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

Showing posts with label Our Glorified God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Our Glorified God. Show all posts

November 8, 2021

Remember All That God Has Done!

Do you remember that section of the Bible in Mark, Chapter 8, where the Disciples are concerned that they only have one loaf of bread between them for lunch -- this after witnessing the supernatural power from Heaven that multiplied five loaves to feed 5,000; and seven loaves to feed 4,000!  Jesus must have been frustrated with them!  He asks them,  “Why are you discussing [the fact] that you have no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Though you have eyes, do you not see? And though you have ears, do you not hear and listen [to what I have said]? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?”  

In other words, Jesus must have been thinking, Can't you see? Can't you hear? And, can't you remember all that God has done for you? Why are you worrying about what you will have for lunch when you've witnessed over 9,000 people fed with a few loaves of bread?  Actually, the message to focus on God's supernatural works has been a recurring theme in the Bible, beginning in Deuteronomy 6.  The Word says God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to hear His commandments and to keep them; to keep His statutes (which are His values), and to teach them to their children so that [your generations] "do not forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery"... See, hear, and remember. 

So, it is my opinion that our remembrances, which are kept alive in our testimonies, are the record/history of God's supernatural activities in our lives, and they are the lenses through which we should see everything else around us in this world. But, here's what often happens ... once we get some time and space between that moment when we receive God's invitation to let Jesus become the Lord and Savior of our life, we begin losing some of the awe of that momentous and supernatural occasion.  First, we quit talking about our transformation. Then we quit expecting more supernatural experiences.  And then, pretty soon, if we're not careful, we are no longer seeing or hearing evidence of Him in our daily lives.  It's not too long before we are engaging with a religious form of God -- we still profess faith in Him; go to Church and go through the motions, but there is no power in our Christian walk, no life, no encounters, and no real relationship with our supernatural God. Our connection with God can become so sterile that we can begin to even question whether He is real.  And people will eventually abandon what they perceive to be fake or artificial.

This concept of remembrance is particularly relevant for me today, for it was 35 years ago, on this day in November that God literally saved me. It happened on a Saturday evening around 11 pm, as I returned to my rented house after spending the evening with my soon-to-be husband and his family. I glanced in my rear-view mirror in time to see bright headlights before someone rear-ended me, sending my car rolling up the side of an embankment. Thankfully, I had my seat belt on, because the roof caved in about an inch from my head, while I was being slammed into the driver's-side window as my car rolled up the hill. With each revolution, I cried out to God, with glass spraying me and the sounds of crunching metal assailing my ears. So, when I say that "God saved me", it is the truth. He saved me from a premature death, and saved me by His grace to become an obedient follower of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  

It is important, as a Christian, that I remember and chronicle this testimony of God's hand in my life. This memory has stood the test of time, and is a valuable weapon whenever the Enemy tries to convince me that God is absent or He no longer has work for me to do. This memory is one of the foundations of my faith. It speaks of God's faithfulness to answer when, even in our distance from Him, we cry out and He is still willing to come to our rescue. That's an incredibly important message for today. The world certainly seems upside down; evil is good, and good is called evil. Mankind seems to have sacrificed its humanity for the almighty dollar, and disease and subterfuge are devouring the population. Deception is the byword of governments and corporations, and our children are confused about their gender, our history, and their self-worth. Identity is determined by the number of "likes" we get on social media, and identity politics is the way the game of life is played these days. And where is God is any of this? Are we still capable of knowing who we are as Christians?

You see, Christianity has all the distinctive characteristics of a God who passionately and supernaturally walks with the children He loves: He provided manna from Heaven every day while the Israelites were in the wilderness. When they were desperate for water, He provided it out of a rock. He secured their passage through the Red Sea and the flooding waters of the River Jordan. And I do not doubt that God still desires to work supernaturally in each of our personal lives, and the life of this nation. But it is up to us to make the effort to recall those memories. If we only look at what the Enemy is doing now to disrupt our lives, or how he is manipulating the powers of government, then we do not do our God justice. We should be recounting all the ways He has delivered us and been our stronghold in times of trouble; those times when our world was the darkest, and we feared we may never see the sunshine again. 

For when we lose the memories of God's supernatural works in our lives, we can lose the courage to do the hard stuff, and the strength to get through the hard times.  When trials come our way, it is so important to have those memory touchstones to return to... to be able to recall how God supernaturally delivered us, or provided for us.  And when what seems like an impossible situation arises, and we are called to radical obedience, it is paramount that we rely on our memories of all God has done for us so that we do not become cowardly in the conflict. Because, my friends, I can tell you, that the days seem to be growing darker in the world. We seem to be counting down to that final cataclysmic event when Jesus comes to put an end to all the evil Satan has incited on the earth. And despite many of the Church's doctrines, I believe we will witness that day and play a part in helping people hang on to their faith.

As we approach that final hour, there is one thing we need to realize... by not remembering the displays of His power in our past, we limit Him and restrict what He wants to do.  Remember, He wants us to co-labor with Him to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. But He needs our cooperation and our involvement. When we stop living our lives conscious of the God who invaded this realm, and accomplished the impossible -- healed the sick, cast out demons; freed the oppressed and tormented; and raised the dead -- we begin to reduce the ministry He wants us to do on behalf of the Kingdom.  When we forget what He has done, then it becomes all about our gifts and what we have done. And I never want to reduce the possibilities of Him supernaturally conquering this world!  I want to live with an ever-present awareness that God can invade every situation in my life. And I want the history of my life to be a reflection of His Presence, and I want to remember every detail to share with whomever will listen.  It is vital for the Body of Christ to never lose their memories of God's supernatural activity in this world. 

Just as the Lord instructed Joshua to have one man of each of the 12 tribes of Israel place a stone on the banks of the River Jordan [after the nation of Israel passed over into the Promised Land], we need to leave a lasting testimony that not only preserves the memories of God's Greatness and Provision, but prophecies of His future acts of Righteousness and Justice.  Nothing has changed since those long-ago days in the Bible. We are serving a God that deserves to be praised and lauded for all He has done.  It is important that both we and our future generations never forget. Joshua said it so well ... Testify to the [supernatural] works of the Lord, our God, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is Mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.  

Start compiling those memories -- write them down; preserve them -- because they will be the bedrock of your ability to stand in the coming days. Those testimonies will be the spark that fuels our endurance. To God be all the glory!

Psalm 78:4     We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that He has done.

June 12, 2021

Will You Drink From The Cup The Father Has Given You?

I sense in my own spirit, and in the spirits of those who have great discernment, that our time of trial will soon be upon us. Maybe its because I'm re-reading John 17 and 18, and contemplating Jesus's High Priestly Prayer and the charges brought against Him by the Jewish Council and the Roman government. I sense the passion with which He prayed for those His Father had given Him, and I know that He continues those prayers for us in this time. He asks God to keep us in our Father's Name, just as He, Jesus, kept the Disciples who walked with Him.

Jesus knows that we will experience everything the Disciples endured in that day, and worse. The world will hate us, just as they hated Him and His Disciples 2000 years ago, because we are not of this world, just as He was not. He specifically says to His Father, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one ... Sanctify them in Your word, which is Truth." And then He goes on to request that the Disciples, and all who would come to believe in Him, "would be one, even as we are one". The Father sent Him on assignment, and here we are, in our lifetimes, at this time in history, and He is sending us out on our assignment!

