New Wine Will Burst Old Wineskins

Jesus brought tension wherever he went. At every turn, His life confronted the Jewish culture. In studying the gospel of Mark, it became clear that at the start of his three-year ministry, Jesus meekly exploded onto the scene which had been quiet for a long time. New Wine Jesus, Kathy Schwanke

Israel hadn’t had a prophet for 400 years. God had been silent as far as we know. And then John the Baptist comes as the forerunner of Christ. John is the last Old Testament prophet. His life represented the old way and he came “carrying the baton” to hand over to the long-awaited Savior.

Consider the desirability of the prophet’s life. His clothing was like burlap, he lived in barren places in the desert, and he ate locusts and wild honey. An isolated and, other than the honey, a deprived man. Willingly cut off from the finer things of life, the rich goodness of comfort, flavor, family, and friends. He was what we would consider poor, I imagine scruffy, and lonely.

John came baptizing, and when his mission was complete, he goes to prison because he called King Herod out on his sin.

Jesus then steps in to take up where John left off. John came preaching, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.” And Jesus, as he began his ministry after his 40 days in the wilderness, took up the message-bearing, preaching, “Repent and believe, for the Kingdom of Heaven is here.”

It was like a relay hand-off.

And everything began to transition.

And as we all know, transition is H.A.R.D.

The word transition might bring to mind labor and delivery if you are a mom. That time between feeling like any minute you might burst, and the time when the bursting-forth happens. For most of us, it is a twisting, writhing, ugly-painful time. Transition.

If you are not a mom, think of moving homes, neighborhoods, jobs or schools . . .

Such tension accompanied Jesus as he traversed earth during those three years. Until that glorious day when He burst forth from the grave into Eternal Life.

Jesus’ time on earth was laden with rhythmic contractions of painful tension. As in labor and delivery, there is a kind of joyful hope underlying the pain, because you anticipate what is ahead, but it is H.A.R.D.

Everywhere Jesus went, he faced opposers. Those trying to trick and trap him, and who wanted to kill him. Can you imagine? You and I may have a few who feel like enemies at times, but most of us really don’t know what having an enemy is- at least not an enemy consisting of a herd of powerful, influential people opposing you, hating you all together.

Transition is most often accompanied by pain and challenges.

Have you ever tried to change a tradition in your family?

In a magnanimous-gigantic way, that is what Jesus was doing in the three years of his ministry.

There were customs, rules, traditions, and protocol to strictly follow in Jewish culture. I think many had given up and just fallen away from their faith. The rules and regulations had grown to impossible-to-keep proportions. God’s laws had been “tweaked” by the elite. In vain conceit, laws were made more difficult for the common man in order to elevate the Pious.

So the Pious become offended each time Jesus breaks protocol. And he does it all. The. Time.

Anger increases as He continues to confront pride in the leaders. He proves them wrong in His rightness and in His questions that appeal to their logic.

Who can deny the Truth to His face?

Don’t you marvel at Jesus’ composure in the face of the hateful accusation?

A paralyzed man couldn’t get through the huge crowds swarming Jesus, so his friends brought him up onto the roof and cleared a hole in it to let him down. Instead of Jesus healing the man right away, he first said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Indicating that he was indeed God in the flesh. This caused a mighty stir in the religious people who accused him of blaspheming. Mark 2:7 Then Jesus proves His power by healing. What can they say to that?

Soon after, he goes to dinner with the sinners and tax collectors and he is accused there of being a heathen. Mark 2:16 He tells them He is a physician who came to heal those (who admit) that they are sick. In other words, the proud who couldn’t see their need for Him wouldn’t taste the benefit of His mercy and power . . .

When the Pharisees and Scribes discover that Jesus disciples don’t fast as they religiously do, {again accusing} Jesus replied with a parable:

 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:21-22

He brought in the new and better way of love, of mercy, of resting rather than striving, of depending rather than earning, and it made those who wanted to rely on their own merits increasingly angry. To the point of murder. {In His case though, the wine wasn’t lost, but He was spilled out for us all.}

He knew that it would happen. That it had to be that way. Isaiah says He set his face like a flint. (Isaiah 50:7)

And then, the glorious day when all hell was bent on destroying the Fruit of The Vine, and seemed to have succeeded. The curtain was torn in the temple. Matthew 27:51

Days later the stone was rolled away, Mark 16:4.

