Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Tribute to My Spiritual Father and Mother in Christ

My journey to understanding and learning about healthy boundaries started when I was 19yo. I was a college student and had the rare opportunity to live with a  gem of a couple. I thought I was getting a good deal on rent but in fact I was getting a life-time opportunity to observe a godly couple who walked each day by faith watching and rejoicing when our Father provided all their physical needs and paraded the Christ within them to me as I saw their faces light up with the grace that only a righteous holy Father could bestow upon His people.

I lived with John and Lynn Ahrens each summer following each school year. I served on the worship team with them, studied God's Word with them, ate with them, prayed with them. They taught me vital life skills like how to deal with disappointment and sticking to a job even if it looked like it would fail. They taught me to laugh in the devil's face. They taught me to hold someone close who was feeling they would drift from the shore. They taught me that if plan A failed and plan B failed then start over and expect that the new plan A is waiting for you. They taught me to pray and believe even past the point of it looking like a victory in the natural.

I think the most important thing they taught me was to watch what I say. If I don't want it to show up in my life then DO NOT SPEAK it. If I want something then speak for that. I really did not grasp this concept in its fullness when I was that young. No, it would not come for decades later that I understood the power of life and death in my tongue but they lovingly and firmly insisted that I speak with godly words proceeding from my mouth while I lived with them. Sometimes I thought they were picking on me. Sometimes I quietly went off and sulked. They knew this. They loved me unconditionally and knew I had a LONG way to go to walking the abundant victorious life in Christ. But they smiled, wrapped their arms around me and treated me like family. For that,  I am thankful.

John graduated yesterday from this schooling ground. He passed from his mortal life into the glorious eternal reward of heaven. His life spent in praising our Savior was rewarded by a peaceful end with family by his side and more people than he could count praying for his journey's end. Mama Lynn and Papa John invested in people while on this planet. Lots of really good seed out there. There are lots of lives changed for the better. I bet Papa is having fun singing in heaven face to face with his Savior. Thank you Savior for comforting Papa John's family during this season of celebrating his life

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Strength of a Child's Heart

Sometimes it feels like a disadvantage to have known my Savior from a very early age. It’s like people think that I can’t relate to the trials and temptations that other believers have had to endure because they walked a path that was so broken before they came to know Christ as a young adult or much later season of life. They speak of overcoming their addictions and coming out of a lifestyle of sin. I suppose some of them think that my path was easier. I wonder that too sometimes. Did I have a blessed advantage right from the womb?

I have struggled with temptation and it has seemed like at times my biggest temptation might be the exact same sin of unbelief that any believer has had to overcome. It’s the trial of seeing myself in Christ as blameless.

It’s a supernatural Gospel and we know that we are saved by grace through faith in what our Savior accomplished for us by His perfect sacrifice. We exchanged a life of sin and curses for a life of perfect relationship with our Father in Heaven. He sent His Son Jesus so we could have Eternal Life starting now in this earthly realm and carried through forever and ever to the next realm. The agreement that God the Father had with His Son was “You die for the people and I will make the people My Family.”

It is Good News that we had NOTHING to do with this arrangement between the Father and the Son but we can benefit by simple trust that Jesus did enough.  We accept that His Blood is our complete perfect payment. (Eph 2)

So the struggle comes in because we walk through so much of this life with a misunderstanding of the fact that His righteousness was imputed to us when we by faith receive or take the Savior as our own. (Roman 4)  We still look at us and see imperfection, lack and sinful behavior. But our behavior did not make us righteous and our behavior cannot make us unrighteous in His sight. Blood purchased me and my unpleasant thoughts about me do not change the fact that I am blameless or guiltless in Christ.  

So today I was allowed by the Spirit to see a glimpse of my innocence. I was five years of age and we lived in a very secluded rural part of Michigan.  Somehow my mother arranged for me to be picked up by a bus and I went to a Vacation Bible School at a little Wesleyan Church.  I remember I got to sit in the front row of pews because I was the youngest of that group. I remember playing a game to guess the name of the song and whoever knew the most songs would win a prize. Well, I guessed Jingle Bells to one of the songs…. I did win a prize by the end of the week because I was very good at learning music.

Later that week or maybe the following week after the Vacation Bible School was over, I was singing one of the songs that I learned.

“The Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I hafta do is follow.”

I sang this part of the song all afternoon throughout the house and inside our enclosed porch. My mom sounded a bit irritated when she asked if I knew the rest of the song. I told her “No, mama. I don’t need to know any more of the song.” In my heart it was perfect. I was happy with just knowing that “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness and all I hafta do is follow.” I knew the name of Jesus and that He loved me. It was a perfect , holy, pure relationship. And for decades that is really all my heart has desired since to know I am perfect, holy and pure before my Father in heaven.

