25 October 2016

Always, Never, and ALL

S: “Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will NEVER reject them.”

~John 6:35, 37 NLT

O: Jesus has promised that he will not only provide for our needs when we come to him, but that he will NEVER reject those who come to him.


And who are those the Father has given to Jesus? 

“God has put ALL things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over ALL things for the benefit of the church.”

~Ephesians 1:22 NLT

A: I believe the Father gave Jesus everything he redeemed. All creation. That includes all flesh. Whether or not we seek Jesus is up to each of us. But we have the word of God that he will not reject us when we do. Not ever.

So if you feel like God has rejected you, KNOW THIS: that is a lie from hell. A lie designed to keep you captive, separated from the God who paid the ultimate price so he COULD accept you ALWAYS, so he could cover your sin and imperfection with mercy and charity, and be close to you as soon as you turn to him with a repentant heart.

God's word is truth.

And one of the most hopeful, encouraging things I've ever realized is that if I don't see God's promises coming true in my life, God is not the problem. It's me. Hallelujah! 

I can't change the word of God, but I CAN change me! I can learn of him and listen to his words, I can change the way I think, change what I believe as I learn more about Jesus, and watch the promises unfold like flowers after a long winter. Because my God does not lie. I can trust him. Always.

Papa God, thank you for being constant and faithful. Thank you for the blood of Jesus that bought me, not to enslave me, as men who buy human lives intend, but in order to set me free. Bless all flesh, Father, and show me how to pray so I can better partner with you in the incredible work you are working to set all flesh free, in my home, my church, my community and my world, in Jesus' name, amen.

12 October 2016

A Time of Exceeding

We are seeds; embryonic versions of what God plans for us to become.

We carry within us seeds. Idea seeds. Emotion seeds. Word seeds. Action seeds.

The work of the seed looks like the destruction of the seed. It IS the destruction of the seed.

The finished work of a seed looks NOTHING like the seed. It smells nothing like the seed. It feels nothing like the seed. It tastes nothing like the seed. The seed is the promise of the finished work. It is only potential.

Just looking at a seed, we can't always know what it is. Or we can THINK we know, because we've seen something very similar before. Or we can think we know a seed is bad because we watched someone else try to plant and raise a good seed without the Master Gardener. But unless we have seen that seed properly planted, nurtured, and then bearing seed from itself, we must hear the word of God that tells us what kind of seed we have discovered, hidden deep in our spirits.

This is a time to listen to the word of God that tells us what these seeds are.

And we have to let go of the seeds. We have to let them be buried, however deep the Master Gardener directs. We have to believe, while we cannot see, that the seed is swelling and breaking open and beginning to unfold. That a tiny tap root is reaching deeper down into the soil than we think is necessary, while we eagerly await the first tiny green bump to push through the surface. And while we wait, we need to keep the planting watered and free of weeds. And once those cotyledons appear, we have to watch over the tiny seedling, and let the loving faith community God has ready for each of us to help guard and provide for the growth of that fragile yet explosively growing new thing within us.

This is a time of exceeding. Do you hear it? Ex-seed-ing. Of going beyond the seeds--the seeds we are so comfortable with. The seeds that comfort us; because it's easier to adore the promise of the seed than create the conditions for that promise to spring to life. The seeds that we treasure, but aren't willing to let go of and plant them. Or the seeds that we hide, afraid of what the planting and care might cost us.

And all the while, God speaks to us:
This, this is an apple seed, round and shining with the promise of fruit to feed nations.
This, this is an orchid seed, so tiny you can hardly see it, but the beauty and fragrance of this flower will draw the lonely into My arms.
This, this is a ministry seed, sharp and black, but that will rise from the earth and bloom in the softest hues to comfort and gladden every heart that sees it.
This, this is a friendship seed to bridge the chasm surrounding a lost and broken soul.
This, this is a love seed that will bind you to Me, forever and always.
This, this is a healing seed that will make the amputee whole again.
This, this is a service seed.
This, this is an apostolic seed.
This, this is a pastoral seed.
This, this is an evangelical seed.
This, this is a teaching seed.
This, this is a charity seed.
This, this is a dunamis seed.
This is a time for seeds to release what they hold, to release the potential and the process that will become a finished work for the glory of God.

