Monday, September 24, 2007

The Purging Wilderness

For a greater part of the last seven years, I have felt that I have been walking or sitting in one kind of a wilderness or another. Some major relational and spiritual incidents over the last seven years have contributed to this feeling.

There have been moments where God has allowed me to renew at an oasis here and there along the way, but God has certainly been keeping me very dependent on Him at every moment—dependent on Him for nourishment, guidance, comfort, and understanding. By this season He has allowed me to be stripped of personal future vision or ideas and instead has given me eyes to see Him and His ways more clearly day by day. For me, this has been a great (and sometimes exasperating) challenge and an incredible learning experience.

Often times I have pictured myself in this wilderness—in an Israeli wilderness, a desert. There have been times that I have envisioned myself sitting in that desert crying and feeling dejected, lost, and alone; yet also knowing that God is right there standing by, watching over me and waiting. There have been other times when I have envisioned God taking me by the hand, raising me up, and leading me in some specific direction through the wilderness but not quite all the way out of it.

I was pondering (again) recently how long it seems that I’ve been in the wilderness. And the thought struck me that God has removed me from certain relationships and situations and into this place to do a cleansing work in me; to purge me as He purged the fearful, unbelieving, and unfaithful Israelites in their wilderness long ago. He is working on removing certain things from my mind and soul so that He can replace them with His better truths. He has taken me out of where I was and into a new realm of His presence, His kingdom, and His ways.

I realize this has been His “teaching theme” with me over the last few weeks, and the “light” has finally turned on within me that I may understand. It all started with the “Tear Out” and remodeling lesson. Then He reaffirmed the concept in various other ways as I lived daily life. Each time, He seemed to be confirming to my heart and soul that He had placed me in the desert so that He could purge some of the “old”, the “not so good”, and do a renewing work within me in preparation for whatever He has planned ahead. Even as I type this life lesson right now, it all becomes clearer and clearer to me.

Today, I revisited the Scriptures where the Israelites were told they must wander the wilderness—the desert—for 40 years before they would be able to enter the Promised Land. God told them He would have to purge all the people who were 20 years old and up before they would be allowed to enter. Those would have to live and die in the wilderness. What happened? What drove God to such drastic measures with His people? What was the problem of the people that so exasperated God? Fear. Unbelief. Lack of trust. Disobedience.

They had been through the worst and best of times with the great YHWH. He had freed them from Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea for them to walk through on dry land, fed them food from heaven, personally spoken to them, organized them, hovered over them as a cloud, led them step by step. Yet they still allowed their fear to reign supreme and be an idol above their great YHWH.

He had simply sent them to spy out their Promised Land which He had waiting for them. But when they saw the people that lived in that land they were overcome with fear, and their fear led to unbelief and disobedience. When Caleb encouraged the men by saying, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it (the land), for we will surely overcome it” the men who had been with him answered, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us (Numbers 13:30-31). Of course they were too strong for them, but not for God! And those men began spreading awful rumors to the rest of the people, bringing them to despair and convincing them that the people currently living in the Promised Land were so big that the Israelites would be like grasshoppers and would be defeated. And the people, overcome by the fear of man and of their enemy, cried out to Moses and Aaron, “Would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-4). So they set their minds to appoint for themselves a new leader and return to Egypt!!! What!? Return to Egypt? Willingly return to CAPTIVITY because of their FEAR? How can this be? Wasn’t their YHWH big enough in their sight yet? Wasn’t He much bigger than the enemy that had to be conquered in order to take possession of THEIR Promised Land; a land PROMISED to them by God Himself?

I believe God NEVER breaks His promises; but we sure don’t help Him out in fulfilling them.

God forgave them of their sin of fear and unbelief that HE would and could conquer their enemies for them and with them, and He forgave their disobedience to go forth and take possession of the land. But He also laid out the consequences of their sin and said, “As I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.”

