Friday, October 14, 2011

Blindness & Our Need for Eyes to See

Hello friends & beloved children of the King!!!  

My amazing church does a monthly event called Night of Worship (NOW).  It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like it might be: a night where all we do is worship!  It's always a powerful evening and I wholeheartedly believe it is a powerful tool is our corporate arsenal.  

Recently, before NOW, our Worship Pastor asked the team what we were praying about for that night and for the weekend services ahead...  God showed up as I started asking Him where He wanted me praying, and below is a revised version of what I sent back.  There is a powerful message here about spiritual blindness, the schemes of the enemy and God's desire for our victory.  I hope it blesses you.  Enjoy!


As I started seeking, the story of Elisha & his servant from 2 Kings 6 came to mind right away... the one where Elisha's servant freaks out because they're surrounded, and Elisha tells him not to fear b/c there are more with them than against them.  The part that jumped to mind specifically was where Elisha prays that the servant's eyes would be opened, so he would be able to really see the entire reality.  The idea of opening eyes - opening the eyes of the people of the church, the people of OUR church so that they are equipped and empowered to SEE what's going on around each and all of us in the spiritual realm is what God wants me praying.  Some people, I felt, needed to see that they were under attack.  Some people need to know that they're being pursued by the enemy's forces so that they can respond as warriors, empowered in the truth of victory.  Some people need to see that, in the midst of the battleground they see, they are surrounded by mighty, powerful, warring angels of God.  It's not just that God is with us in this vague, pat-on-the-back kind of way.  Some need a new vision of His ARMY with them.  Yep, this is what He put on my heart... 

Reading this story in its context, I was amazed to see how rich this idea of spiritual sight & blindness is in this passage!  God had more to talk to me about!  After Elisha prays for his servant to receive spiritual sight, he also prays for his physical enemies to be blinded.  He then tells them a simple lie: you're not where you think you are, and the person in front of you isn't who you think he is.  They, of course, in their blindness, just go along with him as he says he'll take them down the right path.  The language, actually, is that he LEADS them.  He leads them to the place HE wants them to go... their original plans and preparation are completely invalidated.  Their hopes & mission are completely cut off at the knees.  They're taken off course, and more than that, they are brought into a place of captivity.  

(There's a whole separate message in what happens after that, but one thing at a time!)  

I think the Lord's message for us includes BOTH of these pieces of the passage.  When the man of God can't SEE reality (because you know the warring angels are definitely part of the REAL picture), he fears.  And when those engaged in the battle can't see, when they are rendered blind, they are led astray; they're led away from the goal at which they had actually already arrived, and they allow themselves to be led into a place of captivity, bondage & powerlessness.  

We need sight.  Not just "insight," but vision for the people of God's church, vision for ourselves, and actually, as this is entirely germane to some things in my own life right now, I'm praying hard for vision for some of those closest to me!  We need to see the world with open eyes, whole vision and through eyes of faith.  We must believe in ALL the reality around us: God's power, His purposes, the warring angels with which He surrounds us, and the already-finished defeat of ALL that comes against us as His people.  

I was and still am praying for vision and standing firm against the areas of blindness by which we are needlessly bound.  I'm praying for revelation of the kingdom - present & future - the way GOD sees it.  I'm praying for Holy Spirit goggles.  Through truth comes empowerment, excitement, freedom and joy.  I'm praying for that.  As conquerors standing under the blood of Jesus, we have every right and reason to pray and trust in absolute victory and freedom.

What does God want you praying for today?  Where do you need a fresh revelation and eyes to see?  Ask Him.  He is with you!  And He is faithful!  I'm thanking Him today for your victory!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Learning to say, in every thing, "I thank You, Lord" has been one of the biggest and - I'm certain - most significant battles of my life.  I have, in many seasons, cried out to God saying, "Thank You, Lord!  Thank You!  I don't understand this, and it hurts so much, but I thank You, because I trust You and I know You're good!"  I have had to repeat this like a mantra through tears, through fears and much more... and still, I often have to include an admission of "I don't feel thankful right now, Father, but..." and just trust Him to work with my broken, fallen heart.  He always does.  I am absolutely convinced that, even though my emotions say otherwise at times, learning to speak out and grasp onto gratitude for His plans in EVERY circumstance has revolutionized my world - and my moments.  I am thankful once again for a God who changes my eternity, changes my life and also changes my day.  Praise You, Father!  And THANK YOU!