As I listened in my spirit for the intentions of Jesus's heart in this prayer, I was overcome with a couple of immediate thoughts. Jesus emphasizes just how important it is to Him that we Believers "be one as He and the Father are one". This is not the only time He has expressed this desire. It is at the foundation of His ministry. We must understand that He and God, the Father, share the purpose for why He was sent to the world that they created. He is on assignment from Heaven, to re-establish the spiritual connection between the Creator and the created, and to offer Eternal Life to all who would receive it. And just as the Father sent His Son on assignment, the Son is sending each of us on our assignment. 
I couldn't help but think how difficult it has been for us to "be one". There are over 200 different denominations of Christianity in the U.S. alone, and over 45,000 globally, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. That many denominations has led to different traditions, rituals, and doctrines. That also includes differences in how we view what Christians will experience in these End Times. While most Christians understand that we have been given different responsibilities in the Kingdom, our souls often get cross-ways with each other over our perceptions of what we will experience. We are all familiar with the different eschatology positions -- premillennialism, for example, [in which Jesus returns prior to the 1,000 year reign of peace on the earth]; or the different dispensations of Biblical history, such as the Mosaic Age, versus the Church Age, versus the Millennial Kingdom. I guess it is our spirit of pride that compels man to determine the mind of God, which leads to squabbles over the question of whether Christians will be spared God's judgment of the world at the end of this Age. Are we to experience the Great Tribulation [as witnesses of God's love to an unsaved world] or be raptured out of here [and escape the Mark of the Beast and all that Satan brings against those that belong to Jesus]. Because of all these debated issues among the faithful, Satan has done a good job of keeping us at odds with one another.

But it is the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Judas brings the band of Roman soldiers, along with the religious officers of the Jews, that pierced my heart the most. Out of his love for Jesus, Peter is ready to defend Christ, and drawing his sword, cuts off the ear of the High Priest's guard. Jesus's response is both remarkable and inspiring ... Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me? Jesus is telling us that God has commissioned Him to go to the Cross to atone for the sins of all mankind. It is His assignment and "the cup" is the situation, condition, and circumstances He finds Himself in, and He will be obedient in carrying out His divine assignment.

Like Jesus, we are all here on this planet Earth because, as spirits created since the foundation of the world, we have been sent by Jesus to live in this human body [just as He was sent to live in a human body by God, the Father]. We, too, are here to fulfill our assignment. There are so many questions associated with that statement. Do we fully understand our assignment? Do we comprehend that it is the same assignment as Jesus's? If you don't know what that is, let me refer you to John 18:37. When questioned by Pilate whether He was a King or not, Jesus replied, For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world -- to bear witness to the truth. Here is what I believe is at the heart of Jesus's ministry, and our purpose here on earth ... Jesus came to be a witness about His Father [our God] and to glorify Him by accomplishing His assignment. By witnessing that God had sent Him, and going to the Cross in obedience, He is witnessing to the world that God so loved the world, He sent His Son [to die for us] so that all who believe in the Son will not perish forever, but have everlasting [eternal] life. He is inspiring and encouraging us to do the same -- declare this Truth, pick up our Cross and be willing to die as a martyr to this Truth. 

In short, Jesus came to be a witness of this Eternal Truth, and to send others out to be witnesses and martyrs to this same Truth - through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, who will guide us to all truth, as we need it, to fulfill our assignment. That glorifies His Kingdom and the power of the witnesses of that Kingdom; a Kingdom which is not of this world. The Kingdom to which we belong is not a world system, but a realm of power. We don't just write about it or speak about it. We experience it and live it. This is "the cup" we have been given to drink. It is a serious mission we have been sent to accomplish. At the end of it is victory and celebration because we have glorified our Father in Heaven, by glorifying His Son during our time on this earth. 

But between now and then, we must remain committed to witnessing to the world about the Truth that everyone who lives and believes in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will never die. The cup we have been given will be bitter to some and difficult to swallow. Pray that we can abide in the power and authority transferred to us by our Savior, and grow into His very image, joyfully drinking from the cups of Sanctification, Redemption, Grace, Power, and Victory in the Lord. Let us be a light in this dark world, pointing everyone we encounter to the way to Eternal Life. And let us willingly drink of the cup handed to us, saying, "Yahweh, You alone are my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. You hold my destiny and its timing in Your hands. Thank you for trusting me to drink of the cup You have given me. Holy Spirit, guide me and empower me to finish my assignment, glorifying my Lord, who has sent me. And Lord, Jesus, I praise Your Mighty Name! You are my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer. You will be my Shield in times of trouble, and You are the Power behind my Salvation. You will be my Stronghold. And I will praise Your Name because You are worthy to be praised, and I will be saved from my Enemies". Glorifying You IS my cup!

Psalm 23:5    You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of Your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of You until my cup overflows. (The Passion Translation)

June 8, 2020

Fear Not ... Receive the Peace of Jesus!

     In John 14:27, Jesus tells us, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives to you; do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled; nor let it be fearful. That's easier said than done these days, isn't it? Only those who choose to be blinded can ignore what is coming upon the earth. It is hard to pretend that anything else is on my radar, or that I need to be writing about something else. For the last three months, we have seen the world immobilized by the threat of a pandemic. And for the last two weeks civil unrest has dominated our TV screens, and racism and injustice seem to be the only words that anyone can speak. And that isn't even considering the "rumors of wars", the movement to "defund" law enforcement in our nation, and the predictions of an unusual and prolific hurricane season. It feels as if our lives [and the earth] have been robbed of their peace and stability.
    All of this combines to produce fear and confusion among all people. Even those who profess faith in Jesus Christ find themselves wondering where this will all lead, and if we will be protected from the manifestations of wickedness among men. I cannot predict how far current events will go, but I can tell you that my Pentecost experience was so profound! [And I find it interesting that the Enemy was able to orchestrate men's hearts to do his evil just prior to that holy convocation... hoping to forestall an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, perhaps?]. 
     But the small group of us who met in our home to call for the Holy Spirit to bring fresh anointing and prophetic destinies were not disappointed! Jesus opened a door to the glory of Heaven and invited us in to experience not only His Presence, but His empowerment and forewarning. This is what I heard the Lord say in my spirit: "The Darkness is coming, but there's no need to fear. You have done well with what I've given you; I'm giving you more. Step into this new territory and do not be distracted by the world. Look neither to the left nor the right, but stay focused on Me and I will lead the way". 
     My husband, Mark, heard nearly the same thing, as did the other participants ... the Darkness is coming. But Mark heard something very specific ... "I am giving you a hammer, but will tell you when it's time to use it". We all felt joined in the spirit that we are to know the Darkness is coming; but so is empowerment, and we will be Overcomers in the Lord! And with that statement, John 16:33 comes to mind: "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world". It's a very sobering message; but strengthening and fortifying at the same time. I'm still trying to take it all in!  
     And as difficult as it may be for some of you, I think it's time we get honest with each other and ourselves. I want you to see that in that verse, Jesus offers Peace, but He promises Tribulation! And note in the opening Scripture I mentioned (John 14:27), Jesus says He leaves His peace with us, and He gives His peace to us. It's there for us! But we may only have it IF we receive it; IF we open our hearts to experience it. Can you see that we are responsible for having peace? And that if we make the free will decision to accept it, that peace will become centered in our heart? 
     That's what we need to realize about what we are seeing on the streets of America today -- God is exposing the condition of hearts! We can see the hearts that have been influenced by the Anti-Christ spirit; hearts filled with hate and rage; hearts mimicking Satan's goal to "steal, kill, and destroy". But I want you to understand that there are hearts rooted in the true spirit of Christ, too -- voices who pronounce that the violence and injustice our nation is experiencing comes from the kingdom of darkness, and that we must recognize that what we are seeing transcends the color of our skin and police brutality. We are in a spiritual war! Both sides of the battle in the streets have the same Enemy! He wants to destroy us, divide us, and drag us along with him on his way to eternal torment. Those are not my words, but the wise words of a young biracial man on Facebook. He recognizes that we need to "address the real matter, [which is] the heart and what flows from it!"
     Jesus has always been concerned primarily with the condition of our heart. In fact, He told the prophet Samuel, "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). So, there's a difference between the people whose hearts are pure and clean, and wish to call attention to injustice, and still promote the brotherhood of man -- and the people whose hearts are corrupted and only wish to inflict pain, chaos, and death.
    My goal in writing the post today is two-fold ... First, to tell you that the Darkness is growing; Jesus said it would in Matthew 24. He told us that we will be persecuted and hated for His name's sake. Many will stumble in their faith and hate one another; false prophets will lie and mislead; lawlessness will increase; and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures til the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13)
     "Saved" here does not merely mean "saved from eternal death as a believer in Jesus Christ". We must look at the full context of what Jesus is talking about in this passage. It is in context to "the end" mentioned in this verse and the next, in which Jesus says, And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a testimony to the nations, and then the end will come. He's talking about the end of the kingdom of darkness [that we are witnessing in the lawlessness today], and from which we will be delivered into [saved for] the glorious presence of our Lord to rule and reign with Him. 
     So, yes the Darkness, is coming but we have been given hope [and peace] to endure. And this brings me to my second goal.... I don't want you to concentrate on all the negativity that the Media is trying to spread. They are a useful tool for the Anti-Christ spirit. When the Lord says we may have peace in untroubled hearts, you need to see that there are messages of hope in the midst of the darkness, and then let that hope and peace manifest in your heart. There's a beautiful video of men and women of all colors gathering together in Lynchburg, VA so they might praise the Lord and glorify their common Savior. This video is in contrast to the negative seeds being sown by so many. So, don't let the hate drown out the voices of these faithful people raised in mutual awe and adoration of Jesus! You may have the peace of the Lord, if you seek it, choose to receive it, and share it! Remember ... the Darkness may be coming, but there's no reason or need to fear ... it will never put out the Light! Be the Light! 

