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All posts for the month January, 2013

Blindness

Published January 30, 2013 by Dawn

I had been around this man my entire life and never knew. I had asked him to meet me so I could forgive him for years of hatred inside myself due to his ignorance and sin toward me, but as I sat there that day, I saw it for the first time. His untouched eyes. I guess I had never noticed before that he was blind. I mean, his eyes were open, they blinked and cried just like mine. But he was completely blind. I have hated him most of my life because he never noticed me. I hated him because his world did not make sense to me, and his ignorance really angered me. I grew to hate this man, never knowing he was blind.

In my natural man, my flesh, I am very judgmental. I pride myself for having spiritual understanding and revelation, and often forget that it is God who gives this to me. With a self-righteous attitude, I abhor the ignorance of others. Or I did, until God showed me very plainly the affects of blindness.

Second Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” As I sat across from my dad and recognized his spiritual blindness, all hatred and anger melted away, and what was left was a sincere pity for him. As I listened to him speak things in ignorance, things that I had heard him say my entire life, things that had been used by Satan to plant seeds of hatred and bitterness and suspicion in me, I saw for the first time his blindness and understood his vulnerability: in his blindness, he had trusted his understanding to those who are not God, and he had been deceived. These things he spoke were his understanding of his world. They were real to him. There was no hatred in what he was saying, no malice in his words. He had been speaking lies to me my whole life because this truly was his understanding of things. And because he is blind, he does not know how wrong he is.

A blind person must put a lot of trust in their instinct to be independent. If they cannot trust their instinct, or have a poor sense of direction or awareness, they can be led astray by people whose intents are impure. Blind people are vulnerable in the sense that they are relying on a limited understanding of their surroundings. They have trusted others to make up the difference in their understanding. If that person were evil and deceived them, they could be in serious danger. In the least, they will look foolish trying to navigate their way around, and could possibly infuriate people in the process. This is also true for the spiritually blind. With a limited understanding and no spiritual illumination in their life, the spiritually blind are very vulnerable to the deceptions of Satan. In full confidence of a flawed understanding, they navigate their way through life, unaware of the dangers they truly face. Spiritually blind people do tend to frustrate others, but of course they would. We live in a world of blind people. We all are blind in a sense. Some of us are relying of Christ to lead us, and some of us are not. So the difference, really, is not in us at all. It’s in our guide.

With this new understanding, several things have happened. First, I have been released from my pride and arrogance. I’m no better than anyone else. I just have a better guide who is gracious and loving toward me. Secondly, I have forgiven years of trespass against me without looking back because that blind man was unaware of his effect in my life. Third, I have taken up my cross. I can’t know this and do nothing with it. I’d be robbing the blind.

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” Genesis 4:1

Published January 29, 2013 by Dawn

So, I remember the first time I read this verse with understanding. I was probably ten or eleven and so with child-like maturity, I read this verse, hesitated as my brain comprehended it, read it again and blushed, and then moved on with the story. It meant nothing to me other than the fact that I had this thought: “that’s a really strange verb to use in that context…” Yes, I was stuck on the proper use of words even then. I fell in love with nouns, verbs and adjectives in first grade and have obsessed over words ever since. But anyway, since that day, I read the bible with a keen awareness of words and how they were used. This one never left me after that day, and every time I read it, I pondered again, why ‘knew’? Maybe it was simply an act of discretion. Maybe Moses was like, “… uh … ‘Adam’ *blush* well, uh, he … um, how about this, God. How about we say, ‘Adam knew Eve.’ Surely they’ll get that, right?” While this sounds plausible, and even like something I would do if God told me to write the account, today I read it with a more mature understanding of the intimate relationship between a man and a woman, and the word ‘knew’ seems both appropriate and necessary.

I should have known my obsession with this word would eventually require me to delve deeper. What the spirit has revealed to me, I write only because I feel compelled to. Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing. But I know this is the message God has given me to publish tonight, so here it is:

It is obvious to me that every relationship in the Word, though completely true in a historical context, also serves as a symbol of how we interact with God. It is true for this one too. Every husband/wife relationship in the Bible uses the same word for their sexual relationship. “He” always knew “her.” Let’s use the relationship between Adam and Eve as Exhibit A to provide insight into how this is relevant in our relationship with God.

