifetime of blessings in the Presence of their Creator. But there is still time before the roller coaster descends into a darkness spent in the continuous dismay of loops of evil! The time for sitting the fence is past! It is time to choose Jesus, His Salvation, and His Kingdom! Not to choose, is a choice. You must make a declaration of faith in the only One who can deliver you from the consequences of mankind's rejection of the Redeemer! Those consequences are real and clearly spelled out in the Bible (see this link to a previous post).

While this post may seem as if I am speaking only of disaster, darkness, and destruction, those states of being will be reserved for those who reject Christ; those who "reviled and blasphemed the Name of God, refusing to repent of their sin, loving their wickedness, and refusing to glorify Him" (Revelation 16-9-11). The purpose of this post is to proclaim that there is still time and there is still hope! But that roller coaster train is approaching the critical moment when a decision must be made! And I acknowledge that we don't know for sure the hour or day of Christ's return. This hour of perilous uncertainty may yet pass away [through God's grace and mercy] and there may actually be more time for the human race before God decides to send Jesus to destroy Evil.

So, there is rejoicing for all those who have made the decision to pick up their cross and follow Christ. They are secure in their faith; they know whom they serve, and they eagerly share the Gospels of Salvation and the Kingdom, knowing an eternal inheritance awaits them. No matter what the future brings, they will remain steadfast in their purpose and the reason that they are here on the earth. The dizzying heights and depths of this ride on earth will not move them from their position as a child of God, and they will not fear any man or evil spirit! They know their power and authority in Christ and they are unwavering in the face of evil!

But I am concerned about those who call themselves Believers, yet their faith is pushed to the limits. I am speaking of those that Paul describes in 2 Timothy 3:5, as "holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power". In other words, they do not recognize the power and authority Jesus has given us to overcome evil in our lives. They look the part of a Christian; they say the right words; they have the head knowledge of Scripture, but not the heart knowledge. Sadly, many are imposters and hypocrites, even to the point of doubting that they are saved! Many times in our Inner Healing sessions people will say they believe they would go to Heaven if they were to die, and they believe they are saved, yet they also say they doubt their salvation. How can that be? This uncertainty tells me "the Church" has failed in teaching the truth of Scripture and left a lot of doors open for Christians to fall away, or at the very least, to become insincere and hollow in their faith. The fact that there is so much Biblical illiteracy in our nation, yet we call ourselves a "Christian nation", is one of the reasons I am warning that we are approaching the pinnacle; that time when the consequences will come to bear for those morally corrupt and hypocritical "Believers" who have grown lax in guarding the Kingdom of God from the wolves in sheep's clothing. 

Corrupt and counterfeit faith which seeks to imitate the righteousness of our Savior, but falls short of genuine holiness, is exactly what Jesus is referring to when He states, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]." Many proclaiming faith may have been able to deceive the world, but Jesus will not be fooled.

So, if you are solid in your faith, and you know Jesus as your Rock, your Fortress, and your Deliverer, then you're prepared for this roller coaster ride we're on. But if you are clinging to the rail car and in fear of being thrown overboard, then I plead with you to step out of the world and seek Jesus! You won't find your confidence or security in politics, in your wealth, or in any of your "stuff"; not even in your religion. The answers to feeling free from danger or threats (in both the physical and spiritual) lie in a genuine and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Do not waste another moment looking for it elsewhere. As simple as it sounds, open your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into true revelation of the only One who loved you enough to endure an excruciating death to cover your sins and make a way for you to live eternally with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven. I speak from experience ... you will be blessed beyond measure as you pursue Him and He turns to welcome you into His embrace. The dazzling temptations of this world fade in comparison to the Light of His encompassing Love! We are still climbing towards that pinnacle ... choose Him before it's too late!

2 Corinthians 4:4  ... among them the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.


March 10, 2022

Now, More Than Ever, We Must Understand The Truth Of The Bible!


I know to many of you, these days look dark. I know you are facing fears that you haven't experienced before. I know, because I see it all around me. One of my dearest friends has received a serious cancer diagnosis; her nephew was killed in a car accident last night; my closest cousin died from a stroke that appears to be vaccine-related; our national and world economy is teetering; war threatens the entire globe; and "the nuclear option" is not just a slogan anymore. Many of you may be enduring far worse situations, or fearing the possibilities that you may soon face. But I am not writing from a position of fomenting fear, or "calling out" anyone's inability to accept what is coming upon the earth.

Instead, what I want to shout to everyone [especially people who proclaim their faith in Jesus] is that "Now is the time to see the truth of God in the world! Now is the time to come out from under the delusion that none of this should be happening! Now is the time to step into the unconquerable faith that we claim to possess!" That means we don't focus on the bad news, but we don't deny it, either. I don't understand why people are confused over troubling and painful events in their lives or the world. I have said it over and over, but people just look at me like it's not computing ... Why do we 21st Century American Christians think we deserve uncomplicated and trouble-free lives? Why are we convinced that somehow God has blessed us above all other nations, and that good fortune and security are our national and personal destiny?  

