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Choosing Hope

Choosing Hope

There have always been only two stories: the one that God speaks and the one that darkness tells. Each day I get to choose which one I will focus on. Which one I will believe and live by. God’s story is harder to hear. I have to lean in to know what He’s saying. I have to dust off my Bible and read the story of hope and love that He brought generations ago. I have to remind myself that He doesn’t lie. That He doesn’t change. That His story lasts forever. Darkness tells me a different story. It prophesies death and destruction. Today this story screams loudly everywhere I look.

There are also only two kingdoms and I get to choose, each day, where I will live. Which one I will align my thoughts, my words, and my prayers with—which one will fuel my life? Whose words, Satan or God’s, will I believe? Whichever words I believe are true are the ones that begin to create in my life.

In the beginning, just after life exploded in beauty upon the earth, God’s enemy entered the garden to change the destiny of creation. He came armed with a lie. A lie that questioned what God had said to Adam and Eve. A lie that challenged God’s words and spoke of a different future to entice Eve into believing God had deceived her.  That surely they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Surely they would only be like God. This story, this lie, was a rational one. One that offered an outcome that seemed reasonable, obvious. Eve believed it bringing death to us all.

Today, I hear two stories: one of evil taking over the world and one of Jesus becoming king. My choice is as basic as Eve’s. Do I trust and hope in who God says He is for me or do I believe the power of darkness as demonstrated around me in violence, hatred, and fear? Who do I really believe has control of the outcome?

I don’t understand either story very well. The dark prophecies have many variations but always result in anger and fear. The words of Jesus, who is the Host of Heaven’s armies and our returning king, result in peace and hope. Beyond reason, I choose Jesus’ story. Even when I don’t understand. Even when I can see no evidence. My hope is not in what I can see, my hope is in who God is and what He has promised. What He gave up to have me call Him Father. My hope is in His word that does not change. That says He’s given me a future. That every thought He has for me is good. That He is the One who cares for me. Deeply. With extravagance. Completely unfairly. He loves me beyond what good or bad I’ve ever done. He does not lie, and He does not change.

The story God tells me is that I am His wildest dream. That every color, every animal, every bit of singing music in creation is for me. Given so I would see Him in His wondrous glory and begin to know Him. His story is one of outrageous sacrifice, offering His precious, beloved son as a ransom to ensure my freedom from the kingdom of darkness. To ensure I could become a child of God, a friend of God with nothing standing between us. What an absurd love. He didn’t wait until I was good or even intending to be good. He took all that I was not, and all raging rebellion that I was, and went to the cross for me.  

That story is the one that ignites my faith to believe whatever He says is true. That He is my protection, my hope, my song. Convincing me the noise, the smoke, the violence of God’s enemy in my nation and other nations is a lie. That somewhere, somehow, God will arise and His enemies will be scattered. That some way the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our God. That the earth, its fulness, and everyone in it is the Lord’s because He made them. He does not lie. He does not change.

One day while I was waiting on God, I saw the answer to a prayer I’d been praying for a long time. I was so excited, yet as I got up the next morning I wondered if what I saw was a promise or if it was real. Was it happening now or was it going to happen in the future? I asked the Lord, “Is this real or is it a promise?” His words came almost immediately, rolling loudly through my heart. He said, “What’s the difference?” Like He didn’t know. Like they were the very same thing to Him. Telling me clearly that when He promises a thing it is real. To God, all His promises are real. His word is forever true. It’s up to me to believe it. To speak it. To pray it. To stand and say out loud, as a praise, what He has said. To let it live large in my thoughts. To offer thanks, in faith, that He never lies. He is always good. His mercies are never ending. And He loves me with an unbelievable, unending love.

The difference between the two stories being told today is that one is true and the other is a lie.

Please turn off the news, find your Bible and start talking to the One who loves you more than life. I suggest starting in Psalms or John. God’s heart for you and His story of your future will capture you and give you hope for each new day.


2 Cor 1:20 NIV
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Numbers 23:19 ESV
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Is 55:11 NIV
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.

