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Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Blood of the Lamb Marks Us

During this time before Easter,referred to as Lent, it is good to contemplate what God has done for us. Here is an excerpt form my WIP, Work in Progress:

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your sin, for it is the blood that makes the atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11).

My Old Covenant was a foreshadowing of the new. Sin is detestable to Me, but I made a way for reconciliation--through the life blood. I was not as interested in the offering of the animal, it the heart attitude that made the offering. The blood of rams and bulls pointed towards the power of My Son's blood. It would wipe away the need to perform animal sacrifices, and totally wash away your sin.
His blood covered and continues to cover all the sin that was, is and is to come. It is for this reason all true sons and daughters of Mine must be cleansed in the blood of the sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ. This is not an outmoded ritual, but life itself. My ways are higher than yours, and My plans appear as foolish to man. It is for this very reason I have made it so. You cannot do anything for yourself but accept the provision I have made for you.
I allowed My Son to die on a cross for you because of my deep love for humanity, even though you are full of sin. I am love and the author of it. The world has perverted and misunderstood My love. They try to make believers appear superstitious and outdated, but they are the very ones who create their own gods. The blood of the cross separates the sheep from the goats and marks you as My own.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

God Promises to Answer Prayer

Every once in a while I'll post an excerpt from one of my books. This one is from When God speaks:

Some people think of God as the divine Santa Claus granting their wishes. They come to Him with a long list of their wants—a nice car, a big house, a new job, a better salary and so on. Others don’t believe God is interested in their lives and they shouldn’t bother to ask Him for anything except when they’re in trouble or when someone dies. Both extremes miss the idea of what prayer is about. God wants us to pray in this manner:

Ask—according to His will, not ours. “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”(1 John 5:14). But how can we, in our limited understanding know the will of God? As we spend time with Him in prayer and read His word, we will come to know the heart of God and His will. How do we ask? Jesus tells us, “Ask in my name” John 16:23. What do we ask for? We can ask for God’s protection, His provision, guidance, strength and wisdom. But asking is only the first step. Next we are directed to:

Seek—to discover. Be actively involved in searching the topic of prayer. In the New Testament, Jesus gave us guidelines when He prayed the “Our Father.” Each phrase represents a certain topic. The prayer begins with praise to the Father, then moves to petition for our daily needs, to confession of sins, to forgiveness of others, and affirmation of God’s position on the throne. If we use this as our guideline when we pray, we will receive a fuller understanding of the role of prayer as communication. We also need to search the scriptures for the many verses about prayer and use them during our quiet time with God. Another way to gain insights is to read books about prayer that broaden your understanding. However, seeking is not enough, we also need to:

Knock—on God’s door. When a person goes to a friend’s home, they first need the right address. When they get there, they knock (beginning of change) on the door, believing their friend will answer if she is home. The same goes for prayer. Knocking gets God’s attention. When He hears it, He draws near to heaven’s gate. Now, we need to knock in such a way that God will answer. Have faith. He is always home, so keep on knocking. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Sometimes God asks us to persist in prayer and not give up. I’ve prayed for many years about my marriage and my career, and it has paid off.

The first year my husband and I moved to Vermont, I had a good job teaching art. Then I got pregnant and gave up my position to stay home with my precious son. For years I wanted to get back into teaching art, but we moved to an area where there were many artists looking for jobs. I decided to work in a Christian school as a resource room teacher and taught art on the side. I then worked at a college and several public schools, but I continued to pray for a job teaching art. One day I got a call from a director asking me to interview for an art teacher position with special needs children. I went and was hired. God opened the door after many years of my knocking.

But in order to know the right door to knock on, we need to listen to God. Prayer is communication between God and man, so we need to be willing to listen. God speaks to us in His still small voice, through His Word and in the circumstances of our lives. It’s important to listen after we pray and read the Word. Then we will be able to hear God’s answer.
Answer—God always answers our prayers, but we don’t always recognize it. Sometimes He says, “yes,” other times “no,” and more often “wait, it’s not time yet” as in the example above. Now and then His answers come wrapped in a different package than we expected. For years I thought God wanted my husband and I to have a ministry helping people with troubled marriages. While living in Vermont, we thought we would start a retreat center, but that never happened. Instead, we learned a lot about overcoming problems in our own marriage through experience! I hadn’t bargained on that. Now I am able to minister to women in difficult marriages in a different way than I originally thought. God is creative in the way He answers our prayers.
Whether you’ve had a thousand prayers answered or not, I encourage you to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Timothy 5:17). Keep your heart and mind lifted heavenward in all you do. Your answer is awaiting you on the other side of the door or just beyond the gate. Just remember, it might look a little more unusual than you originally thought.

