What Gospel Changes Me?

He’s dead.

In an instant his life was taken from us.

A tragic accident.

His life created waves of wonder and renewed desire to follow Jesus with abandon.

He had a resident fire in his soul; A fire that raged with love for Jesus…

And He was given a platform of influence from the Most High God.

He influenced me, impacted me.

His name?

Michael Yaconelli.

Recently I reread his book titled “Dangerous Wonder” (1998,2003 Navpress); Yaconelli quotes John Claypool as saying, “Those who are really serious about their religion and want to become the kind of person that God wants them to be are the ones most in danger.”; Yaconelli continues writing from his own heart, ” I am beginning to wonder if we modern followers of Christ are capable of being terrified by God. No fear of God. No fear of Jesus. No fear of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we have ended up with a feel good gospel that attracts thousands…but transforms no one” (Pg.125).

…..
In reviewing my own personal journal from this past summer I have been reminded (though I didn’t need reminding as my journey’s footprints are still quite fresh) of this ongoing transformation…
Too quote my own words from an entry made on July 9,2014: (with a few added words from today!):

“Does anyone really know what it means to carry one’s own cross? Have we really understood what it entails to lay one’s life down to follow Jesus?

The gospel is so remarkably simple and yet the depths of it are like the ocean crying out to the deep in me to plunge into the waterfall of it’s truth, but that plunge is not an easy one to take.

O God it hurts, the flesh cries out for itself to be fed constantly with comfort and ease.

It hurts the flesh; It costs; Payment is taken from the places that are cherished and fostered.

To those who do not truly love, this sounds like the cruelest form of life and yet it is where living water springs from, it is where love abundant lives.

I am on an island; Away from my familiar world (I was in Hawaii at the time of this writing) and am wrestling with what I sense my future may ask of me.

Oswald Sanders in his book “Spiritual Leadership writes:
‘Jesus was too straight forward and honest to conceal the cost in the service of the Kingdom. For the fulfillment of the stupendous task entrusted to Him, He needed men and women of quality with eyes wide open, who would follow Him to the death’ (pg. 26).

And in the words of Jesus:
‘And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would SAVE his life WILL lose it, but whoever LOSES his life for MY SAKE and the gospels’ will SAVE it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his SOUL?’ (Mark 8:34).

What does it “profit me”? To gain what I will eventually lose this side of eternity?

Is is really a cost to me to trade in my life for the life of Jesus?

The One who died for me, because He loved me, so that He would LIVE in me? So that I WILL LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM?”

….

Can I encourage you to lean into the soul wrestle of dying to your will? Would you allow the Spirit of God to peel away the layers of your “deep” so that the power of God, His gospel, Jesus Christ, may live more fully within you?

I can testify that this summer was soul brutal for me as God revealed places within me that were not yet His (yet again!!), I spent many a sleepless night wrestling long into the darkness, fighting like the prince in the movie “Sleeping Beauty”, slashing away thorns that blocked my path to the castle, to the Lover of my soul…I would not be stopped, refusing to dabble in unbelief, so desirous was I that Jesus would have His way with my will.

Honesty goes a long way to encourage others, so I offer my honesty to you: It was “My” time, “my” grandchildren, “my” unwillingness to follow Jesus without reservation, and the fear of man that was entangling my soul, feeding the fight in me, and ultimately quenching the Spirit of God from leading me into the arms of Jesus.

Why did I wrestle so hard?

I did not want to give up “my” life; “my” treasures were “my” treasures.

These words sound so wicked even as I write them now, they sound like broken glass on a concrete floor, and the shattering brings a form of sorrow as I realize how easy it is to become daft to one’s own heart.

O Jesus YOU alone are my treasure.

“For WHERE your treasure is, THERE your heart will be also” (Matt.6:21).

“God, harden me against myself,
The coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joy.
Myself, arch traitor to myself,
My hollowest friend,
My deadliest foe,
My clog, whatever I go.”
-Amy Wilson Carmichael

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Eternity

I have been thinking about eternity lately, about life, and the inevitable path between the two.

I often gaze towards the heavens and marvel that I will never be able to touch its’ ceiling of blue. 

Even the pillow-like clouds that float between heaven and earth could never support my head, they are vaporous, illusive, airy, thin. They appear so definitive and yet planes fly through them.

Both sky and cloud look so tangible, and yet I will never hold them within my hands.

I wonder if God planned and created sky and cloud to be untouchable by life on earth?

Untouchable and beyond manipulation.

Is it His means of proving that man has limits?

Are we walking daily under a created reality we’ve become blind to?

Beyond the boundary of blue awaits a Kingdom discovered by dying; The intangible soul within the tangible man enters the closet of Narnia.

Eternity is forever, having no end.

Just like the unreachable backdrop of the heavens of blue.

And God put eternity into man’s heart (Ecc. 3:11).

El Olam, He is the Eternal God; He has no beginning, nor does He have an end.

