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Friday, December 1, 2017

Then the King Will Say...

“Since Jesus knew what was going on, he said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me’” (Matt. 26:10, GWT).

As I read this passage a few days ago, Holy Spirit was bringing me into the story. I could feel Jesus’ inner being full of emotion as He received this woman’s ministry. He was only days away from His death. His awareness of its rapid approach is evident in the numerous remarks that kept flowing from His heart about the subject. Just eight verses earlier in the text, He had again announced to His disciples: “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (v. 2, NKJV).

Jesus was human. Humans have emotions. His soul could already perceive the weight of what He was about to endure. The bitterly cruel taste of the cup He was “about to drink” (Matt. 20:22) was already present on his tongue. His razor-sharp prophetic awareness allowed Him to keenly feel the nearness of His pending torturous death.

Under these conditions, He watches this earnest, beautiful sister come in. She is clutching in her hands her most valuable physical possession, an alabaster jar full of costly perfume. Easily worth a year’s wages, this vessel in many ways represents all her life’s dreams and longings. Having resolved to give Him the very most precious gift she could procure, she has already broken the seal. Her eyes fixed on His face, love spills from her countenance as she gently approaches Him. She is holding nothing back. She is steadfastly determined to pour out on Him the most generous expression of her love, that which will cost her everything.

He sees the passionate adoration burning in her eyes. The aroma of the perfume matches the beauty of her fragrant love; both fill and saturate the atmosphere, surrounding Him with the revelation of His belovedness. Her love, reaching out, is making intimate contact with His soul. She is meeting Him in the midst of the pain He is already beginning to bear. This palpable demonstration of her unbridled devotion is alleviating the heaviness of the weight pressing on His emotions. Her worship enters into the core of Him and brings Him intensely profound comfort. She is ministering to the very depths of Him.

Overwhelmed by her expression, He cannot hold back His gratitude. He exclaims, “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial!” (v. 12, ESV). She has not only prepared His body; she has also helped prepare His soul. Her love has imparted tangible relief and strength to Him. He continues, “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her!” (v. 13). So important, so essential, so vital is her role in this week leading up to His death, that the stunning beauty of what she did for Him must be announced all over the entire world!


Just two subheadings earlier in the book of Matthew, we find a flabbergasting revelation. You and I can likewise minister powerfully to Jesus, reaching His heart with the same degree of overwhelming intimacy, as this woman did.


“I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me… When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!” (Matt. 25:35-36, 40, TLB).

Days before His death, Jesus gazed into the future and saw this scene. He saw Himself seated on His throne in all of His majesty. And in the midst of all His glory, He saw Himself thanking us. He saw Himself pouring out His inexpressibly profound gratitude to us. He saw Himself expressing the depths of His heart about how we personally alleviated His pain.

Can you imagine the King of Kings on the throne as John the Revelator saw Him? “His eyes like a flame of fire… He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:14b, 16, NKJV). Jesus, revealed in the fullness of His infinite might, shining like the sun in all of its brilliance, looking at you in the eyes and expressing… vulnerability? “I was hungry, thirsty, naked. I was sick and alone, languishing in prison. I desperately needed someone to come.”

How is this possible?

In this expression of His heart we find the answer: “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15, RSV, bold emphasis mine).

Jesus both inhabits the high and lofty position of His unspeakably magnificent throne… and dwells amidst the squalor of the most forsaken squatter populations of the earth. Both. He is magnified and lifted up, exalted with the Name that is above every other name… and He is in prison. He fills all of eternity with His measureless, omnipotent glory… and He is here with us, struggling in our pain.

There is affliction all around us. Our existence intersects with the lives of broken people, hurting from the consequences of the fall of man. No doubt, you yourself reading this post, have your own share of heartache that you have either walked through in the past or are currently enduring.

Jesus is in all of it. When His physical body ascended into heaven, His Spirit came to inhabit earth. The Holy Spirit is both His own distinct Person, and He is Jesus. He is the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus really meant it when He said He would be with us always, even to the end of the age. To be with us, He has to be here. He is here.

Jesus is fully, intimately present with us. His emotions are wrapped up in our human experience. As a result, He is hungry. He is thirsty. He is wandering around impoverished barrios in soiled rags. There are open sores on His skin and His stomach is bloated. Flies buzz unceasingly around His unhealed rash. He is sleeping on cardboard on the sidewalk, huddled in a foul-smelling blanket. He is incarcerated, longing for someone to care.

The woman with the alabaster jar touched Jesus’ very core with her love. So can you. For you see, wherever someone is suffering, He is there. When you look into their eyes, if you pay close attention, you will see Him looking back at you. He is right there next to you in line at the grocery store. He is standing behind that cash register. He is bringing you your food at the restaurant. He is walking down the sidewalk in front of your house. He is living next door.

He doesn’t expect you to save the world. But He is asking if you will reach out and relieve His pain? When you show that one kindness, you are alleviating His aching. When you bless that one with a warm touch and a genuine smile, tangible comfort reaches into His very soul. When you sacrifice your comfort and give of what is most precious to you, in order to enter into the world of “the least of these,” He is inexpressibly grateful. These are His “brothers.” These are the precious ones that He loves more than His life.

We began this conversation describing the worshiping woman with a jar of expensive perfume in Matthew 26. Her identity remains undisclosed. In spite of Jesus’ determination to make her breathtaking act of love known throughout the entire world, He does not tell us her name. I believe this is because He is inviting us to be her. To fill in our own name in the blank. Today, He is beckoning to you. He is earnestly asking you to personally minister to the very depths of His heart.

How will you respond?

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Unstoppable and Unafraid

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Matt. 24:6, AMP).

When you hear news reports suggesting the possibility of North Korea setting off nuclear destruction, what is your inner response? In Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies the violent turbulence of the end times. We have already arrived in the period He is describing; we cannot ignore the signs that practically flash this message to us in neon lights. However, in the midst of all the turmoil, He explicitly commands us, “See to it that you are not afraid.”

There are two very distinct ways to live life in this current chapter of God’s unfolding story. The default option is to glue ourselves to the glowing television screen and allow it to interpret reality for us. In doing so, we can make the choice to daily devour the servings of fear, suspicion, and dread that the mainstream media constantly serves up. In essence, we can spend our days in anxiety and unrelenting nervous apprehension of the world as we know it unraveling before our eyes.

Alternately, we can embrace God’s perspective and live out each moment as if this were the most exhilarating human era to be alive in all of history! Because it IS!!

The further we advance along the developing timeline, the more God is going to ask of us that we choose the latter. In this critical time, as His calendar is put on display, He is calling us to rise up and live above fear.

Are We Making Any Progress?

A few years ago, I was grappling with a question that had been troubling me at the edges of my mind for some time. Musings on the need to re-dig spiritual wells that had become obstructed circled through my thoughts. I brooded over the task of taking our cities for Jesus, when oftentimes they had already seemingly been taken for Him before. What about cases like the church in LA crying out for revival? I wondered. Just over a century ago, the fires of Azusa were burning brilliantly in that very geographical location! Do they need to now retake the same territory? Was all that progress lost?

So I asked God about it. “Lord, are we just re-doing, in every generation, what’s been done before? Or are we actually advancing, making some headway, achieving some forward movement?”

He answered me by reminding me of a dream that He gave to a pagan king thousands of years ago. For whatever mysterious reason, He decided that He would give revelation of the end times to a ruler who worshipped demon gods. As the prophet Daniel explained to him, “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Dan. 2:28, NKJV).

In short, Nebuchadnezzar saw a colossal, majestic statue that represented the kingdoms of the earth. Then a mysterious stone, hewn by invisible hands, struck the enormous structure and shattered it into absolute dust. A wind came and blew away all traces of it. What happened next is the key for our purposes today: “But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth” (v. 35, NLT).

If this is a picture of “the latter days,” what do you imagine that mountain represents? What unbounded joy is ours, when we come to understand that this mountain is a symbol of the Kingdom of God taking over the entire earth!

