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Archive for the tag “Holy Spirit”

A New House

There is an older neighborhood in my city close to my gym. Sometimes I use the cut through to get to another area of town because it’s less traffic and a more scenic way to go. The neighborhood is in one of the booming areas so the older homes are being fixed up or torn down and made into something new. I love to see these transitions. The updated versions look fresh and new, but the new houses are vastly different. The updated versions are put on the market and sold quickly. But the older homes that are sold before the updates are quickly torn down. I love to see the progress of new things being built. Don’t you?

However, it’s quite a different story about progress we need to make in our own transitions to become new. Our spiritual lives are like that neighborhood. Some of us are the old houses that need some repair work. We are comfortable in our broken down condition; never seeking a carpenter to help us and eventually our bodies and our lives are in a ruinous heap. There are some who have sought out a carpenter and repairs are being made to remodel their lives. Then there are those who have not only sought out The Carpenter, but our houses have been demolished and the new houses are in the process of being built. Jesus, The Carpenter, doesn’t come to make us a better version of ourselves; He comes to make us new.

One of the things I struggle with is making goals. In the corporate world, we are told to make SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. When I was in the corporate world, every year I had to come up with a couple of goals. It was so hard to do in the position I was in. I did the grunt work – I was the detail person. Like I said last week, I was not the big picture person. I helped to make the big picture come together. It’s hard to have goals dictated by another’s vision. However, progress needed to be made in my own growth as an employee and a member of the team in order to achieve the big picture vision.

Andy Stanley said recently in a message “direction leads to destiny.” I have heard it said this way “we have to be going there to get there.” We need to be on the path moving in the right direction in order to become who we want to become. The only way to become someone new is to have goals to get there. We are given the vision of becoming new, but what does that look like for us as individuals? For us as believers in Jesus, we have our own personal transforming life coach living in us. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to help us to become the one Jesus saved us to become.

When I started on this transforming journey years ago, I didn’t realize the new me would be so totally different. I thought I was just a better version of who I was. However, I met up with some old friends from college and they wondered why I was so different. I no longer drank. My language was different. I was a different person before them. Unfortunately, I was afraid to tell them why I had changed. My life was different because of Jesus. When Jesus began His work in me, I didn’t know He would clean me up as He did. But He did and I am still being made new each and every day when I surrender to His work in me.

The thing about demolishing the old and making something new – it takes time. Sometimes the old comes down with a wrecking ball, sometimes it’s a tedious process of taking it down brick by brick. The new isn’t made overnight either. Our mindset is transformed every day as we open up God’s word. The thoughts we capture; the things we listen to and watch or read; even the people we even hang out with are transformed day by day when we give access to our internal and eternal life coach.

I still don’t have SMART goals yet, but I need the vision of who I want to become. In five years, I want to be completely different from who I am today. I must have my direction pointed toward my destiny. I can’t get there from here unless I am on the right path. How about you? Are you on the right path; going in the right direction? The key is letting our life coach have access to every part of our lives. Only then will we end up becoming brand new. In five years, we can all have a new house but it takes letting the Holy Spirit do His work in every area. He has to have access – give Him the keys. It’s the only way to become new.

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (TPT)

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! Ephesians 2:10 (TPT)

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The Right Mix

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the proof is in the pudding?” Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? A book I read recently had this phrase in one of its section headings. I can’t seem to recall the point the author was making at this time. However, when I read some Scripture this morning, this phrase came back to mind. The passage that spoke most deeply was from Galatians 5:22-23 concerning the fruit of the Spirit.

As believers, we are told we have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus at the time of our salvation. After we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are told there will be gifts that the Spirit brings with Him as He dwells in us. This fruit begins with love. Jesus’ love is planted in us as the Spirit is planted in us. The love is the seed from which all other attributes grow. The other attributes of this fruit is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For those who believe and have received the Holy Spirit, we already have this fruit in us. However, has the fruit been exhibited by our actions? This is where the phrase – the proof is in the pudding – comes to mind. We will be known by this fruit. As Peter wrote in his first letter, we are to crave spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2). As we grow, we become more fluent in the language of love – we exhibit these fruit characteristics more frequently and with greater strength.

