Sidelined? NO! Aligned!

Phil1_7

  Feel like you are just watching others get all the applause?

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Or that you aren’t really a member of the team- that they can go to the championship without you?

Often when we feel “sidelined” one of two things are happening:

1.  A deep work is taking place within us that will be a stronger foundation in us to shoulder what is to come ( without this, His “burden” is too heavy for us!)

or,

2. Preparations in another field are being made  for us. That is, the work He has done in us is going to be laid upon a foundation that is still in process.

Either way, understand  that the foundation is what is most important, and when you look at a house you don’t see the foundation, but you sure can see what it holds up!

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In the process, after The Architect’s plans are approved and agreed upon, some deep digging must be done . That takes time   and  requires cooperation of the “climate”.    Large stones and cumbersome tree roots must be removed.  The soil must be not too dry and not too wet. There must be a balance.

Before the builders even arrive, the foundation is mapped out and poured/laid; a series of steps which involve minute details, specific materials, and exact placement of those materials so that they interact properly with each other . None of the months of work completed so far will be seen.  Yet it is vital. Without that foundation  a house cannot stand firm.

Maybe your calling is to be a foundation, or a builder instead of a show  house?  Hubster and I know that ours is. The work we do is not often visible,  but without it the glory and the beauty of God’s plan will not remain. Nobody wants a house that shifts or falls when the wind blows. Consider how important your “unseen” work is.  In truth it really is seen. It may be revealed in the lives of others; in generations to come, or through a Kingdom work that finds the healthy soil that you have tilled and is able to put down deep roots and grow tall and wide due to your obedience.  The work He did in you allowed the work through you to be fruitful and remain.

During these times, we long to feel valued, to be acknowledged, and reassured. Instead it often feels  more like dumped upon ( ohhh, that wet cement!),; drilled through (rebarb- OUCH!), and stamped down ( “tamp that cement well, guys! Gotta consolidate it so it is firm”).  The Master Builder knows to use the right finishing tools at the right time.When He is “lining things up” He cannot be rushed!

So what should be our response?  The five times that we have experienced this in our lives have taught us the same response applies EVERY time.

Be faithful. Be obedient, and BE YE GLAD!   

Note that it is a matter of being, not doing!

We spend so much time worrying over “the call”, “the lost” and “what others think ” of our seemingly dormant season and those responses bury our gratitude for what HE HAS ALREADY DONE! crucifixion copyNOwatermark The greatest work of all was accomplished on the cross. He desired us so much that He extended an invitation with arms wide open and love running red.

 

In contemporary Christianity we tend to forget that. We get a skewed perspective and think that it is up to us to build upon what

He  ALREADY did.

 

So if you think are on the “sidelines”, adjust your thinking to embrace  that you are on the Glory production line instead!

 

 

It doesn’t matter if you feel like “God, I have already been through this- I AM ready!

“Glory”  in Scripture is equivalent to “weighty”. Glory to glory means that each dimension carries new weight, so are you sure you are ready?  And maybe too, the place where He is going to position you needs to be able to carry the weight of the work He has done within you and will do through you.   Remember that “all things work together” isn’t just about those things that we desire greatly. It means ALL THINGS.  Alignment is vital  if we want wholeness and stability, right? Then we must be grateful for the invitation to be intimate with Him, above all other things and trust His hand.

I heard this yesterday during the worship:

“Position,  Provision and Purpose must pale  compared to His Presence.”

That is, desiring HIM above all else. Pinning your hopes upon Him.  Surrender.

You did sing that song about “…take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, where my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior…”

– didn’t you??!! funny-animation-25

Selah.

There is a wonderful peace that passes understanding when you realize that He is at work  and you have embraced it. And you can rest under that yoke; pulling with Him, not against Him. Trust Him. Lift Him up.

Let us hold up His name, His character, His praises. These are what will endure for generations. And we don’t know right now, but our names may be referred to in the generation to come because we sat still while the creating hand of The Potter accomplished His work.

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Heart Excavation and Preservation

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26

  It was a long week the other day.

