Remember His Works

        Over the years I have tried to be sure to write down prayers and answer to prayers so that in hard times when faith feels weak, I can look over my list and recall His faithfulness. I also have some favorite stories of his workings in my life. Here is one I particularly love:

         I was driving late at night in the late 90’s, returning from a revival meeting.  I was feeling full and happy and blessed, singing praises in the car, when I saw the flashing lights behind me.  I pulled over and waited for the officer, praying the whole time. He informed me of my excessive speed.  I was surprised and apologetic. I explained that I was in a rental car and I wasn’t used to it, assuring him that I would be more careful. He took my license and went back to his patrol car.  I sat and prayed while I waited. I was so joyful from the revival that I was certain God’s favor would be upon me and I would be on my way with a warning.

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        When the officer returned he handed me a ticket and told me to slow down.

        I was dumbfounded. I mean, I knew I deserved the ticket. But I was on my way home from a revival meeting!  Surely God’s favor was smiling on me and we had an understanding and he would not do me like this. I was disappointed and carefully drove the speed limit all the way home. 

            A few weeks went by and I went to traffic court. I had never been to traffic court. This was my first ticket in 20 years. When I arrived at court there was no one else there.  The judge and I made small talk and he asked me why I was there. I told him about the ticket and told him I was guilty.  He said,

            “Woah, woah! Don’t say anything else! The D.A. is not here, and you shouldn’t be telling me that.”  

            Then I continued, “But I am. I was speeding. It was a rental car and I wasn’t used to it.  But I would like a pardon.”

            “A what?” the judge looked baffled.

            “A pardon. You know, when a person is guilty of a crime, but they are let off the hook anyways. That is what I am here for.”

            The judge was clearly amused now, and still looked baffled.  “Why are you so happy?”

            I told him about the revival meeting and about Jesus, and for some reason I even ended up telling him about the deaths in my family, and how Christ healed all that. He was very attentive. Eventually, with tears in his eyes, he shared some very sad losses of his own. And I knew the Lord was moving. We talked for nearly an hour and I asked him if he had a bible. He got up and we went to a side room with a bookshelf where he found one. I opened it up for him and showed him where the Gospel of John was and told him to begin there. 

            Eventually, I mentioned my husband waiting in the car. He gasped and sent me on my way, apologizing for taking so much time. I wanted to pray with him but he insisted I hurry along. I told him would be praying for him. He looked so perplexed.

            “Why would you pray for me? You don’t even know me.”

            “I do now,” I said, and turned and left.

        I was floating to the car. I was so happy to feel like I was EXACTLY where I was meant to be.  I thanked God for the ticket, that led me to that meeting with the judge. And a few days later, there in my mailbox was a notice,

          “In the interest of justice, your ticket is hereby dismissed.”    

        I got my pardon. That notice lived on my fridge for some time. Thanks God. I knew you had my back.

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ABC’s of Prayer for Now

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      The easiest way to begin is to strum the heart strings. What’s going on in there?  Fear, sorrow, panic, frustration? Let it play, whatever it is.  Find some music that moves you toward or awakens you to God. Play it and let it move you. 2 Timothy 1:6 says to stir up the gift that is in you. It gives imagery of fanning embers into a flame. So the music you choose or the quieting you do, that is your part. God is always there but we have to settle down to receive from him.guitar

If you aren’t familiar with how to praise and adore God, look to Psalms and take your time. Spend the time. Let the words do the work for you. Take them in. Yield. And then read them aloud. Read them back to God. psalms-2_si

Ask Holy Spirit to help you. He has some other names; Helper, Comforter, Counselor. He is very good at these things.

Have you ever had a massage? You lay on a table and let go, exhaling away your cares so you can receive the soothing work. Have you ever opened a beer? Or sipped a glass of wine?  You let go, breathe in and invite the calming affects you know it will bring. Have you stepped into a bath or a shower and felt the water running over you as you release all of your tension and cares, letting them pour down the drain? The key to all of these is letting go. This is the exact same letting go you do in prayer. Again and again. Over and over.ALT TAG

Maybe for some it would help to write a letter. Pour out all of your cares and worries to God. And then offer it up and let it go.

