How to Make Trouble Awesome!

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  I have – this week has held some overwhelming moments.  Reading two accounts of King Abijah this morning got me pondering my response.

Abijah was king of Judah, two kings after David.  Chronicles records little about him beyond this inspiring story.  When the king of Israel marches against him with twice the fighting men, Abijah tells them because Israel has forsaken the Lord and Judah had not, Israel is fighting against God, not just Judah.

While Abijah gives this rousing speech, the armies of Israel are building an ambush around Judah.  But note Abijah’s response:  “Judah turned and saw they were being attacked both front and rear, and cried out to God.  The priests blew their trumpets and Judah raised their battle cry!  At the sound of their roar, God routed Jeroboam, and Israel fled before Abijah while Judah took home the  plunder.

Sadly, this was a one time response.  1 Kings 15 says Abijah committed all the sins of his father because his heart was not devoted to the Lord.  Every day decisions and posture seem to count far more in God’s eyes than one stunning moment – although the moment provides a great example!

What is my response to overwhelming moments?  Do I confidently yell out my battle cry and tell God the battle is His?  Or do I go into stress management or helpless retreat mode?  I have to confess, my ‘go to’ response is management with things, and retreat when people are involved.  This has got to change.  It is not enough to simply surrender; faith requires the battle cry of confidence in God!

God promises if we entrust every decision, and circumstance to His power and control, we will see his mighty hand at work.  How much do we lose out on by managing and retreating when God wants us to surrender our problems and roar our victory cry!

I have a hard time picturing Jesus overwhelmed for any amount of time.  He was always aware of His Father’s power and commitment, and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, His outcomes to overwhelming situations were incredible.

James 1 says: “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” In facing trials with Jesus, we come out with bigger territory and stronger faith that perseveres – so as our faith grows, we can even look forward to trials because where there’s victory, there’s increased authority!

Throw your lot in with God though it seems the day be lost                                Take your stand with God Jehovah though it demand the highest cost

And when you are surrounded, yet stand still and wait                                                  Lift your voice and eyes in worship though the victory seems too late

Forget not the darkness that accompanied the cross                                      Nor that the greatest triumph first appeared the greatest loss

While the ground received with quaking, the body of the Lord,                   Our God did not stand idle, He was girding up His sword                                 

So when terror seeks your heart, and you wish to turn and flee                   Give your battle up to Jesus, and follow Him to victory

His thoughts and ways are higher and He sees your greatest test          You’ll use it as a springboard into greater strength and rest!

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The Identity Crisis Deception

There has been much talk lately about gender identity and the freedom to embody and live as whatever identity you choose.  It is gripping my heart and burdening my mind, and I suspect I’m not alone.

I see a devastating agenda being forcefully advanced in society with the experiment being tested on our kids.  There is a point to prove, and the most vulnerable are used as the battering ram to drive it forward.

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity.  Who we are.  Identity shapes how we respond to one another and how we understand ourselves. Society has completely unmoored itself from reality and is working feverishly  to create its own.   Boys can be girls, girls can be boys, marriage can be whatever gender compilation you choose, value lies in talent and sex appeal and you pick your identity depending on the whim of the day.

But it is not just the secular world in identity crisis, it is in the church too.  How are we to be a voice of hope in society when we ourselves are not living the identity we received at our rebirth?

If we are in Christ, seated in a place of authority over strongholds of deception, confusion, and fear, are we not given power to change the reality of our world through prayer, love and truth?  Jesus knew who He was, and lived in the power of His identity.  If the church in North America knew and lived out our identity, Satan would shake in his boots.

He knows if he can steal or shift our identity, he is free to do what he does best.  Steal, Kill, Destroy.  God does not create without purpose and design, and that is what the enemy fears – that we fulfill our purpose and live out our design.  If we don’t know our identity, we cannot fulfill our destiny.  So he carefully weaves his deception.  Using fear, intimidation, and insecurity, he keeps us afraid of embracing our identity and we relinquish our destiny.

There is a gap that desperately needs the church to step up and fill it with intercession and truth!  Do we feel we must stand helplessly by as our world goes mad?  Or do we step into the WarRoom (to capitalize on the well known movie), and pray with authority and calling forward our kids, our generation and our nation into their God-given identity and destiny?

