What The Caged Bird Doesn’t Know

Freedom.  This theme runs through the entire Word of God, and has been taken up by many.  As much as freedom is spoken of and celebrated, I wonder how often those of us who are free don’t walk in our freedom, shackled by minds that have not grasped freedom’s implications.

A caged bird doesn’t know what he is missing until a free bird flies by his cage.   A shackled bird knows no walls, yet still cannot fly.

Children of God are called to be relentlessly passionate about living in freedom, constantly calling others out of their cages.  But first, we must learn how to fly in our own freedom.  When a bird in a cage looks down and sees a free bird waddling around in the dirt, there is little desire to join him.

I wonder if many of us birds who have been set free are still scratching around in the dust when we are called to fly above the ground, calling out the song of freedom?

As long as the gift of life is given us, we are called to keep growing .  To stay where we are is to forfeit the promises and treasures God places along the journey of development.  We do not know the freedom that lies beyond our experience and so we desperately need the Holy Spirit to reveal areas we are still scratching in the dirt!

Often I find the shackles I have not seen to remove are thought patterns that defeat me, stealing joy, peace, energy, and purpose!    Fiery darts that find their mark because my sword and shield were not ready and faith was not implemented.  Words that bring me to the dust and hold me in their grip.

When a caged bird sees an eagle, soaring high and effortlessly on heavenly  currents, a deep instinctive desire to fly as well awakens.  That is when the cage becomes small and constricting.   That is when a longing for freedom becomes a hunger that will not be satiated by lesser things.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  Having been set free, do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!  Legally we are free.  The question is what we do practically?  Fear, doubt, un-fogiveness, cynicism, discouragement, anger and frustration.  These spiritual ropes tie up the mighty eagle, and leave her scratching in the dirt when she is called to fly above the earth.

What things keep you from soaring?  How can you walk in the opposite spirit?  Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to untie the chords of the yoke that keep you from spreading your wings to fly?

 

Freedom’s Song

Freedom is something people die for, yet true freedom is hard to find on earth.  As children of the King of Kings, we are called to walk in freedom, and in the course of our lives, set other people free.

Just as freedom from a tyrant king is often a matter of life and death, so too, our freedom is a matter of spiritual life and death!  It is worth the most diligent pursuit of Jesus and His Spirit that brings freedom to obtain and walk in the freedom that has been purchased!  Freedom from fear, freedom from accusation, and freedom from weariness and discouragement!

The next post will be about coming into freedom, but for today, here is a song to get you thinking about freedom.

Stir Up Your Gift!

What is your gift? What has God uniquely given you to do that you can excel at? We have a generous and kind Father who blessed us with gifts to use to glorify the Giver and change the world!  Are you cultivating and watering your gift?

For that matter, what is your gift?

Most churches don’t do a very good job of encouraging or capitalizing on the gifts of her people, but that is no excuse to not be living out your gift and multiplying its fruit! Jesus had hard words for the servant who did not actively use the gift entrusted to him.

Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift he received with the laying on of hands.  Then he tells Tim the spirit in which he is to use his gift.

We have not received a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

What are we doing walking in a spirit which God has not given?  If we have truly received the Spirit of God, He trains us to walk in power, love, and with a sound mind, and in that spirit, not fear, we are to use our gifts.

What does this look like?  If you are given the gift of faith, or the gift of healing, and you don’t walk in it for fear of what might happen if you fail, you have buried your gift,  truncating the advancing of God’s Kingdom in deference to a god name Fear.

What about the gift of music?  If God has placed in you a gift to make music that brings Him glory, that had better be on your priority list to dedicate time to.  There is a marked lack of inspired music coming from the Christian community.  If we operate in our gift, the world sits up and takes notice and follows.  If we don’t, we pattern our gift after what the world produces, not heaven’s design.

What is your gift?  I asked myself that same question this morning.  I find myself discontent at the rate I see my life impacting my world, and I am asking God to show me how to multiply the gift He has given me.

Today that looks like cleaning my office, putting up goals and visions God has given me where I can see and pray into them daily.  It means making tangible lists of things I can do to partner with the Holy Spirit in the calling I have received.  It means intentionally turning away from fear, to walk in God’s power and love as He works with me to renew my mind until I can see how my gift is meant to impact my world!

What is your gift?  Are you allowing Jesus to empower you in using it?  Because until it is surrendered and you walk in the power of the Spirit of God, your gift will remain un-multiplied.  What can you do today that brings your gift into the multiplying state?

A Cynic’s Salvation

I confess, sometimes I am utterly dismayed and burnt out by the human race. It is difficult in a world of constant negative information to remain hopeful, optimistic, and kind without a cynical edge creeping in.

There is a subtle shift the world peddles, taking us from a place of open hearted kindness to cynical, hard hearted judgements that erect walls of discouragement and distrust around our lives.

I have felt this shift in my life as I encounter people who come across as cruel, narrow minded and selfish or am overwhelmed by the endless need and brokenness around me and in me.  I am discovering this shift begins with my perception.  People act or respond out of one of two places.  Love.  Or fear.  These attitudes oppose each other and cannot co-exist.  I too choose to embrace one or the other in every choice, creating patterns in life.

