WEIGHTing it Out

It has been a time of quietness for several weeks; of trusting in His presence and nearness while not seeing, hearing or sensing Him. Not my favorite of times, but very necessary I know.  These times are when you see what you are made of. You can’t trust in your gift, your call or your senses. You just have to KNOW Him.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard  very clearly this message I am about to share with you.

I began to sing one of the most beautiful worship songs that I have ever heard. It also was the first worship “chorus” I ever heard. It became engraved in my soul; “When I look into Your holiness, When I gaze into Your loveliness, when my will becomes enthroned in Your love, when all things that surround become shadows in the light of You…”

I meditated on that stanza for a time. Lord, is my will really enthroned in Your love??

Those that know my husband and me are aware of a very long arduous struggle over the past nine years. There have been many periods of silence and seeming hidden-ness of God during this season. Sometimes we feel invisible ourselves.  My husband and I await the fulfillment of a promise and the opening of doors to the nations.  We sense it is very close. We even see glimpses of it drawing near. Yet, we wait. And sometimes that waiting is crushing. Sometimes it is all we can do to cling to the hem of His robe and say, “NO, we are not done” as the enemy would like us to believe. In our minds, it would make much more sense for us to be going back out to the nations at the age of 45 instead of in our mid fifties! But GOD…

Isaiah 55:8-9New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are )your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

 I am here to tell you today that His ways are not only higher, but HEAVIER!

The weight of the wait can feel like it is weakening you.  Guess what?   It is!

Definition of WEIGHTINESS

1 the state or quality of being heavy <the weightiness of the bookcase made it difficult to move>Synonyms  heaviness, heftiness, massiveness, ponderousness  hugeness;   2 the quality or state of being important <first judged the weightiness of a case before deciding to hear it>

Synonyms account, consequence, import, magnitude, moment, momentousness, significance, weight, weightiness
The Hebrew word for glory “kabad” means: bosom, glorious , glory, honorable,  riches,  splendor, wealth.

 The glory (the weightiness of  God) weighing your priorities, commitment, and loyalty to the King does weaken you.  More on that in a few moments.

 First I want to ask you if you truly wish to be a vessel of the Lord, a conduit of His love, grace, mercy, and truth? Do you want to be an occasional conduit, or a dedicated conduit? Do you wish to fulfill that sole purpose for which you were created? Or are you comfortable with an occasional summons from a distant God that you believe in, but do not intimately know?

   A vessel is crafted to hold something else.  A boat or ship is sometimes referred to as a vessel which holds or carries people or merchandise. We are vessels and what we carry as Christians is the Spirit of God and God’s Word. We are vessels for God’s Spirit and we can carry Him into the world.  The Bible talks about vessels of honor and dishonor. It briefly mentions them, yet if you do not understand the culture you will miss the boat, so to speak!  One was commonly used and another was set aside- called out for a specific valuable purpose.

There are six things  that determine the value of something:

First is the purpose for which it was made.
The second thing that impacts value is the design.
The third thing that impacts value is the material from which something is made. (testing what you are “made of”)
The fourth thing that impacts the value of something is how it is used.
The fifth thing that impacts the value of something is who uses it.
The final thing that impacts the value of something is who owns it.
dreamstimefree_147987    A gold cup and a wood cup may both hold the same amount of water, but the gold cup is more valuable because of the material it is made of and what it took to make it. God resides within us, but we do not all carry Him the same way. Some hold Him close and dear to our hearts while others keep Him at a distance so that He does not impede our having a worldly good time. A vessel of honor and a vessel of dishonor. Both are vessels, both can carry something, but both cannot be used the same way or in the same circumstances. The type of vessel we choose to become will dictate how, when and more importantly if God can use us Jeremiah 2:13. This is what God told Jeremiah:
“For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
  Think about this for a moment. When the Israelites turned their backs on God, God said that they walked away from the living water – Him. But they did not walk away as you would think. They walked with Him with their bodies (going to worship and carrying out the traditions of worship) but their hearts were turned somewhere else. They tried to be vessels of honor to God according to their standard, not God’s. Look closely at what God said. He said that they “hew for themselves cisterns….” meaning that they decided how they would come before God. God said they made their own vessels, but the vessels they made were broken and could hold no water.

  Our choices can weaken  or strengthen  our capacity to hold the presence of God.

