Financial Struggles in the Body of Christ

IF YOU WOULD RATHER HEAR MESSAGE… SCROLL TO VIDEO ON BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE..

I want to tell a quick testimony that’s not mine.. a testimony of THE WEALTHIEST most SUCCESSFUL people I know… so much so that I used put these people on a pedestal with vision of what I wanted to accomplish and achieve someday. In their money and success, they were never bored. They were always doing things (fun vacations and buying new toys)… they were HIGHLY RESPECTED by everyone who knew them, yet they were never happy. I remember talking to them about their problems and fast-paced stressful lives at times and feeling bitter, thinking to myself, “you think you have issues, come live a day in my life”… as Josh and I were younger in our careers and with two children, struggling just to keep up with bills, let alone putting anything away in savings.

So recently, these highly successful, wealthy friends of mine entered a season of great struggle, financially. They lost pretty much everything and while they aren’t homeless, they are greatly burdened by financial struggle, (something they never faced in the past). Yet, as their outward circumstances have been hard, I’ve also witnessed an amazing internal change in them both.  So the other day I heard the words of one of them that went something like this, “I wish I’d known the TRUTH years ago. I’d have lived so differently.” I just immediately could see the testimony of Solomon – the wealthiest man to ever live. After he accomplished and conquered basically everything that could be gained here on earth he said, “It’s all vanity”… ITS MEANINGLESS! Can financial struggle be a blessing? I mean, it certainly doesn’t feel like one but would God give us a struggle in our circumstances and NOT answer our prayers to fix our problems because HIS DESIRE IS TO FIX US? We see problems as mountains, speaking Jesus over our circumstances quoting scriptures like “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”…. Is a mountain a financial problem? How’s this for context, the disciples were asking Jesus why they couldn’t drive out a demon when Jesus gave that reply… calling the task at hand “a mountain”… a demon.  My gosh I’ve prayed that prayer over my “circumstances so many times” wondering why God isn’t answering me.  What is the Lord’s intention in us? I’m seeing that it’s never changed from the beginning. He wants a people for Himself – a people that LOVE HIM, that LOVE THE CREATOR, not his creation.

The Lord thought so little of our problems that we allow to become gods over our minds, He said STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! Jesus said this, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” He followed by that saying that if we seek the Kingdom first, God will take care of our needs – not our wants and foolish desires to create heaven on earth in a fallen kingdom given to the enemy for the sake of tempting us but the Kingdom of God (the dwelling place within us that births ETERNAL LIFE if Jesus be in us).

I know what these people listened to that led them to saying “I wish I knew then what I know now” because I heard the same message. And it’s amazing WHY Jesus referenced FAITH as a grain of mustard seed, and WHY the disciples didn’t have it. Because it had not been given yet. When Jesus went to the Father, then the SPIRIT OF GOD was sent down to his disciples – at Pentecost they were possessed by the Spirit of GOD planted inside of them. They didn’t have the seed before this moment. That’s why the book of Hebrews says the great men of faith in the Old Testament (the ones who’d received promises, riches, and so much more in the FLESH), had not received THE PROMISE. They got riches and fame and so much stuff but Paul said in Hebrews, GOD HAS SOMETHING BETTER FOR US. It’s Jesus. It’s always been leading to Him and HE is all that was before and comes afterward (The alpha and the omega), HE IS THE PROMISE and HE IS the MUSTARD SEED that dwells in the KINGDOM GOD IS BUILDING inside of a people for Himself.. a people that LOVE HIM, not his stuff… not outside of us.. not in our homes or our bank accounts or even our families or in anything else that moths can eat…

The seed of life is JESUS… and the harvest are the PEOPLE WHO CARRY THE SEED THAT HE HAS PLANTED… the only Gift I hope to ever want for or strive to receive is more of HIM because HE IS LIFE… this stuff here is not eternal and as Solomon said.. it’s all vanity… meaningless… pointless…

I’m not sharing this to say anything negative about money, if you have lots of it that’s great..   I’ve had lots of it.. and I now have little.  If you’re in financial struggle PLEASE KNOW I’M NOT MINIMIZING YOUR SITUATION and I promise you I’m in the boat facing the storm with you as I type this today.   But I hope this can encourage you the way that I’m asking the Lord to encourage my own heart with this message – whether I have plenty or rather I have little, when God’s done using my circumstances to complete a work in me, I have faith that it won’t matter either way… because I will have the ONE THING that’s unshakable and unchangeable.. The one thing He’s coming back for…  HIMSELF…  and only the fruits of HIS SEED that HE planted inside of A PEOPLE that HE shapes and molds and waters and increases as we surrendered ourselves to HIM… that’s the only thing that will remain.

Father thank you for the INNER KINGDOM OF YOU – the promise that the great men of faith didn’t receive but you offer to us as an invitation to receive YOUR SON CHRIST!  Father please forgive me for focusing my heart’s desires on the stuff you made, instead of the PERSON YOU GAVE – JESUS.  Please help me to seek JESUS with all my heart each day of everyday and please increase the BREAD OF LIFE (My daily bread) on this day and everyday forward until there’s nothing left of me and only HE remains in me.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Hidden Treasure of the Seed Hidden in the Dust

If you have everything figured out today… If your life is going in the right direction and the future looks bright and everything you hope for and work for, you believe is going to pan out for you…. I ask you to read this.. PLEASE…

Friends you have the tools and you have the desire to chase greatness. You’ve proven that time and time again. You’ve overcame when things seemed impossible and you’ve found a way when there was no way. You have dug yourself out of the ditch time and time again and the fight in you has prospered – the blood, sweat and tears that you wear in your past serve as silent trophies in your memory of a fire in you that never gives up and never accepts defeat. You have and will conquer your troubles, your challenges and your dreams. You see the goal in the distance and each step closer brings you temporary fulfillment, that just keeps driving the hunger inside of you to keep plowing towards that COMPLETENESS of everything you want out of life – running on that rainbow to reach that pot of gold, with every step forward, you are burning with a new desire to keep moving….. Yet.. your fight never ends.

Are you tired yet? I wish that 10 or 20 years ago I could’ve looked at myself in the mirror and seen the wear and tear of MYSELF clawing out the eyes of my own self. I wish I could’ve taken my focus off of each new challenge and problem and goal just for a short season to see the dwelling away of time.. years passing without pause.. life flying by without purpose, as with every problem solved or goal reached, another problem came my way and another goal was always there – and endless pile of crap…. Like trying to empty a lake that has a never ending stream pouring into the other end of it. Every bucket of water I empty in MY LABOR just results in the tide crashing down over me with another puddle over my head. Aren’t you tired? Where does it end? Where does rest and reward come together as one in a life of PEACE?

Maybe you’re not as aggressive as me. Maybe you’re not as strong-willed, maybe you don’t have the fight in you that I had in me. If you don’t, I would say that’s a blessing for you. Because hard headed people like me would NEVER give up. I would never wake to smell the roses and realize that I’m fighting a never-ending battle that I’m guaranteed to LOSE… No matter how many points I score or how far I get in the race, I was guaranteed to LOSE before I even began. And so in my pride and in my strong-willed nature to NEVER be defeated by this world, I kept clawing forward with everything in me until finally… I had to fall flat on my face in order to WAKE UP to this pointless battle I was chin-deep inside of.

I once thought my life was pretty awesome, and my gosh, was I excited about the future of just how far I could go to reach my dreams.  But it wasn’t until my life was broken on the outside, did my eyes begin to open to see how broken I was on the inside. I couldn’t see the emptiness in my desires and weights that I’d placed upon my own heart in living a big lie – chasing after nothing like a rat running in a spinning wheel.  I had a great marriage yet I wanted to change so many things about my husband (the end result wasn’t here yet). I had awesome kids, yet my dreams were hinged on who they would become (an external desire that wasn’t achieved yet). I was a rockstar at my job yet with every accomplishment, I saw the next goal (a hunger and a yearning that was never satisfied and quenched). I was happy with my appearance yet every trip to the mirror revealed another flaw that needed be addressed (I need breast implants, then botox.. expensive creams, another layer of make-up)… where will the scalpel end?

