Self Love and Self-Made Philosophies VS the Sacrificial Work of God

Last week when I was walking out of Subway, the Lord laid a question on my heart.  “Would you walk through fire to get to me?”  And over the last few days, this has been a lingering subject within my own heart.  Yesterday I just felt this need to take a walk and as I was rounding the neighborhood pond, I got the answer of truth within myself.  “No, I wouldn’t choose to walk through fire to get to you.”  I can make excuses as to why that authentic answer would be so telling of myself – that it’s because there would be another way or provision that a loving God would send to me – that a Father who loves me would never require me to walk through fire…  But the spiritual discussion didn’t stop there.  As I dig deeper I see that the requirement is upon my life and it’s because of my flesh waring against His spirit that HE does the provisions needed… and in this I find greater meaning to “what’s impossible to man, is possibly only to God.”

Jesus said he had the power to lay down his life and pick it back up again.  And Jesus did lay down his life in demonstration of the purest, most unselfish love known to all of creation.  But would I choose that?  Do I have the power to walk into a sacrificial love affair that denies self – that kills the flesh and all of its desires in order to receive something my physical eyes can’t even see?  When the rich man told Jesus that he had followed all of the commandments and lived for God, Jesus said there’s something else required of you – you must sell all of your stuff and give it to the poor.  He couldn’t do it.  And seeing this, the disciples were alarmed, because they knew that they too couldn’t do it.  They basically said, “Well if so much is required, then who could possibly be saved?”  And that’s when Jesus said, “what’s impossible to men is possible to God.”

So how does God accomplish this in us?  And, I feel like the Lord has shown me repeatedly this mingling of His greatest work finished on the cross, with the first sin of all… self love.  Self love is what plants a seed of entitlement in our lives – to not be content with what we have, as scripture directs us to do, but to seek to exhalt ourselves by our own means and ideas, fighting against God’s will for our lives that is seated second place to our own will for our lives, our wants and desires.  Self love is what was the one ingredient missing from the cross that they held against Jesus in their speech that day.  They didn’t understand it – that the will of the Almighty God would exclude the salvation of flesh in His Son Jesus Christ, but was instead sacrificial in nature to the flesh.  But yet, this is the finished work of our “forerunner” who sent His chosen ones into the world to follow in His example.  He sent them out two by two with nothing.. not even shoes on their feet and equipped with instructions and warnings of what they would endure – they would be hated as He was hated.  They would not be accepted and would walk through many afflictions and trials and suffering along the way.  But, they would receive the comforter to lead them, guide them and comfort them “internally” as that is where the Kingdom of God lives.

I watched a teaching yesterday in study of Jesus’ words when he told the pharisees perhaps the most profound thing ever spoken.  You can’t see this kingdom. It’s not here.  Meaning everything your eyes can behold and your hands can touch on this earth is NOT the Kingdom of God.  And this Kingdom that was established when Jesus rose to the right hand of the Father is something that had never existed before in this dominion – the angels even wondered and looked into it.. and the prophets of old foretold of it, as none of them had yet received this promise but foretold of it to come… Jesus.  God in us is that Kingdom – an internal relationship that stands when everything else is shaken.  It was the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus as he laid down His life for the sake of others and it was power of the Holy Spirit (which had then entered them), that sent the apostles into great danger and even gave them supernatural “internal” strength as they faced their own deaths and argued things like “Turn me upside down when you kill me because I’m not worthy of being killed in the same manner my Lord was crucified.”  Why weren’t they begging for their lives?  Why didn’t they seek to save their lives (Jesus said those who did this would lose life.)… So what life did they lose and what life did they gain?  – I can’t find anything in the Word of God once that final gift was given, Jesus Christ and the comforter that followed Him going to the Father… that illustrates a desire of self-righteousness, self-made will or self promotion in the lives of his apostles He sent into the world.  I can’t find anything that speaks of them chasing after love affairs with women, mansions or riches – I can’t even find them chasing after life in the flesh, in any shape or form… In fact the one prayer where Paul cried to the Lord asking for the thorn in his side to be removed, God said “no.”  The boldness of their faith in Christ in the unseen things that awaited them after their race here is finished (not in the here and now), is mind-boggling to me.  I feel that they DID walk through fire to get to Jesus.

