Promise, Confession and Testimony

YOUR PROMISE:”And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Romans 16:20

YOUR CONFESSION & TESTIMONY: “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” 2 Timothy 4:18

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

This has been one of those weeks where, my favorite phrase when talking about my relationship and walk with God has been “He has traumatized me into silence and stillness.” And He has. In a great way though.

It has been the week during which I complete the book of Luke yet again and prepare to start the book of Revelations. It has been the week where God finally led me to read a book I borrowed over 10 years ago but had not read, called ‘Finding God’ by Dr. Larry Crabb. [As soon as am done, I will find a way to give it back don’t you worry.] But just its contents and the contents of The Gospel I am reading has shocked me into stillness regarding what I, until this week, thought was a brilliant relationship with God.

I have spent the past more than one year praying about certain issues in my life, and ministry and yet feeling like I was missing something. It was like God really wanted to bless me, but I was asking amiss. He has called me over and over to worship Him but many times, this has been a hard calling. Life has hurt and I did not feel like singing anymore. God reassures me that He loves it when I sing to Him but sing with my whole heart…and this year, has not honestly been one of those ‘whole heart’ years. It has hurt. It has broken me. It has made me someone else. Hopefully, someone who likes God more than likes things. I have felt passion for little more than God. And struggled to strip my life of any passion that even looked like it was competing for space with Him. Yet the passion I have felt for God has been broken at best…and I have longed to be well. To be whole in my worship for Him. If not quickly in a new way, at least to the old familiar ways. But that old way seemed to have vaporized leaving me frantic.

This week, He showed me the progress in some of the lives that I had hurt over, cried for, and then wondered if I was truly praying in His Will. Answered prayer is good, but I am learning not to patronize God by trying to manipulate Him into performing just so I can praise Him. I want to be able to praise Him all the time. Even in the dark days…even this year.

So last night as I prepared to begin to prepare for my end year fast, to seek God about what 2012 would bring, I found myself wondering again if ‘years’ as we know them really matter in heaven. I wondered if I should wait until the 29th to pray, when I didn’t know if my life would extend to then, or just get ahead with seeking God now. I wondered what my prayer agenda would involve because, honestly, I felt the need to know His will for me and those for whom I was praying BEFORE I embarked on that prayer journey. Do I pray for a divorce for so and so or do I pray for the restoration of their marriage and home? Do I pray against that disaster for that nation or is God allowing them to face the consequences of their actions as discipline, loving though devastating discipline? Meanwhile in my own life it seemed to me that everything was falling apart around me – do I pray for the restoration of my children to schools, a new computer, new fridge, DVD player, electric kettle, microwave, a new bed for my daughter, the healing of my son’s mind and health, a house in a ‘safe’  and ‘serviced’ area, the restoration of the love and respect of my birth family, my old friendships? Do I ask God for marriage? Do I ask Him for a scholarship to further my education? Do I? Do I? And at what point do I ask Him for food, clothes, and to rid my house of rats and cockroaches – maybe this is a sign that He is moving me to a better place…it was all so confusing. What is my ministry? Do I publish? Do I train? Do I just be-friend and be a friend? And as I gave myself a headache and sore-throat worrying about whether my life was within the purposes of God His word in Luke 24 stood out for me ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Silence.

Suddenly it was like I was on the road to Emmaus, worrying about what had been. Refusing to acknowledge that my job was to pick up my cross and follow Christ often content with the assurance that He who was leading me, knew the way. I was lamenting about the things that had happened to me and my loved ones. The financial, marital, parental, spiritual, moral, political crisis that was facing individuals whose faces spun in my head…loved ones, not just by me, BUT drastically by God Himself. I trudged up that road listening to this ‘annoying sense’ being made by a voice inside of me. “These things must happen…and then…There must be a dying to these things…and then….What looks like a bad thing needed to happen…and then…the Glory of God would be our rearguard. Only if I follow Him.”