The well I was drinking out of…. quenched my thirst for a time.. but I would always get thirsty again. I suppose I would’ve kept drinking this koolaide until one day, I’d be on my deathbed, looking back over my life, telling myself I have no regrets… yet wondering at the same time “What was the point?” I came into this world to fight this rigorous fight just to leave it all behind and be put in a coffin 6-feet under the ground? Did I go through all this just to get a “cool phrase” on my headstone and have my loved ones gather for a few hours to stand around sharing stories about who I was, shedding a few tears over my departure and throwing flowers over my corpse? WHAT IS LIFE? Cause this thing seems pretty pointless and pretty sad if you tell the story in cliff-notes – like a movie with a beginning and an ending – forgotten about before the sun rises on another day.

There is a treasure that’s hidden – so well hidden, we can’t find it anywhere in this place. It’s not on a map, it’s not in anyone’s bank account, it’s not buried under the ground or kept within the highest mountain. It’s not in a building.  It’s not found in our children or in our moments of happiness or moments of success. It’s NOT HERE – NOWHERE! It’s not hinged on a timeclock, waiting to appear to us at a later time. It’s not even of this world.  Surprisingly… It’s inside of you.  No one can see it or hear it or touch it. It’s a tiny seed, unseen by the human eye and unthinkable to the human mind… and it lives INSIDE OF YOU. This seed does not care how much money you have, how many children you’ve brought into this world, how attractive you are on the outside, or how important you are to others. The seed has no interest in what color your skin is, what personality traits you carry or even what you’ve done (both good and bad). This seed has NO INVESTMENT in the outward person that you have been or that you are today. The seed has not counted your deeds, your sorrows, your accomplishments or your failures. The seed doesn’t care how big your house is or how awesome your lifestyle is, in fact this SEED will destroy everything you have, everything you hope for and everything YOU ARE in order to open your eyes to this hidden TREASURE that lives within YOU.

I’m writing this today because I want you to see this treasure (whoever you are reading this). And hear me – this treasure is not a religion. You won’t find it in a church and you wont’ find it listening to me or anyone else babble about “beliefs”… “cultures”.. “testimonies”…”life lessons”…. Everything that comes out of the human mouth is mostly empty promises and hopes that lead us right back to the empty well, drinking from something that will leave us thirsty again. We’re a self-centered people wanting recognition and reward from one another in the name of foolish pride. Don’t listen to any of us, not me and not even yourself – deceptive by nature to always want to SPEAK what we WANT TO HEAR – what pumps us up full of helium in order to go fight another day in search for our broken hearts desires – looking for band-aids to heal, repair and prosper the things we don’t even have the power to UNDERSTAND.

The name of the seed is Jesus. He doesn’t live in a building and we can’t even find him in this world – we can’t even find Him in us until we see the pointlessness of us and beg the Father to open our eyes to our mortal human nature. We’re just dust from the ground, forming mud pies with our filthy hands before we head back into the ground again one day. But He’s not. He’s nothing like us. I can’t take you to Him or show you what He’s like and if I tried to explain His beauty with my filthy mouth, I’d just be a liar, bringing no justice to the FREEDOM that HE IS. My senses can’t behold Him but my heart has been rescued by the TRUTH of Him.

I ask you to step away from this life for a moment, if you dare… Silence the noise and the kids and the jobs and empty advice of others and the goals and the dreams and the problems and the achievements and the exhausting weight of this world… and take a journey into the broken empty places of your own heart.. and of your own mortal existence.  Stop worrying about your finances, if you fix them the problem will surely just come again.  Stop worrying about your kids, if you keep them safe today, the danger is still lurking tomorrow.  Stop worrying about your marriage, if you repair it, it’ll just break again.  Stop worrying about your appearance and your friends and you’re house that’s falling apart – tell your mind to SHUT UP!!!  Don’t be prideful and bullheaded like me. Surrender to the nothingness of what WE ARE and ask God to show you that priceless hidden seed in you. Ask him to water it and keep asking until the bud of it starts to break ground.. His seed in me has been shaking everything that can be shaken, breaking ground with each new day.. But my friends there is NOTHING LIKE IT – nothing compares to it. Nothing here can bring me the joy of HIM in ME… the whole world can be crumbling around me and my mind rests in peace because HE IS TAKING OVER ME – like a baby in the womb of a woman, moving and changing and increasing in size with the promise of being BORN INTO LIFE…. But not this life.. not our little visits here we call life..  Oh no, this is all meaningless… vanity… sure to pass away one day into nothing..  HE IS LIFE.

Humbly and tearfully this morning… I thank you for reading my heart’s plea and I pray the invitation to be set free from ourselves and from the heaviness of this world can take root in you. I pray the Prince of Peace defeat everything in us and that IS US so that we can be slaves no more to this temporary, silly little moment in time that is NOT the true life of eternal Sonship in the Father of all creation, who’s preparing an eternal family of HE and JESUS joined with us…

I love you all…  <3

Why did Jesus say the world would hate true followers of Christ?

Jesus said, “The world will hate you because it hated me first.”  He told the disciples they would be hated for HIS NAME’S SAKE and he said the time would come when HIS would be kicked out of synagogues (religious assemblies – the congregation) and the very ones that kick you out of the congregation, will think they are doing God a favor…. that’s what JESUS said.

It seems like the narrative here in the United States leads to an exception for us based on the nation we live in.  So, we look at people oversees persecuted and ultimately killed in many instances because of their faith in Christ, and kinda just say, “well that’s not for us because we live in a country with religious freedom.”  It’s interesting that this perspective makes the nation more sovereign than God in many ways.  Like God doesn’t have the power to stop martrys from being killed, but the US is the safety place for Christians.  Yet this doesn’t line up with prophecy nor does it line up with the words of Jesus Himself.  He never said, “unless you live here or there.”  In fact he warned about going “here or there” if anyone tells you that Christ is there…. in discussion of being deceived.

Mathew 10:22 says, “You will be hated by ALL because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.“….. that doesn’t sound like a “unless you live in this or that nation”… hated by ALL because of HIS name.

Understanding that the enemy copies pretty much everything that God does, with a deceiving twist, (truth mixed with lies), and the straight path is narrow that few will find, are we missing something?  Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit there’s no way I can break this down, and that may be just be not the Will of the God.

So I just want to say this.  Ask questions to GOD.  Not to other people.. not to your preacher or your mom or your grandparents.  Seek Jesus and Jesus alone.  Ask JESUS what’s going on…  Jesus said those who seek Him will find.

If we look just at the 144,000 alone that have the seal of the God.  And I’m not interested in talking about what “men” say this number is, because I know men are wrong, they will always be wrong and the truth will never come from human calculation of thought – the carnal mind simply can not understand the things of His spirit…  it’s only about 5% of the population, (a small remnant).  And we can say, well those who go to church and believe in Jesus will be raptured first, but that would be over 70% of Americans, (say they are Christians, based on poling) – a distant reality from “narrow and few will find”.  And yet Jesus in his messages to the 7 churches (those that belong to Him) only told one group that they would be kept from the hour of temptation… the Church of Philadelphia and if you read his description of this group, they don’t fit our population of Christians very well.  He says this group is weak and only have a little bit of strength left but they have kept the faith and not denied Him…  They refused to deny “the Truth, the Way and the Life”… and once again, He said the path is narrow and few will find it… He said MANY are called but FEW are chosen.  Why are they so weak and what kind of trials did they endure, and what kind of hatred was spewed at them, making it appropriate for Him to point out that they had kept their faith in Him.  Why was it so hard for them to do that?  Were they hated by the world for His Name’s sake as he said would be?