(Sparked by a podcast of a sermon by Justin Paul Abraham. Boy, does he challenge me . . . )

08 October 2016

I Trust Him

“Trust in the LORD forever, For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.”
~Isaiah 26:4 NKJV

A year ago this weekend, I had one of the most powerful revelatory experiences I have ever had. God gave me very clear instruction, and sent me dreams and understanding to equip and direct me.

As I waited for sleep to come last night, I looked back over the year and examined how I had tried, and believed I had failed, to follow that very simple, two-word injunction: "Get strong".

But almost as soon as I turned my thoughts that way, I felt Jesus gently correcting me. Yes, I definitely had not achieved what *I* saw as the primary purpose of those words. I'm not running a 30k tomorrow. I don't weigh sixty pounds less than I did at this time last year. He knows that. But he showed me the many ways I have grown significantly stronger, and I was surprised to see just what a difference there is between last year and now.

A year ago, I stepped out in my own wisdom to retake my physical health. I also stepped out, relying as fully as I knew how on my Lord, to receive and learn whatever he had in store for me. I've learned so much from both experiences, and with great mercy the Lord of Heaven and Earth has drawn and taught and guided me as much as I have been willing to hear and follow. Including instructions for how to begin, in this moment and circumstance in my life, to receive the physical healing and strength he has waiting for me.

Father God, I will trust you, for you truly are my everlasting strength. Thank you for all you have shown me, all you have taught me, and all you offer in the future. Watch over me and my family and loved ones. Let me be the physical manifestation of your love on the earth, the visible evidence of your Word. Show me how to receive your spirit in more depth and consistency, so the outflow of my life will be deeply nourishing, blessing everyone who comes across my path. Thank you for everything, God. I love you so much. In Jesus' name, amen.

04 October 2016

Acceptable to God, or Acceptable to the Flesh?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2 NLT

1) Often, what we find acceptable is not what God finds acceptable; and what God finds acceptable is NOT what we have been taught to think of as acceptable. 

2) If we want transformation, we MUST allow God to change the way we think. (Hint: that includes how we define "acceptable"!)

3) If we recognize that what we think of as acceptable (along with all our other thinking) needs be to available for God to redefine, and we are pliable in His hands as He changes our thinking, letting Him transform us, we will KNOW His will for us in our lives. Which includes hearing Him well.

Papa God, I have loved this passage for a long time, and know it almost by heart. But this lesson never occurred to me until today. What an awesome connection, and what a powerful lesson! Thank you for your promises, thank you for your faithfulness, thank you for the way you never, EVER stop working with us, calling to us, teaching and blessing us. Thank you for this key, and for all of the things you have spoken to me lately, in so much love. I love you, Papa. In Jesus' name, amen.

11 September 2016

Some Things Need to Burn

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire? ” “Yes, of course, Your Majesty,” they replied to the king. He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.””
Daniel 3:24-25 HCSB

The only thing consumed by the fire were the bonds Nebuchadnezzar's soldiers had used to tie these three men if God. 

Holy Spirit fire is the same way. It utterly consumes everything that binds us, every device of the enemy.

How close to the fire am I willing to go? All the way in? Or just close enough to get nice and comfortably warm? Will I let it consume everything that is not part of God's plan for my life, or will I protect my idols to the point of separating myself from God?

Good morning, Father. Thank you so much for this challenge today. Thank you for the continued opportunity to draw closer and closer to you, to know you better and to love you more. Let your word speak to your people clearly, and draw them more and more into you, in Jesus' name, amen.

25 August 2016

Sincere Imitation

"Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.” ~III John 1:11 NKJV

Imitation. That's where it starts.

So far, today has been a day that requires a tremendous amount of metacognition (thinking about thinking) in order to throw off chains the enemy has been throwing my way. And God has given me another tool in my kit to overcome on days like this: imitation. If what I should do doesn't flow naturally from my heart, I can start with sincere imitation, desiring that flew to recommence.

And once I begin with sincere imitation, the fountain within opens up and I'm free to operate in an overflow of love once again.