Here is what I feel like the Lord is showing me as I sift through this on a very deep level within myself.  What I’m not able to lay down, he will lay down for me.  If I make a god of anything here, he will lovingly take that thing from me.  And I think sometimes these things are small and subtle changes… but then at other times these are permanent and life-shattering changes.  But in the end of this process, the babylons within myself will ultimately be destroyed and only then does our loving Father begin to reveal to us the mysteries of the unseen in which HE LOVED US SO MUCH, He would be long-suffering to us – pained when we’re pained… with heart-felt weeping as our hearts our shattered, but unfolding the sacrificial love of losing my life to gain true life as a loving Father that removes everything out of us that would’ve eternally killed us.

In my own walk with pride and control, I continue to learn that self-made philosophies are a delusion that will fail in the lives of anyone who is called by God.  I have been shown repeatedly that thinking anything of myself in having the power either spiritually or physically to will MY desires into existence both with and without the word of God as a tool of for self-seeking gain, exhalation and benefit has stood against the POWER OF GOD that reveals the sacrificial person of Jesus Christ on the cross – now within us… The only love affair that completes my heart.  In self love we paint the picture of a god that wants to give us our heart’s desires in the flesh, and dismiss that the gift was Jesus himself – Jesus the person who is Himself preeminent and all-inclusively THE LIFE, THE WAY and THE TRUTH.  He is the secret place where joy is made full and there is nothing else to gain or want or desire, but HIM.

So what happens when, the things we hold so dear are ripped away from us?.. permanently...?  Eyes begin to open.  When the things of this world can’t fix the problem.. can’t replace a loved one that is lost… can’t bandage our heartbreak and can’t repair the emptiness that is hinged upon our deepest dreams and desires of what WE HOPE our lives will look like here on earth… we begin to see HIM as the goal.  The only goal.  He is the God that gives and takes away and He loves us so much HE GAVE us the one thing we need.. Jesus Christ.

Father, I just want to know Him more…  I want to find that place of boldness where nothing in this world that hurts me, pains me, persecutes me or damages my earthly life beyond repair can hinder the gift of the Kingdom that you offer in the invitation of His sacrifice.  I don’t want to get lost in the fairy tales the enemy is selling and I don’t want make idols of anything, including myself.  Father help me to walk this out with inner joy and to be transformed into your daughter that LOVES YOU above all things.. wants YOU more than anything else and walks through the fire rejoicing because you stripped all the things that would have killed me away from me in order to show me the only thing I really need….  Jesus.  And Lord help me to not be deceived as so many here come in your name proclaiming to know the secret things of YOU – to have the truth and the life and the way.  But the way Jesus demonstrated, doesn’t match these worldly philosophies that tickle my ears and please my flesh and give me hope in the temporal things..  Help me to hear your voice and shut my ears to everything else – please don’t let the enemy tempt me, beguile me or sift me as wheat.  Lord help me to hold onto the blessed hope of the finishing of my faith and the glory of Jesus that can’t be compared to the temporary suffering in this place.  Thank you for your grace and mercy.  In Jesus’ name.

______

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,…” – 2 Timothy 3

While Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will all this happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered, “See to it that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ (the way the truth and the life) and will deceive many.… – Mathew 24

 

The HEART CRY that Opens the Door to Him

One of the words given by Jesus in the book of Revelation – within His messages written TO THE churches that has captivated so many of my thoughts in seeking understanding from the Lord is found in the warnings and instructions for the Church of Laodiceans.

To set this up, I want to emphasize that this message from Jesus was to HIS CHURCH – not to those who don’t believe in Him or those who aren’t called to Him. And that’s really important because in reading the book of Revelation in times past, I would skip through that book like all of the horrible events written within were directed at people who don’t know the Lord. But the fact is, the first three chapters of this book are specifically speaking to the 7 churches that belong to Jesus – filled with warnings and instruction to each one.