Psalm 27:14    Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord


November 8, 2018

Reconciliation, Ambassadorship & Levels of Glory

     Sometimes I struggle to connect God's dots in the Bible. Too often, I read the Bible according to the chapter and verse breaks that have been instituted by human hands down through the ages the Bible has been translated. I forget that's not how God sees His manuscript. So, while I am slowly making my way through 2 Corinthians, I am beginning to see a panoramic view of a concept God wants me to understand about my role here on earth -- a view not restricted by Chapter limitations. So let me expound...
     In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, I came across the verses that tell us we are a new creation when we accept Christ as our Savior and join our lives with His. And it all centers around "reconciliation". That's a word that gets thrown around a lot in Christianity, so I wanted to make sure that I understood what it means, since a verse or two later, the Bible tells us we have been given a "ministry of reconciliation" to others. Don't you think it's important we know what that entails?
     According to the Greek, this "reconciliation" denotes an adjustment or change by man that brings him back into a restoration of favor with God. In other words, we sinners repent and put our trust in the substitutionary death of Christ. Notice that I said reconciliation denotes a change by man, instead of in man. God doesn't make the change happen in us, but we change and are reconciled, or made "at one", with God. Reconciliation stresses the process of being restored. Therefore, having been given a ministry of reconciliation to others, we are to go forth and share with other sinners that they are alienated from God [by their sin] and what it means to be restored to favor with Him, and all the benefits associated with this process.
     Then, the very next verses tell us that not only do we have a ministry [of reconciliation] given to us -- but we are ambassadors for Christ! We have a responsibility towards Him because of our reconciliation; we are to represent His Kingdom on earth, having been raised up and qualified to represent Him by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. As the Passion Translation reads, So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. If we are faithful and obedient to please God, our reconciliation will lead to an ambassadorship!
     But, I want you to step back with me, and get a wider picture of how God is working through us. Just a couple of chapters prior to this -- in 2 Corinthians 3, to be exact -- we read that we are being transformed from "glory to glory". How does that work? And what does that mean? It all has to do with the work of the Holy Spirit in us! As we make the decision to become reconciled with God through our confession and repentance, we receive the Holy Spirit who begins the process of our restoration, and with that comes a freedom from sin and death. It's as if a dirty veil has been removed from before our eyes; a veil that hid the face of God and His glory from us. Once that veil has been removed from our face, we behold God's glory, and the Holy Spirit begins to transform us into the image of Christ and does the work in us that makes us worthy to be His ambassador/representative.
     Scripture tells us that we will move from one level of glory to an even brighter level. Again, what does that look like? As we are transformed into the image of Christ, we begin representing the character and ways of God [just as Jesus did]. And it is the Holy Spirit that is working in us and through us to accomplish these levels of glory [just as He did in Jesus]. The New Living Translation expresses it best: And the Lord—who is the [Holy]Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. 
     Finally, what should it look like as we engage in our ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ? Again, the Passion Translation does a good job of expressing how the aspects of our ministry to the world should appear. We should be spreading the Good News of the triumph of Christ and the Kingdom of God over every power of the Kingdom of Darkness. We should be carriers of the fragrant aroma of Christ everywhere we go. We should refuse to water down or compromise the Word of God. We should be living letters written by Christ, not with ink, but by the Spirit of the Living God; living words to be written on tender hearts. We should stress that our ministries are not based on our own clever abilities, but by God's empowering presence in us. We should be imparting Life to those we come in contact with -- sharing Living Water and the Bread of Life. Every ounce of our ministry should flow from the Holy Spirit, and not ourselves. We should impart righteousness to those we minister to. Our ministry should embody a greater glory than religious or man-made laws, resulting in the transformation of lives that reflect Christ in the world.
     It's all tied together; connected by dots ... reconciliation leads to an ambassadorship, which results in ever-increasing works that mirror the character and ways of God. It's a picture of being progressively transformed by the Holy Spirit to becoming a mirror image of Christ -- one glory level at a time.  In the end, we can stand before the Lord and share in the reaping of the harvest of souls. And because of that, I take my ambassadorship serioiusly! What a glorious day that will be! 

Philippians 1:6     [I pray with great faith for you], because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!  