God is taking over this planet, and there is absolutely nothing the devil can do about it. Now that, my dear friend, is the correct perspective with which to view everything that is happening in the world today.

The Unstoppable Stone

Jesus is that stone from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He is the “stone that the builders rejected” (Acts 4:11). Through His birth, death, and resurrection, He knocked down and entirely obliterated the existing power structures on earth. The devil was disarmed, defeated, and humiliated. At that point, Jesus began to reign, establishing His rule here on earth. For this reason, His main message to the multitudes was, “The Kingdom of God has come! It is now in your midst!”

Jesus the Stone also issued this prophetic announcement about Himself, “On this Rock, I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). When He ascended into heaven, the early church was born. The rock began to grow. From that time until now, it has continually increased in size and stature. What began as an embryo in Mary’s womb has gradually become a mountain of staggering proportions spreading out over the entire globe!

This was God’s answer to my question. “No, dear child, My faithful laborers on the earth today are not simply reinventing the wheel. With every generation that I bring forth, this mountain is towering higher and higher, getting ready to subjugate the entire creation.”

Isaiah, too, saw this far ahead of time and proclaimed through prophetic vision, “For unto us a Child is born… of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:6a, 7a, NKJV). When was this ever-enlarging government slated to begin, according to his prophecy? “From that time forward, even forever” (v. 7g). 

From the time this Child was given unto to us, the stone has been growing. It has ever since been expanding relentlessly in every direction. It has been aggressively acquiring massive dimensions. And according to this prophecy, there will be no end to its increase! There will be no point, ever, where the growth of His Kingdom dwindles, falters, halts, or even briefly pauses. He is taking over, and who can stop the Lord Almighty?

Terrified Opponents

As the mountain of God’s Kingdom grows upward and outward exponentially, it occupies more and more territory. As a result, His enemies have less and less space in which to operate. They are agonizingly aware that their domain is constantly shrinking. Agitated and frantic, they know how short their time is. They are miserable spirits, existing as defeated, humiliated failures. Their wretchedness is made even worse by their awareness that their eternal torment in the lake of fire is swiftly approaching.

Every day that passes, they can see the sands of time falling through the hour glass. The increase of wickedness that you see on the earth today is simply the manifestation of their desperation. The wars, the rumors of wars, the hatred, the spitefulness, the perversion, the violence, the evil running rampant – all of this is their terrorized, panicked last attempt to delay their horrendously inevitable eternal destiny. They are clawing at the edge of the cliff even as they already feeling themselves falling into the abyss.

Should we, then, be intimidated by them? Intimidated by beings that know to their deepest core that their place is under our feet? Fearful of thwarted, vanquished creatures that tremble, grovel, cringe, and flee away before the glorious presence of the Lord of all creation? By no means, dear child, by no means! Far be it from us!

Jesus was speaking in earnest when He said, “See to it that you are not afraid.” He meant it. Those words He chose, “See to it,” put the responsibility on our shoulders to cultivate a lifestyle that is both valiant and free of fear.

The choice lies before us. Will we feed our spirits daily with only fear and vitriol, pathetically hypnotized by the allure of the screen? Or will we choose to run after God with unrestrained passion, pursuing Him as the all-consuming object of our appetites? Will we crave Him? Will we make Him our one thing?

The days are coming when this choice will mean life, or death. Let’s choose Him now, being filled up to overflowing with all the fullness of His mighty strength, channels of His majesty in the most glorious epoch of history ever to be alive!

The Lion of Judah is roaring – do you hear Him?

“Arise, my people! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is streaming from you. Darkness as black as night shall cover all the peoples of the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine from you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see the glory of the Lord upon you!” (Isa. 60:1-3, TLB).

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Airlifted Out: You Don't Have to Stay Down There!

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” (Ps. 144:1, NKJV)

Whether we realize it or not, we are living out our lives in the middle of a fierce combat zone. Many of us have not yet learned to discern the spiritual origins of much of the turbulence that comes into our lives. However, the spiritual battle that rages around us is incredibly real. “Our fight is not against people on earth but against… the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world” (Eph. 6:12, NCV).

When the Scripture refers to us as soldiers, Holy Spirit is not merely speaking metaphorically. We truly, legitimately ARE operating on a violent battle field. The sound of clashing armies resounds all around us.

Awareness of the war zone we are in will not cause fear to arise in our hearts if our gaze is fixed on the One who is invisible! He is God Almighty, and the demons tremble at the mere mention of His name on the lips of one who walks closely with Him. With a mere blast of breath from His nostrils, He could slay every last one of His enemies in the blink of any eye.

He is calling us up higher. He is inviting us to fixate on Him in all of His glory and splendor. As we do so, filled with the confidence of Who He is inside of us, we will find ourselves beginning to rise above the demonic activity happening around us.

So much of our Christian life is a training ground for growing in effectiveness as warriors. In this post, I would like to explore one of the most vital aspects of this training: learning to ascend. In order to operate from the place of victory that Jesus purchased for us with His blood, it’s absolutely essential that we learn to go up higher in the heavenly realms.

A Dream and a Vision: Airlifted Out

Holy Spirit graciously and generously provided an amazing visual illustration of this principle, through my dear friend Hannah Mattner. With her blessing, I want to share with you a life changing encounter she had with Jesus. These are her words describing a dream that she had, which was fraught with spiritual warfare:

“I started to literally see the spiritual realm, so clearly, and I was seeing demonic faces… I felt fear, because what I was experiencing was incredibly overwhelming. There was SO MUCH happening that I suddenly was seeing, feeling, hearing, and understanding. It was scary, intimidating… The demons were attacking me. I screamed at the top of my lungs, shaking violently. A demon came out of nowhere right up to my face…”

At that point, Hannah woke up, affected throughout her whole being by the impact of the dream. She then describes:

“It was 1:26 am and I was sweating. I remembered the whole dream and the demon’s face was embedded in my mind. I put my worship on...”

This is where her Holy Spirit combat training kicked in. As she was now awake, He transitioned her from the intense dream into a vivid vision. Through it, He showed her how to move up out of the fray and into victory:

“Then I had this vision of me being in the room from the dream (where it ended) and He plucked me up with His hand, airlifting me out of there – it felt like I was floating. He brought me up so high in the sky, above the clouds, where it was quiet, tranquil, peaceful, beautiful and bright. I was so calm and at ease, and I could feel His presence all around me. His light shining so warm and bright, He illuminated everything.

“He told me to look down, and when I did I saw a layer of clouds. Below them it was dark. I could see all of those demons, the enemy’s whole operation, running rampant, doing their work. Holy Spirit told me, ‘They can’t come up here. They’re powerless to you when you operate from here. You have the power and authority to be here, which is where I want you to be. This is where you fight from.’

“And with that I felt so much at rest. I realized just how small satan and his demons were from being up so high. The enemy had no power unless you fought at his level.”

Seated With Jesus Far Above Every Demon

God couldn’t have made His message more clear. Hannah shared this experience with me nearly two years ago, and over and over, it has come back to my mind. I am convinced that her vision illustrates one of the most crucial revelatory points that we need for victorious living. God wants us occupying the higher place!

Spiritually speaking, we have already obtained the higher position. God has already placed us there. “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7, NLT).

This is actually rather mind-blowing if you think about it. We are seated with Christ. To understand what this means, we need to know where His seat is. Wherever He is seated, that is where we are too. Just nine verses earlier, Holy Spirit reveals the answer: “[The Father] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…” (Eph. 1:20b-21a, ESV).

Jesus has won the position far, far above every demonic power! And the Father has resurrected you from spiritual death and positioned you right there with Him. You, too, are seated high, high above every spiritual enemy that has ever hated you! That is astounding!

Even as astonishing as this good news is, though, I still found myself with a question in my heart. I asked the Lord, if I am seated far above every demon, why does it often still feel like I’m right in the midst of the fray? Even this same book of Ephesians, a few chapters later, is coaching us on the vital importance of spiritual armor. Why would I need armor if I weren’t in the fray?