My point in all of this is that God will allow us to spend as much time as we need in the wilderness for Him to be able to purge any and all fear, unbelief, lack of trust, misplaced beliefs, or disobedience that may be exalting itself above Him and who He is and who He wants to be in our life. He will allow us to spend as much time as needed in the wilderness to remove anything He sees is hindering us from truly living in the fullness of His presence and of His Spirit which He offers to us right now.

I will share more of what that means personally in my life in my next blog entry. Until then…

In HIS strength and for HIS glory…

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Every Knee Shall Bow

The LORD says in His word:

“There is no other Elohim apart from Me; a righteous El and Saviour. There is none except Me. Turn toward Me and be saved, all the limits of the earth, for I am El, and there is no other. By Myself have I sworn; from my mouth has gone forth righteousness. For to Me shall bow every knee, and every tongue shall swear fealty. Only in YHWH—one will say to Me—are righteousness and strength. Unto Him shall each one come, and all who were heated against Him shall be ashamed. In YHWH shall they be justified, and shall all the seed of Israel boast…Even unto old age I am the same, and unto your grey haired age, I Myself shall bear the burden; I Myself have made, and I Myself shall bear; I Myself shall bear the burden, and I shall give you escape. To whom shall you liken Me or make Me equal or compare Me that we should be alike?...For I am El, and there is no other! Elohim! And no other like Me! Telling from the beginning, the hereafter, and from aforetime what has not yet been done, saying, All My counsel shall be confirmed, and all My desire shall I do.” (Isaiah 45:21-25, 46:4-5,9-10)

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:3-11)

“Not one of us is living to himself, and not one is dying to himself. For both, if we should be living, to the Lord are we living, and if we should be dying, to the Lord are we dying. Then, both if we should be living, and if we should be dying, we are the Lord’s. For for this Christ died and lives, that He should be Lord of the dead as well as of the living. Now why are you judging your brother? Or why are you also scorning your brother? For all of us shall be presented at the dais of God, for it is written: ‘ Living am I,’ the Lord is saying, ‘For to Me shall bow every knee, and every tongue shall be acclaiming God!’ Consequently, then, each of us shall be giving account concerning himself to God. By no means, then, should we still be judging one another, but rather decide this, not to place a stumbling block for a brother, or a snare.” (Romans 14:7-13)

And I just wanted more of HIS words of truth on my blog.

In HIS strength and for HIS glory…

Thursday, September 20, 2007


A few days ago, the Lord prompted me to research the word “ekklesia” a bit deeper. That is the Greek word which in our Bibles is translated as “church”. We have a dear friend of ours who had mentioned to us that ekklesia actually meant “out-called”. So being the kind of learner that I am (I must discover something for myself rather than just take someone’s word for it), I finally paid attention to God’s nudging and proceeded to discover more about this with my own personal research. This is what I discovered:

Ekklesia (sometimes written in English as “ecclesia”) does literally mean “out-called”. It refers to a called out group of people. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines it as coming from the word Greek word “ek” meaning “out of”, and the Greek word “klesis” meaning “a calling”. And Vine’s also says that the word was used among Greeks regarding a body of citizens gathered to discuss the affairs of the state. Thayer’s Lexicon also confirms that the word means “called out” or “called forth”.

Ekklesia can simply and literally be defined as the “out-called”. A group of people “called out” or “called forth” for a particular reason or purpose.

The word does not have anything to do with a building constructed with walls and decorated on the inside where people come together to learn about, talk about, or worship God. The word is all about the PEOPLE themselves; the people that have been “called out” and “called forth” by God’s own voice for His purposes and have heard and answered His call.

So I tried a little experiment using my new-found knowledge about ekklesia. I looked up some of the verses where “church” is mentioned in the New Testament and instead of reading “church”, I read “out-called” or “the called out” in its place. Here are a few verses like that:

"Now I, also, am saying to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will I be building My out-called (ekklesia), and the gates of the unseen shall not be prevailing against” them. (Matthew 16:18) (The word translated “it” after “overpower” is the Greek word “autos” and literally means to refer again of what was already previously mentioned; so it can be translated: the same, he, she, it, herself, himself, themselves, etc.)