So in this new season, I am seeing my innocence once again as this little girl did so perfectly. I am somehow simultaneously a little child and a strong, beautiful princess warrior who knows she is perfect before her Father in heaven. I was afraid that little girl was weak but in reality it is her perfect heart inside of me that makes me so powerful. I can set aside my wrestling, restless soul that previously believed I still had something that needed to be done to walk in perfect peace and wholeness with my God.

Now I have a new song:

I declare you’re innocent.
I declare you’re mine.
Bought by His precious Blood.
Born of His side.
I declare you’re innocent
No more to deny.
As He is you are right now.
In Christ glorified.

(1 John 4)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Daddy's Game Just for Me

When I was a little girl I had a routine of checking my daddy's lunch pail to see if there was something interesting inside. I would flip up the latches and hear the squeaky hinge give way to the mystery of the medium size treasure chest.

Sometime I found a half eaten Charleston Chew. Sometimes there would be a few carrots sticks left or half a bologna sandwich. Once in a while there would be weird tools that dad must have had to use at work to fix something vitally important to make sure the Gerber Baby Food kept getting to the babies. One day, on my 7th birthday, I opened this mysterious box and little gray kitten was looking up at me. I called him Happy since I felt so happy that day.

When I was in my 20s and visiting home from college, I saw my daddy's lunch pail, and knowing he had only been home a few minutes, I might find something interesting inside. I was so disappointed to only find the empty sandwich wrappers. Mom saw my disappointment.....she said, "Ya know he only put stuff in there knowing you would find it...." I had never known this was our little game. We never discussed it. It was a deep pleasure that I still smile on to this day 25 years later.

Our Heavenly Daddy loves to leave treasures around for us to discover. We delight in Him and he gives us the desires of our heart. It's an intimate hunt for special things just for us. It's a game that is special between you and your Abba. Look for the hidden's there.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trying to Dance with Her Grave Clothes On

And she's tripping and looking pretty foolish. The Bride trying to dance with her rags of death is not a pretty sight. She longs to dance gracefully with her Bridegroom and show off her mysterious beauty. She knows how to dance but she's clumsy and so frustrated with those death sheets around her ankles that she decides to just sit out the song....Who will come along and remove her from her shame? Some say the grave clothe represent her shame and not choosing to be righteous? Really? The BRIDE is made clean...totally pure, white and holy as the Spirit of Christ has come to reside in her. So she could not **BE** the Bride if she was filled with shame. No these rags are residual of her memory of her old dead sin nature. She is still clinging to them because someone has told her they belong to her. It's not WHO she is.....It's not Christ. It's a wrong mind set.

This was the image that the Holy Spirit showed me today about the frustration of the Church. She is a New and Glorious Creation because of the supernatural exchange of Christ becoming sin so that we His Bride could become righteous. It is a mystery! It's supernatural! The Good News that Jesus came and paid the complete price for sin, sorrow, sickness and any lack ***IS*** the power of God unto salvation for those who believe. But it seems the preachers and teachers believe this is not a fact that we exchanged the old nature for a new one in Christ. The old sin nature was crucified with Christ was buried and now we are risen with Him seated in our heavenly place with Christ at the right hand of the Father. (Eph 2:6)

Paul encourages the believer in Hebrews 12 "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." It seems this image is like tripping in your grave clothes. If it were an internal heart issue then an image of being cleansed would be in order. Running a race required us to be free from anything heavy or burdensome. I have been dragging around so much stuff and believing that it is part of me. If I just realize I can run or dance with my Bridegroom then I would not believe that I own these rags! Paul also said, "Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." NEW SELF. If I see myself as an old creation being fixed up then I will continually think there is one more thing to be fixed before I can DANCE!!!! If I believe that I'm a Brand New CREATION then I can dance or run today.

And keep in mind that my dancing is not going to look like your dancing. Just keeping my eyes fixed on my Savior and my steps will be sure.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A New Wineskin for the New Wine.

It's been about 5 years since my doctor strongly suggested I be admitted to the pysch ward for observation and to balance my meds. That week in December of '06 I went into the doctor's office with confusion, severe anxiety and I had not been able to sleep for days due to my depression being out of control. My hands felt thick and clumsy and it was hard to walk straight. I knew I really needed to see a doctor when I was asked to sign a form and for several seconds I could not make my brain and hand remember how to sign my name. All hell had broke loose in my body and fear had viciously attacked my mind. It was months later that my doctor was able to get me stable with a medication that would not make my condition worse.

