Asleep so innocent and pure,
I hope you never know
The ache of danger and despair.
Refusing to judge
Those who could not give you care.
Broken and wounded
In need of much repair.
What are the walls of Jerusalem made of?
How do they stand?
From everlasting to everlasting
Your name is strong in this land.
What are the walls of Jerusalem made of?
Are you awake and aware?
Men who have bent knee
Women who sacrifice and dare.
What are the walls of Jerusalem made of?
Will they prevail?
Mighty and vibrant are those
Your watchmen who travail.
What are the walls of Jerusalem made of?
Do you see? Do you care?
Tears and sweat poured out
In His suffering you surely share.
I’m standing on the wall of Jerusalem today.
Our future home, a Holy place.
Coming down out of heaven
As we seek His face.
A loud voice from the throne one day shall declare;
“God’s dwelling is come
Justice abides forever on earth.
Radiant light and peace from the eternal son.”
Orphan’s cry Broken heart Tossed aside Rejected All alone A burden To many Intended For much more His wounding My reward Sweet presence I’m restored Human hands Hold me now Safely still In His rest Set on course Marked by … Continue reading
I met with a good old friend today. She’s not old…we are just old friends. It was refreshing to be in one another’s presence. There was laughter, tears, admonishment, and prayer. We may not land on the exact same spot on every single issue, but we do have a deep love for one another and a desire to see each other running our race un-hindered. Jesus was in our midst and I think He was smiling. Yes…Jesus loves to see His body in action.
He shed His precious blood for this purpose.
“7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:1-10
What is God doing in this hour? One thing I believe is that He is teaching us what it looks like to be the fully functioning body and bride of Christ.
Personally, I am discovering more and more what this looks like. My heart is being enlarged for His body. He has been renewing my mind to see (hopefully) more clearly His heart for unity in the big “C” church.
In fact, this scripture is truly a mind bender in verse ten where it says, “To be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Jesus is going to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth! Wowzers..that is going to be beyond my imagination awesome and amazing!
I was talking to another friend recently about this issue and she said, “Heaven is really going to be a learning curve for some people.”
I’m certain that there will be a learning curve for all of us, but I’m trying to learn now to see the body the way He sees it.
You don’t need a PhD to recognize the body is diverse. Yes, there are many streams and they flow and function in unique ways. What Jesus is teaching me is that He is the head of the Church…and whether we like it or not we are stuck with one another for all of eternity. The more we learn to love one another here the less culture shock heaven will be.
The “poor reflection” we see now is not only how we see Christ, but I think also how we see one another. When we see “fully” in Heaven, our eyes will be opened to see each member of the body the way Jesus created them.
No more misunderstandings, competition, jealousy, or strife. Just pure love for one another.
I will look forward to that day. In the mean time I’m going to pray for open eyes to see others the way He sees them…..for His glory and for the building of His big “C” church.
I couldn’t help but notice these banners at the MSU Field House this past week during my son’s track practice.
Each banner marks championship won by an MSU individual or sports team. Some date way back. Every school has similar memorials serving as important reminders of their history and giving hope for future wins.
It got me thinking about the history of the Church. Curious about past spiritual battles that have been won, I wondered if there are banners in Heaven displaying those victories? It’s fun to imagine how they might be memorialized there. I’m confident Heaven keeps a record.
Some past spiritual victories have been very publicly documented. Like the ones we get to read about in scripture. God gave victories to Gideon, David, Moses, and others. I love reading the bible, digest it regularly, and am continually discovering God in it. I love the history that resides in its pages. I’m also keenly aware that the story of the Church, His Bride, is still being written.
Sometimes it’s difficult to remember the bigger picture that God has one team and all who are in Christ are on that team. Yes, we enter different buildings on Sunday mornings, but we are one in Him.
1 Corinthians 12:27
“27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Yup, that’s right. We are one body. God knew what He was doing when He made us one. Truly, a body functions best when all its parts are attached and operating in unity. Paul used an illustration by saying that the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” (vs.21) Paul makes his point.
Competition in sports is what makes watching entertaining. Competition in the Church is like watching your right hand try to compete against your left. It is pointless and distracts from the main goal. We are on the same team.
All believers who live and breathe on the planet today are wearing the same jersey. We are joined with those who have gone before us and the believer who lives on the other side of the earth. Their victories are our victories. Your win is my win.
The way I see it, we will be spending A LOT of time together in the near future celebrating each win for the team. For all of eternity we will worship the ONE who won the victory we share in Him.
