Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Build Your Road Straight

I have been thinking about the name of this blog. “Building Straight Roads.” Perhaps you have been curious about it.  Perhaps not.

Hebrews 12:12 talks about building straight roads, and I love what it says in the NLT:

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall, but become strong. 

What we do with our individual life reverberates around us and down the generations. How we respond to hardship and suffering will create either chaos to wade through, or a straight path for those who follow.

I ask myself: What kind of road builder are you Katie?

Take this angle.  What if God is looking for a generation of David’s mighty men (and women) in the spirit today to build roads in the wilderness that lead the next generation to healing? (Check out 1 Chron 11 and Isaiah 62:10-12)

Listen to David’s song of victory in Psalm 18;

Who is God except the Lord?  Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.  He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. 

In Central Asia, there are snow leopards in the mountains.  The ibex who live in those same mountains know that although the easiest living is in the valley, it is the mountains that offer protection because they have been equipped to run on the precarious crags that seem impossible to tread.

We are not redeemed to simply to live in the lush valleys of life. It is in the easy paths the “roaring lion” can attack us from behind.  When we were born again, we were called into a road building program with the Holy Spirit as our instructor where we learn to build highways through the mountains so those who follow can forge father with their own roads than we do.

We are not reborn with hands that are strong, we are trained to build well through experience with the right instructor. If we enter struggle in the power of the flesh, we may make it through, but will leave no road to follow.  If we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, He instructs us how to build straight paths that allow those who are wounded and broken to follow behind us, leading them to healing.

It is no good to bemoan how the culture and next generation are degrading if we are not willing to build straight roads for them to walk on by radically living our own lives in power, showing what LIFE and BLESSING  look like!

What kind of road are you building right now in the hardest areas of your life?

Have you had a good sit down chat with the Holy Spirit and the Word lately to get roadbuilding advice?

Did You Hear That?

Its way too early, but I wake up, my heart rate elevated, ears straining for the sound that summoned me from slumber. There it is, the squeal of a sleepy but hungry 5 month old. I sit up, ascertain it is indeed my baby while waiting for the room to settle, scuff on my slippers, and go in to the precious little one who awaits my response.

There are at least four babies in our neighbourhood, and sometimes though open windows, it is difficult to tell if the crying one is mine.

Our ears are tunable. We select over time what grabs our attention, and what passes unnoticed.  The two people closest to me are David and Raphael, and my ears are particularly sensitive to their voices.  I trust David’s observations in my life because he has proven his discernment many times over. I listen intently for Raphael because he depends so entirely on me for his existence.

But there is One whose voice I value and listen for above any human voice. One who loves and desires my attention more than my husband or 5 month old.  On this Voice, I am dependant for my very life.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!  But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.  They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10)

Many voices make it into the sheep fold of our lives and try to lead us.  Not all of them are God, although some may masquerade as God.   Sometimes even a trusted friend or shepherd/leader will bear a message that does not come from The Shepherd, and it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to my spirit that must discern whether the two line up.

I have been that sheep; thinking I am hearing Jesus, I turn to go a direction He did not call from. As I grow, I know more intimately His voice, and His ways.  I am learning that to follow the voice of reason in my mind when it contradicts my Shepherd, gets me into a reasonable amount of trouble.

The Shepherd would never put His sheep in a position that would compromise their ultimate wellbeing.  Even when we find ourselves, precariously perched on perilous ledges of our own choosing, He is faithful and kind to lead us back to the fold.

What do you do to grow more attune to the voice of God in your life? Does trusting yourself over Jesus keep you from following sometimes?  What is Jesus saying to you today?

Rejoice in Free Will!

I have been saying Philippians 4:4-8 to myself the last while and have had a second wave of a long coming revelation.

We are given free will to choose.  Anything.  I am thinking of joy in particular today.  Like choosing what I eat gradually changes how I feel and look, choosing the thoughts and emotions I entertain gradually changes my thought patterns and how I view life itself. In fact, brain specialist Dr. Caroline Leaf teaches that what we choose with our will (mind) actually changes the brain itself, which in turn changes our DNA making our body either impermeable to disease, or susceptible to it.