The marathon of mankind’s search for answers and satisfaction is because his soul is searching for God.

The holy scriptures speak:

“For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE” (John 3:16).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Go With God

“You cannot go with God and stay where you are.”

I don’t remember who is noted for speaking these words, but they speak truth!

You cannot step out onto the water without being willing to lose sight of the shore…

It is one thing to say “I will follow Jesus” and quite another to submit the soul to action…

No more hiding…

No more dragging of the heels…

No more self-focusing…

And…no more arguing with the Creator!

It is NOT normal, not even human-like, to live from within this realm of faith in action. It is not instinctive to us to choose to live suspended from heaven like a shoe hanging from the end of its’ lace.

To choose to TRUST in the One who remains unseen to the naked eye…to trust that He alone holds the other end of the shoe-string, feels life-threatening at the best of times.

“Just swing from the shoe string!” My soul shouts at me!

The idea of it resonates with my desire for adventure, but fear shouts from behind…with words of reason and doubt.

But one passion drives me and burns constant like an ember in an old fire…one passion alone…

The passion to follow Jesus Christ with my LIFE.

He ALWAYS leads me away from myself, away from the shoreline of solid, tangible ground.

The Call to follow reveals what I really believe about God…

And how much I really love HIm.

…..

Pause…

Silence…

Scratch my head…

Pick my nails…

Hmmm…

….

HOW MUCH DO I LOVE HIM?

Will I give my life away to make Him Known? Will I surrender to His re-shaping of my life? Will I face the mighty waves of uncertainty with confident trust? 

….

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where HE HIMSELF was about to go. and He said to them, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are FEW. Therefore pray EARNESTLY to the LORD OF THE HARVEST to send out laborers INTO the harvest..(Luke 10:1-2).”

HOW MUCH DO I LOVE HIM?

I will go…

I will be a “laborer”…

Whatever it means for my life…

I will go…

Because I love Him enough to die for Him…

Because He loved me enough to die for me..

I think the shoreline is disappearing on me…/p>

The God Who Amazes Me!

Wow it has been so very long since this soul of mine has been squeezed through words into a blog! I honestly have had this chronic dull ache from not taking or making time to write!!

It has been two crazy months for me of selling our home, buying an old condo that needed to be renovated and completed by Feb.28 so that we would have somewhere to move to, saying goodbye to our daughter and husband as they moved to Germany and taking a huge step of faith in accepting a new job, which is also a new position that is beyond what I know I am capable of in my flesh…it is a job that will keep me on my knees! Yay for that!

But this blog is not to be about me, it is about my wonderful God who just keeps surprising me with deeper truth and living realities of WHO He is! Wonderful, wonderful Elohim!

I have decided that this year I am going to read through the bible from Genesis to Revelation, successively. I am so excited about this adventure!

Already in Genesis the Holy Spirit has illumined something new!

In chapter 24 Abraham sent his servant on an “errand” to find a wife for his son of promise; Isaac.

In verse 12 Abraham’s servant asks God for “success”, and that God would show “steadfast love to his master Abraham”.

The servant asks God for some very specific details to fall into place so that he will know which woman is intended for Isaac.

Verse 15 records that before the servant had finished speaking a woman emerged onto the scene; and we read how the servant proceeded to test his own request from God.

As the story unfolds we discover that the woman’s name is Rebekah and that she is indeed God’s choice for Isaac.

The servant’s response to his answer? Two times he BOWS his head and worships…an immediate response to God (verse 26,48) and once he bows himself to the earth(verse 52).

What this story spoke of to me is that I should not cower at the thought of asking God for “success” in the assignments that He has given me; I need not grovel under a blanket of humility and fear but rather TRUST the One who knows the why behind the assignment…my part is CONFIDENT obedience.

I think we have this humility thing wrong sometimes…even in Hebrews we are instructed to draw near to the throne of grace WITH CONFIDENCE(4:16).

Even more so for us because of what Jesus has accomplished for us…we can boldly come through Jesus with all that concerns us and with detail! Read Genesis 24!

One more thing…I WAS SO BLESSED by reading the servant’s reaction to God’s answer…it was automatic worship, no second thoughts, no forgetting, he was so grateful that his head went down…boom…THANK YOU LORD!!! Verse 27&48 records that the servant BLESSED The Lord!

Obviously The Lord God knew even as the servant was asking for success at the beginning of that day that his heart was already primed and ready to acknowledge the One through Whom it all came.

What about you today? What do you need to be specific about before the Father? What assignment has He given you that you need to ask for His “success” upon? And when the test of praise arrives, will you be found on your knees in overwhelming praise and blessing to The Lord God?

Just a few thoughts today! May you know Him dear souls!!

The God Who Sees Me

It is the very last day of 2013! Where did this last year disappear to?

I find myself a bit reflective upon the days gone by, and hopeful toward days that lay ahead in the new year.

What else would you expect to read on December 31st?

There is a message upon my heart today; a message of hope and encouragement taken from the story of Hagar (Genesis 16).