The church of Laodiceans Jesus describes as “warm”.. neither not nor cold. The Lord spoke to me about this one night while in prayer and meditation and he showed me the meaning of warm is comfortable. Which is SO INTERESTING considering the Holy Spirit is called “the comforter” and why would anyone need or want a comforter if they’re alread comfortable?  Paul talks about this and basically says that in our troubles we were sent the comforter and now we are able to comfort others.  So back to warm, or comfortable… – Warm is a place where we have false securities, beliefs and ideas of where we stand with God. I know this place well because I believe that was my so-called relationship with Jesus for most of my life. I thought if I went to church, prayed daily and had been baptized with the prayer out of the way where I asked Jesus into my heart, I was good – nothing else required of my life…. Until disaster struck and I entered a process that continues today in understanding things very differently.

Jesus warns that he will spew this church out of his mouth – a very harsh description of rejection. And he goes onto explain why.. He says this church thinks they don’t need him, basically. These people are warm (comfortable) in their walk with the Lord. They are living lives that aren’t plagued with extreme circumstances – they have food to eat, they’re increased with goods and they’re getting by pretty well. And Jesus says that they’re thinking is a lie. He says the truth is that these people are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. And the truth is a spiritual truth – not in the physical. We know this because the physical, carnal mind is an enemy of God. So the things that the mind seeks, will never be in line with what the Spirit of God seeks.

Jesus then gives THE WAY to this church (the answer). Our Great Counselor says “I counsel you to be gold of me tried in the fire”.  And He says, then they will be made rich, (meaning to be covered in white raiment), then they will be clothed, no longer in shame of their nakedness and THEN they will be able to see. I want to again mention, these people Jesus are speaking to THINK they are doing good. They think they’ve got all they need, they obviously think they can see just fine and they are covered in all the things that make them happy (but they don’t get it… Jesus is warning them that they’re carnal minded thoughts are backwards).

So here’s the big question… What does HE mean when He instructs them to buy gold of him tried by the fire? Well, it’s not an earthly type of gold, it therefore can not be bought with money – remember the 10 virgins; 5 were wise and had their lamps full and 5 tried to go out and BUY oil for their lamps when the Lord called them. The ones that tried to buy their oil in this world were left behind. And then, what kind of fire is this? Gold is referenced in 1 Peter 1:7 with FAITH – it says Faith is MORE PRECIOUS than Gold, though it be tried with fire. Jesus is talking about our Faith. He’s instructing them to NOT seek the gold of the carnal minded man (things that make us comfortable in this world), but to seek from Him that our FAITH be made perfect – tried by the fire – the thing that is far more precious than gold.

Jesus goes onto say that as many that HE LOVES, he rebukes and chastens. Chasten in Hebrew means to correct by punishment or suffering. In Hebrews (12), it’s written that if we do not endure chastisement, in which ALL are partakers, then we are bastards – not SONS (of God).

Jesus continues in this message to this church by saying He’s at the door waiting for us and if we knock, he will come into to sup with us – in Hebrew this means to dine with us – to eat and drink. Remember He did this with the disciples and he also told the disciples that they would indeed drink from HIS cup. That cup Jesus was ordained to drink from is found in His prayer to the Father when Jesus was sweating blood, asking the Father to take that cup from Him, “but either way YOUR will not mine be done.” This is a beautiful demonstration of Jesus relating to our most horrific moments of our lives, when we’re asking the Father to remove our situation – to fix it and deliver us from having to walk through troubles and carry that cross that Jesus said we must pick it up and carry if we want to follow him.
He ends this message by delivering a promise to those in this church who “overcome”.