God is the living water that is deposited within us – His vessels.
Another song came to me this morning like a blast from the past, making me ask, what idols are in my heart?  It was the old hymn “Whiter than Snow”:
“Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul; Break down every idol, cast out every foe— Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
  We can easily fall into the trap of setting our calling, our vision, even our promise from God as idols upon a pedestal between us and the Lord. These things too must be subject to His sovereignty.
If we are vessels of honor, we have processes in our lives to complete, like clay so that we are solid and can hold the living water that is poured within us.

Take a look at the 7-step process of pottery making (a simplified list):

  1. Selection of the clay – many grades were available.  (AVAILABILITY-WILLINGNESS)
  2. Trodden under foot – to take the air out. (PRIDE)
  3. Washed with water – to soften it.  (CLEANSING)
  4. Kneading – to remove small rocky pieces until there was a cohesive yielding. (SUBMISSION)
  5. Sun drying – 30% of the water content is lost. (WE MUST DECREASE to allow Him to fill us)
  6. Kiln drying – intense heat until it shrinks to 80% of its size. Different temperatures are needed to expose the quality and color of each individual clay. (TESTINGS and HEALINGS)
  7. Marked – each vessel bore the potter’s trademark. Only the “chosen vessel” received his signature. (Identity)

A CHOSEN VESSEL

Esther underwent six months of preparation with Myrrh; an oil used to soften skin, purify the systems and heal abrasions. She was not born a Queen, and her very being was being transformed to meet the standards of her life’s purpose.         Costly perfumes were made from saffron, roses, and galbanum. These fragrances, all native to Persia, are believed to be the first perfumes and were used in Esther’s 6 months of beautification.. Picture this; Esther is ready to apply roses (unity, love and simplicity), lavender (dignity, and excellence), frankincense (purity and worship), rosemary (remembrance), cinnamon (uprightness), saffron (mirth, great joy), galbanum (the choicest portion) and other spices, herbs, and floral essences to herself. Everything that was presented to her was part of her preparation for the weight of the crown she was destined to wear. She was presenting her body as a living sacrifice, submitting to the process that would lead her into the king’s wealth, honor, splendor, riches, influence and power. There was no distinctive design given to the chosen vessel. Its strength and beauty were known to the potter alone. The chosen vessel was the best work the potter could produce. It was handled differently — kept out of view. Esther was undercover …her real name relates to ‘myrtle’ a tree whose leaves only release their fragrance when they are crushed. When Esther was under pressure that is when her true fragrance came forth…I pray that we are prepared and equipped to set our true fragrance free in times of trouble, pressure where the world is heading according to scripture. The potter knows the vessel will never bring him shame no matter where it might go. It’s the best his hands can make. Thus, he alone chooses the vessel. If God singles you out to be a chosen vessel, He will also provide you with a special grace. For, with the calling to be a chosen vessel comes the need for a stricter discipline and a more intense commitment than is required of other vessels. When God forges character, He carves deeply. I have found that God’s intention is to take from our hearts everything that we love more than Him. Everything we trust in, everything that might compete with God, must be chiseled away.

Chosen vessels are available, touchable, and know they are clay.

So, we know we have been chosen and we have answered the call. We have to submit to the preparation and training until the moment that HE says it is complete. These seasons of preparation come several times in a Believer’s life, and relate the next stage of purpose.  That is where the “weighting it out” comes in.

670px-Escape-a-Sinking-Ship-Step-9I Timothy 2:
 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.
5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. I Timothy 2 :3-5, and
   Like a person engaged in a physical weight training program, the wait that the Lord causes you to pass through is intended to shape you, to make you fit, to prepare you for the life you long to live. The comparisons are enlightening!
 Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. In short as a Believer, God’s Weight/Wait system builds your foundation of trust and dependency upon Him. Your self-strength is being crushed. You, like me, might have times where you think, “God, You are making me look foolish”; how will anyone believe this call when it is taking so long?” Two comments: 1. YOU are the one that must believe it, and 2.; like Joseph’s brothers, it may seem foolish to those who do not understand God’s weighty ways. Now back to the physical analogy…
resistance-training-300x271Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance.  If you desire to be a Chosen vessel, you must resist some things, and at the same time, you will find that your soul wants to resist the training. You must allow the Lord to stretch you, to apply weight to you in His way and for His timing. The resistance to the pull of your soul and the tension of embracing His rest will strengthen your ability to be dependent upon Him instead of your calling, your gift, or your experience.
Strength training may be described as resistance exercise that builds strength. While physical resistance training does not use weights, it is very active! Nothing passive about trying to run forward while being held back. Selah.   And in Kingdom training, all that resistance is strengthening your trust and conviction of Who God says He is!

