Saturday, July 4, 2020

Sovereign Freedom

Today is the 4th of July. I am reflecting on what that means and some words the Lord gave me twenty two years ago, specifically, April of 1998. These words are stirring in me and I believe it is finally time to release them because I believe they have to do with the times we are living in and they might bring encouragement to others.

There are a lot of doomsday type messages floating around right now, both in Protestant and Catholic circles; messages that predict more tribulations coming. 

I do not doubt that there are more things coming, I have seen some things myself. The Lord even said to me once, "Do not be afraid of what is coming. It is necessary for the salvation of souls."

Jesus did say in Matthew 16:26, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul."

There is more than this temporal life and sometimes it takes a shaking of sorts for us to come to him. At least it did for me over thirty years ago.

However, I want to also bring encouragement to believers out there. True messages from the Lord should ultimately end up being filled with hope and encouragement even if they start off with a warning.

Twenty-two years ago in prayer, I had a series of images come to my mind as well as the interpretation (I do not always share the process and the images that come to me but thought it would help the believability of the interpretation, as well as show the process for those wanting to grow in their own ability to hear from God).

Here are some of the images: The Declaration of Independence being written, the Union army, a rebel flag, a turtle, a sun rising in the west, an American flag on a flag pole with a cross on it instead of stars, the earth with a big cross that was lying down being lifted up to a standing position, and the last image was of early pioneers from this country watching for the sun to rise and longing to see a new day dawning. Jesus then said, "You will see that new day."

Here is the interpretation of all these images that came to me:

There have been many human efforts to bring about freedom. They have been slow in coming and have often ended in civil war and blood shed. At times we have even retreated inside ourselves at the sight of adversity. But a new day is dawning when there will be a reversal of the order of how things are now. Life as we know it could change within a short amount of time and within our lifetime. It will end up being a glorious new day; the cross of Jesus will be lifted up and the Son of God will be glorified on the earth and in America and He will sovereignly bring about freedom!

I also heard Jesus say to me, "What you are about to see is a privilege and others have longed to see."

Let us partner with Jesus and pray this all comes to pass.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Why do the Nations Rage?

I think it is an understatement to say these are uncertain times. It is hard not to be affected by everything going on around us and feel the oppression in the air.

I had an encounter with the Lord yesterday however that put everything in perspective. I hope others can find encouragement in it as well.

As I was praying, yesterday morning, I saw Jesus as a lion. He was lying down on a grassy hill, under a tree. He was enjoying the day and the cool breeze on his face. He asked me to join him. As I joined him, I saw myself as a lamb. I lied down next to him and was also enjoying the cool breeze that was in the air.

The lion/Jesus then directed my attention into the distance. In the distance I could see the cities of the nations. He then began to laugh. As he laughed, joy hit my spirit and I began to laugh too. He then quoted Psalm 2:1 - "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?" I then heard him say, "All their efforts are going to be brought to nothing as I am about to move!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Being Stripped Away

I know I have been missing in action and realize I haven't blogged since last June, when Tom was in the middle of his cancer treatment (he is currently cancer free by the way and his last two scans were normal, praise God!) 

This is the first time I've even looked at my website since then. Part of the reason I think is because I've been going through a stripping down process. In fact, one day in prayer I saw an image of a piece of bacon being stripped of all fat and knew the Lord was filling me in on what was taking place in my own soul. 

I think many right now can relate to this stripping down process as we are all under quarantine orders and many of the things we used to enjoy doing has been stripped away.

Before the coronavirus showed up, the Lord had been speaking to me for about a year about being a stabilizing influencer. He impressed on me, the meaning of this was someone who can remain at peace even in the midst of the storms of life and how attractive that is to the world around us that desperately needs his peace.

I think the stripping down process happening in me was to help me to become that stabilizing influencer to those around me.

Sometimes in prayer, I get a sense of what is coming down the road. I did not see this one coming however, at least so I thought. I recently decided to go back and read my journal entries from last year. This is what I found:

A year ago, I heard in prayer, "Do not be afraid of what is coming. It is necessary for the salvation of souls."

Now, just to clarify, I do not believe the coronavirus is a punishment from God. In fact, I believe it may have been a scheme of the enemy. If so, the enemy overplayed his hand. I believe God is going to use this for good. I believe we are about to see a great harvest of souls coming to the Lord and right now is a time for the Church to get ready as we deepen our identity and spiritual roots.

Another thing I found in my journal was from March 25, 2019. I wrote down and interpreted a dream I had. In the dream, I was at Wall-Mart. Most of the shelves were cleared out as they were getting ready to renovate. Even though most of the food shelves were bare, there were still a lot of toys. Most of them were on clearance so I bought a space toy for my son for only $25.

The interpretation that came to me at that time was:

The walls are coming down. The Church is being renovated and will not look the same when it is done. It is going to require childlike faith to access the spiritual food. The sky is the limit and there will be grace upon grace available (the number 25 symbolizes grace upon grace in scripture).