The goal isn’t necessarily to get God to do something. It’s to get YOU to do something. Trust. Rest. Change the channel. Align yourself to the Prince of Peace.

If you find you are fearful, delve into the scriptures. Read the Gospel of John. And meditate on the comfort you find. Highlight or copy the verses that move you. Not everything you read will move you. Some of it may annoy you. Skip over that for now. Just look for something comforting. Read slowly. If it moves you, copy it. Slowly. Keep your music playing softly. It will help you to stay focused and keep your heart open. Rembrandt-Jesus-calming-the-stormThe mind of our human nature is hostile toward God. It always has been. It is not subject to God, nor can it be. (Romans 8:7) This is why you feel that tug of war when you try to approach God. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Your heart wants and seeks God’s love and peace and yet there is another law at work in you fighting all the time. (Romans 7:22)  Ignore it. Override it. It will shut up and settle down the more you ignore it. It is very much like the parable of the two dogs within. One evil, and one good. Which one will live? The one you feed! heartvsmindSo keep reading.  Pray without ceasing.  Keep singing and playing music that moves your heart heavenward. The universe is not out of control. Great Peace is available to you.

Precious~Fragile~One of a Kind~ Ornaments

Lying awake thinking of all the different ministers I have been taught by over the years. My favorite preachers disagree on some major doctrines. And I often wonder who is right, but I don’t sweat it too much, as long as Jesus is at the center.

I began to see each teacher as a unique ornament, and God as the tree. Jesus is the one who places the ornaments at his pleasure. (For God has set first in his church, Apostles; after them Prophets; after them, Teachers; after them, miracle workers; after them, gifts of healing, helpers, leaders, tongues.) 1Cor 12:28
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Now, for the teachers:

Martin Zender: Martin’s interpretation of things seem to glow with a glory of Hope. And can the created thing come up with hopes that are grander and sweeter than what the Lord has in mind? I think not.

THE SALVATION OF ALL
God is the Savior of all humanity (1 Timothy 4:10).
God will reconcile all creation through the cross of Christ (Colossians 1:20).
THE EONS
Jesus Christ created the eons (Hebrews 1:2).
God’s purpose is not eternal, but rather related to time periods called eons (Ephesians 2:2).
eons have consummations (1 Corinthians 10:11) and a conclusion (Hebrews 9:26).
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
(Romans 9:19-21)

Or as in my vision, does the creator not have power over the ornaments on the tree? To make them each according to HIS will, and place them according to HIS plan?

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Doug Stanton: Doug is a revival minister from Australia. He was traveling through NY in the 90’s and I attended many of his meetings. Listened to his tapes, watched hours of his videos, etc. His focus is “Christ in YOU, the hope of glory.” His mission is to see Christ formed in those he is serving. I have seen demons scream out when he ministers, and I have seen him kneel on the floor and weep as he prays and commands evil spirits to leave the victim. I’ve seen more compassion and persistence and love from this preacher than ANY, EVER.

I would guess these two ministers would disagree greatly about many scriptures, and their meaning. Yet, I see them both brightly shining on God’s Christmas tree.

For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (1 Cor 4:13)

Ten thousand instructors? That’s a lot of teaching! I’ve listened to many ministers, from old recordings of men long gone home, to attending various churches and bible studies. But these two I’ve gone back to again and again. I think it’s God’s doing, for a specific purpose: a steady diet of two opposing ministers, for years.