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find: knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew7:7

Thursday, February 13, 2014

For years I loved to write poetry, but lately only a blizzard brings it out of me. I'm thinking of submitting this to a literary magazine looking for poetry. Tell me what you think. Suggestions invited.

The Cardinal

Snow falling, falling from on high
Downward spiraling
Layering over layers of soiled snow.

Blanketing the memory of paths well trodden,
cloaked beneath their myriad of
grace filled snowflakes.

The grey world turns white out.
Winter escapes no one
this year, yet...

A blood red cardinal perches
on a snow covered limb,
while flocks of small birds scurry and flit about
engaged in an eating frenzy.

But the cardinal does not descend,
having done so, once is enough.
He is no longer driven by hunger or want.

The little ones remind me of self.
Feeding at the trough of life.
Hoarding all they can eat.
Never ceasing from activity,
but never fully satisfied.
They return.

All under the watchful eye of the
blood splashed cardinal, hung in the tree.
Singing in spite of the storm.

I look up and ...

His blood drips on me,frozen in time and place.
Like snow falling on cedars
It turns my body as white as a newborn.

I am embraced in His snow white folds,
covering a multitude of muddied tracks,
now buried beneath the snowflakes falling endlessly.

Into eternity I will fly away with you--
My bright red cardinal,
but for now I will take shelter under your wings and
let your pure white snow blanket me in love and forgiveness.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Spiritual Epiphany

I have been writing and blogging for a number of years, but today I had an epiphany. Though I keep a journal and record what God speaks into my heart, I rarely share what He speaks to me personally, even in my book When God Speaks. For over thirty years I've been getting words from the Lord that are similar to God Calling and Jesus Calling. Today I will begin sharing some of them with you.The one for January is as follows:

The culture of what was once a glorious land is crumbling all around you. Its foundation of faith has been breached. You must stand in the gap and pray for an outpouring of My Holy Spirit to overpower and wash away evil first from the church and then from the nation. I invite you to pray for My will to be done. Don't worry or concern yourself with immediate results--it is up to Me to soften hearts. This has become a hard hearted land, so it will take much prayer. Talk less and pray more.

Some will say, "We have heard this word before and see only more destruction. We are heading to the end of the age and are fulfilling Bible prophecy." This is true, but it is not for you to know when I return. The mission of the church is not to fold and retreat.It is to pray at all times and in all ways. Pray while you are driving, walking the dog, talking on the phone. Pray in the work place,in your homes and in church. Pray at the workbench, the counter, the computer. Pray in your prayer closet and in your neighborhood. Endless possibilities exist. Be creative. Shout it from the rooftops. Read the paper, on-line and while people speak to you of scandal, evil doings and impending disaster.

Sharpen your swords and wield My word so you will know what to pray. This is not a time for retreat, but to advance the Kingdom of God in all the earth. Let your lips be purified and your heart pierced until you know you can do nothing on your own.Rely wholly on Me to give you the words to speak . Trust Me to do everything that needs to be accomplished in you, then step out in faith.

Do not go into the world in your own strength. You will be chopped down. Pray and go out in the spirit of holiness and love. I sent My Son to show you the example. He did not condemn the world, but neither did He embrace its unholiness. Let the Holy Spirit convict the world of its sin. Follow in His footsteps. Retreat for a time to the mountains, the desert, and the hills to pray. Then go forth into the valleys of despair, hopelessness and pain. Bind the wounds of the brokenhearted. Fill them up with My love, not your own. Know that you can only accomplish the eternal with Me at the helm. This will take much work to surrender fully to Me. Allow yourself to be broken so that I may pour out my fragrance of frankincense and healing balms to a dying world.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hope at the End of a Dead End Road: Even for Llewyn Davis

Recently I went to the movies (not a frequent experience) to see " Inside Llewyn Davis" a story that chronicles a week in the life of a folk singer. I'm not going to write a movie review, but the story line got me thinking about life. His was one dead end experience after another. Decidedly different than the Hollywood feel good experience at the end, this movie provided the opposite--a look into hopelessness and desperation. If nothing else, the story line was more realistic than Hollywood's fare, but who wants to focus only on all the negative that happens in life? I found Llewyn to be one of the most pathetic characters I've encountered in a long time. I'm no Pollyanna, but if this is the way the rest of the world lives, it's a pretty sad and lonely place.
Yet the movie had redeeming qualities and one of them was the portrayal of a slice of the down and out life of a folk singer. What's so appealing about that? Not a whole lot, except it shows the increasing meaningless and purposelessness in a life without Christ. Without Christ, true hope does not exist. Sure there are pleasant experiences and we can pump ourselves up like a Hollywood film, but at the core what does it all mean? What's the point? Like Solomon we can declare "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