One could be certain that I had walked through not just a valley but a season of darkness. Strange as it may sound, I had no doubt that my Savior was holding my hand through this whole ordeal. I wish I could have seen the excitement on my Savior's face awaiting the day that I would discover who I really was in Christ. I was ignorant to the fact that the bondage I was in was doomed and no weapon formed against this woman of God would be prosperous. The gates of hell would not prevail. I learned after this season of darkness that I was the one in charge of the gates that would try to unleash hell against my life. The enemy had duped me into thinking that he was in charge and I was blind to the fact that the Spirit within me was more powerful than all the demons that hell could throw my direction.

Jesus explained to his disciples that a new season was upon them and it was vital that they stop viewing God as One who insisted they must keep the laws of Moses. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 That's so revolutionary....the people must have said, "Huh? We don't keep the law anymore?" So they either thought Jesus was crazy or truly the Messiah to say such a thing.

Jesus came to present to the people a new and living way. No more keeping the law to be right with God. No more doing things to be accepted. He would be the perfect Lamb Who paid for all debts of sin. All would be fulfilled on the Cross and when He rose again a celebration of victory because death, hell and the grave would be defeated for eternity. A covenant now fulfilled between the Son and Father God so that we can't mess it up by breaking laws. Hallelujah! A shout must come forth from within you when you understand the amazing truth about God's grace and goodness for us! If you put your trust in what Christ accomplished then nothing can mess up your relationship with your Heavenly Father!

In Christ we are complete. And you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:10

In the Old Covenant one would have to keep the law or be under a curse. Be good to get good and if you are not good then you expected punishment.....but the New Covenant is not a hybrid of the Old. The New Covenant is life in our Savior. We are told that as we put our trust in what Jesus had done then we are made new creations.....old has passed away and new is the rule. If we see ourselves as our old sinful nature that God is trying to fix up then it was be a severe hinderance to our relationship with our Savior.

This mixture or hybrid covenant of old and new was exactly what I was believing when I was walking through decades long season of sickness and depression. I was beleiving that my Savior wanted to purge to old nature out of me and make me a new tearing down an old house little by little and replacing the old stuff with brand new stuff and eventually I would be all new. But the problem with that analogy is that we are like the parable that Jesus told of the new wine being put into old wineskins..... My belief of doing good to get good or God fixing me up and making me new with a foundation of the old was just like the parable that Jesus spoke of. It is a dysfunctional gospel to put new wine into old wineskins.

I was of an old wineskin mentality. The idea that God was wanting me to do good to get good was an old covenant thought process.....wilderness thinking. We can't enter the Promised Land with wilderness thinking. Just like we can't have the new wine in the old wineskin.

The New and Living way is to believe! Sounds too simple, right? It is delightfully simply but our minds have been so entrenched in this world and the religious notions of generations of well-meaning religious leaderes that the message of the Cross has been reduced to the story we hear at Easter evey year. It's not just a wonderful story that Jesus died for us and rose again and will take us to heaven when we die. Although that is some really good news but the Gospel is really the power of God unto salvation for every aspect of our life. This power is manefested in the lives of those who put their trust in what Christ did for us in every situation of life. Romans 1:17 says that through our Savior righteousness was revealed to us and we live not by keeping the law but only by faith in what He has DONE.

This amazing grace and salvation is not only intended for getting us to heaven but for getting the kingdom of heaven to earth through us!!! That's so exciting.

So ask yourself a few questions.... What am I doing to try to please my Heavenly Father? Then ask yourself do I believe that Jesus pleased the Father for me? If I still think that I need to keep paying for my sin or doing something to deserve the benefits of a child of God then I still have an old wineskin and the new wine will not be available. Just rest in what your Savior has done and start seeing the supernatural transformation that you read about in your Bible


Saturday, October 22, 2011

For God So Loved Me.....

What is the key to obtaining spiritual maturity? What will allow a person to cross from carnal (living from their human perspective) to a grounded or mature faith? Is it passion for the things of God? Is it disciplining oneself in the things of God? Is it daily dying to self?

Passion is good thing but it won’t cause one to be mature. It should be a bi-product of maturity. Discipline is also a good and proper habit of a person who is considered mature but it won’t cause you to become mature. And the dying daily to self, is just a religious mirage of a heart that is seeking out something that IN Christ we already possess. We died with Christ and rose again with Him to newness of life. So to die to self is not achieving maturity, but in fact hindering the believer from moving forward at all. Your sin nature is dead..... you are a new creation in Christ and do not need to die daily.