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Well, one day soon, we will see the finished work in all its glory, and then shall every man receive his reward. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

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The Gateway Cafe’ Syracuse Airport

 Gateway indeed. I suppose all airports are. Since the move we started flying out of here instead of Rochester. Everything is the same only shorter. Shorter lines at security, shorter trip from the parking garage, shorter walk to the gate.  A gateway’s a gateway only shorter. I’ve been craving McDonald’s food ever since we loaded the car. I even thought I could smell it as we headed to our gate.  But instead this lone cafe’ offering Italian sausage and potato & leek soup is all there is.  The guy serving the soup was really pleasant, even offering me a sample. He was so enthusiastic about it that I began to wonder if he made it himself.  I took his word for it and  ordered a bowl, forgoing the sample. As I ate the steamy brew I watched a woman wiping down tables nearby.  Her hair was blonde and flipped over the sides of her ball cap like little hair-sprayed wings.  I noticed then that all the workers had on matching shirts and ball caps.  I was curious about them.  The woman looked older than me, but then maybe not.  Did I look that old?  She had that little bit of flab under the chin that I am getting . If we’re  the same age then life had been tougher on her. Her posture was bad. But then, I notice bad posture like it was a giant dangling booger. Even if the head is just six inches or so in front of the shoulders, I spot it and want to adjust it.  Maybe I should have been a chiropractor. Who knows. Anyway, back to the guy who sold me the soup.  He walked past again and I wondered if he had been in jail lately.  For some reason I could picture him with a tray in his hand in a large cafeteria joining his small group of friends who couldn’t really protect him.  He was afraid in that place and relieved to be out.  Now he was jovial and talkative and felt safe again.

My husband thinks I am arrogant because I evaluate everyone around me all the time, and make assessments.  Apparently not everyone does this; or at least not to the extent that I do. By the time we had finished our soup, for example, I had decided that all the folks who worked there were down on their luck. But what I really mean is if I were in their shoes,  I would feel down on my luck. Of course, I can’t know that for sure, since I am not in their shoes. 

Beloved, believe not every spirit

truthTurn to your God, the God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the Only Wise God our Savior who gave us the gift of His Son Jesus, to wash away the sins of humanity, and to give us hope and a clean slate. Whoever turns to mediums or spiritists to prostitute himself with them, God will also set his face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for He is the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes and practice them. I am the LORD who sanctifies you.(Lev 20:6)

I wash my children with the water of the Word, and cleanse them with the blood of my very own Son. Not all spirits are clean spirits, my children. Not all spirits are my Holy Spirit. There are lying spirits, and deceiving spirits, and even Satan himself appears as an angel of light. Don’t believe every spirit. Jesus said, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. The Holy Spirit comes in Jesus’s name. He is our Comforter. He is our Healer, our Teacher, our Counsellor.

Is anyone thirsty? Come, with no money. Come and drink. Why spend money on that which is not bread, and your labor on that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of foods. All sorts of therapies, spending hours researching diets, and herbs, and spending years meditating, money on conferences, and reading every self-help book you can get your hands on. But one moment, one whisper, one breath, one touch of the Holy Spirit and you will be changed forever. FOREVER.

I remember early in my spiritual journey, I became very aware of a distaste toward all things Jesus. In the world, in my own life, in the past, in my family; the name of Jesus would make people uncomfortable. I felt disdain for anyone trying to tell me about Jesus, or share their faith. It was as if He were the scum of the earth. “Have you declared Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior? Have you been born again? Do you know Jesus? Are you saved?”

Eww. Why would you want to be one of those people. Even on the cross, He was weak, He was a victim, pathetic. I was confused and turned off by this Jesus. But after the Holy Spirit had baptized me, I was on fire. I was hungry and thirsty for this Jesus. I wanted to understand him, to know him, to be at his feet gazing into his eyes. I wanted to touch him, and see him and hear his voice. A friend said to me, “Jeez, we’re supposed to be a light. You’re like a blow torch!”

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I read everything in the bible that was red letters. I rented all I could find of movies about him, I ran after him with my whole heart.  What made that happen? How did my desires change so instantly?  It was Holy Spirit. One touch by the Spirit of God, and I could not help myself. I could never go back. All the disdain for Jesus Christ turned to desire. Just like that. redletter

I read in the New Testament,  “ I cannot speak with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. But he has no power over me.” And “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  And it became clear to me that there was a simple explanation for why things are the way they are here in the world. And also why Jesus is rejected and hated. We are the victims of an agelong war, wrestling against spiritual wickedness in high places. And most don’t even know it.

