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All posts for the month May, 2016

Let it Rain

Published May 29, 2016 by Dawn

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” Acts 2:17-18.

 

After seemingly endless days of rain, it finally tapered off Tuesday morning, and I decided to take the dog for a run. He was all excited, I was all excited. We were finally getting outside! Just five minutes into our run (in which I had already set a goal, and being goal-oriented, cannot stop until I reach it), the skies confirmed it was not done, just reached a lull. The heavens above us opened once more and Bleu and I found ourselves running in a torrential downpour. It was amazing.

You imagine I said that with a lot of sarcasm, and naturally, I would have. Except I had never run in a downpour before, just assumed it would be horrendous. And while maybe “amazing” is too strong a word for my affections toward the rain, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If I can be honest, I found it kind of refreshing. I like rain. I don’t mind being wet. I really didn’t mind not being super-hot and sweaty while I was running. That was probably my favorite part.

Because I was suddenly so focused on the rain (or seeing through the rivers running down my face), I ran farther than I had originally planned and for the first time, wasn’t fighting an inner urge to stop way before my goal. I made it with ease.

On my cool-down walk back home, I began reflecting on the rain, and how much I like the fact that God said that in the last days, he would “pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.” What will it be like to be rained on by the Spirit of the Almighty God?

Firstly, in a downpour, there is no dry flesh left. In a matter of mere seconds, all flesh is covered. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, there will be nothing of the flesh untouched by Him. There will be nothing of our natural selves uncovered to jeopardize what God is doing.

In a downpour, the water is your focus. Pain no longer hurts. No distance seems too much. You are able to do what God set you apart to do, and achieve the goal because you are no longer focused on the flesh. You are focused on the downpour.

Finally, downpours are refreshing. They awaken every part of you as the rain washes down and cools your body. In the same way, the Holy Spirit upon us will awaken every part of us to His touch.

 

 

Father,

Let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain. Awaken us, Lord, with the outpouring of your Holy Spirit. Make us truly alive in Christ.

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Fishing for Answers

Published May 9, 2016 by Dawn

All I wanted to do was sit on the river and fish. Mother’s Day is supposed to be beautiful! It’s supposed to be restful! Someone else is supposed to do everything for once and Mom is supposed to be able to sit down and do nothing for one day. One day a year … it’s all I ask!

It didn’t happen. I tried. I did everything the day before. Picked up everyone’s stuff all over the house, did the sweeping, mowed the yard, did the dishes twice. I put a lot of effort into preparing my house for an effortless Mother’s Day. I bought my favorite things for lunch so I could cook what I wanted for a change, and it was supposed to be awesome.

It wasn’t. I slept through praise practice at church and cried through most of the worship service before God filled me with the peace and joy I needed to “make it.” I “made it” through the next hour and a half. Everyone complained about lunch, and no one wanted to watch Netflix afterward. They were all waiting for the climactic event of the day: I told them we’d go to the river. So they kept asking when we were leaving …

When I had had my fill of aggravation, I decided we’d just go. That’s when I realized that my fishing license was MIA. Gone. Not anywhere. Especially not where it goes, or even where I usually see it when it’s out of place. Just gone. So before we get to the river, we had to pick a copy up from the store. And before that, we had to vacuum out the lovely 32 ounces of Gatorade someone accidentally spilled in the back floorboard of my new car … and didn’t tell me about until it had stewed overnight.

While I was at the store, I picked up a big container of live crickets. My son always asks me to get them, and I always refuse, because while the list of things I am afraid of is pretty short, “bugs” is somewhere near the top. Right next to rejection and relationships. It’s that bad. I hate bugs. I thought I could overcome it. Maybe … Or, at the very least, I could just have my little man put them on my hook.

Didn’t happen.

I got to the river and suddenly realized I was the only one pulling my pole out of the car. “Um, aren’t you going fishing?”

“No, I really just want to swim.”

I can do this.

I carried the tackle, my pole and the nasty bucket of crickets to the river, found a rock out in the middle I could get to and perch on to fish, and prepared to fish. I took my Bible, my tackle, the crickets and my pole out to the rock, which had a steep slope on it, but I felt sure I could manage. I sat down, tied a hook on the line and opened the crickets. Immediately, one jumped toward me. Closing the lid, I reconsidered: I need a plan… 

I looked through my tackle box and grabbed the swiss army pliers (probably not a thing, but it is a fishing tool that resembles a swiss army knife, but unfolds into a pair of pliers) and decided that I would catch a cricket with the pliers and then just hook it without touching it. I got one with little trouble, but only caught it by its legs. It started struggling, so I decided I needed to readjust the little bugger before I could get the hook in it. I put it down in the tackle box and that’s when it happened.