Being a “christian” around here is popular, not hated.  The doctrines all seem to mirror one another and “the point” seems to always be focused on “self works” with reward – conform to this or that… do what we do.. say what we say.. follow what we follow and make sure you gather with us once a week and pay tithes to our projects…. and God will bless your life with all the things you want in the here and now, carnal-minded, temporary life that James said is like a vapor.  How did the focus of our minds and hearts get set on a vapor within congregations that gather in the name of Jesus?  And what is Grace if it’s not seasoned with salt?  What did Jesus defeat on the cross?  Death. Sin.  What is death and sin?  Romans 7:5 calls it “the realm of the flesh”…

I’m just gonna stop here.. thank you Lord for YOU ARE LIFE and nothing but YOU is LIFE…. nothing…

 

 

 

What does it mean to BELIEVE in Jesus?

This morning the Lord showed me something I’d not seen before, but it’s beautiful.  What does it mean to believe in Jesus?  Simple answer – I’m not capable of doing this.  And as a demonstration I put myself up against the disciples.  Needless to say they had a lot more going for them than I do because they were given the opportunity to walk with HIM.  They believed to the extent they left their lives behind and followed him for 3 years.  And throughout that time with Jesus, they were taught (not by preachers or priests), but directly from Jesus himself.  They witnessed unthinkable miracles over and over throughout this period and their flesh was quite obedient, I’d say.  And these were the 12 that were left.  The Bible says there were other disciples and at one point in Jesus’ teaching, many disciples left him.  He even asked the 12 at that time, “Do you want to leave me too?”  But they didn’t – these man of strong carnal faith in Jesus remained.  So, can my belief in Jesus possibly measure up to theirs?  Not having the experiences they had, not walking with him, talking with him, seeing his miracles and even sacrificing so much to leave their lives behind to follow him.  Not a chance.  And then after all this, they didn’t truly believe.  That faith failed.  Huh?  Yeah… their belief in Him failed.

Not only did Peter deny knowing Jesus after they arrested Him, but none of the disciples could recognize him or believe when he was resurrected.  He appeared differently to them – even walked with 2 of them down a road, on a journey as they told JESUS why they were so troubled (and thought Jesus was just a stranger walking with them)… they had seen Jesus in the flesh but they couldn’t see Him (identify Him) now that He was changed.  One of them even went as far as to say, “Unless I can touch the wounds in His hands I will not be able to believe”… (paraphrasing).  So what their flesh believed in SO GREATLY that they were convinced in their minds to leave their lives and follow Jesus…  Their internal man couldn’t sustain.  But then later we see these disciples as completely different characters – later they wouldn’t deny Jesus no matter what the cost and they lived only for the commission of the Gospel of Christ – even walking into beatings and persecutions and afflictions and very elaborate horrible deaths…  Later, these men we convicted internally in Jesus.

The change was after Pentecost – and Jesus had told them this would happen, “that its for their benefit that he goes because then the comforter will be sent to them”..  The Holy Spirit, or Christ living IN THEM was an internal possession that did not exist before Jesus rose from the dead and went to the right hand of the Father.  I think this is such an amazing demonstration because it shows that the flesh is simply incapable.  EVEN IF Jesus is with us, right before our eyes, holding our hands and walking right beside us – eating bread with us and healing the sick..  we don’t have possession of the Spirit of FAITH.  Christ is that possession (the author of our faith) – and HE is an internal presence, not external.  The external, as demonstrated…. is weak… It has no power to believe, overcome or possess any measure of real faith.

In my own walk I think the experiences of outward man is the beginning of the process, but has no lasting power.  I’ve seen miracles and I’ve seen and felt and heard (with these bodily senses) the presence of the Lord.  But even those things can be taken away.  By who?  Me.  My mind.  The earth-shaking power of those moments that I’ve experienced were so amazing I could hardly grasp the reality of this temporary world.  I felt on fire for God.  Yet, over time… They seem like just another memory – important memories… but they only exist somewhere in the ever-changing moments of this delusion called time.  They fade away and so much so that I’ve even caught myself wondering “Did that really happen?”  I long to go back to those moments and seize them once again…. But when God stops speaking to me and stops appearing, my faith begins to diminish.  I feel like He’s not with me anymore and worse.. I’ve drifted off into questioning… Was He ever really with me?  I think that’s in line with the disciples and what they had to walk out.  When Jesus left them, their focus went right back to this world, the carnal things.  The scriptures say they were hiding together in fear of what the Jews would do to them, fearing their lives, likely feeling let down by Jesus that went away and left them in the aftermath of this big mess… and over those 3 days something was lost.. because they couldn’t even recognize Jesus when he appeared to them again.

The external body and mind can not hold onto, nor can it be possessed by the Kingdom of God.  But through the hardest of trials, over time and through much suffering, trembling, hopelessness and doubt, a new evidence begins to surface, and it’s not something that can be seen or heard… it’s internal and it’s powerful.  I feel like as I’m shown the failure of myself and my own mind and my own flesh, I see something that has nothing to do with me, sustaining and even growing my faith.  The growing obstacles begin to look smaller, (even though with my natural eyes they’ve definitely gotten bigger)..  The pain becomes external, and even though it remains… there’s an inner joy that makes ZERO sense to this carnal mind.  I’ve seen glimpses of this and I even feel foolish explaining it to people.  “While I was cleaning up throw-up and covered in feces, I was smiling and singing… and didn’t even realize I was doing it.”….  Because I wasn’t.  The INNER SEED of HIM was rejoicing in the midst of something my flesh hated.  And it seems like every awful thing I face, is followed by a new awful thing… but as these things come and go, it seems like my external eyes just become less powerful and something of very great power sets my sights on HIM…. not my life, HIS life.  not my understanding, HIS understanding… not my filthy flesh that’s ridiculously just not smart in the eyes of God, but HIS flesh crucified, so that I too can be freed from this temporal body I occupy, possessed by HIM, the eternal Life, as the scripture reads, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,” – Phillippians 1:29.

The carnal mind will NEVER come into agreement with “suffering for Him.”  It’s just not something it’s capable of choosing or desiring.  And I know many of us today say to ourselves, “I’m willing to die for Christ.”  I’ve seen so many prophecy groups discussing things like the mark of the beast and reassuring one another of our plan to walk into death to escape eternal death.  And I don’t mean to go into that at all, I have no agreement with the world’s philosophies of what that mark is.  But, I’m seeing that Peter said the same thing we are saying.  “I will never deny you.  I will die for you.”  But he couldn’t, even after WALKING with the Lord.  And Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – Thomas was the one that demanded proof (to touch his scars in his hands).  So am I fooling myself to think I could do any better than Peter did, or that my faith could be stronger than Thomas’?  And in the discussions of modern Christian beliefs – Could I watch my family being slaughtered while I professed the name Jesus with joy in my heart.  If I’m being honest and all I know to be is honest about the things of the Lord… the answer is a very big NO.  I’m not better than Peter or Thomas and in fact I would score myself as a whopping 0 on a scorecard of what I’ve seen and experienced against the disciples that walked with the Lord.  But HE IS BETTER – Christ.

It just breaks my heart that we’ve been taught a belief in Jesus means going to a church building, saying the “repeat after me prayer” and leaving that place each Sunday clapping our hands and smiling about the blessings that God intends to give us by fixing our marriages, protecting our children, healing our sicknesses, forgiving our sins and filling our bank accounts with money.  And those feel good messages are gone by lunchtime – no heart change – not eternal life giving possession of HIM – a fleshly deliverance seated in the memories of our mind that come and go like the waves that crest and go back out to the sea.

To believe in Jesus is to be implanted with FAITH that is His, not ours… Given by Him… Tried by Him.. Tested and made perfect BY HIM…  as evidence of the Kingdom, “HIM living inside of us”.  It’s not our own belief.. because our beliefs are shakable… temporary… weak…  ONLY HE is unshakeable.