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Be not deceived. There truly is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the name Lucifer means “light bearer”.  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

 

A Valentine for Jesus

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Since becoming a believer, there have been many occasions that I’ve heard it is not right to go by feelings, or trust your feelings, or your emotions in regards to God and his word. The whole realm of feelings are discounted as unreliable. The key, they say, is God’s word. And since we humans have a mind, will, and emotions, these are no match for Spirit and Word.

I have plenty of experience with emotions, as do we all. However, with a diagnosis of Manic Depression, I may have even more experience with the intensity and unpredictability of emotions and mood. From being super energized and creative and upbeat to the point of madness, to being down in the dumps, weepy, and full of despair and battling suicidal thoughts. I’ve had them all.

But I also have God, and Spirit. And here’s the rub: This business about not relying on emotions with our walk with God is total bunk. It is even gross. If Jesus Christ came to give us forgiveness and access to the Father, and to reveal his love for us that we can have fellowship with him, what on earth would that even look like without engaging our deepest emotions? We are created to love and worship and adore the Creator. We write him love songs, we raise our hands in abandonment and worship, we sing with all of our heart, and we even shout unto God with a voice of triumph! We love him because he first loved us. And he demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were still in our sins, Christ died for us. To find ourselves in his arms after the world has beaten us and tossed us to and fro like a ship out to sea in a great storm, it is only right that we collapse in brokenness and sob our eyes out.  Jesus even said it would happen: whoever falls on this stone will be broken in pieces. (Shattered, crushed, a complete mess!)

And when we receive the Holy Spirit and begin babbling in a heavenly language, caught up in ecstatic praises with rapturous joy, would this be forbidden too? Paul himself claimed to speak in tongues more than anyone, and directed others to “forbid NOT speaking in tongues.”

If your heart and emotions are not in your bible reading, your prayer, your living walk with your living God, you may not have actually met him at all. It is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness, not the mind. You do not educate yourself into a knowledge of God, any more than you can know your mate by reading about him.

So give yourself to your Savior with complete abandonment, with your whole heart, soul, mind, and emotions, and discover what a Lover we truly worship!

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By Him and for Him

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By His grace, I am here again, in a garden outside the temple. I hear calming tones from within. The Master is here. I watch Him as he moves around the tall, circular lavender plant. The flowers brush his chest. He circles the plant with scissors, cutting long bunches. I ask if he needs help. He hands me a large bundle to hold, as he cuts more. I settle down on my knees to watch him. He seems intent, moving deliberately around the entire bush. He moves quickly, as if to spare the plant the agony of a long surgery. The entire plant is five or six feet across, in a perfect circle. He lays bundles of lavender on a large sheet he had spread in the grass. The plant is all trimmed now, its fruit harvested. He looks lovingly at what is left of the plant. I am surprised by the attention he gives it, as if he’s speaking to it, fertilizing it, pleased with it; his attention more on the plant than on the large pile of lavender it has produced. As he collects the corners of the bundle and lifts it to walk away, I follow silently behind. I look back at the neat trimmed circle that remains.

My mind is busy with questions, but I feel He expects me to be quiet. We make our way up a wide stone entry into the temple. He walks down a cobblestone corridor to the left. We stop and he sets the sheet at my feet. He disappears for a moment and returns with a donkey. It takes all my strength not to ask, What are we going to do with the fruit? This is the fruit right? Is it for the temple ceremonies? Are we going to leave it here?

He gathers up the bundle again. A few small pieces fall to the floor. He looks at me as if to say, leave it there. He helps me get on the donkey, and hands me the bundle to hold. He leads me out of the temple, through an opening at the end of the hall. Outside, there is much noise and activity. It’s a busy street, with poor and burdened people. I hear shouts and cries. There is little beauty. The road is dirt, and the scene is colorless and drab. It feels familiar: people in need, the lack of peace, the absence of joy, the poverty. I begin to wonder if we will give the fruit to people here on the streets.

The master walks along, leading the donkey I’m sitting on. I feel guilty. There is value in this pack, and we are walking past so much need. A few small pieces fall from the pack. I remain quiet.