Have you noticed recently we are missing these characteristics in the world around us? None of this fruit is exhibited in great detail in the world at large. There are small instances when the goodness and kindness seeps out into the darkness. Self-control seems to be lost in this day and age. Patience? It’s been lost in this fast pace world. We want it now and we demand it now. Instant and convenient has driven patience out of style.

It’s almost like we’re afraid to show these characteristics to others because we might be seen as weak. However, we are told that true strength is to show weakness and vulnerability. The world is craving a greater vulnerability – although they would never admit it. It is said that love trumps hate. However, actions show true identity of the fruit (or lack of) that dwells within. Love is an action.

We can give cards on birthdays and anniversaries declaring our love; but if it’s not followed up by action to prove that love really exists, the paper is thrown into the dustbin of history. Marriages will fall apart – families will fall apart – society falls apart. Love is glue that holds lives together. Without it, we’re hopeless.

The world is craving spiritual milk. The world doesn’t know it, but we as believers do. As believers, we are to grow beyond milk. The writer of Hebrews wrote in the fifth chapter we are to live on the solid food of righteousness and to be able to teach others these things. The writer warns us about falling away from the teachings of righteousness. Paul also had a few things to say to the Corinthians about needing milk instead of solid food. The Corinthians were acting like babies and couldn’t handle the truth Paul was ready to feed them. He wrote he could not address them as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Yes, we still have much to glean from these Scriptures. Much of our time is spent in pursuing worldliness instead of godliness and the pudding has been exhibiting the fruit of our strivings. Paul wrote to the Philippians: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Yes, we, as believers, have much to consider. The pudding has almost set. It’s time to stir the pot and get the right ingredients in the mix before it’s too late. The proof will be in the pudding. Think on these things.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

Rubber Meets the Road

For the last couple of years, I have been contemplating making a move. It’s on my radar once again, but this time I think I’m ready to go. It’s not an easy decision; one that I do not take lightly. I have been in this place for over seventeen years. It’s the longest time I have lived in one place. However, I have always said this was the house God gave me. When it’s time to transfer managers, I would wait on Him for the right time. So the decision is based on His direction.

The offer is on the table through a new start-up company who buys houses at a fair market value. It was so much more than I had anticipated that it has me a little startled. I don’t want to chase the money; but if this is God’s blessing, I don’t want to miss the chance either. This is where faith becomes an action plan. It’s where the rubber meets the road and becomes very real in moving out in faith.

It feels somewhat like an Abraham move. God told Abram (before the name change) to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). I don’t think God is calling me to the mission field, but I am leaving my home of seventeen years. It’s a separation that is real. At this point, I don’t know if I am leaving my community and my church family too.

My small group is going through the Priscilla Shirer study about hearing God’s voice. So relevant for this time. The point that came across to me is about hearing God’s word through a sense of peace in the decision. I have heard God’s voice a few times in my life, but this one is different – as they all were. It’s a matter of discerning the right thing and the “almost” right thing; the good versus the best. That’s where it gets hard. No one knows the future but God.

A few years back, I knew God was asking me to sell my car. It was an almost “dream” car for me. I loved it, but it was costly to maintain. It was a struggle in my spirit to let go. It took me a month to finally put the car up for sell. Once I released it, I found the next car that was so much more economical and have had no expense except for maintenance. It was a complete blessing, especially in my financial lean time.

At Beth Moore’s conference last weekend, the first thing I wrote down in my notes was the faster we obey the easier it is the next time. Yes, I am struggling with the letting go process. However, the struggle isn’t much about letting go, but discerning if it’s God’s will to let go. Letting go is easier when we know God is on the move. I want to go where He is going. Don’t you?

In Priscilla’s video for the study this week, she talked about knowing what you’re called to do. She mentioned that we need to be on the front lines in God’s plan – we have to know our own “front line.” What is our individual assignment? Jesus had His own front line. He did everything His Father asked of Him and nothing else. We are to be single-minded as well. We are to work on our own “God-thing.” Do you know your God-thing? Is your time divided into things that are not yours to do?