I find myself thinking of those favored by the Father and the Son in the Bible ... the Israelites, who were the apple of God's eye, yet found themselves being subjected to slavery in Egypt; of Moses, whom God used to deliver them from their bondage, yet was denied entrance to the Promised Land; of David and Abraham, who were both highly favored by God, yet experienced suffering in their personal lives, found themselves fighting in wars, and saw their sons become embittered foes. And can you imagine what it must have been like for the Disciples? These were men hand-picked by Jesus, Himself, and tasked with traveling to places like Turkey and India to spread the news that the Son of the Most High God, [whom these foreign people didn't even know] had come to earth to save them from eternal death. And they were willing to go, even though Jesus pretty much assured them they would endure tribulation and trials, and be killed by those who hated Him. Why would we think that we could [or should] make it through this world unscathed and untouched?

People throughout the world and throughout history have understood that we live in a fallen world, and suffering [in all its forms] is "normal". But somehow, we, who find ourselves modern citizens of the Western culture and mindset, have somehow come to expect a life of ease, convenience and constant safety. How many times have I heard people say, "That would never happen here"! We seem to have forgotten Paul's exhortation to the young church in Thessalonica "not to become unsettled by difficulties", for he had warned them in advance that they were going to experience persecution, and sure enough, it had come to pass. It was to be expected! Yet, when we look upon the tremendous suffering that is happening in our world today -- from disease, violence and crime, war, the trading of human souls, and the consequences of our individual sin -- we still cry out, "How could this be happening to me? I've been a good Christian [or at least a good person]"!

But God's Word never promises a guaranteed escape plan from the suffering in the world. In fact, Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, Indeed, all who delight in pursuing righteousness and are determined to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be hunted and persecuted [because of their faith]. He couldn't have said it any plainer. But it is also apparent that God has given much favor to those of us born in the United States. No other nation has been created with personal liberty and freedom such as we've been blessed with. And up until now, we have been able to pursue our faith, free from persecution. Although faith in Jesus in other countries around the world can be met with loss of employment, estrangement from family, imprisonment, beatings, or even death, we in America have so far been allowed to experience [and share] our faith without such repercussions. What would you do if that suddenly changes? Would you pick up your cross and follow Jesus, being willing to suffer for Him? Even unto death? Others have. 

Perhaps it's time to accept the truth of the Bible; that suffering is a natural part of the Christian life. Jesus tells us it is so. Just because we haven't experienced it here yet, doesn't mean we won't. It's time we examine our hearts and rid them of any form of entitlement or "right to be exempt". We must come to the realization that knowing Christ surpasses all else in this world -- including personal security, safety, prosperity, and health. We must recognize the cost of discipleship and offer nothing less to those we share the Gospel with. We must present the whole picture of the Christians life! Yes, we have our reunion with Jesus to look forward to, and to see His glory as He comes to redeem all who believe in Him. But we must be prepared to endure and persevere through tribulation until that glorious moment! Until that moment, we are to offer Jesus to others, and all that comes with that choice -- not just a cozy, easy life. 

A 2017 article by Zane Pratt provides wisdom about how to approach the subject of the trials, tribulations, and sufferings of the Christian life. I'd like to share that knowledge, with a bit of personal insight added... We should not be caught off-guard or surprised by the realities of the world; suffering is a given. We can experience and endure through suffering without losing our integrity [and moral righteousness]. As hard as it may be to do, we are to love our persecutors and pray for them. We are not to seek revenge; that is the Lord's prerogative. As faithful Christians, we must trust in God through the midst of our suffering and look for opportunities to do good for others. We can identify with others who are suffering, and can therefore offer encouragement. We must stay focused on Jesus. And this is always a difficult thing to understand, but we can rejoice when we suffer because our hearts find Him so worthy to be identified with. We must believe and know that our suffering will be temporary and cannot compare to the glory and joy that we will find in the Presence of the Father and Son!

So, my final thought is this ... If you are finding the chaos in the world to be frighteningly unsettling, and you haven't been prepared for it by the Church, or you are unfamiliar with what the Bible reveals as Truth, then I want you to know this ... The story of Jesus is more than the joy of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection of the Savior of the World. Our faith is founded upon more than our culture's celebrations of Christmas and Easter. There are a lot of pages before and after those stories [in the Bible] that speak of the heart-break that accompanies our faith; of the cost of following Jesus; and of His power in us to endure against the Anti-Christ spirit that has invaded the earth. The story and evidence of our lives as Christians must be our ability to stand strong, established in a faith so deep in Christ that no amount of suffering or persecution can uproot us. We will sing of our love for Jesus in the midst of both trials and triumph! And at the end of our journey on this earth, we will celebrate IT ALL as a dedicated offering of our unshakeable faith in the One who redeemed us!

2 Corinthians 6:4-10   We commend ourselves in every way as servants of God: in great endurance, in sufferings, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in sleepless nights, in hunger, in purity and sincerity, in knowledge and spiritual insight, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [like holding the sword to attack] and for the left [like holding the shield to defend], amid glory and dishonor; by evil report and good report; branded as deceivers and yet [vindicated as] truthful; as unknown [to the world], yet well-known [by God and His people]; as dying, yet we live; as punished, yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.


February 8, 2022

Christians: Why It's Important To Have An Answer!