Really. It seemed like a week- those short 16 hours of waking were arduous. They were full of taunts and temptation. For a weary soul the results were , well, less than good.  In fact they were sad; the heart fell into the trap of building a barrier. That barrier further complicated an already exhausting situation by making it that much more difficult to penetrate and heal the disappointed heart.  I know. It was my heart.

I have written about disappointment this year.  It has been a familiar foe- a thorn in our sides that as hard as my hubster and I have tried, we have not been able to be rid of it. Kinda like an ingrown toenail. Just when you think you have it licked, oops! THERE it IS!!!  AGAIN!    It is part of the training we are undergoing. Kinda like toughening up of a ballerina’s feet. Or the diver who gradually dives deeper and deeper- learning to survive – to discipline oneself to breath on very little oxygen.

Hold_breath

Yeah. I know that feeling.  Our struggle with our government is like that. We dive deeper into God’s love- unable to see the bottom of the depths nor the light from the surface.  And each time we think, “we are almost there- ” we find that  we are wrong.  And we have to practice proper breathing. We can’t panic. If we panic we will empty ourselves of strength- much like the diver will empty his oxygen tank…

Well, I didn’t do so well the past few weeks. I did all the “right things” while trying to deal with the frustration and disappointment of several cancelled meetings every week.  I mean, it’s one thing when you try to make something happen. Then you are partly to blame.  But when you surrender it to the Lord then  have been called and told, “Ok, we are ready to go; this thing is done”…and then you get stood up every time without notice, it is hard to take.

It is a lesson in

trust

When you can’t see, and  your resources are restricted due to the “diving exercise” you are in,  it can be difficult not to panic.  And the other thing you can do is make the mistake of holding your breath (more on that in a minute).

I didn’t panic. I kept praying- but the prayers seemed empty- powerless. I kept trying to fill my heart with songs. I read the Word, even though after this prolonged struggle it was not speaking to me as in times past. I have always loved the Word.  It has always felt like a very intimate friend. But now, it was just distant, almost superficial

  And. I. was. losing. air.

I was not finding the presence of God, and to be brutally honest ( my family says I don’t know any other way to be ? :/)–I was being battered persistently to the point that I was beginning not to care. I was reinforcing the wall of complacency around my slowly hardening heart.  I mean, as much as prayer has been a cornerstone, no, the center court of my life, I was drifting. If I had not felt the jerk on my lifeline this morning, I may have drifted too far and disconnected.

Or I could have held my breath, “confessing” what I had heard others say, and what I thought was the “right” thing to be saying when all the while my heart knew better. It was telling me that I needed to reconnect to my “air hose”. I needed to check in with the Holy Spirit as the song below mentions.  A slow transition to a stone cold heart had begun.

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BUT GOD..!   I heard this statement in the message this morning:

” When you are enduring difficulty and you find that you have nearly stopped praying, then it may be that you have unconsciously decided that ‘ He is not hearing me so why pray?’ “  I gasped– that was it!!!   I didn’t even realize it, but yeah, if I was to be honest– which is the only way to reconnect with Him and to remain alive in this life; I had begun to flirt with that lie.  Then, YANK!  God in His own personable, compassionate way got my attention

and re-centered me with my lifeline intact.  He can now work on those areas in my life and in my heart where doubt has crept in and begun to turn my heart to stone.  Once the lie has been revealed then the freedom can return. In case you are tempted to judge or pull back in shock    (especially those that know me well)- remember:

  “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.”  Jeremiah 17:9 ( The Message version)

Our hearts are  complex and can be deceptive. We can think we are o.k.  when all the while we are being lured into a trap. But we know something has changed. Something is not quite right.  If you find yourself there, then cdisappointment-his-appheck your tank. Check your connection to your lifeline. Check YOUR HEART.

Are there little pebbles forming?

Don’t let the brick mason move in and complete his work! Beware that his blueprint contains more than just a wall, but a host of idols and rooms of deceit.  And one of the ways that nasty brick mason gains access is through disappointment.