Simultaneously Above and Beneath

This is one of those biblical mysteries that we can only understand through the Holy Spirit’s communication to our spirit. It’s a both/and principle. We are both seated high above, and we are still in the fray, fighting the good fight of faith. We are both already high above, and we need to ascend. We find the concept of moving up to a higher place in spirit frequently throughout Scripture. Here are a few examples to meditate on:
  • “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob…” (Isa. 2:3, NKJV).
  • “And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here’” (Rev. 4:1, NKJV).
  • “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” (Ps. 24:3, NKJV).
  • “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God” (Jer. 31:6, NKJV).
  • “And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here’” (Rev. 11:12, NKJV).
  • “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says…” (Hab. 2:1, NLT).
Ascending means locking our focus on the Lord of Angel Armies. As we connect into the reality of His matchless, glorious, untouchable rule over everything that exists, we will find ourselves immersed in the atmosphere of heaven.

God is simultaneously present in both the heavenly and the earthly realms. So are we. Our bodies are on the earth while our spirits are one with Jesus, seated with Him. The more we learn to focus on “the things that are above” (Col. 3:2), the more we will learn to operate increasingly from our superior spiritual position. More and more, we will fight from the place of victory rather than trying to meet the devil at his lower, defeated level.

Just as the Israelites had to move into and occupy the land that God said was already theirs, so we too are learning to occupy the heavenly position He has purchased for us. He has already made it ours. However, we are still learning to walk in the fulness of what is our own.

This is why we need the Holy Spirit’s constant tutelage. “We have received… the Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12, AMP) It’s His job to teach us all things. He is our combat trainer. He is training our hands for war and our fingers for battle. He is teaching us to ascend. He is teaching us to fight from higher ground, from the place of victory.

About a year ago, I was in the midst of some exceptionally intense warfare. It was one of those seasons where nearly every day was a painful struggle. In the middle of everything that was going on, Holy Spirit spoke gently to my heart. “You don’t have to stay down there,” He said. “Come up here with Me.”

The battle is real. We are in it. Yet, in Him, we are exceedingly elevated above the skirmish even as our bodies are in it. Even as our boots are on the ground, our spirits are united with Christ high above any demonic name that can be named on the earth.

Today, ask Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your breathtaking position seated with Jesus. When you learn to operate from the place of victory that is yours, it will make all the difference in the world.

He’s ready to airlift you out!

If you would like to better understand how to go up higher, you can find more on that here.
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Hannah is also a delightfully gifted photographer and videographer! You can follow her on Instagram (@hannahmattner) and subscribe to her YouTube channel,

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Jesus' Little Ones: Come into the Story with Me!

Jesus’ keen, bright eyes enthusiastically scanned the waiting crowd. He was searching for the perfect visual illustration of the message burning in His heart for these treasured ones gathered around Him. Holy Spirit pointed to a beautiful two-year-old boy playing contentedly next to his mother in the grass. “His name is Eli,” the Spirit breathed the words into His heart.

Jesus squatted down to the child’s level. “Eli! Come here, little guy.” Eli looked up from his stack of pebbles, curious. Who besides his mama and sisters here knew his name? The most kind, gentle face he had ever seen was looking at him, the Man’s hands outstretched. Without hesitation, he straightened up and trotted over to Jesus. The Teacher grinned into Eli’s eyes and fondly caressed his soft black curls. Eli’s face lit up with a beam of innocent delight, returning Jesus’ gaze. He could tell this Man liked him.

Jesus exchanged a smile and a glance with Eli’s mother, wordlessly securing her blessing to keep her boy with Him a little longer. She nodded her permission shyly, pleased. Her energetic toddler rarely remained still for more than a few seconds. She was surprised at how contented he now was to stand quietly leaning back into Jesus, blinking at the masses of people gathered around. The Teacher stood again, His hand resting on Eli’s head, and the child glowed with peace.

Jesus paused and took time to look into the individual faces assembled around Him. His tone vibrant with loving authority, He began to convey what was on His heart. “The truth is,” He explained, continuing to look around, “You must change your thinking and become like little children. If you don’t do this, you will never enter God’s kingdom. The greatest person in God’s kingdom is the one who makes himself humble like this child” ¹.

Jesus’ Invitation

Everything about Jesus’ bearing emanated affection for Eli. A warm atmosphere of love surrounded Him, enveloping the little boy and everyone listening. Eager ears leaned in, concentrating on His teaching. Thirsty spirits had even now begun to respond to His truth. He was communicating to them not only through His words, but also through His voice, through His piercing gaze, and through His powerfully welcoming demeanor. Even in just hearing His introductory statement, they could already discern how momentous His message was: Jesus was appealing to their deep hearts, beckoning them all to become His Father’s little ones. He was inviting every hungry soul to belong.

Jesus then lifted Eli up in His arms. He kissed the child’s rosy cheek and continued, “And whoever welcomes a child like this in My name welcomes Me” ². His eyes gave away His overwhelming love for the boy.

His voice grew fiercely protective. “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea!” ³. He held Eli even closer as He spoke these words.

Fathers and mothers in the crowd observed closely. They could tangibly perceive Jesus’ protectiveness of the child in His arms. The way Jesus was holding him brought to mind their own daughters and sons. How the instinct to guard and shelter rises up aggressively within, at any threat of hurt to our little ones!, they thought. Watching Jesus, they could perceive that He would go to any length to shield the little boy in His embrace from any harm.

They leaned in, wanting to capture every nuance of what Jesus was imparting. Their hearts too were beginning to burn. Somehow, they were also identifying with Eli. Hadn’t Jesus explained to them how good, how loving, how caring, how attentive the Father is? Ripples of revelation spread out through the crowd. Hearts’ eyes were opening to see the image of Daddy God in Jesus. How tenderly He held Eli!

Holy Spirit was breathing the meaning of the Teacher’s assertions deep into their core. Jesus was longing for them, too, to be held and cherished as God’s little ones, just like He was holding and cherishing the small boy. They thought about His words. “…One of these little ones who believes in Me…” He had said. Their spirits came alive with His implication – He was referring to every one of them whose newfound faith was springing forth as they listened to His captivating words! Each of the hungry hearts knew: they were His little ones!

Passionately Love-charged Admonitions

A few moments later, His tone shifted to that of a stern but compassionate fatherly warning. With intensity He urged, “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire” ⁴. Even in these serious words, the sons and daughters listening could sense the profound love in His voice. His overwhelming concern for the destiny of their souls was unmistakable.

Jesus looked back at Eli with deep tenderness. As He softly rubbed his back, Eli leaned his little head on Jesus’ shoulder. Jesus then made a sweeping motion with His hand, indicating His loyal followers that sat nearby. He expressed His next thought. “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” ⁵. His hand then returned to Eli’s back, which He continued to stroke gently. The day had been long, and Eli was getting sleepy. His head remained nestled into the crook of Jesus’ neck.

Receiving their Master’s affirmation, His disciples’ hearts warmed with pleasure. How they relished being called God’s little ones! At first, Jesus’ habit of referring to them that way had seemed strange. How could grown men be the little ones of a Man in His early thirties? But they had grown to cherish His loving tones when speaking of them that way. How they admired this Teacher whom they had left everything to follow! How He had captured their hearts!

They continued to voraciously absorb every moment of His illustrated sermon, watching how He ministered to Eli even as He continued to teach. Jesus’ rich affection for people had become a familiar sight to them, one they never tired of. He regularly lavished affection on them too. Although He did not hesitate to correct them when they needed it, they always knew how fiercely He loved them. That sense of living, tangible love never ceased flowing from His person towards them.

They also drank in His words about their angels. Looking at each other, their faces reflected wonder. Not even just one angel. Angels, plural. Multiple angels, no less, assigned to their care! Angels with direct, uninterrupted access to the Father’s presence. Angels constantly in communication with the General Manager of the Universe, receiving His immaculately attentive instructions on how to surround, protect, and uphold them moment by moment. How cherished they were! It was hard to take it all in, but every day with Jesus, the revelation of Father’s love for them sunk deeper into their hearts.

