Romans 12 Snippet

I love verses 6-8 of Romans 12 : Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 

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There are a couple keys in there that stood out to me, the first one being about prophesying in proportion to our faith. It’s not hard to prophesy something like rain in Washington on a daily basis. It’s also not hard to prophesy people going to hell, or judgment over a nation or person. But how about salvation for our family? What kind of faith and courage does that take to declare that our families belong to the Kingdom of God, that our fathers, mothers, siblings, aunts, uncles, spouses–belong to Papa and are ALREADY in His Kingdom even if we don’t see that heart change immediately in the natural?That takes a TON of faith. And that’s the journey I’m on right now, where Papa is wooing me out and saying, “Hey, you’re extremely prophetic! Grab on to this great faith I’m giving you so you can prophesy proportionately!”

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The other thing that stood out to me in that passage is “He who gives, with liberality.” I heard a quote recently that said, “Generosity isn’t determined by how much you give, but by how much you keep.” It’s a reminder to me to be generous with liberality!! To consistently give as much as I can without being stingy with the leftovers. Plus, it’s tipping me off to pray for people who are liberally generous for Levi’s Kickstarter project. 🙂
That's my husband! :)
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The third thing: “He who leads, with diligence.” There are so many keys in those two little verses, and this one hit me pretty hard. As a leader in my home, my community, my church, and other spheres I’m involved in, it’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up on people, prayer burdens, or projects. This, along with “he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” is like God reminding me that He sees me where I am, for my weaknesses and my struggles as well as my gifts and strengths.

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What really encourages me is that He gives the exhortation and the command to supplement prophecy with faith, generosity with liberality, leadership with diligence, and mercy with cheerfulness. But along with the command comes the equipping. He would never give us a command without giving us the ability to fulfill it. So rather than looking at it as a demand to perform beyond my ability, it’s like He’s giving us new gifts to top off the ones we already have!

“You have prophecy? Here, have some more faith.”

“I see you are generous! Have some liberality to it.”

“You are a great leader–have some perseverance and diligence!”

“You are merciful, after My own heart–here is a gift of CHEERFULNESS!!”

I love it!

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God’s Will, or God’s Won’t?

Last Sunday, our pastor challenged us to ponder a question over the week.

The question at hand: Is everything that God allows to happen, His will?

First of all, my answer is a resolute no.

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I’ll break up the explanation for my answer in a few categories: death, healing, offenses, and free will.

Death
God has given us a good 80-some years to live our lives. Some people make it past 100. I personally believe that the only “Natural cause” for death should be having lived a full life and leaving this earth sometime between 80 and 100 years—not of cancer, pneumonia, injury, or any other disease or pain. I refuse to believe that God’s primary instruments for passing man from here to eternity are instruments of pain and destruction of body or mind.

Last year, I watched my grandma pace helplessly as her mother, hundreds of miles away in Texas, lay dying. My great-grandma Callaway had lived a full life in graciousness and extravagant generosity, yet now her strength, as well as her mind, was failing her. I don’t remember exactly what she had, but I think it was Alzheimer’s that was now sapping her mind of sanity.

Every day, my grandma called her sister in Texas, asking for a report. My heart broke as she absorbed the blow of news of her mother’s rapidly worsening condition. My great-grandmother was waking up in her hospital room disoriented and confused, often in tears as she tried to sort out what was happening to her. Once, the nurses found her huddled on the floor, clutching a teddy bear to her chest.

My grandma put up a wonderful charade of strength for our family over that Christmas and New Year’s Eve, though it was evident her mind was elsewhere. Her usually festive Christmas decorations were absent, and there was a stale atmosphere of false cheerfulness over the holiday. My dad, my aunt and uncle, my grandpa and I all did the best we could to support my grandma, but for the most part, words failed. What encouragement can you offer to someone whose parent is being robbed by disease?

My grandma, through her grief, resigned herself to believe that God must have decided it was time for her mother to pass into Heaven and this was His way of doing it. The injustice of this rubbed me very wrong. A year-old Christian at the time, I was offended in my heart at the idea that it was God’s will for my great-grandma to die this way. I was fine with thinking that her time was up on earth; but I refused to even consider that God intended for her to die in the pain and confusion the disease was causing her.

I don’t have a seminary degree, nor a lifetime of Bible studying beneath my belt. But what I had learned of the Godhead in my short time in His presence was that He is gracious, merciful, kind, loving, and the giver of all good gifts (James 1:5). And I knew that sickness, disease, and death were the fruit of the prince of this world (John 14:30). I also knew that Jesus had said it is not the Father’s will that any should perish, but that all should have everlasting life (Matthew 18:14).