Rejoice in the Lord always again I say, Rejoice!  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  

Scripture doesn’t let us off the Rejoicing hook when things look grim or when we are having a terrible, no good, rotten, I’m going to move to Australia kind of day.  It simply says ALWAYS REJOICE.

In fact, when Israel faced huge obstacles that seemed insurmountable, they were called to worship and praise God before He acted on their behalf.  Nothing has changed in 2000 and some years.  We are still called to rejoice – especially when that is the last thing we feel like doing.

Yesterday, tired and not feeling great, I struggled to accomplish the simplest of tasks with a teething, gassy baby.  Small problems, I know, but I decided to put my will to work for me rather than just giving into the frustration and impatience that welled up.

I began praising Jesus for the things He has blessed me with and His goodness and faithfulness to us.  I declared my thankfulness and told myself I was choosing to rejoice, and slowly, the tide of frustration was overtaken by the sweet waves of thankfulness.

In Psalm 42:5, David instructs his soul to hope in God and praise Him for His help.

Psalm 35:9 says: “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation.”  

The will to choose is a gift God gave us as His children that brings fulfillment when we use our will to obey and glorify Him.  It is only then we are free to engage in the abundant life Jesus told us He died for.

With the empowering grace of Christ, nothing is unchangeable.  Depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, addiction and every other thing that robs us of the joy of the Lord bows before the will that chooses differently.  One. Day. At. A Time.

Like stepping back and critically assessing  a painting I am working on, I can asses and replace harmful emotions seeking to command my soul, and choose what brings life.  Its not something I can do on my own – as always, I need the Holy Spirit to show me what is good and choose what it true!

May you choose to rejoice today in whatever situation you find yourself.

 

Where Have all the Babies Gone?

I burst out laughing as my weary mind takes in the shocked look on Raphael’s little face, elicited by my shocked exclamation as he pees straight into my now cold tea.

Having a baby is like nothing I have ever done. The praying, anticipating, speaking life over this little person I will assist into the world, speaking Jesus’ destiny and calling over their life.  It is painful, messy, wonderful and often puts me far out of familiar.

There is a trend in my generation. We are not having babies. Its uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful, and really, who has time for a baby? They encompass much of your time, and resources, and there is no guarantee they won’t end up resenting you at some point and walking away.

“We have ambitions and plans that just don’t allow for kids” I hear my people say.  The focus of my generation is not on growing strong, young men and women with character who will change the world, it is on our lives and sometimes simply staying afloat is all we can worry about.

There is a mirror of culture in the church. We are not having babies. I mean born again babies. The birth that determines eternity. And I wonder why?

We can say its because things like 3000 people being added to our number like in Acts 2 don’t happen today. But in the hungry places of the world where the Spirit of God is welcomed it does.

We can say its because our culture is hardened against the gospel and not open to God. But every culture and generation has eternity in their hearts and brokenness that cries out for the Healer.

We can say its because there is not as much need in North America and we are a “Christian nation.” But we’re not a Christian nation, Vancouver is considered unreached and hurting people are everywhere.

Although we don’t say it so forthright, I wonder if we have the same excuses as my generation. We are occupied, crafting our lives, living with our own unhealed wounds and worries and don’t have the capacity to add the great commission to our already overflowing plates.

I wonder if our focus has gotten onto “doing the things” and “going to the places” that we forget about THE LOST.

There is nothing in life like participating in the eternal birth of a soul. Partnering with the Holy Spirit to love, speak life over and anticipate the birth of some one God invites us to walk with is the most fulfilling gift I have ever been given.  And I want to do it again. And again.

Like having kids, it can be painful, messy and time consuming.  It requires me to leave my safe life and enter the world of another, constantly obeying the Holy Spirit and loving radically.  But after all, that is what Jesus did for me.  Bore the messy, the painful, stepping into my world to love me before I was lovable.