A Living Parable

They looked up as Jesus went on. Without letting go of Eli, He was telling a story now. What a masterful storyteller He was! The entire audience was captivated inside His words as He told of a shepherd with a hundred sheep who had lost one of them. All His listeners felt like they could almost see the devoted man searching high and low, hacking through treacherous forests, crossing dangerous currents of water, tirelessly pushing through the night to find His lost sheep. Jesus described for them the shepherd’s ecstatic joy when he finally found the little creature trapped under a fallen tree branch, bleating out his plea for help. Elated tears ran down his weathered cheeks as he untangled his treasure and carried him home!

Riding on the compelling energy generated by His story, Jesus then brought the mesmerized listeners to His conclusion. Locking eyes with them, He uttered with passion, “In just the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost!” ⁶.

When He spoke that last phrase, “these little ones,” His gaze fell on little Eli again. The boy was asleep, cradled in Jesus’ arms. He had become a living parable. Jesus gently kissed his forehead. The entire space was silent as every person there drank deeply of what He had just imparted to them. Then softly, one by one, all of Daddy’s little ones dispersed and walked back to their homes.


¹ Matt. 18:3-4, ERV
² Matt. 18:5, GWT
³ Matt. 18:6, NET
⁴ Matt. 18:8, NET
⁵ Matt. 18:10, NIV
⁶ Matt. 18:14, TEV

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

If You Are Enjoying This Blog, Check Out My Brand New One!

Have you been strengthened by these posts? If so, I know you will be blessed by my new blog, Feeding On Jesus. This is a new platform the Lord has birthed in my heart for sharing a daily devo with hearts hungry for more of His presence! Each morning I am releasing a fresh, hot serving of bread from Heaven's oven on These posts are short but powerful, providing spiritual nourishment for the beginning of your day. I want to encourage you to click here, check it out, and subscribe by email near the top of the right hand column. I don't want you to miss out on the riches I know the Father is going to pour out through each word!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Daddy's Seven Billion Limited Edition Masterpieces

I pause for a moment, watching my three-year-old play. My soul is delighting in her, my eyes feasting on her preciousness. Ferocious love for her brims up from my deepest core and lavishly spills out all over the place. Lily Belle. My youngest. My baby. She enhances my every day, extravagantly. Holy Spirit is right there with me, drinking her in too. “She is a limited edition,” He whispers to me.

With those words, He drops into my spirit another glimpse into His nature. Another glimpse into His unbounded affection for every unique, individual soul He has created.

“Limited edition.” Usually we think of this phrase as referring to just a few highly desirable collector’s items with very restricted availability.

Exactly! And that’s what you are. Limited edition. Prized. Highly desired. Sought after. Treasured.

Yes, there are seven billion people on the planet, plus who knows how many billion more that have already lived and died since God gave birth to the human race. To us finite beings, it sure seems easy to be lost in such a massive crowd. But nope, you’re not. Quite the contrary, in fact. Remember, He has a universe-sized space in His heart, just for you!! He’s got one for each of those other seven billion folks too. He’s intimately fascinated by and involved with the tiniest details of every one of our daily lives. He has also long yearned for communion with each of us individually. For this to be possible, we came with a flabbergasting price tag: every last drop of His life’s blood. The unspeakably precious blood of the eternal covenant – this is the inexpressibly expensive payment that serves as a measurement of how much each one of us is worth to Him.

Limited edition. Let’s search with our hearts’ eyes for His infinite perspective. Since a thousand years is truly like a day to the Lord – and He’s already existed for an eternity past – to Him, the entire span of human history feels like the mere passing of a week. It’s a blink. In that split second, in that blip stuck in between eternity past and eternity future, He has the briefest of interims to create all the beings that are going to rapturously enjoy Him forever. To Him, seven billion plus is actually a very small number. Once that blink is over, that will be it! Limited edition.

Fervent Aficionados

Think about the zealous enthusiasts that will camp out overnight in line outside a business to be among the first purchasers of a feverishly anticipated special collector’s piece. Think of the waves of excited energy that crash through the crowd when the store finally opens. Think of the customer, who has waited all night with euphoric expectancy for the ecstasy of ownership. Think of the moment that he finally holds that long-awaited treasure in hand. His adrenalin makes his fingers tremble and his heart race. Now take that elation, that exhilaration, that thrill, and multiply it by infinity… to get at least a tiny peek at Daddy’s emotions towards you. This is a small picture of the kind of bliss He experiences over having you as His very own. You, simply put, are His eternity-long dream come true. You are His masterpiece. You are the magnum opus of His heart.

And so is your neighbor. And so is that child with Down Syndrome that you recently saw while grocery shopping. And so is the Starbucks cashier who sold you your usual coffee at the outset of your morning. And so is the baby in the womb of the glowing pregnant mom that you waved to the other day. And so is the little boy crying in the school yard right now because the class bully wounded him deeply with words. And, actually, so is the careless driver who cut you off in rush hour traffic. (Ask the Holy Spirit to show you. Maybe she just got screamed at by her husband. Maybe she’s living through hell right now. Maybe she’s struggling with suicidal thoughts. Pray for her.)

Limited edition. Every individual soul that you come into contact with today is God’s limited edition creation. Each one is exceedingly precious to Him. Do you see them? He does. Ask Him to share His heart for them with you. He will, if you ask.

A few weeks ago, I was lying in my tent at our Pastors’ School, getting ready to sleep for the night. To unwind, I began to read a few news articles. One of them was about a little toddler. She was clinging to her mother as they were both swept away from their vehicle in the raging waters poured out by Hurricane Harvey. Mercifully, some rescue workers were able to pull them out before the water sucked them under a trestle and out of reach. The small child was still alive. Tragically, though, her mama was already dead. When I read that, I burst into tears in the darkness of my tent. My shoulders heaved with the intense weeping that overtook me. Daddy God was crying for that little girl. He was letting me cry with Him. I don’t know her. But He does. She’s his limited edition treasure. He cares so very deeply for her. Her pain tears Him up inside.

The Father’s Mathematics 

Sometimes we are tempted to think that the impact we are making on this earth is terribly narrow in scope. Pathetically inadequate. “I’m not like that evangelist who is traveling the world winning multitudes to Jesus,” comes the uneasy thought. “My little piece just doesn’t seem very important.”


If just one soul has infinite worth to Jesus… if that one individual has a universe-sized space in His heart… if His love for that little one goes so deep that He deemed her worthy of purchase with His own blood… then if you reach out and touch that one, the difference you are making actually has infinite value. The significance of the impact you are having is absolutely immeasurable.

(photo via Kris Arnold)

Take a look at the math. I read an estimate that Billy Graham has preached to 200 million people in his lifetime. So let’s say, for the sake of this illustration, that there’s a stay-at-home-mom named Stephanie. Stephanie is caring for and nurturing her household with tender loveliness and strength. However, she feels less than useful to God because “all” she is able to do, beyond her ministry to her family, is to love on an attention-starved neighbor child named Tony whose parents are never around. Here’s the corresponding calculation that Holy Spirit put up on my inner screen:

200,000,000 souls x infinity = infinity 

1 soul x infinity = infinity

Large or small, any number times infinity still equals infinity. There is no infinity that is greater or smaller than the next infinity. Comparisons really are irrelevant. King Jesus values that one priceless broken person just as much as He values the 200 million that Billy’s life intersected with. Tony is His limited edition image bearer. He has a universe of space in His heart just for him. He is INEXPRESSIBLY EXCITED to spend endless ages walking around Heaven with His arm wrapped around this cherished boy!

“Then the King will say, ‘I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was Me — you did it to Me’” (Matt. 25:40, MSG).

Jesus wants you to understand this. When you smile at that Starbucks cashier, you are reaching His heart. When you lovingly squeeze that neighbor child’s shoulder, you are squeezing His. When you take a moment to share a moment of kindness with the lonely granny on the corner, His eyes leak with the beauty of it. Let’s make our lives about passionately caring for the “least of these.” These are His limited edition, inestimably costly masterpieces. There is colossal, immeasurable, infinite value in every moment we thus spend ministering to His heart.

