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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jesus Our SuperFood -- You Want Me to Eat What??? Part 2

I just took communion. Here, in my room, alone with Him. It’s something I recently started doing several times a week, after the Lord made it very clear to me this is what He wanted. As soon as I began this practice, I immediately experienced a new measure of supernatural strengthening in my daily life. It has powerfully enhanced the way my spirit receives regular nourishment. So I knew He wanted me to tell you about it. This post will be the first of several on the subject.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven…The one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” (John 6:51, 57 NIV) Can you hear what Jesus is saying in these verses?

Last week we talked about how shocking it was when He invited His listeners to eat His flesh. You may have grown accustomed to hearing this phraseology since it’s a frequent element of our church culture. But let’s travel back in time to stand in the crowd and listen to this fiery eyed Teacher pronouncing these controversial statements. Imagine encountering the startling imagery He is presenting, for the very first time. What does this Man mean by such enigmatic words?

He gazes privately, piercingly into each of our individual faces. He addresses our very souls with intensely riveting authority. At the same time, captivating tenderness emanates from His persona. Each of us with a hungry heart can perceive it tangibly.

“For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink,” He expresses to us with earnestness and conviction (v. 55). Jesus isn’t talking about a physical table spread or a material beverage selection. He is purposefully startling us with a challenge to open our eyes to the spiritual realm from which He operates. He knows that we can only discern and understand these matters through the interaction of His Spirit to ours. Only Holy Spirit can communicate to the depths of us the life changing truth wrapped up in this extremely personal summons to partake of Him.

The physical world mirrors the spiritual world. There is so very much to learn about spiritual reality by examining the way His physical creation operates. For this reason, Jesus so often points to aspects of everyday life to teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven. In this case, He is unpacking for us the deeper implications of one of the most elemental features of our earthly existence: eating.

When you eat, you take food into yourself. It fills you, and then its nutrition and energy actually get incorporated into your very being. You literally become what you eat. As we stand now among this first-century throng, Jesus invites us to feed on Him. Of course, His words are timeless and eternal. They usher forth from Him and enter us with laser-like precision, right where we are, today. He wants us to actively take Him into ourselves. “Take, eat,” He urges us. He longs for us to absorb Him, to assimilate His very life into the fiber of our being.

Let’s take a pause and meditate on His meaning. You need to eat often. Does it happen to you, as it does to me, that sometimes eating seems to get in the way of what you are trying to accomplish? When I am focused in on a task or project, that hungry signal tugging at my brain can sometimes be less than welcome. After all, I want to push through and finish what I have started! However, I must not neglect my body.

Your spirit functions the very same way. You urgently need to set aside the demands of the day and take the time to eat. Yes, you can ignore the hunger. We have to ask ourselves though, how beneficial is it to do so, in the long run? Does your body perform well for you when you deny it nourishment? How about your spirit? Can you really deny it food regularly and still hope for a vibrant, fruitful inner life? Is the excessive busyness really worth it, when it leaves you literally starving and malnourished on the inside?

Jesus is using His incarnate body as a symbol pointing to a spiritual reality. He Himself is REAL food. The spiritual realm is just as solidly real as the physical world. The spirit’s needs are just as pressing as the body’s, if not more so. Provision for these needs is abundantly available. Spiritual food is REAL. The table is spread. You have an official invitation in your hand, even now. What do you need to aggressively cut out of your schedule to prioritize this bidding? Come to the banquet! Not tomorrow; not next week – now!!

“This is the Bread that came down from Heaven.” Advertisements brag to us about superfoods with antioxidants, immune system boosters, and energy enhancing properties. This Bread the Father has sent us is the ultimate, unmatched, supreme superFood. This is why Jesus is now passionately imploring each of us, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you..." (v. 27) He cares so very, very deeply about the nourishment of your spirit. And indeed, this Food really and truly is more desirable than anything on Earth that has ever delighted your palate. He wants to feed you with "la crème de la crème." The most exquisite fare! "Pleasures forevermore," as you drink deeply of Him... (Ps. 16:11). 

There is so much more bursting in my heart about this matter. In my next posts I will be sharing further on it. For now, a prayer for today:

Lord Jesus, I return Your piercing gaze. I open myself in Your presence and let Your eyes search the depths of my being. You have enticed me. You have awakened my appetite, as fresh bread from the oven that tantalizes the senses. I earnestly desire to feed on You. Train me to care for and nourish my spirit as I do for my body. Please ruthlessly examine my weekly activities and show me if something needs to go, to make more room for intimacy with You. No matter what it takes, I want to grow into the Spirit-to-spirit interaction You are offering me! I take Your life-giving words into myself even now. I surrender to You. I am Yours.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You Want Me to Eat What??? Part 1

The crowd looked at Him with widening eyes and gaping jaws. Some covered their mouths, trying to hide their disgust. Others stared with open hostility. In the midst of the antipathy, those truly hungry leaned in closer to Jesus, straining to hear the whispers of His heart. These were His friends. Their hearts clamored, “Where else would we go? You have the words of life!”