So I am asking for God to bring people who need to be reborn and give me the grace to do the messy, wonderful work of loving them well.

 

Mind the Gap

On our trips to Central Asia, we spent a fair bit of time in China.  For the 2008 Olympics, the airport was completely revamped, and a more sophisticated train system put in.  As the car doors opened, I heard a kind, but heavily accented voice say; “Mine the gap.”

I wondered why you would want to “mine the gap” and thought perhaps it was something you had to be Chinese to understand.

I laughed when later I found out it was fashioned after England’s train system and the kind voice was really saying “Mind the gap” to let you know to watch your step as you departed the train.

As I was reading this morning, I began thinking of the in between times of life when you are on your way from here to there, but not yet here nor there. The in between.

It can be easier to stay the course when in the thick of things than when in transition and not fully engaged.  Sometimes I am good at donning the armour of God and standing firm while in the throes of battle, but am tripped up when I relax my guard in the meantime.   

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it.  (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

When I find myself in the in-between places of life both translations are helpful.  I do well to remind myself to “mind the gap”, being vigilant to keep my armour on and my relationship with the Holy Spirit strong.  I also do well to “mine the gap” as it is times when the natural propensity is to “go easy on ourselves” that God often wants to prepare me for what is coming next.  If I take a spiritual nap, I miss the important preparation and strategic rest God invites me into,  opening myself up to the subtle attacks of the enemy.

Busyness is not synonymous with productivity.

Inactivity is not synonymous with resting.

Like the one day you decide to lounge around in your grubby old pyjamas that your mayor comes to call, the enemy knows the right doors and moments to knock when your guard is down.

Stay alert! Watch out for your enemy the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

The in-between times are some of the most valuable times, but also some of the most difficult times to do well.  My prayer is that we would hear the Holy Spirit whisper “Mind the gap, dear one, and mine the gap!”

What season are you in right now?  Is your armour firmly in place? How is your relationship with the Holy Spirit right now?

The Trees By The River

There are four places I know of in the Bible that mention trees by the river.  Reading them together, they paint a powerful picture of our lives when we are rooted in Christ.  Come with me to the river if you will.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord
 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the riverbank.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Ezekiel 47 tells of the river flowing from the temple of God that brings life everywhere it touches – even desolate places come to life when the river touches them.  On both sides of the river are trees never failing to bear fruit, with leaves that are always green.

Revelation 22 contains one of the most beautiful passages in scripture.  It describes the river flowing from the throne of God with trees on both banks. The leaves are for the healing of the nations and the fruit never ceases.

In each of these passages, it is the river from which the trees draw their strength and life giving capacity.  And it is from God Himself that the river flows.

Jesus tells His followers:

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him).  (John 7:37-39)

No Christian sets out to be a fruitless,  half hearted Christian but I suspect each of us at different times find ourselves feeling like our leaves are brown, and the fruit, all but dried up.  So we work at our calling a little harder, and try to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, desiring joy, but feeling stressed and stretched thin.  (Maybe its just me…)

I am reminded with each of these pictures that I need to follow the river.  If the river flows from the very presence of God, that is where I need to be.  In the presence of Jesus.  Where my roots are nourished, where the fruit and the leaves of my life develop and my soul is renewed.  If I am not continually in the presence of the Lamb of God, immersed in His river, I will not have the fellowship with the Holy Spirit that bears fruit.

Some kinds of trees remember drought and pass along the DNA to dig deep roots to all their seedlings.  We too should be passing along knowledge to sink down deep roots into the river to everyone we disciple, while not forgetting ourselves.

May you be continually reminded to seek God’s presence and drink deeply from His river of life this week!

Stay Hungry!

Have you ever had a season where you felt like your desire for God’s Word was dry and the time spent in it, largely unproductive?  I have.

When Jesus told His disciples He would be killed and then rise again three days later, the gospels tell us that:

They didn’t understand any of this; the significance was hidden and they failed to grasp what He was talking about.  