Each and every one.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

A Universe-Sized Love Space in God's Heart... Just for You

Craning my neck back, I looked up into the night sky. The stunning view of the stars and the Milky Way caused my spirit to leap. Awe welled up inside of me and spilled out through my emotions. I was an hour outside the city on campus at our Pastors’ School. Away in the virgin rain forest, the lack of light pollution allows for a spectacular feast for the eyes and for the soul.

I lingered, gazing upwards, far beyond the point when my neck began to protest. The majesty above was too breathtaking to quickly brush past the moment. Then, unexpectedly, it happened. In an instant, my mind registered how immense the universe is.

I had been trying, for years and years, to tell my brain that each of the stars are suns. That each minute point of light is, in reality, an orb gargantuan in size. That the tiny twinkle barely visible speaks to the nearly immeasurable, unquantifiable distance in between here and there. But my brain could never truly grasp this before that moment. Somehow, that night, it did. I’m pretty sure Holy Spirit finally opened up my understanding to be able to perceive the immensity before me. I suddenly experienced what it is to gaze into the depths of infinity. I was overwhelmed with wonder.

This was just a few weeks ago. Hand in hand with that experience, Daddy has been speaking to my heart about His infinite nature. I believe He wants me to convey to you today some of the thoughts He has been sharing with me about this.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
Day after day they pour forth speech
night after night they display knowledge. 
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.”
(Ps. 19:1-3, NIV)

What is the message that the heavens are declaring? What are the words of this speech so mighty that it reaches to the ends of the earth? The skies are proclaiming to us the heart of the Father. They are pouring forth expression of His unbounded, limitless, everlasting love.

This is what He is saying. He wants us to learn to relate to Him as an infinite being, rather than as a finite one. When you encounter His vast boundlessness, you come to discover that there are no limits. There is no end. He whispered recently to me that He has a universe of space in His heart – just for me. Likewise, there’s a whole other universe-sized space inside of Him, dedicated exclusively to you. (In fact, He has one for every single individual human being on the planet.)

What does this mean in practical terms? It means that for you, specifically for and about and toward you, He has an immeasurable amount of love capacity and thinking space. This overflows ceaselessly with thoughts and plans for good. Consider how these two verses go together:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, NKJV).


“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” (Ps. 139:17-18, NLT).

Daddy is wordlessly taken with you! In that universe of space in Him with your name on it, you are the center of His attention. He is ceaselessly thinking incalculable quantities of thoughts, all about you, and each one spilling over with peace and hope. In other words, since He is an infinite God, He has an infinite amount of time to sit around and dream about, specifically… you!!! Meanwhile, as He has limitless space and capacity in His heart, He is also taking immaculate care of the rest of the universe. Because that’s how big He is.

Get this. He’s also already been doing this ever since, ever since, well, forever. This exciting verse voices that truth. “It is he who… chose us… not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began-to show his love and kindness to us…” (2 Tim. 1:9, TLB).

Look at this one too! “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Ps. 139:16, NLT). Dear one, this is not just poetic speak. This is a very real book that exists in heaven and has since before creation. This book is inexpressibly close Daddy’s heart. He has put an endless amount of forethought, care, and perfect love into the crafting of every single minute of your existence.

So, beloved child, can you see the wisdom in leaving aside all comparisons with other people? So often the enemy suggests to us that someone else has been dished out a more generous serving of blessing than we have received. This becomes laughable when we delve into Daddy’s immeasurable love for us. Comparisons become irrelevant when you realize that the capacity for your own joy in Him is infinite. The closest I can get to describing is this. It’s like being at an all-you-can-eat buffet and fixating on someone else’s plate, anxious that maybe they’re getting fed better. What a tragic waste of time and energy. Instead we could be using that heart space to banquet on His endless supply of lavish love and extravagant side dishes of contentment! No wonder He tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that measuring ourselves by each other is not wise.

Don’t miss this pertinent verse either: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…” (Eph. 1:4, NIV). Which is closely followed by: “This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Eph. 1:5, NLT, bold emphasis mine).

Did you hear that? Like really hear it? It gave Him immense pleasure to make you His! That is why our uncreated God has already been thinking and daydreaming about you for an entire eternity past. Those thoughts cause Him to experience pleasure. He likes pleasure... and He really likes thinking about you. Just a glimpse of you causes His soul to brim over with delight. With joy. I’ve been looking up different versions of these verses. As I’ve been drinking in each one, my head has been swimming with His giddiness. He is SO EXCITED that you are His!

Daddy has spent hours and hours, days and days, years and years, millennia even!... thinking about the way you laugh. Thinking about how your eyes sparkle with the enjoyment of what you love. Meditating on how He will weave together every detail of your experiences here on earth for your wellbeing. Delighting in the anticipation of seeing your unique set of giftings grow into beauty and maturity; of seeing you discover the thrill of finding out who you are, the breathtaking masterpiece He created you to be. Bursting with excitement to see the unfolding of your adventure. Watching over and over in His mind as you get to the end of the story and find out just how astonishingly good He has been to you. And most especially, waiting with baited breath for those moments when you would lose yourself in worship, in intimacy with Him. When you would let Him envelope you completely in His love. Yes. He really does. He has a whole universe in his heart, just for you. Today He caresses your face and says to you in the most tender and gentle of tones, you dear, you are His favorite.

Dive in and eat, dear one. Forget about anyone else’s plate. An infinite buffet is before you, and Jesus is the feast!

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Eyes That Gaze on Eternity: Between Starting Gun and Finish Line, Conclusion

A flash in my spirit. The face of an innocent baby, maybe six months old. One eye bright blue, one gray. Another flash. My own adult face, staring penetratingly back at me. I’m seeing a picture of myself. But it’s like those sepia images, where just one part has bright color added. Again, it’s the eyes. They are a fierce, fiery green.

This was a vision I had in between sleep and wakefulness some time ago. I’m sharing it with you now because there is hope in it for you. The Lord gave it to me while in the midst of the personal perseverance marathon I have recently been telling you about.

Fittingly for the series we are concluding today, the two pictures He flashed before me stood for two stages of my life: the starting gun and the finish line of the race marked out for me. They epitomized the “before” and “after” of my development along this journey. The first one symbolized me at the beginning – when His word, the divine sperm, first brought about conception inside my spiritual womb. The second represented me on Baby Promise’s due date.

Baby face. Infancy. The beginning. One keen, blue eye. Blue means prophetic revelation; even at the beginning, even in spiritual infancy, we can see into the heavenly realm. (Jesus told Nicodemus that once he was born again, he would be able to see the Kingdom of God [John 3:3].) However, the other eye was gray. Shadowy. Not yet full of light. “Seeing darkly, as through a mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12). When I embarked on my journey, when Baby Promise’s gestation began in me, I could only see in part. On many days, I struggled to see at all.

The second flash of the vision was the flash of hope. Green (my actual eye color) represents flourishing growth. Both eyes were a brilliant, piercing green. These are the kind of illuminated orbs the Master has taken note of when He affirms: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see” (Matt. 13:16). These are eyes that “by constant use have learned to distinguish between good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). Eyes that have attained to maturity. Eyes blessed with clear, unhindered vision. Ephesians 1:18 eyes. Eyes flooded with light, flooded with the intimate knowledge of the hope of my calling.

This, my dear friend, is precisely why we are on this perseverance marathon. He wants to develop in each of us, inner eyes that can fully, freely, see. Enlightened eyes that probe powerfully beyond the veil of earthly circumstances into the realm of hope. Eyes that behold Him as He is. Eyes that are fixed unshakably on Him. Eyes that gaze into eternity.