Hagar was a female Egyptian servant to Abram and Sarai who was “given” to Abram by barren Sarai in hopes of producing a son; but once Hagar conceived, Sarai’s heart became friends with contempt and treated Hagar harshly.

So Hagar ran away; she was pregnant and alone. Genesis 16 records that the angel of the Lord found her (does this suggest that God must have been pursuing her?) by a “spring of water in the wilderness” (vs.7).

It was from this place of rejection, isolation and hurt that Hagar gave God the name that we now know Him by, “EL ROI”.

The Hebrew meaning? “You are the God who sees me”.

O how I love this name of God! It is one of the many of His names that hold testimony of His character and divine love for each of us.

To bring this into a personal context I would like to share a little story with you.

On Christmas day I was drawing and colouring pictures with my granddaughter Eilia. She had just received a small suitcase of markers, crayons, pencil crayons and paint for Christmas so we decided to check them all out and have some fun.

I was soon lost on my own page with drawing palm trees and sunshine and so failed to notice what her little hands were pumping out until she said to me, “Nana look at what I did!”

As I looked at her paper, by jaw dropped and my heart leaped…there on her 8 by 10 piece of paper was the word “ROI”, written with red marker and in HUGE block caps! Drawn over the word was a huge rainbow with colours of green, purple, blue, green, yellow and red.

O how I wish I knew how to attach this picture to this blog today, believe me that as I am writing it is propped against my lamp in front of me!

My granddaughter is only four years old! I knew that only God could have inspired such praise and encouragement out of her little heart; she had no clue what she had just drawn! Needless to say (but I will anyway) I explained to her that she had just written out one of God’s names.

I believe this name of God holds power, hope and a promise for each of us this last day of 2013.

Wherever you are, whatever life circumstance you find yourself in, know that GOD SEES YOU! You are not alone…EVER!!

I encourage you to ask God to reveal Himself this new year through one of His many names…as you know, He delights to reveal WHO He IS!!

If He would use a four-year old who barely knows how to write her own name to write one of His names, to speak to me, will He not also do that for everyone who asks?

In the words of Hagar: ” Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13).

Mary Was Ready…Are You?

I was listening to Perry Como’s narration of the Christmas story recently.

I have listened to this narration every Christmas since I was a child, but this week I heard it differently, maybe it was because I was listening differently.

I entered into this story before Jesus was born…

I imagined myself riding on a donkey as a woman, just like Mary; with knowledge that within my womb the Savior and long-awaited Messiah was growing, and that I would give birth to a KING! I would know that I was a woman of purity, a virgin, but had willingly accepted God’s assignment which included the temporary tainting of my reputation! O the humiliation!

I had a smack down moment as I embraced my humanity in these similar circumstances… HOW did Mary walk this road???

She BELIEVED, she trusted, and she was humble.

I love what Elizabeth said to Mary in Luke’s gospel:

“…Blessed is she who BELIEVED that there WOULD BE a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Luke records Mary’s song beginning in verse 46:

“And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked upon the humble estate of His servant…”

“the humble estate”; God chose a woman of humility to host His son for us; it could not have been otherwise! God was setting the stage for every Jesus lover to follow…”God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(James 4:6); And I believe as well that God was giving us a powerful, life altering example of what it means to TRUST Him fully, even in the absence of tangible evidence.

Think about it with me for a moment; Mary’s body would not have had any tangibility of pregnancy even to her for at least three months and yet she trusted the words of God.

How does this apply to us today? Will we be found trusting the Father completely and absolutely with everything that concerns us?

What about your life calling? Is your life surrendered under the covering of Jesus great Name?

If God approached you today with a calling or assignment, would you be found ready? Would you be found willing even if it meant you might appear to be a fool? Would you, will you trust in a promise that has not yet been fulfilled?

Mary, the mother of Jesus our Savior, is an example of a life found ready for the Master’s voice.

Mary’s response was recorded for us: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord: let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

May our response be the same, would you really want it to be otherwise?

Merry Christmas!

I do not know how I will ever thank my daughter Joelle for the hours of work she gave to giving life to my book; without her work this would not have become a reality! Thank you my dear daughter!

I must thank my other daughter Karlene as well as she encouraged me and publicized on facebook; and my son Tim who kept encouraging me to keep going and that he couldn’t wait to read it; my mother’s heart is BURSTING from their love! I am so blessed!

I thank my dear husband who patiently listened to me talk about this for years; I finally did it honey!!

I admit that tonight I am overwhelmed by the flurry of interest in the book; I did not expect this and I am feeling nervous as a result!

I wrote for my King, Elohim; I wrote to share my journey in and through trial and testing, all the while asking God to bless and use my weaknesses to produce hope, and desire for more of Him.

Thank you to all of you…I am sincerely humbled by your support and encouragement!!

If you choose to read the book, know that I have been praying for you already; God knows who you are and where you are.

Merry Christmas to all of you!