Monday, August 1, 2011

From Top to Bottom

Surprise surprise for a Monday... As I was reading this morning, a verse popped out at me - with a little thought tied to it.  This was the passage: "And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, 'Truly this man was the Son of God!'" (Mark 15:37-39, ESV).

What caught my attention was verse 38, in the middle there: "And the curtain of the temple was torn in tow, from top to bottom."  

I love it when the Word throws in some little detail that, at least with me, often is passed over without notice, and certainly without consideration.  And, then, out of nowhere, its existence suddenly catches my mind's eye, and a new revelation of God comes into my mind.  I love it.  God is so cool.  

So, what's my big revelation today?  Well, it may not be a "big" one really, but it's certainly significant, and no matter how often I re-receive this truth, it's always important.  The detail that caught my attention was that the veil was torn from TOP to BOTTOM.

The veil, or the temple curtain, was the symbol of separation between God & mankind.  The triumph of Jesus changed everything, and the separation that existed (as a result of sin) was mended and repaired by His death.  Jesus' death was His act of taking the punishment for sin, rather than than the justice for our many human failings being ours to individually bear.  He healed the rift with one amazing act.  And that rift was symbolized by the curtain, and at the moment of His death, the curtain was ripped into two pieces, destroyed and rendered meaningless.  And it was ripped from top to bottom.

I'm guessing many of you are getting where I'm headed by now; this repair, this action of reconciliation, of unification and healing was done.  Hallelujah, right?  This is, of course, a profoundly important truth and the very essence of what I hope my life celebrates day-by-day.  It's big.  But that small little detail - from top to bottom - is no less important.  Perhaps, on a daily basis, living in this life here on earth, that detail may be the one of which I need more reminding.

When I have a barrier in my life - a situation that won't resolve, a feeling that won't pass, a hurt that won't heal - I tend to try to wrestle it on my own.  Pretty much, though, I suck at trying to fix these things on my own.  It turns out, again and again, that I'm not fit for accomplishing God's jobs; I have no idea why this continues to surprise me.  

So, again today, I needed the reminder.  These things (all things) happen from the top down.  All the places in my life where I need healing, helping, repair and strength are His to accomplish.  Life changes, the really important ones, happen from the top down.  That leaves me free to simply trust His process, walk along behind Him (because sometimes there is work for me to do too!), and take His lead, knowing He'll work it out from the top.  It's amazing that when I let His approach to life be my approach to life, things seem to go much more smoothly - inside my head and heart, as well as on the outside.

Bless you all.  Let Him do His work, and trust Him.  He's worthy.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Holiness is in the Practical

I have had the incredible blessing and honor of helping to lead a group of women in a discipleship course for the last nine months.  I've been through this course myself, and well, I knew going in that I'd be getting worked on as much as I'd be helping lead God's group...  this coming week is our final meeting.

Each week, I email the girls and give them an update on homework, memory verses, etc... this week, however, a little bit huge amount of self-sharing poured out...  What's below is an edited version of my email to the group.  It seemed like a great thing to share here, although it's a little more self-revealing than what feels totally comfortable.    At this point, though, I'm about as unashamed of my stuff as ever before, so here we go!

Oooh, oh oh oh oh...
I just told a friend this morning that God has hit me with something new in the last few days, and I think it may be what He's been working me up to for the last nine months... (although, as I also said to her, probably more like the last nine years or so, as I first came into recovery for my eating disorders 9 years ago).  God's calling me to give up perhaps the last (and in some ways the first) of the things I still knowingly let stand in between my heart and His.  And, I'm not afraid to admit to you all, I'm not exactly responding in a mature, submitted, gentle-hearted way.

I'll try to spare you all the lengthy details, but the long & short of it is that in this whole journey with my eating, I think I've learned some physical, medical, physiological, scientific things lately that have helped me to understand what is going on inside me... it's good research and blah blah blah, but it also rings true to my own experiences for the last 25 years and my Spirit has repeatedly responded with a little "nod" of acknowledgement.  I'm no biochemist, but for me, He's revealing some truths.  