When some one responds out of anger, jealousy, or insecurity, it is powerful to understand that fear hides at the root of every negative response.  As we develop maturity to see rightly, we can respond in compassion with love that drives out fear.

Living out of love gives leverage to influence people around me, but takes a great deal of wisdom and grace to move past the unpleasant words and actions of others.   If we cannot respond out of love when others act out of fear, the only path to travel is the road of the cynic.

How does one embody a soft and gentle spirit of confident humility toward others while able to stand firm against darkness and deception in strength and steadfastness? I come across many people hardened against others and cynical about transformative change.  But I am beginning to see that when I close my fist in self protecting cynicism, the  contrite and humble spirit God loves to dwell with eludes my grasp.

Guard your heart above all else, for out of it spring all the issues of life.  Proverbs 4:23

The only way to remain softhearted and full of faith and wonder is to fix our gaze on Jesus and see everything through Him.  To be so enthralled with the Saviour we serve, that responses of people He loves have no power to tear our perspective down to earth’s cynical lens.

We cannot absorb the weight of other’s pain and fear without becoming utterly overcome, we must bring them to Jesus and release them there.  He has already born their weight, and is the only One qualified to heal their hearts.

For this is what the Lord requires of you: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

This is God’s desire.  This is how we begin to compete with horses in the thickets by the Jordan.  “Never forget Katie, in doing justice and loving mercy that your strength comes in walking humbly with your God.”

 

Can You Run With Horses?

Have you been watching darkness and injustice prevail, seeing little hope?   This week a passage was burned on my mind; I have been asking Jesus what it means for our time.

The Lord replied to me: “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?  If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?  Jeremiah 12:5

God has supplied everything we need to advance the Kingdom of God violently in the spiritual realm.  He has forged for us weapons that tear down spiritual strongholds and attitudes that set themselves up against God and His righteousness.  But we must relinquish tradition to take up what God has supplied.

If the injustice and vices of man weary us, how are we to overcome the injustice of spiritual oppression growing around us?  Our nation is turning to idols of every variety, being swept away in captivity, and we sequester ourselves inside our church walls and sing about amazing grace.  We are wearied racing against men.

Yesterday as I worshipped, I heard thundering hoof beats all around me.  I felt a burning in my spirit to call forward people consecrated to the Lord.  Then I heard the words:

“You are no longer to be wearied in warfare, you are to be invigorated in victory!” 

Too long we have stumbled on the smooth and open plain of political freedom and relative prosperity,  perpetually weary and overwhelmed.

How then will we race in the treacherous  thickets that are coming?

Unless we become intimately acquainted with the Spirit of God and allow Him to equip and teach us how to LIVE in victory, we will continue to race and be wearied by men on smooth ground.

There is far too much at stake to remain in a state of weariness.  Our work begins in intercession and prayer in unison with the Holy Spirit who intercedes with inexpressible groans, and Jesus who lives to make intercession for us.  If these two members of the Trinity are so invested in our prayer life, should we not invest concerted effort learning to pray in sync with them?

What about the forgotten gifts.  Prophesy, tongues, words of wisdom and revelation, teaching in power, declarations that call forth what God has ordained but is yet to be. We need supernatural strength to race with horses in the thickets.

We have already entered a season in Canada and America where the majority attitude has set itself up against the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and people are paying dearly.  I meet more and more oppressed and scattered sheep who desperately need a gospel of hope that liberates with power.  We have many excuses why signs and wonders do not accompany our gospel.  Maybe its time to destroy our excuses, cut away our safety net and relinquish control to Jesus who is actually the King of the church!

Are we willing to receive the power of the Holy Spirit in your daily life?   It requires breaking free from the spirit of slavery leading to fear as the Holy Spirit cuts to the heart of our insecurity and bondage.

Are you ready for the thicket?  Are you ready to race with horses?  First you must be free.

Honoured to Belong

Honour.  The Bible talks a lot about honouring God and people.  I suspect all the world’s problems would be solved if everyone honoured God and honoured fellow humans.

The news right now is full of dishonourable misdeeds and people disregarding the sanctity of the lives of others.

It grieves me that the church too, has lost her understanding of honour.  We expect a world without Jesus, not to honour one another, but if we follow Jesus, we should deeply honour every one made in His image. (hint: all fellow humans).  When we dishonour people Jesus created and loves, we grieve and dishonour God.

For example, if the church reached out, giving honour and dignity to our black brothers and sisters we could lead the way in transforming the way these precious people view themselves and are viewed by society as a whole.  The same for indigenous peoples.

I am learning to honour my husband, whether I feel he deserves it or not (he is one of the most honourable people I know), creates a better David and a better Katie.

Honouring friends bestows a sense of worth that is life giving and dignifying while creating trust.

But then there are the people who don’t seem to deserve any honour.  My question is who do I see when I make that call?

The person they are living out now, or the person God created and is calling them to be?

I’m not talking about flattering some one falsely.  I am talking about extending dignity and respect to one another regardless of differences.  When there is division in families (including the family of God) You can always find a lack of honouring God, and man.