My God-thing is to help people get healthy. I found my passion a few years ago; however, I am still working through what that really looks like when the rubber meets the road. How do I walk it out consistently? Right now, I work for a natural healthcare doctor. When I went to school to get a certification in health coaching, the instructor said to “find your voice” and use it to help others. Finding my voice was the key to writing. At the time, I had no idea that was the next thing God wanted to do through me to help others. Here I am years later, still typing away.

I don’t know what the next thing will be when I finally make the decision to move. I don’t know what’s in store for the next few months or years either. But so far, peace has settled over me. A couple of weeks ago, God whispered “trust me” and I am. God always knows when we have had enough. He will never keep us longer in a place than we need to be. The time is always right when His hand is moving us.

The last thing I wrote down in my notes from Priscilla’s message was obedience brings freedom. The Scripture associated with her last point was directed at Galatians 5 about self-discipline. As I looked that over, I noticed in verse 25 “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Wherever He leads, I’ll go. Will you?

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

Let’s Get on With It!

On August 21, the US experienced a total solar eclipse – from the west coast to the east. There was another solar eclipse that did the same thing 99 years ago. Think about how much the nation has changed in those 99 years. But since this last solar eclipse, I think there has been a drastic change. It is like gears have shifted to a new level of intensity. Just think of everything that has occurred since August 21.

Everything changed in that same week with the devastation from Hurricane Harvey; then Hurricane Irma hit the islands about a couple of weeks later; then Hurricane Maria soon after. It’s been a busy hurricane season. Many firsts have occurred this year in the Atlantic Basin.

Not only has it been natural disasters since the solar eclipse, but man-made devastation as well. The Las Vegas shooting happened in October, NY had its day of terror, and now this church shooting just this past weekend. Did I forget anything? Every month, has seen something new. Will this end anytime soon? Unfortunately, I think we have turned a corner. It is interesting to me that the next solar eclipse to cross this nation will come in seven years. Leads me to wonder what God has in store for us in these next seven years.

And yet, here we are born into this time on God’s calendar. We were made for this season. He chose us for this hour. Scripture tells us that God has a plan for our lives. We have a purpose specific. Ephesians 2:10 says we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. God molded us in a fashion to do something specific – to reach the people He puts in our lives in the only way we can do so – with our talents and abilities. You might think you have no talent or ability. I always did. But God has placed something uniquely in you that will make a connection with someone else. You just might not have found that uniqueness yet. But it’s there. God designed you for a purpose higher than you can imagine.

So what do we do in this new time? We go back to the beginning of the church age when Jesus walked this earth – Love God; Love others and tell others what Jesus has done. I think the church has forgotten its roots. We got all into our programs to enrich our spiritual lives, but we have failed to follow through and teach others outside the four walls of the building. We became self-absorbed and have failed to love others in the way we have been instructed through God’s Word (Matthew 28:19-20). Well, that’s my opinion based on what I have witnessed in my own life.

However, I really believe we are in a new time where this is really going to be top priority in the years to come. One day, we may not have church buildings to go to. The American church body may become like every other part of the world, meeting in homes under the guidance of everyday people who love the Lord and love others by teaching them what they know. We actually learn together as the Holy Spirit joins in to teach us. It stretches us to learn in a different way by participating in a group setting. No one speaks at us, but we engage in the conversation as we discuss the Bible and apply what we learn. I think this is where we will be going in the future. I could be wrong. Time will tell.

You also might think you don’t know enough to teach someone. I did. However, I know more than someone else. We are all at different points of understanding. We can all learn and grow from one another. We pray for a heart that is willing to listen and the Holy Spirit to help us in the process of teaching and learning from each other. We are to be open and ready whenever Jesus places us in the position to be His hands and feet. We can do this.

The first church did it with great success. Jesus instructed the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. The disciples weren’t ready in the beginning of His time with them; but when Jesus was ready to leave this earth, He put those scrappy young men in charge and they were ready. Three years of instructions from Jesus took a new form with the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who heard in the first few years spread the word and look how far it has gone. This is our time; and as you noticed, things are changing rapidly. Be prepared to tell others about your peace and your joy. They are going to want what you have.