The net result is that, in order to put an end to the ongoing harm I have been unknowingly doing to my body, I have some foods I need to give up - and probably give up 100% completely for at least 18 months until my body re-regulates some things.  At that point, I may be able to here and there have a tiny bit of these foods, but I'll never be able to eat them in a "normal" way again.  

I'm only a little ashamed to admit that, while I am concerned about the practicality and convenience factor of this path (especially for those with whom I frequently share meals and a few blessed loving souls who have lovingly taken on the challenge of preparing food for me), my biggest and most important internal reaction has been all about giving up these foods.  The short list includes sugar and all things metabolized as sugar... trust me when I say that's a LONG list of foods.  Even for someone who has already been not-eating gluten for years.  

So, I find myself standing at a cross roads and obedience, faith, trust and surrender.

If I had been diagnosed with epilepsy or another more widely-understood something, an official, disease, and someone said I needed to make some changes to live healthfully with the condition, it'd be a no-brainer to me.  It'd be time to accept and adapt.  Likewise, if my vice of choice for coping was something more "bad," in our culture, it'd be easier for me to make that same leap.  No one smiles and chuckles knowingly when people say, "You know, I have just had a terrible day!  I'm going to go take a hot bath and do some meth!"  But, hot bath + some ice cream to take the edge off?  You all know as well as I do how accepted that is.  And, really, maybe for many people (maybe most people!) a little ice cream to soothe isn't an idolatry issue.  For me, however, God is pointing at that ice cream (and french fries and etc etc) and saying, "Hey, you let this stand in between me and your absolute surrender."  The real question, I think, is whether or not I'm willing to give up the hard thing in order to be truly set-apart and more freed up to be His.  More His.  

I'm absolutely convinced that God is wooing my heart in a new way, and calling forth from me a new level of dedication...of consecration.  And, you know, I wanted to share with you guys, for whatever reason, that 1) I'm in this space and that 2) I could be a little more lovely about how I'm responding.  The first night after I felt sure confirmation of my suspicions that this was where I needed to go, I went and had bagels and animal crackers for dinner (things I won't be able to eat for the next 18 months at least).  Last night?  I made sure to eat some of the ice cream I was served, lots of it, actually.  And today, I had given my self a free-for-all pass until I knew I'd be able to write & post this thing....  I've given myself a bit of a "last hurrah" permission slip.  Not exactly the immediate jump to obedience I'd like to expect of myself, especially since I know I'm doing some physical damage in the meantime.  But, hey, I'm just telling you the truth.

So... anyway, I'm really not sure what the point of me sharing all this is, but I felt like I was supposed to.  The truth which I am starting to accept has a few layers: 1) I'm going to do this.  2) It's going to be an 18 month fast, and I'll take it from there.   3) I can't do this on my own.  And maybe more than anything else, I'm afraid of failing.  4) I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13), so the real question is whether or not I BELIEVE the Word of God.  If I do, then I just have to let Him be my strength.  He definitely has the strength to carry me through any journey - but especially one that He's directed and doubly especially when its purpose is to draw me closer to my beautiful, Holy Father.  As I've learned, discipleship isn't about knowing more about Jesus; it's about being more LIKE Him.  I'm guessing He was allowed to eat sugar, but I have no doubts about His many, much bigger sacrifices.  Oh mercy... in lieu of the recent reminders all over Holy week & Easter, I have fresh in my heart the taste of so much of His sacrifice.  And He did it so I could do this.  I think walking forward in obedience is the least I can do.  And it also feels like the most.  To say otherwise would be a lie.  But now I get to learn new lessons about leaning on His strength daily in a whole new way.  It'll be good.

Love you guys.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Alright, first and foremost, I gotta do a cheesy thing.  I need to say that this post is a strange thank you to a dear friend of mine.  I'm not going to tell you who she is, because, c'mon, that'd just be embarrassing... BUT, I'm going to tell her who she is (well, you get what I mean), and let her know that that, lest a Carly Simon song pops into her mind, she really isn't vain; this post really is about her...