I might get to watch some of the super bowl on Sunday. I’ll pick a team and root for them. One team will win and one will lose. We will drift off to sleep a little fuller and hopefully well entertained.
Another day is coming when we will stand before our Lord and give an account for how well we fought together for what He paid for. Did we honor or argue? Did we compare or prefer? Were we proud or humble?
I’m thinking the way to win is to take the low road of humility, pray our guts out for God to divinely move in the Earth, and to LOVE one another….like Jesus commanded. On this planet we won’t physically all worship together under one roof, but we can be together in spirit and oneness, celebrating each win as a win for the team.
I asked my good friend and mentor Barb Smith to share some of her story about making the choice to have an abortion when she was 15. My prayer is that there will be hope and healing in this for many.
Thank you for your blog on October 30th, 2012. I appreciate the value that you place on life. I certainly am not educated or well versed in the political ponderings of the pro-life or pro-choice agendas, but I understand the strong pull on both sides. My purpose in responding is not to stir up controversy. Rather, to offer a look at my experience and possibly help someone making their own decision with the life growing inside of them.
I was 15 years old in 1973 and felt very grown up. It is funny how I felt like I was in control of my whole world, but I didn’t even have a driver’s license. I was also pregnant with a child I didn’t know, and didn’t want.
Like most 15 year olds, I sought the counsel of my closest friends. Most of my friends had already had abortions; so of course, this was the logical solution to my problem. It was so easy. They told me who to call. They told me where to go. They told me how to lie. I was only 15, so I had to tell the clinic that I was 16. It was already past the 3 month cut off, so I had to tell them that I was not that far along. I had to tell them that it would be a problem if my parents found out, and that would put me in danger. None of these where true, I simply had to jump through a few hoops to get what I wanted.
My sister found out what I was planning on doing. She found a pay phone in the middle of the Sierra NevadaMountains during a backpack trip to call me, trying to persuade me not to go through with it. She told me it was not my child, that it was God’s, and I didn’t have any right to end a life. I refused to acknowledge that this group of cells in my body was a child so I would have none of that argument. It was mine, not God’s. It was in my body, and I had the ultimate say in whether it lived or died. Strange isn’t it, how if it is not alive, that you have to kill it to get rid of it…
Stranger still was the fact that my boyfriend wanted me to keep this baby. Really, how could a guy who smoked too much pot and worked at a gas station, provide for me and my child? That was a no-brainer for me, even at 15. I didn’t want to marry him and spend the rest of my life struggling. I was unwilling to even consider the option. He was older than me and begged me with tears not to “kill his child.” Yet, I was unyielding in my decision to have an abortion. I made him drive me to a clinic in Los Angeles and wait for me as I underwent the procedure. He cried the whole way home.
I didn’t cry – not once. I wasn’t sorry – at all. I was sure I had made the right decision – for me. Other options were never on the table; this was my only option, and it was my choice. It was a choice, right?
Eventually, I married and had two more children. I love my family dearly and enjoyed my pregnancies immensely. Every month, I would follow each child’s development in my womb with great joy, anticipating the day that I would meet the children who were formed out of the love my husband and I shared. It would have been horrendous for anyone to tell me that the children in my womb were just a clump of cells. I knew, from the moment of conception, that these children were alive and loved.
Now, here is my conflict. I always thought I was a good person. I grew up Catholic and went to Catechism and Parochial schools, and I certainly knew the Ten Commandments. However, these things were not enough to hold me steady. I made a lot of very poor decisions in my life; most of which I was able to justify by saying to myself, “Well, at least I haven’t killed anyone.” Crazy. Cause… I did. I committed premeditated murder. Yup, I was a murderer and I was in denial – big time.
But God! That is one of my favorite sayings. But God…. He wouldn’t leave me in denial. He is all consuming. God doesn’t bend the truth to make it more palatable. He took away every excuse, every justification, and every rationalization that I was using to protect my own heart. He wanted to be the protector of my heart. He loved me until I could actually look at the truth with my eyes wide open. I was a murderer. The standard I had set for myself had to come down. I could no longer find security in that measuring stick, that lie.
The funny thing was, I didn’t feel condemned. I felt loved. When I was willing to “call a spade a spade,” and see my sin through His eyes, I felt the power of the love of God wash me clean. I didn’t have to pretend to be a good person. He made me one. He made me new.
Our perspective and God’s are sometimes worlds apart from each other. Our minds say, “There is no way I can do this.” He says, “I’ll back you up. I know you can.” Gideon’s story in Judges chapter six is the perfect example. God asked Gideon to do the impossible. “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
I can’t think of a time where I felt God was asking me to do something I felt qualified for. Most of the time my response has been the same as Gideon, “Pardon me, my Lord…how can I….?” That included campus ministry, leading mission trips, bold evangelism, overseeing a counseling ministry, and then pioneering a women’s conference ministry. Last May at our Unearthing Destinies conference He again asked me for something that I did not see coming. He asked me, “How would you like to do this every week?” “What do you mean?” I questioned. “Plant a church” He answered.
I am living proof that God is not looking for the naturally qualified. He is looking for those who are willing to volunteer and say, “Yes” no matter the cost. This next step feels bigger to me than anything else thus far, but at the same time I have a great peace. I know that if Jesus is asking me to plant a church, then He will back me up in it. It might even be fun. If heaven is not burdened, nervous, or afraid, then I don’t need to be either. In fact, I believe that God is joyful, full of hope, and ready to move in a mighty way as we agree to align with His heavenly plan.
In 2011 during a lunch break at a women’s conference a wonderful woman on the ministry team prayed for me. As she placed her hand on me she began to say over and over, “It’s easy….it’s easy….it’s easy.” The spirit of the Lord came upon me in a powerful way. I actually laid down on the ground under the heaviness of His presence as this revelation was imparted. There is no strain or worry or fear in heaven. Everything is easy. I’m learning to partner with God because when I fully depend on Him, it is indeed easy.
This past week I attended a Global Awakening conference on healing. I think sometimes we complicate the supernatural. We see a healing minister on a platform and separate ourselves from them. The simple truth of the gospel is that each one of us is commissioned to do the greater works that Jesus said we would do. The difficult part is taking the risk, the easy part follows when God answers our faith with the miraculous.
Knowing that God is going to back us up is half the battle. It gives us confidence to step out and obey. Gideon received requested confirmation and great supernatural assurance that God would be with him. In the natural it was an impossible task, but are those not the only kind God calls His people to perform? If it was easy in the natural we might get bored and find entertainment somewhere else. Life in the kingdom is a constant experience of adventure.
There are great principles in the story of Gideon. He asked for confirmation more than one time, and God answered his request. When the Lord spoke to me about planting a church, I thought I might be crazy or hearing voices. The first thing I did was ask for confirmation. Within a week, someone who didn’t know from me what God had spoken, boldly said, “God is calling you to plant a church.” It was the exact confirmation I had asked for.
I love that God uses ordinary people. He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He uses a tiny army of bold men to defeat a much larger army of more equipped warriors. This is our God. He is the God of the impossible.
Is there something God has asked you to do that feels impossible? Remember today that He will be faithful to confirm the call, and back you up in every battle you face. He is the God of the impossible. What looks difficult to us is easy for God. He will confirm His word to you as you take a risk and obey His voice. From heaven’s perspective it’s easy.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis
I’m a Christian. I don’t believe any one is born a Christian. A person must choose to become a Christ follower. Memories of my life before I was following Jesus remind me to be thankful for the gift of His presence I now experience. I’ve done nothing to deserve His love and forgiveness. I’ve simply chosen to accept the gift He offers. I believe someday I will leave this earth and be with my savior for all of eternity. He has given me so much and to live for Him seems a very small thank you. I could never repay Him for what He has done; dying in my place so that I can have everlasting life and a joy filled one on earth until then.
One thing I love about my America is that each person has a right to their own opinions and beliefs. My political beliefs are derived from my own value system. That’s true for everyone….from the President to the homeless person living on the street. Our values shape the way each one of us thinks. There are Christians on both sides of the political system because they are embracing the party they feel best represents their Christ centered beliefs. This current Presidential election is one of the most interesting ones I’ve observed in my lifetime. The two candidates are opposite of one another on almost every issue. It makes deciding who to vote for pretty easy if you are passionate about the issues that they are supporting.
I’m relieved that no matter what the outcome of this election is, Jesus will still be on the throne. I do believe that it’s vitally important that we pray for our leaders and for those who will become our leaders. We must pray for God to ordain men and women who will carry Righteousness and Justice in their hearts. After all…those two things are the very foundation of God’s throne. The Facebook profile lists “Political Views” and in that space I wrote: “Heaven’s Justice….He will make all things new.“ This election, or any election for that matter, is not about which party I support, but instead about the need to have leaders in place who will make decisions which support Righteousness and Justice. I feel that each one of us is responsible to prayerfully consider what this might mean for our nation’s future.
This year there are many issues on the table, jobs and the economy, heath care, foreign threats, the placement of new Supreme Court Justices, and on and on. It isn’t always easy to prioritize what deserves the most importance. One look at the Declaration of Independence helps cut through the blur. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life is listed first and I agree. Of all the pressing things facing America today the issue of Life has to be the most important.
God’s love is wherever there is a spark of life. His love is for the little girl with Down’s syndrome, the sick elderly woman, and the young boy sold into sexual slavery. God has spoken to Christians and we are responsible to see that widows and orphans are cared for, the hungry are fed, and the prisoner remembered. We cry together as we see examples of life gone unprotected on the news, such as an abducted child who is abused and killed. The world is not always a pretty place, but God’s love is bigger. And that love extends to the unborn child, growing in the womb, wanting nothing more than the chance to live.
We all agree what happened to the Jews during WWII was wrong. It was horrific and causes us to ask how could human beings be capable of such evil? They were flesh and blood people just like us. How were they able to carry out a holocaust & still sleep at night? In their minds they were doing something they thought that was justified. The really believed that they were right, but Righteousness and Justice show that they were really…really wrong. They had believed a lie that they thought was true, and that means they were deceived. At some point the blinders came off and the world was in shock that such an evil had been allowed to happen.
God loves life. He created life. He has said in His word that we are not to extinguish life. Yet a great deception continues on the earth today. The numbers exceed many of the great tragedies of the past and continue to climb each day. 40,000,000 Americans will not vote in this election because they were not given the choice to live.
Isaiah 32:1-4 says,
“See, a king will reign in righteousness
and rulers will rule with justice.
2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.
4 The fearful heart will know and understand,
and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.
5 No longer will the fool be called noble
nor the scoundrel be highly respected.”
Please pray with me for this election. Pray that even now eyes will be opened, an awakening will begin, and that righteousness and justice will prevail.
Week 14…..Self Thoughts
“…it is time to soberly ask an eternally weighty question:
Does God have an opinion about my self-thoughts?” (Alicia Chole in the 7th year)
I’ve been pretty comfortable so far with the 7Th year journey. Writing out various aspects of my life story on a time line and exploring my God-concept has been revealing, insightful, and growth enhancing.
I’ve been finding more balance with my time and learning to better care for my soul. Week 14’s assignment, however, was more of a stretch, and perhaps that is why it’s taken me nearly the entire summer to write this post—that, and the reality of camp management being a 24/7 job. Our camp season officially ends in mid-October, at which time I hope to return to more regular blog updates.
The benefit of not posting all summer was that I had several weeks to consider the assignment for week 14: Simply take note of what I say to myself, about myself. What I’ve realized is that I actually don’t say a whole lot to myself . . . my mind is full of the tasks before me, problem-solving those tasks, and prayer. I do think that this exercise helped me to uncover some things that I have come to realize about myself.
This is what I discovered:
1) I had a hard time thinking about how to script this post for fear that having a healthy and positive view of myself might be too difficult for my readers to relate to.
2) I obviously care too much about what others might think if I can’t just be flat-out honest in the first place.
3) I became more aware of God’s love for me this summer and I feel more loved by Him than I ever have in my entire life.
4) I’m not sure whether or not I actually talk to myself much at all.
5) I realized that I whine when I am too tired.
6) I’m learning to overcome this weakness.
7) I’m growing to be more patient with my kids.
8) I love quiet time, and being in God’s presence.
9) I love justice, and I’m growing in my ability to confront injustice with humility, love, and truth.
10) I do not cave easily to despair—I maintain hope even when things don’t appear to be hopeful.
11) I’m learning to be more dependent on the voice of the Lord, and less dependent on my own wisdom.
12) I’m learning more about what I like and what I don’t like. For example, after 20 years of marriage and 4 children, I finally admitted to myself that I don’t like to cook.
13) I’m perfectly OK with this discovery and have started paying a good friend to prepare a few meals a week for my family. (Actually, it’s costing less than when I cook! It’s a win-win!)
14) I’m growing in my appreciation for true, authentic, organic relationships.
15) I feel like the Lord has been preparing me all summer for future ministry steps. I have a much greater vision for seeing His kingdom become “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
16) I completely believe that He has chosen me as one of the “foolish” who is and will confound the wise.
17) I am thrilled to be a part of what I believe is a soon-approaching revival. It’s like the air is filled with expectancy for many who are going to be saved, healed, and delivered.
18) I’m choosing to line up with what God says and feels about me; this is necessary in order for me to fulfill the destiny and plan He has for my life.
If peace and quiet were kept in a bank account, mine might be running in the red. Over time the realization of how much my soul longs for stillness has grown. The constant clatter and activity of four children causes me to feel beset at times in our smallish home. Two of my children still follow me around like little ducklings where ever I go. I’m learning that if I don’t have enough quiet time I become impatient and cranky. Finding the balance is difficult. On the one hand I’m concerned about becoming selfish and potentially neglecting my family. On the other hand I’m learning the importance of taking care of my soul. Quiet is to my soul like water is to a plant. When my soul gets watered, I can be a better wife, mom, minister, and friend. When I don’t have any quiet I get grumpy, short tempered, and overwhelmed.
This past spring was one of those seasons in which I experienced little peace or quiet. In February, March, and May we hosted four Unearthing Destinies events. My husband was back at the camp we manage (getting it ready to open for the summer season) and I was basically a single parent. Five days before our May conference I became sick with a high temperature and remained in bed until the day the conference started. Thankfully Greg was at home and took care of the kids while I watched more movies in a few days than I had seen all year.
I also downloaded a few of my favorite podcasts. One in particular was titled, “Healing and Wholeness” by Kirs Vallotton. Hearing a good truth at an inopportune time hits like a great insight….but hearing wisdom for the situation you are currently facing penetrates deeply and may even stick for a lifetime. This particular message is one I will not easily forget.
Kris was sharing about how he studied the 27 miracles that Jesus performed. Understanding that Jesus can heal with a word, he studied those miracles and asked this question, “If Jesus did more than heal with a word, what did He do and why?” What Kris began to understand is that Jesus was not only concerned with physical heath, but in many situations He required actions that were healing for the individual’s soul.
A huge light bulb came on for me and I realized that I had been moving at high speed for weeks rarely stopping to take a breath. I had been neglecting something that was important, valuable, and created by God. I had neglected my very soul.
The second verse of 3ed John says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
God is speaking to me about the importance of Soul health. I’ve heard a lot of teaching about the need to be led by the Spirit but very little about the importance of the Soul. In fact I’ve even heard some teaching that the Soul should be ignored and that a healthy Spirit is the only thing that matters. If God created our Soul, it should not be ignored, but cared for. He has commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. My eyes are being opened to realize that if my Soul is not loved well, I won’t be able to love others well.
This post is being written during a writers’ retreat I’m hosting at our camp. My soul is soaking in the fresh air, brief walks by the river ALONE, and quiet time to think, pray, and write. Creating more space for reflection in my life was something that drew me to the 7th year. I knew it was something I needed, but even after beginning this journey, I continued to press past the warning lights. Instead of occasionally putting my foot on the brake I kept the pedal to the medal for several weeks. At times I would hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, “Slow down, sit down, take a break, and watch a movie or something”. Unfortunately, I tuned Him out and ran full speed ahead until my head hit the pillow at night. I became sleep deprived, exhausted, and irritable.
Those days I spent sick in bed were a warning light that read, “check soul soon”.
Alicia asks in week 13, “When we are self-leading instead of waiting (behavior), what do we really believe about God’s goodness?”
Running 100 miles an hour barely stopping to breathe is a clear reflection of a weakness in my God concept. Taking breaks to rest and replenish reveals a heart that trusts in God to complete what is humanly impossible. I pushed and pushed myself trying to take care of everyone’s needs while neglecting my own. This kind of behavior at the root is not selfless but actually self exalting idolatry. God clearly mandates rest in scripture knowing that in our weakness we would try to accomplish work in our own strength. Looking at my actions alone, I can see I was trying to be God instead of allowing God to be God. Those few days in bed turned into a merciful gift, allowing me to readjust and repent.
This writers retreat has provided a space in time for me to replenish. I’m making mental lists of how I can better take care of my soul. Perhaps if I were to write my own version of Psalm 23 it would sound something like this:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me go skiing with friends, worship beside a rushing river, sets me in a quiet meadow where I can reflect on His word. He restores my soul. He reveals Himself through stories, movies, and everyday activity for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through a valley of noise and disruption, I will not fear exhaustion, for you are with me; your presence and stillness are available any moment in time. Your table of intimacy and joy is set before me in the midst of a busy schedule. Your anointing is readily accessible, more than my cup can hold. Your goodness and love follow me all the days of my life, and I shall continually hunger and thirst for more.