So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. But there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it! Hebrews 6:1-3 (MSG)

In the Valley

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Lord
forever.
Psalm 23

When King David walked through the valley, he said it all. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. He also knew the strength from His God. We can know the strength that comes from the Lord. It’s available to all.

I have avoided writing about the devastation over the last six weeks (is that as long it has been?). We have seen three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, fires on the west coast, Mexico has had two large earthquakes, and now the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the music festival (did I miss anything?). What in the world is going on?

Jesus said that the labor pains would get more frequent as time grows closer to His coming back. Evil will continue to have rule of the day until He returns. We are to press through it with our eyes focused on Jesus. His love pursues us. He comforts us when tragedy strikes. But we have to turn to Him. He can pursue us all day long, but until we turn to Him we will never find Him as long as we keep going as we have been going.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” is not possible. It never has been great – I’m not dissin’ America. I love it. This is my home. My family has been here since the 1700/1800’s. I’ve checked. Our greatness came from God for His purpose. However, we have chosen to remove God from about everything that is public. Prayer is a thing of the past when it comes to certain venues. The Ten Commandments are gone from the courtrooms. If people would have it, Scripture would be erased from the governmental buildings throughout this land. The engravings would be removed.

If America wants to remove God, He will let us. And I am not saying all these tragedies are God’s judgment; but we have removed Him from our public lives, so He will remove His hand of protection from us. He will allow tragedies to happen so that we will once again come back to Him. We saw it with 9/11 and the turning back to God that happened for the next couple of weeks (maybe month), but it didn’t last. Things will continue to happen.

Isaiah (55:6) said it best:  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. One day, He will no longer be found. One day, all hell is literally going to be released, and He will not stop it. Matter of fact, Scripture says in that time, people will curse God. It’s going to happen like we have never experienced it before.

We might not like to hear this, because we believe God is good and loving; and He would never allow it to happen. But we fail to realize that God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin continue as it does. Read the Scripture. There was always a point when God would send judgment on Israel for her sins. Over and over again. They would sin, time would pass and then judgment would come. Again, I am not saying God is judging us – He could be – but I am not saying this is judgment. But it is His pattern of warnings then judgment to get people to turn to Him. He always warns before the judgment – and He will tell us when its judgment – there will be “writing on the wall” to let us know this is it. It will be obvious.

I know, this isn’t a “feel good” blog posting. I believe we need to examine our hearts. I think the church should examine the Body. We need some movement to get this Body going again. We are in desperate times and the people of the times need a strong Body. The Holy Spirit needs to breathe life into us again. There are things that need to be cleaned up and cleaned out so that the Body will thrive again. The Body of Christ needs fire in the belly. The Holy Spirit has been absent too long. The breath of God has to be in the Body to bring fire back into the church.

Dr. Tony Evans spoke a couple of weeks ago on giving the Holy Spirit free reign to worship. We need the Holy Spirit to be unleashed. We need the “awe” back in our worship, to focus solely on God. When the people in the Book of Acts came together, Jesus was their focus. When the disciples of Jesus focused on Him, it drew the crowds. There was something different about these people. They were committed to following Jesus in such a way that it could not be mistaken. We need that again. This is my prayer for us in this time.

We need the Holy Spirit back in our lives in such a way that it would draw others to Jesus. We have to point others to Jesus. He is our only hope. Pray with me for His Spirit to make a difference in the church; pray for the people who have been affected by these tragedies. Pray for their hope and salvation to be found in Him, and they will be comforted by His loving embrace. Pray that God would return to our public lives before it’s too late and hearts will be turned to Him again like never before. Let His Spirit be poured out!

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

Revival is Now!