This isn’t a dictionary definition by any means, but when I think of the word “perish,” I think of an early, unnatural death. I think of the grief left in the anticipation and wake of these deaths. The  actual dictionary definition of the word “perish” is ” To die or be destroyed, especially in a violent or untimely manner.” If we put this with 2 Peter 3:9, it says “But He bears patiently with you, His desire being that none should die or be destroyed in a violent or untimely manner, but that all should come to repentance” (emphasis added). As humans being mortal, we all die. Our spirits are eternal, but the houses they live in are “but a breath.”

If it was God’s will to inflict someone—to inflict a strong, faithful Christian—with a disease to kill them off, wouldn’t that be contradictory to His nature? The Bible says that God and satan cannot walk hand in hand, and throughout the Old Testament, God demonstrates His inability to even tolerate, much less partner with, sin.

In tears, I went to God. My spirit was in complete turmoil. “If what my grandma is saying is true,” I thought, “This changes everything I thought I knew about You.”

In Jeremiah 29:11, one of the most familiar Bible verses quoted and memorized by the Church, God says “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.” Why would a God with a plan for your life, for a future and a hope, will for you to die before you have that future? When He said that to Jeremiah, He was speaking it into eternity for all who accept it. Even Paul said, “For even if it was written in the Scriptures long ago, you can be sure it was meant for us.” (Romans 15:4)

This is not a conditional promise. This is for everyone. This is a proclamation that spans generations and denominations. We know that God has a plan for every single one of us.

When I was 16, a friend in my class overdosed and killed himself. When I was 18, a slew of students from North Thurston High School were killed in several auto accidents, all within the span of a week. I have known several women who have miscarried and lost their children—some of them lost their faith in those seasons also, because someone told them it was God’s will, or that they didn’t have enough faith to change the course of events that had happened.

My grandma on my mom’s side died in a house fire when my mom was 10 years old. Last week would have been my grandma’s 74th birthday. My mom struggled through the rest of her childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. An orphan in spirit and in the natural (my grandpa, her dad, was alive but absent throughout her life), my mom remains fractured and brokenhearted. I feel the void in her heart that only a mother or an act of God could fill.

You can’t tell me that it was God’s will for my grandma to be killed when my mother was a child. If God’s heart is to comfort orphans and restore them to wholeness, why would He create more of them by killing off more parents? It’s not His nature. Though God is bigger than circumstance and tragedy—He can and does use every terrible thing in our lives for His glory and our healing—He doesn’t need to create a setup of pain just so He can swoop in and save the day.

Can you imagine, if a superhero went around the city causing disasters just so He could come and rescue the citizens, put out the fires, and take the cats out of the trees? The citizens of the city would become his pawns, and his integrity as a hero and savior would be compromised.

On a less anecdotal and more Biblical note, let’s talk about dead raising. If everybody who died short of their 80-some years died of causes that were God’s will, then why was Jesus going around raising the dead? If Jesus went about during His years of ministry, healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons–all against God’s will–then He was the biggest rebel against His Father that history has ever witnessed!

Why would God give us the power, and Jesus give us the command, to raise the dead unless it isn’t God’s will that everyone die when they do? Even in the Old Testament, prophets raised people from the dead. Under Old Covenant, even without the instructions of Jesus Christ telling us to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons! And this was back in the day where if someone accessed or witnessed the glory of God outside of His will, they were killed—such as when when the Israelites were moving the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, and someone was killed because they reached out to steady it from falling.

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Along the same lines is the topic of Healing. We are instructed to lay hands on each other and pray for healing. We are given numerous promises throughout the New Testament that if we pray for something, it will be given. Jesus healed all the sick in Nazareth and in other cities He ministered in. How are we to do any less?

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My third point is on Offenses.

Sometimes, we pray for something to happen—or not to happen—and they happen anyway. Is it God’s will? Not always.

When I was 15, I had my first boyfriend. He was a Christian, but he was also a teenage boy in his first relationship. I was not a Christian, and I had so many issues with rejection and self-esteem that I was starving for any and all affection he would give me. I placed my desire to be loved above my values to stay pure and save myself until marriage. Our relationship quickly grew physical, and I fell more in “Love” with this boy the more we fooled around. Suddenly, he broke our relationship off, saying he had lost interest—when in fact the opposite was true; God had convicted him of our relationship being lust-oriented, and he was desperate for a way out before we lost our virginity entirely.