However, we have "good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2: 10-12). That Babe died on a cross and saved us from all the meaningless, sordidness and futility of this world. He's the true gift at Christmas; one that Llewyn and those like him desperately need, though they probably don't realize it, but you never know. Interesting at the end of the movie, there was a shot of a folksinger at the Gaslight cafe in the village ( I remember going to a similar place called "The Bitter End") who you know is portraying Bob Dylan because of his harmonica playing. At one time he was my husband and I's favorite folksinger and we were so excited when he accepted the Lord, even if it was only for a while. He produced some great Christian songs like "Gotta Serve Somebody" and "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking."

So I guess there is hope for the Llewyn's of the world. I sure hope so because I would hate for anyone to have to continue in the wreck of a life this fictitious character lived. It caused me to be so thankful that I met the Lord when my life was at a dead end road like Llewyn's: living with friends, but extremely lonely, having travelled Europe by myself for ten months, wandering aimlessly, pursuing my art with no clear purpose in mind. Then Jesus burst on the scene and wiped away the meaninglessness. He gave me purpose and a clear direction: to follow Him. No greater joy exists than to know and serve Him, Lord of Lord, King of Kings. Thank You God for all You have done for us and for the hope of a New Year. Thank You that even dead end roads can lead to the babe in the manger!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Peace vs. Anxiety

Peace in the midst of struggle, strife and the everyday stresses of life is not an easy thing to attain, but the Word of God shows us how we can posses it in spite of our circumstances and the hectic pace of life.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

This is not easily accomplished, especially during this time of year, but we can have peace when we put everything in perspective and pray. Though a challenge, God helps us to achieve peace when we follow what He instructs. This is not just a glib solution. It takes mental concentration, self-control, discipline and trust in God. I have seen this principle; giving everything to God, work in some of the most difficult circumstances. Here's just one example from the book When God Speaks: 40 Days and Nights Of His Promises:

A couple of years ago, I received a phone call that robbed my peace of mind about a job I was promised. The voice on the other end sounded apologetic, though curt.
“I’m sorry, but the position has been filled.”
I was stunned and stammered, “But I was told I had the job.”

After my tears stopped flowing, and I finished complaining about the injustice of it all, I took stock of my situation. It wasn’t God’s fault that a technical issue got in the way of my employment. He still loved me. In addition, I had three healthy children, a husband with a job, a nice home (albeit lots of bills), and most importantly a loving God to lean on. These were things I could certainly thank God for, and so I did. I prayed daily and kept claiming His promises, especially those that focused on His provision and peace.
And He kept His end of the bargain. Six months later I had a job, but more importantly I gained a new peace of mind. In myself I could never possess this kind of peace. It surpassed my own understanding, and guarded my heart and mind against bitterness, jealousy and anxiety. My three big struggles...

When I finally got a new job, it was something I had wanted to do again—teach art. I was surprised at the opportunity. The salary was better than my last position and it made up for the time I was out of work. I saw God’s hand in the whole situation, bringing me to a deeper relationship with Him.
I learned to trust in Him and gave Him my worries. In return, He gave me His peace. I don’t know any better exchange than that! (You can’t buy that on Wall Street’s Securities and Exchange.)

Today I still have my job, but my husband doesn't. He is struggling with Lyme disease and lost his job for other reasons. So I'm brought back to a similar place. My struggles and strains are a bit different areas because God is reaching deeper into my soul and asking me "Do you really trust Me in this area?" I have to go back and lean on His promises again and again and again. Hopefully He's digging out more and more junk in my life, so my peace won't be so fragile, but endure through all types of circumstances. Perhaps you are in a similar place. If so, I challenge your this Christmas season to really lay hold of this verse and journey though the land of God's peace and promises.

If you enjoyed this post and want to know more of His promises and how they apply to your own life, you might be interested in When God Speaks: 40 Days and Nights of His Promises. The kindle version is on sale for $1.99 until Dec. 7th @ http://tinyurl.com/okj6d9p