Father, I ask you today for true faith to be implanted in your childen… and I know I can’t get it, touch it, see it, earn it, speak it into existence or borrow it from another’s testimony.. and even my own testimonies have no power in the external places of us.  JESUS is the author and only IF He comes inside to make this body a vessel of HIM, does faith exist in me.  I ask you to continue to show me that I’m not good – as Jesus said “there is not one good but God,” and give me the power within, who’s name is JESUS to overcome myself, as He demonstrated on the cross.  Help me to see the things that I do wrong are evidence of my mortality and to war against, in the name of Jesus and by He who lives in me the temptations that so easily convict me of self-righteousness and self-desire.  Please continue to show me that I’m not righteous, smart, deserving or important in even the most diminished form of that word.  But that HE is and as I decrease, I ask you to INCREASE HIM IN ME.  I love you Lord and I thank you for the good and the bad that I walk out – the evidence of you never leaving me in my filth and continuing your work in me to flourish the seed of Jesus into something that this flesh could never accomplish.

 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

  • Philippians 1: 27

Struck Down on the Broad Road in order to find THE NARROW PATH

In “Father Please Let Him Live”, there was a process that started our journey that continues to be one the most humbling, life-changing, eye-opening experiences of my life.  And I often think about Saul (who later became the Apostle Paul).  It seems he had a lot going for him.  He was a young, highly intelligent man – respected among his people as he was not only instructing an army of men, but they looked up to him so much so, when they were killing Stephen, they were laying his clothes at Saul’s feet (Paul).  I would guess he was the one these men wanted to please – wanted to impress.  I would also guess in his esteemed position, Saul (Paul) was a young man that carried a great deal of pride inside of himself.  When others rally around our accomplishments and look up to us as a person of leadership… well it makes us feel like we’re doing the right thing to accept such praise among men.  And the story is deeper than I think I even realize.  Why were they persecuting followers of Jesus?  Well, I think they thought they were following God’s will.  Perhaps it would be like us today working to drive out and destroy people we label as evil – or against God.  To me, this is evident of Saul in his encounter with God on the road to Damascus.  The Lord asked “Saul, Why are you persecuting me?”  And Saul’s reply was “Who are you Lord?”  And He said to Saul, “I am Jesus.”  As Saul was blinded in that moment, there were other symptoms of his distress that followed this encounter with God.  He didn’t speak for 3 days or eat for 3 days.  I wonder if Saul was numb to himself… disgusted with himself.. depressed… shocked..   My mind just wanders in attempting to visualize and empathize with what Saul saw and what Saul felt in these moments.

Saul became Paul and God spoke over his life in a message to Ananias that “Paul would suffer many things for His name’s sake” – for the name of Jesus.  His ministry in Christ became the majority of the new testament and I just love reading the stories and epistles of Paul.  But in talking about the change that God made in him – as Saul was transformed into a selfless lover of Christ above all things (especially himself) and even given a new name, I can’t help but think through the similarities of the process in my own life.  I thought I was doing all the right things.  I thought I was a living a life pleasing to God and I even thought I knew the Lord Jesus – gaining knowledge from other believers of what that even means….. to know Jesus.  We can say that it’s as simple as a name, but even in that you’ll find so much controversy over the name of Jesus – no doubt a work of the enemy.  I ponder Paul’s question when he was struck down and blinded by God…  “Who are you Lord?”  And I come to the conclusion that Paul (Saul), THOUGHT that he did know God.. and was shown in that moment how wrong he had been in his thoughts.

We can easily draw this story up in our carnal minds as black and white – Well, it’s simple… Saul was killing Jesus followers, therefore he was evil.  Sounds easy, right?  But, did he know what he was doing?  He was brought up into a system, just like we are today.  His people followed a set of laws that they believed were righteous (were good).  For example, stoning Stephen…  Well their law required that people be stoned for committing certain acts that were NOT GOOD.  You know how the bible says that people will call evil good and good evil?  God didn’t proclaim this because we’d all be KNOWINGLY choosing the wrong team, he proclaimed it because we would be under a delusion that is so strong, even the elect would be deceived if it were possible – meaning GOD will open the eyes of the elect.. but the rest of the world won’t get it – they’re not going to see it or understand it, in fact they will see things opposite as the elect.

I feel like God is striking down many today, in order to give them eyes to see.  And in this process, eyes are set on the Father and hearts are set on seeking the face of Jesus – hope is placed in HIS kingdom and the kingdoms of this world become a moth-eaten coffin, waiting to be dissolved.  And I think what bothers me the most is that the temptation of self-pride and the contentment of hearts is at work in the places we least expect.

I went through a short study this morning on Paul’s prayers.  And it’s interesting, I can’t find any in focus of earthly gain.  I can’t find a single prayer of Paul where he asks the Father to make his beloved church wealthy and esteemed and accomplished and comfortable in this world.  Paul prayers were for our salvation in Jesus – for us to receive the truth by His Holy Spirit and for us to find the wisdom of the hope in HIM.  And his journey wasn’t easy.  I was just reading about his deadly snake bite and about his confession to the church of Corinthians of his physical struggles (perhaps an illness) that he had when he presented to them – and the work of the Holy Spirit as they accepted him anyway.  I envision a sick man, no friends (the followers of Jesus didn’t like him because they knew what he’d done to their friends and his own people of course hated him because they felt he betrayed them to follow Jesus) – he was a loner, a poor man, with all kinds of issues and this physical problem (whatever it was – perhaps an illness), preaching the gospel of Jesus and people thinking “Why would we listen to this man, he’s a mess… we don’t want what he’s selling.”  But the Power of God opened their hearts to receive the truth and to see in the spiritual, not in the flesh.  And even in all the miracles Paul did by the power of God, I can’t find one that was for Paul’s “earthly life” gain… expect one.  Paul pleaded with God in prayer for HIMSELF asking God three times to remove the thorn in his side and God said no… He said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  And that thorn that remained in Paul kept him humbled – delivered in spirit.. not in flesh.

So, what is the true message of the Gospel and what is the CHANGE that occurs when someone is struck down in order for their eyes to be opened?  I certainly don’t have all the answers and even as I write this with heaviness on my heart to keep speaking what I believe the Lord wants me to, I know that FEW would even want to listen to anything I have to say – a woman who’s life looks like a heap of ruin…  Who could possibly want what I have?  But the truth is, through these trials all I want is Jesus and if it takes tearing everything away from to give me that burning desire in my heart, well it’s worth it.  So, I ask to the Lord to use this mess called me for His Glory, beveling that only the Lord can reveal the truth in each of us at His appointed time.  But I also believe we must ask in order for him to answer and we must seek in order to find.  I can’t even mutter the prayer my heart cried right before my world was turned upside down – for a later time I assume… And I also believe the truth isn’t popular and it’s not widely accepted and it goes against everything this world is selling us.  But what’s impossible for men to do and for men to sacrifice and for men to see…. IT’S POSSIBLE TO GOD.

Ironically, Paul was traveling on a road (the road to Damascus), when he was struck down by God… and it was there that his path forever was changed.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

– Mathew 7:13

Heavenly Father, I just ask today that your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  I ask you to set our hearts on the hope that is in Christ Jesus and Lord only you know what measures are needed for your children to be removed from this world and set apart as Jesus prayed that we would be.  Father Your Word warns against men gaining the world and losing their souls, but you also say that no one can pluck us out of Your Hand.  Please open the eyes of the blind, don’t let us be deceived and show us the true liberty that’s only found in Jesus.  God show us who we are and why we’re here.  Strengthen us in you, as we become weak in ourselves and pour out Your Spirit on your sons and daughters.  Lord, bring your family together in your love.. the only true love that is and ever will be.  Keep us from temptation and remove us from the wide gate and broad road that many will travel – lead us into that narrow gate and narrow path that few will find.

