Christmas Snow: A Reminder of Christ’s Purity

I woke up this morning to a beautiful blanket of snow several inches deep covering the grass and trees.  It’s been many years since we’ve had snow on Christmas morning, so this “White Christmas” is a pretty big deal!  I’ve spent much of the morning going back and forth from window to window in my apartment, watching the snow continue to fall.  What a beautiful gift from above.

I’ll admit that I have struggled this morning with anger and sadness – not exactly ideal emotions on Christmas…especially because they are so self-centered on a day that’s not about me.  But even in my sometimes unsuccessful effort to walk in the spirit as opposed to reacting in my flesh, God is so good to speak and teach me much.  These conflicting emotions stem from wondering why my presence seems to continue to elicit reactions of jealousy, rejection, and offense from others.  I don’t at all expect that people will have these reactions; yet I see it happening more often than my heart would like.  Although I am well aware of my imperfections, my spirit realizes it is not really me that is offensive; rather, it is the One Who is my constant companion…it is His love that I carry and attempt to live out, and His message of Truth that I stand for at all times.  His presence in me is attractive to some, but unfortunately generates seeds of division and offense from others.

I am reminded again of Jesus…the One Whose birthday we celebrate and honor today.  Jesus’ entire life – from conception to death to resurrection to ascension, elicited offense, jealousy, anger, accusations and a host of other reactions from people who chose not to understand His purpose for being on this earth.  Jesus’ scandalous conception generated offense and shunning for his teenage mother.  Before Jesus had even taken His first breath, the mere thought of His birth caused Joseph and Mary to have to flee – for their lives and His.  King Herod was so threatened by this Infant King, that he had all the male children two years and younger murdered, in an attempt to end Jesus’ life as quickly as it had begun.

As Jesus grew older, His actions were at times even offensive to His parents.  He disappeared from them for days while preaching in the temple.  His response when they found Him: “Didn’t you know I’d be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49, KJ21).  Even as a pre-teenage boy, Jesus’ focus was singular – intent on daily, moment-by-moment, fulfilling the will and plan of His heavenly Father.  Years later, Jesus’ words would again offend family members: “ ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?  …For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!’ “ (Mathew 12:48, 50).

The Pharisees and Sadducees, religious leaders of Jesus’ day, were highly offended at His message and jealous of the authority and power Jesus operated in.  They were forever trying to trap Him with questions.  Perhaps Jesus’ greatest offense towards the religious leaders was that He was the fulfillment of the law they prided themselves in knowing and following.  Jesus was the very One their souls hungered for, yet offense, jealousy, and pride caused them to miss out on what He came to offer them.

The examples are endless.  Ultimately, this Man Who was guilty of nothing but loving people and speaking Truth was so offensive to the masses – the same ones who had welcomed Him into the city with praise just days prior, that they had Him nailed to a cross while choosing to let Barabbas, a vicious criminal, go free.  To this day, the name “Jesus” is offensive to many…from those who believe in other gods, to those who would seek to be “politically correct.”  Jesus, though no longer here in body, continues to cause quite a stir.

So the question remains…if I am a follower of Jesus, and my desire is to become more and more conformed to His image, then why am I surprised when my pursuit of Christ-likeness is a stumbling-block to others?  Why am I shocked, and why do I allow sadness and anger to rule when those who have had opportunities to know my heart and motives still choose to believe falsely about me?  Should I not consider it an honor to suffer (in a very small way) as Jesus did?

God speaks to me so much through nature, and this morning has been no exception.  As I watched the freshly fallen snow, I could not help but think of purity.  That beautiful white blanket, spotless and yet untouched by dirt, car pollution, or footprints.  One of my many thoughts as I watched the snow fall came in the form of a couple questions: “Jesus, how did You manage to stay spotless – like that fresh snow – without sin or blemish, when people were so ugly to you?  How did you keep from having one sinful, fleshly thought, when those You literally poured Your life out for – those You loved to the point of death, treated You so cruelly…choosing to falsely judge Your character, lying about You, and eventually…crucifying You?” Apart from my choice to believe by faith, it truly is incomprehensible to me that a man could endure all Jesus did, yet remain sinless.  Not one angry thought towards those who wronged Him.  Wow.