“Now coming along and gathering the out-called (ekklesia), they informed them of whatever God does with them, and that He opens to the nations a door of faith.” (Acts 14:27)

…And He (God) put all things in subjection under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him (Christ) as head over all things to the out-called (ekklesia), which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23)

As I read the verses in that manner, I envisioned them in a whole new way and understood them with a whole new depth. Give it a try and see how the Spirit breathes renewed life into the verses and opens the way to a greater understanding of the word of God. He is Glorious!

In HIS strength and for HIS glory…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

His Grace IS Sufficient

As I have begun this exciting new adventure of “blogging” I have had to deal with a relentless “thorn in the flesh” that has pressed against me now for at least two years. I have extremely painful back and wrist/arm troubles that are greatly aggravated by my sitting at the computer and typing for any length of time. However, my excitement and desire to share God’s presence and work in my life with others are, in the “spirit realm” and in my heart, so much greater than my physical pain. And as I have battled with the pain and fought against it, the Lord kept saying to me last week: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." And so with Paul I also say, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Amen, so be it.

In HIS power and for HIS glory…

About That Brain of Ours...

On the same morning that God showed me the lesson on tearing down/tearing out, He chose to reveal another truth to me. I suppose God thought it was just one of those weeks for me to learn a thing or two! At least these weren’t the “difficult” kind of lessons. Whew!

This lesson pertained to our brain and it causing us to see what it wants us to see based on its past experiences and understanding. Our family was at the museum when God shed His light of truth on this subject. We were in an area of the museum that was all about the human body. A museum employee began to do a presentation on optical illusions and we went to observe the presentation. The point he made was that our brains can actually trick us or stand in the way of us seeing things as they really are. Our brain makes assumptions and adjustments based on past experiences or on what it already knows, and it can actually make us see something a certain way when it is actually not that way at all.

I realized what a “spiritual realm” hindrance our physical brains are to us so often times. How often do we base our faith or our view of God or the spiritual realm on our past experiences and/or our understanding on what we have previously seen, experienced, or been taught? And how often some of that previous “stuff” hinders us from accepting or learning something new unless God allows us to get a hold of it in His miraculous ways—by experiencing it anew ourselves, by Him taking our “blinders” off, per say. For example, someone who has never understood a “That was God!” moment in their life may testify, “There is no God”. Someone who’s never felt they’ve “heard” the voice of God may not truly believe that He can and does speak to us. Someone who feels or thinks they’ve never really experienced or seen first-hand spiritual warfare may not believe it really exists. Someone may not believe in speaking in tongues, or in prophesying, or in miraculous healings because they have never had first-hand knowledge or experience with them before. If we allow our brains to trick us into believing a lie that there are no such things because we have never experienced or seen them before then we are missing out on a whole lot—we are missing out on God’s realm!!

Our brain tries to make logic conclusions out of everything. Like the example of a picture the museum presenter was showed to us. Let’s see if I can put this picture into words: There was a building in the background and it had a walkway in front of it with crates or boxes lined up along both sides of the walkway. It was a depth perception view. There was a person at the “back” of the picture by the building entrance (by our perspective on the picture). Another person was standing in middle of walkway, and another person in “front” on the walkway. The person in “front” of picture was the one furthest from the entrance of the building (which was in background). The presenter asked us which person looked smaller to us of the “back” and “front” one. Everyone agreed that the person in “front”, closest to us and furthest from the building, was the smallest one. He then switched the people around on the picture and reversed the “front” and “back” person. Again he asked us which one was smaller. Well, the person now at the front of the picture looked smaller although that one had looked bigger earlier. It turned out that both people were exactly the same size when they were placed next to each other. But our brains were using the entire picture and the context around the people in the picture to create depth perception and make conclusions about their size. Our brains assumed that the people were different sizes based on their place in the picture. It was making assumptions based on its past experiences and understanding, and it was not allowing us to see the real fact and truth of the picture.