It. Touched. Me. I screamed. And freaked out a little. Or a lot.

The cricket container holding the other 49 crickets I might have used fishing rolled down the steep slope and went into the water. I watched in horror. Then I decided I needed to make the most of this one cricket I had left, so I turned my efforts to getting him in the pliers just right so I could hook him without touching him.

Finally, I did it! He was hooked and dangling on the end of the line that laid across my leg. It touched me again. I tried to keep cool and dangle him over the water while I reeled him in a little so I could cast. Succeeding at that, I gave a good cast and immediately caught my first tree.

So … this fishing thing … No matter how I imagine it working out, the reality is always so different than I expect. I’m not very good at it. Ever. It’s never as relaxing as I think it will be. But you know what is relaxing? Putting the pole down, with the hook still attached to a tree, or rotting log at the bottom of the river, or whatever, and picking up my Bible. I can sit in the middle of a river for a while and read my Bible and feel completely at ease. And that’s what I did. It was nice.

Here’s the point: Life often isn’t what we expect. We make these plans, and envision exactly how things will work out, but  rarely do things ever “work out.” Plans are so easy to make, but life is complicated and … hard. It’s going to cause heartaches and anxiety. You’re going to lose your crickets. Or snag a tree. Or … whatever kind of upset might rouse you to maniacal laughter or tears, and eventual medication.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails” (Prov. 19:21). Truth: we make all kinds of plans. Sometimes, things work out, and sometimes, they work out really different than we imagine they should. Mother’s Day is a bust. Your marriage fails. An accident robs your cradle. Life happens, and sometimes, our best laid plans fail us. But the Lord’s purpose prevails.

I know, it’s not always a comforting word. I’ve been a single mother for thirteen years. And I think I’m awesome. And I have two awesome kids, but one of them struggles with depression. He just wants a daddy. Or he wants to die. That’s a short list of Plan A followed by Plan B right now.  What is God’s purpose in that? I don’t know. But I know God. I know He is good. I know things will one day make sense although right now, I am seeing things dimly. One day, it will all make sense. But right now it doesn’t. Much like I set my cricket on the hook and cast it straight into a tree, I have done my part and failed. I’m not very good at this. Not relationships, not life.

Here’s my hope: Although “in this world you will have trials and tribulations” (John 16:33), “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an even greater glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). I don’t necessarily like how things turn out. I like to be able to anticipate the road ahead, but that’s not realistic for the most part. There are so many twists and turns, I am road sick most of the time. But I know that when I see the whole forest instead of each tree as it comes at me, I will better understand why things turn out the way they do. Sure, some of it might be my fault. But I console myself with the truth that God’s plan prevails. He just may have to do some reworking to get me where He wants me to be.

While we wait for life to untangle, we can grab our Bibles and listen to the River while we read. The Holy Spirit, often represented by water or a river, will soothe us while we “listen” to the voice of God through the scriptures. Our light and momentary troubles achieve that greater glory by getting our focus off the world and onto God, and beholding Him, we become more and more like Him everyday (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Enough is Enough

Published May 4, 2016 by Dawn

Kids shooting poison into their veins

The world is poisoning their brains

When will we all stand up and say

Enough is enough!

 

The church resembles more the lost

Because we don’t want to pay the cost

In a world torn and tossed

Enough is enough!

 

We stand in rather than out

When will someone stand up and shout

It is my God I think about!

Enough is enough!

 

Where are those ready to lead?

Those called to sacrifice and bleed

To bring the world back to it’s knees

Enough is enough!

 

We hide our anguish and our pain

Terrified to speak His name

And we’ve only ourselves to blame

Enough is enough!

 

It’s time to bow in humble pleas

To our God, upon our knees

Turn the tide of this disease

Enough is enough!

 

You have been called but have you listened?

Are you seeking in submission?

The church has a commission

Enough is enough

 

Now warriors, stand up on your feet

Do not accept the word “defeat”

In Christ alone, Satan is beat!

Enough is enough!

 

There is no better time than now

To decide, to make a vow

To the dark we will not bow!

Enough is enough!

War is Hell

Published May 3, 2016 by Dawn

“The more I seek him, the worse things get.”

A friend of mine sent me this message last night, although I took the liberty of summing it up a little. I was heartbroken for him … I’ve felt this way so many times before. The more I press in, the more I surrender, the worse things get too. I feel like it’s the Christian’s condition. I almost cringe thinking of what lies ahead for new Christians because I often wonder if they are under the impression that life gets easier after we surrender to God. I can honestly say it doesn’t. The battle intensifies with a two-fold purpose. Graham Cooke says it like this: “God and the devil both have one thing in common: They are both trying to kill you!” God allows circumstances that purify us, killing off the fleshly, natural man. Satan, on the other hand, declares an all-out war on Christians to kill our witness, our effectiveness, our joy and our willingness to press in to God.