The old wineskin burst and it lost it’s power to condemn us. We are freed from the wrath of God (Revelation 14:10) when once we repent and believe the good news.  Mark 1:15

Now we {you and I, Believer in the Lord, Jesus Christ} are the fresh wineskins filled with the new wine. Acts 13:52

And it is delightful! Psalm 16:6

Jesus the new wine

 

Celebrating Covenants

We celebrated thirty-three years of ‘the knot’ we tied in a little country church in Hugo, MN on Saturday. We had dinner at a supper club, overlooking the beautiful St. Croix River.

Beams of light broke through the day’s dark clouds just in time.

Thirty three is a lotta years, I know. We were young, 18 and 20, and starry-eyed.

His adventurous and decisive nature, balanced my cautious and compliant one perfectly.

Until it didn’t.

There was a time when the lights went dim. When the weight of our own strongholds threatened to tear us apart. I groped for my footing in the mud of anxiety. But by prayer and what could only be the grace of God in the timing of it, we landed at a couple’s retreat on Valentine’s weekend.

And light returned.

We discovered that we both had been looking at me wrong. I was grossly lacking confidence, and seeing my compliant-self as being inferior was less-than helpful in my gaining necessary confidence.

At the retreat, there were two profound things that both our ears needed to hear.
1. Your spouse is not your enemy. Satan is your enemy.
2. You balance one another out.

And then we had to write letters to one another expressing our thanks for the strengths we each brought to the marriage. I’m telling you, it was an “ah-ha” moment for us both to see that my tenderness, flexibility, and sensitivity was valuable in the equation of D and me. We had both believed that I needed to toughen up, be more decisive and determined like him.

Actually, that was true in a sense. I did need to toughen up. My value needed to be confirmed in my heart-of-hearts, based on God’s heart for me, and not my failure to be what anyone else thought I should be.

God healed our marriage as He healed my heart. 

As we were sitting there enjoying our dinner together, suddenly God gave us a rainbow outside the window. I quickly captured it, and had to edit the photo to see it more clearly since the camera is inferior to the eye: Covenants Worth Celebrating

After dinner, we walked the road outside the window delighting in the cooler air, the colors of the evening sky reflecting on the water, and the Lord’s faithfulness to us for all these years.

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Yesterday morning, we didn’t intend to miss our 9:30am church service, but the sunlight coming through the trees outside of our east-facing windows, compelled us to head down to the river early with our coffee to further enjoy the unusual crisp air of the summer of 2016, we decided to go home to refill our cups. We packed a brown bag with butter, a bottle of honey and cinnamon, and stopping at the bread bakery between our house and the river, we bought a long loaf, and headed back down.

Bread and Honey

As we walked and talked, he wondered and we recalled what we were doing ten years ago, twenty years ago, and we found we were able to recall most years based on our celebrations of our anniversary. Several years we had the weekends alone because his parents took our two kiddos to Grandparent’s camp and it happened to coincide with our anniversary.

The years of our kid’s weddings, one, September 4 and the other, August 10 . . . just before and after our anniversary were both marked by our own celebrations. And on our 25th we had taken the kids and four wheelers up to the U.P. of Michigan.

The memories flowed because of the celebrations.

The rainbow was more significant because, being a bit of a social media junkie . . . I do love the online wider-view of the world, and noticing so many rainbows over the past few years, but particularly this year, one day, I felt led to make a proclamation on Facebook, that I felt God was sending us all a message in this worn and weary world:
The rainbow is My reminder of My faithfulness.

R E M E M B E R   that I promised to   R E M E M B E R   M Y   C O V E N A N T.
Genesis 9:14-15

And I promised to “share” or repost every time I saw one. It’s been so fun!

So you can imagine how I smiled at that bow peeking through the clouds on Saturday night as we celebrated our enduring covenant.

Celebrate often, our God who always keeps His promises!  Luke 1:45

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What The Love?

After my run, I sat by the water to write my thoughts down in the “notes” app on my iPhone. I had spent the first hour of my day laying in bed scrolling through one woman’s Instagram feed – to reconsider my thoughts about her, to give her the benefit of the doubt. But I got up from my bed – astonished. Sickened.

Because she is wildly popular, calls herself a Christian . . . author, blogger, speaker . . . and though she loves people pretty well, in several areas, she does not love the Truth of God’s word. [so it’s not true love] I will go as far as saying she opposes Jesus and His mission of Salvation of the lost.

And many of my online friends follow her, quote her, & retweet her.

And her followers praise her – as if she is their god.

Honestly, I gagged. FullSizeRender 8

I love affirmation like everyone else. But if praise comes in mighty waves and never a word of Jesus is mentioned, I’m suspect of her motive. That’s fair, right?

Her snarky attitude [not that that is bad per-se, but in some places it is inappropriate] and the comments below some of her posts overwhelmed me with sorrow [some laden with profanities, others high-fiving the lies, and then there was the applause for her somewhat irreverent, fine-sounding words] and it all ignited a soul-fire in me.