It’s easy to feel isolated and alone, thinking ‘what can my individual prayers do?’  But that too, I’m learning is a deception.  I am encouraged reading story after story of individual men and women  God used to change their culture.  It takes only takes one child of God,  secure in their identity to change the world and once it begins to change, you are no longer alone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, or how Jesus has been revealing identity to you!

 

Losing Sight of Love

We have a job to do. It’s called Love people like Jesus.

Our culture is quickly losing all concept of what Love is. And no surprise! Whenever we reject the One who is Love, true love fades from our experience, and our understanding of love becomes distorted and broken.

There is no time in history as important as now to love radically with the Love we have received!

We live in a world that trivializes love. “I LOVE these shoes.” or “I just love my new car!”

Culture’s definition of love is slapped with a label that sexualizes and perverts true love. To love some one is to have sex with them, or to receive something that gives us pleasure. When there is no longer pleasure or gratification being felt, we have “fallen out of love” and must disengage to preserve our “happiness.”  We have an entire generation growing up with no idea what Love is!

Sex has also been detached from love, something merely to fill endless human desire.  Even a mother’s love has grown confused, ending  millions of unborn lives in deference to personal convenience.

The world desperately needs to see real Love in action. I John 2:5 says: “This is how we know we are in God; Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus lived!”  There are a lot of us attending church who do not live in God.  The world is watching how we love our spouse, our family, the stranger on the street.  The question is…

How do we Love like Jesus?

1 Receive perfect love from the Source daily, and learn to live as the beloved of God.

2 Stop focusing on being happy. Worship and hang out with Jesus, asking for His heart for others (real joy will come).

4. Obedience.  Jesus tells us if we love Him, we will obey Him.  I mean, like every moment of every day obedience as we listen to the Holy Spirit and learn to walk in Love’s freedom. (This takes practice)

3. Lay your life down in prayer.  Respond to needs as God shows you. We cannot be the Saviour, simply His hands and feet, so  we must rely on Him to teach us how to love effectively, multiplying our efforts.

Why isn’t the church standing out in society like a lighthouse at midnight?  I wonder if it is because we do not know how to be loved, nor do we know how to love.  When obedience opens the door to deeper fellowship with the Giver of Love, the Holy Spirit releases power to receive and give generous love.   I am learning (often the hard way) it is impossible to love without Jesus empowering me to Love.  I desire to be so full of His Spirit that Love flows out and is multiplied through obedience until the world around me is changed!  Beloved, we’ve got a calling to step into!

How have you experienced God’s love for you in your life?  How is He inviting you to Love others this week?

The Sword in Your Mouth

Inside you lies inexplicable power by the way God designed your mind and your tongue.  You can change destinies, administer life and healing, and call into being what does not yet exist when you are using your tongue properly!

Proverbs 12:18-19: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Isaiah 49: 1-2 says: “The Lord made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand, He hid me.”

We all know the passage in Hebrews 4:35; “The word of God is alive and active, sharper than a double edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow, judging the attitudes of the heart.”

Words have real power to wound and destroy or to heal and create life.  God’s Spirit who lives in us searches the heart of the God (Romans 8) and can reveal words of Truth for us to speak in each moment.  This is why is it imperative to implant God’s Word in our heart and mind.

When we are led by the Spirit and speak Words from God’s heart over  people, we change their spiritual environment and open a doorway for them straight to the heart of the Father.  With the sword of our mouth, we can free prisoners, tear down strongholds, speak calling and destiny over others and destroy lies.

Isaiah 50 goes farther: “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  He wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.  I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away!”

How do we know what to say to friends, kids, spouses, work mates or the stranger on the street?  We surrender our mind to Christ, and listen to the Holy Spirit who gives direction and Words from the Father’s heart.  This comes from building relationship with the Holy Spirit and learning His voice and will grow with time and intention.

Including the Holy Spirit in every conversation gives our words eternal effectiveness.   When we speak words from our heart, regardless how well meaning, their power is limited to the human level.  When we speak the Words of God from His heart, they reverberate into eternity and change lives!

What spirit is behind your words?  Is it a critical, wounding or accusing spirit, simply your own spirit, or is it the Spirit of God who always speaks from a place of power, love and a sound mind?

We are called to speak Truth, not just what is true, because what is true takes into account only what is seen with human eyes, but the Truth is seen through the eyes of God and is not limited to the here and now.

