The Paths of Life

“To tell you my story, is to tell of Him” lyrics: Big Daddy Weave

Have you ever thought that “the valley of the shadow of death” was here and now in this life and that the “still waters” and “green pastures” were afar off? That, that type of goodness was for the other side of this life?

A fresh revelation on this: (Read Ps.23 as I list out what I was shown from what it says.)

The “paths of righteousness” are: varied and are all part of our growth and learning this side of our eternal life. The paths are all going to be part of our life story. Psalm 23 lays out the paths that we will travel in our lifetime. Check this out:

  • They can be: times of refreshing in the green pastures
    • and times of peace beside the still waters
    • or valleys/where death to self resides, pain, difficulties
  • They are paths of:
    • restoration
    • comfort in His provision and protection
    • victory over every enemy
    • blessing instead of defeat
    • anointing to our calling/in our gifts
    • abundance of His Goodness and Mercy
    • righteousness (Us becoming like Christ, and righteous in that they are paths He ordained for us to travel)
  • These paths can make us:
    • feel exposed, fearful
    • question God
    • thrill at His presence and touch
    • laugh, cry, sing, dance, cheer, doubt, believe
    • rest
    • aggitated and scared
  • They are paths that:
    • last all the days of our lives
    • dwell in the house (and heart) of the Lord forever
    • last forever

It’s true the enemy loves to mess with our ride: distorting the view, casting shadows of death, and throwing out road blocks…but they are all just shadows.

But God! The paths are a rollercoaster of excitement personalized and unique to each of us; yet, we will all encounter the same paths. It’s all about the attitude when we’re up in this altitude!

Life with Christ is an amazing adventure; we all get the ups and downs, we all get the thrills and chills, and we all get to the end victoriously…if we just hang-on to Him.

Just keep hanging-on. (In faith {attitude of confidence}, word {what we say lines up with what we say we believe}, and deed {putting action to our belief}.)

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Drop Anchor

There is freedom here, in these verses, for many in the church today: (Deut. 24:16, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:20). Every man is responsible for his own sin.

It is Religion that would have us condemn our own brothers and sisters in Christ. It is Religion that promotes judgment, criticism, intolerance, and rejection of each other within the Body. Religion is still trying to crucify Christians.

Relationship with Christ covers each other with love, lifting each other up to the Lord where we are falling weak and stands along-side…willing to keep on loving that person even when they mess up. Relationship with Christ births unity by bringing resolutions to divisions that bring peace and joy to all involved. Relationship with Christ brings lasting true change to each person, in His timing. Relationship with Christ is where we can walk in obedience to the absolute truth of the Word of God and still love others who might be spiritual immature in places or who are still lost. We don’t have to throw out the Truth of God’s Word/what is sin and what is not to love all people – the Word, Jesus, already does love all people. (Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.)

Love does not condone sin, it sees beyond the sin to what God wants to do/and can do in that person’s life and that God loves them right there where they are at…just like He loved us before we were saved. Love died for us so we’d/they’d have a hope of being different and set free.

  • Holy Spirit does the clean-up work on each of us; He is faithful to complete the work He started.
  • The Bible says each man is responsible for his own sin.
  • God is more than able to handle all of us individually and all that is going on in our lives.

Let responsibility stay where it belongs.

Take off that weight/anchor that so easily besets us…

anchor(judgment/condemnation/criticism/intolerance)

and be free.

Jericho Stillness

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

A couple weeks ago, I felt the urging to be still, and then rec’d a word from God to enter into a time of stillness called Jericho Stillness. A new thing to me, even though I thought I knew what stillness was, and thought I knew how to be quiet before the Lord. Trying to be still and not pray revealed some thoughts and feelings that I felt God wanted me to share with you.

Joshua 6:10  “But Joshua had commanded the people, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!”

Each bullet contains my notes from each day, followed by my thoughts on what I learned or took away.

 Day 1 – thankful for the stillness, but feel so wrong not to be praying.   I feel like I should be telling You stuff God. I don’t want to lose ground on my prayers. In the stillness there is reliance on you God – that You know my needs, that You know the requests without me saying it.