Heartbroken, I swore myself away from dating. A year later, God encountered me in my brokenness and I accepted Him as my father. Our relationship didn’t progress beyond that, and I did nothing more than write in a prayer journal and receive comfort from Him. I didn’t attend church and I refused to open my Bible. But I prayed.

A few months later, after my ex boyfriend and I rekindled a sincere, platonic friendship, he invited me over to his house for a few movies. He assured me that his parents would be there at the house. I was immediately afraid that something would happen if I went, but I was afraid of telling him no…so I said yes. While I waited for him to come pick me up from the house, I broke down before the Lord and I prayed that nothing would happen. I prayed that He would protect me and keep me safe, that He would give me the courage to say no, to leave the house, to get away from the situation if the boy tried to instigate anything. But at the end of my prayer, I made a promise: “Whatever happens, I will still love You.”

It turned out that his parents were not home after all. You can guess what happened. Violated and ashamed, and taking the blame completely for everything that had happened (after all, I hadn’t been able to reach my voice to tell him no; how could it not be my fault?), I told no one but my best friend for months. And I kept my promise to God. I still loved Him and I didn’t hold Him responsible for not answering my prayer. Though I was confused and didn’t understand why He would have allowed this to happen, I didn’t let my heart be offended. I needed Him too much.

Was it God’s will that I was humiliated in this way? What about all other rape victims? What about the girls and boys across the world who are stolen from their families and sold into slavery, trafficked across country and state borders, smuggled even into our own country? Is that God’s will? No.

Many people who call themselves atheists, agnostics, or polytheistic use the situations I have previously mentioned to spearhead their argument against God being gracious, sovereign, loving, and all the other qualities we know to be true about Him. A favorite target against God is the issue of world hunger and poverty, that there are hundreds of thousands of children dying due to starvation or no access to clean water. Then there’s the Holocaust, and the millions killed in wars throughout history. How do you explain those away?

To be sure, these are all questions that are meant to challenge our faith—and we should ask them! We are encouraged to ask the Holy Spirit all of our questions, and who better to ask than God Almighty, Omniscient, and Faithful? He is honest and true, and He is eager to answer our questions because if we are asking things of Him it means we are seeking His face. I would like to add as a sidenote, however, that there is a very distinct difference between seeking His face on an issue and demanding something of Him with arms crossed.

In Genesis, when God informs Abraham of His intentions to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham does not stand away from God, offended in his heart—nor does he slump his shoulders resolutely and state that all this is simply God’s will. Rather, he invites the discussion as fruit from intimacy with God. The Word says that Abraham came closer to the Lord: Abraham approached Him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? Suppose you find fifty righteous people living…” (Genesis 18:23) The discussion goes on for several verses, down until God promising that if He finds even one righteous man in the wicked cities, that He would not destroy them.

In Exodus, when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Wilderness to the Promised Land, the Israelites forgot God and began to worship idols crafted of gold. At one point, God in His anger says He will destroy the children of promise and start over with a line from Moses to inherit His blessing. Moses reminds the Lord of the promise He made to Abraham, and the Lord changes His mind.

God is moved by the supplications of a people seeking after His heart. He isn’t looking for people who know His law, for the law is not the language by which we relate to Him anymore. Now, we are free to come boldly into His presence by the blood of Jesus. Now, we are free to make our requests of Him just as Abraham and Moses did. Now, we can take events in which God allows disaster to happen, and implore that these things be reversed, or used for good and His glory.

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Free Will

Because of Jesus, the curse placed on humanity from the beginning has been finished, and man has been given the opportunity to start over with the original blessing: be fruitful and multiply, and take dominion over all creation. Man has been re-invited to co-create with God through declaration, the laying on of hands, dreaming, imagination, and simple prayer.

But these things are all active, and we must choose to do them. We have been given the world as our land to take care of and be stewards over. Through years of selfishness and sin, we have enslaved each other, killed each other, orphaned one another, and robbed each other. The world we see today is the result of this. Poverty, third world countries, extreme greed and imbalance of wealth, and an earth that is physically groaning with the efforts of holding back its cries to glorify the Lord and be consecrated back to its original design. Proverbs 9 says that the Lord designated the boundaries of the waters of the ocean, saying that it cannot cross beyond its shores.

The Japan tsunami of March 11th, 2011 is a direct rebellion of this Word. Not that we can blame a world that has remained cursed as the result of God’s children’s refusal to rise up and take dominion of what is rightfully ours and God’s.