Psalm 23-24 NKJV
Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

On the Road with Jesus

On the Road with Jesus

Several months ago I woke up from a dream where Jesus walked away. Later, I could laugh, but at the time I remember standing in the middle of a dirt road surrounded by prairie fields as far as I could see and feeling wildly scared. I looked down at something on the ground near my feet and when I looked up all I could see was Jesus’ back as he walked down the road. Away from me.

What? My mind started moving in hyper-mode. But the Bible says He never leaves me. He is my Good Shepherd. He leads and guides me. Where is He going? Why is He going?

And then I saw it. He was leading me. He expected me to be following.

I don’t know why I didn’t see it first thing. Maybe the surge of fear slowed me down or maybe I am just one of His slower children. He leads and guides but do I follow well? Obviously not always.

This morning it felt like He wasn’t here. I went through a list of things I might have done to offend Him. The areas of repentance that needed to be made. I asked what I should be doing that I wasn’t. I didn’t hear a thing.  I remembered my dream and began to ask God where I should be going with Him that I was not.

Follow is another word for obey and although it is easier and carries less religious baggage, it means the same thing. Am I following where He wants to go and doing what He wants to do or am I just standing around in the dirt thinking?

There is a recurring fear of lack in my life and it has come around again. Rearing its voice above the voice of God to speak, loudly, lies that tend to immobilize me. Lies that slow my feet until they stop altogether and I stand in the middle of the road watching Jesus walk away.

My enemy, who hates me because I am so valuable to God because God made me in His image and I am loved deeply, even to the cross– that enemy hates God and all that He loves. That enemy knows how powerful the words and promises of my Heavenly Father are in my mouth. He will do anything he can, create any lie to keep me from following Jesus into the fruitful destiny that God’s dreamed for me.

I see now that it is obedience that keeps me following but wavering in my devotion to Christ slows me down and makes me a target for the smelly lies of the Evil One. His tactics never change. I should be smarter by now but so often I just believe the wrong words. First, my focus moves from Jesus and onto whatever is bothering me. Then my mind starts worrying it as a dog does with a bone. I no longer see the promise in God’s eyes and heart but am primed and ready to listen to the enemy when he comes to speak his prophecy and promise over my life. Promises of lack, emptiness, and failure. And yet in the faithfulness of my God, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper in my heart, “Don’t listen. He’s a liar.”

As I take time to repent from my unbelief, from my unfaithful ways, I see Jesus ahead of me on the road looking over His shoulder, smiling and motioning me to hurry up and come on. So I do.

——

Heavenly Father, forgive me for my sin of unbelief. For not seeing how big and beautiful your plans are for me. For not seeing how awesome you are. How trustworthy. How faithful to keep me in my future and hope. Forgive me for seeing the enemy so large and powerful when you said he’s not. When he was created by you and his power was destroyed at the cross. Come Holy Spirit of Jesus and be strength, hope, and life in me and through me, to a world of people who know torment as I do and even more. Help me to follow you this day. Amen

Gifts and Invitations

Gifts and Invitations

I have come to believe that all the supernatural experiences I have had are simply invitations from God. Invitations to come closer. To seek further into who He is and how He thinks. To understand how He loves.

I had a dream a few years ago where I was traveling from church to church, looking through their teachings and books, seeking truth. Finally, after I had been at this awhile, Jesus showed up. He stood in front of me as if to ask me what I was doing. His face was so bright. He did not speak out loud, but into my heart, saying, “I am who you seek. I am the message. Seek me.” I, lover of books, was invited to seek Jesus, the true message of the book.

In other dreams I have been given things I don’t understand. Scepters, robes, oranges….Recently, Jesus showed me a story. I was a little girl playing in a forest. There was a small, lovely garden that I knew was mine. I was enjoying some project with flowers, twigs and stones. A rock showed up in my hand and I began to look around for something to do with it. I pounded it on the side of a tree. I drug it through the dirt, making a ditch. I played catch with it. About the time I was reaching my arm back to give it a good throw at something, I felt Jesus behind me. He gently took the rock and broke it open just like you crack open an egg. Inside were the most lovely crystals, purple and shiny. He set it in my garden, moving it with precision to a specific place at the foot of a flower, then turned and smiled at me, holding out His hand.