I needed to go for a run. 

No, I’m not going to name her. But I want to encourage you to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

So, here are my jottings:

What love is: [because she claims to be a warrior when it comes to love. Which might be true, but not toward God, the Author of Life and the Bible or for Jesus, the Living Word.]

True Love:
Corrects: 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Protects: You know the LOVE chapter: Always… Always… Always… & Never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Directs: Matthew 28:19-20
And so much more . . . but true love always includes the “hard side” . . . of discipline and training. Love has a degree of strictness. It has safety boundaries.

All for the sake of Jesus. 

Jesus said, “if you love me you’ll obey my commands.”  John 14:15

 

David said, “Oh how I love your law, I meditate on it day and night.” Psalm 119:97

I was led to consider the name-calling that has shut us right up – we who love and submit to God’s word.
[picture the finger-pointing here…]
——->Legalist!!!<——- [that name!]

And I wondered, in light of Psalm 119:97 . . . What is a legalist? Certainly it’s not one who loves and upholds the law? Right? Hence, my jottings [below] of the contrasts between a legalist [think Pharisees who thought they knew God, but actually opposed Him in opposing Jesus] and a faithful follower of Jesus who keeps Him as their first love, submitting to His authority, keeping His word, willing to suffer persecution for holding fast to the word. [See Revelation 1-3, or the whole book.]

“A Legalist – outward performance – OR – A Faithful Follower – inward submission”

A legalist is one who obeys his own determination of the law for the praise of man. Matthew 6:2
A faithful follower obeys the law from love and submission to honor and reflect the Father. John 15:10-17

A legalist demands obedience.
A faithful follower models and instructs in obedience.

A legalist thinks he loves God, but really loves himself and people more. Matthew 7:21
A faithful follower loves Jesus first and is willing to count the cost of losing anything in favor of staying faithful to the Savior. Revelation 3:8; 10

A legalist thinks he’s doing God a favor by “killing” those who bear the Word. John 16:2
A faithful follower bears the Word, willing to lay down his life for the sake of knowing Him. Luke 14:26

A legalist corrects to protect his opinion.
A faithful follower corrects to deliver a soul. Jude 1:23

So, there you have it . . . my jottings.

This all comes after prayer and a great sermon on what the TRUE GOSPEL is [and what it is not]  1 Corinthians 15:1-3

True Gospel: Jesus died, was buried and rose again. He took the wrath of God that we deserved and gave us His righteousness in place of our condemnation. He delivered us from hell and made us heirs of God.

Not Gospel: Jesus loves you and has a great plan for your life. [Though this is true, the gospel doesn’t start with us]

So friends, this kind of Christianity that I saw this morning, I discerned it’s heresy:
There is N O * C R O S S & no need to be born again. — If theres’s no hell, there’s no need for a cross, right?
Watch out for crossless  C H R I S S I A N I T Y!!!

A prissy belief and a broad way.
In Chrissianity, no dying to self is called for. Easy. Peasy. [And what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called, “Cheap Grace” <—- highly recommend reading that one!]

And now you too may want to go for a run or punch a bag or something. . . and while you’re at it, put in this podcast to fire up your prayer life and enable that breakthrough you’ve been holding out for.

Dear Heavenly Father, grant us grace to not get sucked into the deception that is running rampant and to hold fast to Your Word, loving you more than our earthly life, anticipating Heaven, our eternal inheritance. Amen.
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For the King~
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Fear Drives Us To Action

What do you most fear?

Seriously, stop reading right now and write down what you fear. Specifically. This is important.

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Likely the first thing on your list has something to do with those closest to you. Our family relationships are the most significant part of our lives and the place where our minds most often park.

Since becoming a mother, my greatest fears always have to do with my children, and my heart has expanded with their expansion. Now it’s [I’ll just say it: ‘worry’] over our two children, their spouses and my grand babies.

I’m most passionate about seeing them thrive. First in their faith, and then in all other areas. There is not much I wouldn’t drop to help them when they need it.  I’ll be awake in the night for hours when they are facing crisis, my face in the carpet, praying.

I do this because I know two things. 1. I am powerless. and 2. I know God and I know He hears. And in knowing Him, I’ve learned that perfect Love does indeed cast out my fears. I just often need to wrestle my way back to believing it when things “don’t appear to be going right.”

Fear is a large and forceful undercurrent that continually fuels action.

Sometimes I forget God and take action on my own, until I find it not working so well. More often now, the action I take is to go directly to my knees.