 

I Timothy 2: 21 I”f a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. ”   He was reminding Timothy that he was not alone nor what he to rely on his own strength.
Everything about us was made to be a reflection of the one we serve so if we are not reflecting God in our image, manner or actions, it is not because He is not within us, but because we are choosing not to do it.
IF you find yourself in that state, look at the steps a potter takes to restore a vessel:

FOUR-STEP CLEANING PROCESS TO RETURN TO SERVICE

  1. Emptied – nothing can remain inside – honest, hard self-evaluation. It’s still the truth that sets us free.
  2. Scraped with strong brushes and files – produces humility. Let us then learn silence. God’s raking does not need explanation, it needs repentance.
  3. Restoration to fix and re-file the lip – so the vessel can pour correctly. Because much use has widened the vessel’s mouth, the lip must be reshaped. humility; staying yielded.
  4. Fired again – we are again ready for the fresh supply of life-giving water. This is a loving stage. If the vessel is not fired again, the filling would cause it to burst!

I empathize with you if you are in a waiting period. Know that it is NOT passive waiting. You are learning to walk under the weight of His glory and rest in HIS ability nor your own. It’s not about your calling, or how long you’ve been in preparation or conditioning; it IS about you becoming a vessel of honor that carries but does not touch the glory of God. I have posted below  the song that started this process today. Note that there is a time of spontaneous worship- the Body is pouring out heartfelt worship in many languages, with many races represented. It is one of the most beautiful experiences my husband and I have had. It sounds like the rushing of a great many waters! It sounds like Heaven!

Rock Solid Core

Rock Solid Core


How’s your core?

      With the health/exercise movement so prevalent, we often hear about having a strong “core”. I know my “core” of abdominal muscles could use some work and that process is beginning. 🙂 I don’t have a goal of a washboard stomach, for sure. But I do want to be healthy and rid myself of the excess baggage in pounds that has appeared over the last three years. I do have a goal of having a strong inner core, because all external measures will fail without it!
    I grew up with the old hymn; On Christ the Solid Rock , which is really titled:
“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-18741.
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand
.2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand
.4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”

I KNOW the feeling of being on sinking sand!

When we lived in Honduras, Central America, we experienced Hurricane Mitch.

Mitch.mud.peopleIt was devastating in the true sense of the word. We took the kids to help dig a family out. I had been through a few hurricanes in South Carolina, USA so I thought I knew what to expect.  I was WRONG!

The houses near the major river in the capital city were wiped out because in the midst of the hurricane, some official panicked and thought it best to release the dam, causing the river to rise dramatically and pushing the banks of the river up into residential areas.The next row back, if you will, was buried in mud. I mean, mud that was 6 feet deep, yet you could walk on it. It had a spongy/ springy feel to it. It was odd.  At least it seemed that one could. After a few minutes standing, you began to sink. That was scary. I had to be pulled out several times by two men. My shoes came off twice! The smell was awful. We wore bandanas over our noses/mouths because of the stench of death.   A few times we heard shouts because snakes were crawling across the mud inside the house the men were trying to clean out- {the kids and I were on the outside in an assembly line, passing rescued items} . Worse than that was learning on the way home that some officials from the State Health dept. of Honduras had come round looking for several bodies. The mud we were walking upon was also an instant grave for several people!!!!!

A life without a strong inner core is like that! Just when you think you are strong in your faith, the enemy comes crawling and you begin to sink! Often you may not even be aware of the sinkhole traps of peril set for you, underlying the situation you are in- and fall prey to them suddenly. And then, your house is buried!

A strong core prevents your “house” from being built upon sinking sand.

The life of an apple is in the core. AAS_ZPMarch_apple-coreWhat is your core?  If everything in your life is spinning out of control, you must be anchored in your core.  It will not be enough just to love the Lord- you must move to trust- anchor yourself there. It’s kinda like the difference between a house with a basement and one without. Those who live there know what is underneath. They know what is stored in the basement. When I was a young girl ( age 11-17) my parents were “houseparents” in a Children’s Christian Home. We had a storehouse in the basement that was continually filled by generous community members and Churches. If we needed food, toiletries, various sundry items, we only needed to go to the basement and be supplied.