So, I have this friend, and she's one of my best besties, and she loves the Lord in a pure and amazing way, and her heart and mind thirst continually for new levels of understanding.  She taught me one of the best prayers I know: "Lord, show me what this scripture / truth / word looks like for me, because I don't get it." (I could wrote a whole separate treatise about that prayer alone!) But, more recently, she's taught me something new.

Actually, if I'm going to get stuck on accuracy (which apparently I am), she probably has been teaching me this lesson for years, but I think I'm just starting to learn it.  Funny how teaching and learning don't always coincide the way it seems they should...

My friend; she's got the joy.  And I mean it.  You meet this woman and you know she's got the joy just wiped all over her pretty little face.  It shines in her eyes, shows in her smile, and giggles out of her voice.  I kid you not; it's even in her hair.

Now, needless to say, I love this girl, and she is a wonderful friend in all ways.  And, as I'm pleased to say about all my closest friends, I have a lot to learn from her.  But here's one that's just descended like a halo in the last few months: the girl gets excited.

Now, any one who knows me (or has read a post or two here) knows that I'm fairly excitable.  I like exclamation point, smiley faces, dancing about in all sorts of unlikely places and shouting just about anything that seems worth shouting out to the world around me... but there is a world of difference between excitable and my already excited friend.

She looks at her life, and when she finds places of transition, uncertainty and the general shroud of mystery of which the Lord seems so very fond, she does an amazing thing.  She gets excited.  In a good way.

Do you know what I do when I see these things on my own horizon?  Well, quite frankly, usually, I panic.  I admit it freely; in my fleshly fleshly state, I so often see the gray area, the uncertain (or at least unknown to me) future and the questions as they loom large.  And I freak. I am clever enough to freak in a very composed, appropriate and, sometimes, even reverent way, but make no mistake about it; I don't always keep my cool.

The cycle usually looks like this: fear leads to panic (this step happens very quickly) and then, at some point, I usually identify that I'm having a lapse in faith and I start talking some truth to myself.  Or, when I'm smart enough to ask for help, one of the wonderful people in my life will speak some truth to me.  (Don't you just love it when the truth is like a bucket of cold water or a slap against the face?  One of those, "Good heavens, man!  Snap out of it!" slaps?  I do.)  In any case, after the truth-smackdown, I get pulled back up out of the miry clay, and I get to regain my footing and walk in faith again.

And although I cycle through that process more and more quickly these days (not to mention less and less frequently), I definitely still feel an instinct to retreat from the unknown, the gray area and the shrouded.  They just plain scare me.  So, the Lord is working on me in that area, and I think my friend is one of His teaching tools.

You know what she does when she sees a vast, empty expanse of unknown future ahead of her?  Like a crazy person, she gets excited.  Where I tend to see a heavy curtain obscuring the path ahead, she sees a blank canvas.  When I look out to the road and see only a few inches ahead of me, I tend to be frustrated and afraid.  I'm pretty convinced that she spends very little time thinking about the few inches of road at her feet; instead, she just walks forward and gets all wonderfully stoked for whatever is past those few bricks at her feet.  It's like she sees it as an exciting surprise coming her way; she doesn't know what it is, but she is certain it's going to be tons of fun.

Do you know what that is all about?  I think I do.  She believes Him.  She believes the Word.  I mean, she actually reads the words of God, believes He means it and that He means it for her.  And she lives into the truth in the way only someone who really, really, really believes in His goodness, faithfulness and power can do: unafraid.  It's incredible to watch, my friends.  It's beautiful.  And I want to be just like her when I grow up.

do have to believe Him when He tells me that it's good, and better than good.  It's abundant, and it's more than I could ever hope or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20).  Well, shucks.  That is kind of exciting now that I think about it.

I'm grateful for the example in my friend, and I'm going to keep opening my heart up to learn this lesson as a living truth all my own.  Maybe someday I, too, can have a mess of joy oozing out of every place.  I can't imagine that wouldn't be for His glory.  I mean, who doesn't want hair all gooey with the joy of Jesus?  I do.  I do, Lord!  Teach me!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Suffering, Endurance, Character & Hope

As I've recently written, I've undertaken a little challenge via the Living Proof Ministries Blog to, twice a month, thoroughly commit to memory a new verse.  We start new verses on the 1st & the 15th, and as the new verse dates approach, I  seek a word from God on what He'd like me to learn and let dwell in me richly (see Col 3:16).  You know He's got purposes aplenty to accomplish in this girl!  So far, I've had a verse surface each and every time I'm preparing to start a new one.  God knows what I need; I'm so glad He's willing to share the info.  :)

So, my verse for this half of April is actually a set of a few verses.  It'll be a longer passage for memory, but I think I can get it locked in my head.  For me, having the verse "click" in terms of meaning is the key to memory.  So, with that in mind, I've got some initial thoughts on the passage that lays before me, my task for the next couple weeks: Romans 5:3-5 from the ESV.