Jesus had just shocked the throng with these words, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53, NIV). Some of those gathered had come hoping for another free meal. However, they were completely void of any kind of appetite for what really satisfies. Jesus spoke these words to provoke them. To wake them up to hunger that cries out for true substance.

Then there were those present that were pressing in to Jesus out of a craving that drove them deeper. His words were also for them. He was inviting them to His Real Feast.

Jesus is an extravagant banquet for the hungry ones with ears to hear.

Such perplexing, offensive words though! They had exactly the effect for which Jesus purposed them. The listeners who didn’t really want to listen began to lift up voices of sharp protest. With one sentence, He had laid bare the state of their hearts. They took offense rather than searching intently for what He meant. Their arguments amongst themselves reflected their extreme discomfort with His light shining on the dark recesses of their inner rooms. This was sacred space He was treading on! These were the untouchable halls where their mechanisms of complacency and self rule were stored.

But the hungry ones. They listened with their deep hearts. They allowed Holy Spirit to open up for them the truth of what Jesus was expressing. They understood that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden far underground. One must dig down well under the surface to unearth its opulence. These are the ones who live life with a shovel in hand and their hair tied up in a bandana -- ready to excavate His riches.

What about you? What if Jesus wants to mess with your paradigm?  What happens when you open the Bible and the verse in front of you makes no sense at all? What if He is inviting you to pull out your trowel and start moving layers of dirt out of the way of a life-changing discovery just waiting to overtake you with goodness? Will you lean in with intense concentration? Will you ask, seek, knock? Will you invest the time to go deeper? Will you tarry with Him?

Consider this promise: “If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov 2:3-5, NIV)

Call out. Cry aloud. Search for it. In other words, you have to really want it. And then you gotta go after it with ALL your might.

If you are hungry enough to make His treasures yours, get expectant! You just might be amazed at what you are going to find next as you quarry in Holy Spirit’s mine.

A prayer for voracious spiritual miners:

“Lord Jesus! I don't get everything You are doing and saying, but with all of me, I want all that You have! Here is my heart. Please shine with all Your brilliance on my inner rooms. I give You permission to mess with patterns of thinking that need more of Your truth. I’m asking, seeking, knocking – show me Your hidden treasures today. Please keep provoking me to dig deeper in You!”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Growing Into My Green Eyes

"Jeremiah, what do you see?" (Jer. 1:11)

This verse provokes me. In this story, God was inviting Jeremiah to open his spiritual eyes and peer into the heavenly realm. To lean forward into the vision. To intensely fix his concentration on the picture shown to him. Today, Holy Spirit invites us to do the same. You may not be a prophet, but this intercessory petition from the book of Ephesians is for you: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…” (Eph. 1:18, NIV) Those are spiritual eyes He’s talking about there. He wants to empower ALL of us to see into His realm!

I need to tell you about another part of the vision that I shared in my previous post. It speaks to this invitation that the Lord is extending to us, to look intently into His world.

Remember the picture of my bright, probing green eyes? There was another scene to it that actually came first in the sequence. In it, I saw the face of a baby. Again, what leapt out from the picture were the eyes. This little child had one bright blue eye and one dark, gray eye.

Here is the interpretation that came to me as I wrote: the color blue signifies prophetic revelation. The one blue eye represents an organ of sight tuned into heavenly realities. As Jesus explained to us, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34, NIV) In this verse, the “body” is a reference to the home, the location of your inner person.

This baby face thus represented me at an earlier phase of maturity. At that stage, only part of my spiritual eyesight was working to fill me with light. This was the meaning of the one bright blue eye – it was “good” by Jesus’ definition in this verse.

But my faculty of sight was not all the way there yet. The other eye was gray and dark. It was not yet “good.” This part of my spiritual perception was still immature. The gray eye represented the areas of my life where I was not yet accurately perceiving the Lord at that time. Parts of the inside of me were still in shadows as a result. Can you relate to this? Have you been there too?

The countenance of the child in the vision symbolized the early Biblical stage of maturity described in the book of Hebrews: “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk [is] still an infant...” (Heb. 5:12-13, NIV)

There was a time that significant portions of my inner space were still only dimly lit. I am so thankful to my Teacher that He didn’t leave me there. I share this to encourage you. If you need some help seeing more clearly, He is right by your side, bursting at the seams to give it to you!

Jesus went on to tell us in that same passage in Luke that we should “see to it” that our body is full of light (v. 35). He is exceedingly eager to take our hand and lead us forward into His adventure of seeing in the Spirit. As we ask, He empowers us. That is the point of the above mentioned verse in Ephesians. An excellent practice is to pray that very prayer over yourself on a regular basis. Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart! He will joyfully do this for you as you make your request in simple, childlike trust.

