Oh, how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Psalm 119:97

I will value something more if I’ve suffered from the want of it.  If I lived much of my life without the daily revelation that comes through a relationship with God and His Word, then I will embrace it now with intense passion.  The contrast between how desperate I was without the words of Jesus compared to what it’s like to live now with His presence and guidance will be stark.  I’m not speaking hypothetically here.  I’m speaking from experience.

But some who know me say, “Wait!  You’ve been a Christian since you were seven years old.  What do you mean you didn’t know the joy of following God’s ways?” I will tell you that it might have appeared I did.  But I took the paths other Christians prescribed for me.  I was a compliant person and when put me in the company of strong willed visionaries, I caved to fit in.  I wanted acceptance more than I wanted to know the joy of pioneering my way with God.

For the first 40+ years of my life, I lived by other people’s rudder.  When faced with any challenge, I asked those around me, “What would you do?” It seemed there was always a plethora of answers to follow.  Most were given with good intentions and with firm conviction.  Not knowing how to really hear God’s Spirit speak to me, I felt I needed their direction and chose to always trust it.  While some advice was solid, much of it was not.  Over time, I harbored bad feelings toward those whose advice led me astray.  I also punished myself for being so weak as to listen to them.  There was no winning, no peace.  Regrets buried me.  I had to work my way through the mire of disappointments to find the sovereignty of God.  He has more than redeemed it all as I’m writing this.

Do I echo David’s words and proclaim my love for His personalized instruction in scripture?  Oh yes!  Have I turned into a lone ranger who never asks others for counsel?  No.  It’s just that now I have a place to go to weigh their words.  God will confirm the validity of their input or direct me to go a different way.  His law is life and throughout my day, I have the absolute joy of being utterly preoccupied with it.

I am only compliant to Your Spirit, the place where my independence melts away.  Amen

Save

When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.” Genesis 41:55

         Who better to turn to than a Pharaoh for help? People in high positions should have had all the answers and the keys to all the storehouses. Yet, Pharaoh was in over his head. He was not God’s child and his stone gods weren’t talking.

         Seemingly overnight, Joseph was brought out of obscurity to a place of prominence. He couldn’t have guessed that he would sleep in a palace instead of a prison floor, or that his administrative and prophetic gifts would be implemented for the salvation of his people. Yet, when God decided it was time for his advancement, nothing and no one could stop it. Who did the famished people turn to? To the one whose name they didn’t even know the day before.

         How many righteous are sitting in low places today? They are gifted, overlooked, even ridiculed. They have turned down opportunities for advancement because the pathway to the top meant compromise. The sacrifice, made out of love for God, has cost them dearly. There will come a time that others will turn to them for life-saving advice. Their quiet lives of steadfast faithfulness to God will speak volumes when those they formerly trusted shrivel in the flames of adversity. It is only suffering that exposes the difference between the two. It is only suffering that reveals the golden qualities of the ones they once despised.

         I must not weary of the quiet and steady journey of the true disciple. Drawing near to God is never the popular agenda. I will stand out like a sore thumb and bear the insults of those who have much more interesting lives. Yet, when famine affects the landscape of those around me, it might just be the hour for which God has prepared me. I may not sleep in a palace but I will be sought after for the treasures I’ve cultivated in secret with my God.

         John the Baptist, a peculiar recluse, lived three decades for a future, though short, time of influence. Most of his life was preparation for the short burst of glory when he was privileged to prepare others for the arrival of Jesus. Such is the way of discipleship. You and I must never assume that obscurity will be our ‘normal’. Ever ready, we are looking for the time when the seeds God has sown into our hearts in private will be poured out in others time of need.

I never fit in the mainstream. You made me unique and I know that my time with You will bring a beautiful harvest. Amen

If Only There Were A Formula

June 14, 2019


Having said these things, He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva.  Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.”  John 9:6-7

    Each of us desires a supernatural experience with God.  We have areas in our lives where we long for God’s touch.  Healing, comfort, rescue, instruction, these are sought each day in our prayers.  When we hear that someone we know received the miracle of their lifetime, we rush to hear their story.  We want to know how it happened; when it happened.  As they tell us all about it, we wonder if their story holds the secret to our own breakthrough.

I have been curious as to why Jesus varied His methods of healing.  Once, Jesus put spit on a man’s eyes.  Another time, he just touched them and the man could see.  This time, in John 9, he put mud on them and told the man to make the journey to the pool of Siloam, to the southeast corner of Jerusalem, to wash the mud off.  Why keep changing the methods of healing?