I felt unsure, and felt the need to reassure myself that God would know whatever I needed, and that I didn’t have to spell it all out to Him to make sure He knew, but why would I think that? God knows what we will say before it is even formed on our lips. He knows our going out and coming in. He knows the beginning from the end so He knows my needs. I don’t have to pray them for Him to know them. It seemed to me that some prayers we pray are us instructing God in what needs to happen, and that we also pray out of our doubts that He would know what we need and when we need it.

Day 2 – I am missing the praying, dancing, singing, and laughter. The Israelites must have wondered what they were accomplishing in the stillness. Kept trying to pray and God kept saying “Be still”.

Thinking about that word Accomplishing – woke me up to the “works” mindset that can be behind our praying. It’s a sneaky thought, and a tricky one. It lead me into a look at prayers, but I believe that is for another post.

Day 3 – write a post about this experience. I saw a red-eyed demon chomping at the bit to attack me as I sit here saying nothing, but reading the Word. You are the power God, not our words, You! You are the knowledge, You are the planner behind all good, We only truly know how to pray when we hear from Your Heart. Prayers accomplish when we’ve heard your heart and prayed that. The “Take your sandals off” God speaking to Moses verse is about God‘s Holiness touching our flesh, no barriers between us and God, changing us, intimacy with Him, contact with our Creator.

There is power in stillness. The enemy hated my stillness. When we are still God rules! The one thing the enemy doesn’t want to happen – God to rule! God is our power and strength! I watched Victoria Osteen speaking, and she referenced an Elephant and a Mouse walking across a bridge. The bridge shook and quaked as they walked across. At the end of the bridge the mouse looks at the elephant and says: “Boy we really shook that up huh?!”  We are that mouse walking with God –it is Him who is really shaking things up. He roars and thunders and we are by His side. We, the mice, really can’t do much on our own, but when we try to do things our self we stop God’s earth shaking power in our life.

               • Day 4 – time to reflect and remember the deeds of God, His Mighty works, to see His Greatness! Rest – is putting my trust in God for my care, provision, well-being, life, and protection. It was what Eden was like, pre-fall. God calls us to rest, to toil and labor was the curse post-fall. Rest allows for ALL the power of God to be at work for us, and through us. We don’t want to let go of our work, our part because then we can’t take any credit.

Being still and not praying allows the mind to recall other times with God, things He did, things He didn’t do which were really better after all. To think on His Greatness – we are so small in this world. In our minds we are big, but really we are tiny. How amazing that God, Creator of all, can hear my voice! How amazing He would care too! Infinitely Huge God making Himself part of my heart and life, loving me. How He’s protected me. How He’s provided for me. How He cares for me.

            • Day 5 – Repenting of following the power, the gifts, the glitter of religion, the anointing – God is God – and He is the one to follow. Relationship with God is vital. I can’t love anything more, want anything more. My motives are all wrong – I’ve wanted fame, to be seen, to be heard. I’m puffed up in my own mind and heart. I believe my judgment over God’s.  Repenting.

The Grace of day 5 – God revealed some seriously ugly stuff in my thinking I didn’t know about. When I’m not doing all the talking, God gets a chance to show me some things, and man it was needed. In the stillness we can come face to face with ourselves – but no worries, there is Grace to repent and head a new way.

               • Day 6 – I wonder if the Israelites felt excited on the eve of day 7? Did they take God literally that the walls would fall? Could they imagine the walls falling as they actually did? God has reminded me of what He has said I am and am to be while at the same time He exposed and removed the stuff not of Him. Tomorrow the Shofar sounds and the walls come down.

I could see some of what God was doing in these days. Redefining some things, removing some “stinkin thinkin”, and realigning my line of sight. I see much benefit to times of stillness with God. Who better to do all the talking?

               • Day 7 – “Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy Faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see” “You give me Joy, Joy, Joy unspeakable and you make me more than happy.” And those the Son sets free are Oh so free indeed. “And He makes me more than happy.” Do I really see how Great Your Faithfulness is?

So much music and joy in my heart. Amazed at how much more there is to see of God. Overwhelmed by Him. A greater peace dwells with me now that didn’t before. I find myself more still before God, less eager to jump into prayer and more willing to say nothing and listen.