I feel led to write about this today because, if I’m being honest, very difficult circumstances are what caused my heart to cry out to God – I mean REALLY cry out to Him… not the little “keep my kids safe and give us money and good jobs and easy lives” types of prayers that I’d prayed my entire life. This was a “change our hearts” type of prayer – I literally prayed referencing scripture from the Word of God that had nothing to do with physical gain. And when I did that, more trouble came my way. And it’s confusing at times and I’ve spent so many nights thinking through all this wondering where I went wrong. But in the hardest of days and in the most desperate moments of my life, those were the moments when I felt His presence, received His revelation and understood His plan (even if it’s just a tiny glimpse)… but undeniably so.
Perhaps the heart longs for the thing we are most confused about and terrified of all in one breath – FAITH…. The richest of the rich in His creation that we can possible possess on this side of Glory.. to know Him and believe upon His name with a testimony that moves mountains in not only our lives but in the lives of others. God is near to the broken hearted… it’s not just a scripture to skip over, patting ourselves on the back with motivational thoughts.. HE is found in life’s storms.

So I keep reminding myself of the question the Lord asked me earlier this week, “What are you praying for?” And I look around at everything that moths can eat, including my own flesh, and I just ask the Lord to strengthen us in Jesus to give us Understanding (not the fruit from the tree of knowledge this world is selling), but the TRUTH that can only be known when HE opens our eyes and causes us to surrender to Him and all of His ways that our minds can’t understand.

Broken is beautiful… because it’s part of the journey to HIM.  It’s that awakening when everything seems destroyed, that the stuff of this life just seems gloomy and empty – and the Heart breaks free from the temporary things and seeks the only thing that is everlasting… the ALPHA and the OMEGA… Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:14…
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The Secret Place

There is a place where time stands still.  There are no elements of heat or cold..  There is no fear or worry.. no sadness or complaint.. no hurt.. no pain.. no heartbreak.  This place doesn’t have necessity and the fleshly requirements are no more – no labor to breathe, no need to talk, there’s no hunger or thirst.  There’s no want… for anything.

The Holy Spirit asked me today, “What are you asking for?”… and it hit me like a ton of bricks: the loss that I truly feel deep in my heart is a separation from the little taste that I’ve had of this place.  When we pray we ask and when I ask I follow suit to so many things, all in pursuit of this day and the one that follows.  I grasp time as a solution when time is only a barrier set in motion because God is long-suffering for us.

We pray for healing – sometimes we get it; sometimes we don’t but even if we do get it, it’s temporary because we will face sickness and pain again.  These bodies are not eternal and the flesh is made to eventually give out.  We pray for money, but no matter how much we have, that need and that want will never end because there’s always another bill, another need and another desire for more “stuff” – a constant garbage disposal seeking and destroying and seeking more and even if we were to gain the whole world, we would still be empty and wanting of more.  We pray for love but the love of this world leads to hurt and heartbreak – even the rare lasting kind is a roller coaster ride of happiness and tears filled with stress and worry.  The love of this world hurts and it’s attached to fear – so many nights I’ve prayed for my husband and my children to be kept safe.. to never leave me.. and that viscous circle of want leads me right back to the beginning, staring at the inevitable truth… that nothing here is permanent or guaranteed.  I see mothers burying their children and my heart weeps for them.  I see wives burying their husbands and children burying their parents and the unbelieving world says, “Where is GOD in this tragedy and in this pain?”  And even though we all know the truth – that tomorrow is never promised and that life is so short, we stand on the sidelines, somehow telling ourselves that we will be an exception to this rule.  That somehow our joy and our hopes and our wants will manifest into a picture perfect journey in a place that Jesus said we don’t belong to.

I’ve caught just a small glimpse of that place… and I never wanted that moment to end.  It’s more beautiful than my daughter’s smile, more satisfying than diving into crisp water on a hot summer day, more exhilarating than a racing heart at the sight of first love and more full-filling than all my dreams over the course of all my moments in thought of every need and desire I’ve ever had in this life, times infinity.  There’s nothing like it.

Jesus is that place.  And it has absolutely nothing to do with his stuff and it has nothing to do with this world.  It’s like another realm of existence – foreign to the senses of these earthly bodies.  Stepping into that place is instant and eternal joy – nothing to ever need, worry about or want for ever again.  He is our portion – the fullness of our joy.  IN HIM … it’s not an idea or a fairy-tale.. it’s really a place un-found and foreign to this world.