So lets explore what is an indispensable key to walking out the Christian life in maturity. Paul said to the believers in the Corinthian church that the wisdom he speaks of is for the mature believer. (1 Cor 2:6) But this word for mature or fully grown person (telios) is not a meaning of knowing lots of scripture but of knowing that one is complete in Christ. Paul said this wisdom is a mystery to the scholars and a mystery to those who are considered leaders of the world, but to you....simple lovers of Christ, this wisdom is delivered to you by your uncomplicated faith in the Savior.

When I attended college, I was a vocal music major and loved daily going to choir rehearsal. We performed Handel's Messiah during the Christmas season and this opportunity was a highlight of my college experience. I was somewhat ignorant to the fact that these marvelously beautiful songs were written by a man who was inspired by the Bible and amazingly portrayed the truth in the scriptures. Previous to going to college, I had barely read any of the Bible. I had a knowledge based on what others told me the Scripture said. This lack of knowledge of the Bible caused me to live life in sorrow as a result of not understanding my value to the Father.

I did know a few scriptures and one was "For God so loved the world he gave his only Son that whoever would believe on him would not perish and have everlasting or eternal life." (John 3:16) Many people on the planet know this verse of scripture and I think most who do know it, take it for granted. But there is power in this--the Gospel. It says in Romans chapter 1 that "the Good News is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Imagine for a moment if you had no knowledge of the Father's love toward you. Many people operate from this lack of understanding how loved and valued they of the Father.

So if this truth--knowing of the Father’s love to send Jesus, is so essential, why does it seem to be such a neglected subject in the Church? When was the last time we heard a sermon or a series preached in worship service about the Father's Love? When was the last time I made it a focus of my study in the Bible or my pursuing the heart of Father? These foundational truths are important and I will state that knowing that one is completely loved and accepted by the Father is an elementary understanding to our maturity as a believer.

It says in Proverbs 23 that “For as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” When we know we are loved of the Father then we live loved.

We hear about repenting and serving and dedicating our lives to prayer. We have it preached many times a year about the importance of the Great Commission. All these subjects are indeed important. But none of these subjects will penetrate and CHANGE or TRANSFORM the human heart. I can boast loudly for all my life how much I love to serve a living God, but this will not transform me. Boasting of His love for me---this truth has set me free many times over and will cause healing, deliverance and overwhelmingly positive results in your life and the lives of those who hear this truth.

Knowing or experiencing the Love of God is what will penetrate a heart. Knowing His Passion for you will bring you to life. Preaching it to others will ignite a zeal within you that cannot be quenched. All those other subjects (all important) will not cause you to become intoxicated by His purpose for your life.

I challenge you to meditate and speak aloud "The Father loves me...He loves me...He sent His Son --my Savior--for me. He loves me and desires me." Speaking this aloud causes a fresh belief within your soul. It changes will change you and create passion in your heart and soul.

I will conclude this short article by telling you about a dream that changed my perspective of my Father’s heart for me.

This dream, which presented more like a nightmare, occurred in me about six years ago and it is only about a year ago that I understood it. It was somewhat disturbing at the time. I probably had this dream due to the constant struggle of depression and the anxiety disorder that pummeled my mind daily before I was healed about five years ago. I know that God used this dream to teach me of the truth about my Savior and about the Father’s love for me.

In the dream, I was running from something or someone. My surroundings were unfamiliar and I eventually realized I was in a maze of some sort. The people I saw in this dream were people I knew but no one would talk to me. It was like I was a stranger to them. I would ask them a question about how to get out of the maze and they all looked at me strangely, like asking them this was the most ignorant question to ask. Some looked at me in disgust and acted like they were afraid to get too close. I began to feel a lot of shame and felt like people were pointing and whispering. All during the dream, I felt like something or someone would soon "catch" me if I didn't keep moving.

It was one disconcerting moment after the other. This dream was one of those bottomless pits of uncertainty. I felt anxious and confused. I am the type of person who prefers to plan my route and this was one ambivalent turn after another.

Finally in the dream, I ran into a clearing. It was like a round courtyard. There were several other archway openings that came from the same maze that I had just tried to escape. In the center of the courtyard, up on a small platform was who I thought was Jesus. His back was to me so I was unsure it was really Him. So I ran to Him. I cried out His name “JESUS” as soon as I saw His face. BUT when this person I thought was Jesus turned around, He was scowling at me. There was a look of pure contempt on His face. I wept bitter tears, kneeling in front of whom I perceived as my savior. I felt a profound hopelessness and a dark gloomy cloud was settling on my body.