Thank you Jesus.

For God So Loved the World.. He Gave us The Way to Be Removed from It

Life is a really disturbing thing, because it lacks meaning.  It’s like dedicating all that I am for a race – so that I can win the trophy.  But at the end of that race, looking upon the trophy only brings temporary joy.  It doesn’t last.  Nor does life.

The curse of Adam and Eve speaks of this ending – that from dust we were made and from dust we will return.  History sets this straight as we can know without question that everyone dies.  And it doesn’t matter how great they were, how accomplished, or how needed they were to this broken world.  Men that did amazing things like invent electricity, conquer kingdoms, pave the way for equality and so much more… they all died.  All mankind that has ever lived has died, except one… Jesus.

The word of God says that Jesus set free the captives, “who all their life lived in fear of death.”  That’s a very eye-opening promise as to what exactly God did when He loved the world so much that he gave His Son.  My whole life I’ve heard religious folks tell me about Jesus – the power of his name to overcome anything that life throws my way.  And in my own struggles I’ve labored in countless hours of prayer (among other things) to ignite the Fire of God in my circumstances, for my temporary gain.  I’ve asked him to fix my finances and heal my sickness – heal my marriage, my relationships with my kids… and the list goes on and on…  But what happens when God says, NO.?  Does that mean he doesn’t love me?  Does that mean that Jesus isn’t powerful enough for my situation?

My situations are of this world.  And the thing that changed when God’s love poured out into this place (as found in Hebrews) is that the promise was made eternal, not temporary and the treasures were made heavenly, not carnal.

I’ve heard the stories of Solomon and David and Abraham and so many amazing people in the bible regurgitated countless times with these motivational messages that scream out, “Step into the riches of Solomon!”  “Claim your inheritance like Abraham!”  “Kill the Giants like David and walk up that throne as King.”  Are these not the very stories that were expected of THE TRUE KING as Jesus himself stepped on the scene?  The religious folks (Pharisees, scribes and priests), they wanted to see a conqueror of the world dressed in gold and silver, seated on an earthly throne.  They thought the evidence of Jesus, as the son of God would follow the stories of old.  Jesus would lead armies and slay enemies.  They expected him to rule over nations, surrounded by riches and supernaturally exalt himself above all men.  But he did quite the opposite.  Jesus rode in on a donkey, he was poor, in fact he didn’t even have a home (a place to lay his head).  He wasn’t celebrated among the nations, he was hated and persecuted and ridiculed.  And in the final day of his life, the religious folks (THE EXPERTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT) expected a David and Goliath moment out of our King… They concluded, “If this man is truly the Son of God he will save himself.”

So the question is, what did God do when he sent Jesus?  Because the evidence of who HE IS was in the resurrection, not in his life of temptation, trial, heartbreak, betrayal, suffering and death.  The evidence of WHO HE IS was in the aftermath of his life, as he was raised from death and seated at the right hand of the Father – placed as a King in Higher places than this broken world.  Yet, today we chase after the evidence of Jesus in the stories of old, telling one another that God will defeat our lions and make us rich and popular and famous and happy and clothed with all the riches our hearts desire.  Doesn’t that make us like the pharisees?  mmm….

God so loved the world, he gave his only son so that whoever believes upon Him will not perish but instead will have eternal life.  Eternal life has never been here on this earth and even all of the heroes we look upon in the Old Testament that were gifted by God with power to overcome for His Glory – their glory days here ended… they all died…  Their temporary bodies all went back into this earth as God said would happen… UNTIL JESUS.

And those who followed Him and were SENT by Him into the world for His name and to spread His Gospel…. well, they were evidence of the change.  There’s never been another David or Solomon…. instead the apostles that laid down their lives for the Kingdom of God, had nothing earthly to show for the favor that was upon their lives.  They said things like, “To live is Christ to Die is Gain.”  Paul was shipwrecked 3 times, beaten multiple times almost to his death, he was hated, thrown in jail over and over and he died badly.  Stephen was shown the glory of God as he was being stoned to death.  Peter – crucified upside down, as he told the guards “I don’t deserve to be killed in the same manner of Jesus… No, turn me upside down.”  Where was Peter’s stones to slay the Goliaths?  Where was Paul’s riches and where was the earthly inheritance to be passed down to the children of these faithful men?  In HEAVEN – as it is written, an inheritance INCORRUPTIBLE by moths.

God so loved the world, He gave us a way out of it.  It’s broken.  Look no further than your social media feed to see that people are hurting, their sad, their heartbroken, their hungry, their battling sickness and disease and NO ONE has been granted eternal life in this broken place.  We praise ourselves and science like we’re on the brink of discovering the fountain of youth, yet no one has ever or can ever duplicate the one simple life giving thing of the human body called BLOOD….. Ironically the very thing Jesus shed for our sins.

I feel this tugging inside of me, on a mission to combat something that the Lord keeps laying on my heart over and over again and then confirming as quickly as He gives revelation.  Believing upon God’s SON is believing upon the resurrection into eternal life and out of this broken world – not chasing after the temporary comforts of this world, while claiming that our temporary blessings are the abundant life promised by Jesus.  It’s not the same thing.  And when it fails, our faith is then sent into this panic attack of wondering why God’s love doesn’t work for us.  It’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ – it’s something very different.  Romans 8:17 says this… “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” —- IF WE SHARE IN IN HIS SUFFERINGS.. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”  The disciples asked Jesus if they could be seated with Him at the throne and he told them, “You don’t understand what you’re asking for.”… and then Jesus asked them, “Can you drink for my cup?” and they said “sure we can do that.” and Jesus told his disciples that they would indeed drink from his cup… and what is Jesus’ cup?  Well, it was so troublesome that Jesus was sweating blood as He asked the Father to please take the cup from Him if there is a way, but humbly He said to His Father, but not my will be done, YOUR will be done.  And God said no.  God strengthened Jesus to complete the work he was sent here to do at the cross…. Not a fleshy type of glory that any of us would choose.  But a sacrifice of unselfish love for others…  That’s the cup the disciples were told they would drink from and the apostles did indeed live a life that none of us would choose in the flesh, with no early riches to show for and with a fairy-tail ending that you won’t find in the stuff Disney is selling.

God so loved the world He gave us Jesus (our forerunner) so that we would have THE WAY (out of here), THE TRUTH (not seated in self-love but seated in love towards others) and THE LIFE, which is eternal, not this thing we do here, that ends in death.

Paul said “TO LIVE IS CHRIST” – look no further than the life of Jesus Christ to understand what Paul spoke of.. and then he said “TO DIE IS GAIN”… meaning those who follow Jesus and live IN HIM will gain the kingdom at the moment they are removed from this temporary body.

The damage of the prosperity gospel is a real danger because it would alienate the very Son of God from His work, had he been sent to walk in our day.  The prosperity gospel doesn’t line up with one single apostle or follower of Christ, and sadly as many of us are chosen to suffer with Christ, the churches today don’t speak to our circumstances – and worse – they make the broken, lowly and meek feel separated from God’s love…. When ironically, those are the very ones that are promised by the Word of God to inherit the Kingdom.

When I write these messages that God lays on my heart, I don’t aim to make anyone feel bad about their seasons of happiness and plenty.  My hope and my prayer in speaking about the message of the Gospel is to prepare others in truth.  Because I wasn’t prepared.  I didn’t understand.  And it took years to unlearn the false doctrines that I grew up learning about God’s ways and His promises for us… and so much heartbreak along the way.  When you find yourself in a season of suffering, know this… God is on the throne and He loves you.  He is not against you, the enemy isn’t winning anything and His promises stand today just as they did the day that Jesus prayed over His chosen ones, “that they wouldn’t be removed from this world but that they would be sanctified as he sanctified himself”….  You’re here to be set apart from the world, to be purified.  And sometimes that process hurts but it’s for our good.  The Lord said that to love this world is enmity with God.  He said not to set our hearts on the desires of this place and to love our neighbors “AS” ourselves – a very unselfish state of existence that Jesus himself demonstrated for us all.  So be seated in truth.  Be ready and under the armor of God when trials come because He is separating you and qualifying you for something greater than this broken world could ever offer.