I'm sure you've all had this experience .... a skeptic of our faith asks a question about the Bible or Christianity and you don't have an answer for them. For my husband, it was a non-believing friend asking him where the dinosaurs fit in the Bible narrative. That's not an unreasonable question. And I would surmise that the number one question asked is, "How can you believe in a God who tells his followers to kill every man, woman, child, and animal in a different tribe"? Could you answer that question? Because if you are trying to share your faith with the lost world, I can guarantee you will get those kinds of questions from all kinds of people -- atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and people genuinely searching for something to believe in. But if we can't defend what we believe, and why we believe it, then we are going to miss opportunities to bring the lost into the Kingdom of God.

Mark has stayed in touch with our friend with the dinosaur question, and has regained his trust that allows Mark to speak into him, but he's a slow move towards accepting Christ because the world provides all his carnal needs. But because Mark felt he squandered an opportunity to introduce our friend to the complexities and glory of God, this experience was the impetus for both of us to become serious about studying the Bible and being able to explain and provide reasonable proof and answers [according to Scripture] as to why we believe what we believe. As to the question regarding the commandments of God to destroy entire people groups, one aspect of the complex answer is this: When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, God declared to Satan, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring". The Hebrew word used instead of "offspring" was "seed". In effect, God is saying that there is going to be a genetic component to this war on earth between His Kingdom and the devil's kingdom. We see the first big impact in Genesis 6, when fallen angels impregnated earthly women, who give birth to the Nephilim (half fallen angel/half human) giants. These hybrids were NOT created according to God's will, and are NOT made in His image. But they were part of Satan's plan to see that Jesus had no pure blood line to be born into. If Satan could corrupt the gene pool of humans on earth, then he could stop God's plan to provide us with a perfect and sinless Savior to deliver us from the wages of Adam and Eve's sin, which is Death. 

Throughout the Bible, God is committed to saving His chosen people from their own destructive behavior. He wanted to keep them sanctified and protected from the influence of nations, tribes, and peoples who followed the ways of Satan through their demonic idols, perverse sexual taboos, and the abhorrent sacrifice of their children. That's why He instructed them to not intermarry with these pagan, ungodly foreign peoples. That would only add to polluted bloodlines and lessen the possibility of Jesus's pure birth. Yet, they did anyway, which led to wicked influences and continual rebellion. Scripture tells us that "every intention of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to his heart" -- so much so that He decided to "make an end to all flesh", [both human and animal]. The Flood was designed to do that, leaving only Noah and his sons and their wives to repopulate the earth. Yet we know that wickedness rose again quickly upon the earth, and we find Abraham fighting giant kings, and the rise of Nimrod, who "began to become a mighty one on the earth". Many of the legends of antiquity paint Nimrod, who was likely born just 70 years after the flood, as a giant of a man; rebellious, tyrannical, and a warrior-king who modeled himself after the wickedness of the Nephilim. That spirit of rebellion has permeated the earth ever since.

So, when presented with a monumental question such as "Why would a loving God seek to destroy humans", we must be knowledgeable of not only Scripture and history, but of the character and nature of God, and be able to express how the battle between God and Satan is still waging today. We must be able to demonstrate the truth that God's plan of redemption and reconciliation with mankind was based on sending our Redeemer, Jesus, as the pure sacrificial offering to atone for all of mankind's sins. We must be able to explain that Satan has remained just as committed to maintaining his dominance and rule in the earth. The ungodly bloodline which began in Genesis 6 was the beginning of centuries of Satan's attempts to manipulate and corrupt our godly genetics and human makeup in order to keep mankind from being restored to our relationship with our Creator.

We only have to look some 80 years ago to see the same satanic actions of Dr. Josef Mengele to "conduct genetic research" on the human occupants of Hitler's death camps. He was known as the "Angel of Death" and sought to pervert God's creation with his diabolical experiments. Today, it is important that we understand the implications of what Scripture reveals in this "seed war" between God and Satan. We must be mindful of Satan's agenda as we spiritually discern the objectives of modern science and genetic research. Anything that seeks to change our DNA should be suspect, and we must be willing to look upon everything with a heart to defend God and His divine plan of Creation and Eternity. And our hearts must be rooted in love for our fellow man as we gently, yet persuasively lead them to God's Truth. 

There is so much more I could say about the questions that are intended to diminish our faith and its influence on our modern society and culture. It saddens me to see how lax we've become in truly knowing the Truth of the Bible in order to not only defend our faith, but to exert Godly influence in the lives of people who are growing more cold every day. How did we so easily relinquish the Christian influence in this nation? I pray that the remnant who recognizes where we are on God's timeline will assert their voices and proclaim our firm trust in the knowledge of Him and His ways, so that we might silence all doubt and unbelief when questioned about our faith. 

Those who attack our God and faith are well-versed in how to debate against our belief system by using arguments centered in moral relativism, humanistic doctrine, and the tenets of their false religions. We, as Christians, must be able to represent our beliefs with answers and evidence based not only on the Bible, but through sound logic, and verifiable observations and experiences, as well as intellectual resources. We don't need to be experts, but we should be able to speak from a spiritual confidence as to the what, why, when, where, and how we find our hope in Jesus. Our reasoned response may very well be the inspiration or encouragement for a soul to seek his or her Creator and Savior. Defending our faith with love and boldness should be the high calling of every follower of Christ.