In the beginning, Adam saw one woman. He loved one woman. He married one woman, and then knew her. This was Eve. God constituted that sex should come after marriage, and although the Bible doesn’t discuss their marriage, I’m assuming they did things legit. After their presumed marriage, Adam got intimate with his wife. I envision a late night under the stars, with much passion between them, they consummated their relationship. They united and made things official. The two became one. Adam entered his wife and filled her with himself. He gave all of himself to her, and she received it. And then, “she conceived.” In case your wondering, I’m blushing. That was a very intimate, very vulnerable moment between them, and I feel like I’m intruding upon it. But please, bear with me. In that moment, Adam knew Eve. He was allowed to be a part of her life in a way no other man had been or would ever be. And in that moment, she conceived something inside her that was later birthed as a testimony of their intimate relationship.

I have pondered this, really, for years. Today, I came to understand the verb. More than that, today I came to understand how this particular use of the verb applies to my relationship with God.

There is a place in God, a level of intimacy that we reach with Him, where we become one with Him. The Bible talks about it. Jesus himself said, “I and the Father are One.” And he says that we are also invited into this same fellowship with God. Not that we become part of the trinity, but we become so full of God and His will becomes so much a part of our lives that we are one with God in our passion and pursuits.

There’s comes a time in our walks where we become vulnerable to God, and we allow Him to know all of us, and He fills us with Himself. And out of this relationship, out of this intimacy, we conceive His will, later to be birthed as a testimony of our relationship with Him. It all starts when we allow God to know us.

We often use the excuse that God knows everything about us to avoid telling God the innermost details of our lives. Like our hates, our fears, our sins. Of course He knows these things, but there is something to be said of telling Him. If Adam would have had x-ray glasses and used them to see through Eve’s clothes, she would have felt that a grave violation of her person. We are, of course, disregarding the fact that he had already seen her naked. That was before shame entered the picture. I can only imagine that as a woman, Eve’s privacy meant something to her. Her vulnerability to Adam was on her terms. If she did not welcome the intimacy, there would have been none. In the same way, God does not violate us. He wants us to be open with Him, but He allows intimacy to form on our terms. In other words, He patiently pursues us and waits for us to be ready to be vulnerable enough to let Him in. He’s a gentleman.

When we finally desire Him so much that we are willing to pour our hearts out to Him, He gently helps us release those things, but He doesn’t stop there. He loves us to much to leave us empty, so with our permission evidenced by our desire for Him, He fills us with Himself. He literally releases Himself into us in the form of His Holy Spirit and the Wisdom of His Word. This is when things get really exciting. We conceive! God plants His seed in us, and then something begins to grow in our lives. His Will begins to germinate inside us and eventually, we give birth to something wonderful from our God. It is not just His, it is also ours. This is ministry. This is intimacy. This is relationship with God. And it’s wonderful!

She paints her face because she’s REALLY ugly…

Published January 24, 2013 by Dawn

“Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window…” 2 Kings 9:30

Sometime around sixth hour today (using the standard high-school, hours-’til-I-go-home method of determining time), I had this thought that’s stuck with me from then until now: “Jezebel paints her eyes because in reality, she’s really ugly.” In my insecure days, I could totally relate to that. Needing to paint myself up to become something more than what I am because it seemed that what I was wasn’t good enough. But before you turn away, just know that I’m not even talking about women and physical appearances here. I’m going deeper and pointing out a spiritual truth. Jezebel is ugly!

Whether or not Queen Jezebel was physically attractive makes no difference to me. As a woman, I know that make-up is used to attract men, is it not? I mean, I don’t paint my face because I like it necessarily. In truth, I don’t. In fact, I dislike it so much that I hardly ever do it. When I do, it’s only because I got my eye on someone and I want him to have his eye on me too. It’s a seduction tool, and it always works. Make-up can take the plainest Jane and make her into an absolute Beauty. You can add a little dimension to your eyes with some liner and all the sudden, your everyday glance becomes enticing. Don’t get the idea that this is a discourse on make-up, it’s not. I’m painting a picture, if you will. Bear with me.