As if the hard “yank” of my chain wasn’t enough; like the true parent that He is, He reinforced the message with a song that I heard today  for the first time:

today:

Lyrics: Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols
Jerk the pews and all the decorations, too
Until the congregation’s few, then have revival
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you’re broken for your sins, you can’t be social
Then seek the Lord and wait for what He has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful

‘Cause I can sing all I want to
Yes, I can sing all I want to
And we can sing all we want to
And we can sing all we want to
We can sing all we want to
And still get it wrong
Worship is more than a song
Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols…

So now Dear Abba Father, please pour Your holy  fire into my heart, cleanse my thoughts, create in my a clean heart, O G_d, and renew a right spirit within me…one that continues to believe and  freely admits that a situation sucks but that YOU are good and YOU are wise and YOU are faithful and my “day in court” so to speak, will soon come. My times are in Your hand.   I offer up my heart to You to renew- to re-shape and to refill with Your life, truth and strength.

The Spark Seen ‘Round the World

Shhh!  Do you hear it? Did you see it? Can you discern it?  That spark;  One.  Little. Solitary.  Spark.

A spark is silent. If given the proper conditions, it can grow into a flame, and a flame into a fire, and a fire into a wildfire.

But it starts in silence.

A fire in a forest may seem destructive, but it actually cleanses and causes rebirth, new growth.

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You don’t need fanfare- a ticket tape parade or marching band to announce your presence. YOU don’t need to announce your presence at all. Just BE. Be a Servant, be one who listens, sees and prays. Be a channel for the Holy Spirit to flow through. Live the life of one who stands in the gap.  Not afraid to be “unseen” by man. God sees you! The world is weary of our imitating them with our big name preachers, t.v. broadcasting our doings and yet we are not humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God.

We are puffed up.  Much ado about nothing! Don’t fall into that. Just BE.  Know that there are other “firestarters”- those with revival seed in their bellies that want to strike.  Some are looking around to see if anyone is watching, others are looking to see if anyone else will join them. But a fire doesn’t work that way. Revival doesn’t work that way!  A spark needs friction. It won’t light without the proper conditions. flint, rubbing

The hearts are pre3b7d99a7b01971bdf23b2d8e75d0e704pared by the Lord; often using adversity to rough up the surface and prompt them to turn to Him.

A fire follows the path carved out by the power of the wind. Revival is sparked by repentance and prayer. And it is flamed by the power of the Holy Spirit- it is not to be tamed by man’s hand. It is holy.

Our part?  Repent. Pray. Worship and then go light our world through simple obedience!

Reset the Bones “A Call Back to True Christian Ministry”

I could not have said this better.  Check out this post:

A Call Back to True Christian Ministry

Especially the part about using “corporate strategies” instead of Biblical patterns and “self focused spa treatment”.  Whatever happened to “carry your cross”- “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” , and plain old humility? I guess that is now considered “old school theology”?? Call it what you like, but I am re-calibrating my belief standards and grinding off EVERYTHING that is not in the Word of God. Plain and simple. I BELIEVE in God;  HE believes in me. THAT is old school all the way back to the Torah!

Sweet tooth or Fat tooth? Which is better?

What an odd title for a blog post. But hey, it got your attention for even a second, right?

I did a quick post on Facebook about the homonym situation with the word palette. I work with palettes every day in design. I also work my own palate, and happily do so as I am a foodie!  Yes, there, I said it, I AM a bonafide foodie My husband and I have developed a hobby over the past 9 years. We go to the Library and check out cookbooks of different cuisines. We visit farmers markets and the Indian, Mexican, European markets. World Market is a fun place to browse and sample new flavors, each tidbits of life in another place. Then we cook the dishes, at least two new each week, and test out the palates. Most we find that we really enjoy. A few we did not. Those usually came from Pinterest. lol.