1 Peter 3:15   ... sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect; 

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.


November 27, 2021

"We are Well-Abled; We are Strengthened"!

The reason that I began writing this blog ten years ago, is part of why I continue to write it. In 2011 our national psyche was being tested; we instinctively sensed that our foundation was shifting and we were being herded towards unfamiliar ground. This transformation opened the door for the Enemy to sow seeds of fear into our inner man. It seemed as if overnight our national identity was under assault. And as I examined the 2300+ posts I've written throughout the years, I discovered that the spirit of fear still exists among Americans today. 

Recent events in our nation and the world have caused that emotion to spike; we are struggling to understand the orchestrated racial divide, the political deception, the class warfare, the border crisis, and loss of our freedoms. It's become increasingly difficult to recognize our country. Where did our guaranteed sense of security go? People fear for their health, their jobs, their financial security; and wonder if we will ever feel safe again.

So, do you live in such fear or dread? Do you know how to conquer this poisonous weapon of Satan? We only have to look back at the Biblical story of Joshua and Caleb, who were part of the contingent of 12 spies sent into the Promised Land to determine if it could be conquered. But ten of the spies came back and reported that they were defeated before they ever began. They were filled with fear and let that fear completely vanquish them.  But it was Caleb who said, "But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God". 

I ask you to consider that we are experiencing this same phenomenon today. Believe me, I understand if you are unhappy with the direction in which our nation is moving (whether you believe God has a hand in it, or not). There is much that is unsettling. But we cannot yield to the tactics of those committed to defeating our way of life and the foundation of faith that undergirds this nation. We must not allow them to instill a spirit of fear in the general population. Because, you see, Caleb was free from fear, and he used his trust in God to try to help the people of Israel overcome their fears. And those of us who are like Caleb, and surrender to the will of God, have something to say to people who are afraid. Our surrender to God is the only answer to the problem of fear.   

I know it will be difficult to minister and serve others who do not have the same faith we do in YHWH. And it is a disservice to all people to pretend that there are no difficulties; we cannot and should not persuade others to escape reality.  BUT, we can listen to their fears, remain calm, report the facts, and look for ways to encourage them. We can share our testimonies of overcoming our giants, and how the presence of the Lord in our lives gave us the courage to stand. After all, Caleb did not pretend that the giants did not exist. But he was different from most of the men who returned from the Promised Land spreading their fear. He tried to report the good things, too.

 I know this may sound too simplistic or optimistic. There are haters who will never be convinced that any good can exist in the face of our current challenges.  But our entire nation would be well-served to remember Caleb's words. He said, "We are well able". This does not mean that he had confidence only in himself. Nor did he put undue emphasis on the military strength of Israel, either. No. He was emphasizing where their power really came from. It came from firm confidence in God’s power. Don't let anyone convince you to jump on "the fear bandwagon". We are well able! We are able to overcome our differences and work together for the good of the country.  We have incredible resources to help the next generation(s) reach new heights of prosperity. But we must teach them a robust work ethic and the fearlessness to take advantage of the opportunities put before them.  We must also give them a sound and solid moral foundation by which to live their lives; fundamentals by which they will lives that are pleasing to God, as they seek to serve others.  All this is available to every American, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender, or background. 

I'm not trying to diminish the fear that I know is very real to many of you. I understand that the word "fear" means more than just being afraid or scared. It has connotations of sorrow and grief and dread ... concerning people, things, and events. But it is exactly at these times, when everything around us screams "Defeat" and "End Times" that we must remain clear about the overall message of the Word .... we can be assured of God's final victory over the Anti-Christ forces in the world, and His faithfulness to see us be overcomers of this ungodly system. In these times of difficulties, there's a truth that we can cling to. In Isaiah 43, God declares that He is the Savior of Israel, to whom we have been grafted into. His words to His beloved people are true for us, too: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you [from captivity]. I have called you by name; you are Mine! 

Throughout Israel's history, we have seen examples of how God's favored nation overcame their fears and struggles. But none is as powerful as our Lord overcoming his own moment of fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. His emotional condition was so severe our Lord sweated blood in that Garden before His crucifixion. But in that moment, as the gospel of Luke, Chapter 22, tell us, Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him.  In that moment of grief and dread -- and yes, we can call it fear -- Jesus felt the powerful presence of God with Him. There was a purpose for Jesus's life and it extended far beyond what was about to happen in this world. It was the power of God's love and presence that transcended what was about to happen in the physical. And it allowed Jesus to endure the evil perpetrated against Him. He was strengthened! We must follow in His footsteps.

If you are suffering the torment of Satan's fiery dart of fear, then you must remind yourself that God's judgments against the world are ultimately to wipe out evil, not harm the saints. Just as He did in the wilderness of Egypt, God will supernaturally protect and provide for us. Our faith demands that we trust Him in this! When the difficulties in this world increase, so will God's guidance and leadership. And should this world result in our physical death, there is no greater joy than knowing that the very next instant we will be in His glorious presence forever!