The presenter again demonstrated this with two signs. He showed a sign to one side of the audience while the other side of the audience did not look at it. And then he showed the other side of the audience another sign. Then he asked everyone to say what they saw in the middle of the sign. One side of the audience said, “The letter B”, and the other side of the audience said, “The number 13”. He had actually shown the letter B. To one side of the audience he had show A B C. He had shown the letter B in the context of A and C on either side of it. To the other side he had shown 12 B 14. He had shown the letter B in the context of 12 and 14. And the letters were stenciled letters so the left line of the B was a bit separated from the right side curves, and therefore, easy to mistake for a 13 within a different context. As we can see, context is a really big deal as far as our brain is concerned and how it processes things and makes conclusions on what it sees.

Our brains are like computers—input becomes output. There can be no output of something that has never been input. Therefore, it is easy to see that for us to grow spiritually we must keep our minds very open to God teaching us and allowing HIM to input into us. It is critical that we not close our minds to any possibility because the Scriptures say over and over again that: “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), that “All things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23, 10:27, 14:36), and that “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). The Scriptures also say that “Faith is an assumption of what is being expected, a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed…” (Hebrews 11:1).

The guy who made the presentation at the museum had a title for the presentation. It was something like “Seeing But Not Believing” or "Believing But Not Seeing". Don’t we go around doing that with God and the spiritual realm all the time? Sticking to our limited view of Him and His kingdom, His realm, and His ways instead of allowing ourselves to be open to Him beyond what has already been “input” into us in the past? Are we allowing Him to provide us with further input and consequently expanding the borders we have placed around Him and the spiritual realm? In truth, the spiritual realm is much grander and ultimately of greater impact than the physical world we tend to daily focus on. There is a depth of God that He longs to reveal to us. “Deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7). His depths call unto our depths. If we will only truly seek Him, we will find Him; He will reveal more of Himself to us. The Scriptures also tell us, “Seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29), “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13), “I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10),

I praise HIM for HIS faithfulness because in spite of the hindrances of this physical world and the stumbling blocks we face each and every day it says in His word that we can be confident He will allow us to discover His depths and truths if we will only seek Him with our entire being. I praise Him for His faithfulness that He continues to work with us and WITHIN us, ever patiently and lovingly. “He Who undertakes a good work among you, will be performing it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

His “love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Thank you, Lord and King over all!

For HIS glory…

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Tear Down/Tear Out Lesson

A few weeks ago I was pondering on how the remodeling mess around our house with the torn out carpet, floors, and baseboards was truly wearing at my nerves and adding to my exhausted feelings. As I was thinking of that, God immediately placed thoughts of great truth in my mind. He revealed to me that there must be a tear down/tear out process in order to build something or create something better. I thought of how the old, the not as good, must be torn out to make room for the better things. I thought of God’s work in the tear out/remodeling process of our family and especially of myself in the last seven years. There has been a immense amount of tearing out and tearing down, reshaping and renewing; but I am understanding better each day how necessary it has all been to make room for the better and best to take its place.

The tear down/tear out process is a very messy one and things appear to be in shambles, and it’s hard to envision that things are ever going to look or be better than they were before. Tear out is as much work or even more work than the rebuilding or re-creating. It is BROKENNESS work; tearing apart to get things out that have been glued solidly down tightly for years. However, they must be pulled up and removed to make room for the better and best things—the more beautiful things to come. Do we truly believe and have unshakeable faith that God has even greater truths of Himself to reveal and better plans for us than what we already have today? Faith is an assumption of what is being expected, a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed…” (Hebrews 11:1)

It was a very difficult and time consuming task pulling up certain sections of our flooring because there were strips of thin wood every few feet that were stapled down with what seemed and felt to us like a million staples (and it probably was at the least!). This had to all be chipped away bit by bit. When it was time to pull out the old counter tops, we spent hours just trying to find the screws that were deeply embedded into the wood so that we could unscrew them and remove the counter tops. Some of the screws were impossible to find because they were hidden so deep; therefore, the counter tops had to literally be beat upwards with a mallet to get them to come all the way off. That was not a pleasant process; tile was flying everywhere, and it was all quite stressful to us. How much are we resisting God’s hands upon us as He works at removing the old deeply ingrained within us? How hard are we hanging on to what He knows is of a hindrance to us and His best for us? What do we continue to hide deep within?