Even though Jesus was Immanuel – God in the flesh, He was still fully man.  It’s not like He had one up on us.  There was no unfair Divine advantage in His ability to respond to judgments, criticisms, and rejection.  Rather, this morning I have realized again the stark difference between Jesus and me: He was fully submitted to walking in the spirit at all times. That means He was also submitted to responding in the spirit.  So regardless of what people said or thought about Jesus, He had purposed beforehand to choose to forgive immediately and to love unconditionally.  That didn’t mean people weren’t still highly offended by Jesus’ message and jealous of His power and authority.  Nor did it mean Jesus didn’t have some solid boundaries in place.  Scripture makes it clear that Jesus did not come to bring peace; rather, He came to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34).  But what I recognize about Jesus is that He was a Man Who was so focused on His mission in life, no response by men or women around Him had the power to distract Him from His purpose. Not their praise, not their rejection, offense, or jealousy.  Because He was fully man, Jesus no doubt experienced deep emotions just as we do.  But His spirit-led emotions sent Him right back to His Father, asking for grace and strength to accomplish His will.

So today, Christmas 2010, I thank God for the gift of snow, which brought with it the reminder of the pure and spotless heart and mind of Jesus.  While I am so grateful for the gift of Christ’s birth, I’m even more thankful for the example He lived out for you and me…showing us it is possible to respond in the spirit, no matter how people react to His message flowing out of us.  I desire to respond as Jesus did…a somewhat scary thing to admit, as in doing so means I’ll no doubt be given more “opportunities” to practice my responses!!   Yet I’m willing to practice as long as it takes in order for my fleshly reactions to become spirit-led responses that no longer distract from God’s ultimate purpose for my life.

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Father, Forgive Us… Confessions of an American Follower of Christ

Yesterday evening while driving and talking with God, I sensed Him asking me to take humble yet powerful action…similar to that of an Old Testament hero.  In Daniel 9, we see Daniel – a man of consistent and fervent prayer – humble himself before the Lord and offer up a prayer of confession and repentance on behalf of himself and his people…

“I, Daniel…turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting…I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed…”

In recent weeks and months, my soul has been deeply grieved at much of what I have witnessed going on in Western churches.  I’ve experienced the extremes of movements – from traditional legalism, to charismatic hype…and everything in between.  Please understand that I am not at all writing this from a viewpoint of believing I have a full and complete understanding of how God desires His church to function.  But I do write from a place of desiring the body of Christ to walk in Truth, first and foremost…never compromising the unchanging standards of the Word, or watering down clear parameters set in place by God Himself.  Truth mixed with deception = Deception.  We as Believers can no longer toe the line between worldliness/fleshliness and holiness.  There must be a definitive difference, characterized by our pursuit of righteousness and our devotion to the highest standards of integrity.

A study of the Gospels, as well as the Book of Acts, gives a pretty clear indicator of the model we should follow as we walk out the Christian life.  The Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John all portray the life of Jesus…the simple yet powerful way in which He lived and loved.  Thousands of lives were eternally transformed after being touched by Jesus during His earthly ministry.

In Acts, we see a model of how the church should function – truly as one unified body, with none of its members lacking anything because those who had excess would share with those who were in need.  This model of sacrificial and generous living proved to be quite the witness to the watching world.  Many were saved, healed, and delivered because of the simple ways in which the early church lived out the command of Jesus to love one another.  I encourage you to go through the first five books of the New Testament.  See what you think…is the modern-day Church doing a good job following Christ’s example?  Is the watching world being positively impacted by us?

In similar fashion as Daniel, I humbly pray the following, offering this plea for forgiveness on behalf of myself and all who claim the name of Jesus.  If you are in agreement, feel free to pray along with me:

Father,

You are the Most High God.  There is no other name worthy of praise, no other being worthy of our devotion.  I speak with a heart of gratitude, as You have done so much for me.  Just like the leper in Luke 17, I was one who lived with much shame.  But when I encountered the life-giving and freeing love of Jesus, I experienced healing and wholeness on a level I’d previously not dreamed imaginable.  With each moment You give me on this earth, I choose to live, and move, and breathe as an expression of my thanks to You.

“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands” (Daniel 9:4)

I wonder what You must think as You watch us day in and day out.  Are You proud, or are You grieved at what You see taking place in Your name?  Do You feel respected by our actions, or do we dishonor Your name more often than we are aware of?  Do we include You in the moment-by-moment events of our lives, or are You keenly aware that we only approach You when we have need of Your help?