Just before this, Jesus had told them:

You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, but others are not.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given and they will have an abundance of knowledge, but those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. (Matt 13:11)

We too live in the tension of mystery to be sought out and uncovered and a lack of understanding that can only be removed by the Spirit of God.

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I become aware of His increasing gift of revelation to the hungry.  The more we consume the Word of God under the guidance of the Spirit, the deeper the revelation of Kingdom secrets uncovered, the more we hunger for the deeper things of God.

Matthew says:

Keep on asking and you’ll receive what you ask for, keep on seeking and you’ll find.  To everyone who knocks the door will be open. (Matt 7:7)

Jesus promises the Spirit He sends will teach His followers and remind them of His words.  To uncover the treasure we seek requires a perseverance in asking; even when it seems there is nothing new to understand.

When there is no water at a certain water table level, one must drill down deeper to find the life-giving fluid they seek.  It is when we give up and stop digging that our thirst becomes life threatening, and eventually one doesn’t even feel the thirst that is sapping vitality and life.

There is no condemnation for dry seasons or for lack of understanding, but there is great loss when we feel satiated and stop pursuing the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven and the King who invites us to uncover them.

Jesus told His followers that He was the bread of life and the living water; unless they drank of His blood and ate of His flesh, they had no part in Him.

In contrast to physical hunger, in constantly coming back to Jesus and His word for our nourishment a greater hunger develops and more is given.  The less I hunger, the more I need the nourishment of the Body and Word of my Saviour!

Are you in a season of banqueting?  Pray God gives more and more hunger to take it all in!

Are you in a season of dryness where it seems the Living Word has gone stagnant? Pray for hunger, asking the Holy Spirit to show you how to dig down to a deeper water table to find life!

Is Your Investment Portfolio Balanced?

Growing up with limited resources, then moving into full and part time mission work, I cultivated what I like to term as a “frugal” mindset.   The “I can’t afford that” line of reasoning.  These days, with energy being tight, it can be easy to use the same mindset on things I can and can’t do.

Reading the Bible after some growth, I am realizing in so doing, I put God in my box of possibilities.

I am not saying we should spend resources wantonly, but maybe its time we believers looked at them differently.

Jesus’ whole life was invested in eternal asset multiplication.  He tells the story of three servants who were given 5, 3, and 1 talents to steward.  I’m sure you know the story.

The servant who received the 5 bags of silver invested the money and earned five more.  The servant with 2 bags of silver also went to work and earned 2 more.  But the servant with 1 bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and buried the master’s money. (Matt 25:18)

When investing, choosing different avenues that build toward a common goal is important.  We the Church could take some eternal advice from something the secular world has figured out, but we must view asset creation from a Kingdom standpoint.

What are our resources?

God gives each of us gifts/assets to produce income to live and leverage toward advancing the Kingdom.  If your gift is multiplying money to invest eternally, do it with joy.

What is that thing you come alive in and are passionate about? Where do your creativity and vision bring multiplication, excellence and results? Invest it there!

We are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit.  Many believers don’t even know what inventory the Master has given them in this regard, much less how to invest it. Discover and multiply them.

Time is an asset we are given in equal but limited measure.  How we invest it influences every area of investment.  Investing in a person versus a tv program will bring about vastly different results.  Sometimes the wisest investment is to steal away and be with Jesus alone.  This area of the portfolio is very important, and although money and ability can come and go, time, once gone, cannot be regained.

What we build, invest, and surrender determines what we are left with when we face eternity.  In Kingdom investments, without the Holy Spirit advising, great returns are impossible.  Jesus communicated constantly with His Father and was led by the Spirit; we too only multiply effectively when we are listening.

What assets has God entrusted you with to multiply in the short span you are on earth? When was the last time you sat down with the Holy Spirit and assessed your portfolio?  Where are you wasting assets you could be investing eternally?

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and time do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19) 

Is That You Jesus?

I love what happens when John the Baptist encounters Jesus!  Before anyone except His mother and perhaps Joseph knew who He was, his cousin John recognized Jesus as God incarnate.