We leave the town and continue on a path going up into the mountains. I feel relieved to be out of there. The scenery is gorgeous. There are no more sounds from the village, only nature. I begin to wonder if I should get off and lead for a while. I feel He may be tired. He turns to look at me, reading my thoughts. I look away.

“Look at me,” he says. I look into his eyes. He’s laughing inside. And with a broad smile he says slowly, for emphasis, “I don’t get tired.”

As we move on, I observe the landscape. The way is steep. Narrow cliffs appear. As we navigate them, the Master asks me if I’m scared. I don’t think so. Where else could I be safer than here with you?  I shake my head in silence. Tiger-Leaping-Gorge-7

I have an awareness that a woman lives up here, and that she is our destination. She is in a cottage on an open plain, amidst fields that could be in a brochure advertising breathtaking faraway lands. As we approach the little house, she rushes out to meet the master. She is expecting Him. I slip off the donkey as they greet one another warmly. She worships him. And as she does, I too kneel and worship Him as well. After a few moments, she welcomes me, and I feel as if I already know her. The three of us approach the cottage. The door is wooden, stained a deep purple that is faded and weathered. As we enter, we are greeted by a waft of lavender and frankincense. The rafters of the entire one-room cottage are covered with hanging lavender. I think to myself, To them that have, more shall be given. There is an old wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen with a steaming kettle on the burner. Jars of herbs fill a huge cupboard with glass doors. The room is cozy and I can tell this is a place where the Master feels at home. He makes his way to the prepared table and lies down atop the thick blankets. The two of us minister to him, with lavender oil, and worship. I know that this place is for him. He is at rest. There is a sweet song playing,

Heaven is my home, and earth is my footstool.

Where is the house you will build for me?

Who of you will hear, the cry of my heart?

Where will my resting place be?

Here O Lord, have I prepared for you a home. 

Long have I desired for you to dwell. 

Here O Lord, have I prepared a resting place. 

Here O Lord, I wait for you alone.

We have some tea and talk, we three. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes.

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Think it not Strange, Beloved

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The battle is real. But it is not with ourselves. Yes, we are in a fire and being purified. Yes, we are continually given situations to yield or resist. And all the while, we are learning, training, and being disciplined. The Lord disciplines those he loves. We have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. How much more shall we be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  Our human fathers disciplined us as seemed best to them, but God disciplines us for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

Now no discipline seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; but afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The key, the treasure in the fire, is to believe. It is your faith that is being tried.

Satan is strutting around as a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. What does he want? His mission is to get at your faith. Is God good to you? Is God listening to you? Does God care what you’re going through? Is God present? Is God even real?

We are wrestling spiritual wickedness in high places; powers and authorities in the unseen realm. Are we to cower away in despair?  Are we to hide?  Yes! Find the Secret Place of the Almighty and hide beneath his wings and let him nurture you, heal your wounds, and speak comfortably to you. At other times, His Spirit may rise up in you causing you to shout with authority and pray with power and faith and command the powers that surround you to get behind you! (If this has never happened to you, you may want to put on some music and let it rip.) You are shouting to the unseen realm, and breaking out of your puny self-consciousness, similar to the way you have shouted at a sporting event, or a concert. We do not run like someone running aimlessly. We do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

God is busy doing a work in us. Getting us ready for an even greater work. Like David in the field with his sheep, protecting them with his slingshot; killing a bear, a lion, with no idea he was preparing for the job he would be given later. We too are enduring a furnace. And our Lord is allowing the darkness to grow as a thick cloud. But it is for HIS purpose.

For the sake of My name I will delay My wrath; for the sake of My praise I will restrain it, so that you will not be cut off.

See, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, My very own sake, I will act;

for how can I let Myself be defamed?

I will not yield My glory to another.…

Fear not, little flock. Only rest in Him with expectation and hope. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. But you, brothers, are not in the darkness so that this day should overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of the light and sons of the day; we do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not sleep as the others do, but let us remain awake and sober. Behold, He comes quickly. And his reward is with him!