“But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations” (Daniel 9:5)

Jesus told us to “Go into all the world” – sharing the Good News with all we come in contact with.  Forgive us for replacing Jesus’ mandate with our own agendas – our building funds, programs, performances, and so many other man-made ideas that all-too-often take precedence over the simple yet eternally life-changing instructions to offer a cup of cold water in Your name…to love our neighbor…to give our lives away.  Forgive us for getting so comfortable in our cushioned seats that we forget the widow, the orphan, the homeless…or our co-worker, who just needs to know someone cares.

Forgive us for worshiping men who were made in Your image more than we worship You.  Forgive us for elevating and exalting those who have been gifted by You.  Forgive us for setting them up to fail, as we promote their gifts and charisma more than we value the character necessary to maintain the responsibility of the gifting they carry.

For those of us who have been placed in positions of leadership, forgive us for not carefully shepherding the hearts of those You have entrusted to our care.  Forgive us for allowing wolves to devour our sheep.  Forgive us for not using our discernment to detect false prophets and deceptive teachings.  Forgive us for trying to be so ‘user-friendly’ that we’ve turned worship services into venues for entertainment.  Forgive us for not boldly walking in the authority You have given us…as Your sons and daughters, and positionally, as You are the One Who sets up those who lead.

“You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster… We have refused to seek mercy from the Lord our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth.  Therefore, the Lord has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The Lord our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him” (Daniel 9:12-14)

Forgive us for not revering Your Spirit.  On the one hand, we dismiss Him completely…minimizing His role in our lives, and believing the gifts He equips us with have long since ceased to be in operation.  Thus we often silence His still small voice with our religious reasons as to why He can’t possibly be moving in power today.  On the other hand, we shift to the extreme of worshiping the Spirit’s manifestations – exalting His presence and power above the person of You.  Forgive us for desiring the Spirit’s gifts more than we desire His conviction, His counsel, and His discernment that will guide us into all Truth. Forgive us for trying to manipulate the Spirit, and for attributing such foolish and outright mocking manifestations to the Spirit Who is by name and character “Holy.”  We ask that You bring us back into proper balance, as our desire is to be those who worship You in Spirit and in Truth.

“Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us…because of our disloyalty to you.  O Lord, we…are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.  But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.  We have not obeyed the Lord our God…” (Daniel 9:7-10)

Forgive us for putting a price tag on the gifts Your Spirit has freely bestowed upon us.  Forgive us for not following the model of Jesus, Who sent His disciples out with the instructions to cast out demons, heal the sick, and raise the dead…and to give as freely as they had received (Matthew 10:7-8, NLT).  Forgive us for charging the spiritually hungry and needy, and requiring payment for gifts of healing, prophetic words, and counsel that would not otherwise be possible without the flow of Your Spirit.  Forgive us for using Your Spirit for our own financial gain.  Forgive us for not recognizing we are simply conduits for Your Spirit to flow through.  Apart from Him, we have no wisdom or power.

Forgive us for turning Your house into a place where we peddle our talents on center stage.  Forgive us for using Your house as a means for self-promotion and exaltation.  Forgive us for modeling greed to a world that desperately needs to see sacrificial living and loving.  Forgive us for lifting our hands and voices as we sing songs of devotion and commitment and dependence on You, when our lifestyles speak the opposite.

Forgive us for begrudging the times we face rejection on account of our association with You, or when we attempt to proclaim the Truth.  Forgive us for seeking to defend our own names when falsely accused.  May we be like Jesus, Who spoke not a word in response to His accusers, but was secure in knowing You saw His innocence.  May we embrace the reality that You consider us worthy to take part in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.

Father, have mercy on Your children.  We recognize that the One Who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.  We desperately need You to help us navigate the challenges we face as we attempt to walk out this journey as Your children…Your ambassadors to a lost and dying world.

“O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.  O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair… We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.  O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people. I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord…” (Daniel 9:17-20)

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“Shake the Dust off Your Feet”

I have been immersing myself in the Gospels this past week, desperate to glean further understanding from Jesus.  The Holy Spirit seems to always highlight something new and different each time I read the accounts of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.  This time around, it’s been the theme of “shaking the dust off my feet” and “not looking back” or dwelling on rejection experiences.