I don’t have much to do with pallets, but I want to grab the few I see each week that sit lonely,and discarded; they call out to be transformed into something clever and useful! { Uh-oh, I may also just have exposed the Pinterest problem! }  Alas, my husband says “NO!”  He thinks we would be arrested. He might be right, it depends upon the location and the people involved. If you don’t hear from me for over two weeks, then you can start praying because I disregarded his counsel and grabbed some pallets. And I will be sitting on something just about as comfortable waiting to be released to go on my own recognizance.  LOL,  ( snort! )  But I digress.

The subject of food, trying new recipes, broadening one’s palette  palate became a meditation for me this past week. The Lord kept bringing  things to mind and verses to match and I knew this was the post for you this week.

How open are you? I mean, really, how open are you to new things?  Are you a meat and potatoes Christian? You know, a safe set of steady food repeated?  Or are you able to share from various menus and know which is palatable ( there’s that word again!)  and beneficial for you?  Do you eat whatever is set before you?

The diet of the Believer matters.  We are told to “taste and see that the Lord is good” ; and that His Words are  sweet are “Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.” This last passage actually comes from the training a Jewish boy receives. When studying the Torah, the boy has a slate. When a three-year-old child starts learning Torah in cheder (school) for the first time, it is customary to place a little honey on the letters of the alef-bet, which the child then licks happily, so the child learns to associate Torah with delight and good taste.

I wish that had been done for me, and in all Christian homes so that as children we would have a hunger for the Word! Imagine that?! I am glad that we had daily family devotions and one of those “Bread of Life” loafs that sat on the table; it had little cards with a Bible passage on each one. We read one every day. And I saw my Dad reading his Bible daily. That made a huge impact.  How great to replace the steady diet of television, games, telephone, and online surfing. My 21 month old grandson knows how to manipulate an iphone!!!!!  My husband and I are committed to teaching him the love and the Word of Abba Father. We want him to have a balanced diet!

My passion is the nations. I have had that passion since I was 11. An elderly lady from our church went to Israel and brought back a small card with  rose petals on it, from Israel. She gave it to me. She may not have known but she was imparting something precious to me. Same with a friend of my parents. Walt Patterson shared the gospel with them. They had been partaking from the table of religion, but he shared relationship with them. He was a world traveler, and artist. He would go to very remote places and do “rubbings” on buildings, gravesites, monuments… His home was filled with the wonder of the world. When I visited that home as a child about the same age as mentioned, he imparted  a desire to know the world. I know now it was ordained to be so. That desire was enlarged when I lived with the 30 children in the  Children’s Christian Home with my family. Several of my foster brothers/sisters were from other nations; Germany, Thailand, France, Puerto Rico, to name a few. Variety is the spice of life! I even dated an Iranian boy as a Senior in high school. ONCE. That was all Dad would allow. He knew of my passion and allowed a double date for one evening with Morteza Kareem Eghball.  I still remember his name.

You see, the Lord had set a table before me, even in the presence of an uncommon childhood. He planned that menu.

I suspect it is the same for each of us. But if we do not realize that His Word is speaking through our life events and situations, we miss out on the banquet!

Such a beautiful invitation to Heaven’s banquet was engraved  before you were born!   And then embossed in red, just for you; underscoring His desire that you know Him, and that you taste and see how VERY GOOD He is!  It is so very easy to fall into oblivion. Life pressures, stress, weariness, disappointments all play a part in numbing those taste buds.  I know. I have experienced it. When I pick up my Bible that I have had since we married nearly 33 years ago and it feels more like a loaf of hard stale bread than my best friend, I know that my diet is “off”. I have eaten of the dish of frustration, anger, resentment, and misplaced trust. I feel obligated to read, to pray and to fellowship. But the Lord is good. He did not change! I fell into the trap of eating from the pig’s trough. That is why the Bible directs us to “think on these things”, and not all the things that are brought to us.

We do not have to digest (internalize)  what is happening around us.We have a place to go, a banquet to attend that feeds our souls. He is that place.

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit and the ways that He tries to bring me savory bites. If I accept them, He never fails to finish them off with the sweetest of times of intimacy with Him.

You could say that the Holy Spirit is Heaven’s butler, porter and server. He brings the scrolls of the King to life, guides us to the table and seasons our plate with truth and revelation. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control, grace, forgiveness, mercy, life, breath, song, hope, renewal; all await us!!