Yes, you have a promise growing inside of you. Yes, you will experience for yourself the glorious birthing of that very promise He made to you. But even as you are giving birth to Baby Promise, God is giving birth to you… that second, renewed version of you. That flash picture of you with brilliant green spiritual eyes that fearlessly penetrate the blackest darkness. The you that sees beyond the gloom and fixates on the hope that lights up the night.

This, friend, this is why we keep on running. This is why we never give up. The longer we persevere, the clearer our vision becomes. As we push on, we receive greater and greater power to look upon Him who is invisible.

In the posts leading up to this one, I have been putting together a “how to” list for the protracted perseverance racetrack we are on. We have now come to the culmination of this series. Here are all five points together as a comprehensive list (you can click on any of them for its full development). Each one will help you nurture the Promise growing inside of you:
  1. Set the joy.
  2. Show up for battle.
  3. Command the mountain.
  4. Sink down luxuriously into His faithfulness.
  5. Make the journey about more and more and more of Jesus.
We set the immense joy that is to come before our hearts’ eyes. We show up again and again to march and to war alongside the God of the Angel Armies – in His strength alone. As we go, we tenaciously order all mountainous obstacles to get out of our way. Daily, hourly, unceasingly, we abandon ourselves in trust to the One who loves us more than His life. We make every step of the journey all about intimacy with Him.

In this way, we continue to move forward as we wait actively on God. As we wait, let’s keep this forefront: With every labored breath, with every sweaty, hard-earned step forward, something beautiful is happening deep, deep in our core.

“We… glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4, NKJV).

This verse used to greatly puzzle me. It seems counterintuitive. Tribulations produce hope? Don’t they instead produce pain, frustration, and misery? One aspect of tribulation is often “hope deferred” (Prov. 13:12) – the apparently never-ending wait for relief. So hope deferred produces… hope? How could this be?

This takes me back to something I heard Jenn Johnson say a few years ago. It struck me profoundly then and has often returned to my mind. I believe it ties directly into solving this mystery encapsulated in Romans 5:4. She made the statement, “Nothing can replace your own personal journey with Jesus.”

You see, the further you travel holding Jesus’ hand, the more richly you get to know Him. It happens like this. Sometimes the race He has marked out for you is indeed exhausting. It feels like you’ve been running forever. Everything aches. It takes all you’ve got, but you strain forward yet one more grueling step. Then, all at once, you look up and you realize – He is right there with you in the press, closer than the breath you are struggling for. With utmost tenderness, He is lifting you up, rubbing your shoulders, and gifting you with His energy to carry on.

As your perseverance marathon winds on and on, you experience His rescue… again and again and again, and yet again. You weather the worst that life can hurl at you, and in the midst of it you discover that He is journeying with you, holding you, crying with you, comforting you, encouraging you, cheering for you, strengthening you, healing you, and carrying you the entire way.

Then suddenly it dawns on you. On this protracted, arduous journey, you have come to know Him… experientially. You have come to know Him intimately. The fabric of your life has been woven with the breathtaking threads of His intervention. Now like Job, your heart exclaims in wonder, “My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You!” (Job 42:5). This is not something someone else told you about. Like Job, you have come to know Him for yourself. Just like Job, you have developed Ephesians 1:18 eyes. Eyes that have seen Him. Eyes that perceive the hope of your calling.

As you have endured, your long-suffering has unlocked a previous unattainable level of fellowship with Him. Like never before, you have the unspeakable privilege of looking deeply into His eyes. You get to contemplate the loveliness, the gentleness, the splendor of His face. The indescribable honor of having become personally, intimately acquainted with His heart – yours. Yours forever. You have discovered who He is. He has given you the spirit of revelation without measure. Blessed are your eyes, for they see… Him.

Hope springs to life within you as a result. This hope is born of revelation – the revelation knowledge of His nature, His ways. As He continually manifests His goodness to your heart, His hope eternal bubbles up within you and bursts forth in an uncontainable flow. With every fiber of your being, you know. He is good. He is inexpressibly, rapturously, exquisitely, beautifully good. You gaze into the future with Him, full of joyful expectation, nestled into His bosom, held by the everlasting arms. How glorious it is to belong to the One who loves you best!

“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in You!” (Ps. 31:19, NIV).

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Intimacy at the Table: Between Starting Gun and Finish Line, Part 5

I’d like to introduce you to my seventeen-year-old self. Here is a glimpse into her world (taken from my journal entry dated April 7, 1993):

“Dear Lord,

You know how I feel right now. You can see my heart, how it aches so dully. I’ve been getting like this so much lately. Who could I share my pain with? Only You. You. Lord, You’re wonderful, but I haven’t been getting much relief when I come to You. I’m hesitant to share myself with You because You’re not physical, and I can’t sense You there; can’t sense Your comforting presence. Aren’t You my Abba? I feel so condemned for feeling this way. When, Daddy, will You hold me and heal me? When will I feel the total, unquestionable assurance that You love me always, even when I doubt and disobey? When will You touch these wounds and make me whole?”

Goodness am I glad to be way beyond that stage of development! I vividly remember my intense frustration with how much I longed for God and how far away He felt. Today, He is closer than the air that I breathe. Experientially so. For all the world, I would not trade the extreme, sometimes excruciating training He has taken me through to bring me here to where I am now. I have been on my own personal perseverance marathon. God’s most essential purpose in it has been to work intimacy with Him deep, deep into the core of my being. And this is what He has faithfully, relentlessly done. By far, I prefer His company to even the sweetest of human fellowship on this earth. How I often long to do nothing else but close my door and be alone with Him, gazing on His beauty, and drinking in His love! These are my most exquisite moments. This is what I live for.

You know what? There is no favoritism with Him. This depths of communion is for “whomsoever will.” No matter where you are today on the timeline of your own personal spiritual development, He is inviting each of us to go deeper into His heart. This brings me to the final point in our Active Waiting List:

5) Make the Journey about More and More and More of Jesus

In recent posts of this blog, we have been talking about the waiting seasons of our lives. We have been studying in depths what the interval of time looks like between when God plants a word into our spirit and when the moment actually comes for Baby Promise to be born. We want to make the very best use possible out of the prolonged wait. We don’t want to miss out on any of the richness that He has incorporated into His plan for us along the track.

The very most crucial thing about this interim, by far, is your intimacy with Him. This is why I saved it for last on our list. Absolutely nothing in the universe comes even close to the weight, the magnitude of value, that your relationship with Jesus holds. Yes, we are on a perseverance marathon. We are running the race marked out for us. We are pushing towards destiny, towards the fulfillment of Promise. As we do so, however, we need to penetratingly internalize this truth: way, way, WAY more important than getting to the finish line is learning to enjoy His presence along the way.

“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.”
(Ps. 23:5, NIV)

As we run, there are so many enemies all around. So much stress raging through the atmosphere of this world. So much anguish. How do we connect with the Shelter of the Most High in the midst of it all? How do we throw off the hindrances that so easily entangle us on this race? Jesus invites us to come away with Him. Make this the most essential thing. Do it first. Before the rush of the day begins. Before the news channel bombards your senses with soundwaves of calamity. Slip away with Him. Come to His table.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne…” (Rev. 3:20-21, NIV).

Do you see the correlation there between feasting with Him, and overcoming? Between responding to His invitation to the table of communion, and learning to reign in life with Him?

Dining together was the ultimate symbol of fellowship in the cultural context of this verse penned by John the Revelator. How rich is this metaphor! When we recline with Jesus at the banquet He has prepared, we get to lean into His chest just like John did. In those moments where we personally experience His heart beating with love for us, so much more than our physical needs are met. He doesn’t just provide our daily calorie intake. He feeds the very depths of our spirits… with Himself.

So linger and breakfast with Him. Once you have ingested and assimilated today’s serving of the Bread of Life into the fabric of your being, you will be ready. Ready to face the day, whatever it may hold. Ready to hit the pavement again with your running shoes.