On another note (pun realized)  Here is the song from the last post my e-mail friends didn’t get!  Enjoy – As always I’d love your thoughts!

Please Stop Sleep Walking!

Have you ever had a dream that was convincingly real? The kind you are very thankful to wake from, and yet, upon waking, you wonder if it actually happened?

I wrote the song “Awakening” during my reading time yesterday when I saw a picture of a person, broken out of slumber by the King’s breath of Life. In a panoramic view, I saw every he choice made took him closer or farther away from the King.  Each in turn, led either back to slumber, or to a more alert awareness of a true, but hidden reality.  With every right choice, the person became increasingly aware of others who still slumbered, coma – like, along the road, and was compelled to breath the same breath of Life over them until they too woke and followed the King.

Sometimes I wonder if those of us who are awake are actually under the influence of a spiritual sleep inducing drug?  There are times I get so caught up in the culture’s dream world of illusions, I forget there is a world that is sleeping dead and unaware. Our world desperately needs people who God has brought awake to show what undistorted Life lived in freedom and wide open places looks like!

The master of slumber is also a master of deception and will keep our minds busy with distractions and worries that choke the life of the awake until even those who have awoken are walking around as if asleep.  It causes us to see people through lenses of competition, selfishness, preoccupation, even irritation, and beyond our help rather than with love and a sound mind with the power of God to reach them.

I wonder if there are few, truly awake, including myself, whose first priority is to follow the King and wake people from their sleep of death.  The closer I follow the King, the more breath of Life I have to speak over the sleepers around me.  The more vision I have of what He says can be, the more faith I have to declare it.

Therefore with minds that are alert and fully awake, set your hope on the grace to be brought when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But because He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do! 

It is imperative we the western awoken ones become alert and live fully awake or we will be swept along in the distorted dream the Deceiver weaves for all who will partake!  Once awake, we must determine to stay awake, making choices that lead to Life and its fruit!

 

 

Back in the Round Pen

Communicating is my forte, but often I do a better job with equines than humans. The other day, I worked with one particular youngster who had been pushed too far.  Anxious from pressure, he just wanted to go. FAST. He wasn’t interested in yielding and working with me, and although he continually looked for rest subconsciously, it took a complete lack of pressure and some time for his brain to register that working with me was far more restful than working against me.

For two hours, I invited him to move in a controlled and relaxed manner, rather than dashing about in an out of mind frenzy.  By the end, we were moving easily and stopping nicely on a loose reign but it took a while for his brain to unwind so we could move together.

Sitting in my hammock afterward, rubbing my feet I heard Jesus say softly. “ya know Katie, sometimes you’re a lot like that young horse.”

I was interested; “How so?”

Suddenly I saw a picture of me – given a vision, or instruction and, rather than resting and going about it with Jesus in a relaxed and yielded manner, I push for it. Like a choleric on a mission. I want to do it quickly and see results immediately, and once I have the direction, I tend to fly forward full speed, all excited, the goal firmly fixed in mind. God is teaching me He would far rather enjoy the process, working together, than have me plow forward to fulfill His request or vision  on my own.  I am to keep my eyes on the Vision Giver, and He’ll take me to its fulfillment.

There is something about working together with a well trained horse who yields to the trainer’s will, seamlessly performing difficult tasks; rider and mount in unison. It is beautiful; a feeling that mirrors in some small way that of walking in step with God’s Spirit on mission.

The best horses begin their training in the confines of a round pen, and as trust and submission are developed, are moved out to wider spaces. I see Jesus doing this very same thing for His children. He brings us into places of confinement to teach us the restfulness of yielding. The peace of trusting the Master completely.  Not to rush ahead of the bit, not to lag behind, just perfectly in tune, poised and restful, waiting for His next cue.

It is when yielding becomes the horse’s second nature that the trainer can trust him in critical situations and it is when we are yielded and resting in Christ that we become trustworthy in critical matters of the Kingdom.  It is also where we find the rest Hebrews tells us is there for the children of God who will enter it!

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope!  Psalm 130:5

Are you ready for a coup?

Insistant knocking alerted me to the presence of our local Jehovah Witnesses. I always have mixed feelings – I love talking about Jesus, and since they initiate things, knocking on my door, I assume they are marginally open to the subject. Juxtaposed, is a feeling of inability to express how a relationship with Jesus is different than their religious system.