Love you all..

We are Heirs with Christ IF we Suffer With Him – Romans 8 – THE WORD OF GOD

I think one of the major turning points in my faith settled in when my Granny got sick. Nothing made sense anymore. If God rewards believers in His Son with health, wealth and prosperity, why would the most unselfish, kind-hearted, God-fearing person I’ve ever known suffer so badly? It was a question in my heart I never admitted even to myself, but I didn’t “get how God works”…  Over a decade later that lingering question was brought center stage and all disbelief was removed… So, removed from the world and enveloped by the presence of God through experiences that conquered all doubt in earth-shaking revelations, I was given an absolute knowing, without question that God is God, God is real and God is sovereign all-knowing and seated on the throne, all the while seeing and living in the midst of utter destruction… So, how do I frame it all up?  For me, I found a burning desire for the TRUTH.  I couldn’t listen to people anymore.  I couldn’t sit in a sermon focused on God’s desires to reward us with perfect marriages and easy lives because LIFE had proved otherwise, repeatedly.  I couldn’t hear that I could stand up like David and slay Goliath with a stone because in peeling all these masks off of people that were near and dear to me, I’d seen first hand that sometimes THE BEST fall down…  So if the innocent are suffering and the Godly are suffering what is the point of salvation?  It was the question that would lead to another desire – to “rightly divide the word”   *As spoken in Hebrew “Through Jesus God has something better for us” – as even all of those of great faith that lived BEFORE CHRIST had not yet received the promise.  What is this new promise?… that I’d yearned to understand because I know that I’m not David and I’m not Abraham and I’m not Solomon and by the way NONE of the apostles mirrored their lives either.  So what does it mean to follow Christ in today’s world?  And why did Paul say “TO LIVE IS CHRIST and to die is gain”?  Josh’s Grandpa – another example…  You could FEEL THE PRESENCE of God in this man when he entered a room.  Josh would testify to anyone who would listen about the anointing of God’s healing power that he’d personally experienced when his grandpa Harry laid hands on him and prayed over him.  And this beautiful man (Josh’s Grandpa Harry) – what did his life look like?  His first wife died in her 20’s to cancer, two of his children later died in his arms, he later lost all of his wealth and then went toe to toe with cancer repeatedly until finally the Lord ended his race and took him home to his inheritance that he’d accumulated in Heaven.  He died a physically broken, poor man – just like my Granny did, and just like Jesus did and just like the apostles did.  And one of the most beautiful revelations of my entire life happened when I was asked to write the eulogy for my Granny’s funeral and instead of me doing that, the Holy Spirit wrote it through me, showing me exactly in the Word of God what God had accomplished in my Granny’s life and that her rewards were NEVER meant to be delivered here (in this broken world, with the kingdoms that satan had shown to Jesus as a temptation), but that she was seated high in the Heavenly places and her riches were awaiting her there.  I pray often now that I could just be a little glimpse of the goodness that I saw in that woman’s life – that my heart could be just half the size of hers.  And I know as Josh continues his fight through tragic circumstances his walk is inspired by his Grandpa Harry also, (and he did speak to him while in the hospital)… Believe it or don’t, Josh spoke to many while he walked through the valley and I’m still in awe, trying to wrap my thoughts around some of the revelation he has shared with me.  I know it’s true because I’ve had my own experiences with the unseen “spirit world”…  Josh told me recently, “I’ve never for one moment been angry with God.  It’s just my time to suffer.”…  This doesn’t make it easy.  It doesn’t solve the current afflictions he endures.  But he gets it.  Thank you Lord!

So, back to my question, How do you frame up living in destruction?  You chase after the Truth (the WHOLE Truth).  For me, I guess I never cared to until I was seated in the midst of a broken mess that I could never put back together again.  I needed to understand “why” and God is so good, when we seek with all our hearts, He reveals the answers.  Still today, I come across so many people who want to feed me their ideas – and they mean well.  They just want to comfort me, and maybe for some they think it’s doing God a favor to say things like, “God had nothing to do with your suffering.”  I guess I would’ve said the same before I knew differently.  I know now that God doesn’t drive an ambulance (He’s there and approved it long before we ever get there).  I know now that God isn’t concerned with our temporary bodies that are corruptible and dying.  He’s concerned with our salvation and the perfection of our faith.  I watched this video of John Piper’s reading of Romans 8 last night and just LOVE IT… I wanted to share this – it’s not a sermon… not a strategy… not a teaching…  It’s not a solution for itchy ears, it’s just the beautiful reading of the unfailing, unmoved, eternal word of GOD….So I wanted to share it here today in hopes that someone out there will be blessed by this word of God.

If I could add one thing to this, a scripture the Lord has put on my heart lately, showing me the POINT of what’s most precious (Our Faith). 1 Peter 1:7 says “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”  I will be writing on the comparison made between faith and gold (and refinement by fire) soon, God willing.

Have a blessed day.

Why Half Truths are So Dangerous to our Faith

I’m in a strange season right now, which could be true of all seasons as we enter into new challenges and walk along new paths.  In recent times I’ve seen a battle unfolding outwardly and inwardly that has really illuminated some walls that I began building when I was just a child – but didn’t realize they were there.  My opposition in this battle is religion…. churches…

Mankind seems to be on a never-ending mission to show others the way… “the key to life”.. And beginning at a very early age, attending church was part of this process in my own life.  I learned about Jesus and sin – I learned about the ten commandments and I learned that the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus would be seen in my life, according to how my life looks and feels.  So for example, I learned that that blessings from God come in the form of happiness, plenty, completeness and success.  I don’t know that I even realized what was being implanted in my thoughts at the time, yet I know that I didn’t feel blessed at all.  I know that I looked at myself in the mirror and compared my circumstances to others with a deep sorrow that churned inside of my stomach.  I was different.  I didn’t have a perfect family and that perfect love that children are “blessed with” from a traditional husband and wife unity that comes into fruition as the basis for bringing a life into this world was absent when the thought of “me” came to pass here on Earth.  I was a curse to my mother – a souvenir of the worst experience of her entire life.  I was a mistake in every aspect of the word and I didn’t belong here.  And these half-truths that battled inside of my internal identity crisis beginning in childhood were just the beginning of the alienation I felt towards the so-called “blessed life” that believers in Christ were to experience, according to what I was taught to believe in the continual mantra of “coffee cup scriptures” defining a God who wants us to be healthy, wealthy, happy and successful.

So apparently Jesus didn’t work for me.  Apparently depression, sorrow, inadequacy and shame was the evidence of my pointless existence separated from the blessings of God.  Fast forward a few decades and I mastered the art of pretending to feel something on the outside that was not rooted in me on the inside.  But as this game seemed to bring with it a form of outward prosperity, life began to make sense.  I was “blessed” with marriage, beautiful children, health, success, wealth – prosperity.  God must love me now, right?  And I could look around and see this “favor” upon my life through tainted eyes.  You see, this mindset leads to empty pride – believing that I somehow DID something to deserve God’s favor upon my life, while looking at for example, innocent children who are starving and battling with horrid diseases, telling myself “Well, I guess God doesn’t favor them like he favors me.”  As I’m writing this I can hear the different voices throughout the history of my life using that line, “God’s favor upon your life. – God’s favor.. God’s favor…”  What is God’s favor?  And how is it that some of us get it and some of us don’t if Jesus died for all and the will of God is that not one be lost but that all come to repentance and the truth?  Where is the truth in believing that we somehow DID something to deserve to be born healthy and wealthy, when babies enter this world everyday with impairment, sickness, disability and their mothers are too poor to provide them with clean water to drink?