January 16, 2018

How We Christians Judge

     I'm going to talk about what will be a debatable subject among Believers ... our capacity to judge others -- especially our fellow Christians. This topic has surfaced after watching a new series of videos by Darren Wilson called Questions With God, where he asks hard, often thorny questions about God and faith.  Yes, it is that Darren Wilson who produced the highly controversial Holy Ghost series of films, where he took viewers to locations around the world to see if the Holy Spirit could truly lead a film. [In full disclosure, I loved the Holy Ghost series].
     I am also interested in this subject matter due to a recent question posed to me by one of the members of our Home Church.  Claire is an intelligent and passionate seeker after the Lord, and she was asking mine and Mark's opinion on an article she had seen regarding Bethel Church and "Destiny Cards".  In short, there was a barrage of articles appearing across Christian websites condemning Bethel Church for promoting occultic practices at a New Age festival.  It involved the use of "Destiny Cards", which were likened to Tarot Cards. 
     I read several of the articles, and knowing the sources were ultra-Conservative sites and not prone to "coloring outside the lines", I decided to write to Bethel and see if I could get them to clarify. [NOTE: It goes without question, that I do not approve of anything resembling Tarot Card readings or what could be classified as fortune-telling.  But I have seen too many instances of deliberate distortion against fellow Christians on some of these sites to believe their condemnation without further research].
     I reached out to Bethel by sending them an email which read, "We are a small Home Church in South Texas who is teaching from Bill Johnson's book, When Heaven Invades Earth.  One of our members is concerned after reading an article on The Christian Post's website that Bethel is confirming the use of Destiny Cards.  Could you please explain to me if this is true --- and if so, explain your reasoning for approving this method of providing a prophetic word to believers. We have been encouraging our group, who are coming out of strict legalistic doctrines and battling spirits of religion ... Stories like this make it difficult to keep them from sliding backwards.  Thank you for your time".
     I was pleased to receive a reply within a few days.  It read: "Thank you for reaching out to us to ask about this issue directly. We appreciate your effort to know the truth and value the opportunity to bring clarification to this recent conversation. We’ve compiled our thoughts and perspectives in a statement on [the ministry known as] Christalignment and the supposed “Christian tarot cards,” as well as points of clarification that we feel are necessary from our leadership". 
     They went on to include an official statement from Bethel concerning the subject of "Christian Tarot Cards", and Christalignment, the ministry that was under attack.  Bethel made it very clear that Christalignment was not affiliated with Bethel, although the son of the ministry's founders is involved with Bethel. The leaders at Bethel reached out to the ministry to make sure they understood what they were doing, and what they have been accused of doing.  And they made it clear that Christalignment stated that they stand in agreement with the Scriptures that all occult practices (like tarot cards) have no place in the Kingdom and should not be used.
    The long and the short of it can be explained in this section of Bethel's response to me: "Reaching people where they are with the truth and love of God is our job as believers. Many people will not come to our churches, yet they are in great need of a personal encounter with Jesus. The leaders of Christalignment feel called to share the Gospel with a people group that most of us would feel unsure of how to approach. We value their efforts to minister to unbelievers in the ways they can more easily receive it and in the places they are going, like New Age festivals... This ministry is a form of outreach meant to share Jesus with those who have never met Him, or think they hate Him, or worse, that God hates them. This practice is not what the ministry leaders do in their church, in their devotional lives and Bible study, when making major life decisions, or when discipling people. It is not taught as the next great way of maturity, a secret new thing for young Christians, or an easy syncretism. This ministry is a way of getting people to stop and engage with fellow humans so that they might encounter the love of the Father and the truth of His Son Jesus Christ. If one of our sons or daughters was away from the Lord and looking for truth at a festival, we would be praying for them to meet believers like this ministry, who know the love and truth of God".
     I have to tell you, that I value the honesty and the sincerity with which this response from Bethel was presented.  They didn't give me a canned [or short] answer.  They provided a well-thought-out statement, addressing what they had discovered when they took the time to research the issue and talk to those involved.  I wish we could all follow that example! Which brings me back to Darren Wilson's Questions with God series.  I was particularly struck by some statements presented by Chad Norris, the lead pastor at Bridgeway Church in Greenville, NC. 
     He said that it had been his experience, early in his Southern Baptist faith background, that his Christianity was defined by the 5 or 10 things he couldn't/didn't do.  When it came to having discussions with other Christians about debatable topics it was often characterized by "seeking to understand without listening".  In other words, his mind was always going through his mental roladex looking for ways to dispute what his Brother or Sister in Christ was trying to explain... which always lead to misconceptions about their faith practices or beliefs.
     He said his paradigm looked like this ... You are either in or you're out [in eternity], based on what you believe. And if you happen to believe incorrectly, then everything is at stake.  So ... [please get this, because I believe this is the crux of why so many Christians are terrified of considering any new concept of God] ... Pastor Norris says the pursuit of his life became having the perfect theology, and if anyone [or any theology] threatened that, it threatened his eternal security. Heaven and hell are on the line, here, and we're going to fight! Because if I'm wrong, I can lose it all! 
     How many of our fellow Christians can identify with this thought pattern?  How many would be honest enough with themselves to admit that this is their belief system?  And sadly, Christians who fall into this category will absolutely condemn anyone who strays outside the "acceptable pattern" of what gets you into eternity with God. 
    But for me, it comes down to this... are we not all called to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world?  How are you going to do that if you're not going out into the world, including all the ugly and unholy places?  That includes New Age festivals and Heavy Metal concerts, and means consorting with prostitutes and drug dealers and gang members on their terms! They're not going to listen to you, if you don't.  
    Do I always approve of the methods or the language or the actions of my fellow Christians who approach sharing Jesus in these unorthodox manners? No. But if the love of Jesus is their baseline, and there is fruit on that tree they've planted, then I believe they are doing God's work and those other matters are between them and God.  
     There was another portion of Bethel's response to me that I think fits this subject.  They wrote, "At times, some of the efforts of a particular ministry may not be wise risks or best practices, and may need to be addressed. If someone is doing something a fellow believer is concerned about, that believer should go to them directly and privately share their concerns, seeing if they can build mutual trust and value for one another. Perhaps, an explanation will bring understanding, or they can adjust to protect their connection in Christ. But even if they must ultimately disagree about the validity of the belief or practice, they have built a bridge for ongoing dialogue and possible change. One might end up saying, “I don’t appreciate the way they are doing such and such and think there are dangers, but I value their priorities and look with generous eyes to see what they are trying to accomplish.” 
     Isn't that where our hearts should be aimed?  Shouldn't we be encouraging those who are being obedient to the assignments God has given them -- even if they fall outside of the mainstream Christian activities, or are something we would never consider? Isn't that what Jesus did?  He, too, upset the religious boundaries of His day, and was condemned for "not following the rules". 
     As for the Christalignment ministry team, here in their own words is how God has told them to share His Kingdom through "Destiny Cards": "Our aim at Christalignment is to attract tarot reading clients, people who are fully into new age practices, psychics, and witches. All of these people can immediately recognize that our cards are not tarot once they sit down at our tables. Card sets, including cards we made named “Psalm cards” with scriptures on them, address the gifting in a person’s life. The color God is showing the person in a prayer encounter will speak to the person through the prophetic image on the front or meaning on the back. It’s the same as when we give someone a prophetic painting, just much smaller. They are all non-predictive, but we call them Destiny Cards, as we believe that giftings and callings given by God for people are certainly part of their destiny. All cards contain beautiful paintings by four different world renown prophetic artists and these paintings alone have deep meanings that have led to salvation and healing for many clients.
     The team is trained not only to be able to release deep encounters with the Spirit of Truth to clients but to also release words of knowledge and healing. For clients to see Jesus standing before them in an encounter is not uncommon, and many of them get born again.  The prophetic word given over us four years ago was that we would see hundreds of witches come into the kingdom, thousands of people turn from darkness, and that tarot cards would be disabled. Praise God this is happening!! As a deliverance ministry, we are able to stop clients ever going to a psychic again and this is our aim".
     This ministry will not be for everyone. And I will be honest with you, it's outside my comfort zone. And that's okay. They are filling a need to reach the New Age community in this lost world; and they are instrumental in implementing encounters with Jesus. So, where are you being called to serve a lost world? Because if you're not in the world and you are limiting yourselves to serving fellow Christians, you may be sharing the love of Christ, but how much fruit are you producing for the Kingdom? May all of us be led to serve and focus on the assignment the Lord has for us to preach and live the Gospel, make disciples of nations, and build the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. 