If Jesus consistently sent blind men to the pool of Siloam to wash their eyes, every blind person would have attempted to travel to the ‘miracle pool.’  The power of Jesus would be obscured by the grandeur of the tales about Siloam.  God will not share His glory with another.  It is suggested that he varied the methods of healing so that no ‘formula’ could be derived.  The whole point of a blind person receiving sight was that he had had an encounter with Jesus Christ.

For any who has ever waited on God, we know how hard we work for our miracle.  We pray more, read more, trying to clue in to the secret of getting God to move on our behalf.  If such miracles were dependent on a ‘to do list’, we would all get our breakthrough much sooner.  But on the other side of it, what would be our testimony?  “I did this, and then this, and finally there was a miracle.”  Breakthroughs by means of self-effort erase faith, erase trust, and erase God’s glory.

I have known moments where mud was put on my eyes.  I fell to my knees in gratitude and knew that whatever God had done was undeserved.  I rejoiced with many tears.  Why did He wait so long?  I don’t know all the reasons but in the waiting room, wisdom was learned and my faith was strengthened instead of destroyed.

Like you, I am still waiting for other breakthroughs.  They may come in this lifetime, they may not.  In the meantime, I fix my eyes on the Healer and know that if He chooses to stretch out His hand yet again on my behalf, it will only be because Jesus is glorious and all powerful.

Save me from formulas.  My life’s story is all about Your gift of grace.  Amen

AM I HELD CAPTIVE BY MY NAME?

And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.  Genesis 4:2

When Eve gave birth to her second child, he was named Abel. The meaning of his name fit his destiny.  ‘Abel’ means ‘breath or vapor’.  As the story of his life unfolds, his life is short, just a vapor.  He is to be the first martyr for the Christian faith and will be remembered in the great hall of faith chapter in Hebrews.

Names are interesting things.  Oftentimes, the meaning of someone’s name holds great spiritual meaning.  It’s something we can grow into.  I believe God often handpicks names though parents think they made the decision.  Names so often seem to fit the child.

In a loving and stable home, a girl named ‘Joy’ will be a bubbly child, full of sunshine.  A boy whose name means ‘man of faith’ will grow up to have spiritual grit.  He will go on to surmount daunting challenges.  But, let the home be a wasteland, full of pain and destruction, and Satan will make sure that the child grows up to believe the exact opposite of his name.  The girl named ‘Joy’ will be visited by depression.  The boy whose name means ‘full of faith’ will experience affliction that causes him to live fearful.

Can God change our story, our nature and our name?  Consider Naomi.  Her name meant ‘pleasant and agreeable’ and for a while she probably was.  Then her husband took her, and their two sons, to Moab.  She watched all three of them die.  Her story took on bitter elements so that she renamed herself Mara, ‘bitter’.  God redeemed her name as well as her story.  He used a Moabite woman, from a godless race, to rehabilitate her mother in law.  Ruth made one righteous decision after another and ended up marrying a holy man, saving Naomi, and filling her senior years with joyful laughter.

God is a God of new names.  He wisely, and perhaps playfully, bestows a new identity on one who is willing to follow Him to the land of blessing.  It’s not an easy journey, as it will involve the complete shift of a former mindset.  It will require grit and faith.  But deep joy and profound significance will follow any who is willing to believe God for.

He’s still doing it for me.  I thought I was stupid.  For 40 years I was afflicted with deep insecurity about my intellectual capacity.  God healed me.  And interestingly enough, He used the meaning of my middle name to confirm the truth.  ‘Eloise’, the name I disliked and hid, is a French name that means ‘smart’.  I think I heard God chuckle.

I am praying for a girl right now whose name means ‘place of stones’.  I am inserting her name into Ezekiel 26:36.  Her God can give her a heart of flesh to replace her heart of stone.  I think her story is a sad one but there is a Father who sees her, and offers her abundant life.  Her ‘place of stones’ will become an altar of worship.

You are a redemptive Father.  You can redeem anything and everything.  Anything unholy and tragic associated with my name can be transformed into something holy, prosperous, and full of joyful singing.  Amen   

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

         I often seek peace on a superficial level. When my family is doing well, I have a peaceful day. When my bills are current and within 30 days, I have a peaceful day. When I feel good, I feel peaceful.

         But there is a deeper shalom that is much more real. Because of Jesus, I have peace with God. Where there was once enmity and distance, I am drawn close and made whole. Shalom is so much more than just an absence of conflict. It is wholeness and perfection.

         Because I am God’s possession, what is perfect?