So often we try so hard to block fear, we want to stop fear, to NOT FEAR. After all, God continually said it, I’ve heard, like 365 times in scripture – one for each day of the year . . . “Do. Not. Fear.”

So formerly, I felt guilty at every sensation of fear. Which meant I felt guilty every single day of my live-long-life. And then I’d sing that song in church, “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me . . . ”

And then wonder how to get rid of not only FEAR but also the GUILT.

But during a season of teaching a Sunday Bible study, I came to realize that the reason God says it so many times is he knows we FEEL it every day. Especially in the face of say, an angel. [For the record, this hasn’t happened to me personally.] Or as we see an impending proverbial cliff up ahead that others are not seeing.

And I realized God’s “Do not fear” is more of an encouragement and a reminder of His promise, “I Am with you to help you.”

And I lost my guilt over having fear.
I do still hate the feeling of fear.

But have come to embrace fear as a friend – if . . . IF I harness it’s presence as an impetus to turn to God in prayer, who can remind me “Do. Not. Fear.” And then I remember He. Is. Here.

In the light of the painful realities of the world in which we live, and in having access to the large, but foggy window of social media, and becoming increasingly aware of our own powerlessness, I’ve noticed the same online.

Fear for our [own] well-being, for the well-being of our families, and for our society as a whole, fuels the online [often brutally ugly] arguments dialoging. [I’ve seen both good conversation . . . and ugly, hostile words]

So I just want to encourage you today by reminding you,

The antidote for fear is prayer and trusting God.
[And often need a praying friend to go to the throne on your behalf.]
The antidote for all the ugly arguing is knowing, turning to,  and trusting God.
The antidote for all things really.

You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

How To Move A Mountain

Sometimes I feel like a mountain.

And if I am not a mountain, then there’s one large one sitting, feet-out, arms-crossed upon my ambitions. I feel like I have a few battles I cannot win.

Which I know is not true.
So I wonder what my problem is.

I want to get my workout in before 9:00am. I finally get to it at 1:00pm.

I want to lose ten pounds. I get the “Lose It” app on my phone. I chart for three weeks, see no progress and quit.

I set a goal to write for two hours a day, and end up doing many other things, perhaps any other things, but fail to actually write.

And I want to know HOW to MOVE this MOUNTAIN! D1ACA907-60C0-40EE-9234-55ED505ED784

I went to the Christian Women in Media “Girlfriends and Chocolate” event a few days ago. I was in line with my friend Wendie. I chose the fruits and veggies, no dip. I put the cheese squares on my plate sparingly. I didn’t take a cookie. I am aware of how she manages her diet, based on her knowledge and her fitness/faith focus, and so being near her motivated me to deny myself some things.

I don’t have that king of motivation at home when Dale brings home . . . pizza.

The next morning I thought of Wendie, and how she has ‘guard rails’ in her mind. She has signposts “Do Not Enter” placed there for the cheese and the sugar and the meat. Because I have some guard rails of my own. And there are those that were formerly in place in my mind, but have been hit by a proverbial car and have landed in the ditch somewhere.

One of them was “No Cheese Allowed” . . . my motivation for that guard rail was that I believed cheese made me fat. And I didn’t WANT to be fat.

Wendie and another friend and I talked about food choices, and what foods do to our bodies, and a bit about the pollution in our American food and the high cost of buying organic.

And we talked about what motivates an Olympian to pursue their goal. Because even Wendie has things she feels like she wants more passion to pursue. [Every human, hello!]

I love to see the beauty of men and women achieving exceptional goals. I’m guessing you do too.

I just wish I loved doing the work as much as I love seeing the result. [Ahem.] 

As God would have it, I am currently reading through proverbs AND the Olympics are on. So the day after sitting with Wendie, I read this:

“A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” Proverbs 16:26

And I realize it is DESIRE that drives the human heart. My desire for cheese . . . or chocolate, as the case may be, drives my choice to eat it, and obviously TRUMPS my desire to lose the excess ten pounds I’ve been carrying around for the past fifteen years.

I wonder if . . .
Comfort is the enemy of advancing to achievement. 
And if that is the case . . .
Self-denial is the friend of our passionate pursuit. IMG_0698

I wondered what motivated Michael Phelps to pursue the world record for gold medals in swimming. So of course I searched on google. When I found his twenty inspiring quotes, I realized the thing about facing a mountain.

Moving it is rooted in desire. You can see it in his words, “dream. imagine. willing. love. achieve.  . . . ”

As a believer in Jesus and His power, I have, on my side and within me, the resurrection power of Christ and His Spirit. He has given me a spirit of self-control. With that in mind, I realize that indeed, I am the mountain. It is only my refusal to believe and to do the work that keeps me from attaining the thing I desire to do. 2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 5:22-23

I’ve often said there are only two things that keep us from God and I believe the same two things keep us from walking in His will for our lives. Especially our passionate pursuit of Him and His will.