2 Corinthians 4:5-6    "We don't preach ourselves, but rather the Lordship of Jesus Christ, for we are Your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let brilliant light shine out of darkness' is the One who has cascaded His light into us -- the brilliant dawning light of the glorious knowledge of God as we gaze into the face of Jesus Christ".

December 7, 2017

The Holy of Holies In Our Temple Of God

     I know there are differences of theological opinion when it comes to discussing the Temple of God in modern or future times.  There are those who are focused on the rebuilding of the physical Temple in which the Antichrist sets up "an abomination of desolation" in the Last Days.  They wait with anticipation for signs that this Temple is about to be constructed, because they know the return of our Lord is near.
     While I do not discount the importance of this final Temple being built, I have been seeking ways to press into Him within the temple that is my human body.  You see, I am fully aware of all that Scripture tells me regarding the truth that I am the Temple of God. Yet I still find there are times I struggle to enter the Holy of Holies in my spirit.  I can read in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  Or 2 Corinthians 6:16, For we are the temple of the living God; or 1 Peter 2:5, You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 
     When God instructed Moses to build His Tabernacle, it was because He desired a place to meet with His people.  His presence was with them.  The Tabernacle, or Temple, included the Outer Courts, the Inner Courts, and the Holy Place (where the golden candlestick, the table of showbread and the altar of incense were place).  Behind the altar of incense was a thick veil that separated off a small area called the Holy of Holies. Inside the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, upon which rested the mercy seat and the cherubim. God’s presence rested on the mercy seat.
     This is where God's attribute of Mercy was displayed.  Sin is a deadly serious matter to God, because it is what separates man from God. Therefore, sin is an issue that man must acknowledge about himself and reckon with. The mercy seat represented where sins were acknowledged and forgiven.  And because God is Holy, and man is unholy, the meeting place in the Temple, the Holy of Holies, was a restricted area.
     But that is no longer true.  Because we are now the temple of the living God, we have access to the Holy of Holies in our heart because of Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.  Scripture tells us that the very moment Jesus gave up His spirit, the veil [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).  Man now had access to the presence of God and was no longer separated from Him.  And to make sure we understand this, Scripture confirms it in Hebrews 10:19-20, Therefore, believers, since we have confidence and full freedom to enter the Holy Place [the place where God dwells] by [means of] the blood of Jesus, by this new and living way which He initiated and opened for us through the veil [as in the Holy of Holies], that is, through His flesh.
     But how many of us have instituted new veils that keep us from His presence?  How many of you struggle with knowing there is more to receive from your relationship with God, but you just can't get past some impediment that keeps you from the Holy of Holies in your heart?  Is it something you covet in your flesh, or perhaps some sin you can't quite forgive someone [or yourself] for?  How many want to see in the spirit, but there is a dirty veil that keeps you from getting that breakthrough?  Or you want to hear from Him, but there is a soundproof barrier that keeps you from entering your Holy of Holies?
     And how many have only been able to press into the Inner Court of your heart, while others are still stuck in the Outer Courts?  You don't even feel worthy to enter into the Holy presence of your God, even though you desperately long for that connection.  I have a feeling that for many of us, we find ourselves navigating in and out of these Courts and the Holy Places.  Why can't we enter into His presence and maintain that peace and love and power that defies description?  Who doesn't want to experience communing with the Spirit of God and meeting with our Living Lord?
     It is a serious matter and undertaking to seek and find God in our Holy of Holies.  It is a matter of pressing in, acknowledging His Holiness, and seeking Him diligently until we break through whatever new veils have been erected in our hearts.  But it is worth the effort because it is a sacred place; it is our personal meeting place with God where we experience His presence and receive instruction to move from glory to glory in our redemptive journey. Praise Him for our opportunity to spend a lifetime in His presence, and then seek Him with all your heart.  Press in until every shred of those human veils are eliminated and you bask in the revelation of His glory!

Ephesians 2:21   We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.


November 10, 2017

Are You A Sinner or A Saint?

     This question really makes you stop and think, doesn't it?  I have to admit that when my husband, Mark, posited it to me, my immediate thought was, "Well, of course, I am a sinner.  There was only one human being who wasn't, and that is Jesus".  But then, I hesitated, and thought, "Wait a minute, but how does my Lord see me?  Isn't that my true identity"?
     If you scour the internet, you will find a wide variety of opinions ... some theologians and Bible teachers will call Christians sinners; while others declare we are all saints; and yet others try to walk the line and call us both saint and sinner.  But I wanted to definitively know in my heart what I believed, and the only resource that mattered to me was the Bible.  So, I began my quest to determine who I am ... sinner or saint.
     In a sense, all human beings, as a category, are sinners because we are born in sin.  So, it is not difficult to think of ourselves as sinners because we know we are capable of sinning. But when we take a look at the word "saint" in the original Greek (hagios) it is used to designate all believers or people set apart for the Lord and His Kingdom.  It is not used to typify those Christians of exceptional holiness, or those who have gone on to be with the Lord in heaven, but rather any and all who are reborn into a new identity.
     And Scripture backs this up in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, which reads, "... when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day [that is, glorified through the changed lives of those who have accepted Him as Savior and have been set apart for His purpose], and to be marveled at among all who have believed...".  
     Now, there will always be those Christians who don't see themselves as this new creation called "saint" and want to cling to their old identity.  They will tell you that if we don't still see ourselves as sinners, then what value does the Cross have to us?  My answer to that is simple: the Cross is the reason that my identity has changed from sinner to saint; it is the catalyst that transformed me. Did not the Apostle Paul say, "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."
     True, Paul called himself "the foremost of sinners" in 1 Timothy 1:15.  But, as is often the case, we tend to read Scripture out of context. A more careful study shows that he is referring to his former self, i.e., the "old Paul" rather than the new one.  And that may be why he tends to refer to the readers of his letters as "saints" to remind them of who they are, and who they have been called to be.  And that is an important distinction.
     "Saint" is both a description and a calling of the Christian. This is made very clear in Paul's letter to the Corinthians: "To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified (set apart, made holy) in Christ Jesus, who are selected and called as saints (God’s people), together with all those who in every place call on and honor the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours...".
     To be a sinner is to be separated from God, with no relationship.  But Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2,  that "through Him we have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father".  When we are reborn we enter into a new relationship with our Creator, and we are"fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household".  We now identify as a saint!
     But what about the times we hurt others with our sins?  How can we possibly think of ourselves as a saint then?  That is where repentance comes in.  With this act of confession and asking God for forgiveness, we show a new nature that is in relationship with God; a new nature that is growing towards the image of Christ -- and which definitely is not the nature of a sinner.
     So, after all this discussion, and back and forth, how do you view yourself?  Are you a saved sinner, or a sinning saint?  I will tell you how I have determined this question for myself... I know I am a Christian who is growing in holiness, while still struggling with sin in my life.  But that is the old nature that is still trying to control me.  I KNOW I am a new creation.  I KNOW I have been called to a special purpose and called to be holy because God is holy.  And I know Jesus is the ultimate picture of saint.  I also know that when we are saved, we are identified with Christ by grace through faith.  And I believe that my faith in Christ radically changes not only my identity and my walk, but how God sees me.  He no longer sees a broken vessel, but a renewed and restored receptacle of His grace and mercy.  How can that be labeled a sinner?  From now on, I will only answer to the name Saint. So, I ask my original question to you ... Are you a sinner or a saint?