  1. I am perfect. Once scarred by sin, both inherited and what I committed personally, I am now perfect because Jesus has gifted me with His perfection. It’s nothing I can be proud of. It was a gift in order to give me access to His Father. He and I are at peace because there is NO offense on my part that keeps us apart.
  2. My future is perfect. How many will read horoscopes today to try to get a feel for their future? I know mine. No matter what happens to me, God takes me safely to His home forever. No catastrophic event can alter it. No one’s last will and testament can diminish it or steal it. I am at perfect peace about my future.
  3. My identity is perfect. I don’t have to obsess any more about who likes me and who doesn’t. I am freed from having to please someone in order to be at peace. I am in Christ and He is in me. We are one. Royalty has been conferred upon me and His favor warms my shoulders. I am at peace with who I am.
  4. My gifting is perfect. I no longer have to compare myself to someone else to measure if they are better at something than I am. My gifts are made complete by the breath of the Spirit of God. When I use them, prayerfully and humbly, with the purpose of making God look great, God magnifies them and little becomes much. Effectiveness and spiritual prosperity are guaranteed.

In closing, I can do so much more than wish each of you a peaceful day. That would give you visions of circumstantial calm. Instead, I will wish you shalom. I inspire you to be in touch with the perfection that is yours because of Whose you are!

When things here fall apart, I go into the depth of my soul to remember where perfection lies. Let me hear heaven’s birds sing above the drone of chaos and confusion. In Jesus’ name, Amen

My Worst Of The Worst

June 6, 2019


Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.  Isaiah 51:1

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well in Samaria, He took intentional steps to prepare her to receive Truth.  They began by talking of the mundane; water, thirst, and drinking.  He made a segueway to its spiritual counterpart; spiritual water, spiritual thirst, and the possibility of a drink that would forever quench thirst.  Jesus conversed about all of this because it needed to precede the revelation of Himself.  Thirst needed to overtake her and wake up her heart ~ for she had stopped dreaming of a Savior long ago.

She came alive as Jesus talked. She rose to engage Him in animated conversation.  Thirsty, she finally voiced a desire to what He was offering.  “Give me this drink,” she said.  But Jesus didn’t answer…. “I’m speaking of myself and this is how you drink of me.”  He immediately brought up the subject of her husband which unearthed the most painful of any possible admissions she might have to make.  She had been married five times and lived with a sixth man.  I often wondered why Jesus’ strategy was to change the subject. Perhaps it was to put His finger on the most painful place in her life.  By doing so, the message was this ~ If you want the most profound encounter possible with Me, you must drink of Me where you need Me the most.  Because she didn’t shy away, she received new life.

What is the worst part of your story? Have you dared unearth the need associated with the memory?  Where does it feel risky to trust God?  What would Jesus say if He sat on the edge of the well with you.  “I saw you at twenty four when you wanted to give up.”  Or, “When you were little, scared and hiding, thinking no one cared, did you know that I was there?”  In these crises of faith, in the darkest places of unbelief, Jesus calls us to a new awareness that there is such a thing as Living Water.  If we drink of Him, we will never need look again to fickle sources to give us what we think we need to feel whole.  We will find Him to be enough.

The Christian life begins when I learn the truth about God, when I learn the truth about myself, and apply the truth about God to the truth about me.  The Gospel is life changing only when it starts with great spiritual need.

Lord, I want to know the hope to which You have called me and Your incomparably great power for me if I believe in You.  Amen

Unbelief Is A Yoke

June 5, 2019


So this is what the sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be shaken. Isaiah 28:16

Unbelief leads to despair but faith leads to hope. If I do not trust Jesus, I will be unwilling to be yoked to Him. I know in my head that God’s Word is true. I can quote this like I was giving a right answer on a test. Yet inwardly, I can still fight severe unbelief. The battle to trust His Word in the face of what appears to disprove it brings me to a crisis of faith.

Peter said that Jesus can be a rock of offense over whom people stumble. What makes each of us stumble is usually different. For many years, I stumbled over the issue of God’s expectations of me. When I go out to teach, I have a group of intercessors who pray for me. They labor in prayer, some even fast. Now, I would feel the pressure of that and think, “You are now fully equipped, Christine, to teach under God’s anointing and powerful things should happen.” When a group failed to respond like I anticipated, I took that as my failure. I believed that the intercessors did their part, gave me everything I needed for a harvest, so I must have failed mine. See the yoke? I forgot that the harvest is not up to me.

I will be shaken if I believe a lie about God. The journey is steep and I must fight for faith. Unbelief assaults me from two places; my own thoughts and the arrows of an enemy who never stops trying to corrupt my trust and connection to God. What will overcome these inner minefields?