When we know what we believe about God and ourselves, then we have the confidence and faith to stand firm and follow Jesus's model of dignity and strength in our hour of need. We will not be afraid to voice our allegiance to Him or to choose to follow Him, no matter the cost. Here's the thing, Jesus never taught on "feelings"; He always commanded obedience. We must truly believe He is our Rock, our Fortress, and our Deliverer; that He is our Strength, our God in whom we can trust. He is our Shield, and our horn (Power) of Salvation. He is our Stronghold and we must praise His Name, for He is worthy to be praised. And we will be saved from our enemies! This is a passage from Psalm 18, and it is a Scripture that is never far from my heart or my lips. I believe these words with all that is in me!

So, I encourage you to face your fears and begin to declare the Truth of Scripture -- and believe it! Jesus tells us that we are not given a spirit of fear, but we have the Holy Spirit, who gives us mighty power, love [of God] and self-control. When we recognize the power that is in us, we do not fear anything [or anyone] else. And we have the ability to control our carnal emotions and fleshly behavior, as we walk in our spiritual identity. Fear has no place in the life of a Believer. Jesus conquered it; Caleb did, too. Trust in God's power inside you and watch Him deliver you of all sorrow, grief, dread, and fear. Then declare that you are ready to walk in the glory of God for the remaining days of your life.   

It is my prayer that this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, you will find increased faith in the power of our Lord to deliver you from the concerns of this world. Give thanks to our ever-faithful God who never takes His eyes off you. Praise Him for His enduring love! 

Psalm 34:4   I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. 

October 27, 2021

"Surface Level" Christianity

I'm in the process of developing the outline for a new book I want to write, with the working title of "From 'Surface Level' to 'Deep Roots': What the Body of Christ Needs to Understand About Our Identity in Christ". This subject matter has been stirring up my spirit for awhile now, and I continue to hear the promptings to write another book. I've had ideas in mind since the last one I wrote in the Spring of 2020. But each time I settled on what I thought the focus would be, the Holy Spirit whispered, "Go Deeper". And the events of the last two years certainly call for an awakening in the Body of Christ to understand God's intention for us in these tumultuous times.

I am also struck by the number of times that people of faith have recently mentioned to me their frustration at encountering "surface level" Christians. The age range using that particular phrase has run from a Millennial Christian [in describing the lack of depth in her counterparts in the Church], to a "seasoned" Christian, who bemoaned the absence of substantial understanding of Biblical history or prophecy, to all the age groups in between. Apparently, there is a noticeable lack of commitment to a lifestyle of real faith.

Of course, I'm not painting the entire Body of Christ with this broad brush, but as we continue to be stretched in our faith, due to national and world events, I am unable to ignore what I discern ... that many Christians are struggling with coping with their fears of the future; or making life decisions out of fear; or mistrusting the promises of the Bible. Then there are those who turn a blind eye to the very real threats we face, and struggle to believe that persecution or trials and tribulations are a possibility. Yes, the ultimate victory is ours in Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross, but I think that God wants us to see the "Big Picture" ... the good, the bad, and the ugly that is in this world ... but see it from His perspective; His vantage point from Heaven, and as Creator.

We cannot simply revel in the "Good News" that we are Saved and our victory in Christ is eternal life. Don't mistake me -- that is our ultimate reward and inheritance as a child of God; and it is greatly to be prized and shared! But we have a job to do while we are here, and if at first it is to recognize Jesus as our Savior, how more productive for His Kingdom on earth is our work to advance the knowledge and acceptance of that Kingdom among all peoples, tribes, and nations? At the same time, we cannot remain naive that we have a very real and cunning, calculating Enemy whose sole goal is to stop us from completing our divinely-allocated objective. Just because we can see the finish line of our race, doesn't mean there won't be pitfalls, peril, and dangers to deter us along the way. It is the wise that proceed boldly, but with wisdom.

Therefore, one who hyper-focuses on the safe, comfort zone of Christianity may only reach a surface level of faith; a level that is most likely being greatly challenged in recent months. We can't always "lie down in green pastures". Sometimes we find ourselves walking in "the valley of the shadow of death" [as so many have experienced in the last two years]. It's easy to rejoice in our faith when we're standing on the top of the mountain, and the view is one of only sunshine, and speaks primarily of God's beauty and grace. But what would your reaction be if you suddenly found yourself plunged into darkness and you couldn't see evidence of God anywhere? Is your trust gone? Do you give in to fear and despair? Do you feel powerless? Or do you simply refuse to acknowledge that it exists or that anything bad can happen?

I've often written that the 21st Century Church needs to return to its 1st Century roots. Those new Christians were walking on unstable ground. The Enemy had just lost his biggest weapon to keep mankind separated from God ... Death. And those faithful few were in the cross-hairs of his rage. They found themselves imprisoned; ship-wrecked; beaten; run out of town; and ultimately all were either scourged, crucified, beheaded with a sword, thrown in boiling oil, lanced by idolatrous priests and burned up in an oven, axed to death, thrown down from the Temple tower and then clubbed to death, stoned or beheaded.