Thank you Lord for showing me this and reminding me of my heart’s desire and the meaning of HOME.  While I can’t say that I understand the fullness of it and I don’t know when I’ll see it again… I will do my best to combat this flesh and keep my heart set on what I want more than anything..  to be IN HIM.

May 15th Dream – Out of Time

I was in a deep sleep as I heard the alarm sounding – my cue to wake up.  I knew it was important that I wake up and get ready – I had a flight to catch.  But each time the alarm went off, I ignored it, telling myself that I would sleep for just a little longer.  Then, I received a notification on my phone, alerting me that my driver was waiting outside for me.  I fought hard against myself to get up and get going, but I couldn’t.  Even though I knew it was important (I was catching a plane to tell my testimony to a large crowd), but I just didn’t have the strength to wake up.  Suddenly, my eyes opened and I was shown a clock ticking.  The hour was gone and I only had a few minutes before the driver would leave me.  I jumped up in a panic and called the driver on my phone.  He said he had been waiting for me outside.  I begged him, “please don’t leave me.  I’ll be down in just a few minutes.”  He responded, “There are two Jodi’s on this list.  Which one are you?” I told him who I was.  He answered me, “Oh, I was hoping that you would be the one I thought you were.”  He told me that he knew of me and mentioned some things of my past – work related.  I struggled internally because the things he brought up about me weren’t important to who I am now (my mission at hand or the flight I was about to catch).  But I didn’t correct him.  I didn’t explain myself or talk about the reason I was traveling (to testify of Jesus).  I got off the phone and as quickly as possible started packing clothes and trying to get dressed.  I struggled with what I would wear – changing shirts several times.  Then I felt panic realizing that I was very late and even though the driver said he’d wait on me, I may not make my flight.

I woke up feeling very upset with myself.  I went outside and prayed, asking the Lord to forgive me for getting off track – for getting caught up in this world and not pursuing the last instruction he’d given me.  Although, I feel like I have, I asked him to show me what I’d not done well enough or thorough enough – what I was lacking in.  I can’t explain the reasoning other than my heart felt very heavy and full of repentance – I’m not even sure if it was for myself, really… I just felt heavy.

I started writing (it was probably 4am before I stopped).  I wrote the title of my book “Father Please Let Him Live” and then I pondered that word “LIVE”.  What is life?  A post from a friend came to mind as I thought about the directive that has lingered on my mind over the last year “Remember who you are.”  Randy talked about how we chose to come here and we even agreed to the trials and struggles we would face during our short stay.  To be set apart is not conform to this world.  Yet, everything we do to stay afloat day to day seems to throw us into motion like mice on spinning wheels – struggling to get to destinations that don’t exist in a continual battle to satisfy temporary flesh.  Moths can eat everything we see, including the face that stares at me in the mirror.  But that’s not who I am.  And the amazing part of this all is that my prayer was bigger than I even realize.  Life is eternal – as God is working the struggles of Josh and me and the kids for our ETERNAL good – completing heart changes that are impossible for men to accomplish.  As Jesus taught, the man who has everything (rich man) will have a very difficult time making it into Heaven – it’d be easier to fit a camel through a straw than for a rich man to make it into the eternal paradise that Jesus has prepared for us.  Yet what is impossible to men is possible to God.  Life more abundantly doesn’t describe a place under the kingdoms ruled by the enemy – where he was given power and dominion, in which he tempted Jesus himself with these things.  But with one foot in and one foot out, we somehow wish for both worlds to be granted to us – Heaven on earth and the afterlife of eternal joy.  That wasn’t the walk of Jesus.  Our forerunner overcame this place and all of its temptations and selfish desires.  He was born into a fleshly body for the sake of dying for others.  His mission was so confusing to the Pharisees, they repeatedly taunted him on the cross by saying, “IF He is the son of God, he would save HIMSELF.”

When I went back to bed, I laid there in prayer thinking about this dream, still unsettled inside about the panic that I’d felt in worrying I would miss my flight.  And I asked God to show me the significance of this dream.  As I drifted off to sleep, I was shown one thing – like an instant replay of one monumental clip.  He showed me the clock that was expiring… that the hour was over and time is expiring.