What I learned from that story is that God gives me gifts that I have no idea what to do with. He gives me gifts as an invitation to seek Him more. To ask Him what to do with the gift. How to make it work. Like a father gives a child some kind of kit at Christmas, his intent is to teach and play with that young son or daughter. To spend time with them. To love and be loved in a time of play and learning. Heavenly Father loves us so deeply, yet we may not recognize the invitation to come close in the gifts. Sometimes it seems we are wired to head off to the library or the church when we are given a heavenly gift. Conferring with others, first. Seeking understanding for the usefulness of the gift.

Perhaps the gift is simply an invitation to come visit the One who adores you. Perhaps it is only for beautifying the garden not building roads or defeating foes. Perhaps it is Jesus’ way of tossing rocks at our windows and inviting us out to play. He is the best friend you will ever know. He is inviting you today. Accept the invitation. It will be wondrous!


Bethel Worship  | God I look to You

Graham Cooke Soaking | Everything in Life is an Invitation from God

Seek the Lord

Seek the Lord

How do you seek the Lord with all your heart? I know I struggle with how to define ‘Seeking God.’ What does it look like? Is it going off to a monastery in solitude and meditating quietly alone? Is that how I should separate myself as unto the Lord? As appealing as it sounds, and yes, it really does sound lovely to me, that is not what seeking at my house looks like.

It looks like getting up earlier than I want to and having a conversation with God, my heavenly Father who actually wants to talk to me. He doesn’t always stay on my topics, but He does show up when I take the time to wait. I’m not wired to wait well, but over time I’ve gotten better at it.

If I want to seek the Lord I’ve discovered I must create a space in my world where He is welcome. Where He can come and visit with me through His Word, through teachings of others, through my own prayers and through worship. Can He believe I’m in with all my heart, if I don’t set a time or place in my life where He is invited to talk without distractions?

I discovered making that time and waiting for Him were the hardest things to do. My life was so busy, so filled with noise, work, expectations and commitments that any extra time was a great luxury. In the beginning I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that on God, horrible thing to say, but true. Surely God knew how busy I was? It felt wrong, it felt like an extravagance when I should be getting something done. Surely He knew all the things that needed to be accomplished in the next several hours. Would He really want me to simply sit quietly reading, praying and listening?

Yes, He knew and yes, He really wanted me to carve out a time to be with Him. The only way to know God, is to spend time with Him. Simple, right? One of the greatest fights I’ve had is to make a consistent time in my life for God. Everything, and I do mean everything, fights against it.

I saw a picture one day while I was praying. It was a water faucet. I saw my hand turn it on when I needed the water and off when I was done. I felt the Lord’s voice inside saying, “This is what life in the Kingdom of God is like.” I saw that everything I needed was sourced from God. When I needed water, financial resources, emotional supply, hope, peace or anything else that was missing, I could turn on the handle and it would come pouring out of heaven. Wow. What an idea. A true image that there is no lack in God. But I still didn’t really understand how I could access this supply.

One day while I was praying about our finances, I heard the question, “Do you know what the handle of that faucet is?” (See, how He seems to be off topic?) I didn’t know what the handle was.

“It’s stewardship,” He said.

Well, there was a sinking sensation inside my belly and my brain went off with thoughts of despair, because I am a bad steward of money. It has always been a challenge. A feast or famine sort of lifestyle has been my pattern and experience but in the middle of my internal chaotic thoughts I heard Him say—and I need to tell you this is the only time in all my life with God that He has interrupted me. Usually when I start fussing about something He simple stops talking and waits for me to be quiet. Not this time. He spoke right over my thoughts. He said,

“It is not stewardship of money that allows you to live resourced from My Kingdom. It is stewardship of My presence, of our relationship, that determines your connection to the Kingdom.”

Stewarding my time with Him. Whew. I was so relieved that He asked me to do something I knew I could do. He did not shame me for my past but encouraged me into a future of coming closer. Of learning His heart and ways that are so different than mine. He has mysteries, opportunities, strategies to share that I will never know if I don’t sit with Him and wait to hear what’s on His heart and mind. So most mornings you will find me sitting quietly listening, waiting and seeking. Spending the time to steward this spiritual relationship that I thought was my gift to Him but now know it is His gift to me. Join me?


Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. Hebrews 24:7


If you feel out of practice you might grab a cup of coffee or tea, get settled and listen to God tell you how He loves you through Graham Cooke. |  Expectations

Or read the post Healing Words from a Dialogue with God by Sylvia Gunter

God’s Wildest Dream

God’s Wildest Dream

You are God’s Wildest dream. I am God’s Wildest Dream. Why did we not know this? Why were we not told? I have ached most of my life with an underlying sense of my own lack. A self-hatred even. Knowing I was not good enough but fighting for a place of worth. Thinking if I worked hard enough I could prove the voice inside was wrong. I could find rest from the driving torment. And yet believing if I got too close to God He would surely expose and crush my being because He could see right through me to the nothing I really was.

But when He came close He didn’t do that at all.

When I finally came to the end of any hope in my ability to make something good of my life and invited Him into my heart, He was not the God I’d always feared. He was a God of such huge love, such personal compassion that I realized I didn’t really know Him at all. I was like one of the children of Israel following Moses into the desert. I saw God’s acts occasionally in apparently random moments but without true understanding of how He came or why. For years I tried to do the right things to make my spiritual life bigger, richer and more meaningful. To make it more hopeful. Turning teachings into formulas to get my basic needs met. Working hard to keep fear, poverty,  and emptiness at a distance so there would be something hopeful, something alive in me. Something that looked and felt like God.

I knew at the core of my being that He was real. That He was awe inspiring. That He was beautiful. Creation had always spoken His name & reality to me. One day in all my brokenness, from a place of incredible fear and pain, I invited Him in to work in the dark places of my heart. The areas that resisted Him, that did not trust Him. I asked Him to come and bring His light and life to me.

What an incredible journey we’ve been on. As I opened my heart to Him, He opened His heart to me. And it is true, all His thoughts are good. All His thoughts toward me are healing, love, joy and delight. He created the earth and all it’s wondrous beauty for me. For you. For us. It was for Him to have a place to walk with us and share His great Father heart with His kids. For us to explore. To discover. To learn of Him and to learn of ourselves. To dream. To build. To create and to play.

He valued us so much–each one of us with our unique fingerprints and personalities, in all our quirkiness—that He literally redeemed us by choosing to die rather than not be able to meet with us heart to heart. Jesus took all that I am not, all lack in me, all driven pain, all tormented failings , so that I and you could be all that Father God dreamed us to be. He gave his life to free all that He knew was within us. To remove all barriers between us and Himself so we would know the powerful love that gives us life rich and glorious. We are God’s intention. The biggest dream He ever had. The one He gave His all to, so He could bring us close to Him. We delight Him. Every single one of us.

There is no one right way of walking with Him. Once we invite Him inside our hearts, there is no formula. He addresses us with His Father heart right to the place of wounding that needs love and healing most. He knows this place best because He knows us so intimately. Better than we know ourselves. His touch is gentle. He breath is soft and filled with the healing power of heaven. He comes to meet with us.

Jesus is the perfect model of what walking with the Father looks like. His response was always doing only what the Father asked Him to do. And He obeyed perfectly. Everyone who came was healed–people with big faith. People with little faith. Every hungry person was filled. People were healed in all manner of ways. By touching His clothes. By a word He spoke. By a smearing of His spit and mud. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father. His compassion and miracles expressed the heart of our Heavenly Father and showed us the kind of intimate relationship God wanted with each one of us.

God is after our hearts. Longing to walk with us. To have conversations with us. He suffered and died for that opportunity. We are so valuable to Him. We have the highest worth of anything on the planet to our Creator, Father, God. Each unique one of us. We are God’s wildest dream. You are God’s Wildest Dream. He’s hungry to hear your voice today. I encourage you to go say, “hi”. For some of us, He’s been waiting an awfully long time.

 


Music  | Who You Say I Am – Live Bethel Worship

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