They are two sides of the same coin [I call it Self] Pride and Unbelief.

Daily I need to die to my self and my inferior desires.
Daily I need to kill my own pride and wipe out my unbelief.

This cannot be done by my own will power, I need to rely on His power at work within me. I must search out His word and fight the lies of “I can’t” and “I don’t have it in me” replacing them with, “I can do all things through Christ” and “it is Him who is able to make all grace abound”

I watch that UnderArmor video again, I see the strain and the pain, and I remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I beat my body and make it a slave . . . so that I won’t be disqualified for the prize” and I realize the Olympians are there reflecting God. I think that is why we love to watch them. And even UnderArmor has godly knowledge for the world:

“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.” #RuleYourself

Amen UnderArmor. Amen.

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Prayer and How To Hear From God

Do you long to hear from God with more clarity? Have you ever wondered if you could have intimate conversations with God like Jesus did when He was on earth?

I would love to be sitting on a rock next to Jesus when He prayed . . .

Mark 1:35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark – Jesus leaves the house and goes to a secluded place to pray.

In the following verses, Mark tells us that the disciples had been looking for Jesus and when they found Him they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” And Jesus replied, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came.”  [Mark 1:36-39]

Look at how our compassionate, servant-Savior, Jesus, obviously confident in His mission for the day, was undeterred from it, even when people needed Him. 

Do you need a little of that confidence when there are too many demands on your time?

I’m always seeking to learn more about prayer . . .

In his book entitled, “Prayer”, Timothy Keller says,

“Christian prayer is fellowship with the personal God who befriends us through speech. The biblical pattern entails meditating on the words of Scripture until we respond to God with our entire being, saying “Give me an undivided heart, that . . . I may praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart.””

I remembered reading a few years back that Jewish boys learned the scriptures by sitting outside under a tree muttering them repetitively so as to internalize them – akin to the cow chewing the cud. So I did a little search to consider Jesus’ prayer life further.

From this article,  I read, “Training in the Torah began very early. The father had an obligation to teach his children the Law by words and example. A child could observe his father binding the phylacteries on his arm and head. The natural question, “What are you doing?” could be used to teach the child that it was everyone’s duty to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ).

When the son reached the age of twelve, the Jews believed his education in the Torah was complete enough to help him know the Law and keep it. He was then known as a “son of the Law.” As a symbol of this attainment, the father would fasten the phylacteries upon the arm and forehead of his son. The box placed on the forehead indicated that the laws must be memorized. The other box was placed on the left arm so that it would press against the heart when the arms were folded or the hands were clasped in prayer. The box pressed against the heart would symbolize that the laws were to be loved and obeyed.
. . .

Boys usually began formal schooling at the “house of the book” at age five. He would spend at least a half-day, six days a week for about five years, studying at the synagogue. Parents brought their son at daybreak and came for him at midday. While not at school the boy was usually learning a trade, such as farming or carpentry.

If a boy wanted training beyond that given in a synagogue, he would go to a scholarly scribe. Saul of Tarsus received such advanced theological training “at the feet of Gamaliel” in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3 ).”

Do you remember when Jesus was 12 years old, and his parents accidentally left him behind? And when they found him, he said, “Didn’t you know that I’d be in my Father’s House?” According to the above article, He was then known, at the age of twelve, as “A Son of the Law” – so His question was simply a reflection of what should have been assumed by his parents.

Timothy Keller also quotes Eugene Peterson,

“Language is spoken into us; we learn language only as we are spoken to. We are plunged at birth into a sea of language …”

— I found myself mulling this over extensively! And as new believers, we are “plunged into” a new language. The more we engage with scripture, the more we will be in tune with God’s voice! [See Romans 12:2]

“We speak only to the degree we are spoken to.”

It is therefore essential to the practice of prayer to recognize what Peterson calls the “overwhelming previousness of God’s speech to our prayers”
[Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity” Eugene Peterson]

Keller goes on to say,

“It means that our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture. We should “plunge ourselves into the sea” of God’s language, the Bible. We should listen, study, think, reflect, and ponder the Scriptures until there is an answering response in our hearts and minds…”

Consider your own time in the scriptures, in prayer, and your own ability to discern God’s will each day. And then consider how important it is that we are having that intimate time with Jesus as we seek to follow Him in this time in HisStory.

Learning God's Language

Here are a few questions to think through on your own prayer life.