“For the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:4-5

The weapons? Scripture and the Spirit. The fortresses? Lies that have become entrenched over time and become strongholds. Speculations and every lofty thing? The mindset that I formulate over a lifetime that is ironclad and hard to budge. Only the Word can demolish it and re-write it.

What lie holds you captive? To find the answer, look carefully at the places you consider hopeless. Ask yourself why you believe that? State the lie and form a battle plan with the Word of God. Come at it with sharp arrows of truth ~ asking the Spirit of God to write His Word on your mind and heart. Fight the battle until you begin to know, and feel, the freedom from the yoke of deception.

You and I may temporarily teeter, wrestle like Jacob, but God’s foundation will hold if we take our mutinous thoughts and override them with His word. As long as we wear a yoke of deception, we render ourselves incapable of ever seeing a kingdom outcome. A glorious plot becomes a tragic and that is never what God had planned for His children.

Lord, you know what tempts me to stumble over you. But I’m choosing to believe that the redemption of this pain must be more beautiful than I can imagine. Break the yoke of unbelief. Amen

Shame Is A Yoke

June 4, 2019


Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. Romans 4:7-8

Every person is born with a sense of shame because of Adam and Eve’s sin. We know we are flawed and are therefore shy before a holy God. The more we add sin to our resume, the more shame grows and the heavier the yoke becomes.

I have fought my own internal battle over the years. I have asked myself repeatedly, “How can I get over what I’ve done? Has Jesus totally forgiven me?” The yoke had me by the throat.

Worshippers in the ancient world knew shame well. They would bring their sacrifices; animals, even newborn babies, to kill at the altar; all because they had a sense that they needed to calm angry gods. Their faith was in the wrong god but their conscience was keen in sensing that there was One higher than them who was just and holy.

Are you living out a life sentence of depression as you rehearse your failures? Does your track record haunt you like a ghost? If you have confessed your sin but still feel guilty, realize that when God forgives, he separates your sin from you. One of the words for ‘forgive’ is to ‘send away’. God took that ‘thing’ for which you repented, took it off of you and put it on Jesus. When you can’t hold your head up, you must remember that you are not your sin.

Satan accuses. People name call. But Jesus calls His forgiven children ‘righteous’. The beautiful names He confers on us form an umbrella under which we live and enjoy peace with God. The names are numerous, each one meaning something beautiful, and it is each one of these that I must rehearse when I am weighed down by shame. Whether people-inflicted or Satan-inflicted, shame need not be my yoke. It was Jesus’ yoke when He died in my place. I am to live like Abraham. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21

How do I take off this yoke? Believe God. See yourself standing in the flow of God’s forgiveness and then walk by faith.  Be sure to have a plan. Satan is the perpetual accuser of the brethren. He will come at you again with old tapes. Be ready with scripture. You will have to quote it out loud and be assured that he will flee. Remember, you are forgiven whether you feel like you are or not. Feelings are unreliable but the Word of God is true and abides forever.

For every one who is deciding to walk in forgiveness, by faith, remove the yoke of shame from their shoulders, Jesus. Amen

ABUSING A GRACIOUS GOD

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Romans 6:1-2

Think of the most gracious person you know.  How easily was it to accept what they offered?  Perhaps you’re the kind of person that squirmed, trying to put a limit on what they wanted to give.  Or, perhaps in the folly of immaturity, you took their gifts for granted and felt entitled to more.

No matter what a man or woman gives, it is nothing compared with the gracious gifts God gives.  Whose offering can exceed the forgiveness of sin, the removal of condemnation, and the start of a new life that begins now but lasts forever?

Paul asks a redundant question.  Should we continue to sin and offend such a gracious God?  May it not be!

The stumbling block for any of us is that Satan has disfigured the face of a gracious God.  When suffering doesn’t cease, when we don’t get the answers we want to the prayers we whisper, we assume God isn’t really on our side.  Gracious?  Hardly.  And yet Isaiah said that ‘God longs to be gracious to us and He waits to have compassion on  us.’ Is.30:18

The Old Testament saints and the New Testament apostles all made the grace of God a recurring theme.  They did this despite their hardships.  On what did they base their experience of grace?  On God’s longsuffering nature, on His willingness to forgive without regard for whether or not they would continue to make the same mistake again, on His many provisions of strength, on His ability to change the lives of people.  They knew that heaven was ‘not now’. They were ambassadors to a dark world.  Ah, but on the inside?  God was gracious to transform the inner landscape of their soul so that they were full of evidences of His grace and glory.  I, too, have tasted and I want so much more.

No matter how big my appetite is for You, You are gracious to exceed what I ask for.  I vow to hate sin more because of who You are.  Amen