In the book of Revelation it says that men cursed God in their pain – as the plagues were upon them, they cursed Him.  I know many believe and teach that these men aren’t believers, but how can anyone curse someone they don’t believe in?  Obviously they DO believe in God, hence why they blame Him for their pain.  So why do they curse Him?  I think the answer is in 2 Thessalonians when Paul discusses those that do NOT love the truth, therefore God gives them over to a delusion and they believe a lie.  A lie..  Self-righteousness….  Pride… Expectation of creating heaven on earth and following doctrines of devils..  If that sounds harsh, consider the weighted belief systems in our own hearts that cause us to boast in our “blessings”, never considering that we did nothing to deserve or earn the right God gives us to to roll out of bed each day and to earn a living when so many don’t have this ability because they were born into circumstances different from our own.  I take myself and put me in a line-up next to children with autism and downs syndrome and ask the question, “What did I do to deserve my circumstances and what did they do to deserve theirs?”  The answer….. Nothing.  But if our shoes were switched in an instant, how would my faith stand, then?  Would I curse God because all of the “blessings” I’ve enjoyed were suddenly ripped away from me and I’m suddenly experiencing a different journey, away from the ease of life that I’d assumed was somehow owed to me because I follow Christ?

When we got home from the hospital, I was overwhelmed with sorrowful thoughts of blame and shame.  I remember being told things like, “If your sin that is blocking your blessing is removed, then Josh will be healed.”  I remember being told that, “If I were obedient to God, then Josh would be healed.”  I remember being told that, “If my faith was stronger, then Josh would be healed.”  So, basically, I was thrown back into that childhood mindset that I’d thought I’d escaped long ago, questioning if God is for me, because my circumstances didn’t “look like” an alignment with the popular definition of being “blessed by God.”

It’s been a long process of healing that the Lord has revealed to me internally through this continued journey.  And somewhere along the way, I know that I’ve been called to share in the truths He has shown me and continues to show me.  I don’t know where or when I’ll get there – but it seems in every teaching, I’m shown the opposition to “half truths” and it does break my heart that I so easily believed a lie and that it took such tragic measures in a bitter-sweet revelation for the Lord to open up my mind and start “unteaching me” everything I thought I knew about His “blessings” through this life here on Earth – to show me the little passages we skip over like they aren’t relevant – like in Hebrews when those who were tortured refused deliverance because they wanted a better resurrection – like in John when the rich man called out to Abraham and asked for Lazarus to dip a finger in water and cool him from his torment, as Abraham said to the man, you already experienced your riches on earth, and it was the poor beggar that was taken to the bosom of Abraham.  The truth sets us free because we begin to see that this place is nothing but a womb that we pass through on our way to being born into eternity.  The truth sets us free because we can begin to see that the doorway was opened by Jesus when he shed his blood and the circumstances we endure now are nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed (by His doing not ours), to those who LOVE HIM and are called according to his purpose.  I used to think loving HIM was about loving his stuff – like God was a vending machine – I put in a prayer and a prize drops out …  I give money and a blessing drops out.  I DO and he answers.  When in truth HE DID, because anything I do falls short of His glory.  To love Him is to see how much he loves me.  To love Him is to see the price paid on the cross for my eternal salvation.  To love Him is to want HIM, not the stuff this broken world has to offer in temporary satisfactions.

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things

–  2 Corinthians 6: 4-10

In half truths, my expectations are based on a lie.  But in THE TRUTH I can run my race with endurance, remembering that Christ suffered for me, and as He sanctified himself, He prayed to the Father that I would too be sanctified (made perfect through this process)…  I am in this world but not of this world…  This world is not my home.  and there lies the blessed hope of what is yet to come.  And in that, I can say, “Thank you Jesus”, not because I’m comfortable today… but because I know there will come a day when the sun of righteousness appears with healing in its wings and my Lord and Savior will return with the promise that he purchased and paid in full with His righteous blood.

JESUS is ENOUGH.  I could watch this video everyday and raise my eyes to the Heavens in thanksgiving for my Savior.  <3

 

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Jesus on The Cross – A Wicked Generation Seeks a Sign

The first 3 hours of Jesus on the cross, was passed with a great amount of chatter by those witnessing his crucifixion.  In all 4 Gospels we see a picture of a great crowd mocking and laughing as they spoke about Him and to Him.  Did they do this because they did not believe?  This is an interesting scenario because these people testified of his words, his miracles and then requested proof by “their standards – what was acceptable to them”.  And these words written of weren’t just ANY people, either.

In Mathew 27:41, the scene is set and he describes people passing by, shaking their heads, saying “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  They knew the words of Jesus… which means, they were THERE or witness to a certain event that took place when Jesus spoke these very words to them as it written in all the gospels…  So going back, Jesus went Into Jerusalem, into the temple courts, where he found them selling stuff in exchange for money… Where?  IN THE TEMPLE COURTS – the Holy Place, where the people served God – it was corrupted with buying and selling.  And so Jesus drove them out of there and turned the tables upside down and told them who were selling doves, STOP making my Father’s house a place of merchandise. (John 2:17).  It’s interesting that many describe the symbolizing of a “dove” among the Israelites as the “spirit of God”…  Were they selling the spirit of God to make money?  And Jesus said, (Mathew 21:13), “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”  So at that time, they challenged Jesus who had corrected them and said, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?”… It’s like they were saying, “why should we listen to you?… Prove to us that you have the authority to tell us we can’t make money in the temple”….They seeked a sign and Jesus simply answered with this, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?  But he spake of the temple of his body. – John 2:21… 

So back to the cross… Who were the people walking by wagging their heads saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”??  Well, it would seem they were the same people that were standing in the temple courts (the Holy Place) making money off of God’s things – the ones who had AUTHORITY over the religion of the jews to do what they wanted in the temple – they were setting the rules, making the standards and MAKING A PROFIT off of God.  And they probably didn’t appreciate Jesus coming on the scene, busting up their show and demanding “you stop doing this in my Father’s house.”  So they were angry.. perhaps offended by Him.. or maybe they just didn’t like HIS way.. the way of selflessness and meekness…. but did they BELIEVE He was who he says He is?

In the accounts of the conversation taking place at the cross, along with those wagging their heads and mocking him, it’s identified that “Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said” – we have another description of who was leading this wolf pack of mockers who stood against Jesus.  They were the leaders of the church, at that time, (if it’s OK to call it a church – it was at that time the leaders of the religious people)….. The elders… the scribes…  THE CHIEF PRIESTS?  And what did they have to say?….

“He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Mathew 27:42)

They are testifying of the signs and wonders of Jesus Christ.  They saw him save people… they saw him heal people.. they saw the power of GOD in Him… yet they stand against him, mock him and STILL SEEK A SIGN.  It’s like everything Jesus did that was good made them more violently seek the demise of Jesus, and so they threw a testimony with an accusation at him, basically saying, “We KNOW he saved others and did all these amazing things but if HE’S REALLY THE KING, he would save himself.”  Why is that?  Is a King supposed to exhalt himself?… take the gifts of God and use them for self-gain – as they were selling God for money and Jesus taught that what they were doing was wrong.  The one and only true King chose to lay down his life as the ultimate gift of God… and they rebuked that example… Why is that?

Mathew 16:4, Jesus says – “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” And he left them, and departed.

What sign are we seeking?…  Sometimes I wonder if we look for the evidence of Jesus Christ living in us the same way these people did – “Jesus, if you’re really who you say you are, make me rich and healthy and give me a life full of all the finer things…. EXHALT me, and then I’ll believe you”…

It seems like lately, the thing that moves me most emotionally, is reading or hearing of testimonies from others who have found Jesus, through their suffering.  I can relate to that – I know HIS power to plant the good seed inside the fertile soil of a broken heart – deep into the core of everything that had to be broken into pieces and emptied of everything, in order to be filled with HIM….. Just like his flesh had to be broken… before he was raised back up… ahh, the simplicity of the truth.