1. Do you have precious time scheduled into your day to read God’s word and talk to Him that keeps you fortified and heading in the right direction? Or do you need to make adjustments in your daily routine – perhaps getting up while it is still dark? Or going to a more solitary place? [Or like me, leaving my phone in another room?]

2. Have you ever considered what Jesus’ time was like when He went away with His Father and want to share your thoughts?

3. Are you in a consistent prayer time with other believers for your families, neighborhoods, cities, country and the world? Do you think we learn to discern God’s voice more by being with others who know Him?

4. Are you memorizing scripture? If not, how might you work that into your schedule?

In those days, memory was enhanced by reciting aloud, a practice still widely used in Middle Eastern education both Jewish and Muslim. Constant repetition was considered to be an essential element of learning.

In order to hear from God, we need to be near Him and be in His word. This is what John 15 means when Jesus tells us to abide.

A Day in DC

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As I stood on the top step of the Library of Congress with my friends praying on 7-17. It was the day after we gathered to pray on The Mall with #TOGETHER2016 (we had mistaken the Library of Congress building for the Supreme Court – don’t judge. 🙃)

I had a profound sense of reverence for the high calling of God on leaders who make decisions to govern people. I lost my breath for a few seconds.

And a vision flashed before my eyes of the day they will stand facing the God of the universe and be held accountable for their words and deeds.

I have felt the sting of shame when standing in the presence of holiness. How much more will it be when face to face, for those who have lived according to their own standards and failed to acknowledge God as God?

And I fell prostrate on the inside, before God, asking forgiveness for failing to pray for them more as a citizen, myself, under their authority.

It’s safe to say that most of our leaders, though they give lip-service to Him, don’t actually fear the Lord, and so they don’t take care to honor Him or follow His ways.

But just because they disregard His authority, doesn’t remove Him from having authority over them.

Truth is truth. God is God. And one day we all will face Him. Will you join me in praying more fervently for our leaders according to Romans 13?

This post by Randy Alcorn inspired me to finally sit down and write about my weekend in DC.

And here are a few photos of our weekend. [Do you know which buildings are which?]

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Why It’s Hard To See Beauty In Pain

I had safely placed guard-rails around my heart. If a thought of sorrow over loss would come knocking, I’d brutally slam that door closed. I’d hung the sign on the gate of my mind: “No Admittance” in order to guard against Satanic self-pity. You may have seen me talk about it on Instagram last week.

Two days ago [four days after that Instagram post,] I woke up, and as I lay there, streams of tears came, and mountain of kleenex emerged on my nightstand.

We can be determined to stand in victory, but the rug can be pulled out from under us.

The problem is, standing on the rug.

By faith, I need to stand on the Rock, not the rug. God Loves You

You see, I wasn’t only being bombarded with pictures and memories from the past that stood in stark contrast with my “now” – but also had been experiencing friction in my marriage – those little annoyances that dig at you but don’t get resolved. And they add up. Until, BAM! – we hadn’t taken time to confront the monster in the room.

And deeper still, inside my heart, I was carrying weights that only Jesus can carry, burdens over choices I’ve made – but failing to trust His love, to bring good even from my failures.

I do trust His love, really I do, but I forget to.

When I bleed, my eyes are prone to look too long at the wound.

And in my conversations with others “more blessed,” my life felt like more of a mess.

With just a glance through the scope of my struggles – written out, we can diagnose ‘the rug’.

The rug is an earth-bound view. A me-centered mentality.

  • A focus on the present “lack” and on the past — void of the joy in the now, and void of hope for good in the future.
  • A focus on the crisis instead of Christ who redeems, renews and restores all things.
  • A focus on the blessings of others in comparison to my percieved lack. [Forgive me Father!]

It is disheartening to find myself, having walked this long and far with Jesus, knowing I have an inheritance in Heaven, to still stumble onto this ugly-rug of self-focus. When I bleed, my eyes are prone to look too long at the wound and forget about the Healer.

But even in THIS present failure to “buck up buttercup!”  because of Jesus, I find a redemptive gift: the necessary reminder; the evidence of the self-centeredness that formerly imprisoned my soul.

Today and every day, the gospel! The good news of Jesus is my salvation. Ephesians 2:4-7

Because He has rescued me, no matter how many times I fall by failing to trust and obey, the moment I look UP to Heaven, His hand is there reaching, and lifts me from the dark and dirty earth. Again, He stands me up on the Rock, puts a new song in my mouth, and restores my blistered soul.

On the other side of Mount Kleenex, I marvel at the challenge of seeing beauty in my pain. Even though I remind others of the beauty to come, when the pain belongs to me, I get sidelined with this temporary blindness.