So, Queen Jezebel hears that Jehu is on his way to depose her (that’s a nice word for “coming to kill her”) and what does she do? She paints her face and fixes her hair. Why? I think it was in a last-ditch effort to portray innocence and vulnerability, or maybe just to have a pleasant, disarming aura about her. Whatever the case, it didn’t work because of the Spirit of God in Jehu and his connection to his calling that made him impenetrable to her tactics. Ouch! That’s going to hurt when I admit how I figured all this out today…

Queen Jezebel was a physical representation of the spiritual enemy named “Jezebel.” The Jezebel spirit closely resembles Queen Jezebel in the way it manifests in our lives: bitterness, hatred, rage, jealousy, anger, back-biting. Jezebel (speaking of the spiritual now, unless otherwise noted) entices us to sin in these ways by seducing us, in the same way Queen Jezebel intended to avoid death by seducing Jehu. I am in the middle of a season of spiritual renovation, in which God is working to rid me of deep roots that tend to be manipulated quite easily by the spirit of Jezebel. His Spirit has named this season “Unadulterated,” and I firmly believe that when it’s over, I will be pure. Completely Unadulterated. But like Queen Jezebel, the spirit of Jezebel does not want to die in me, which is why I found myself ensnared by a situation at my work today. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late to back out of my involvement.

It all started when one coworker walked past me the moment I realized I had a pretty important question I needed to ask her. I was baited there. I intended to just ask her the question and move on, because I’m not really one to talk about people or even situations that I could easily have an opinion about. Actions are my thing. I try not to use my words carelessly. “Try” being the operative word here. I’m not a saint. Anyway, she answered my question and without taking a breath, segued into a conversational rant about a meeting I missed a few days ago. Still, I cared little about the content and tried to encourage her to let go of her frustration. Really, there’s no sense in lugging all that around, especially when you can’t do anything about what your complaining about. But she was undeterred and kept talking. Wanting to seem polite, I listened. And then my mind got involved. And where my mind goes, my mouth usually follows. Before I knew it, I was verbally involved in something I really should not have been. But anyway, that conversation followed me as I tried to escape and get back to work. Enter coworker number two, three and four, and as I politely tried to end the conversation, I realized feathers were ruffled and I hadn’t remained so pure in this encounter. When I finally got away, I headed back to my room and happened to be walking past a door as another woman was coming out. Her hands were full, so I opened the door for her and before I knew what hit me, I was standing listening to a conversation laced with profanity because she was unhappy with someone and it involved several of my students. My spirit had been walloped by the previous conversation and was a little bent out of shape when I came upon this woman, and by the time we were done talking, Jezebel had wrapped her delicate claws around my jugular and begun to squeeze. I needed release! Instead of finding the nearest empty room and praying, I high-tailed it to my classroom where set several other coworkers whom I knew could not be trusted to discuss things without letting Jezebel in, but having already been disarmed, I fell into their rant the moment I came in the room. Jezebel’s pretty face had enticed me and ensnared me and I was trapped in a mess I should never have been a part of! Then it hit me: Jezebel paints her face because in truth, she’s really ugly. If we could only see how ugly the spirit of Jezebel is, we would be less inclined to fall into her trap. But she is so subtle and sweet, and yes, seductive, that we are so often trapped before we realize we’ve been victimized. We’re caught! And I wonder how many of us let that spirit operate through us because we’ve never seen it without it’s “make-up.” I really believe that most of us allow this spirit to drive us because it looks good and feels good to our flesh. But wake up! That’s what make-up does! And Jezebel knows the value of looking good! It works all the time!

In the end, I realized that it takes more than a mindfulness of who Jezebel is to avoid the pitfalls. It takes true spiritual discernment. The Spirit of God inside you that calls her out. That’s the only way we will stick to our guns and resist her. Our calling has to be greater than our flesh. This is how Jehu defeated Jezebel, and this is how we defeat that spirit today.