This morning, I was tempted to jump right into the work waiting for me. Deadlines have a way of flashing their red lights at my mind. But then I remembered. When I give Jesus the first part of my day, I am showing Him that I trust Him to administer the rest of it in the very best way. He has always, always supernaturally multiplied and blessed my daylight hours when He has the first fruits of my attention. So I made myself stop, shut out the red lights, and lean into Him. Just to be with Him. Now… what peace has taken over my inner space! It is in this peace that I will go about the remainder of what is before me today.

Yes, I see you, busy mom. I see how your young children clamor for your attention before your eyes have even opened for the new day. I see the piles of laundry staring at you, the messes waiting to be conquered, the meals that won’t cook themselves, the appointments with your name on them, the projects shouting for your time. I am not going to pretend that you can just make all of it go away to spend long, uninterrupted hours at the feet of Jesus. But... can you invite Him into all of it with you?

This is the thing. Way more important than me seeing you, sweet, precious mother, is that He sees you. Mamas caring for their little children are so close to His heart!

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.”
(Isa. 40:11, NKJV)

Some of my most unforgettable memories of encounter with Him have taken place as I cared for my babies. How He has manifested His presence as I have sung softly to Him holding each one! I have felt His Spirit overflowing with tenderness towards my little ones and me in those moments. He has shared His heart of love for them and for me so keenly that I have found tears flowing down my cheeks and my voice choking up as I sing. Motherhood and intimacy with Jesus are not mutually exclusive. They go most beautifully together. How many times too has He showed up with His thick, glorious presence as I read Bible stories to my kids! Again, I have had to pause and stop reading for a moment because His love is overcoming my heart. What a breathtaking way to live out with our little ones His living presence with us! To teach them how close He is!

I smile when I think of Susanna Wesley, the mother of Charles and John Wesley. Besides the two of them, she had seventeen other children. And yet she found an ingenious way to incorporate prayer into her daily routine: she would pull her apron over her head. She trained all nineteen kids to recognize this as a signal that she was not to be interrupted for those minutes with Him. She was not superhuman or better than you. She just earnestly believed that Jesus wanted to be an intimate part of her life as a mother. Obviously her prayer life and her motherhood had some incredibly powerful results. (For more about her and six very practical tips for integrating prayer into full time mothering, check out this excellent blog post.)

Dear one, whether you work at home or away from home, life is indeed extremely demanding. Time with Jesus will not happen by accident. The question remains. Will we long for Him above and before all else? To “whomsoever will…” He extends His invitation. Will you linger at the table with Him? If you are hungry for something more than just your daily caloric intake, it’s time to feast…

“He leads me into a banquet room
and looks at me with love.”
(GWT, Song 2:4)

Do you see the longing in His eyes?

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Secret to Sleeping through the Storm: Between Starting Gun and Finish Line, Part 4

I was lying in bed… inside an elevator. The elevator car, with me in it, was flying through the air at breathtaking speed. The door was partially ajar. I could see through the opening that the steep drop down below would be fatal if I fell out. Wind rushed through the open space, whipping everything around that wasn’t tied down. Jarringly bumpy movement jostled the small space to and fro as we progressed. However, I remained unconcerned, stretched out on the mattress, awaiting the end of the ride.

Not long after that, I woke up. Holy Spirit was speaking to me through my dreams again. I recorded it in my journal and began to search out the meaning.

Within that same week, I was listening to the online recording of a dear friend preaching. She drew a parallel between trusting in God, and lying in bed. Immediately, my inner ears perked up. Daddy was clearly providing interpretation of the dream. “When you get into your bed,” she explained, “you’re not worrying about whether or not it’s going to fall apart under you. You settle your full weight into the comfort of your mattress, in absolute trust that the bed is going to hold you up all night long.”

I nodded thoughtfully. This is true! So complete is my abandon to my bed that soon after I get into it, I am deep in sleep. This sweet abandon continues for the entire duration of my slumber. Not once do I wake up to worry that I won’t safely make it to the morning without the bedframe collapsing.

I believe God is gently but pointedly asking us a question. Do we have this same absolute confidence in Him – or do we trust our beds more than we trust our Savior? This meditation brings me to the fourth point in our Active Waiting list. (In previous posts, you can find the beginning of the list.)

4) Sink Down Luxuriously into His Faithfulness

In reflecting further on my dream, I understand that an elevator is a symbol signifying transition. It represents God moving us to a new, higher level spiritually. He is transferring us to the place where we will finally see the birth of Baby Promise. Have you noticed what a wild ride it sometimes is, on the way to where He is repositioning you? Growth comes with growing pains – jostles, bumps and bruises, along with what often seems like constant exposure to danger.

My dream was a vivid picture of how uneven and uncomfortable our journey forward can be. However, right in the middle of that picture was a luxurious bed. And there I was, lying in it peacefully, utterly unperturbed by the rough ride. No matter how many bumps and bruises I have sustained on this perseverance marathon, Daddy has invited me to yield myself in trust to Him – just like I yield myself to my bed in utter reliance each night. It’s true that my bed never lets me down. But how infinitely much safer than my bed are my Daddy’s arms! How much more will He lift me up, protect me, and sustain me!

As I write, I’m reminded of a scene in the Bible similar to my dream. The picture comes to mind of Jesus asleep in the midst of a furious storm. Waves lashed the boat angrily, threatening to swallow it alive. The disciples were terrified, convinced they were brief moments away from death’s ruthless grip. In absolute, stark contrast, their slumbering Master was curled up pleasantly with His pillow. A look of the sweetest of undisturbed rest beautified His kind face. His supernatural peace was incomprehensible to them. However, they were about to witness that mighty peace coming up out of the inside of Him. It was going to transform their trauma into a moment they would never forget.

When I was reading this story recently, Holy Spirit pointed something out to me. Not only did Jesus find a legitimately frightening circumstance not at all frightening… but He also had a plan for the disciples to become entirely unfrightenable too. This was the point of the rhetorical question He then asked, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?” He wasn’t venting frustration with that remark. Rather, He asked it to drive home to His dear friends that He meant for them to absorb and take on the same inner posture as His. He wanted to teach them to live in His absolute triumph over terror. He wanted to permanently impart to them the power of His peace. His goal was to make them utterly fearless.

This is His goal for you and me too. Too lofty? Unrealistic? Impossibly idealistic? Nah. Jesus is REALLY good at accomplishing His goals. These trembling, terrified men were the same ones that then went on to valiantly turn the world upside down with the message of the gospel. How did Jesus manage this? By walking them through it. By journeying with them. By showing them what it looks like to radiate peace even when hostile waves are assaulting your boat. By demonstrating for them how to pull on the mighty force of God’s peace, making everything around you line up under its power. And then by inviting them to live the same way.

Jesus is journeying with you, too. He is walking you through your personal tempest, giving you hands-on instruction on how to triumph over it. So rest. Sink down into His faithfulness. Grab a pillow, a soft throw, and get ready to nap as the storm howls on. Rest, deeply assured that He is working steadily and even relentlessly at transforming your weakness into strength, your fright into fearlessness. Rest, understanding what caliber of power He is utilizing towards this end: the very same power that Daddy exerted in His Son to raise Him from the dead and enthrone Him far above every name that is named! This is the mighty power that is right NOW “at work within us.” This guarantee of our transformation is actually a central tenant of His unbreakable covenant with us. He has sworn it by His very own name. And in this we can rest (see Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:19; 3:20; Jer. 31:33; Ez. 36:26-28).

In Hebrews, He instructs us to “make every effort to enter [His] rest” (Heb. 4:11). Rest doesn’t happen by default. You need mindfulness and intentionality to enter it. Choose respite; choose rest, again and again and again, until the practice begins to shape you. The habit of deliberately resting gradually becomes the quality of restfulness within. The character trait of peacefulness increases inside of us little by little, day by day, as we regularly, continually, repeatedly decide to trust Him. Today, make the effort. Make the conscious choice to climb into the bed of trust, to lie down in surrender, and to rest.