 1 Corinthians 6:11   And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior]. 

October 20, 2017

The Doctrine of Christ

     Yesterday, I walked in on a theological discussion between my husband and our neighbor’s son. First of all, I just love that this young man is as interested in Scripture and figuring out how to live holy lives according to it, as much as we older adults are.  And anytime I’m invited to participate in a conversation about the Bible, you’ll never see me turning it down.
     The discussion they were having centered on Hebrews 6:1-3, and it is, I believe, a much over-looked passage.  Yet it is vital to a Christian’s life, and I daresay, most of our churches don’t teach of its significance and the part it plays in a Believer’s growth and maturity.  So, let’s dive right in, shall we?  Scripture says, “Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ, the Messiah, advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belongs to spiritual maturity.  Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works, and of the faith [by which you turned to God, with teachings about purifying [washings], the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago. If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching]”.
     I want to stop there, and avoid the oft-disputed verses that follow and have become a breeding ground for theological conflict between Calvinists and Arminians as to whether one can lose their salvation. So, I want to stay focused on the importance of these three beginning verses.
    First of all, were you even aware that Christ had a “doctrine”? And did you know the substance of it?  The writer of Hebrews makes it very clear that there is such a doctrine, and practicing it is the elementary stage of our salvation process. Secondly, did you notice the six precepts of Christ’s doctrine?  They are 1) repentance from dead works;  2) faith in God;  3) the purification by washing;  4) the laying on of hands;  5) resurrection from the dead; and 6) eternal judgment and punishment.
     Before we examine each of these and see if we, as the Western Church, understand them fully and have accomplished them, perhaps we need to take a look at what the purpose of a doctrine actually is.  It is my understanding that a doctrine is to set forth a body of teachings according to a specific plan or system.  In this case, Christ has declared that these six precepts are the foundation of reaching a goal of spiritual maturity in Him. Not only are they the introductory stage of our salvation process, but they are to be accomplished in this order before we can go on to “advanced teaching”.
     Have you ever had this explained to you in your Church? I certainly never did, but as I have stepped outside the “box” and let the Holy Spirit lead me, I am seeing these elements of Christ's doctrine in new and stronger terms.  They are no longer the watered down versions that 2,000 years of man’s manipulative interpretation has wrought!  And I will tell you, that I am humbled by my lack of understanding and I will never again regard them in anything less than the holy reverence they deserve.
     Why has this new discovery [for me, at least] moved me so much?  It is because I now see the power of God in each of these doctrinal precepts that Jesus laid down as our foundation.  They are more than rituals to be marked off our Christian checklist.  They are life to a new Believer and should propel us to greater heights in our Christian walk.  And here is why … true repentance should bring us to our knees, weeping for the offences we have rendered against our holy God.  When we realize how easily we commit the works of our flesh that bring us spiritual death, just saying “I’m sorry, and I won’t do it again” is not enough.  When we can see that, without true repentance, Anger can lead us to Unforgiveness, and Bitterness easily turns to Rage, we see how easily a shallow repentance keeps us in bondage to those spirits that separate us from a holy and righteous life. That’s what Jesus has called us to.  It’s unacceptable to God that we simply “try” to live a righteous life, thinking that He knows we’re human and He expects us to slip up now and then.  No!  A real, life-changing repentance is required to take the next step.
     If you can accomplish a soul-searching, heart-searing repentance, then you can fully appreciate faith in God. You know what it is to trust Him -- truly trust Him! -- because you know it is only by His power that you can turn away from that sin you just repented for.  You can believe in His promises, and can count on His faithfulness to you.  To live the life that Christ has called us to, it is necessary to have faith in God.  If we claim we trust Him and His power to render us born again, yet continue to sin, then we are being hypocritical, because God is holy.  And if we try to turn away from sin on our own, without trusting Him, then we either fail or become puffed up in pride.  Real faith is an essential part of the foundation of our spiritual journey.
     The concept of "purification by washing" encompasses several things, and it is by the power of God that they are all accomplished.  First, we understand that baptismal immersion is the initial purification, or cleansing, when one comes to faith.  We are washed of our sins; dying to self and rising to Christ, receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Then with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, we receive the power to carry out the Great Commission -- healing, casting out demons, raising the dead. But we are also cleansed "with the washing of water by the Word." The Word of God contains power to cleanse our minds and our hearts.  And working in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, the Word cleanses us with a purifying fire that results in a new nature, ready to grow in spiritual maturity.
     The laying on of hands exemplifies both the power of God to heal through us and our touch, and the power He gives to those who have been prayed for and elected to serve Him in the administration of His Kingdom.  And one cannot consider the resurrection of the dead without seeing the power of God in that act.  A Believer's life becomes pointless without that reality.  If there is no resurrection, then there is no point in living an obedient life.  And the very power that raises one from the dead lives in us, and gives us the ability to defeat the Enemy.  Finally, the resurrection shows us that God is just, and there is an eternal reward for living a righteous and holy life; and there is eternal punishment for rejecting the life God offers.
     In the end, it is the power of God in the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes all of these fundamental principles possible.  And the writer of Hebrews says that these are the "elementary" stages in the teachings of Christ's doctrines.  In other words, they are the basic, introductory steps in pursing the process of salvation.  He says let us not have to continually return to this "milk" that all Believer's should have consumed by now.  It's time to move on to the "advanced" phases of Christ's doctrine, which would be His high priesthood and His sacrifice.
     Believer's should understand the power of God in His Kingdom on earth and be approaching the completeness and perfection of walking in the image of Christ.  But how many Christians today truly understand those elementary steps?  How many understand the display of God's power in repentance? In baptism? How His power can manifest through our faith? Or that He wants to see His power displayed in us raising the dead? And how many truly understand the power that will be evident in His wrath on Judgment Day? These might have been basic steps for Baby Christians in the days of the writer of Hebrews, but I'm afraid we might not past the writer's test today.  When it comes to the state of our spiritual maturity, I'm afraid we're a long way off from complete and perfect.

Ephesians 1:19    "and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength"  