With an urgency in my heart today I can’t pretend to understand the fullness of what this message means.  But on this day, I just hope and I pray that I can be bold in Jesus for whatever purpose He has for me.  I pray that when people look at me they don’t see Jodi, but they see Him and I pray that with whatever time I have left, that my life will glorify my Savior, as HE IS LIFE, and the way and the truth.  I pray that I can remember who I am, (and understand the duality that I war against in myself), that I can hear His voice, walk in His will and wake up to the calling, whatever it may be – as that alarm clock rings.

In Between Two Worlds

Lately, I feel like I’m in between two worlds – in a process.  On one hand, I want to help people.  I feel like the Lord has given me so many things throughout this journey and brought revelation full circle in areas that have opened my eyes to see in ways I could never before see or understand or comprehend HIM and me.  But on the other hand, I feel reserved – like a small child, unsure of myself and weakened to even sort through my own mess of issues and emotions.  Perhaps this is how Moses felt when he argued with God, insisting that he was unqualified for the task at hand.  Or maybe this is how Isaiah felt, when he was able to see himself and those around him, with unclean lips.  A great change happened to me when I was able to see so many of my own mistakes.  Not the kind of mistakes that we can calculate with carnal strategies, applying cause and effects – deep mistakes that go beyond our own control of things.  When Isaiah saw his unclean nature, the bible says that an angel took hot coal from the throne of God and touched it to Isaiah’s lips.  Then he was made bold to answer the calling of the Lord, stepping up the challenge as a servant that says, “I’ll do it.”  There’s an important step in this process that takes us from seeing ourselves as unworthy to stepping into the will of God – that fire burning coal.  Unpleasant to the flesh to be burned – yet just as fever kills the virus and fire molds the gold – we too are hard-pressed under extreme heat in an uncomfortable process of refinement.

A friend of mine recently asked me “What is it that you fear the most?”  It’s strange, but I couldn’t put my finger on that one thing – as my greatest fear was something that I had to walk out recently.  Perhaps that trial still lingers like the aftershocks of a great earthquake as I cling to a hope that time will not repeat itself in a similar event.  And then I look around at all of the pain in this world – the sicknesses, diseases, hatred, suffering – it’s like looking into a reality that we are very much a part of, while at the same time seeking a truth that defies all logic.  Immortality isn’t something I question.  I thank the Lord that I’ve been shown first hand the truth of our consciousness – beings that pass from one reality to the next, without an end.  And I thank the Lord from the promise that was delivered to me when I was 17 years old, laughing at myself that it took me 22 years to recognize the simplistic message of “It’s not your time yet.”  YET, they said.  This is a promise that I pray will take me to the finish line, no matter how hard the days and nights may seem at times.  No matter how difficult the birthing process may become along the way.  I will be born – my time will come.

As I ramble without direction in this peculiar season of learning how to stand up and say “I’ll do it.”  I ask God to give me strength and knowledge.  I ask you Lord to lead my path and open up the doors that you would have me walk through.  Father help me to rise from the ashes – wounded with scars, just as our Lord Jesus carries his within His mighty hands.  Lord complete my faith and instruct my walk.  Show me the way Home and use me as a vessel of your love to pick up all of those who you place in my path along the way… Home.

Randomly found this song called “two worlds collide”…  and oddly (as there are no coincedences), it speaks to my own heart today.  Thank you Lord for all you are that I could never be and your unwavering love for us in the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

,

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

,

Correcting What We Don’t Understand… He ordains How We Perceive when Pride is Surrendered

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.

 

To not be warm… Tried by the Fire

Warm is a favorable temperature for the human body – a place where we find great comfort.  While taking a bath tonight, I turned the hot water on and lost train of thought until I realized I’d left it running too long.  At the realization that I was too hot, I first reached for a bottled water.  Then I turned cold water on and splashed it over my face.  The scripture came to me, “I’d rather that you be hot or cold but since you are warm I’ll spew you out of my mouth.”  These are the words Jesus spoke to the 7th church, documented by John in the book of Revelation.