I recently went to a training and wrote down a bunch of really great quotes from Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients about their experience in battle that I loved, and suddenly, I want to share them with you as I write a little about Spiritual Warfare.

Firstly, let me say that spiritual warfare is not a healthy 24/7 focus. It’s important to know that we have an enemy roaming around seeking whom he may devour. It’s important to acknowledge that the devil is prolific at what he does. We should not deny him, but we should not fixate on him either. We are full of power and authority to defeat him. But here’s the truth: “War is hell.”

Yeah, I’m sorry about that. Well, in a “sorry, not sorry” kind of way. This is a quote from Tibor Rubin, a CMO recipient with an incredible testimony of defeating the odds in so many situations meant to destroy him. Before he was a war hero, he was a Nazi death camp survivor, American soldier, and POW. If anybody understood war, it was Tibor Rubin. Many of us will never know that kind of fiery intensity, so we can just take his word for it. And it’s true of spiritual war too.

I don’t know if I can adequately describe war, having never been there, but I will try to describe the videos of war that we watched in this training. I’m going to throw out some adjectives: Terrifying. Deafening. Confining. Lonely. Dark. Horrific. Deadly.

Can it even be done, to describe the scene of battle? Surrounded by the enemy. Breathing heavily, pressed against a rock to evade detection. Sometimes captive. Starving. Thirsting. Sick. Beaten. Watching others die. Wishing you were dead.

That’s unremarkable, really. The realities of war are so much more … devastating. There really aren’t any adjectives that do war justice, and I’m feeling really inadequate. Can you hardly imagine it? Spiritual warfare includes all of these things. Satan fills us with an emotional storm and manufactures circumstances that stir up the wind until … chaos. Our lives are a mess, relationships crumbling down around us, devastation lying at our feet and our hearts and minds in torment. Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, he takes us captive. He speaks lies we believe and we become bound. Prisoners of spiritual war. In the least, unhappy. But often times, so much worse off than that. Sometimes, we want it all to be over with … and even romanticize death as the way out of it all. And that’s another lie of the enemy. He who has come to steal, kill and destroy leads us to the edge of our proverbial cliff and tells us that jumping would end it all.

Sadly, so many people quit here. They remember life when it was easy and satisfying and in order to save their necks, they stop taking the Christian walk so seriously and settle into a rut to avoid detection. They might even live the rest of their lives in that lukewarm place, not making waves, so they can enjoy life without fighting any more. I know this is true, because sometimes, I see these ruts in life and feel very tempted to settle into one myself. Because the alternative is war. There is no third option. To be alive in Christ is to be at war.

When I am tempted to throw up my hands and retreat in chains, the Holy Spirit reminds me of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  In the words of Salvatore Giunta, another Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, “How could I not do this for them?”

We are entrusted with going before. There will be others behind us, and sometimes, we fight, find comfort and come out victorious so that we can show others the way. “Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people” (Isaiah 62:10).

Another notable detail about their collective experience in warfare was the emphasis on the mind. “It’s mind over body” (Tibor Rubin). That’s his echo of a statement made by so many men who have been in warfare. They literally pushed their bodies past their breaking points because of the demands of the battle. They couldn’t imagine not surviving. They just did what had to be done to live and many persevered by convincing themselves that losing was not an option. Dying was not an option.

Tibor Rubin tells a story of giving a fellow POW goat poop under the guise of it being medication because he knew that the only way that man was going to survive was to believe it. He was otherwise dead already. His defiance against war and death pulled him through what doctors would have described as a hopeless situation. All because of the war he waged in his mind. How powerful the mind is! No wonder this is where the battlefield is when it comes to spiritual war!

But then that means that we have home-field advantage, doesn’t it? After all, the enemy may have access, but we can make up our own minds what to allow and disallow in our thoughts. We know the terrain better and we make all the calls. We can speak things that are not as though they were. We can speak spiritual truth no matter how bleak the situation seems. We can speak scripture and claim victory in Jesus. We can expel demonic thoughts and abolish chains of the enemy because we have that authority. We have Jesus, who, “disarming the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). We can resist the enemy, and we should!

We should be dressing every day in the armor of God outlined in Ephesians 6, girding our minds with the knowledge of our salvation, our hearts guarded with the righteousness Jesus purchased for us, the belt of truth firmly reminding us of the Word of God through every temptation to believe in a contrary direction, and shoes of readiness that will engage the enemy knowing we can be victorious because we have the shield of faith to extinguish his darts and the sword of the Spirit to demolish his blows. We have this full armor because we are at war! We are equipped, and we will be victorious if we just commit to the fight! “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).