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

From the 3rd hour to the 6th hour, as Jesus was on the cross, those who looked upon Him were caught in a place of great confusion.  They didn’t understand how the Son of God, who was the dearly beloved of the Heavenly Father would be so broken.  They didn’t understand how the Son of God, given such power in the heavenly things and supernatural to save others before their own eyes, could not save himself.  They didn’t understand how the example that they would all witness would defy logic in carnal minded thoughts, demonstrating God’s ways that are incomprehensible to our ways.

As they all got it wrong… as they looked to the things of the “seen” instead of the unseen and as they swallowed the demonstration of fleshly separation without comprehension, Jesus made no effort to correct them.  He didn’t explain it.  He didn’t argue it.  He didn’t look down upon them and say, “no, you’ve got it all wrong,” as they clinged to the comforts of a lie that only the flesh could perceive as good.  He remained silent and allowed them to scoff in wonderment and make jokes about the occurrence they couldn’t behold.  The Great Teacher was done teaching with words.

Only one (in the flesh) did he speak to throughout his time on the cross – the sinner on the cross beside him.  As his eyes could see, this criminal next to Jesus (one who was also suffering on a cross) realized that he deserved the cross, but Jesus did not.  He saw that he was unworthy of anything but death and asked for mercy from THE ONE who took on this suffering and DID NOT deserve death – he said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  What did he see?  Why was the only one in all of those present that was given understanding of how awful he himself was, and how holy Jesus was and why was the criminal the only one that could see past the broken, bloody, body of Jesus and gaze upon “the kingdom”… asking the Lord to have mercy on Him when he arrives at his place of destiny.  And the only words Jesus spoke to any of them while he was on the cross, he spoke in a promise to this sinner… this criminal.. this man who was suffering and admitted, “I deserve this… but you don’t Jesus.. you don’t deserve this..”..   He turned to that man and proclaimed..  “Today, you shall be with me in paradise.”

From that time (the 6th hour) to the ninth hour a darkness came over the land.  And nothing in any of the gospels was written about this time, in terms of testimony.  No one spoke..  No one mocked.. No one laughed any longer.  But at the ninth hour, Jesus spoke again.  Four gospels give different account of the words spoken, yet in 2 of them the “perceived” message was demonstrating something similar.  For some, the words written by David in Psalms 22 were confirmed.  And in the Gospel of John the words “it is finished” were recorded.

As the mysteries continue to unfold in the Living Word of God, I feel the Lord speaking to me about perception.  As Moses followed God’s instruction in going before Pharaoh with Aaron, God also was in control of Pharaoh’s perception of things, (hardening his heart so that he would respond accordingly to God’s will).

And so often I wonder how so many of us can read the same scripture and be given different meaning (different perception)… He is the one that lifts the scales from our eyes.  He is the one that determines what happens in every event, on every day or every hour or every minute in every life that he created.  He is the light but he also created the darkness – all with purpose according to HIS will.  And even Satan used the word of God as a tool to tempt the very Son of God Jesus Christ – as Jesus gave an answer “it is ALSO written” with understanding of the perception, in which we all who love the Lord labor to gain.

The Word says that “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”… It’s also written that Leviathan is the king of the proud.  I may not understand much… but I thank the Lord for continuing to give me understanding of how small I am.. how wrong I am.. how unworthy I am.. and how I know NOTHING unless he revealed that thing to me…  and in that I thank Him for showing me the words of this criminal…this sinner… who suffered on the cross next to Jesus and first spoke of FEAR:

1 – “Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation?”….

Then, he spoke of his own unrighteousness and filth.. knowing he was not good.. knowing he deserved punishment..

2 – “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:”

And only after he feared the Lord and then saw his own sinful nature and confessed that he was deserving of nothing good..  could he see the perfection of Jesus…

3 – “but this man hath done nothing amiss.”

And finally… he asked Jesus for mercy and help…

4 – “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Three hours.. of all those people talking and wondering and accusing and scoffing.. and only ONE was made worthy to receive the promise… this sinner… as Jesus answered his heartfelt request and said this..

5 – “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with me in paradise.

Only one got to join Jesus in paradise that day…..  The one that Feared the Lord, saw his own disgusting fleshly nature, repented, and saw the perfection of Jesus and then.. received mercy and the promise.