I like to listen to prophecy experts. I’m not sure if they are prophets or just teachers who pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Either way, I find it very interesting. One of the things I hear from a variety of sources is a possibility of a great revival happening here in the US. There are many who believe Jesus will be returning for His church in the near future. There are many who think there will be a revival before that day of Jesus’ return. Someone mentioned that the revival will come as a result of this political craziness that we are experiencing. Many talk about martial law going into effect and there will be no “changing of the guard” for the presidential seat. Many visions have been seen revealing devastating earthquakes, tsunamis happening on both coasts, and even a great divide splitting the US at the Mississippi. Only God knows what’s really coming. I do believe judgment is coming one day.

People come back to church when their world has been shaken. But as it was with 9/11 with only a few weeks of returning, will it be a true revival or just a stepping back to family traditions? What will it take for a true revival?

Many times, Jesus spoke of persecution happening because of Him. In John 15, He said that if He was persecuted, then His disciples would be as well. As we have seen in the Book of Acts, the church body grew with persecution. Today, there are many who are being persecuted in different parts of the world. They ask us not to pray for the persecution to end, but for them to be bold and strengthened during persecution; to stand firm in their commitment to Jesus.

Recently, I read a couple of books concerning the persecution of the church. It’s difficult to read about what people have experienced, but what faith they exhibit in the face of persecution. As one who has never experienced such a trial, I cannot imagine how they endured it all. If persecution grows the church, then this could explain why the American branch of the church is showing signs of decline. Our population is increasing exponentially, but our churches are not seeing the same increase. In other parts of the world, the church is increasing even in the midst of great persecution. At the beginning of the church age, found in the Book of Acts – persecution brought the scattering of the church. As persecution continued throughout the next couple of centuries, the growth of the church exploded.

From 120 to 3000 to 5000, then persecution began. My pastor said recently that by the end of the first century there were approximately 25,000 believers. By the time that the Roman Empire “legalized” Christianity around the middle of the third century, 33 million were believed to have been Jesus followers.

So what would it take for us to have a revival today that would show this kind of increase? Do I dare say it? One of the speakers I listen to fairly regularly is a pastor in Hawaii. He gives a prophecy update every Sunday. This past Sunday, he spoke of a revival as well. He said on Sunday that we may have to face persecution like we’ve never experienced it here in the US. The revival may come not of the natural disasters or the man-made disaster from the political fallout; it may come at the expense of what we believe. Because of Jesus and His teaching, we may find ourselves in a position to either stand up for Him or deny Him.

At times, I have wondered if my faith is strong enough. Could I withstand persecution? Would I deny Christ as Peter did at his first persecution? Of course, that was before the Holy Spirit took hold of him and radically changed him. The Holy Spirit gave him such boldness that nothing deterred him from proclaiming the name of Jesus. That’s what the ones who are facing persecution are asking for today. Boldness. Maybe that’s what we all need to be asking for regardless if we are under persecution or trying to reach our friends and neighbors.

Suffering for the sake of the message of Jesus is considered a joy to those who experience it. Suffering helps us identify with Christ. He suffered for us. Jesus said the greatest gift of friendship is dying for one’s friends. If we consider ourselves a friend of Jesus, then we should be willing to die for Him – physically as well as just die to ourselves; losing those things that we hold on to that have no eternal value. So whatever happens in the future, my revival begins now. It starts with me ready to face whatever is in store, with boldness and with the strength God gives me through the Holy Spirit living in me. My revival is now – how about yours? Are you ready?

“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” John 16:1-4 (MSG)

Fan the Flame

I think I’m in a rut. My routine is pretty set day in and day out. Even spiritually speaking, I think I’m in a rut. I haven’t felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit in a while. Did I move off the mark? Did my anchor slip? I think I just lost focus. I took my eyes off of Jesus. My fascination has been on the signs and wonders of what’s going on in the world. I do believe we are seeing the signs of the last days. This is not to say that Jesus is coming back in the next year or ten. That time is set by God. But I do believe He is coming soon. Maybe I’ll see it in my lifetime, maybe not.

But I am struggling with what to do. I should be focused on Jesus’ business – making the Kingdom known on earth before He parts the skies. At that point, the decision is made on who will be joining Him in the clouds. The rest will deal with the judgment that will come. (I’m a pre-trib girl.)