The reality is that we are partners with God. Though He is Sovereign, the only way He could bring justice and righteousness and peace back into our world is if He were to either kill all who are unrighteous or rob us all of our free will. And because God is a God of relationship, to do either would be a contradiction to His nature.

Earlier, I mentioned the ordeal that happened with my ex boyfriend. Months after I had been hurt, I told my mom about it. I asked her why God had let it happen. She said that though I had prayed, the boy was still a human being with free will. If God were to have been sovereign in the situation, He would have had to compromise His nature by stealing this boy’s free will. He would have had to violate this boy to keep him from hurting me, which would have been no less wrong.

Through the years following, God has healed me of this offense. I have forgiven the boy for hurting me. My marriage has helped me heal from the scars left by rejection and being taken advantage of, and dispelled all lies that I deserved what happened to me.

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Not everything that happens is God’s will. Pastor Bill Johnson explains it this way: “God is always in charge, but not necessarily in control.” Please don’t take this to mean that God doesn’t have the power to control; He does. He is Sovereign. He could step in at any moment and take control of everything. But He doesn’t, and He won’t, because we have a role to play in all of this. God has relinquished control to us as stewards of the earth. One day, He will take His place as King of all, but for now it’s up to us.

So, World Changer. Yes, you. Reading this, right now. It’s up to us. Scary? Absolutely. Impossible? Oh yes. But with God, all things are possible. If He is for us (and He is!), who can stand against us? We have been invited to participate in the grandest commissioning in history! And we have the best partner, whose yoke is easy and burden is oh so light.

Be encouraged. Whatever you’re supposed to be doing, you’re doing it. Right here, right now. You are an instrument of His purposes here on earth, and you are extending Kingdom.

Psalm 139:3 – Calling, Anointing, Appointing

Psalm 139:3 – You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
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I love that God isn’t pinned to a location. Not only is He not contained within the church, but He’s not confined to my hometown, my hangouts, or my comfort zone. He is constantly moving! Among the first descriptions of God in Genesis is of constant motion:

Genesis 1:2 – The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

2 Chronicles 16:9 – The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

So God is a God of motion, and we are created in His image, with passion that drives us to go. Doesn’t it make sense that the mobile God moves with us as we move?
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Conversely, I don’t have to go anywhere in order for God to be with me, because He’s already there. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of going to church on Sunday or Wednesday night, to the point where we limit the depth of our experience and awareness of Him to the volume of the worship music. I know I struggle with this.

Some people get so zealous for the need in another region—such as Africa, Asia, Seattle—or for the measure of anointing somewhere else such as Bethel Church, that they lose sight of the harvest waiting for them in their own city.

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The reality is, where you are right now is where God wants you, and where you are working to sow seeds, water them, or harvest. There is work for you, right where you are. You are being used for the purposes of the Kingdom.

You, Saint Martins student living in the dorm with not even enough time to go to church; you, janitorial worker whose shifts begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 2 in the morning; you, mother of 5 whose front door revolves to adapt to the constant flow of traffic.

You are being used for the Kingdom, right where you are.

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I’m not saying to ignore the evangelistic call of God on your life.

As a prophetic evangelist, I get zealous for other regions and distant nations all the time, and I know a time is coming when I will answer the call to go out into the nations. But the timing isn’t mine to decide by any means.
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There are three important variables to God’s timing, according to Joyce Meyer: The call, the anointing, and the appointing.

I know I am called to public ministry. I am called to nations of war and poverty. I’m called to influence influencers, to break off regional and generational curses and encourage world leaders.

I am heavily anointed in the prophetic. I am anointed as a speaker and a writer, and the Lord has smeared a spirit of compassion over me so strongly that on a regular basis I am crippled by grief for someone’s pain or injustice. I once spent a good 20 minutes just weeping for prisoners of war who had undergone waterboarding.

Now, my appointment is right here where I’m at: Lacey, Washington. With my feet in Tumwater and Olympia and my hands in Federal Way and Tacoma, and my heart scattered in churches in between, my place is here. This is where I operate in my anointing, hone in on my calling, and take full advantage of the sphere I have been assigned.

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God is the same whether I’m commuting to school, sitting in class, or baking muffins in the kitchen at home. He sees me from the same perspective no matter where I’m at.

Revisiting the paradox I mentioned yesterday about the mountain and being able to see every one of its craggy, snow-capped surfaces, I would like to illustrate today’s psalm in a similar manner.

On my commute north every morning to school, I see Mount Rainier from varying distances, altitudes, and angles. My perspective of the mountain changes based on where I am positioned in relationship to it.