Why was the suffering sinner the only one that was given the perception of understanding? Why was he the only one yelling out “you fools, don’t you get it?  don’t you understand you are UNDER THE SENTENCE OF CONDEMNATION?”… Don’t you fear the Lord?… But they couldn’t see it the way he did…  I guess they thought they were doing good because they were safely on the ground suffering nothing.. comfortable in their own skin (making fun of the very one who was absorbing sin on the cross).. Only God knows why we all see things so differently.  Father help us all <3

 

Heavenly Father, I ask you to battle pride for me with each new day and let no pride remain in me.  I ask you to help me to never use your word as weapon to correct, condemn or mock others – to understand that our perception is found in what you ordain as we seek you and chase after you, begging for your mercy upon our lives.  Lord I thank you for chastening us as sons and daughters and breaking our flesh and our hearts so that you can then dwell within us.  Lord please guide me down the narrow path in meekness, with a broken and contrite spirit, where you draw near to me.  Father, I ask you to give me faith and more faith, even when I don’t understand and even when I’m hurting.  Lord, help me to see that the broken things are part of your plan and to not judge another’s walk as this sinner, who found you in his suffering and pain was made able to surrender to you, to FEAR you and to see his own ugliness and worthlessness in order to see the perfection of Jesus on that cross.  I know the path to paradise comes only through the perfection of Jesus and by nothing that I could ever achieve on my own.  Thank you for showing me how unworthy I am and for loving me enough to save a sinner like me.  Thank you for your love and mercy and Father I pray for all hearts to come to you and see the perfection that’s only found in your Son Jesus Christ.

 

We are taught at an early age how to brainstorm – an exercise of collecting ideas and generating solutions.  In January of last year, I journaled about the definition of brainstorm, understanding that the Lord was trying to show me something with this word, but not yet sure of the meaning.  Here is what I recorded:

“Brainstorm – sudden impulse or idea, a fit of mental confusion or excitement”

Today, as I turned to this old page in my journal, I received a scripture immediately from the Lord:

Luke 1:51 “He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their own hearts.”

When I used to think of the word proud, I associated this word with egotistical or narcissist… someone who is arrogant.  But through the transformation process of the Lord revealing my own sicknesses to me, this word “proud” cut through my heart like a sword.  Pride is self-reliant, a person who can research, fact-find and yes BRAINSTORM to find a fix to every problem they face.  This was me.  In fact, that very word brainstorm played a significant role particularly in my professional life throughout my 16+ years working in marketing.  Give me a challenge and I will brainstorm through ideas and information to come up with solutions.  The gift of creative thinking is beautiful, right?  Maybe, but in this context, dangerous.  This tool poured out into my personal life and I became the woman that could find a solution anything and everything.  At least I thought this was true until I was shown otherwise in an earth shaking, paradigm shifting revelation of truth – brought down to my knees in complete surrender God.  I learned that I was the proud.  And, even though the Lord removed this boulder that was lodged deep into my heart, I’m still struggling now to rid of the remnant – the little splinters that continue to surface from time to time.

Think about a storm…  Can you see that storm with the winds swirling and roaring in Luke’s remark “He scattered the proud in the imagination of their own hearts” – the imagination spinning as fast as your brain can go, searching through dark, chaotic clouds for the answer we seek…  The heart speaks of what we desire and the imagination is the vehicle of thoughts and ideas that aim to lead us to these desires.  So what are we desiring and why do we often find ourselves scattered in our thoughts – desperately seeking solutions and strategies to achieve what we want?

When the disciples were in the boat in the middle of a raging storm, they became worried and fearful.  They woke up Jesus, who was sleeping peacefully and they screamed out, “Lord, Do you not even care that we will perish?”  Here they are in the middle of this horrific storm, feeling like their boat was about to be overtaken by the roaring waves and worried about how to save themselves.  Jesus woke and simply rebuked the storm.  He did away with it – calmed the waves and the wind and the rain.

Instead of BRAINSTORMING for solutions when we feel like we need an answer, what if we just hand the wind and rain to Jesus and ask HIM to handle it for us?

Instead of searching our hearts for the desires that we THINK we need to obtain, what if we just lay down our pride at the feet of our Father and trust HIM to determine what we need?