If we call Jesus Christ our Savior, we must be prepared not only to enjoy the seasons of goodness, grace, mercy, and prosperity, but to endure the seasons of troubles, chaos, wickedness and evil. Jesus did not promise us that we would run our race without stumbling or coming under attack. He only promised that He would be with us through it all. I know there are many Christians who think what occurred in the 1st Century could never happen now; that we are destined for another "great awakening" in this nation; a national and worldwide revival; that the saints in Christ will escape to Heaven before suffering the devil's revenge; or that the evil on the earth will be defeated before Jesus returns. But that is not what the Bible says! I pray for an awakening ... that the fire of the Holy Spirit is kindled in the Body of Christ to their identity and their purpose in this hour of history! And I pray that their spirits are revived to know the power they have to resist the devil and take back dominion in their bodies, in their lives, in the Church and in the earth!

It all comes down to the Parable of the Sower, but the meaning will escape the "Surface Christians". Is your faith like the seed that is scattered on the top layer of the ground? Is it shallow and veiled in appearance? Or is it allowed to penetrate and inform your heart with the deeper things of God -- the things that have been known since the beginning of the world and down through the ages, but the modern Church ignores because it doesn't fit their paradigm or theology? Precisely because God sent our spirits to inhabit the earth in this particular time of history, I believe it is important that the roots of our faith grow deep and wide. We are going to need to be grounded in the knowledge of our heart and head, and particularly established in our spiritual abilities to connect to the power of God in Heaven. 

Ancient civilizations as far back as the Sumerians [5500 years ago] wrote about the battles they witnessed between good and evil. Yes, God, Himself came to earth to reconnect with His creation and re-establish our relationship. But the forces of evil did not just submit and go away. The same strategies have been played out through the centuries, and while those stories and legends seem implausible for today, we would be wise to consider them -- not because it has an effect on our salvation -- but because the Enemy is still using the same methods and manipulations to deceive mankind. 

The Church will say that everything in the past changed when Jesus brought the gift of Salvation. But the Church rarely acknowledges that He referred to the past when He said, "As it was in the days of Noah...". Furthermore, most Christians have never taken the time to study or understand all that was going on "in the days of Noah", or the vast history of mankind that led up to it. While the modern Church may think it has no significance for them, I [personally] want to see how my God worked in that situation so that I can take what He reveals to me and spend time with Him in His Throne Room. I want to receive a greater revelation to encourage and exhort others to hang on to their faith when the days on earth grow dark. The more I know about God [in my spirit and through His perspective], the better I can represent Him in all things coming on the earth. It's time for the Body of Christ to go from "surface" to "deep" in their understanding of themselves and God. The times demand it!

Next Time: A Deeper Understanding of Our True Identity

Romans 15:4      Whatever was written beforehand is meant to instruct us in how to live. The Scriptures impart to us encouragement and inspiration so that we can live in hope and endure all things.



September 26, 2021

Moving From Religion to Faith to Relationship

I am often amazed at the Christians I come in contact with who are still unable to extricate themselves from a religious mindset, which keeps them bound in doubt and unbelief. That might sound like a vague or ill-defined statement, so let me try to clarify my thoughts. What I'm trying to convey is the message that oftentimes Christians view what they call their "faith" from a system of religious principles, tenets,  dictates, or decrees; as if there is a specific "order" of how to believe in God. But that can lead to associating God as a strict task-master, with rules or practices intended to regulate behavior or thought. Stray from the application of those prescribed rules, and God will punish you for "not doing it right".

Believers become so consumed with not breaking the rules, that they begin to doubt their worthiness to receive salvation. They become so worried about coloring inside the lines of religion, that the focus becomes about them and not about the One they profess to worship. That is the picture we see portrayed by the Pharisees in the Bible. Just like those ancient religious leaders, Christians today may recite all the commandments, but not practice them; profess holiness, but continue to act unrighteously; spout mercy and grace, but sow injustice. And believe me, I am well aware that we have an Enemy who tempts us to sin. That is our human nature, and I am in no position to cast the first stone!

This same religious mindset can come perilously close to Gnosticism which plagued the Early Church and is still alive and well in the 21st Century. Gnosticism makes God out to be distant and uninterested in the day-to-day experiences of life, and thereby leads to human interpretation (put forth as knowledge) of God's will.  So I grieve for my Brothers and Sisters in Christ who only know Jesus through religion. They will equate it with "faith", saying they have faith, but there is a world of difference between religion and faith. Religion tends to be expressed in outward acts or deeds and self-made wisdom; resulting in the performance of rituals and traditions.  Religion is often experienced in the physical world. Faith, on the other hand, is defined as assurance of things hoped for [and divinely guaranteed], and the evidence of things [unlike religion] that are not seen.

Religion will say, "I've done everything right ... I've followed all the rules ...". Faith will say, "God is my strength, and I trust in Him." People with faith [versus religion] do not define their relationship with God by how many of the rules they follow. That only got the Pharisees accused of hypocrisy by Jesus. The acts of people of faith are done to please God, not men. Faithful people are obedient to His expressed will; knowing [and expecting], and eagerly looking forward to their promised inheritance. Religion is focused on the here and now. Faith knows we are strangers and exiles on the earth, sustained by the promise of a return to our heavenly home. Chapter 11 in Hebrews is known as the "Hall of Faith", and there is not one person listed in that chapter that is lauded for their religion; they are all men and women of faith. They are examples of how to move from religion to faith and Godly relationships with our Father in Heaven.