It is ironic – almost ludicrous that we humans chronically  put God in our boxes and expect Him to think like we do.  I suppose it makes us more comfortable, but so often we are surprised when God does something completely out of our box and very differently than we ourselves would think to.

Who would have thought the Messiah would come through a humble virgin in a stable?  Yet, God was unfolding a plan that encompassed no less than the salvation of the world.  Few recognized God at work or understood what was necessary for Jesus to accomplish what had been promised. John did.

At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child (John) leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41)

Scripture tells us John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was even born, and the Spirit in him recognized the presence of God in Mary’s womb!

Later, after John’s ministry began, he exclaims the first time he sets eyes on Jesus:

“Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘a man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.'” 

John did not hail him as a conquering king, but as The Lamb who would take away the world’s iniquity.  God revealed to John the very heart of Jesus’ mission.

I wonder how many times I miss what God is doing around me, expecting Him to be predictable or understandable, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to show me where Jesus is at work.

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth were messy and unpredictable with very humble beginnings. A young girl, pregnant before she wed, giving birth far from home in a barn.  This humble, messy pattern continued until Jesus went home to His Father, but in the process, He won power and authority to save the world.

This Christmas I am encouraged that small beginnings and things beyond my understanding are perfect soil for God to plant the seeds of unimaginable victories.  I am comforted that where I see a mess, I can be sure God’s plan is above the mess.  I am reminded that when I am filled with the Holy Spirit, He reveals the true heart of the Father in my broken world, and helps me understand the beyond understanding ways of my great God.

What are your circumstances this Christmas?  Are they too busy?  Are they messy and full of sorrow?  My prayer is for peace that passes understanding to fill your Christmas. May the Holy Spirit fill you and show you what God is up to in places you would never expect to encounter Him!

Merry Christmas!

Productive VS Fruitful

Growing up, I used to hide to finish a book.  If Dad found me, his question was:
“Why don’t you find something productive to do please?”
I would grudgingly put down my book,  go outside and do some of the never ending chores the ranch produced.

As I got older, work ethic was not a problem; God has been working on my workaholic tendencies for years now, so when I opened up my Bible to John 15:5, the verse was familiar, but still hit home.

I am the vine, you are the branches, those who abide in me and I in them will bear much fruit for apart from me, you can do nothing. 

Sometimes it frustrates me that I need to learn the same lessons over and over again!  I like getting things done.  I love the satisfaction of a list crossed off, knowing everything I set out to do is accomplished.  But I am learning God has His own scale of importance when it comes to getting things done. It struck me today that my agenda and lists can be accomplished and crossed off, yet my day be eternally unfruitful.

Those who ABIDE in me and I in them will bear much fruit… Apart from me, you can do nothing. 

This is true in different ways.  The air we breathe is held by God, the strength to work is given by God, so even on a basic life level, I cannot accomplish anything on my own.  But I believe it goes deeper than that.

I look at people like Joni Erickson Tada, amazed by a life grafted firmly in the vine that has borne more fruit than many lives that are physically whole.  When we lay aside our agenda, and let Jesus guide and fill our day, suddenly, we have eternal power and purpose that can make our day not only productive, but also fruitful!

The other day I was coming home from LifeLabs after a bunch of blood tests.  Generally I don’t feel so good after, and was planning to go straight home and rest, but as I passed a farmer’s market, the Holy Spirit said “stop”,  so I shoulder checked and veered into the parking lot.

I soon knew why!  Not only was local produce on a great sale, there was a lady next to the pears who had lost her voice and needed to be reminded that God loves her, has not abandoned her, and is very committed to restoring her.  I asked if I could pray, and listened to the Holy Spirit for words from heaven she needed to hear.  As always, He was bang on, and I got the biggest hug  I have had in a long time and a kiss on the cheek to boot!

Again, I was reminded it all begins with abiding.  Keeping in step with the Spirit.  Carrying on constant communication with Jesus through the day.  Even the mundane tasks can be fruitful when done in a spirit of worship and joy!

Did you begin the day with Jesus?  How do you know when you are abiding in Him and fruitful, versus just productive?