God cares very much about us having a healthy appetite and diet, both for our body and our spirit. His schedule of the feasts given to Israel have such rich, deep meaning to each of them and we also see balance in an orderly schedule. But the feasts are “a whole ‘nuther post“. 🙂

The Holy Land is even called the land of milk and honey! We can learn from it!

Ways to eat: Here’s an interesting observation: Bees produce honey by flying many miles to collect nectar from flowers, while milk comes straight from the cow. Similarly, one learns Torah in two ways:

** One should gather insights from others, learning from diverse teachers; (scripturally sound, of course- I was taught to “test everything”!)

** One can also be creative and original in study and fellowship, developing his own insights.  Faith journaling does this. As does the Journaling Bible {#Faith-spiration}   movement. Prophetic ( God inspired) painting, and Scripture smash booking is also that way. For some, sitting with an open journal, a Bible and worship music is a feast. Praying with other believers restores your soul.

All of these things and more can be utilized to build up your strength and bring a balanced diet. Any one of these if practiced alone, without variance could lead to a weakness. It might not be quickly perceived, but it will eventually show itself. When we eat from the world, the soul-ish emotions, or enemy’s version of rotten perspective, we starve!

Don’t limit God by being so comfortable that you don’t realize you are starving. Starvation is a strange thing, it happens little by little, and eventually people lose their sense of taste! TASTE and SEE that your God is GOOD!

Open the door of your tent and peer out into the wondrous wildness of our limitless God!

    So, here goes! 

I challenge you this week to try some new dishes. Yes, I mean food!  Try something that you would never have thought of eating!  I will not eat (note I didn’t say “never”) octopus again. I tried it once though. I did it just so I didn’t have that regret of “oh…I wonder what it would have been like?”    I never know when, or IF an opportunity will come again, and I don’t want to miss anything that Abba wants to grace my table. I want all the excitement, vigor,  and wonder of the Zoe life!  I want my grandson to say what I can say about my own grandmother- she LIVED!  She scuba dived a 63!  She was amazing.  I want to be a good steward of each day- to use it and not hide it away. Even when that means some of my grandest dreams are still on the horizon, I can still seek out ways to live large! That is how we reflect Him- live in his image.

   And … 

I challenge you to call upon that waiter and let him know that the order of fear is not acceptable, and that you want something better. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal His menu for you today. EACH day this week open your mouth to the possibilities of new sights, new sounds, new understanding and new flavors of His Kingdom.  Challenge yourself to seek them out! Make it a quest!  Try new ways of approaching each day, the Word, prayer, and yes, even how you view yourself!

I REFUSE to starve when I have access to the most elaborate, elegant and matchless spread to nourish my soul.  I owe Him that much!

Come on, EAT UP! taste_and_see_that_the_lord_is_good

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!

 

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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 .

Diggin’ Dirt…

I dedicate this post to two friends: Rachel and Tracy.

Gonna talk about something that I don’t often share.

dirt

That’s the only way I know how to express the feelings that rose up in me today.

Looking at a photos of India, a video from Mexico, and a documentary of Amazonian outreach;  I sat and cried.

   I miss the dirt.

Getting our hands dirty.

Customs as old and simple as dirt. Dirt roads — clay pots, adobe ovens & walls, dirt floors.

breadoven.hondurusjpg pots

Kissing the ground (dirt) after your flight lands…

 Because your feet are now where your heart has resided for so very very long.  

I miss the soil of distant lands.  It is thousands of miles away yet as close as a heartbeat.

…The dry seasons that create the gritty clouds as the tropical or desert winds blow.

But the rooster’s wake up call and cool misty breezes of rainy season balance and refresh the dirt.  When I think about missing the dirt, I recall the sounds, the smells, the atmosphere unique to each place.

I have never felt more alive, more real, more authentic than when I lived simply with the people and earthy smells with heartfelt laughter of 3rd world village life.

It is their dirt. The soil from which they came.