He was telling me that dwelling on fixing things and restoring them into the state they were in was a futility that did not go well with His renewal of my mind. That I could no longer have the luxury of walking two ways; that I had to make a choice. Was I going to perfume, and preserve the dead mediocrity that defined a canal existence, or was I going to allow Him to bring His Life and His Light into my situation and make my life definable by heaven as ‘Beautiful’? I was no longer able to think of God only in terms of what He can do for me to make my life as comfortable and understandable as possible to those watching me in order to criticize me. And those who genuinely loved me as well. I needed to fit into His Mindset. I needed to bend my knees before Him as I slipped, no, pushed myself and others from the Throne that is His, so we could all worship Him. The dead things, my old broken mindset about what made sense in order to make me normal, needed to have a heavy tombstone rolled over them, so that I could embrace the Resurrection and The Life.

What about you? What is your cemetery dredging story? Why do you insist on seeking Life in a place of established deadness?

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Healing Immobility: My Reflections on John 5: 1-15

At the beginning of this year, I realized yet again, how much easier it had been for me to read the Old Testament and the Letters, than it had been the Gospels. I realized that my patterning my life after the life of Christ,  the Definer of my Faith – its Architect was compromised if I did not know His Mind, His Heart, and find out if He had a soul. I have on occasion heard others ask the question “How do you know that it is God Who is speaking to you?”  and the words ‘His sheep know His voice and follow Him, they would never follow a stranger” kept ringing in my mind. I realized the obvious – that God was not satisfied with the depth of intimacy I had with Him – and therein was the crux of the matter. He asked me to fill my mind with Him, to learn His voice and His Person, by reading and studying the gospels and looking out for things that had been seen as well as things not yet seen; but that He had said. I must confess, that for me, this has become a mission: To Know and follow my Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ.

Immobility for me has been a challenge. I know I am supposed to be further than I am, both in Heavenly things as in earthly things. His challenge to me yesterday, was on how I expected Him to effect the spiritual in my life when, I challenged and rebelled against His intent, His Mind, His revelations for the natural. The ordinary. [Re: John 3:12]

Like the man at the Pool of Mercy, I confess that I have been rendered immobile by the unfulfilled expectations I had of others – God and myself included. If you asked me the reason for the level of education, career, giftedness, relationship status etc – I would have an answer that made ‘someone’ responsible for my destiny. Sometimes it was that ‘the others’ were more aggressive [positively or negatively so], others had received undue favor when I was next in line, others had sidelined/compromised etc me. I am not saying here that they were right in doing so – they must face God on their own, but that it is really none of my business that they did – and definitely not worth more than a second of my focus. The second it takes to acknowledge and forgive – for they have no clue what they do. Not if it removed my focus from folding my mat and moving, not if it kept me glued to a place of public pity for the rest of my life. No offense or grudge is worth the ‘pricelessness’ of my life and destiny.

Steps to Healing/Success etc: Like the man at the pool I had bought into the lie that a particular thing needed to happen, possibly catalyzed by another human being for me to move gradually from passive anger to active contentment. Meanwhile, I would ‘lie there’ right next to the pool and wait for someone else to ‘get their priorities straight and sort my life out’. How many times had I cried in the night – more in the day, because someone had dismissed the intensity of my hopelessness to focus on something or other? How many times had I accused them of not caring enough, not taking the less than a minute necessary to help me into the pool when the waters stirred? How many times had someone come from the back of the line, on the wings of friendship or association, and overtaken me towards the goal I lived for? How many times had my own wisdom, gained from being a first hand witness of the miracles in that pool of mercy encouraged another into it, emerging with the trophy I so desired? As the years went on, as I moved towards the low life expectancy goal, I resigned myself to the illusion that I would not make it and that my role in life was only to be a ladder and submit my back for others to climb on to their destiny – and that it was wrong for me to want more.

You see I had learned that a miracle is so defined because it defies the laws of nature. And each life that touched mine or visa-vie, was in actuality a miracle. Each breakthrough an extension of the same. With unlived time left I sat there perplexed at the mountain of wisdom demonstrated by each data molecule in that sea of Mercy [management books, inspirational guides, effective prayers, mind change techniques, inspirational songs/quotes/etc] man made cisterns that defied the five pillars of God’s Grace that Held up the covered colonnades that shielded the colony of the immobile from the extremity of ridicule from their moving, mountain conquering tribes-folk. What time did I have to go through all that data, let alone implement it, before my next two years were up.