Dig Deeper

Published January 21, 2013 by Dawn

I got up really early yesterday morning to read my bible before leaving for the latest wrestling tournament. It’s been three weeks since my last Sunday morning service, and although I attend church Sunday evening and Wednesday evening, there’s something about a Sunday morning …

I opened my Bible to the passage of scriptures for this Sunday, the scriptures the Holy Spirit had impressed was our “weapons of war” for this week: Psalm 91. I was longing for it before I even opened the pages. Psalm 91:1 is one of my most cherished verses. As I began to read, I became aware of this painful feeling in the back of my throat. It was a burning sensation, but it was borne of thirst. I was so thirsty! I couldn’t even recall when the last time I had taken a drink, and so this burning thirst made sense. But more than making sense, it hurt. What hurt the most about it was not the physical pain so much as the sudden realization that this thirst in my throat mirrored the thirst in my spirit. I had such a longing for God!

My devotion to Him during this season had not wavered. I missed two Sundays on account of wrestling and one was canceled due to ice and illness. But every one of those mornings, I was up spending my time with God. I was searching for Him daily in the scriptures, praying and fasting. Still, I felt so far from the Source of Life.

At church yesterday evening, I was asking a fellow brother about one of my teens and he began relating their latest troubles to me: their well at their house had run dry. They had no water. My heart went out to them. My spirit picked up on this: dig deeper.

It seems that I am drawing from the same well in the same way I have always done it, and all the sudden it seems that my well has gone dry. I am still thirsty, and the water that was once on the surface and bubbling up to meet me is no longer visible. My only option is to dig deeper. I have to pursue that water, because it is my lifeline. If I don’t have it, I die. This is so spiritually real to me right now. There’s water to be had, in abundance. I just have to dig deeper. This will take something out of me, require something more of me, but it’s so necessary. What other choice do I have? And even if I had another choice, why would I take it? This water has quenched me for so long, I wouldn’t look anywhere else. I must dig deeper.

Dearest Father,
As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship thee.*

Lord, I thirst for you. Help me, Holy Spirit, to dig deeper this well so that I may again drink deeply of the rivers of living water. I am parched within. Father, satisfy my longing with more of You.

I love You.

Love me always,
Dawn.

*psalm 42:1

Fight Run-Off!

Published January 16, 2013 by Dawn

I got up early this morning and spent some time in The Word, where I really felt directed to read Joel … again. I felt led to read it last night and so I did, but I must not have “received” what the Holy Spirit was trying to show me in it, because I found myself there again this morning. I read the book in it’s entirety and I felt my spirit hesitate over Joel 3:14, which says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” Although I went ahead and finished out the chapter, I was still pondering this scripture in my heart. Something about it wasn’t real to me yet, and really needed to be.

I closed up my Bible and got cozy with the covers, and began to pray and seek the Lord’s understanding. What does this mean? Other than the obvious interpretation of this scripture, what was it that God was trying to speak to me in this verse for this day? How does this verse apply to my daily walk today? I pondered in my heart, prayed for understanding, listened intently for the leading of the Holy Spirit and eventually … fell asleep. After the alarm had went off. It was a heavy slumber which ended shortly after it began, but I was asleep deeply enough to have this dream:

I was driving down a very sloped mountainside, and beside me to the left, there was a swiftly flowing river. It was beautiful and clear, and almost surreal how straight the path of the water was. The water’s edges were clean cut, almost as if something huge had been drug down the mountainside to create this trench in which the water flowed. Anyway, I eventually drove to the bottom of the mountain where sat this little town of white shanties that looked almost like small motor-homes. They were everywhere, and that’s all that was in the town. Well, almost. See, the river that was flowing down the mountain was also in the town, in the form of a flood. The entire community was knee-deep in muddy water. Muddy water. Somewhere between where I had seen the river flowing down the mountain and where the water reached the town, the water had lost it’s purity. It was disgusting. It was poisoned. It was dangerous. I looked up and saw a sign: Fight Run-off! And as quickly as my dream had begun, it ended, and I was left with the impression of that sign: Fight Run-off!