On Sunday, the pastor said that we should be living each day like it’s our last. Whether it’s because Jesus will come that day or we’ll be called to our heavenly home. To live like that, we’ll do everything necessary to live a fulfilled life. We’ll do what matters most and let the trivial things go. We’ll reach out to those on our path who needs something that we can fulfill.

Louie Giglio said in his Sunday message that we are to have an outward focus. We are the solution to the world. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He uses us to be the solution. It’s a reminder that we are the light. We are not to keep Jesus a secret. His is not a secret kingdom with a secret password to enter. The door is open to anyone who comes and knocks.

Over the last couple of nights, I have been listening to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live “Audacious” message from last year’s simulcast – it’s now on TBN and on demand. The message is about being audacious – having boldness beyond normal. We are called to be mighty for the Lord. We are not supposed to keep it to ourselves. The story is meant to be shared.

Jesus was a storyteller. Crowds followed Him to hear the stories and to be healed. They came to see Him do miracles. He taught them about the Kingdom of God through stories. Most didn’t get it. Their religiosity got in the way. They were being entertained not enlightened. But the children came, and it had nothing to do with what Jesus could do for them. The children felt the love Jesus had for them. They instinctively knew Jesus loved them. I think as adults we have become cynical to love. We don’t naturally feel the love and want to give it to others. I guess that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to help us in this regard. It doesn’t come natural to us; it’s a supernatural act.

In Beth’s book Audacious she wrote about falling in love with Jesus. Something has to compel us to do something. The love of Jesus in us will compel us to be bold in His name and for His glory. I made a note from the simulcast – we need to look for this one thing that will drive us for the rest of our lives. I think it’s the love that will drive us. Beth wrote about Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the beach after His resurrection. She asked the reader – Do you love Jesus? I mean, do you really love Jesus? Really, do you love Jesus? It’s not an automatic reply. It’s a think about it moment. Do we long to be in His word? Are we excited to spend time with Him? Do we bounce out of bed in the morning and rush to set down with Him for a morning chat? I can’t say that this is always my response.

When we think about loving someone, it’s a feeling but also an action. I have never known the love of a husband/wife scenario. I can imagine though the “swept off the feet” moments of romance that led to the marriage proposal. The thrill of the chase. The moments when passion over takes you, and you would do anything for your future mate. I can’t say that is the case with my relationship with Jesus. But it should be.

We should look for the romance with Jesus – we should ask for it. It should make a big difference in our lives. Religiosity should not get in our way to love Jesus and live for Jesus. There is too much at stake; time is short. We need the boldness for our lights to shine in this dark world. Ask the Holy Spirit to fan the flame of what has been entrusted in us. Let’s do it now and keep asking until boredom is replaced with passion to compel us to live each day to the fullest for His glory! Amen!

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

The Adventurous Spirit

I have a confession to make – I’m bored. I have been bored for years. I don’t know when boredom set in, but it’s been years since I’ve had a sense of adventure. I used to enjoy new challenges and loved change – change of scenery was especially welcomed. I changed jobs every two or three years. When I changed jobs, I moved to a new city. I liked the change of place and new opportunities. Packing up the household meant I cleaned out the clutter which was especially beneficial.

After my sister became single again, we began traveling together. About once a year, we planned a trip to New York or some other destination. We traveled as far as Alaska and Hawaii; and then even went as far as London. It was fabulous to experience new places. I loved it. When my travel partner got married again, I decided to keep on traveling even if it meant going alone. I went to Vermont and Maine. I even went to New Zealand and Australia. Of course, my Mom was not too crazy about the trips alone. She especially wasn’t happy about the time away in NZ and Australia. But oh the things I got to experience in those places!

It would have been nice to have someone travel with me. But the things I experienced while alone put me in a place of vulnerability. Most would think that was a bad thing, but as a Christian I need to be in a place of vulnerability. It means I have to rely upon Jesus to help me through some tight spots. And I had a few while traveling.