There’s a song that I found recently called “Give me Faith”…  The Lyrics go like this..

I need you to soften my heart
And break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life
All I am, I surrender
I need you to soften my heart
And break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me
All I am, I surrender
Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

We seek knowledge… we seek self-proclaimed righteousness..  we seek control over the gifts the Lord has granted us..  and we seek to show signs of HIM through what we achieve… when the only choice that ever was and ever will be is SURRENDERING OURSELVES COMPLETELY TO HIM.

Matt Chandler said in one of his sermons I watched recently, “If this doesn’t make sense to you that’s ok.. it just means you haven’t bled enough yet.”   Father thank you for the ONE who bled for us, even as we bleed too.. but because HE ROSE.. we are risen with HIM.

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God is in control of ALL THINGS!

When something tragic happens, it seems that this mental struggle begins, we try to make sense of it – to exercise cause and effect and to reach a conclusion that answers the question “why”…  Over the last two years, I’ve had many offer advice to me from what seems to be a place of concern and good intent – in effort to answer the “why” and perhaps they are just trying to protect my faith and beliefs in a God that is good.

These statements usually sound something like this, “God had nothing to do with what happened to your husband.”  Or… “the enemy attacked your family, but God can step in and do something good with the bad situation.”….  Other types of advice I’ve received, address the question “how do i fix this”.. as I’ve had many reach out to pray for us delivering messages such as, “Lord please remove the sin in their lives that is blocking this healing”…. and “Jodi when you have faith, then Josh will be healed.”…..

I have been given the answers to these questions, and many more as it pertains to the struggles in my life.  The Lord directly told me WHY Josh had a stroke.  He truly did.  And I’m thankful everyday for that revelation.  And over the course of 2 years He’s continued to answer questions that have weighed on my mind most of my life.  He’s revealed to me why I didn’t have a dad.  He’s revealed to me why I struggled with depression and attempted suicide at the age of 17.  The Lord has even revealed to me that my faith is HIS WORK, not mine.  I can’t wake up and just “decide” to will myself to have enough faith to see a miracle.  You know the beautiful thing is, I have seen miracles in the moments I least expected – in moments when I was so empty and so defeated that HE was able to work in me because Jodi (my thoughts and ideas) had exited the building and provided Him with a vessel of lowliness and utter surrender.  HE is the finisher of our faith.

I know in my heart, the Lord had me write that book to address, through the testimony he gave me some of these questions, and I believe that the Lord is delivering this testimony to those who He sends it to.  It’s not my book, it’s His and I don’t try to control who reads it, yet I continually get confirmation from the Lord that He’s doing a work with it – people who are hurting and walking in our shoes asking these very difficult questions, continue to reach out to me and I know the Lord’s fingerprint is written all over these encounters.

But the others who cross our path and mean well, and want to help, as they deliver advice that goes against the very words the Lord spoke directly to me… what is the purpose in that?  I don’t know, but I do know there is purpose.  Maybe we will continue to be used by God in ways we can’t even yet understand.. i know our story isn’t over, and i know He has us here because He’s still working on us, working through us (he is the author of our story and the finisher of our faith)..  But in this season, I feel the Lord showing me repeatedly that we will serve what we fear – a frightening reality of what it means to the Fear the things of this world vs. Fearing the Lord, and I see a struggle taking place among many, questioning if He is in control of everything.  So much heartbreak I feel when I sense that people are fearing the enemy – read about Leviathan in Job 41 – a beast that GOD created and GOD controls, (also referred to as king of the proud).  Look at the story of Job and the awful things he endured.  Could Satan go destroy Job’s life by his own authority?  No… he couldn’t touch Job without first gaining permission from the Lord, and even then he was given perimeters as God said he could not kill him.  God was completely in control at all times and at the end of Job’s suffering and at a time where Job submitted yet again to the Sovereign God of the universe (corrected for questioning God and seeking control of the outcome of his own life), God then restored all things to Job and much, much more.  Some say, well yeah, but that was before Jesus rose from the cross.. You know it’s interesting that Jesus asked the Father to take that cup from him – the suffering that he was about to endure, but then submitted to the Father in the same breath, saying “YOUR will be done”…  It wasn’t the enemy’s will – the enemy presented in Peter when Peter rebuked Jesus for saying he would soon suffer and be killed.  It was GOD’s will for Jesus to complete his work on the cross… and ironically this cup that Jesus asked the Father take from him… well the disciples spoke to Jesus about that cup.. and Jesus said to them, “You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto him, We are able.” (Mathew 20: 22-23), and Jesus answered them and said, “You shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized.”

And I ask this question… After our Lord Jesus rose, Did God not know that every single apostle would go through great trials and suffering?  Was it not God himself that spoke about the Apostle Paul when he said this to Ananias – “For I will shew him how great things he must SUFFER for my name’s sake.”  Why did Paul have to SUFFER GREAT THINGS?  If you read in Acts 9, the Lord explains that Paul was a “chosen vessel to bear HIS name.”…  It’s just not about us..  It’s all about HIM.  HIs name is to be reverenced, respected, feared, and adored among all and to those who he has called according to his purpose, He promises that all things will work for our good – good is an outcome (not a journey).  And those he has called according to his purpose were never promised an easy life – quite the opposite.  The Lord said we would suffer affliction and trials and persecution and the list of these hardships goes on and on.  But He promises to deliver us, as HIS WORD will be performed (and all that HE allows to manifest in our lives), as we can be sure this race “that we must run with patience” (Hebrews 12:1), and consider what Jesus endured, so that we do not “be wearied and faint in our minds” (Hebrews 12:3), will do it’s perfect work in us and that in all things HIS NAME will be glorified.  And when it’s all said and done..  we will be with HIM.

Romans 8:38 – “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul said those words – a man that faced persecution, was beaten nearly to death multiple times, shipwrecked over and over again, imprisoned and he died NOT a rich man (in this world), with health, wealth, riches and fame – No… Paul suffered many things for the sake of the Lord’s name, just as God said he would.  But none of what he endured could separate him from the LOVE OF GOD, which is in CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.

It’s a story more beautiful than anything we can think up – the knock off’s as told in tales of Rome and Juliet.  A perfect ending to a plot full of twists, turns, many scars and a LOVE that conquers all of it.

When I’m presented with a position from multiple people on the same subject (back to back), i start seeking the Lord, asking Him what he wants me to do with it.. Well, I believe He’s telling me to testify.  And testify again and again and again as long as He keeps me here and allows my lungs to breath in the air that he provides me. And I pray daily that He gives me the strength of Jesus to do that.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Mathew 10:28

FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM.  HE’S ON THE THRONE!!!  HE IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND ALWAYS, FOREVER MORE.  HE IS THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH.  JESUS AND JESUS ALONE IS WORTHY TO OPEN THE SEALS THAT BRING GREAT TROUBLE UPON THIS EARTH AND THE ALPHA AND OMEGA DOES NOT DRIVE AN AMBULANCE……  HE KNEW US BEFORE WE WERE EVEN FORMED IN OUR MOTHER’S WOMBS AND HE SANCTIFIED US FROM THE BEGINNING!

Thank you Lord for your mercy and guidance and LOVE.  In all that hurts me and all that pains me and all that I’ve lost and all that I’ve suffered through…  I PRAISE YOUR NAME and I thank you for the works you’re doing that my human mind struggles to understand.  My hope is in Jesus and I know that all I suffer through in this temporary place (the things in the seen) aren’t worth comparing to the Glory you will reveal in the unseen (the eternal things.  I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me…   <3