And that leads me to the importance of relationship with God. It is difficult to have an authentic relationship with God if we see Him as only a distant taskmaster with rules that must be followed to please Him. There is no room for intimacy in that relationship. And faith, alone, without intimacy in a relationship with God, will be empty of the familiarity and friendship that are hallmarks of a real partnership. For you see, that is what God is looking for... someone to partner with on the earth. And I wish I had discovered that truth earlier in life.

But the reality, in my life, is that I first came to know my God, and my Lord and Savior, through Religion. I found a Pastor that introduced me to all the doctrines of the Church and the precepts and principles of the Bible, but I was never taught that these principles were level one; that my Father wanted obedience and intimacy, and I would never find my way to those concepts by limiting myself to Sunday attendance, Church offices, or denominational affiliation. As strange as it may sound, I was never really encouraged to get to know Him through a personal study of His Word. There was always someone else responsible for telling me what I was to know ... a Sunday School teacher, the Pastor in his 20-minute sermon each week, or an "elder" whom I automatically assumed should know more than me.

It wasn't until I began to study and read the Bible on my own, and went to these people with my questions, that I realized a lot of them had no answers from a faith standpoint ... they were just repeating man-made doctrine, and were responding from religion, not faith. Some were even uneasy with questioning these formulaic answers, possibly thinking it was blasphemous to God to challenge what the leaders of religion had unquestionably accepted as "God's Truth". But I found that as I dared to trust in God [more than men] for my answers, that He responded with amazing revelations that left me in awe of His character and nature. I began to believe EVERYTHING about Him in the Bible -- especially the supernatural aspects, which the modern world declares He no longer displays. 

And that has led me to real relationship with ALL of who He is ... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; merciful, gracious, loving, and just. I know Him in all His individual capacities, and how He works for my good. I know how to hear from God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit -- individually and together. I have learned how to spend time in the spirit with them and receive rest, peace, power, and strategies. And I know that if the Body of Christ is unable [or unwilling] to move beyond Religion into Faith, and then grow their Faith into a real Relationship, then the season we are about to move into is going to be difficult for most to traverse. We must be focused on Christ as our way forward and through the crises that are coming upon us. We must be able to transcend the limitations of this earth and ascend in the spirit to sit in the presence of our Savior. Religion cannot become our sanctuary in this season. Faith and Relationship will be the weapons that the Enemy cannot destroy or defeat. He has no answer for them! There is nothing in his arsenal that is comparable to them! Thank you, Jesus, that you continue to pursue us; that you answer our questions and doubts with your convincing and infallible truth; and that you never leave us nor abandon us when we fail you! Strengthen us through your power in us, far beyond anything we dare to ask or think! Glory be to you in all the generations that come after us! Amen!

1 Corinthians 1:30-31     But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness [making us acceptable to God], and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God], and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin],  so then, as it is written [in Scripture], “He who boasts and glories, let him boast and glory in the Lord.”

January 20, 2021

Never Be Afraid To Trust An Unknown Future To A Known God


You will understand the image for this post as you read further into it, but first, I want to explain the title.  It is a quote from Corrie Ten Boom, the celebrated Dutch Holocaust survivor whose story is one of courage and steadfast faith in the midst of hell on earth, which was the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. She, along with Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred German pastor during Hitler's reign of terror, are my heroes of faith, and both proved the strength of their unfaltering faith less than ten years before I was born. I think we tend to relegate such abhorrent evil to the distant past, but if we looked with spiritual eyes, we would see that evil never really retreats. It simply hides for awhile and reinvents itself in a new way.

After the instability in our nation over the last few years, I understand the trepidation and tension that the populace is feeling. And I especially sense the anxiousness among Christians. Would it astound you to know that the advocacy group, Open Doors, reported this past week that "there was a 60% increase over the previous year in the number of Christians killed [worldwide] for their faith." Most of this persecution is happening in Africa and North Korea, but who is naive enough to think that Jesus's prophecy that we will be hated by all on account of His Name does not pertain to us in the US as well?

I am blessed to be in the company of strong women of faith, and it has been interesting to discover that, at this present time, some of us are experiencing God's silence. Don't get me wrong, I know He's present with me, but I find myself in a "waiting mode"; waiting for revelation about what the future holds. There is no fear, mind you, and actually I have experienced a sense of peace, but also this unfamiliar silence had me on the edge of my spiritual seat [and praying], impatient for a word or thought to give me direction. And then I had this incredible dream that I believe answered my prayer....

I am leisurely walking along a path, with a guide, and enjoying walking in the woods. We come to a juncture where there is a road on my right that descends at a gradual slope, and the woods on my left that continue upwards at a moderate climb. Obviously, the road on the right is the easiest method of travel, and I remark to my guide that we could arrive at our destination by taking either route, so why not go to the right? But he persuades me that the option on our left is the preferred course of action. As we begin the gentle climb, I have a sense of apprehension [but not fear] and question him if taking this route won't result in possibly meeting bears. He answers that it is definitely a possibility, but there's no need to be afraid.