I realized the other day I haven’t had an opportunity to travel in the last six years. I also realized I love staying in hotels and living out of a suitcase. I loved going. But something has changed. I don’t have a sense of adventure as I once did. I have had plenty of time to go, but the financial means isn’t there. I don’t feel like I can “waste” the money on unnecessary travel. I have settled into this sameness mentality that is draining me. My sense of adventure has to come back. I can’t settle for mediocrity. By the very definition of Jesus follower means going where Jesus goes and His path is never boring. So why have I settled for boredom?

When I traveled to New Zealand, I didn’t go on a mission trip. I went for the adventure. I moved off the beaten path so to speak. Buses carried me from one point to the other. I loved seeing the countryside. I love visiting cities, but the country is where the beauty lies. From the mountain peaks to the green valleys, nature is painted with God’s glory. When I was in Christchurch, I visited the famous church in the downtown square. I walked in wanting to experience the awe of the place. I snapped a picture of one of the panels of stained glass. As soon as I did, I was reprimanded by one of the officials. I hadn’t paid for the right to take a picture. I immediately deleted it, and left the building.

I realized at that moment, that building was a business not a holy place. And I really couldn’t contain His beauty in a picture anyway. God didn’t fill that place with His glory. His glory has to be experienced by the eye – spiritual or physical. I went to the lakes and the mountaintops; and caught a glimpse of His grandeur and majesty. I had a sense of awe at the beauty I found in those places. God isn’t contained in a building.

God is experienced in the movement of the Holy Spirit. We settle in the comfort place and forget to be led by the Spirit to experience God’s presence in those places. We all need our sense of wonder back. We all need a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one experiencing the boredom of my comfortable place. Boredom shouldn’t be the feeling of any Jesus follower. If it is, then we’re not doing it right. It’s time to get back to where we experience God’s presence again. We don’t have to travel to distant lands to see God’s glory. We just have to open our spiritual eyes to see it once again. We have to be open to His voice to move in obedience to what we hear.

Something has to change. I am asking for a fresh perspective. Will you join me in the adventure God has for each of us? Don’t settle in that comfortable place. Let’s be Jesus followers in every sense of what that entails. Lord, lead your people out of boredom and into the great adventure You have for us. Amen!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Athirst for God

On the first day of the New Year, I opened the book “Pursuit of God” by AW Tozer to renew my focus for this year. As I read the words, I realized he penned them in 1948. He begins his preface “in this hour of all-but-universal darkness.” How much more are these words relevant to this day and time? He wrote of those who are growing hungrier for God. The people “are athirst for God and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.” In his day and time, he felt there was a revival happening but realized it may be the “cloud the size of a man’s hand.” Oh how I wish this to be true now!

Tozer wrote about how evangelicalism needs to change in light of the conditions around us. He reflected most were no longer seeking to build an altar for sacrifice, but were more comfortable “to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel.” He referenced 1 Kings 18 for the imagery. For those who truly desire God, they cannot “reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the ‘piercing sweetness’ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.” Is that not poetry? Are his words not true to this day and time?

We need teachers like this who inspire us to have this desire for ourselves. But is it really the inspiration of the teachers or is it not by the hand of God drawing us to Him if only we would respond? We should all long for nourishment to satisfy our souls. “For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth.” Ouch. Okay, that stepped on my toes a bit. How long do I sit in a chair drinking in the Word, but fail to let it draw me closer? In one ear and out the other without really thought provoking change coming from it.

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” Yes, let it be as he says. Let this be my heart’s desire for this new year. I no longer want just an occupation of the seat, but an occupation of my heart. For far too long, Satan has snatched the Word right out of my heart because I didn’t pay close attention to the application. I leave the gathering every Sunday and have an agenda for the day. But did the agenda have time to reflect on what was heard? Does my soul feel quench by the Living Word?

One of the sentences speaks the loudest to me right now was this: “It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” Tozer closes saying God’s hungry children need to find Him. If his (Tozer’s) “fire is not large it is real and there may be those who can light their candle by its flame.” The Holy Spirit can fan into flame even the smallest of sparks. We need sparks in the Body of Christ for this day. I don’t know if the revival happened in Tozer’s day. I didn’t research it. We are in desperate need of one today. Think of the difference we could make if we all were athirst for God!