Warm means comfortable.  It’s a place of needing nothing and feeling secure exactly where we are at.  If we’re cold, we have a feeling of hollowness, incompleteness – we seek a fire to warm our feeble hands.  If we’re hot, we yearn for the living water that will quench our thirst.  Unpacking from my memory the other parts of the message Jesus spoke to this church, he said basically that this church didn’t realize their own needs.  They thought they were rich, when they are poor.  They thought they were clothed, when they were naked.

Recently, when I was interviewed on a Christian Television show, I was asked the question, why were you so focused on Josh living?  What came to my mind had little to do with the subject of Josh at all, but it was an understanding inside of me that revealed the path to truly finding Jesus – it starts with a need.  I needed the help of God at a time when my comfort zone was completely destroyed and I had no hope.  I truly reached for Him with all my heart, when I desperately needed something from him.  I thought about all of the empty prayers I’d made with wavering faith (that disappeared like a wave back into the sea), with no power, no sincerity and no faith within my words.  And I wondered why the Lord allowed things to spiral so far out of control – to get worse and worse with each moment that passed.  I remember wondering, “Where are you God?  Aren’t you going to help us?”  Much like the words that the disciples spoke to Jesus as the storm was about to capsize their boat – and he answered, “Why are you fearful?  Oh you of little faith.”  Were they really in a storm?  Yes.  They were in trouble and in that place of great discomfort they were fearful.  But Jesus was WITH THEM.  Like in my own storm, I was fearful and crying out to God.  He didn’t rush in and fix it for me right away, but He never left me and all along he had planned to use that storm to build my faith in him.

If Jesus we’re walking this Earth today, who would leave all of their responsibilities and busy lifestyles to go follow him around?  Is it by coincidence that those who went to such severe extremes to be in his presence, (like the group that tore a hole through the ceiling of a building and lowered the sick man through the hole), were the ones who knew they desperately needed his help?

I can’t remember ever attending a teaching in a church about the book of Revelation.  And in the times I’ve read through it myself, I felt almost as if I had to separate that book from the rest of the new testament in order to feel good about God’s plans for me – like that book couldn’t be written for me if God is for me.  Yet in this season that book speaks to my own life in ways that now make the word of God come to life with other scriptures that never before made much sense.  Like “count it all joy when you go through tribulations and trials.”  Tribulation doesn’t sound like joy and the pain this world is enduring today breaks my heart.  It hurts me to see people struggling with disease, children dying at young ages, murder, death, destruction, poverty, disabilities and so many happenings that don’t seem good at all.  But when I talk with some of these families who have endured great trials, I see the fire – they are HOT.  They know they need a savior and they don’t hesitate to speak the name Jesus – the name they cling to when their hearts are broken and hope seems lost.

Why does Jesus open the seals?  Why does he spit the warm out of his mouth?  Why did he give them an answer “I counsel you to buy gold of me TRIED BY THE FIRE”?

As I ponder these things, I pray that we can give all the little stuff to him, and therefore not be tried in the big stuff.  I pray that I am never again full of the “Pride of life” (ring of fire ministries), and that my heart remains hot, never thinking I’ve got this stuff all figured out on my own… never thinking I’m doing fine on my own.. but instead that my yearning for my Savior will remain as intense each day forward, as it was when I was broken into a thousand pieces in the fetal position on the cold floor of ICU room #79, crying out, “Father Please Let Him Live.”

Thank you Lord for never forsaking us and for loving us enough to weep with us through our heartache and our hurt.  I know that you don’t enjoy watching us endure great pain, but I know that you will be faithful to do whatever it takes to keep our hearts on fire for you – to keep our lamps full and to let nothing pluck us out of your hand.  I am uncomfortable and I don’t like it, but GOD, that warm, fuzzy comfort would have killed me.  Thank you for showing me what it means to buy Gold of you, tried by the fire and Jesus, let me never fall away from this place where I have been humbled to, the place where I found you and yearn for your salvation.  Father let me never again become warm.  <3

I know where I’m going…

One of my favorite songs when I was young was “Here I go Again” by Whitesnake.  I remember in the late 90’s when I would drive to my Granny’s house I cranked that song as loud as my little Firebird would play it, with the windows down, driving down the long country roads.  I don’t even know why I related to that song so much.  I just loved singing it at the top of my lungs.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with that song playing in my mind, the chorus “I don’t know where I’m going but I sure know where I’ve been.. Here I go again on my own”…  and I heard the Lord speak to me – it’s the opposite.. You don’t know where you’ve been.  But you do KNOW where you’re going.  and you are NOT going alone.