Ecclesiastes 5:2
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”

The Present

I was watching Kung Fu Panda with my Dad Saturday night and a quote referenced in the movie fit with something I felt God wanting to say: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift”. It’s a saying I’ve heard before, but when I heard it again the other night I knew it went with what God is saying about the New Year: that we be encouraged to lighten the load going into the next year. Get rid of the weights, lighten up, laugh, and leave the rest to Him.

We tend to take on so much and don’t seem to realize when it’s too much. So many errands, housework, jobs, then add in all the other outside tasks we take on and we can overload pretty quickly. We tend to take on much more than we can handle emotionally as well. I heard a recorded message on a radio station; this woman was thanking them for helping her to carry her heavy burdens. What? She actually thinks she’s supposed to be carrying around heavy burdens. That’s not a good place to be and God didn’t ask us to do that.

We take on emotional baggage we were never meant to carry, we take on conflicts we were not meant to carry, we take on relational issues, and we are so conditioned to keep packing more on that we even take on the problems of others thinking it’s helpful somehow. There are people in our lives that count on us being a drop-off location for their problems. They know we will listen and we will take up their cause for them. They pull up, dump a load of troubles on us, and drive off feeling better.

New Years is a time of resolutions.  Well, let’s resolve this year will be different! Time to shed the weights! Let this year be different by truly freeing ourselves, really drop the weights from around our lives, really resting in God’s care, really relying on His help, really seeking Him in all things, and let’s really live in the present of today. Not rushing by this day with “isn’t it Friday yet”, or “I’ll have time to talk God when things in my life aren’t so crazy.”  What are the burdens we carry?

I did some digging on the word Burden:
First burden I found was Guilt. Psalm 38:4 “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” We take on pressure, guilt, shame, fear, which snowball into all sorts of other troubles when we do things we know are not God’s desire for us. Whatever causes us guilt – we must get rid of it. It’s not benefiting us or our relationship with God to keep doing it.

The second burden I found was “all these people”. People are needed in our lives, relationships are great, but when “all these people” are too heavy for us – it’s time to set boundaries, and take it to God. Numbers 11:14 “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.” As I said earlier, people like to unload, which means whoever they are unloading on will get overwhelmed if they don’t know what to do with it. We have someone to take all that stuff to, God! He is open 24/7 365 a year. Give it to God. He is way more able to handle the problems of “all these people” than we are.

I couldn’t help but include the whole chapter to the next burden reference. This chapter starts with reference to idols, images that the people worshiped. I won’t go into all the ways we worship things other than God, or all the things we place in higher regard than God – we’d be here a while, but let’s exam our hearts (me too) and see what’s true in our life, what we need to repent of. Whatever it may be, it’s a burden to us. It holds us back, holds us down, divides our love & attention, and it feeds the flesh making it stronger. If we are to grow in the Lord we must feed the Spirit in us, and starve the flesh. The chapter also gives us a glimpse of how God is there, how He helps, cares for our lives. There is no other like our God.
Isaiah 46
Gods of Babylon
1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden.[a] The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. 2 They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity. 3 “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. 4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. 5 “With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? 6 Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. 7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer; it cannot save them from their troubles. 8 “Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. 9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. 12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. 13 I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.

God provides all we need, heals, listens, guides, protects, and sustains us. In Him is all that is needed for us and for others. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

God doesn’t want us to be worried, hurting, or fearful. Jesus made the way for us to have full access to God and all His provisions. His gift is for us to accept and open. It’s that easy! So, this New Year, let’s drop the weights, let’s let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, being thankful for His presence with us, His great help, and His amazing love.
Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Remembering where our help comes from and going to Him for that help, remembering that we were not meant to carry the burdens of this life all by our self.
Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Taking up the light burden of the Lord and laying down the heavy burdens of this life at the feet of Jesus and seeing what beauty He will create with the ashes.
Matthew 11:30
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He wants to remove our burdens, set us free, and see us soar high on the wings like eagles. We are free when we are in His will, living in vital union with Him, hearing His voice, and resting in His hands.
John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Lighten up, let go and let God, rejoice for He is worthy of praise, thank Him. A grateful heart has no room for hauling burdens. I started this post with Kung Fu Panda – in that movie they talk about there being no secret ingredient to make someone great, they talk about the power of believing in oneself. Well, I would amend that – the secret ingredient to a burden free life is Jesus, and the power of believing in Him and His Word is limitless.
Another movie reference I would insert here would be Pollyanna – play the Glad Game! Whatever the situation, whatever the deal – look for a reason to be glad! 🙂 There always is one! Today is a present, a gift of life, open it and enjoy it. Tomorrow is in God’s hands. He will get you where you need to go.