Thank you, God, for the word. Thank you for the body. Thank you for an innumerable host of examples to follow, and for the way you so insistently pursue me. You know the desires of my heart, that I will always welcome you in, and I love so much the way you continue to work with me in developing what you know I will need in order to receive the love, blessings and joy you have planned for me in the days and years ahead. I will continue pursuing, continue worshipping, continue praising, continue serving, continue in your love always. In Jesus' name, amen.

24 August 2016

Heal the Sick

“And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’"

“I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord.

Then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’”

~Hosea 2:16, 19-20, 23b

Last night my 8yo son was up twice, crying pitifully, with leg cramps. The first time we hydrated and used essential oils, and eventually he was able to walk them off. As I got back into bed, I heard Jesus say "I will be a husband to you", with the distinct impression that by "you" He was speaking to my family as a unit.

The second time he woke, the cramps were in his ankles and feet, and the previous remedies didn't work.

He hobbled over to me from where his dad had been holding him (saying, "Excuse me, I need to go see mom for just a second"--it was one of the sweetest things I've ever heard, him being gentle to his dad even while he was hurting so much), and threw himself into my lap, asking if I would pray. I had healed a headache for him a couple of nights before, and I think he remembered that, and took heart. I remembered what Jesus has just said only a few hours before, and met my son's need right where he was.

It took a couple minutes of praying and checking (i.e. crossing the chicken line, as Art Thomas puts it), but I will never forget the radical change in his voice as the pain disappeared. He went from so sad, so pitiful-sounding, to comforted, confident, and HAPPY as he stood up, said he was going to go try laying in his bed, and blew us a kiss on his way out of our bedroom door.

"Heal the sick", Jesus said.

And I say, "Yes, Lord."

Thank you, God. I know you know the depths of my heart on this one--you are the Father. And I know you know the events in my son's heart, too, being One with the Son. Thank you. Thank you for healing in my home, both physical and spiritual and emotional. I love you so much. In Jesus' name, amen.

22 August 2016

My Faith: Christ alone.

Over the last while my attention has been drawn to my overall approach to faith:

I will accept every truth.
I will utterly reject every untruth.

Just over three years ago, I came to understand that "the truth" wasn't a set of principles and associated tenets in a neatly delineated and clearly posted set of bullet points in the heavens. Truth is a person: Jesus Christ. (John 14:6) That was the key that unlocked the mystery of who Jesus is, and gave me the courage to choose to trust him workout reserve. And the initial result of that trust was the baptism of fire, followed by innumerable experiences since.

My faith and belief is fully centered on learning who Jesus Christ is, coming to know him for myself and know more fully what is in alignment with his character and nature. The resulting winnowing process has been astonishing.

When I first began saying "No, thank you" to untruth in the form of the traditions of men within the LDS Church, I stepped into that winnowing process. And I never dreamt how expansive the scope of that process would be. But I can say this unequivocally: none of the falsehood that I have laid down at the foot of the cross for the sake of thinking and living in harmony with my God has ever left me impoverished. Much to the contrary.

Some of the things I've laid down are things others still hold dear. But for every line item of my version of the truth I've laid down, the riches of the love of God have poured in to fill that space, (Ephesians 3:16-20), resulting in an overflow of beautiful, empowered relationship with God where I once had only intellectual understanding of an abstract concept and an associated tenet.

Joseph Smith taught that original Mormonism embraced all truth. If he was gutsy enough to make that claim, then I'm gutsy enough to take him up on it. Nothing that is part of the nature, character, and teachings of Christ will harm or invalidate any true thing Joseph taught. Anything that contradicts the nature, character and teachings of Jesus Christ isn't worth clinging to, no matter who taught it.

And I PRAISE GOD that we have God's mercy to give us room to experiment, to get things wrong before we get them right, and that there is ample grace available to lift us up and empower us as we wrestle through all of it.

21 August 2016

Never Too Far

For all of those who think God will ever give up on them, or draw a line and say "You've gone too far":

Think, for a moment, about the price Jesus paid for you.

Think, for a moment, about the entire life He lived in perfect submission to His Father, so He could be a spotless sacrifice.

Think, for a moment, about the incredible agony He willingly suffered, and His ignominious death.