Their homeland is on my feet, underneath my fingernails and  smeared upon my heart.

My husband and I are not called to one place.

We are called to the nations.  We have heard that many times from many voices in different places around the world. We carry these nations in our hearts. Most we have not visited yet.

We have been in a very loooooooooooooooooooooooooong season of pruning, sanding, re-shaping and re-tooling for a very fast paced season yet to come.

Fast -paced in that many nations will be leaving their dust on our shoes and we will not shake it off!

But simple, genuine  and humbling in the get down on your knees and reach the people on their own turf and you see Jesus in their faces as you connect.  Dirt poor but so very rich in joy.

                                             Sometimes it seems like it will never come.

I long to return. I pray to visit lands that have yet to make their marks upon my memory and receive the imprint of my feet.

dirt2

I hear Desert dirt as it whispers my name; rough, challenging mountain range dirt calls to me. The winds blow and the sun beats down upon the heads of the veiled women who appear in my dreams. The ones who will teach me to cook according to their palate and I will gently offer the Bread of Life in  exchange.

I want to, my husband and I want together to go.

To walk, to touch the land and allow the Lord to touch the people  through us. Because that is His way.

You know, when Jesus knelt and wrote on the ground, when He scooped up dirt, spat and made mud to heal, when he wiped the dust, washed the soil off the feet of His followers; He ministered through dirt.

writing in the sand

You have to love dirt if you want to see the Kingdom move in to the neighborhood. 

Today, we recall, and tomorrow we will  get our walking shoes ready and pray more, cry out once again  “Here we are Lord, SEND US!”

dir3

All about Design…

All about Design…

In the beginning, God created.

god-creating-ex-nihilo

I have read that verse from Genesis 1:1 countless times in my lifetime. This week is the first time I have seen it the way I do today!  God created.  Yes, He created many things…too many to list or number! Such variety, such complex simplicity!  But, well, of course, He is God; the great I Am, after all.

But wait!  He created. He created man in His own image, male and female He createdthem.

THAT WAS US!!!  When He was in front of His pristine canvas on its massive easel in THE Universal Studio, HE was thinking of us. And He thought it would be good- it was in His heART that we should be like Him.

WOW, just, wow!   He gave us the God kind of life- He gave us Zoe. He actually, literally breathed His life into us!    If you will take several minutes, or an hour, or a day and meditate on just that fact, so many things will become real to you.   God shared His life with us from the very first rough sketch He made. That should tell you that we are pretty significant. God did not share His breath with the angels. Scripture does not tell us that He shared it with the animals, yet they breathe.

 

and_god_created_woman_by_dactrigger-d39hvod

But they do not have His image. He shared His image. His own life-giving breath was not enough!

He wanted to give of Himself.

He shared with us the capacity to love,

to think, to choose,to hate, to destroy, and

to create!

Why then, do we have so much difficulty embracing our value, and the validity of our time spent creating?

This is what life is about… this journey of finding our “shape” and allowing ourselves to settle into to that uniquely formed, and (dare I say it again?) createdplace for us in this Universal Studio.

The journey begins with the step of  opening our heart and mind to the truth that we were intentional. Regardless of the natural circumstances that were the physical impetus of our existence, the Word  in Psalm 139  says:

13 “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    You formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—You’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    You know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before You,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
18 I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with You!”

Yes. We were createdby Divine Design in THE Universal Studio.

Not a “happy accident”!  Thoughtfully, lovingly, sacrificially created.

My challenge to you this week is to meditate upon Psalm 139, especially verses 1-18.

After today, you could read and hide 3 verses in your heart each day.  Read verses 1-18 before you close your eyes to sleep.  Allow this to sink into your skin, and flow down deep into your heart, like watercolor spreads and becomes one with the paper.

And let’s pray for one another as we take this journey!

The ‘word” for this month is GRACE.  Undeserved favor, God -imparted ability.  You are created in His image, and you have been given great grace.   AAS_SoulCare_soulchild2

May this week be the week that this becomes more real to you than the screen you are reading it from.

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