As we are going into 2011, which has to do with the eyes, seers, a good thing to think on is: “A person’s outlook reveals their inner character. This is part of what Jesus meant when He said, “The eye is the light of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matt. 6:22-23

Let’s look out into the next day, the next year, to see the blessings of God. Let’s let go of the heavy stuff, lay it at Jesus feet. That will make today the present He intended, rather than the burden we won’t let go of!

Happy New Year! May the Peace of Christ dwell with you throughout the year!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

“Fear not then,” said the Angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s power and might.”
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Winter, a season some don’t enjoy. All the trees are bare, cold temperatures, bad roads, and flu season. After hearing God in the last post about how He is in the season I looked around on the ride home Sunday seeking God in what I saw. Everything was covered in snow, and as I passed a covered corn field I thought of how the soil is preparing for next year. There is a process that happens in all living things during winter that promotes health, growth, and new life in the season to come. Dying is part of that process.   As believers we go through winter seasons, just as we go through spring seasons and hot summer seasons. God, the Creator of all things, created cycles, stages of growth, seasons. We, as part of His creation are no exemption to the seasons.

In each season, God knows how to grow us. His hand is as delicate as the snow fall. The snow, the purity of His presence, blankets us, covering us. It may look like things are dying, but really they are just dormant.  There is a vine outside of my Dad’s front door that he swears is dead every year, and every year it comes back hearty and healthy. Every year he debates cutting it down, and every year there are pretty new purple flowers that bloom. That’s his cycle to accompany the plants cycle. LOL

But I think that is true for Christians as well. We might not be active for God in the winter season, because we are covered in His presence, waiting for the next season. A season of new life! He is regenerating the soil of our hearts, nourishing us, preparing us for the next season’s use. Other believers though might be tempted to “cut us out” thinking us dead (unproductive), we can feel some real cold spells from that, but if we are intimate with God we know what He is doing even when we don’t, and we trust Him even when we don’t understand.

He knows exactly when the seasons should fall in our lives. I remember a couple of years ago a huge snow storm plowed through in October before the leaves had fallen off the trees and it caused major damage. Tree limbs broke off and there were huge power failures all over the state. God knows that too much pressure in the wrong season can result in major damage and even “power failure” spiritually in our lives. His hand works to help us, not to harm us.

He is wise in all He does and knows our needs better than we do. In a dream one time – I had a couple of coats in my closet of new clothes. I was running late for work and hastily grabbed the heavy coat, ignoring the suggestion to take the lighter weight one, running out of the house. As I got in my car I had to take the coat off because I was getting too hot. It wasn’t the right season to wear it and the person suggesting the lighter coat knew it better than I did. God knows how He made us, knows the work needed to be done on us, and has each of us in different seasons. It’s ok if I’m in the “lighter coat” right now, and it’s ok if we are dormant for a season.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

God is at work in us, even when all we hear is silence. The silence and the dormancy in our lives can make us question where we are, and where God is. There can even be a coldness of feeling alone in whatever God is doing, and wherever He has you at times. But in the silence there can be peace. Peace from noise that has been removed from our life. Noisome troubles that plagued us, issues we couldn’t escape from, old things that have no place in us now have now gone and there is peace and quiet for a time. Take the comfort and joy and cherish them in that time. Soon the season will change. Thankfulness in each season will deepen the blessing in each one. The more we align with God’s heart for us, the greater the harvest He will see in us.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:14-15

So as the song sings, let this be Tidings of Comfort and Joy to know the seasons are for our benefit and good. To save us all from powerful things that would lead us astray and harm us. Fear not then and sing praises to the King that there is beauty in each season as well as purpose. He brings Tidings of Comfort and Joy to you in all that He does.