Today they were on a mission, but the spokesman asked if he could come back and talk about the kingdom. I told him I was writing a book about the kingdom and would love to talk about it!

Imagine the disciples, oppressed by Rome, and longing for the promised Messiah hearing Jesus talk about “The Kingdom.”  They were in the midst of violence and injustice under ungodly rulers.   Then the Teacher comes, saying the Kingdom of God is near.  In fact, its among you.  I am sure they must have thought “a Coup is coming!!”

Looking at our world today,  I see regimes rife with injustice, deception, violence and oppression, and I find myself amongst the disciple’s ranks, longing for a righteous overthrow. After the JW’s left, I sat thinking about the Kingdom. Jesus instructs us to pray that His Kingdom come here as it is in heaven and I see gospel dichotomy of what is and what will be.  To understand the Kingdom, we must understand authority.  Luke says that the Kingdom of God is violently advancing, and the violent take it by force.  The 72 Jesus sent out return excitedly exclaiming; “Lord!  Even the demons submit to us in your name!”

Jesus says this: “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample snakes, and to overcome all the power of the enemy…”

If followers of Jesus are given this much authority to overcome evil in our world and cities, why do we not righteousness overcoming evil?  Why is there little difference between the experience of the local JW’s and the followers of Jesus? Authority is not to be taken lightly, and understanding God’s authority is critical in a believer’s life who wants to advance the Kingdom in any way, much less violently.

Wherever there is a kingdom, there must be a king.  Our King is above all things, and we are His body, commissioned with expanding the Kingdom.  The kingdom of our God will clash against principalities like ISIS, government corruption, persecution, racism, bigotry, poverty, and countless rulers we see at work around us today.  The question is, do we know how to walk in the world as it is in light of how it should be?

Thoughts?

How have you seen the Kingdom of God at work in your life around you this week?

Shamelessly Audacious

Jesus  continually went off by Himself to pray. In that time, mainstream thought was that to pray, one must go to the Synagogue, but Jesus rarely used the temple as His connecting place with the Father. Eventually, His disciples clued in to the importance of this strange habit, and asked Jesus to teach them to pray too.  (Luke 11:1-9)

Jesus responds with a small prayer that initiates universe sized implications.  Then, He tells a story of an audacious friend who will not take “no” for an answer.

This friend was obligated to show hospitality to a midnight visitor.  In Jewish culture, to not provide food and lodging to your guest was a grievous offence.  Much more offensive than pounding on his friend’s door at midnight.  His request, as audacious as it was, was in direct line with his culture.

Jesus tells His followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.  Every kingdom has a culture, and I wonder if our effectiveness in prayer is linked to our understanding of heaven’s culture?  If we know our request is in direct line with our native culture, Jesus tells us we can be shamelessly audacious in our requests of God, leaning in until we receive what we have asked for.

What is the culture of heaven like?  Like her King of course!  The heart of the King calls for justice and mercy to roll down like rivers.  It is always bent on redemption and renewal.  It seeks out the lost and brings them home.  We belong to the most incredible culture in the history of mankind, because it was not initiated by mankind, but by God Himself.   There is no darkness in Heaven’s culture – it has all been overcome by the Light of Jesus and His blood.

We are called to be tenaciously bold and relentless in prayer, and in our belief that God will bring to pass what He has promised.  The same Holy Spirit that connected Jesus with the Father lives in us.  When the Spirit guides our prayer, we can pray with absolute certainty, even in the complete absence of present evidence, knowing it will come to pass.

Moses was absolutely obstinate in His demand of God for His presence, saying he would not go out without God’s favour and accompaniment.  God had promised something to Abraham’s children, and Moses called Him on His promise.

What are your promises from God?  If you don’t know, can I encourage you to take time aside to ask and listen?  Then WRITE THEM DOWN.  God will build your strength and faith through prayer and teach you relentless audacity if you give Him the time.  Jesus said we would do greater miracles than He did,  but it is madness to expect the miracles He had without the intimacy He fostered with God.   When I doubt God will come through with His promises, I get out my pages where I have written them all down, and I remind Him (and more importantly – myself) that He must fulfill His word for His glory!  I can then live and pray accordingly.

To be powerful in prayer, I must understand Kingdom culture so I can align my mind with its values.  To know the culture, I must know the King who sets the culture and answers my prayers!

Set your mind on things above, not on things of earth!