One thing I have come to a better understanding of through all this is how God is much bigger than we realize and is able to do far greater things than we can imagine. My faith has been stretched and increased during this time. I have come to realize that his presence is not limited to where the people of God are gathered. His grace is abundant and able to reach across the internet and into or own living rooms. The Holy Spirit transcends time and space when we are engaging in praise and worship even over the internet. Spiritual communion is also a very real thing. God does not hold back his grace just because we cannot receive him physically or be in an assembly where the people of God, through faith, usher in his presence. 

The last few years, there has been an awakening going on among our Protestant brothers and sisters as they have been discovering the grace available in communion, especially when viewed in reverence as being the body and blood of our Lord. I've asked the Lord, "How can this be?" I think I have a better understanding of that now.

Hopefully, even after quarantine, life will not go back to normal where we might have had God in a box with limited understanding of the vastness of His mercy and grace available for all those who have an open heart. May the stripping down process produce a greater glory in us that can be displayed to the world.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Early Morning Reflection

It is currently 4:30 in the morning and I can't sleep. I am wondering if Tom is going to end up getting sick after his first round of chemo yesterday. He is sleeping like a baby however and doesn't show any signs of discomfort.  

I also find myself reflecting on the whirlwind of a month since Tom was diagnosed. We had high hopes and expectations that he was going to be miraculously healed. After all, wouldn't that be the best witness to God's goodness?! 

When that did not happen, all the emotions rose to the surface in my heart as I was disappointed. I really did not want him to have to go through chemo and it was hard to understand why the Lord would want that for him as well. 

Still both of us have chosen to trust. 

I am also thinking about how suffering doesn't cause us to be broken but just brings to the surface what is already there. Somehow though, when we join that brokenness to Christ, he turns it into something sweet.  I am beginning to taste that sweetness as Jesus has been very present to us. It has me reflecting how I would much rather be broken and have Christ than be whole and not have him. Thinking we are whole without Christ however is just an illusion.

This week I am also in the middle of leading crafts for our church's VBS. Today's theme is "When life is sad...God is good!". Our craft is a safari sun-catcher with a silhouette of an animal against a sunrise. The teaching connection with the craft and the theme is how there is always hope in Christ, the sun always comes up over the horizon and we can always put our trust in Him. God is good all the time even when life doesn't go as we had planned!

I know God will have the last word and ultimately be glorified in this situation! He can make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3)!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Black Diamonds

Last week, in prayer I saw an image of a black diamond. I didn't realize diamonds came in the color black but as I did some research, I discovered that indeed they do come in black! I also discovered that black diamonds are 1. more tough, and able to withstand more pressure than regular diamonds 2. absorb light instead of just reflect light and 3. are even more valuable than regular diamonds.

In case you are not familiar with the diamond making process, once the diamond is discovered, it is put under intense pressure. To be exact, 725,000 lbs per square inch. Next, the diamond is put through extreme heat 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the diamond is cut. Real diamonds are also unbreakable. In fact, the Greek meaning of the word diamond is unbreakable.

Black diamonds are made the same way as regular white diamonds but they are even tougher and they absorb light instead of reflecting light. The light doesn't just bounce off of them, the light possesses and takes over them. We are called to become like black diamonds!

Ultimately, as lovers of Jesus, that is what we should want from our life, to be completely taken over and possessed by Jesus! What a privilege to be able to surrender our lives and take up His! How awesome that we can become like Him from the inside out and he exchanges our His life for our crappy life!

On a personal note, the Lord has once again provided Tom and I the opportunity to trust in Him and become more like Him, the most precious of diamonds as we once again lay our life down and take up His!

Tom has had a mass on his tricep for the last year. It has been growing and is now the size of a grapefruit. He kept going to his doctor but his doctor kept reassuring him that is was just a fatty benign tumor. Tom went back yet again and finally got a referral to a surgeon. After tests, it was determined that it is a very rare and aggressive form of a malignant sarcoma.

Now our God is a good and loving Father and he in no way caused this to happen but he did allow it. Tom and I did not see it coming but it is no surprise to our loving Father! Our lives are just as much in his hands now as they were before the diagnosis.

Now, to be honest, we are not thrilled about having to walk through this, just like Jesus was not looking forward to his cross. However, we do not feel shaken and we have peace. We've been through too much and have overcome too much to let this shake us! The Lord has always been faithful to us! His love is steadfast!

I'm reminded of a word the Lord gave me years ago. He showed me a window taped up in a hurricane. This doesn't prevent the window from breaking but it does help it not to shatter. I felt like the Lord said to me that he doesn't promise that when we follow him, our lives won't be broken but if we put our trust in him, our lives won't shatter and fall apart when trials come.

Here is what we are believing for and what you can agree with us in prayer for:

1. That God be glorified through this!
2. Complete healing for Tom!
3. That we will have an even greater testimony of God's goodness and mercy! (All things work for the good of those who love God. - Romans 8:28)

James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

I know I've been missing in action. I haven't felt very inspired to write. Lent was a little rough this year, so probably the perfect Lent. I had all kinds of grandiose plans but in the end none panned out. Instead I faced all kinds of temptations and a spiritual fog, hence the reason that I didn't blog. 

It reminded me of how Jesus was baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit and then went into the desert and faced many temptations. That story actually encouraged me because I knew there was probably a light at the end of the tunnel.