At that moment, I look farther up this sloping hill and see a huge bear that then catches our scent. He starts ambling towards us, and though not acting aggressive, I have a healthy respect for his power and size and do not want to engage with him. My guide, in a calm voice, instructs me to get on the back side of a huge oak tree and as the bear circles the tree, I just keep moving around the tree, staying out of its grasp. Eventually, he gets bored and moves on. As I come out from behind the tree, I again look at the top of the hill, and see a gigantic lion, who upon seeing me, roars and charges. I don't have time to be afraid, and soon find myself knocked to the ground.

The lion is clearly intent on killing me, and I am kicking as hard as I can as he tries to bite my feet and render me helpless. All of a sudden I remember that I have a pistol for protection on my right hip. I pull it and fire four shots into his brain and the attack is stopped. This entire time, I am aware that the guide is still there with me, but seems to be watching and assessing how I am handling this attack, ready to jump in if I need him. And then I woke up.

It was one of those dreams when you know it is more than the result of eating a bowl of ice cream before you went to bed. I knew it was spiritual and I knew it was for my benefit. God wasn't silent anymore, and I needed to figure out what He was telling me. I knew right away that the "guide" in my dream was the Holy Spirit, sent to "guide my steps and guide me into all Truth". I knew the bear was a threat, and a natural enemy, but I was able to stay hidden and outmaneuver him. The lion, on the other hand, was aggressive and quite intent on killing me, or at least rendering my walk with God more difficult. I knew the dream was revealing something about the here and now, and my place in the present as a representative of God and His Kingdom. But how to unravel the mystery of it?

What did the bear represent? How about the lion? He was obviously not the Lion of the tribe of Judah because he was trying to kill me! Then I discerned 1Peter 5:8, which says our adversary, the devil, is "like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour". That certainly fit the scenario in my dream. And then I wondered if there was a connection to Babylon's King Belshazzar and his vision of the four beasts, with the bear and lion being two of them. Did that have any significance? Both represented empires, with the bear often interpreted as Russia. So, in my dream, the bear is a threat, but at this point, not aggressive. The lion in Belshazzar's dream was the empire of Babylon; ruthless and strong. The ancient Babylon certainly fits that description, but so does the daughter of Babylon in the End Times, as depicted in Revelation 18. It's hard not to read that chapter and recognize our own empire, and especially the city of New York. But there was more for me to see as I meditated on this powerful dream...

The next thing that struck me was that I was conscious of the guide being the Holy Spirit, but I was surprised that I didn't call out for Jesus to help me. After careful thought and waiting to hear from the Lord, I discerned that I was able to act out of my own power and authority, given to me by Christ in Luke 10:19 ... I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.  Of course, I was not on my own; the Holy Spirit was my guide in defeating the schemes of the bear and lion. 

But there was even more to be revealed from a friend, who the morning after I had a conversation with her about this dream, opened her Bible to study and just happened to be in 1 Samuel 17, and here is what verses 34-37 say: But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,  I went out after it and attacked it and rescued the lamb from its mouth; and when it rose up against me, I seized it by its whiskers and struck and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted and defied the armies of the living God.”  David said, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”  This was no accident, but what did the future King David's exploits have to do with me and my dream?

Both my friend and I were amazed at how the Lord shows us things we are not expecting! She said she knew it wasn't a coincidence that she was reading that particular passage after just hearing about my dream. She asked the Lord what He was showing her. This is what she said the Lord explained to her ... That my assignment is to protect God's flock by speaking, teaching, and writing the Truth, with the help of the Holy Spirit, who leads me into all truth. Furthermore, the dream reveals that I am fighting against the pagan gods and power structures in this age, with the sins of our nation representing the resurgence of the spiritual Babylon. And the last sentence in the Daniel passage held special meaning; "Go, and may the Lord be with you". I am not to sit idle, waiting for Jesus to come rescue me, but as I go, I know He is with me. I have no need to cry out in fear for His help, because His power and authority already reside in me and I have to learn to trust my abilities in fulfilling my assignments here on earth.

And that is what I pray for each of you reading this post today. We live in a time that requires supernatural spiritual discernment. We cannot look to the world for our survival or our identity. We must gird ourselves with the spirit and truth of Almighty God. My friend blessed me and my husband by praying that we receive an increased anointing upon us for the assignments that God has given us, and an increased ability to see beyond the veil of earth into the heavenly sanctuary where we meet face-to-face with God. I invite you to receive this blessing, too. She prayed for us to experience an increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. We are all going to need that to navigate whatever changes are coming upon the world. And I will tell you that He can be trusted; He is reliable and a great comfort in times such as this. He joins with Jesus in interceding for us before the Father, and He is our advocate in all things. 

I do not have all the answers, but my Holy Guide does as He leads me in the ways of my Savior and King, Yeshua HaMashiach. I will not be afraid as I traverse this unknown and uncertain future, because my King and my God are known to me! It is my prayer [and my assignment] that I will boldly speak of Him and share that He is the Light in this dark world. Let all the earth know of His power and His Kingdom and His glory that is soon to come. Let our Hope in Him never wane, for He is he Prince of Peace and our Stronghold! Praise Him, for He is worthy to be praised, and we will be saved from our enemies!

Isaiah 30:21    And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.