September 8, 2017

Our Portion In The Glory Realm

     I've really been thinking a lot lately how adverse circumstances such as those the state of Texas has endured for the last couple of weeks (and which Florida looks like it is going to experience this weekend) present such great opportunities for us Christians to do Kingdom work and exhibit the glory of God.
     Yet what does that really look like to us Americans?  From what I hear in testimonies from those [in other countries] who have received a mandate to teach on the freedom and power of Jesus in our lives, and the command to "release and establish" the sons and daughters of YHWH "to build His house, the hiding place of HIS glory", I wonder if we here in America are even capable of comprehending the spirit and the truth of this vision.
     It seems to me that we are so entrenched in our own idea of who God is, and what God wants us to be and do, that we don't even seek His face or listen for His instructions, let alone know Him.  The whole earth was once the exclusive realm and glory of the Father until Adam and Eve relinquished it to the Enemy in a moment of pride and selfish desire.  The devil knew this when he offered it to Jesus in Luke 4:6 ... And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this realm and its glory [its power, its renown]; because it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
     Jesus came to reclaim this glory realm for the Kingdom of Heaven, offering us eternal salvation in the process of partnering with Him to take back God's territory.  And the result? Lamentations 3:24 says it all:  The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul; Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.
     But I think it is important to understand two things if we are going to ever experience the fulfillment of this hope: 1) what and how do we encounter the glory realm, and 2) what does it mean, "the Lord is my portion"?  Let's try to answer proposition number one... God has a purpose for each of our lives, and at the center of that purpose is His desire that it glorify Him.  In whatever manner we are called to serve Him, He wants our efforts to include relationship with Him. But do we Christians even know what that means? How do you have a relationship with the One who created you, yet you don't really know Him?
     I can tell you that it is more than attending Church every Sunday.  It is more than what you tithe.  It is more than what denomination or doctrine with which you identify.  It is personal.  It is seeking His presence. And it is hearing His voice, and actually being in His presence.  His realm is where He is, and there you will find His glory.  He wants you to look into His eyes and have conversations with Him. He wants you to ask Him questions and to receive His answers.  But here's the thing ... we have to want to do that; to go beyond what our Western Christian culture tells us "relationship" looks like.
   Let me ask you this: the Bible shows us great examples of the relationship we can have with God.  Consider the relationship Abraham had with Him; or Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, John or Paul, among many others. Does yours look like that?  Do you discuss things with Him, even argue with Him? Do you cry out to Him, and expect to hear from Him? And if you do, are you obedient? Or are you content with an impersonal connection through association with a Church body?
     Let me share what God revealed to Heidi Baker, a Christian missionary, and author on Christian spirituality... She once asked the Lord, "I know your Word says that we're sons and daughters already. So why all the groaning? What are we waiting for?" He responded, "You know those orphaned children you take home with you [to the mission in Mozambique]?" "Yes, Lord." "They have to want to come. Some want to. Some don't know the opportunity is available to them. But others, even though they know they're welcome in the house, prefer to stay outside."
     Heidi Baker goes on to explain ... "As Christians, we're like those children. We're all welcome to move in the authority of sons and daughters, living in the realm of glory, seated with Christ in heavenly places. But we must want to come. We must never doubt that there is nothing He can't or won't do for those who believe--for those who step into their places as sons and daughters of God.
     Jesus never doubted His Father for a moment. When Jesus took the bread and fish in His hands (Matt. 14:19), He knew, without question, that as He gave thanks to the Father, there would be enough to feed the multitudes.  He didn't look at the five loaves and the two fish. He looked into the eyes of the hungry, and He looked into His Father's eyes. He said, "Thank you, Father," and He proceeded to feed more than 5,000 men, women and children.  God wants us to be like Jesus feeding the five thousand. He wants us to move in the fullness of Christ, fully yielded to Him. He wants us to walk as His sons and daughters in the earth.  He wants us to look into His eyes—and into the eyes of a world that desperately needs His love. The whole creation is waiting for us to step into the realm of supernatural glory He has prepared for us. It needs to see and experience God's love through us. What are we waiting for"?
     I don't think I've ever heard anyone explain what that glory realm on earth would look like better than that!  And if we could ever step into our rightful place in that realm of glory -- that place where we meet with God and experience His glory -- then the Lord would be our portion, and it would be enough.  And that brings me to my second point ... what does it mean to have the Lord as our portion?
     According to Strong's Concordance, "portion" is usually associated with "territory", and it can have a variety of meanings, depending on what you have a "portion of".  If it's a meal, then your portion is your share of the food.  If it refers to war, then it is your share of the plunder, or your "booty". If it's your inheritance, then it refers to what has been allotted to you.  And when the Lord is your portion, it refers to a spiritual "possession" or blessing.
     So, if God's realm is the territory where He is, and you have that kind of personal relationship in which you commune with Him and enjoy His glory and His presence, then your portion of spiritual territory is God Himself!  No matter what happens in this physical realm, your portion, or territory, is a place that shelters you from everything this world throws at you -- whether trial, tragedy, or treachery.
     In fact, we aren't even to look around this earth to discover our portion of the Lord.  Our portion of Him is not on this earth... we are here for such a short time, and our inheritance from the Lord is far greater than whatever this world has to offer.  So, let the unbelievers and the wicked inherit the riches of this realm called earth.  For me, I will receive my allotment -- my share -- my inheritance -- my portion of Him in the spiritual realm where His glory resides and I get to experience it every time I look into His eyes and see His love.
     I am ready to see this territory called earth proclaimed as His realm of Glory and for every faithful Christian to receive their full portion of inheritance as a son or daughter of the Kingdom.  It is time we truly honor Him and each other as we seek to fill the positions to which He has appointed us.  If you don't know what that position is, or what your portion is, then it is time to seek His face and take your place in the Body.  Simply filling a space in the pew on Sunday doesn't establish the True Church; the ones who are called out of the world and who will take the responsibility to see His Kingdom come on earth; the ones who are willing to do the work to reconcile mankind with the Father and return everything that belongs to Him, back to Him.  I guess I'm just ready to see the Body of Christ grow up and into the image of our holy Redeemer.  May His Glory Realm become my full portion!

Psalm 73:26     My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.

September 2, 2017

Light Dawns In The Darkness

    The last few days have been a whirlwind and I realized that I haven't posted anything in awhile. So I need to explain why... As you all know my state of Texas has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Mark and I spent a rocky Friday night, a week ago, as we heard things crashing into the side of our house during 90-100 mph wind gusts.  But as I told you last week, we declared our home and property to be the Land of Goshen, safeguarded and shielded by our Creator.  And it was so. While others in surrounding cities and neighborhoods suffered tremendous damage to their premises, with huge oaks uprooted, and tin roofs peeled away like tin cans, we barely lost minor branches.  We were blessed and fortunate beyond anything we expected.
     And as the reports and pictures started coming in from around the Lone Star state we could not escape the sorrow and empathy we had for the people of Houston who were (and still are) suffering from Biblical-proportion flooding.  But it was the smaller towns along our Southern coast who seemed to get lost in the immensity of the catastrophe.  One such town is Rockport, the first place where Harvey made landful in the early morning hours of August 25th.
     Throughout Mark's childhood, Rockport was a sleepy little fishing village that would also become a community of second homes for the wealthy and affluent.  Rockport has maintained that dual personality in the years since, but now it's 10,000+ residents all share the same misery and heartbreak... homes destroyed and lives forever changed.
     Since Mark and I suffered no loss, we were determined to find a way to help those less fortunate.  So we took some of our tithing money, accompanied by the same from a close neighbor and we bought some water, gatorade, peanut butter, tuna, gloves, towels, toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap, antibiotic ointment, vitamin C, and other supplies we thought would be important in these first days when people had no power, and little hope.  A group of us Christian women got together and made up relief bags. The next morning Mark and I loaded up our truck with water, and along with our neighbor's son, Cole, we three set off to offer our help.
     It was unimaginable. The devastation was beyond any sense that I had ever known.  Houses completely demolished. Trailers just a pile of rubble.  And the trees.... they were everywhere they shouldn't be, and contorted into what seemed like impressionistic sculptures.  The supplies that we had brought suddenly seemed so insignificant. How could we make a difference when these people needed so much, and we had brought so little?
     But then I remembered what my good friend Kim had prayed over us before we left that morning. She said, "I'm praying for warrior angels to surround your truck; to make a clear path through the muck and debris, and to protect your lives as y'all travel today.  I'm praying for ministering angels to go before you and prepare those whom God has in place to be blessed by you today.  And I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to be so evidenced in your lives today, that the spiritual atmosphere of the cities and towns you drive into will be changed... desolation turned to bright futures, despair turned to hope, exhaustion turned to energy, and hatred and anger turned into joy.  May you bring comfort through our Comforter to those who need it desperately!"
     These are the words that I would remember as I stood, holding hands with a woman named Yolanda, and prayed with her.  She lived by herself, and her house was a scene of destruction and desolation.  She had been approved for FEMA housing, but there was nowhere in Rockport that qualified for housing and all the surrounding communities were just as demolished.  She would have to travel several hours to find suitable lodging and she didn't want to leave her home, abandoned to the elements or looters.  We offered her water, but without ice, the water was hardly refreshing in the steamy heat.  But she was grateful for the relief bag we had brought her, and thanked us for what we were doing. In reality, we felt like we offered little more than what amounted to a drop in the ocean.
     But like everyone we approached with our meager offering, Yolanda left us with a smile and "God bless you".  But we needed to do more! And what did that look like?  And then we turned a corner and ran into José, who was the obvious leader of a group staging at the Little Lights Learning Center, a daycare facility for children.  He was organized, efficient, and unflustered... everything you need to create calm out of chaos.  When we left that day to return home, I told him I would find a way to do more, and what did he need?  "Cleaning supplies and protein" was his immediate reply.  I was determined to make that happen.
     And as we left the wreckage of Rockport behind us, the Holy Spirit offered His solution. I would tell our story of that day, and show the world the pictures of Rockport, setting up a public fundraiser for this little town that was the first to take a hit from Harvey.  I decided to turn the fundraiser over to Jesus, telling Him, "It's yours. Make it what You want it to be, and Mark and I (and others of Your faithful followers) will be Your hands and feet. Just tell us where to go".  So, I came home two days ago, created the website "Relief 4 Rockport" and surrendered it to the Lord.  And I think He wants to do great things with it!  The response has been amazing, and Mark and I, along with my prayer partner, Kim, are headed back to Rockport this morning with two trucks full of provisions -- Cleaning supplies and protein, of course! What a blessing to be used by Christ to show His mercy to those in need!
     The last thing I want to stress is that I do not want undue accolades for this work we do for the Lord.  It is no more than what thousands of others are doing as we try to alleviate the misery in the lives of our fellow Texans.  And it is just what we are called to do by the One whom we serve.  The heroes are the people who will put their lives back together, one day at a time, hopefully looking to Jesus for comfort and strength.  And if I can share His presence and His peace with any of them, then that will be an honor.  So please keep Texas in your prayers.  We have a long way to go to recover, and we're down now, but not out.  Pray that this will be a season of turning to the Lord and great growth in individual's relationships with Him.  And pray that Mark and I will be effective ambassadors for His Kingdom, showing everyone we come in contact with His mercy, His grace, and His tender heart. And please pray that we never miss an opportunity to speak of His boundless love.