I was taught how to brainstorm in group projects as early as I can remember, (elementary school).  The Lord continues to un-teach me the ways of the world and seek HIM to be my teacher.  If your thoughts feel like a scattered mess of images and ideas, maybe you can join me in handing over these splinters to God and asking him to heal them with the blood of the lamb.

God Bless you All <333

 

It’s my choice to be made whole, according to my interpretation of the question Jesus delivered to the man who stood outside of the troubled waters.  In digesting this idea too many times and different ways to even keep up with in myself, I’m brought again to the truth of how powerless I am, outside of His will for me.  I see the truth mingling with philosophies of the world, creating a barrier to true freedom in Christ.

Can I will myself to be healed?  It’s a question that can easily be agreed with and supported by scripture.  Faith is a decision that leads to healing and freedom.  But if I am the point, then why did Paul recognize that he himself is no longer living, but it is now CHRIST who lives within him.  If my pain is the focus and my deliverance is the goal, then I have to ask myself, who am I?  Why am I so special?  Why does everything that I do and seek end up posturing my importance within my own thoughts?

The Lord said, “Seek the Kingdom first and then all things will be added unto you.”  In seeking myself – the wants and needs of me, I seem to error over and over again.  Brought back to the same place, begging for freedom, healing and deliverance – wondering why this promise seems so hard to receive in the natural.  Perhaps the natural is the problem that I wrestle to get rid of.

Yesterday I watched a video about the power that lives in us.  The purpose of the video was to communicate that we have the power to receive whatever we desire by adopting a mindset.  Biblical principles, yet something unsettling lingered in the message – perhaps the absence of Christ.  As it is written, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. – John 10:1.

HE is the way!  And when I woke up this morning, the first scripture I was presented with was this..

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. – Galatians 5:13

So what does it mean?  Perhaps true freedom and liberty is found in the release of self – casting away of my desires and wants, for the will of my Father.  Can all of me be removed, so that I can be filled up with all of Him?  Can I remain in peace and comfort all the days of this life, based on my own experiences and personal gains – or will the brokenness of others be a constant reminder of what my heart truly desires?  When the layers of me are peeled away and my eyes are opened to see truth, I see a bigger picture of who I am.  I see the connection that places me deeply rooted with the lives of others – their wants, their needs, their sorrows and their cries.

Father today I ask for real liberty, YOUR liberty, not the manufactured will of my own attempts at perfect faith – but the true faith that is given by you, and that my request not be in vanity for my own gain.  But Lord I pray that ALL the captives may be set free by the saving grace of you, our Father, by the blood of our Savior – the WORD and the REDEEMER who paid the ransom for our souls.  Lord I pray that your Kingdom come and that your perfect will, rooted in your unfailing love for us be done on our Earth as it is in Heaven.  Father I pray that I not be exalted above my brothers and sisters in Christ – but Lord that we, as one body are exalted together – healed, set free, redeemed, comforted and MADE WHOLE, lacking nothing and wanting nothing – but brought into the fullness of your riches and glory that you have prepared for us.  Heavenly Father please impute to us the Faith and help us with our unbelief as we face this world seeking your loving hand and your protective shield.  Lord I thank you for guiding us and keeping us in your hands – that no weapon formed against us can prevail and that not one will be lost.

In the powerful name of Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus Christ of Nazareth

This is one of the best faith based movies I’ve seen, and I highly recommend this film for a number of reasons.  For starters, PRICELESS doesn’t seek to deliver opinionated doctrine – there are no debates in the word of God delivered to viewers.  This film represents real struggles that many of us face with our faith.  And these struggles are real-world trials that believers of Jesus walk through each day, living inside of a broken world.

The plot (based on a true story, as noted in the introduction), joins together characters who are all facing great tragedy and loss.  A young man who recently lost his wife, followed by having his daughter taken from him, is battling to find himself in a world that doesn’t seem to make sense to him anymore.  He crosses paths with two young women who have been ripped away from their father’s hands, to be delivered into the wolf’s den.  The older sister believes in God and knows He is with her always.  Yet, her faith doesn’t protect her from physical trials – from traveling through the fire, so to speak.   When the troubled young man hears an inner voice inside of him, he’s faced with a life changing decision to walk by faith not by sight.  But he’s not alone in his pursuit as another troubled character (a man who lost his daughter), enters the scene to provide him guidance and wisdom along the way.