The mandate of Jesus to His disciples, as well as His own example has been so meaningful to me in recent days.  Rejection used to be a big struggle for me, but God has brought much healing to those wounded places of my heart.  Now, I’d say 99% of the time I really could care less about what people think about me, or the message God has placed within me to share.  But it’s been that other 1% that I have so struggled to let go of.  Why?  Because the 1% has included individuals who I very much wanted to know the real me, to trust the motive of my heart, to heed the message I choose to live out, and at times, to heed the message I have been asked to share directly.  The past couple weeks especially, I have struggled to simply let go…allowing God to free my heart from that painful feeling of knowing I have been rejected, in the midst of doing all the good I’ve known to do.  But today, as I intently read in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – hanging on every word written about Jesus’ time on earth, or words spoken by Jesus Himself – God did a sweet thing and brought release and healing to my heart.  Truly Jesus – the Word – is the Bread of Life.  He is the Light that dispels all shadows of darkness.  The model of His life gives the blueprint we are to embrace and follow.

Many times when Jesus was teaching and performing miracles, the Pharisees were right there in the midst of the crowds.  They appeared to be ‘receiving’ Jesus’ message because they were present and listening.  Yet nearly every time, we see the Pharisees thinking to themselves or talking amongst each other, devising ways to trip Jesus up, and ultimately, to kill Him.  They were ‘offended’ by His message, even though they were there outwardly receiving it.  Bottom line, they were jealous at all the attention Jesus was getting, as well as the power and authority He operated in.

God has graciously given me this illustration of the Pharisees to show how Jesus went through the same thing I feel like I have struggled with; people who outwardly oblige the message God has placed within me to share, yet inwardly they are seething with envy and bitterness.  Jesus didn’t let the Pharisees’ actions get to Him.  He read their minds and answered their thoughts on occasion, but ultimately He knew their hearts, and He wasn’t going to be bothered by their choice to not accept Him or the message He delivered.  Jesus makes it clear what our response is to be when His message through us is not received:

  • “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave” (Matthew 10:14, NLT)
  • “If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way” (Mark 6:11, MSG)
  • “When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back’ “ (Luke 10:10-11, MSG)

When Jesus sent His disciples out, He was in essence warning them… “You ARE going to be rejected…really though, it’s not so much you.  It’s what/Who you represent, and the message you have been appointed to deliver.  So don’t let your heart get crushed when rejection happens!!  I experienced it too!!  Just walk away, don’t look back, and go to the next place I’ll send you.”

There is such a bigger picture going on in this world.  You and I can’t allow the sting of rejection to trip us up and distract us from what God has planned for our futures.  I have chosen to let go…even of the 1% that my heart really wanted to approve of me.  I am no longer concerned if people know and accept the real me.  I am letting go of the frustration of not understanding why people choose to believe lies and assumptions about me, as opposed to finding out the truth.  I want to be like those disciples who obediently spoke the words Jesus told them to speak…and stayed in the places where they were welcome.  But the moment they knew they were not welcome they walked away, and never looked back.  It is so empowering for today to see what Jesus and His closest followers went through 2,000 years ago, as they proclaimed Truth and lived out love.

I am so grateful for those who have been receptive (both outwardly and inwardly) of messages God has had me speak to them.  I have been on both the giving and receiving end of a message from God – neither side is easy.  But God always honors the obedient messenger, just as He honors the humble recipient.

Jesus amazes me; there’s no other way to say it.  When we take a good look at His life, it is bewildering how poorly He was treated, when all He did was good.  Yet He continued to extend love, to the point of dying for all mankind, even His worst enemies.  I’m willing to admit that I struggle with Jesus’ instructions in Luke 6:27-30: “ ‘But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back’ ” (NLT).  I don’t feel I have any enemies per say.  The closest thing I would have to enemies are those who choose to believe and perpetuate lies about me.  When I look closely at Jesus’ life, He was rejected and lied about…despised and falsely judged ‘til the moment He left this earth.  This rejection wasn’t just from Jesus’ enemies.  It was from those who should have known Him best and appreciated Him most…those who had the opportunity to know the truth about Him, yet they chose to believe what they wanted to believe – often because of jealousy and their own personal agendas.  Once again, His example is there for us to follow; dying to self, and choosing to extend love to those for whom it is most difficult.