Galatians 6:2    "Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]".

August 29, 2017

"It Is Finished!"

     These are the last recorded words of Jesus as He died on the Cross.  They only appear in the Gospel of John, yet any Christian who is well-schooled in the Bible is familiar with these poignant words.  But do we, as the Body of Christ, know what Jesus was referring to?  In other words, as my husband has been asking of our Christian brethren lately, What does "IT" mean? What is the "IT" that Jesus has finished? And what does it have to do with us?
     I have seen very intelligent and knowledgable sources say that the word "finished" comes from the Greek word tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.” They will explain that when Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring the "IT" to be the debt owed to His Father, which He wiped away completely and forever. Not that Jesus wiped away any debt that He owed to the Father; rather, Jesus eliminated the debt owed by mankind—the debt of sin.
     Now, I will agree that Jesus did all that -- He certainly paid the price we all owe the Father for our sins.  But, I'm not sure that is what He was referring to as being "finished".  I guess I'm trying to say that I think the "It" He finished was something else.  Let me tell you exactly what I think...
    As I am progressing through an in-depth study of my Bible, I came across a verse in John that didn't stick out to me the first couple of times I made my way through Scripture. It happens in John, Chapter 5, when Jesus is bearing witness that everything John the Baptist said about Him is true.  But then He says, in verse 36, But the testimony which I have is far greater than the testimony of John; for the works that the Father has given Me to finish—the very same works [that is, the miracles and proofs of My deity] that I am [now] doing—testify about Me, [by providing evidence] that the Father has sent Me.  

     It is clear to me that Jesus is saying, "The Father has given me works to do and finish.  These works testify that I have been sent by the Father".  In other words, all the works He was doing -- healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven had invaded earth in the person of Him -- have the ultimate purpose of glorifying the Father; the works of Jesus are proof that the Father sent Him.
     And so, here's where I disagree with the accepted version of what Jesus meant when He said It is finished. True, the Greek word for "finished" can mean a levy or toll that is paid in full.  But, according to Strong's Concordance, that is the secondary meaning of the word.  The primary definition of the root word, tello, is "an end of a defined purpose; the conclusion of an ultimate or prophetic act". Jesus says in John 5:36 that the Father has given Him works to finish, and that those works revolve around the miracles and proofs of His deity, which will ultimately result in the glorification of the Father.  So, when He says It is finished with His dying breath, I contend that He is saying "I have finished all the works You assigned Me to do to bring Your Kingdom to Earth and to glorify You, Father".  Jesus says in verse 36 that these works are the greater testimony about Who He is, and Why He came.
    The reason I think the modern Church doesn't see this is because it would require that we acknowledge not only the significance of "the works" He did, but that He wants us to continue those works.  That's why, within the same Gospel of John, Jesus is recorded as saying, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  I contend that Jesus was finished with the works the Father had assigned to Him.  He had displayed His Deity through the works of signs and wonders, [healing and deliverance], and then given all who believe on Him the authority to continue those works [in John 14:12].  Furthermore, in both Matthew 28 and Mark 16, Jesus emphasizes that He wants believers to be taught to do all that He has commanded; and as they do the works He has done, it will be a sign to others to believe that the Father sent Him and that He is working through them.
     But the modern Church is uncomfortable when it comes to us performing supernatural acts of healing and deliverance, which are the works Jesus did.  It is more logical to the human mind to think that It is finished is simply referring to what Jesus did for us [in paying our "sin debt"], rather than to accept that He had finished His assignment of "works" for the Kingdom, and the mantle has been handed to us to continue them.  Can you see that the former explanation puts the responsibility on Jesus, while the latter interpretation makes us accountable for continuing His work?
     If the "IT" is simply a paid debt, it makes it easier to live the Christian life when you think that Jesus has done the work for you, rather than realizing that we are supposed to carry on the works [that glorify the Father], in His stead.  And this results in a Body of Christ that is stagnant and powerless to battle the schemes of the Adversary.  Think how much leeway we have given the devil when we only consider that the debt for our sin has been paid.  Don't get me wrong -- what a glorious gift of Grace that is!  But when you consider that there are so many people who need physical healing and demonic oppression eliminated from their lives, then the "IT" Jesus left us to do has been far from finished in our lives.  There have been so few of us who recognize our charge from the Lord, that the "IT" has barely even begun!
     Yes, Jesus finished His part.  He did exactly what the Father commanded Him to do.  But a huge part of His assignment was to model for us the work that the Father wants us to continue until Jesus returns.  As He hung in agony on the Cross, Jesus was declaring to the Father that He had ushered in the Kingdom on earth, and He had left the Father's work to be continued by those who believe in Him.  That stage of the Father's plan was surely finished. It's time we make up for all the lost opportunities to show His glory and the manifestation of His Kingdom here on the earth.  Our part of the Father's plan won't be finished until the last person accepts Christ as His Savior.  Until then, we need to use every tool He left us to accomplish that goal, and that includes the supernatural works that He did.  By neglecting them, we are not being obedient to all that He commanded us to do.  I'm not finished; are you?

Matthew 5:16     "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven".