Ours is a hungry world. Hunger is not a negative, hunger is a necessity for without hunger we would not eat and without eating we would not live. Yes, there are those in our world who lack nourishment and sustenance and are hungry for even one wholesome meal a day. But there is another hunger that is common to us all – the hunger of our souls. The hunger to know we will be fed, cared for, sustained and enabled to flourish. The longing to know we belong in time and space, to Someone. To know that our desires are legitimate or, if not legitimate, able to be healed and made right by Someone greater than ourselves. A hunger that aches for purpose, meaning.
We are in the week of Passover. A time to remember, a time to reflect, a time to make sure we are ‘under the blood’ of the One slain so the death angel will pass over our lives. A time to rejoice in the keeping, delivering power of God. A time to feast on Living Bread and Healing Wine, His body and His blood given for us. A time to be hungry and to be fed. To fan the flame of our hunger for God. To feast on the nourishment of the Lamb that was slain and celebrate His saving blood.
These past months Jim and I have taken communion together on a daily basis. We have done it because we sensed the Lord encouraging us to do so. In taking those few moments each morning to remember Him, what He has done and what we are therefore able to do through Him, our faith and our courage have been made stronger. Each day as we stop and thank Him for the price He paid for our freedom, we are aware of yet another dimension of who He is and our soul hunger is satisfied – until the next hour or next day or next moment when we once again hunger for Him. In the natural we eat and then get hungry again: it is the same in a healthy spiritual life. The more we know Him, the more we ‘consume’ His word and enjoy His presence each day, the more our spirit and soul appetite for righteousness is expanded and awakened. The more we long to taste and see and know that He is good.
There is another joyful ‘discipline’ I’ve been enjoying lately. I put ‘discipline’ in brackets intentionally, because we tend to think of discipline as punishment, that which must be endured in pain. My meaning is not that but rather, the art of being a disciple of Jesus. One who sits at His feet and learns, one who develops a routine that causes me to hunger more and more for Him. This discipline I’m employing is singing the scriptures. As I sing to Him this ‘new song’ I learn so much about Him and myself! I am so encouraged to listen for heaven’s truth as I sing out that which I didn’t know my heart held. For instance, Psalm 23 has been the main scripture that comes to mind as I sing to Him. We are all familiar with this passage and I thought I was, until I heard myself singing:
‘You prepare for me a table filled with all I need.
My soul is fed and I am served
Where my enemy can see.
He with empty soul and cold heart
Must watch as I am fed.
I am healed, empowered, restored as by
Still waters I am led.’
And another time:
‘The Lord has prepared a feast for me
and my enemies must stand and watch me as I sit and feast.
They are starving, dying for lack of blood, lack of bread
While I flourish and feast on Him.
My weakened enemy has faltered and is falling, falling down’.
It isn’t about rhythm and rhyme but rather, about what He wants us to know that our deep soul is already aware of. I sing over Ireland, I sing over America, I sing over so many things and in it all He feeds me with truth that HE is able. HE is near. HE has offered all His sheep need to eat and be fully filled, while our enemies are weakened as they hunger without the Truth that sustains and gives life.
In this Holy Week, I invite you to join with me in taking communion in the quiet privacy of your home. Give space and time for Him to speak to you deeper truths than what you have known. Sing His word over yourself, family, neighborhood, nation. Feast on His presence and be filled. Then, like the Hebrew nation of old, walk out of your slavery and into the freedom of being a daughter, a son. And celebrate! Day Three is here, and He is risen, indeed.
Beside Still Waters
Within this blog is a prophetic utterance for Ireland. Psalm 23 is the shepherd’s psalm, and in the natural yours is a land known for sheep and shepherds. The time is NOW for you to be nourished, Ireland, for the deep longing of your souls as individuals and as a nation, to be met. As you pause to seek His face in these critical days He is hearing and has heard your cry for that which nourishes and sustains not only yourselves but the next generations. Feast with Him – the table is prepared for you. Be hungry –feast on Him and become hungrier still until you see yourself sitting at His banqueting table under His banner of love, as your enemies perish and fall. This is your moment. Day Three is here, dear Flourishing Land. Live!
It’s time to stand up and be counted. To come out of what we’ve hidden behind and say, “Here am I, Lord. Choose me!” Times are not just changing – the times have changed. Dutch Sheets says we are not just in a new season but a new era. We’ve all lived through many season changes and for the most part know how to navigate them, but this is something new in our generation. Therefore each of us is needed as the Lord calls up the army of God to stay focused and endure; trains the athletes with integrity and equips the farmers to bring in the harvest of souls quickly ripening in the fields around us. (see 2 Timothy 2). Every “I” who loves God and is part of His family is needed to raise a hand in worship and shout, “AYE!” Frankly, if we want to keep step with the One with Whom we walk, we don’t have a choice but to go beyond what is comfortable and known.
Uncertainty brings a measure of insecurity. I have the honor of speaking with a number of people from various backgrounds and nations. Each one has their own definition of what comfort and security looks and feels like just as each has their own understanding of what it means to walk with God. Isn’t that beautiful and one true expression of diversity? All have one thing in common: we don’t know what is happening in the world and therefore are unsure how to navigate once we say our ‘aye’ to God. I wish I knew and had all the answers: I do not. What I do know is that this life, this invitation to walk victoriously with Him into the unknown is one of the gifts He gives. I know He is good no matter what the newscast tells me is happening or how my heart may be breaking over something I cannot control.
A few weeks ago Jim and I came to Florida so he can help build a house for one of our nieces. Despite cool and rainy weather I have spent hours walking the beach, listening for Him. Looking for Him. Waiting on Him to speak in a way I can hear as to what this new era holds for us: at least for a hint of how to walk forward into it. He has spoken loud and clear at times, but for the most part I am finding, three weeks in, that my inner self knows things I didn’t know before; is settled in places that were unsettled in the past era. After a few days I sat down and made this list of what He was working in me as I walk. What follows is that list that came from my deep heart. I suspect some will identify with parts of it while others will catch hold of something else. That’s good. I’m not as interested in you knowing what I think as I am hopeful that my quickly scratched notes bring you a wider vision of this era, as well as courage to deal with the emotions, thoughts and uncertainties of your own heart.
An Uncertain Season in a New Era of Time
Not about comfort! Be prepared to be uncomfortable. Out of routine, rhythm, place, space, time. My security is in Him alone.
My language must shift from “If You are truly good….” to, “Because you are truly good…”. One word in a sentence that changes it from doubt and accusation to faith and worship. One word that makes a huge, important difference in my prayer life.
The incongruity of traffic and waves. The house we are staying in is across the street from the sea. We must look over one to see the other, tune out the man-made noise to hear the real, the persistent, pursuing voice of God. Like the waves He speaks, He woos, He calls and pursues our heart.
Find beauty in the broken. Seashells aplenty, very few perfect to the eye. Much of the beauty is found inside the brokenness.
Decades of prayer have brought us to a time of hidden things being revealed. Much that has looked good on the outside is being broken open to reveal what has been hidden. Beauty that is of His making will be celebrated in the months ahead: that which is evil will meet with justice.
Twenty years ago we came home from Asia talking about human trafficking – many thought we were crazy; how did we make up something like this? Now the awareness is commonplace though the depth of it in our own nation is still largely ignored. Out of the depths of darkness the Lord is bringing much to light that will shock those who have been unaware in their days of slumber. May we have answers and solutions to the questions about to be asked by many.
Walking the beach I noticed how deep and pronounced are the footsteps of those who walk barefoot. In fact, the impression of their feet is made larger by the impact in the sand so it looks like Bigfoot himself has been cruising the beach. Tennis shoes leave a mark more true to size. This morning I wore a pair of water shoes I borrowed from my daughter. They seemed to skim the surface of the sand and I realized it would be difficult to trace my steps though I walked a long way. In this new era those who ask will be given new shoes, an upgraded ability to walk in peace and leave little to no trace except that which imprints hope and peace into the souls of the confused and frightened who didn’t see or expect what is coming. What is, in fact, here. The years ahead will be glorious for His children: how I want to be ready!
Aware of many thoughts not my own. Thoughts of impending doom or disaster. Ugly, perverse thoughts. Things I never think or even think about thinking, therefore I know they are not my own but I am picking them up in the atmosphere of this place. I rebuke them, repent for any moments I accepted or agreed with them, receive forgiveness for that agreement, ask for any door in my own life open to these things to be closed, ask for angelic assistance and help. Remind myself and the powers of the air that I am covered and protected by the blood of Jesus, once again remember I have been given the mind of Christ and the helmet of salvation protects my mind. Purposefully think on things above, things that are good and pure. Worship and pray in the Spirit.
An old song runs through my mind as I walk: “Take me past the outer courts into the Holy Place, past the brazen altar: Lord, I want to see Your face. Take my by the crowds of people and the priests who sing Your praise: I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness and it’s only found one place. Take me in to the Holy of Holies, take me in by the blood of the Lamb. Take me in to the Holy of Holies. Take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am.”
The past two years found us running as fast as we could. Moving, trying new ministry expressions, pushing ahead all while doing our best to keep up with events that happened to and around us. It seemed like something over here always needed attention and something over there needed doing. List making became a moot point as more than once I found myself making lists of my lists. Sometimes we’d work and serve and do and give until it felt like we had nothing left and when we slowed down guilt was waiting in the silence to remind us what we had not done. What a ridiculous way to live! In fact, it’s not really living, at all. I know you know what I’m talking about! I’m blogging this today hoping it will help someone head into this holiday and new year season with joy and lightness of heart, not overwhelmed and exhausted.
When we moved into our new-to-us house in August, I was both grateful and uncertain when my new ‘work orders’ were – rest. Oh, good grief. I’ve blogged on rest, taught on rest and worked hard to get to rest but to know my only assignment was to rest left me unsure of what to ‘do’. That’s the point. I’m as guilty as the next person of ‘doing’ at the expense of ‘be-ing’, so was unsure how to stop the madness in order to just be.
I’ve learned a lot these past couple of months about myself and what I expect of me. About the Lord and what HE expects of me. I have learned that slowing down after years of running hard is not easy. For one thing, the body responds in strange ways. I had a headache, then felt like a cold was coming on. I was so tired and hadn’t realized, when in the midst of the madness, that my weariness was not just physical. My emotions were tired as was my mind. Stopping was more challenging than I’d ever have believed, especially because what I did not do was lie on the couch and watch television. I did not quit all the groups to which I am committed, though I did pull back a bit and not attend every meeting every time. I didn’t turn off the internet (tempting!) or become a hermit. Here is what I did do:
I recalibrated my heart to hear what the Lord was saying. Now I hear Him more clearly than I have in a long while. I don’t think He’s speaking louder: I’ve moved to be closer to Him. I readjusted my vision – my way of looking at things – so I could see things more from heaven’s perspective. I spent hours listening and not much time talking. I didn’t write at all but did read, especially the Bible. If I want to know The Word, Jesus, I need to know The Word that is written that gives testimony of Him. I prayed – a lot – mostly silently, just me and Jesus, having a chat about the condition of my heart far more than the condition of the planet. I worshipped, most often in silence. I went to the Every Home for Christ building and when it was nice weather I sat outside in the grass by the pond and pondered the life of the geese who live there. On cold, rainy days (and often on the sunny ones, too), I went inside and sat silently in their worship room, allowing the Presence of Holy Spirit to wash over me again and again.
I made a conscious effort to engage with friends and family. Relationships require tending if they are to stay vibrant and healthy. Our earthly relationships as well as our connection with the Lord require time and engagement. I don’t want to lose touch with people – or with my Lord, so I intentionally made time to be sure our heart connections are strong. There was much going on during my ‘rest’ time – and I did it all on my knees.
Oh, not literally, of course. But my heart, my soul, every part of me was enabled to become still and quiet and humble and I felt like I was living life on my knees as that was the posture of my heart. I didn’t blog, work on any manuscripts or do any public speaking, so in the natural it seemed like I was doing nothing. In fact, I was running fast and hard and a great distance in the Spirit- and I did it all on my knees. I think this is one dimension of becoming, once again, like a little child. Our granddaughter, Ella, is six and runs cross-country. She has to be encouraged to push hard to win as she just loves to run and enjoys the race!