Peace be to you all

Peace vs. the Dividing Wall of Hostility

Ephesians 2:14-16
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”

This set of verse popped out at me a few years ago as having to do with marriage. I know it is about two types of people; Gentiles and Jews, but wouldn’t you agree that women and men are two different types of people?  We think differently, talk differently, feel differently, and have different expectations.

Peace:
1) a state of national tranquility
a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war
2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)

I have yet to hear of a couple getting married with the goal of living a miserable life. Have you? But far too often I see that is what is settled for in marriage, and still others are miserable and think the only answer is to just walk away. We don’t have peace with our spouse, so how do we get it? Well, it’s not where you’d think.
– Who is your peace, or where does it come from? Have we put our spouse on the hook to be our peace? Have we thought that when we marry we will have peace?
Jesus is to be our peace, when we look to him for peace, we won’t have a wrong expectation of our spouse that they won’t be able to live up too.

What is your goal as a married couple? Do you have one? Have you ever considered having one, or more? May I suggest at least one to you? Having a happy marriage is a great goal to start with, if I may say so! 
When you both have that goal it is amazing what will change. Your efforts will go toward being happy. You will seek out what brings happiness for both of you.

Barrier:
1) a hedge, a fence
2) that which separates, prevents two from coming together
Hostility:
Antagonism or enmity, a hostile act, overt warfare

I heard of a couple where the husband lost his mother and the wife wasn’t emotionally and physically there for him. She wasn’t there because she was angry with him. Now, because she wasn’t there he has decided in his heart and mind that when she loses her mom she will find out what it is like not to be supported because he won’t be there for her. He has even said he will do this. He’s decided her sentence and will punish her for letting him down. Do you think this will be her s or his only punishment? I think we can all see that both of them are already hostile. All their thoughts and actions toward each other are now tainted by hostility and anger. Her lack of compassion for him in the beginning was out of anger at him and now his intention toward her is based in anger.
In our human thinking somehow all this horrible treatment of each other makes sense, but in God’s thinking we are to love beyond reason, and forgive endlessly. We are to put Christ first in our hearts, in our marriage/family. Putting things in God’s order has miraculous effects.

“by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations”

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”
Through the Cross and Resurrection Jesus did away with the Law and brought in a whole new life of Grace and Forgiveness. We want that for ourselves, but when our spouse lets us down or hurts us the law-book is quickly used to whack them on the head! You broke the rules!! You violated the law!! I do not deserve that!! I deserve better!! You can’t treat me that way and get away with it!! If I let him/her get away with it this time it they’ll just do it again!!
Do any of these sound familiar? Do you see the theme of, I? Me, myself, and I are the only priority here. That does not a happy marriage make! 

For 30 years I harbored bitterness. Un-dealt with anger and pain produced a large fish-hook of bitterness in my heart. I spent years making sure to feed it, and keep it strong all the while wishing it would go away. One day I started praying for it to go away. Then I heard a pastor say to pray for the ones who offended/hurt me. Wow that was not fun, but I tried. It didn’t happen fast, but over time I received a Word from the Lord about it, that it would go away. One night in church the pastor spoke about un-forgiveness, I was so convicted and heartsick that I still had this anger and pain that I went up for prayer, asking for God to help me. I was laid out flat on the floor. I remember getting up knowing God moved. Then I had a dream, a clip of it is all I have in memory. I was looking at myself screaming in pain – knowing God was ripping out that root of bitterness. I woke knowing what happened but only remembering that one small fragment of the dream.
From my dreams God has shown me that offense is bait hook, which if accepted and agreed too leads to a root of bitterness. Accepting it and agreeing with it by speaking about it hooks us and drives the hook deeper the longer we hold on to it. We come into agreement with the enemy when we complain about it; we dig it deeper by keeping the list of offense.

When we speak badly about our spouse, or anyone who offended us, we are coming into agreement with the enemy. When we come into agreement with anger and offense we take that hook into our mouths. The longer we agree with it the deeper it goes.  The great news is this: We have the choice to let it go, and we have the opportunity to never pick it up to begin with.

We are called to come into agreement with God’s Word, with forgiveness of sins, with loving people beyond reason. Who better to practice on than our families? Start agreeing with God’s Word for your marriage, and take every opportunity to reject offense.