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

I've come across this verse before, and remember finding it a puzzling logical track.  Suffering leads to hope? Uhhh...really?

Well, you know, I believe the Word is absolute truth and absolutely true, but I am not afraid to say right here and now that I find that logical leap to be a bit of a mystery.  So far.  I look forward to the next two weeks.  Task one: word study.  I know enough to know that I probably don't know what suffering, endurance, character and hope really mean (although, regulars here will know I've done some study on hope in past musings, thoughts and posts).

I'm sure I'll be popping in here to share what I'm discovering as I journey!  For whatever reason, though, I wanted to loop y'all in on the front end of this discovery process.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights or - better yet - experiences of learning this passage in your life!  Comments always welcome on the blog!  

You are blessed; show it to the world today!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What His Way Yields...

I have a memory verse I've been trying to memorize for a month.  I'm part of a group online in which each of us commit to learning a new memory verse on the 1st & 15th of each month; each person picks her own verse, and shares it via "comment" and then we go from there.  My verse from March 1st was Psalm 86:11 in the NIV: "Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name."

However, when March 15th rolled around, I still hadn't really committed this verse to memory... so I gave myself a do over; my verse for March 15th was Psalm 86:11 in the NIV: "Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name."

If you are good at calendars, you may notice that, as I write this, it's nearly time for me to find and commit to a new verse.  And with April quickly approaching, I knew I better get this baby memorized before it was time for a do-over do-over.

Then, tonight, for no reason of which I'm aware, I suddenly read the verse in a totally new way.  I'm going to use the magic of italics to see if I can convey how it hit me:

"Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name."

For the last month, I've been reading this verse, and honestly, focusing primarily on the second half.  As I continue to identify and depose the idols in my life and heart, I was caught by the idea of asking God for an undivided heart.  I love that concept!  My heart can be so divided; this much I know.  

And until tonight, the first part of the verse was sort of just introductory stuff.  Poetry or the rote type of stuff that is all over the Bible.  I hate to admit it, but I often read the Bible and find much of its truth falling without a second thought into the "nice Bible stuff" folder in the side drawer of my brain.  

Thank goodness I'm not limited to my own natural tendencies (see side drawer filing system noted in previous paragraph).  Tonight, the Holy Spirit taught me a new insight about this verse.  The first part of the prayer is a request to be taught God's way.  All month long, I bet I would have told you that it was God's "ways" - plural.  I was thinking of it in terms of generalities: "teach me how You work."  And, of course, this is a worthwhile prayer!  BUT that's not what I see here tonight.  Suddenly, realizing that this verse reads [singular] "way" put the idea of a specific context, incident or situation in my mind.  

I imagined myself looking up at my Father, in the midst of my own trials and temptations to fear and doubt...and in the midst of that saying, "God, show me how You want this to look!  Show me YOUR way to do this thing!  Show me YOUR way to do this conversation or this waiting or this service."  The most beautiful part tonight, however, is what came next.  Inherent in the verse was the "if this, then that" truth I needed tonight.  "Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness...."  When I look to the Lord for His way to do life, and when I ask for His instruction and when I walk in His discipleship, I don't have to trust in my own understanding, or in those around me, or in the "odds" or anything else.  I get to trust in, rely on and rest in His faithfulness.  And the Lord is faithful absolutely.  

As many times as I learn it, this lesson never ceases to be surprisingly new and fresh to my spirit; I hope that never changes.

Tonight, in my own deep dark crevices and cracks of life, I'm asking You, God, to show me Your way to walk this one out.  I thank You that I can trust in Your teaching, in Your faithfulness to teach it and in all that will flow from there.  Thank You, Lord for being who You are!