I know. This is hard because the storm is at gale-force around you. Gargantuan whitecaps are crashing against your boat. But take heart, precious child. Jesus is on board. He is with you. There’s absolutely no way this ship is going to sink as long as He’s here. So go ahead, get comfy. Hunker down into His closeness. Pull the sumptuous blanket of His unfailing love up to your chin. Curl up cozily and abandon yourself to His meticulous and mighty care. Rest deeply into His fierce covenant loyalty to you. Fall asleep in His arms. Your Keeper, the One who does not slumber, has got you. As you drift off, He is murmuring something with utmost tenderness. Can you hear what He is whispering to your heart? “My little one, I love you with an everlasting love. Peace be still…”

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4, NKJV).

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Your Very Own Mountain Moving Moment: Between Starting Gun and Finish Line, Part 3

THUD!!! You just collided head-on with a mountain. You didn’t see it coming. You were running pleasantly along the race marked out for you, minding your own business. Everything was going reasonably well. Then seemingly out of nowhere, this gargantuan obstacle sprung up in your path. Appearing to have a life of its own, it ripped open the earth directly in front of you and instantly soared to a height so far above you that leaning back, you can hardly see the top of it. It happened so suddenly that you ran right into it. You wince painfully, rub your new bruises gingerly, and assess the situation.

You study this mountain from every angle. Your path runs right up to it and appears to end where it begins. There is no way around it. You run your fingers over the dark surface that stands menacingly in front of you. It runs upward as a sheer wall, impossible to climb. The stone is mercilessly solid, shouting at you a silent testimony of impenetrable might. Its face appears to be staring you down, mocking your tininess before its massive strength.

And then you hear a voice in your ear instructing you ever so calmly: “Tell it to get out of your way.” You look up at Jesus, stunned, and stammer in protest, “But, but, but… my faith is so small!” He smiles into your eyes and replies, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move.” He nods and adds gently, “Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt. 17:20, NIV).

You look back at the massive mountain, unsure if Jesus really means what He is saying. How is mustard seed sized faith going to budge this thing a centimeter, much less move it out of the way?

I asked Him that question. The way He explained the answer to me makes up the third point in our Active Waiting list. (Check out the previous posts for points one and two). Here is what He said:

3) Command the Mountain

As you push forward on your race of endurance, you are in training. Another key to using your journeying time proactively consists in learning to deal with the obstacles between you and the finish line.

Jesus has given His mountain-handling directions to us in code. The crucial word tucked into the middle of His puzzling instructions is “seed.” What happens to a seed once it’s been put to use? He describes the process for us in the book of Mark: “… A mustard seed… when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches…” (Mark 4:31-32, NKJV).

The mustard seed was known proverbially in Jesus’ time as the very smallest of seeds. His point here was that this minute seed transmogrifies into something disproportionately enormous. He is wanting us to take comfort in understanding a vital truth. No matter how small our faith is when the starting gun goes off… by the time we reach the finish line, we are going to be amazed by the stature it has acquired within us. He’s giving us a vivid picture of what we’re headed for as we keep pressing forward: faith that truly does move mountains.

First, though, we must acknowledge that faith is not all that powerful when it’s tiny. If tiny faith were mighty faith, Jesus would not have lamented to His disciples, “Oh you of little faith!” Tiny faith is not actually going to push any mountains around… at least not in its embryonic stage. But – oh glory be! – He is the FINISHER of our faith! He is the One that gives the growth! He is the One who develops our faith into the place where it actually will be mighty enough to relocate mountains into the heart of the sea!

“For who dares make light of small beginnings?” (Zech. 4:10, NET). Faith must begin somewhere. Believers never start out from Day 1, “mature and complete, lacking nothing.” Rather, we begin with mustard seed faith. It’s what you do with the mustard seed that is of essential importance. And that’s where Jesus’ coded instruction comes into play.

Command the mountain. Tell it to get out of your way. Gather up all the strength your faith muscles can muster and give it a shove with everything you’ve got inside you. And then… don’t be dismayed when you take another glance at it and it hasn’t moved even a millionth a millimeter. It may even appear to be laughing at you. That’s okay. Take a deep breath. Buckle up your seatbelt and settle in for a long ride. You are going to have to keep commanding this mountain again and again – until you have completely lost track of how many times that you have done so – before you see the end of this adventure.

Is this pointless? Absolutely not!!! For you see, dear runner, every SINGLE time you command the mountain, something powerful is happening in invisible places. Not a single occasion of mountain commanding is in vain, even if you don’t see anything shifting for a long, long time. Every single command counts!!!

To better grasp this, let’s take a look into the spiritual realm. “What you bind on earth is bound in heaven.” Almost all of the time, obstacles move in the heavenlies before they move in the physical world. Consider this picture with the eyes of your heart:

Your mustard seed faith falls into the ground the very first time your raise your voice, addressing the mountain. (Just for the sake of the illustration, we’ll speed up the regular pace of this time lapse picture.) Now watch the seed sinking into earth. Watch as it begins to open up under the soil. A little glimpse of white peaks out of the seed coat, then begins slipping downwards. This becomes a tap root, and before long you see a whole system of secondary roots moving outwards in all directions. At just the right moment, a very small green shoot also emerges from the seed and moves upwards through the earth, still underneath the surface.

Do you realize that all of this is invisible to us who live above the ground? There’s only one way to perceive the very real progress that the plant (your faith) is attaining: with the eyes of your heart. As you continue to give directives to the mountain standing in your way, hidden faith development is happening beyond where you can perceive it by natural means. Your mustard seed is doing exactly what it was created to do: putting down roots and advancing towards maturity. Again and again, drawing on Holy Spirit nutrients, you give the command, “Mountain, move!” Every time you do, those roots are getting deeper and deeper; stronger and stronger.

As you do this commanding, God’s breath is on the air that moves through your vocal cords. You are one with Him in spirit. His voice is commanding too, in and through your voice. Movement is actually happening steadily in spirit each and every time you speak forth His words to this mountain. Because you are going purely on faith and not on sight, your faith is daily getting stronger. You may not even notice the moment when its germinating head pops through the surface of the soil and begins to reach and stretch towards the sun. Regardless, the bona fide growth that is happening is unstoppable.

I’m struck by how Bill Johnson explains this concept. He shares about a faith challenge that he faced a few years ago: “It felt like I was pushing against a 1,000-pound rock that wouldn’t budge. And though I pushed against that rock for months, it never moved… It wasn’t too long afterwards that I realized that while I never moved that 1,000-pound boulder, I can now move the 500 pound rock right next to it. And I couldn’t have moved this size rock before contending with the 1,000-pounder. Contending shapes us and makes us capable of carrying more than we’ve ever been able before” (Dreaming With God, p. 178).

So then, we come to realize that this mountain commanding exercise is actually more about the perfecting of our faith than it is about the mountain. Through all of this ordering about of onerous obstacles, you and I are slowly but surely leaving behind the season of “little faith” (Matt. 8:26) and growing up into the stature of “great faith” (Matt. 8:10).

At the same time, you can be assured that God cares fiercely about that ugly thing trying to intimidate you, His precious child. Through the prophet Jeremiah, He gives us a preview of the fate He Himself has planned for it: “‘I'm your enemy… Mount Destroyer, you ravager... I'll reach out, I'll take you in my hand, and I'll crush you till there's no mountain left. I'll turn you into a gravel pit — no more cornerstones cut from you, no more foundation stones quarried from you! Nothing left of you but gravel.’ God's Decree” (Jer. 51:25-26, MSG).

The mountain moving moment is coming. See it with the eyes of your heart… visualize this: The day at last arrives. You join your voice to His and finally render that decisive, commanding blow: “Who are you, O great mountain? Before [me] you shall become a plain!” (Zech. 4:7, ESV). An earth-shattering rumbling comes into your ears. It’s a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard before. The collapse of your mountainous foe vibrates through your entire being. Debris is flying everywhere; you cover your face. A moment later, you look up, and it’s GONE! Disappeared forever into the heart of the sea! As the dust settles, the path in front of you opens up clearly. As euphoric joy explodes through your heart, your running shoe hits the pavement once again…

Dear one, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!