Then God shows up. ‘Vip do you really want to get well?’. Not knowing the voice of the One that spoke, I respond resignedly, staring with blank intent at the mountainous pool  of knowledge that I had been told was necessary for me to even begin to walk ‘You can see I am not attractive enough, not the right weight, don’t come from the right community, barred from certain social classes, no longer have the benefit of youth, have been let down by my connections, have been repeatedly swindled of time and money and affection, etc, etc… and I don’t think I have the memory space to absorb all that I need to before my time is up – and no committed associations to help me accelerate the process…etc etc’. Without seeming to hear my pathetic tirade, The Voice said simply, Get up, take up your mat/tress and get moving. You have ground to cover, and ground you can cover. Only one thing is needed, stop resisting my voice – stop dedicating memory space to useless contemplation that keeps you immobile, just be like a child and respond to My instruction. You are well My friend.

And because I would on occasion need to rest at the end of my travelling days, I fold my mat and begin to walk, and the wisdom in my life is sharpened, recreated by the fact that my life is a testimony of its truth… I am walking, I have met The One that cured my lethargy, and the strength of my stride is a testimony of the fact that He saw me as I was, gave me what I needed, and THEN, ONLY THEN, named His demands of me, because He had given me the hope, courage and ability, to live them. What is your story?

Shallom

vipslt@yahoo.ca

Disqualifying you and ‘them’ Disqualifies me

The other day I was busy hurting over something or other someone had said or done to me. In that moment, I felt that my anger and pain justified their dismissal from the ranks of Heaven’s army. I went to God with my pain… and He said this to me, and said I should share it with you. Heaven’s Army.

‘Vip for this time, and all time, I require that you look to Me for your answers. Release the judgmental spirit in you, that measures My people against My Word to dismiss them. You see the ugliness in them because it exists in you. I have called you out of a system that destroys; do not again enter its ranks to embrace that which is old. When I send you to My people to speak about their sin, it will be when I have completed the work of righteousness in you and written love into every word and action I perform through your life. For now, be still. Let me deliver you from the evil that permeates your life and threatens to destroy you. I Am God your Father.

I will make it possible for you to discern and meditate on the words I allow you to hear without necessarily dismissing or accrediting the messenger. It is not in your place to do this.  I have called you to love them, to pray for them and to be a vessel through which I provide their needs. I have not called you to be a judge over them, but to be an extension of My character; My love; My Grace and My word in these times. Remain in Me for I have much to teach you about representing Me to My world. I Am God.’ October 18, 2009

Actually my reason for going to God in prayer, had really been about some teaching that I had listened to, and needed to seek God’s opinion over. I went before Him already dismissing the vessel that God had used, because of certain inconsistencies I had noticed in their diction. But God reminded me, that even when I was right about this, my current attitude was an abomination to Him. I have struggled the past few days about sharing the rebuke which I felt was extremely personal, with the world, so to speak. But in this season when God is teaching me to carefully choose my words, I know that those words come from a place that is either caustic or fresh – never both. When we focus too much on finding the wrong in someone’s words and action, we often miss out on the blessing of that which they have done well. And when we miss out on this, we have missed out on everything.

If God dismissed me for every time I was wrong, then I would not be able to walk with Him. But His Grace has been the gift that sustained me through my numerous failures… as well as my moments of overt rebellion. I am sharing this with you who is reading this, because more likely than not, you are in the process of giving up on someone that despite being really different from you, is actually such a precious gift to you, because of their purpose in God for your life. I am sharing this with you, so that you can join me in asking God to help us see everyone through His Eyes, and love them with His Heart, Wisdom, and to hear them with His Ears. I can’t do this without Him, I am not sure you can either. But I know for sure, that you are God’s gift to me. And if I dismissed you for being contrary to me in Christ, then I have disqualified me. For He says emphatically:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:12).  And againAccept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14: 1-10

Have a blessed day.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

A Winter Seeking

So often life does not go the way you think it will. You’re given things to do that are too big for you. You are asked to believe things you don’t even understand. You are forced to trust people you hardly know. ‘ The Winter seeking, by Vanita Hampton Wright.