RockSolidHouse   The ONLY way to anchor your life and create a strong core is by digging into the Word. The Bible is our foundation. Every word of it is exemplified, verified and activated in Jesus, our Rock. Only by getting deeper into the “Water of the Word” can we find the Zoe Life! Spending those moments each day in meditation of Scripture, talking with and listening to  God (called “prayer”) will we discover WHO He is and WHO we were created to be!  You don’t need to feel any intimidation. It is MAN who has convinced people that studying God’s Word is difficult, or only for a select few who then regurgitate it to the flock. That was never God’s intention! He wrote this book as a letter to YOU!  He would LOVE to have you write Him back! That’s what your Zoe journal ( if you have one!) is for. Remember this is a journey, not a race. And God is inviting you to travel at an individual pace!

Beginning this month, we will be using my

Life

( That’s L.I.F.E. system of study  through Ephesians which incorporates your creative process):

 

 

 

 List:list copy Define specific words, terms and topics of the chapter. Note any repeated words, phrases or topics. Use a dictionary, Strongs Concordance ( can be found online here) and BibleGateway.com  is another super resource.

 

 Investigate-questions-300x225 copy Investigate: Discover the Who, What, Where’s and Why’s:

List them. These give you a reference point for the diving into the Word.

 

 

 

FashionFashion: Create a piece that relates to this month’s study, if whatever medium you like, and choosing whatever the Lord engraves upon your heart as you study.

 

 

 

 Emulate Emulate: Apply the Word to your life- walk it out.

Make a note of what that would look like to you. Be certain to note the gently promptings of the Holy Spirit!

Beginning with Chapter one of Ephesians, we look at the life of Paul, and our lives. Some really unexpected people doing remarkable things.

For now, I leave you with another song!

 

Handwritten Signature

Jumping Ship or Stepping out of the Boat?

boat Jumping ship is impulsive. Stepping out of the boat requires a conscious decision. If you want to become a mature, functioning believer, you will have to step out of the boat of comfort and dependence  upon others.

It is going to cost you. No, really, it is. Believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior is going to cost you. The Eternal life He provided through His sacrifice is free. But being branded a Believer,  will COST you.  Becoming a disciple of Jesus -beyond mere words and a few actions- THAT will cost you.

I have lived in several countries and cultures. I know that each one has its nuances and differences. Today I write from the U.S.A. Christian’s perspective. In the U.S., we have those who wear badges that proclaim them as Believers. And they probably really do “believe”. The badge is worn on Sundays and Holy Days and whenever else it is popular and convenient to be seen wearing one.  These believe, yet they do not see. They do not hear, they do not follow. All truth and goodness is there for them, but because they are still in the boat, they do not access it.  Our churches have become full of these badge wearers. And lest we are too hard on those who sit in the pews wearing the badge, let us turn our attention to the ones distributing those badges. The ones who stand in front and tell  the millions that “God loves you so much, He would never use hardship to teach you, He wants to pour out bushel fulls of blessing all over you til you are sopped with blessings. He wants to baptize you in blessings! All you have to do is receive it!”.     

   Scripture states that He will supply all of our needs. Is that not blessing enough? Do we not trust in His sovereign wisdom to know what we need and what is merely a fleshly desire?

Ok, soBe-Still if I am hearing you correctly,

I just need to “position” myself and wait for Heaven to unleash a bucket-full?

Set aside your questions,

silence that whisper that says

“something is not right here”, still your discernment;

after all, it is all going to be O.K. The leaders said so!

Sitting in the badge wearer’s boat requires NO effort on our part. Filing in, filing out, subscribing to a rote cloaked in a “holy” mantle changes no one, changes nothing and requires nothing of us. Contrary to popular “church” teaching THERE REMAINS A PRICE TO BE PAID FOR YOUR FAITH!  It may cost you friends, money, definitely popularity, some comfort, even jobs. In lands other than the cushy U.S.A. believers are not so entrenched with the consumer mentality and therefore they do not flinch when there is a price for their faith.

They are more invested in the Kingdom than in any project, goal or comfort zones.