I’m not going to spoil the movie for anyone reading this.  I just want to say this… Lives are lost and deep scars were created throughout the stories of these characters.  This is not a fairy-tale journey of finding Heaven on Earth for anyone involved.  Like the lives of the apostles and the disciples, these souls all walked through great tribulation.  The happy ending is revealed in God’s glory – HIS perfect plan to reveal purpose even in our pain.

The actors were phenomenal.  PRICELESS is not a budget film and the message was well received.  I highly recommend this movie to anyone and everyone as a beautiful demonstration of how our Almighty Creator has his hand in everything – the good and the bad times that we experience throughout life.  Like a masterful puzzle that our Lord constructs with great meaning, we are told that we will suffer many afflictions in this life, but that ALL THINGS WORK FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.

PRICELESS the movie is available on DVD and also through most digital providers, such as Apple Itunes and Amazon.  I’d love to read your comments and hear your feedback after you watch it.

http://pricelessthemovie.com/

 

My children have walked through extraordinary circumstances.  They’ve had the opportunity to see God’s hand working in our lives.  They’ve seen miracles and they’ve seen destruction.  And while it may not all make sense to them, they do know that HE’s REAL.

Today, while in discussion with my son as we drove home from the post office, he made a shocking confession to me.  “I don’t know what to believe about heaven and hell,” he told me.  “And, why do I want to go there – to a place where I’ll sit on a cloud and play a harp?  It sounds like going to Grandma’s house – a place where I have to be in perfect behavior all the time and don’t get to have any fun.”

Sadly, I can relate to his question in ways I may not have even realized.  I too spent most of my life visualizing Heaven as a boring place, where only the best behaved people belong.  If I make it there, will I even like it there?  Subconsciously, the questions I never asked were secretly shameful.  I’m supposed to want to go there, and try to be sinful and perfect in order to get in.  But once in, my days of exploration and excitement are over.

Are we programmed to believe a lie?

I believe the answer is yes.  Searching my memory as far back as it will go,  the idea of heaven was given to me perhaps first, by cartoons.  I remember watching the death of a character result in floating into the sky, then the character would be pictured in a white robe, sitting on a cloud strumming at a harp.  Is this what Heaven will be like?  Not a chance.

I’ve learned in my walk with Jesus and in searching God’s word for truth, that every good gift comes down from God.  That means the rush of adrenaline that I adored in riding roller coasters as a kid was God’s gift to me.  That means that the thrill of young love, when I first met Josh was a gift from God.  The excitement of accomplishing a goal, was from him.  My love for sports cars, good food and even the thrill of danger is all part of the “wonderfully and fearfully made” description of the being he’s created me to be.

In understanding that God made everything – this Earth and all of creation beyond what we can see in our temporary home – throughout the universe and dominions that we can’t even yet fathom with our simple, and limited carnal minds, how did we come up with the idea that God’s idea of “paradise” is a lame picture of a cartoon character sitting on a cloud strumming a harp?  Well I can guess where this myth came from, but why do we believe such a silly thing?

My kid loves sports.  He loves winning.  He loves challenge and he loves praise.  Like most kids, I guess, he loves the thrill of what’s next – yet he worries deep inside of his secret thoughts that his ultimate destination (Heaven), will somehow be a place of loss – a place where all of the things he loves, will be missing.

I don’t have the answers on what I can’t yet see, but I believe that “paradise” is full of all the things we love here and so much more!  I believe the good things of this life are only a little taste of the senses we will one day explore in our eternal bodies that we will one day receive.  Oh and when we’re on Earth reigning with Jesus for 1,000 years, I can only imagine what that life will look like when the removal of suffering, pain, oppression, death, sickness, and everything else that weighs our hearts down in despair is removed completely.

Maybe instead of regurgitating scripture and talking to my kids about being “good or bad”, (don’t get me started on those myths), I can learn to explore God with my children in new ways and lead them in new truths – tearing down the lies and myths that the prince of the world has programmed into our thoughts, hindering our ability to seek the kingdom with excitement, joy and anticipation of the promises the Lord will one day reveal.  Paradise…..  oh, it’s gonna be so much greater than we can even imagine.

I’m sharing this little bit of my day from one parent to the next.  Ask your kids the “big picture” questions.  You might be amazed with the opportunities that surface – allowing you both to explore God in new ways, tearing down all of the lies that a broken world programs into our thoughts.