Then something miraculous entered the dream. Our Father will never leave us hopeless. In the dream, my dear friend of many decades appeared to me as I was weeping before this angry god. She insisted that I get up and no longer worship him....she said this was NOT Jesus.

I awoke with extreme emotion. My pillow was soaked with tears and I was physically shaken. It was haunting and hope-filled all at the same time.

I now know that if it is not Good News, it is not Jesus. This dream was a revelation from my Savior that He is not hard to find and not angry with me. He paid the entire price so I could come boldly before the Throne of Grace. I'm set free by His love and He would never leave me, reject me or put me to shame. All my sin was removed from me as far as the east is from the west. I now realize I do not need to feel driven by someone or something and I am free to love and be loved.

My foundation as a mature believer in Christ is that of my Father loves me so much that He sent His precious Son to redeem and restore my life back to Him. I am the treasure of great price spoke of in the parable. He gave up all for me! I am loved. YOU are loved. You can experience this complete and full way of living as you increase your knowledge of how loved you are by the Father.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daughter, Where are you?

Ever have one of those days where you are walking along in peace and something happens and it seems your joy and peace is snatched away like a wave on the sand? Of course you have. We all have in our human experience. But why? Why do offences and some types of circumstances cause us to temporarily lose our peace or joy or both? I'll answer more clearly but want to give you some insight into what helped me to see more clearly.

I am the type of person that wants to bless others and I try very hard to be a blessing everyday. So what appeared in my perspective to me to be ahead of schedule and accomplishing my goals of the day did not appear to others the same. Someone had a different perspective. This person whom I was intending on blessing ended up feeling annoyed with me and was actually somewhat rude. So my peace is washed out to sea since I felt I failed them....sigh.... So I'm walking along in order to meet up with this other human who needed me to continue to bless them, but I believe they are disappointed in me.

So I ask the Holy Spirit to show me how not to feel offended. He had been working in my heart to help me to understand that we are not to see others in flesh since our Father no longer sees me in the flesh but to see them by my new creation perspective. I'm in Christ and most of the time I am aware of this right-standing with the Father. I've come to realize by the work of the Spirit within that I am seen as holy and perfect since I'm IN CHRIST therefore no more old nature....since it died and was buried IN CHRIST 2000 years ago. But still having some trouble in this common hinderance of feeling offended.

I walk the remaining part of my journey to deliver to this other person what they wanted from me. I felt hurt and angry that rather than being appreciated I was told I was not meeting expectations. All of you at some point have been told this and just admit it: This hurts. It hurts to be told that your human best is substandard. So after I've completed my mission I huff off and go hide so I can cry by myself and of course cry out to my Father who always see me as perfect in the Son.

I'm sitting looking out a large window at a typical gray rainy October morning. The colorful leaves from last week have mostly blown off in the chilly northern wind and the colors that remain are more dull browns and less golds and red that I loved. I turn my gaze to a piece of framed art on the wall. It's ugly. It's a photo of a room that has long since been abandoned. Black and white image with a look of hopelessness. I'm still fighting back the stinging tears when I hear in my spirit, "Where are you? Daughter, where are you?" Wow! I knew just what He meant. It was like a flood of understanding. In that moment, I was still focused on what had happened 20 minutes earlier and He was currently in the present.

Our Father lives in the NOW not the past....He doesn't see my past or the past of the person who offended me. He was not mad or thinking up some way to avenge my hurt feelings from the individual who hurt me. In that instant, my peace was FULL. I was instantly transformed back to the life of abundance that I was living prior to the offence. I UNDERSTOOD and knew now that offences come when we live back in our minds where the offence took place. The Father asked me where I was NOT because he was angry or thinking up some type of punishment or curse to place on me--His daughter and precious one In HIs Son....but rather he just wanted me to re-focus on Him and His love for me.

I looked up again at the bland art work on the wall and saw something new, I had not seen previously. Right near the middle of the image of the black and white photograph was the word PEACE. I knew then that was the intended focal point that the artist had intended for me to see but it was not visible to me until I refocused on being IN CHRIST.

So to answer my first question: Why do offences and some types of circumstances cause us to temporarily lose our peace or joy? It's because we are not where we belong in our spirits.....we've remained at the offence and are focused on that and are stuck until we re-focus and fix our eyes back on the Savior and His finished work. There is no lack. Eve thought she lacked and God asked her "Where are you?" And she hid! I know my Savior well enough now to know I can run to His Throne of Grace and receive all and know that I lack for no good thing in Him.