Ephesians 1:4 says “According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”  

In the book of Jeremiah the Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you before and set you apart.”

This world puts so much weight on our shoulders in the walk we are to walk as believers in Christ.  We have guilt placed on our hearts if we miss a church service, if we don’t attend small groups or bible study classes, if we don’t give enough money as offerings, and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes it seems that this very way of things is what breeds guilt and doubt inside of us.  We wonder if we’re good enough to be made acceptable to God.  We wonder if we’re doing enough on the outside to be saved on the inside.  And I ask myself, Do we even know who we are?… So worried about what we have to do to be seen as righteous, (do our part) to become what the Lord would expect from us.  When he says HE has declared before we even came here that he’s the one that makes us accepted in the beloved.

I feel like the Lord is pointing out to me that “where we’ve been” isn’t what we think.  Looking at yesterday – all of our mistakes we’ve made in this lifetime isn’t the past he would have us be made aware of.  But the truth in who we really are lies within his knowing of us before we were even placed in the womb.  He called us and said, “I choose this one.. and I will make her blameless in Christ, not by her own strength, or ability or choices.  I choose her and I will finish what I ordained for her.”

Today I just feel like the focus that is placed on my heart is KNOWING where I’m going – not because I deserve anything and not because I can find my way into His good graces, but because HE SAYS I’m already there – already loved, already accepted, already pre-ordained to be grafted into the family of everlasting life by the acts of Jesus, not me.  I look to the cross when Jesus said, “It is finished.”  And, I ask the Lord to strengthen my faith that nothing can make me question his words, knowing that HE WILL and HE HAS completed everything that ever needed to be completed when He rose our Savior from the dead and appointed Him as the High Priest, who paid the ransom in full for my soul.  There is liberty in Jesus – nothing more to gain.. nothing more to do… just rest in His arms and thank him through the good days and the difficult days too… for saving me and giving me the hope and the promise in Him.

As the song says, “Hanging on the promises and the hopes of yesterday”..  Lord I ask you to renew our hope in Jesus everyday.  No matter the season or the troubles we face, help us to see where we’re going.  Father help us to keep walking – to keep moving forward by your strength and to KNOW that in surrendering our hearts to you through all things, our best days are yet to come… and they aren’t JUST a hope… they are TRUTH.

Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
 – Matthew 11:29

 

Watch Jodi Interviewed on TV about new book Father Please Let Him Live

Updated… Here is the video of the TV show I appeared on in February to discuss Father Please Let Him Live.  Thank you Lord for continuing to use us for your Glory and to send us the people who you would have us testify to of your goodness and mercy and Jesus’ presence with us and through us as we walk through the storms of this temporary life.

 

 

 

I will appear on the Christian TV Talk Show “It’s Time” with Herman and Sharron Bailey on Tuesday, February 6th at 9am and 4pm, Central Standard Time.  For Houston DirecTV customers, it’s channel 376.

It’s Time airs on CTN – Christian TV Network, with national reach to DirecTv and Dish Network customers.  The show also airs on the CTN website.  To find out how to watch the show in your area, visit CTNONLINE.COM.

I’m thankful for this opportunity to discuss my new book, Father Please Let Him Live.  My prayer is that through our testimony, lives will be encouraged in Jesus and my hope is through shows like It’s Time, the Lord will continue to open doors for us to reach people with our book and further our mission to get the book into hospitals and available to people who are walking through a tough season and need to understand where the Lord is through our trials.

Love y’all,

Jodi