Yet some here in the U.S. have branded them with a “poverty mentality”. Really?  Wow. That speaks volumes about their own  ignorance!  A TRULY prosperous soul is content simply knowing that

1. the Lord is God,

2. He desires our companionship and has made that possible through Christ.

The rest is fluff!  It is not necessary. Not saying that teaching beyond those points is evil, but without those points there is no foundation. And THAT is evil.  Let’s go one step further.  The list above of things that may be required of you does not go deep enough. What if if costs you family relationships? What if believing asks you to change your mind, to cleanse your heart?  It does.  It will cost you your independence in the sense that while you retain your unique characteristics, your method now must be about what is best for the King and His Kingdom.  He is a good and wise King. He looks after His subjects. But He is less concerned about our temporary comfort than our eternal condition!

So your boat is your beliefs, and extends to the gatherings that you attend- or to put it more conventionally, the church you count as “yours”. Is the boat secure? In too many places the “churches” are Boats shot full of holes of being seeker- friendly, politically correct speech, fearful of rebuke or backlash. The truth and power of the Gospel is leaking out swiftly.  The separation of sheep and goats has begun. The great Apostasy is upon us.

walking-on-water

When you get out of the boat you truly MUST trust Him to lead you. Your focus is not on the routine- but on the very next step you are about to take. A wrong move could be disastrous! Thankfully the Lord provides the guidance through the precious Holy Spirit indwelling  Believers, enabling them to develop into Followers.

What is in  your heart?  If what is in your heart ( referring to the God-deposits- dreams, Scriptural passions, God’s directives) does not match what is in your boat then GET OUT OF IT! If your “boat” is your church and God is not showing up there, then get out and find Him! If He shows up a little but it constantly restricted by time and program, STEP OUT OF THE BOAT!!!

Jesus didn’t live and minister in a boat. He lived in the world!

He walked upon the water of His trust and deep conviction of the Father’s sovereignty and faithfulness.  The problem with these kinds of “churches” and teachings is that the individual gets swept up into a steady stream of regurgitated lukewarm teaching. That kind of food never develops one into a mature, fully functioning Follower. Instead, they are spoon fed and kept at an arm’s distance so that they may be controlled.  There is no apostolic like leadership; no mentoring taking place, because that would mean that the mentor would no longer be in control; God would and well, now, doesn’t the “man of God” know best? Speaking from 20+ years in ministry-  not always!

WHAT HAPPENED to the original pattern?   Man happened. And hear if you have ears to hear, the Spirit is saying “enough” to the churches!  Yes, a “pastor” has a place, as does an elder, a deacon and an evangelist, teacher, prophet and bishop or apostle.

ALL are to be disciples, regardless of what titles you feel are applicable to today’s time.

And that is what we have LOST here in the Church in America.   We have lost sight that first and foremost, we are to be a Body, not an organization!  That means we need one another, regardless of your skin, your locale and your creed. If you are acknowledging Christ as the Son of God, the only Savior and the written Bible as His Word, then  you are part of the Body.  There is ONE BODY, ONE Mission .

**”I worry for a Church so concerned about not making people uncomfortable when the very nature of submission to the Gospel is DEATH to self. Look at the Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded yesterday. Look at Peter, who was crucified upside-down. Look at Jim Elliot, speared by the people he went to serve. Look at William Tyndale, martyred for his work in printing God’s Word. Look at Jesus. The true Christian life has nothing to do with comfort and everything to do with self-sacrifice.” –

“Because while Political Correctness may say: ‘Follow me and maybe we’ll find some Truth,’ Jesus humbly pleads, ‘Pick Up Your Cross and follow Me: I am the truth.’

People are dying for the faith we take for granted, that we take and hide under a bushel, that we take and paint vanilla —  so we don’t get persecuted.

That’s what we get to decide and carry home, carry in our heads, carry around in what we read, what we watch, what we support, what we cheer: Cheap Plastic Commercialized Feel-Good Love? Or Wood Passionate Cross Made-New Love? Worth humbly laying down our lives for.”**

 16361638480_a8480da069_z

If I must choose between beheading and burning – separated eternally from our Father, I choose to be separated from my body!

Laying down my badge now and picking up my cross…

Acknowledgement: A photo and some quotes ** are taken from a recent post by  Ann Voksamp .