One other thing that was somewhat shocking to me is found in John 6, when Jesus had been teaching the masses: “After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Peter replied, ’Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God’ ” (vv. 66-67, MSG).  What a reminder that even those who had been with Jesus day in and day out, and thus should have known His heart and motives…a large group of them chose to walk away, leaving only the 12 disciples.  This is bizarre because all Jesus was ‘guilty’ of was doing good: healing people, feeding the masses, and teaching them truth – but clearly His way of loving was offensive even to those who should have had eyes to see and ears to hear.

I am so grateful that Jesus left an example for me to emulate.  I don’t expect to be rejected by people, but neither will I be surprised if it happens…and I will not allow my heart to be so deeply wounded.  I want to live with the perspective of my Savior: “ ‘Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do…and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this’ ” (Luke 6:22, MSG)

“All heaven applauds”?  Wow!  I humbly choose to accept the role of messenger of the Most High King; but with this, I choose to shake the dust off my feet when God’s message through me is not received.  My heart will not be adversely affected; knowing obedience is the love language of my Heavenly Father.  If my actions (and the motive of my heart) have pleased Him, that’s all the matters.

I am also choosing to forgive – daily and even hourly in some cases, when I encounter those who have chosen to believe falsehoods about me.  I choose both to bless them, and to count myself blessed that I have been chosen to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings…of which rejection and false accusation were the greatest.  I choose to look forward, embracing my future and all that God has in store for me.

“Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who…looks back
is not fit for the Kingdom of God’ ”

(Luke 9:62, NLT)

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Britt Nicole’s “Acoustic” in Stores Now!!!

Hey Friends!!  Britt Nicole’s anticipated new release, entitled “Acoustic,” is available at Christian retailers and online as of today, August 24th!!!  I highly recommend that you buy a copy for every young woman in your life (daughter, sis, niece, friend, etc).  Britt certainly has a unique way of sharing her message – in particular, the truth that lasting love, security, and acceptance are ultimately found through a relationship with Jesus. This is a message young women in our culture desperately need to hear.

I have been so impressed with the depth of Britt Nicole’s lyrics on her previous CDs, and “Acoustic” definitely does not disappoint. If you are already a fan of Britt, you may recognize the top five songs of Britt’s career thus far, included on this new album in acoustic style. You’ll also get to hear more of Britt’s pure, passionate, and powerful voice than ever before!  “Acoustic” includes a never-before released track entitled “Found By You” – which Britt co-wrote with Dove award-winning singer/songwriter Brandon Heath.

So head on out to your local Christian retailer, or visit www.amazon.com“Acoustic” is a CD you don’t want to miss out on!!

www.brittnicole.com

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“Walk On the Water” – What are YOU Waiting for?

Are you afraid to step out in faith in an area you know God is telling you to proceed forward?  Are your insecurities hindering your ability to daily move towards your destiny?

There are still many times when I struggle with similar fears and doubts – when stepping out in faith is an absolute act of obedience, even though my insecurities and sometimes even my logic says it would be safer to stay in a place that is safe and comfortable.

I have heard Britt Nicole’s song “Walk On the Water” several times before, but it was just recently that the song’s message really grabbed my attention.  It has been a HUGE encouragement for the season of life I am currently walking in.  I trust “Walk On the Water” will be a blessing to you as well.

If you have a daughter, granddaughter, little sis, niece, or other younger woman in your life, I highly recommend that you purchase Britt Nicole’s music for them.  The lyrics to her songs are awesome – and her message is refreshing change from the “love” (sex)-saturated message conveyed via many today’s of mainstream artists.

Check out “Walk On the Water”, with the lyrics posted below:

You look around
It’s staring back at you
Another wave of doubt
Will it pull you under
You wonder

What if I’m overtaken
What if I never make it
What if no one’s there?
Will you hear my prayer?

When you take that first step
Into the unknown
You know that He won’t let you go

So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to hold to you

You know you’re made for more
So don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all
It takes and you can
Walk on the water too

So get out
And let
Your fear fall to the ground
No time to waste
Don’t wait
Don’t you turn around and miss out
Everything you were made for

I know you’re not sure
So you play it safe

Try to run away

If you take that first step
Into the unknown
He won’t let you go

Bridge:
(step out)
Even when a storm hits
(step out)
Even when you’re broken
(step out)
Even when your heart is telling you telling you to give up
(step out)
When your hope is stolen
(step out)
You can’t see where you’re going
You don’t have to be afraid

So what are you waiting,
What are you waiting for?