A couple blogs ago, I talked about how I had a very profound encounter with the Holy Spirit at the Encounter conference the beginning of January. Afterwards I felt empowered and emboldened to share the Gospel with people. Also, in February Tom and I were speakers at a marriage retreat on a cruise ship. God was very faithful and I believe spoke through us and blessed the people we ministered to.

Soon after we came home, we entered into Lent and that is when the distractions, fog and temptations started, at least for myself.

The first temptation I dealt with was discouragement and depression. It was strange because it obviously was an oppression coming from the outside and pressing down instead of within me. It was easy to see it for what it was and after about a week, I took authority over it, it went away and fortunately I never let it take root in me.

With the 2nd temptation, I can't say the same. The 2nd temptation was regret. Thoughts regarding past failures were entering my mind and I found myself entertaining them and them causing me great sadness. One particular night I was overcome with grief over past mistakes and wondering, "what if I had done certain things differently". I ended up having a dream that night where the Lord warned me that giving into regret might seem harmless at first but it could end up being very dangerous and I needed to take authority and claim victory in Christ's redeeming work. That next morning, that is exactly what I did and that temptation left me.

Another week in Lent I dealt with one of the worst flare-ups with Fibromyalgia and Bursitis that I have had in a long time. Through that, I had to fight off feelings of worthlessness as the fatigue at times was overwhelming.

Thanks be to God we are now in the Easter season! 

Just a side note; There was one year, I regretted not taking more advantage of the graces during Lent and I felt like the Lord said to me, "There is even more grace available with the Resurrection!"  

So, if you are that person this year, know that Easter lasts longer than Lent and there are even more graces available to you!

I have already experienced the grace of this Easter season. The fog is lifting! The veil has been removed! I am back to having prophetic experiences and  encounters with Jesus! That is our inheritance!

Like I said before, I did not have the Lent that I wanted but I think God had his way and knew what would bring the greatest results and now I can more fully enter into the joy of Easter!

James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New Wine Skins

Behold, I make all things new! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? - Isaiah 43:19

The Lord has really been speaking to me this year about the new things he wants to do and the importance of having "new wine skins" in order to perceive these new things he is doing. In Matthew 9 it says unless we have new wine skins to hold the new wine, the wine will run out and the wine skins will be ruined.

Since many of us can not relate to the analogy of a wine skin, a modern day analogy might be a can of vegetables. If you emptied out a can of vegetables, you wouldn't reuse the can and put vegetables back into it, especially if the can was rusty. The vegetables would become contaminated and wouldn't be edible anymore.

The wine skin or tin can represents our mind. Our mind needs to be constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit in order for us to perceive the new things God is doing.

Just as there are mysteries in the natural world yet to be discovered, there are mysteries in the spiritual realm that have yet to be discovered and the Lord is looking for people whom He can share these mysteries with. We could never exhaust the mysteries of God. Even with the gifts of the Spirit, scripture says there are many variations of the same gift (1Cor. 12). You may have the same gifting as other people but it is not necessarily going to look the same.

Often we want to hold onto the old ways of doing things or cling to what God did in the past. We want what feels safe and familiar. When we do this, we put God in a box and we become blind to what God wants to do.

Times are changing however and what worked in the past isn't going to necessarily work in this day and age.

This type of attitude is rampant in the Church! People like what is comfortable and they like to do things the same way they have always done them, even if it doesn't seem to be working anymore. Tom and I have also seen this attitude to a large extent in the Charismatic movement. Often times, people who were involved in the Charismatic movement in the 70's, want it to stay the same, with the same songs, same speakers, and same way of doing things.

Currently, there is a group of us that meet in our home and at the church once a month for praise, worship, an opportunity to practice the gifts of the Spirit and pray for one another. We do not call it a "Charismatic" prayer group because we believe the gifts are available to the Church as a whole and not just a fringe group of people. Also, hearing God speak is not just a "charismatic" thing. All believers are called to have a 2-way relationship with God. The way our God is different from the so called gods and idols of the nations is that we can hear Him speak to us in the depth of our heart. There are many Saints that heard God speak to them, had visions and other mystic experiences but were not labeled "charismatic". They also were not considered "Saints" at the time they had these experiences. 

As far as our meetings go, we don't want to limit the people who come, so we don't want to get caught up in labels. There are also many Charismatic prayer groups that still meet in a small room or closet in their church and they haven't branched out from that or invited others in. They also do not use the gifts of the Spirit outside of these meetings. That's not what the gifts are for! They were meant to be taken out, beyond the 4 walls of the church and used to reach unbelievers! 

Quite frequently we get people asking if we can play the older charismatic songs. There were some good things that came out of the Charismatic Renewal. If it weren't for the Renewal, I don't know if I would be alive or following Christ. Personally however, I have no desire to go back to what God did in the past. I want to move beyond that and be open to the new things he wants to do now! The next great move of God if going to look completely different than what He did in the past. 

We need to allow Christ to renew our mind. There are great spiritual mysteries that have yet to be discovered and that God wants to reveal to us but we will miss it if we are only looking at what He did in the past. 

1 Cor. 2:9-10 - "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God."