I have longed to see Him better. I’ve been in His “Spiritual Perception Boot Camp” so to speak. You will learn more about this intensive training as I continue to blog. But here is the end result: my spiritual eyes are no longer two different colors. He has seasoned me. I have grown into my green eyes. His rigorous (at times exhausting) preparation has been a breathtaking gift. It has meant induction into a stage of development more akin to what is described in the next verse of the same Hebrews passage:

“Solid food is for adults--that is, for those who through constant practice have their spiritual faculties carefully trained...” (Heb. 5:14, Weymouth Translation)

The Lord has faithfully and patiently taught me to see, to distinguish, to perceive. He has grown me up through the persistent, disciplined use and focused exercise of the eyes of my heart. Out of His sheer goodness and gentle parenting, my spiritual faculties have come into adulthood – into maturity.

He will do this for each and every heart that hungers and thirsts for Him.

“What do you see, Jeremiah?” He asked the prophet so many centuries ago. Now I hear Him asking me, “What do you see, Jennifer?”

He is asking you, too, “Child, what do you see?”

Are you perceiving the spiritual realm? Take a moment and let Holy Spirit lovingly gauge for you the state of your heart’s eyes. In spirit, what color are they? Are your eyes “good,” by the definition in Luke? How much light is flooding the inside of you? Do you long to see Him more?

If you are hungry, I invite you to pray with me the Ephesians prayer over your spirit: Lord, enlighten my inner eyes! Focus the gaze of my heart on You and Your world! Help me lean into Your reality. Please continue to grow me up in my ability to perceive You and Your realm. I yearn for You! What do You want to show me today?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Intimate Disclosures: The Unveiling of My Green-Eyed Secrets

The picture in the header of this blog -- that’s my eye you see there. 

A few months ago, I had a vision as I was waking up in the morning. It looked a lot like that picture up top. It was an image of my own face. It almost looked like I was gazing into a camera. Only, since I was the one seeing the vision, it was like I was also holding and operating that same camera. This resulted in the uncanny experience of looking myself right in the eyes. Not coincidentally, my eyes were the most prominent thing about this picture of me that I was seeing.

In real life, my eyes are green. My dad informed me that green is the most unusual color for eyes. I was curious and looked it up. I learned that only 2% of the population of the world has green eyes. So already, I have something special going on there. (This clay is grateful to her Potter!)

My real-life eyes are a soft, subtle green. A green that matches the gentle, quiet spirit that the Lord created in me. But in this vision that I saw of myself, the green was brilliant and vivid. Radiantly bright, clear eyes. A piercing gaze straight into the camera. Penetrating. Eyes that were almost luminescent in their intent searching.

I journaled the vision. I often find that understanding comes when I write things down. This occasion was no exception. Holy Spirit explained to me two things about what I was seeing. First, He told me that the vibrant green represented growth. This is the same green that flourishing plants display as they reach ever upwards in their process of development.

The second detail He highlighted was the intense luminosity of the eyes. This speaks of clarity of insight. He has brought my spiritual eyesight into an advanced stage of maturity. He has honed it to a point of acute sensitivity and perception. Over a long, arduous training process, He has brought me to a place where I can see far beyond what is visible. What I have begun to take in with my heart’s eyes is blowing me away.

This is all His doing, by the way. All Him, completely. I am utterly in awe of His works. I step back and contemplate what He has done on and through my life’s journey. I am stunned. His goodness leaves me speechless. And yet here I am, trying to find the words.

I have been a journaler since an influential junior high teacher assigned us to the task in seventh grade. However, in the last couple of years, my journaling habit has escalated. There has been so. much. download! Sometimes it honestly feels like it’s very hard to keep up with all that the Lord is revealing and speaking to me. A powerful drive within me has pushed me to continually inscribe on my pages each word from Him, each inspiration, each Spirit-to-spirit interaction.

Hours and hours have gone into recording the dreams and insights that keep on coming. Sometimes, it’s been days and days. I have often wondered about the amount of time that God has had me invest in this activity.

“Am I faithfully stewarding the time You have given me, Father?” my heart has asked.

He has persistently answered with a fervent and steady, “Yes.”

The result has been hefty sized journals filled in the space of just months.

“Is this for any benefit beyond my own training in hearing You, Lord?” has been another frequent question arising inside me. On Saturday, March 12th, I got His answer. He instructed me to start this blog. He pointed to the endless recordings of His thoughts, His musings, His teachings scrawled across the lines of my handwritten entries. He told me that it’s time. The time has come to share them with you.

I finally understand. Dear friend, these inscriptions of His heart are for you just as much as they are for me!

My prayer is that each time I post, you will catch a more intimate glimpse into the Father’s love. I earnestly desire that this blog would be a catalyst in your relationship with Him. The more we truly see Him for who He is, the more His beauty captures us. He has allowed me the breathtaking privilege of seeing Him. He has astounded me with His affection, with His fierce devotion, with His irresistible closeness. This has produced in me a passion for seeing others go deeper and deeper into the real, living knowledge of Him too. I want each post to help awaken your own hunger and thirst for Him!

Now that this is sinking in, I am full of joy to begin to pour out what I have been given. I have been bowled over, overwhelmed entirely by His goodness, His lavish generosity. I can hardly wait for this overflow to get to where it’s supposed to go – into your life to stir your cravings for the presence of God, and to help you know Him better!

What an unspeakable honor to be able to give to you from what I have received!