So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to hold to you

You know you’re made for more
So don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all
It takes and you can
Walk on the water…

Walk on the water too

http://www.brittnicole.com/

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“Lord, I Need a Breakthrough”

“Ba-al-p-‘ratzim, Lord of Breaking Through, I need You now more than ever.”

Today was one of those days where my brain felt like it was about to explode, along with my heart, as there have been lots of pent-up emotions inside of me.  Almost afraid to be around people, for fear of what might come out of me, I turned off my cell phone and car radio, and spent the next 10hrs driving through the mountains…not having a clue where I was going, or where I would end up.  But I knew I needed to be in the midst of God’s creation, and was hoping He would speak in the process. 

As best as I know how, I feel like I listen so closely to try and hear everything the Holy Spirit prompts me to do…whether it’s the seemingly small daily actions, or the major life decisions.  I seek the Lord with all my heart, but have found myself in a place where I am in desperate need of His direction and intervention.  I’ve been in this place for a long time, which has resulted in much frustration and confusion – just being honest.  I can very much relate to what I imagine Joseph thought while he was stuck in the pit and then in prison, “How much longer, Lord?  How long do I have to wait for change to come?  For all the promises I’ve believed You for to come to pass?  I’ve been as faithful to You as I know to be…so why the delay?” 

It wasn’t until I was almost back home tonight, after all those hours of driving, that God used the sky to deliver a message…literally it was as if the sky was giving me a visual of what’s in my heart.   While trying to watch the road and avoid causing an accident with the cars around me, I turned on my cell phone and started taking pictures of the clouds in front of me.  I think God placed them there just for my benefit.  There was a very large and ominous looking cloud attempting to hide the sun…yet I could clearly see an outline of the sun’s glow on the edges of the cloud.  Right away I heard the words “break through” – the sun was trying to break through that foreboding cloud so it (the sun) could fully display its glory.

After enough time had passed for me to get my pictures, I witnessed the sun breaking through that dark cloud…and when that happened, even with my sun glasses on and visor down, I still had to squint because the sun was so bright!  But one thing was certain, the light of the sun clearly illuminated the path in front of me.  There was no doubt which direction I was heading.  Interestingly enough, I also watched the dark cloud move very quickly away from the sun.  It was as if the cloud couldn’t stand to be near all that glory.

Then God made the personal application…  While there has been a dark cloud (not necessarily evil…God has likely been the One allowing this cloud to remain there for this season) attempting to block Him from fully breaking through in my life, His glory has still shone through – even if it’s just been the outer glow.  But soon – so soon it will seem to happen in just a moment, THE Son is going to break through in my life in a way that will send that dark cloud running.  There will be no more confusion, no more doubts as to the direction I am to pursue.  Nothing but the Son, shining clearly and powerfully, in a way that radiates His glory. 

I am so ready for the Son to break through.

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“Tish of Truth” #4 – “Run Towards Purity!”

“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts.  Instead, pursue righteous living…” (II Timothy 2:22a)

Have you ever been watching a show on tv, or looking at pictures in a magazine, and suddenly realized your mind had gone deep into the world of fantasy?  Have you found yourself drooling over that “hot” guy in the magazine, or putting yourself in the place of the girl in the movie…and carrying the romance scene farther and farther in your mind? 

In II Timothy, Paul makes it clear that in order to pursue a life of purity and “righteous (good, blameless) living,” we can’t just casually try to avoid those things that may cause us to trip along the way.  Rather, Paul says we must make the deliberate choice to “flee” or “run from” anything that could be a stumblingblock in our race.   This may include  certain types of pictures that we look at, movies and/or tv shows we watch, or music we listen to.  

You and I would be wise to heed Paul’s warning to RUN from anything that could lead us to impure thoughts and/or actions.  Actively pursuing a lifestyle of purity means making moment-by-moment decisions to think on, look at, and talk about things that are honoring and good.  Always ask yourself, “Does this activity draw me closer to or further away from the goal of pure thoughts and actions?”   Then be willing to “run from” anything that doesn’t meet that criteria. 

The result?  You’ll be free to run your race without the hindrances of mental images and thoughts that could trip you up along the way!  Freedom is a wonderful thing!!!

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