All through scripture, it seems this is the pulse of our “now-on-earth-and-in-heaven” life as we follow Him. He keeps us in awareness of our fleshly weakness, but also enables us to live by His strength, that His glory will be revealed, and His reflection will be seen. FullSizeRender 2

I needed to get back in the Light.

My victory came through:

  • Acknowledging my weakness to friends [we so need one another]
  • Asking for prayer
  • Having a talk with my husband
  • Sitting with Jesus, receiving His unconditional love and His covering of my sin – again.

Like the Psalmist in the 73rd, and so many other Psalms, I go to the throne of grace with my lament, and come away praising the King of Kings for my future inheritance in Heaven. And, like the apostle Paul,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which He has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Dear Lord, help me avoid getting on the rug; help me keep my eyes off of myself and my circumstances, help me remain standing on the Rock with my eyes to Heaven. And thank you that when I fail, you stand me back up there again. Amen. Proverbs 24:16

I Want To Be In The Light || [LYRICS]

You can pre-order Susie Larson’s book Your Powerful Prayers now!

Which Spirit Will We Invite? Discord Or Unity – We Can Change The Atmosphere

Dearly Beloved, [Wonder of wonders, that is what we are!] Are you feeling increasingly unsettled?

With the growing discord in our world, and more recently on our own soil, it’s as if the proverbial snowball of evil has been rolling down a long and windy hill that is steep at the bottom, and suddenly has landed, scattering shards. There is no land untouched by the increasing violence of darkened souls.

Yesterday I felt a familiar tight knot. A sort of fist in my heart and lungs and head – as weighty as the day was cloudy. “Lord, is this ‘sense’ an identification with your heart for the current state of the world? Or is this the sin of unbelief? This tension I feel, how do you feel about it?”  

Considering it all with him, my feelings and thoughts all jumbled, I came to see it is a mixture of both sacred and sin. “Lord, deliver me from my unbelief!”

“How long, O LORD? How long will the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?”

I couldn’t stand to look at the internet, voices seemed to be screaming, words repeating, the reports, the commands, the demands, the reprimands, the blatterstands and clatterbands. [So . . .  I made the last two up. 🙂

But I was looking.

Because I want to assess the situation. Uncertain how to respond. How to think, feel, act [or not] and I am cautious. Reading. Discerning. Looking for God and His heart, His hand, His will. “What are You doing here, Lord? How should we respond?”

I am concerned. And I am hopeful. Concern comes naturally, but I have to fight to maintain hope. As Paul describes it, fighting the good fight of faith, hope in things unseen.

I believe that in a day like today, quiet is good and slow is wise.

quiet and slow

Last night a FB friend linked to a post about Christians being blamed. And it engaged that place in my heart and lungs and head. Because often during crisis, I’ve seen posts by Christians against Christians, and as I have ruminated on the outcome of the “Open Letters To The Church” and other such addresses, I’ve come to see the potential harm. The result being, lending more fuel to the fire displayed in the linked article.

It grieves me, and I believe it’s a grief that is more sacred than sinful.

If we openly rebuke, even bully one another in public. If we paint Jesus’ Bride in broad, condemning strokes; holding our own ideals as the standard. [For example:  “This is what I do, Church, you should do it too!”] we fuel angst. Not to mention that it sounds a lot like legalism.

Our divisiveness serves the enemy. Angst begets angst.

We think we see the way that all should follow.

It seems logical.

I’ve thought this way myself. Thankfully, long before internet was a thing – so my thoughts had less opportunity to become words. And I have learned through the “School of God” [“Hello Honey, I call my people to follow Me, not everyone has the same course.”]

Time + Experience = Wisdom 

The problem with open, public shaming or rebuke is that those who do so fail to discern that the weeds and wheat grow together. We might want to uproot the weeds, but fail to see we are wounding the wheat. We fail to acknowledge that to publicly berate the Bride of Christ, we are feeding Cain and Ishmael and Esau’s arsenal (the angry heart that would not submit, but instead crucified our Savior) the one who persecutes the children of God.

God will not hold guiltless the unrepentant, who accuse and wound His blood-bought Bride.  And we should pray for those who act in ignorance. Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

The fact that we are washed by the blood and free from condemnation is the glorious truth of our standing before God. Praise Jesus! That is why we should never accuse one another in the spirit of the accuser.

God has established an orderly way for us to grow in Christlikeness.

It is in the context of “home” amid relationships, in family and in local gatherings, in friendships and around tables. Submitted to one another, committed to one another, honoring those He puts in leadership in our lives. Those who have the right and the responsibility to oversee and care for our souls. Pastors and leaders and teachers and fathers and mothers, and sisters and brothers.