The whole tear out process creates a huge mess that must be cleaned up, swept up and away, thrown out, and hauled far, far away. We cannot hang on to any of the debris or broken pieces; it’s all utterly useless to us and a hindrance to what’s to come. You can’t put new and better things on top of debris; it will make the new unstable and not as durable. Any left over debris would make a weak foundation. It is critical that all of it is cleaned up and thrown away never to be looked upon again or brought back to use or hold on to. Even Jesus referred to this vital truth of not trying to put the new on top of the old. He said to the disciples, “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17) Are we still refusing to let go of some things that are creating a weak foundation on God’s work in our lives? Are we trying to keep something old as part of the new work He is doing in our lives?

Our garage was filled with all the old things we tore out. We could hardly walk through it and had to call for someone to bring a dumpster to our driveway so that we could put all the old, torn out flooring and counter tops into it and have it hauled away. We have no idea where the dumpster was taken and all the garbage ultimately dumped; it is of no importance to us or our remodeling work. The new floor and counter tops were installed and we no longer have any need of those things or have any thoughts of ever going to search for them to bring them back to our home. Yuk! So are we allowing God to take our debris and truly dump it far from us? Are we dumping it all at His feet and letting Him haul it away permanently? As far as the east is from the west, so He removes our transgressions far from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

As I shared this lesson with my children this past Sunday, one of them commented on how comfortable our old carpet had been as opposed to the wood floor we now had. I agreed that the carpet had been cushier to lay and sit on; however, that is where its positive ended. The carpet held much dirt, germs, and hairs deep within it, and even though it was more comfortable it wasn’t the better of the two floors. In fact, when we pulled it up we were amazed at how much dirt had piled up underneath it. Isn’t that like us? We are comfortable in a certain situation, with certain ideas and ideals, habits, traditions, and routines. But are we living out GOD’s best for us? Or are we settling for what feels cushier, more comfortable with all the dirt entrenched deep within?

As we offer our hearts, souls, and lives up to God, He sets to work in “remodeling” us to be a clearer representation of His image and of His character for the rest of the world to see. He takes His mighty hands with which ALL things are possible and NOTHING is impossible, and He begins the process of removing from our hearts, minds, souls anything that falls short of HIS image and HIS plan of perfecting us IN HIM. He chips away at our false ideals and ideas and replaces them with His sovereign truths. He chips away at our traditions, habits, and routines and replaces them with His ways. He chips away at the idols of our lives and replaces them with Himself. He chips away at our sins and replaces them with His righteousness. Bit by bit, day by day, season by season, year by year He patiently and faithfully works within us, part by part, layer by layer prying up and sweeping away the old and creating HIS beautiful masterpiece within us. By no means does His grand work take place without us feeling the pressures and pains of the tearing down; some of which can actually feel excruciating to us. Often times we resist His work due to those pressures and pains we feel and as what was comfortable to us is removed in the process; but we are promised that we can consider it all joy to encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith is producing endurance. And that we must allow endurance to have its perfect way in our lives so that we may be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing that He has for us. HE IS remodeling us PERFECTLY. Great is HIS patience and faithfulness! Won’t we just stand in awe of Him now and praise Him for His work in our lives at this very moment? Thank you, great YHWH!

For HIS glory…

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Beginning of a New Adventure

Well, here I am having my first blog. Seeing another friend's blog today totally inspired me to have my own. It's kind of odd being inspired this very day because I have seen other blogs many times before and never was inspired to have my own until TODAY. I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands, but I greatly enjoy writing. I also love sharing with others what God is doing in my life and the lessons He is teaching me, and I believe this is a perfect place for me to share that. To HIM be all the glory!