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.

15 August 2016

This Morning's Thought

I've only been conscious for a few hours (rolling in from a road trip at 3am will do that to a body), but what keeps running through my mind is this:
"It's true. It's all true. It's NOT too good to be true!!!"
Jesus WON. He LOVES us. And I got to bask, to soak, to feast, to drink deeply of the miraculous consequences of that victory this weekend. And I get to walk in it, speak from it, and positively DUMP all of that awesome into the world around me.

I'm soooooo beyond words excited for what comes next!!!!

(No, we're not moving to Wyoming. Some of us just spent some time there this weekend. ;o)

11 August 2016

Now I know better

“For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil [to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them]. [Ps. 34:12-16.]”
1 Peter 3:12 AMP

I actually have come to love this passage, not because of the way I used to see it, but the way God has revealed it to me.

I used to think this meant that God would actively punish us, that He would refuse to answer "the wicked" when we cried out to Him. But now, I know better. 

Now I know that our God is the one who never turns away, never stops calling out to us, never ceases to work every good thing He possibly can in our lives. When we choose "wickedness", we turn ourselves so we are no longer facing Him. Our ears become dull to His voice, our hearts hard against the softness of His love and persuasion.

Father, thank you for being good. For being consistent, and for being the SAME at all times. Thank you for the multitude of blessings you pour out always, and I pray you would teach me how to open my eyes so I can see more and more. I'm Jesus' name, amen.

07 August 2016

Living Stones

“Come to Him [then, to that] Living Stone which men tried and threw away, but which is chosen [and] precious in God's sight. [Ps. 118:22; Isa. 28:16.] [Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. For thus it stands in Scripture: Behold, I am laying in Zion a chosen (honored), precious chief Cornerstone, and he who believes in Him [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] shall never be disappointed or put to shame. [Isa. 28:16.] To you then who believe (who adhere to, trust in, and rely on Him) is the preciousness; but for those who disbelieve [it is true], The [very] Stone which the builders rejected has become the main Cornerstone, [Ps. 118:22.] And, A Stone that will cause stumbling and a Rock that will give [men] offense; they stumble because they disobey and disbelieve [God's] Word, as those [who reject Him] were destined (appointed) to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God's] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. [Exod. 19:5, 6.] Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God's people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy. [Hos. 2:23.]”
1 Peter 2:4-10 AMP

When we believe Jesus Christ, we become citizens of His nation, integral components in His community. There is no "going it alone" in Christ Jesus. God's ENTIRE focus is to draw all flesh unto himself. . . which means all who allow themselves to be so drawn will end up in the same place.

He did all he did so he could reclaim community and fellowship with us. He came to show us who his Father truly is, and to draw all of us back into his presence. To heal the  relationship broken by the Fall, restoring the fellowship between God and man that was in the beginning. 

Father God, thank you for loving us so completely, so perfectly. I glorify your name for who you are, for your perfect nature. Thank you for sending Jesus to show us who you are, and how to know you. Thank you for allowing him to come and love us. Fill your people today, God, and let them find you around every corner in their hearts. Reveal your nature to them, God, the perfection of love and truth that is the key which unlocks the reality of you in their lives. Thank you for always being about this work, and for allowing me to see you move in the lives and hearts of others. I praise you for the way you save souls, for the relentless way you so tenderly love, and for the way you partner with those who love you too do this work. Woo your people, Lord. It is so beautiful to me. In Jesus name, amen.

02 August 2016

Prayer of Liberation

Oh, God. Reach those who confess your name. Touch their hearts with the wonder that is in you, with the love that turns fleshly wisdom on its head and makes of us citizens of Heaven. Woo your people, Lord. Show them what you meant when you said you are the Bridegroom and we are the bride. Find every one of us who claims to know you, who claims to carry your name, and make us yours, indeed! To all those who say they carry you in their hearts, go and make your home in them! To all those who say they seek to be filled with your spirit, fill them! Reveal yourself to them, Jesus, and show them who you really and truly are: 

* Yahweh - I AM 
* Yahweh Meqaddishkem - God Is Holy
* Yahweh Nissi - God Is Truth 
* Yahweh Yireh - Gracious Provider
* Yahweh Sabaoth - Watchful Defender 
* Adonai - Loving Master
* Elohim - All-Powerful 
* El Shaddai - All-Sufficient
* El Roi - All-Knowing, Ever-Present Help
* El Elyon - Supreme Sovereign
* El Olam - Unchanging and Eternal

Thank you, Jesus, for who you ARE. Show your people, those who confess your name, who you are. Oh, please. Amen.