I lay there for a few minutes waiting for the proverbial light bulb to come on and meaning to my dream to be revealed. Thank God, He even works within my time constraints, because I was really needing to get up and get ready for work. But, with the few minutes I waited, His Spirit was not idle. I began to see that the little town of white shanties was a representation of the valley of decision. These were the multitudes. The river I had seen was the flowing of the Holy Spirit. Somewhere between the source of the river and the multitudes, some pretty nasty things were getting into the water and contaminating it, making it very unsafe for the people in the valley. The Spirit impressed on me that this is what happens to our anointing sometime. Things come in and sully it, and people receive a tainted version of our witness. How does this apply to my daily walk today? “Fight Run-off!” My battle today and everyday is to fight the things that seek to destroy my effective work for God by tainting the Spirit’s flow in me. The rivers of living water that God put inside of every believer for the edification of others is only “living water” if it is able to produce life in and through us. If it isn’t, that’s because it has become polluted. As I considered the application of the revelation, I realized that there are many ways my “river” becomes polluted. When I gossip, I taint the water. When I falter in my joy, I taint the water. When I react in anger or frustration, I taint the water. When I lie, when I yell, when I entertain Satan in any way, I taint the water. Basically, anything that I do that grieves the Spirit of God within me taints the water. If my water is not pure, it’s dangerous. Deadly even. Because there are multitudes in the valley of decision, and if I am not allowing the pure anointing to flow from God to them through me, I have jeopardized the masses who may only know Christ through my witness. And while this seems like a heavy burden to bear, I am confident that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” After all, I have a responsibility as a Christian who has been called to bring others to the saving knowledge of Christ to “Fight Run-off!”

Passing the Baton

Published January 14, 2013 by Dawn

I was in such a mood yesterday. I was aggravated before I even got out of bed. It may have had something to do with being woke up at seven a.m. on a Saturday when I had every intention of catching up on the ever-elusive sleep my body craves. I laid in bed long enough to be harassed with a multitude of  questions, like, “What are we going to do today?” “Can I eat ______?” “When are you going to get up?” “Can I go outside?” “Will you ___________?” On and on he chattered until I finally got up. But I wasn’t happy about it and I let both of them know. The problem was, even after I had adequately expressed myself, I couldn’t shake the attitude of hatefulness. My prayers that morning were poisoned by my anger, and even after I had exhausted myself in prayer, I was still in a major funk. As a result, I was pretty terrible to live with yesterday.

 

Eventually, even I was sick of hearing myself vent. I knew in my heart that my attitude was disgusting and I was sick of feeling provoked by the tiniest thing. Finally, I sat in the kitchen floor to clean up yet another mess and my daughter came in and stood very near me. I was just getting ready to tell her to take a hike when she began to sing, “I command you, Satan, in the name of the Lord, take up your weapons and flee …” As my anger began to falter and melt away, she sang it again “… for the Lord has given me authority to stomp all over thee!” Oh, from my heart I was so grateful to her! My daughter had warred on my behalf. She had taken up my war-cry in her rich alto voice and put the enemy to flight on my behalf. I had sung that song millions of times to wage war in our home. Never did I realize someone was watching me and seeing the warfare in it. Most often, I figured they thought I had completely lost it. Little did I know I was teaching my children how to recognize and fight the enemy. When she began to sing, I saw very clearly that I had passed the baton, and thank God! I am no longer the only warrior in my home. Satan, beware!

Spiritual Warfare 101: The Rules of Engagement

Published January 9, 2013 by Dawn

The laws that govern humanity are much like the laws of Hell. Of course, I am not speaking of the ethical laws that govern those of us with moral fiber. No, I am speaking of the laws which govern humanity when personal gain becomes the law of the land. I am speaking of the laws that govern a me-first society. I am speaking of the laws that drive the individual today, not to say the individual led by God, but the individual led by self or emotions or principalities, for these are truly the laws which govern the majority. And these laws are written by the Scribe of Hell, created for demons but lived out in the lives of those who forsake Christ for the sake of self.