If you are hungry; if you are thirsty, Jesus says “come.” First things first. We cannot do anything of any importance until we get right with God, and we are clothed in His righteousness. I don’t remember where I heard this prayer, but I am claiming it for 2016. “God, work boldly in me that You can be clearly seen working through me.” For God’s glory in this New Year! Come on Sparky! Let’s do this!

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 1 Kings 18:36-38

This post inspired by The Preface found on Page 8 of the “Pursuit of God” © Moody Bible Institute of Chicago 1948, 1983, 1999, 2006.

The Love of His Story

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I loved history, I would have looked at you as if you were crazy! But for the last few years, I have been fascinated by events of past and present. When I look at the past, I can see God’s hand moving things into place. I need a bit of help to see so I read all that I can read. History is a bit fickle though as it is determined by a point of view. Some of the time, the point of view is accurate enough to get a glimpse into the world at that time.

Jesus’ life is written down for us by four men who give us a slight variation in the details. Each man tells the story of Jesus from the point of view in which the writer can relate, and for the audience who will eventually read it. Matthew took his writings to the Jewish community. Mark did a quick overview of Jesus, hitting the high points. John was the longest living disciple and wrote his version near the end of his life. His view point took a higher view of Jesus. He saw Jesus as the Eternal One – from the beginning of time until the end of Jesus’ life to the eternal life to come. Luke on the other hand, was not a disciple. He was an investigator. He went to the ones who witnessed the events of Jesus’ life and reported on those things.

John should have been the one who told of the birth of Jesus. Ancient writings (or traditions) teach us that John took care of Mary until her death. He probably heard so many stories of Jesus’ birth, the family running from Herod, what they did, where they went, Jesus’ childhood; yet, John mentions none of these things. Luke, however, gives us the birth narrative. Luke gives us the stories Jesus taught; he gives us the healing encounters; everything that we could possibly want to know about the living Savior of the world.

I think we forget the Gospels are books written just a few years after Jesus’ life. These books could have easily been destroyed as nonsense by those who would have known the truth of these accounts. Yet, the Bible is still being validated each and every year. The Book still survives the test of time. There is no other book in history that has the number of manuscripts that validate it than this Good Book. Nothing can compare.

When I first started reading the Bible, I was fascinated by the stories. Originally, I thought this was the complete book of history. I thought it accounted for the Chinese, the Incas, the ancient societies that were talked about in my history classes. It wasn’t until I understood the Bible isn’t the Book of History, but the Book of His Story that things started to make sense. God’s handy work was evident by the events recorded in those ancient manuscripts.

When I consider the events of today, I imagine it’s a bit like those times in ancient culture. At the time of the writings, they probably didn’t understand the significance of the events. It’s with hindsight that gives the greatest view point. In a few years time, we will probably look back to 2015 as a pivotal year. The year gay marriage was upheld in the highest court. The year ISIS took over a vast land. The year Iran was allowed to maneuver their agenda to the signing table with the world watching. The year terror hit the west once again. On and on, we could mark the year of significance.

What fascinates me even more is the prophecies that are coming true as things align to bring events to the ultimate completion. I don’t know what the future holds for us in this next year. I suppose even more events will rock our world. There will be more natural disasters that will devastate us. There will be more death and destruction as Satan realizes his time is growing even shorter. He is becoming angrier with each passing year. But I don’t find any of this distressful. I have more hope than I have ever had. I find God working His plan exciting and hopeful; that people will see His glory and respond in greater ways. I see a revival of the Body of Christ. I see a vast army standing up in one accord – with one faith, one hope and one Head – Jesus Christ.

It’s going to get very real. It’s going to cycle around once again; for history to repeat itself. The Book of Acts will come back to life. The Body of Christ will once again learn how to make disciples and share the Good News to all who are ready to hear. I believe the Holy Spirit will be poured out in dry places, and the Body will have new life and new power. 2016 will be a year of significance like we’ve never seen before. Get ready; hold on for the ride of your life! Watch God work in amazing ways. And remember, we are here for such a time as this!

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

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