When this year began, I knew it was the year of birthing, as last year was one of new beginnings. I looked forward to it romantically, as though in a cloud, thinking the gleefully of the reaping that would be mine, not realizing that even the act of reaping would be an act of work. I, of all people, forgot the journey of pregnancy, the discomfort  and anxiety of the early months, whether the pregnancy is expected and embraced or not. The extra care, the changes in lifestyle demanded by the changes happening to you. The loneliness of the journey, even when one has an active but dedicated husband on their side – the fact that in all the crucial ways, it is the one who is pregnant that must adapt to these changes. The nausea is your own even when someone holds you in the bathroom as you throw up. The fatigue, the unexplained ‘knowing’ of the status of your pregnancy throughout. The feel of the baby’s first kick, the real evidence of its existence when you probably are not really showing yet. The strong unprecedented impulse awakened to protect your pregnancy even when it is considered a crisis in itself. The ability to enjoy your pregnancy even when it compels you to be still. I won’t even start on the effect of your pregnancy to all those that are watching you… that is their story, for another day. Finally the real possibility that the child you bear, would not necessarily conform to your understanding of life – that there are no guarantees even after a successful pregnancy.

Bearing a child that Herod the Dragon wants to kill is extra risky. That was the plight of Mary, and our plight today as we submit daily to God’s purpose of designing us. To reach that point in your life, where you tire of all the mediocrity and cry out to God for the realization of your purpose to live. I am realizing now, that it is God in His Grace that sparks off that hungering and thirsting for an authentic life. AS He turns towards us, with the realization of just WHY He made us, we suddenly feel duped into that situation. We know, without first seeing what is in His Hand, what is being proffered our way, that it is something much bigger than we see ourselves to be. It is a rock that either crushes you or you can stand on as your solid foundation. And you are almost sure it with be the former only. I have realized through my own life, that the rock has to do both for you to enter into your purpose. First, you must die… be crushed into the dust from which you came, and allow the Hand that molded you in the first place, to do the work of re-making you, and breathing His life into you. You realize, that both your frame and the Spirit in you are borrowed from God, and yet, by this posture of humility and acceptance, you completely own that life. We are given a choice at every stop, to rise to a life higher than us, dependant on The Rock from which we are carved, or stay dead beneath its weight. Many choose the latter, sadly, because there is a lot of company there, and it makes more sense.

Choosing to have the child, comes with the risk and the reality of daily death.  Others know it too. That is why there is this scaling up of assault, why even when they themselves chose death, they poke their decaying claws into your wounds and talk about the smell of them. They think your choices are mad and gather beneath the rock to mock and laugh at your wounds. They justify wounding you, because to the blind it distracts them from their own and each others’ decay. Talking about you, brings in them the only passion they can muster: planning worse things for you, allows them some kind of sordid pleasure. I want you to remember though, that you are alive, and that you become like the thing you focus most on. Choose wisely therefore, who will hold your gaze? Is it God, Who is Lord even over the ragging sea, or is it to those with the gusto, who really have no control over their very lives, but are reaching out to try define yours and reduce it to levels they can manipulate.

You have a high calling…so walk through this pregnancy. Your calling does involve trampling over snakes and scorpions, but not anyone that Christ died for. It calls for a humble posture, it calls for joy in the midst of the storm, and it calls for searching through the winter for the One that would give you life. Finding Him and then searching again, for the life of the child you bear, the destiny given to you, that you realize is bigger than you, depends on the depth of your surrender.  Your high calling is captured in the words of a song by Josh Brandon that I was listening to last night

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas,

I am strong when I am on your shoulders,

You raise me up to more than I can be.

Mary started her walk with a glorious visit from an Angel… but her destiny involved the risk of death from the beginning. Even though Joseph married and cared for her, it was she that endured the final moments of her pregnancy in labor on the back of a donkey, far away from home, praying for just one miracle – space to be relieved of the wracking pain  and deliver the child safely. When the miracle came, it involved laying besides the animals in a stable and opening her most vulnerable self to bring salvation to a world that did not understand the importance of the child in her arms. She began her postnatal journey with this child, scaling a continent to find safety, and her broken heart climaxed when she stood at the foot of a cross, where love for those who hated Him kept him submitted to their mockery, rage, and hilarity at finally getting Him on a spot He could not wiggle from. She must have seen Him upon His resurrection and ascension, but for 34 years, she nurtured a ministry that she knew would break her heart. And Elizabeth, after praying, then probably giving up all hope of a miracle, God gives her a child many must have thought was nuts. He took of to the wilderness, lived on fruits and nuts, and words of his cries seemed so unwise because they rattled the comfort of the authorities of the land, by never letting them stew in their sin. What could have been on Elizabeth’s mind had she known the truth; that the head of the miracle she had waited a lifetime for, would be paraded for the merriment in the courts of those who opposed his ministry?