In dissecting the following passage, I intend to prove this point without fault. The following is an excerpt from The History of the Peloponnesian War called The Melian Dialogue:

Athenians: We will use no fine phrases saying, for example, that we have a right to our empire because we defeated the Persians, or that we have come against you now because of the injuries you have done us. And we ask you not to imagine that you will influence us by saying that you have never done us any harm. You know as well as we do that the strong will do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.

Melians: So you would not agree to our being neutral, friends instead of enemies, but allies of neither side?

Athenians: No, because it is not so much your hostility that injures us; rather, if we were on friendly terms with you, our subjects would regard that as a weakness in us, whereas your hatred is evidence of our power.

Melians: We trust that the gods will give us fortune as good as yours, because we are standing for what is right against what is wrong.

Athenians: Our opinion of the gods and our knowledge of men lead us to conclude that it is a general and necessary law of nature to rule wherever one can. This is not a law that we made ourselves, nor were we the first to act upon it when it was made. We found it already in existence, and we shall leave it to exist forever. We are merely acting in accordance with it, and we know that you or anybody else with the same power as ours would be acting in precisely the same way.

Thucydides wrote this as an analysis of the logic that the Athenians used in drawing the Melians into war and then utterly demolishing the entire population of them. Whether this conversation is real or conceived, this was the actual attitude of the Athenians in their quest to conquer the Greek islands. Tyranny is human trait, whether used judiciously or mercilessly, but we did not learn it on our own. It is, in fact, the process of domination used by demonic forces everyday in the battle between Satan and God’s treasure: His children.

As I read this today in a History class I was sitting through with one of my students, the spiritual reality was very evident to me. I immediately noticed truths of the battle between Satan and God’s people hidden in the lines of this fictitious, analytical dialogue.

In the second response of the Athenians, the very last part of the last sentence says, “your hatred is evidence of our power.”  How true this is! Our hatred of the enemy is evidence of His power to work in our lives. In order for us to nullify his work, we have to strip him of this power. I have pondered this for several hours and it is clear to me that Satan’s power in our lives comes from fleshly perspectives. He is successful in destroying things in our lives by tormenting our thought-life, tearing at our heart-strings, manipulating our emotions, and taunting us. So, how do we strip him of this power? We must take control. The only way we can control ourselves is by allowing fruits of the Spirit to grow in us, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Now, looking at that line conversely, I can also see that Satan’s hatred of us is evidence of the power in us! That’s a truth that ignites me! He’s terrified of any of us advancing in our relationships and receiving the promises of God because he knows we have the potential to do some major damage to his kingdom. I have promised him that I will!

Notice that the Melians ask the Athenians of there is any way they can remain friends instead of enemies with there being neutrality between them. The Athenians refuse. Their response if revelatory. There is no friendship with Satan. There’s not even neutrality, where if you do nothing, he does nothing. There is nothing but war between he and us. We either lie down and take it, or we fight!

In their response, the Athenians say, “it is not so much your hostility that injures us …” Our anger will not affect Satan. Our anger sometimes even works to his advantage. Our actions, however, will weaken his authority on earth and tear his kingdom apart. If we respond in a godly way, in a Spirit of Love, Satan has no ground to stand on in our lives or the lives of those he would otherwise be using. Love disarms men and draws them close. Satan can’t compete with that, for love is exclusively an attribute of God, and a spiritual weapon at our disposal.

Lastly, notice the last part of the first Athenian line: “… the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.” This is the secret to successful war with the enemy. He rages because he is terrified of the power within us. He knows that he is weak. But often we do not. We act as if he is powerful and we are weak. And of course we are, in our own strength. But “when I am weak, then I am strong.” God empowers believers and in our weakness, He is strong through us. We do not fight in our own strength, but in the power of God. Not with weapons that are weak, but with mighty weapons that tear down strongholds and cast down everything that is set up against the wisdom and knowledge of God. Victory is inevitable when we are warring in the spiritual with God on our side! “… and the weak accept what they have to accept.”

*Rex Warner (trans.), Thucydides, The Pelopponnesian War, Penguin Classics, 1954, 1980, pp.89-105 abridged