I suspect the bull-horns of social media – which, at times might be likened to our “modern Tower of Babel” have increased the chaos and division we have experienced of late, exponentially.

Love certainly doesn’t come through in a public rebuke. Even if love is there, it’s likely indiscernible.

God’s desire is that we edify one another, that we are “for” each other. That we do good to all people and especially those who belong to the family of God.
Galatians 6:10

It’s a simple way, really, but not easy.

Lord, be with us, and fill us with faith. May we be faithful to pray, keeping our eyes on you and our hearts tuned to Your voice. Help us love one another well, build one another up. Help us hope in what we cannot see. Hope in You! Lead us O Lord. Amen.

The Atmosphere is changing now, the Spirit of the Lord is here. Miracles can happen now, the Spirit of the Lord is here. The evidence is all around . . .

Truth Tellers Are Like Pilots

It’s been awhile since I posted. And I want to say something like, “Life is hard” or “Things feel heavy” because . . . they sometimes do. But I know I don’t need to tell you that, I know you feel it too and the purpose of my blog is to encourage you and enable you to Savor the Light of Jesus, our hope.

The hope of the Gospel; the Truth of Jesus as our Reigning, Sovereign, and Victorious King.

Even when it doesn’t look like Good is in charge, He is.
And that is the truth we must fight to abide in. I am fighting to abide in.

And can I just say that truth-tellers are like pilots to me?

Every single time I fly [and it’s been many times since my (finally) first flight in 2003, at thirtysomething ] every time when I get off the plane, the pilot is standing there by the exit door, and just before I step off the plane, most often he greets me – as he greets all the passengers as they file by –  I want to HUG HIS NECK because I am so in awe that he has the courage to fly that big beast of a thing, and more than that, he has managed to fly me through the big beautiful blue sky where I have the greatest view ever and . . . *deep breath* . . . he has landed me safely – yet again.

Thank you so much Mr. Pilot!!!

I LOVE flying!!!
And pilots.
And I also love the mechanics that keep airplanes running/flying smoothly.
[If you know an airplane mechanic or a pilot, will you PLEASE hug them for me?!]

So, back to my love of Truth-tellers . . . This might go without saying in a political year such as this . . . such as we have never seen before – none are trustworthy. None. [politicians, that is – okay . . . and the media. I don’t trust them either. Come to think of it, I don’t trust many who write words these days . . . even medical reporters . . . so many are serving money . . . I digress ]

And at this point, unless a new candidate [a miraculous move of God needed, I know] comes along, a KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR, I am likely writing in: Jesus Christ. He is the only one I trust ATM [AtTheMoment #AlwaysTrustMessiah]

This may or may not happen, we will see how things transpire between now and November. Personally, I am putting a lot of hope in God’s love for His faithful people. And that means we need to see to it that we are living faithful, abiding in the love and truth of Jesus.

But. This isn’t a political post, sorry for the rabbit trail. This is about us being faith-FULL in this crazy time in history.

The Way of The Commander As I said, I love Truth-tellers. [Truth: honesty, integrity, truthfulness] I want to hug them like the pilots.

And speaking of pilots and truth . . .

It has always been ironic to me that when Pilate is interrogating Jesus [the Truth] before the crucifixion, he looked at him and asked the question, “What is truth?” 

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

John 18:33-38

Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life . . . said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 
And we can assume then that there are two sides.
One is either FOR or AGAINST Truth [Jesus].

Christ.
Or Anti-Christ.
1 John 2:18
[Don’t you love how God’s word clears things right up? How there is nothing muddy there?!!!]

In lieu of my ramblings and the fact that I’ve been AWOL here, I am going to leave you with a couple of “pilots” I trust to tell the truth. A couple of men I feel compelled to hug, for they are seeing to our safety. And then one post from someone who I do not know, but whose words ring true . . . for your encouragement and edification, a triple dose of light to savor:

I hope you have time to listen!

Our Only Hope is a message by Dr. Tony Evans given at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

An End Time Call To Repentance is a message that showed up on my Facebook feed by Pr. Gary Wilkerson of Times Square Church. You can tell this was a hard message for him to get into, but by the end, you see the fire of the Spirit of God move through him.

A Christian Singer Comes Out Of The Closet a blog post by Jay Sanders on Pastor Jason Landers’ blog, shining light in a dark world on a heavy topic. Shared on Facebook by my cousin’s courageous teenage daughter.

And I have a guest post on my friend Diane’s blog today. Our Words Are Windows

Until next time . . . keep praying, keep trusting, keep yourself in the love and truth of God.

All my love,
Kathy