When you think of your high calling, what is it that comes to mind? Are you confident of your commitment to walk the course, even when the glory of that which you bear is considered by some, as a shame. My comfort is knowing that the strain of the mountains and the fear of still and stormy waters, will be quieted on the shoulders of Him Who would again share His life and death through my own. Have a blessed winter.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

God or me: me or God

“We have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purposes of God. Feeling better has become more important than finding God. And worse, we assume that people who find God always feel better.

As a result, we happily camp on biblical ideas that help us to feel loved and accepted, and we pass over Scripture that calls us to higher ground. We twist wonderful truths about God’s acceptance, His redeeming love, and our new identity in Christ into a basis for honoring ourselves rather than seeing those truths for what they are: the sunning revelation of a God gracious enough to love people who hated Him, a God worthy to be honored above everyone and everything else.

We have learned to praise God the way we tip a specially attentive waiter. Good treatment we expect, but exceptional treatment deserves special recognition. And certainly God qualifies for extra notice: He has gone to great trouble to feed our souls and bolster our self esteem. We therefore leave Him a big tip, feeling benevolent and noble, and He, in turn, beams with humble appreciation as He hears us say, “Well done! You have served us well.”

But this is backwards! We have rearranged things so that God is now worthy of honor because He has honored us. “Worthy is The Lamb,” we cry, not in response to His amazing grace, but because He has recovered what we value most: the ability to like ourselves.  We now matter more than God.”

Dr. Larry Crab ‘moving through your problems towards FINDING GOD’

LORD Jesus, as we again begin our journey following You to higher ground, bearing our own crosses, we start by falling on our knees and saying we are guilty as charged. No, we are even more guilty than we have been charged. Forgive us for making this life that You have loaned us, about us, and perceiving You as our errand boy. Teach our lives to know You, to see You and to move ourselves from the thrones of our lives – because that is Your spot in us. Heavenly Father, forgive us, forgive me, remind me that the only reason I am here, the main reason, is to know You more in order to worship You Excellently – with each of the loaned breath that I take in and give out. Teach me to love my place at Your Feet and to jealously guard it. In Your Name I ask this. Amen

Why is Everybody ALWAYS Picking on Me

Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, CONFRONTED HIM and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”…So THEY WATCHED HIM, and SENT SPIES who pretended to be righteous, that they might SEIZE …ON HIS WORDS, in order to DELIVER HIM TO THE POWER AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE GOVERNOR…But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.”
Luke 20

So…we have followed Christ, bearing our crosses daily on our shoulders daily. Each day hoping to see some glory, something of what we had hoped our following would do for us. Still…there have been many wonderful things that we have witnessed, and yet, not everyone has loved Him…and as He PROMISED US, those that wouldn’t Him, wouldn’t us either. But we forgot that too. And are not able to interpret the times? We thought if we followed perfectly, and loved excellently, blessed exceedingly we would be loved by all including the chief priests and scribes…not to mention those ‘monitoring spirits’ the spies. They aim to arrest us and cause us to feel the bite of a power created carnally, so somewhat shame us into subservience to the Governor.

All this is irritating…the questioning on who licensed you, if you are legitimate, why you don’t conform to the standards set previously by the saints marched on…the attempts to conform you to standards and mindsets that you have died so many times to…and we are tempted to think it has happened only to us. When we follow Christ, this is the path to the Cross…and that shabby Cross is the doorway to unimaginable glory – a glory bought by humble surrender to a lesser power than you, leading to a dying and a resurrection and an eternal ministry before The Mighty Throne, laying down the symbols of canal and eternal applause at the Feet of He without Whom, we have come to understand we could not have made it home. Do you understand the season you are in? Be still, THE LORD, HE IS AND REMAINS GOD. Shalom.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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