When I picture Kingdom Family, I see communities that honour people, and reach out, giving dignity to those forgotten or rejected.  I see people who radically love and meet the needs of their community and embrace the people in it.  I see a family that doesn’t accuse and gossip about one another but build and call each other up, encouraging everyone!  I see men and women, inspired by the Holy Spirit producing great solutions for the world’s needs in love.  I see families that stand out in a world of dishonour like a lighthouse.  – Oh wait, that is what we are called to look like!

Honour.  Giving some one else worth and dignity in our words, our thoughts and our actions regardless of person or status.  It changes lives and changes the world.  If you want some one to change and grow, intentionally honour the best of what you see in them.  In doing so, you honour their Creator as well!

Who can you show honour to today?

Some of the parts of the Body that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary.  And the parts regarded as less honourable we clothe with the greatest care…God has put the Body together in such a way that extra honour and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.  This makes for harmony among the members, so all members care for each other equally.  1 Corinthians 12:22-25

Sacrifice’s Unexpected Reward

I was shaking as I hung up the phone. The conversation seemed too ludicrous to have occurred, yet the shock confirmed it had really happened.

I have told people over the last year of difficult obedience,  when God asks for a sacrifice, it can be costly.  But the cost keeps coming.

Paul said: Do everything without grumbling or complaining so you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life…But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  (Philippians 2:17)

Yesterday I felt completely poured out, struggling to give grace to some one who seemed interested only in what they could take from us.  I found myself releasing my resentment and hurt to Jesus for the umpteenth time as I caught a fleshly response to their words mulling through my mind.

My child” Jesus said softly, “Let it go, your reward comes from me, not man.  I am intimately familiar with sacrifice.  give in the measure that is given. Now let me fill you up.”

I asked Jesus to make me steadfast in love – unshakable – regardless of the actions and words of man. His answer, as usual, is opportunity to practice.

It seems God is far more interested in holiness than comfort.  We North Americans are perhaps the most entitled of His children.  I see this attitude in myself, and it repulses me.  I want to be so full of the love of Jesus that I too could look at those crucifying me and genuinely say: “Forgive them Father, they don’t know what they do.”

In the grand scheme of things this affront was not that grievous, yet my first response was to proclaim judgement, not pray for blessing.  As Jesus and I talked through the situation, my human nature wrestled with my new nature, and I cried out for God’s help.  The beatitudes came to mind;  Blessed are you when people misuse you… 

Paul speaks of rejoicing and I wonder if he knew the secret of being poured out was the being filled up part.  There is no amount I can pour out that God can’t overflow.  I am the one who stops the inflow of God.

I am learning not to fear the sacrifice, but to rejoice at the gift of the refilling and learn to receive it!  Resentment and fear of lack closes the door to the streams of God’s refilling.  Forgiveness and grace open the floodgates.

Is there a situation or person  you can choose to release and forgive to open the floodgates of God’s grace in your life?  Are you being filled up as quickly as you are poured out?

The Rest Of The Story

Jesus said: “Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and the burden I give you is light.

What does it look like to rest? Are you weary in areas of your life?

Over our years with  Lyme Disease, David and I often longed for rest in the gruelling, relentless slog, feeling powerless to carry on and unable to rest.

We dreamed about the time life would not be so painful and difficult.  We imagined ourselves on a warm sunny beach, resting together in the absence of pain.

Perhaps God was teaching us a deeper kind of rest.  The kind of rest necessary to live a life of overcoming in the world.  This rest is as available in difficulty and suffering as in comfort.  It is dependant on us entering into it, not circumstances lining up to it.  A dear friend tells me the week begins with Sabbath so one enters work rested.  I wonder if every decision, every action shouldn’t be taken out of a place of rest?

Last weekend was dedicated to rest for David and I.  Having just moved, we entered the weekend utterly exhausted.  Even so, I found myself compulsively going through motions of unpacking, laundry and other things I felt “behind on.”  My mind was not at rest with so much to be done.

Hebrews tells of a Sabbath Rest Jesus established, saying if the Israelites had received true rest in the Promised land, there would have been no need for the deeper rest Jesus brings.

Jesus says come to Him to find rest.  He doesn’t say He will place us in a divine hammock with a heavenly pina colada – although that sounds delightful – He says He will give us His yoke and burden which are easy and light.

That we are spiritual beings tells me a spirit at rest leads to a mind at rest which leads to a rested body.  Entering and moving in the rest of Jesus and receiving His yoke ensures I don’t carry anything that is too much for me.

What if it’s not circumstance that empowers rest, rather a mindset and posture that allows the rest we’ve already been given to take hold in our lives?  In working and resting, our spirit can be at rest as we are constantly refreshed in God.

I am discovering true rest comes in the place of trust and daily obedience. To surrender restlessness, anxiety, and our need to be productive to Him and let Him tell us what is important for today.

So I relinquished my need to accomplish to Jesus and asked for His restful spirit.  Then we slept, read books and talked on the sunny river bank, restoring our souls by the water.  Today obedience is to begin my work with a spirit at rest.

How will you work from a place of rest this week?