As we enter this Thanksgiving week here in the States I can feel my season changing. Ideas are flowing; the anointing is, too. I’m energized and realize I am acutely aware of the movement of God in and around me. I have more dreams than one person needs and actually have the emotional, physical and spiritual energy to begin pursuing some of them. All this happened because I obeyed when Father said, ‘rest’, and I took time to know what that meant for me in this season. Out of rest and staying childlike, that is, ‘on my knees’ in humble obedience, fresh, new life is erupting!
My prayer, my hope, my desire for you is that whether you are in a ‘go!’ season or a season of quietness, that you encounter the reality of His nearness that is greater than any you have known. I realize not many people get the gift of two months to slow down and gain momentum, but we can all make time in our lives for more of Him. I pray you take time – even 20 minutes a day or an increase of ten minutes in what you already do – to listen, to sing, to worship and read the Word and BE. That you Love Yourself to Life by getting on your knees and staying there until He says it is time to rise. Pulling back and gaining new perspective, may you, too, run the race of life with passion and gusto as together we disciple nations and proclaim His goodness – on our knees.
One week from today, October 31, is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. That is the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in Wittenberg, Germany and the Reformation began. Many new things were born that day, but my focus today is the fact that following this the Bible was written in common language so everyday people can read it for themselves. Because we’ve never been without access to copies of the Bible I doubt we can fully appreciate the gift we have been given. Translations now abound and are as close as one’s cell phone if you simply download an app. We’ve come a long way in 500 years.
Or have we? Perhaps the saying, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is sometimes applicable in our lives concerning the Bible. The tendency is to either not read it because we don’t understand it or not read it because we’ve read it before. Both are clever deceptions to keep us from reading it at all!
This week I invite you to join me in READING THE BIBLE ALOUD EACH DAY. From now until Reformation Day, October 31, choose a portion of scripture and read it out loud. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God, so expect your faith level to rise as you hear your own voice read the Book that is living and active. You may want to choose familiar passages that comfort you, or perhaps read from a book you’ve not read for a long time, if ever. Either way, the spoken expression of God’s word will bless both your heart and His. And if you read it like you mean it, you will begin to believe it.
Imagine if churches encouraged their people to do this during this week! Whether large groups or a few here and there begin to read the Word aloud this week, imagine what God will hear! From the earth, a fragrant offering of His own thoughts and words read back to Him in worship. Will you join me? I think each one who does will end the week amazed at how much more we love the Father and the Word as Holy Spirit brings it to life in us, by faith. And how much more we will also Love Ourselves to Life as we express words of life with our mouths! Let’s get going! Reformation is coming, again.
Our updated website is up and running. If you haven’t seen it I encourage you to do so, at www.bespokeninternational.com. It will continue to expand and grow so check back now and then!
When you visit the site you’ll see on the home page a link for ‘One of a Million’, which is a call to pray for America. Today, as this blog is posted, RISE UP 2017 is being held in Washington, D.C. www.thecall.com
This follows four days of prayer for our nation on the mall, www.awakenthedawn.org. Did you know this was happening? Each of our 50 states had a tent of worship and for these days representatives – just regular people like you and me – fasted sleep and food and comfort to worship and pray for a new Jesus movement. I watched parts of it online and it was powerful.
This Wednesday I plan to begin a prayer meeting in my home in which we will pray for this nation. In the past Jim and I have held many prayer meetings to pray for other nations and I’m sure we will again. However, this time the focus is the United States. Included in this invitation are some ideas of how to host such a meeting. Mine will be held from 9-10 am (not 8-9 as stated due to morning traffic). There is a beginning date and an end date, which keeps it do-able for many of us. Now and then I’ll send a short note of ideas to keep your prayer times focused and fresh.
I encourage you to go to the website and if you will, sign up! This isn’t for any other reason than to let us know others are joining in and frankly, to encourage us. Find a time and way that works for you and let us pray for God’s grace and mercy on our land. After all, for as much as we know Jesus loved Martha, the do-er, For Love Of Martha, He will always and ever stand up for and defend those who go the extra mile to express their extravagant love and worship. We see that both with Mary the sister of Martha and Mary who poured out her gift of oil as worship.
Prayer for a nation, for the souls of women and men. Prayer for His kingdom to come, for hearts to be open and for the gospel to fall on hearts that are good, prepared soil. It is time and it is a wonderful way to Love Yourself and Others, To Life. Join in and be One of a Million