ALL OF THAT He did for one reason: to redeem us.

He overcame death and sin. All of it. On an infinite scale. There is no end to the mercy, grace, forgiveness and patience He willingly gives us.

Now, keeping in mind all of that, and the astounding infinitely generous heart that must have motivated Him to go through all of that for you, can you imagine Him being stingy with it? Of being all elitist and meting out salvation on a miserly scale?

The work Jesus did was INFINITE in nature. Yet complete and full. Perfect. And He longs, with everything that's in Him, to wrap you up in the beauty of His complete victory, and save your soul.

Don't wait. There's no earthly or heavenly reason to hesitate. You are safe, you are loved, you are His. Receive the offer He makes, and then walk in relationship, in partnership, with Him as you grow from grace to grace in Him.

16 August 2016

His Great Hands

This. I have been at this point--the point where I understood fully all of my efforts over my entire life were not enough. That they never would be. That I had to choose to trust Jesus Christ to the point of placing everything I was into His hands, fully open to receive whatever He gave back, and to release the rest.

What God gave me in return for my heavy, broken heart is so much better than I ever could have imagined.

Your Great Hands 
I'm lookin' at the broken pieces
Life shattered on this empty floor
I've tried so hard to simply keep it
I know there must be something more

I'm here now to turn it over; complete surrender
Into Your great hands, I will place my trust
When I cannot stand, You will lift me up
Every failure, every fear, every step that led me here
All I am, into Your great hands

This goes against my every instinct
To loosen my grip and let go
But really all that I am risking
Is perfect peace in my soul

Into Your great hands, I will place my trust
When I cannot stand, You will lift me up
Every failure, every fear, every step that led me here, oh
All I am, into Your great hands

These hands that took the nails
These hands, they will not fail
These hands that bear my scars
These hands that hold my heart

Into Your great hands, into Your great hands
Into Your great hands, I will place my trust
When I cannot stand, You will lift me up

Every failure, every fear, every step that led me here
All I am, into Your great hands
Into Your great hands
Into Your great hands
 Our God is GOOD. When I took my life fully into my own hands and gave it to him, he began transforming it into something wonderful and beautiful, something supernaturally-empowered that increasingly baffles mortal wisdom. I love so many things that I was taught and gifted as a result of the faith and traditions of my fathers. And I simply will not trade for anything what I have now: this life of drinking from the firehose of the love of God, this life filled with wonders, healing, and intimate relationship with the God who gave himself for me on that cross. This life that is so full of the fulfilled promises of scripture that I can hardly count them all. I have the promises of God, spoken directly to me, sealed with the evidence he promised would come to those who believe. No words spoken by men can hold a candle to the blazing fire that comes directly from Jesus.

Jesus loves each of us with a love that encompasses and surpasses human love; not only in magnitude, but in scope. He is every bit as enchanted with you as you were with your first crush, every bit as eager to hear your voice and feel your eyes on him, to get you to notice him. He loves you with the undying love of a mother, deep and fierce. He loves you with the loyal and self-sacrificing love of a father, with the innocent and trusting love of a child, with the loyal and joyful love of a best, best friend, the kind of friend with whom you can do no more than exchange a glance and break out into belly laughs that take over and leave you both gasping. And so much more.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to give us life, and that MORE abundantly. Jesus came to give. Not to receive. He is not a distant, authoritarian deity that desires slaves. He is a tender bridegroom longing for his bride, a lion roaring terribly against the onslaught of the enemy, a lamb calling to us tenderly. He won the right, on that cross, to be with us always, no matter where our choices take us. And it is up to us whether or not we will turn toward him, ever present right in the middle of our mess, pursue him, and in so doing receive everything he has--everything the Father has.

Come, seek the Jesus of scripture, the Jesus revealed in the New Testament that told his disciples that if they have seen him, they have seen his father. Come discover the radical nature of his love, the love that makes into foolishness the wisdom of men, the love that requires no intermediary, no rites, no authority bestowed by men. Come drink from the fountain of living water and let it spring up within you to flow out in healing waves into the world around you, reclaiming the world that is already fully redeemed with the priceless blood of Jesus freely-given.