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Not so with Papa God. He sees me as I am, all of me, inside and out—with perfect clarity. All regardless of where I am, whether I’m pressing into Him at church, losing sight of Him in the mundane of sitting in lecture, or trying to hide from Him in light of a mistake I made.

Every time I look upon Him is like each breathtaking sunrise on the drive up to Federal Way—different, unique, and captivating. My beautiful multifaceted Father is vast enough that I can never grow tired of exploring Him.

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But what gets me is that every moment, He sees all of me. Nothing I do is a surprise, is even new to Him, yet He delights over me—every second of every day! He is happy with me, period. Nothing I could do would ever take away or add to that view.

What peace.

Psalm 139:2 – Don’t Think it, Just Drink It

Psalm 139:2 – You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.


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“Why would you take me back after all I’ve done to you? Why would you take me back after all I’ve strayed from you?”- Canopy Red, “Why Would You”

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Oh, Papa. Thank you for being near enough to my heart that you know me, and every part about me, even when I feel like I’m far away. Even when I miss the mark in my thinking or theology, you are still there, watching me oh so intently…

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He knows my every move. He knows what I’m going to do it, as I’m doing it, before I do it, and His hindsight is even better than mine in the aftermath!

Past the literal realm, this speaks to me in that He even sense my spiritual posture. He knows when I am about to collapse with weakness, and He knows when I’m all gung-ho, refreshed, and ready to go.  He doesn’t miss any unspoken cues, and He never turns His eye away long enough to have to rely on just hearing for me to fill Him in on how I’m doing. He’s right there. He’s present. He’s paying attention. 

This means so much to me, because my entire life, my relationship with my dad has been the exact opposite. He lived in another state for most of my life. We only filled each other in on our bi-monthly weekend visits and very scarce phone calls in between. Even now, my relationship with my dad is completely dependent on how up-to-date we keep each other. Since neither of us instigate fill-ins very often, we virtually stay strangers.

And now I have a Dad who stays close by, every single moment of every day, sending His goodness and mercy to chase after me, sending His spirit to rest upon me, and never leaving my side as I walk through the mountains and valleys of this life. What a beautiful exchange! 

Just like a really good friend, who can sense a change in your thoughts, your mood, your attitude, or what you’re about to say before you even say it, God is close enough and intimate enough with me that He knows how I’m poised without me even having to tell Him.  

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You know my thoughts, even when I am far away.

I love this. Just declaring and affirming His nearness brings so much reassurance.

How could a God so insurmountably big be so close to me all the time? It’s like looking at Mount Rainier in the distance and simultaneously knowing every square inch and detail of its surface and surroundings.

But that’s exactly how He is, isn’t it? Even when I feel like I’m far away from Him, or far away from being able to worship, pray, or just rest in Him, He still knows me. This is the most beautifully paradoxical relationship I have ever heard of; how could I be far from Him and He be close enough to me to still know my thoughts so intimately, at the same time? It’s mind-boggling.

Even when I feel like I’m far from His presence, He still knows my thoughts. He’s still going the 100% in our relationship. He’s still willing to do whatever it takes to get love across. And while I can never fathom the measures of this wild, reckless love, there’s also nothing I can do to escape from it.

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If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to forget that  God is close and present all the time. But Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of this world.”

I encourage you to join me in the challenge of declaring and believing that He knows us. That He knows our hearts, our positions, our place. He knows our posture. He knows if we’re tired and He knows if we’re ready for a challenge. He will never give us more than we can handle, and who better to know what we can handle than the One who knows us better than we know our own hearts?

We can’t afford to go by whether or not we feel His presence nearby. I fall into this routine so often of going off of what I feel and how I feel Him ministering to my heart in a moment or situation–or conversely, how I don’t feel Him.

I feel a freedom coming on. This freedom will release us from our dependence on feeling and loose us from the binds of basing the measure of His presence on our emotional capacity to feel Him. 

So here is my challenge to you:
Don’t think it–Just drink it.  You don’t have to feel it–just know it, chase it, and the feeling will follow.

I promise.

Psalm 139:1

Psalm 139:1 – O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

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What comfort. What peace. What joy! He has examined my heart, so I don’t have to—I can just examine His.
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I see Papa, perfect and tender, with a doctor’s coat thrown on over His robe. He kneels down and places a stethoscope to my heart, looking intently into my eyes. Then He gives me the stethoscope, and my eager toddler hands put the earpieces in, and hold the receiving end to His heart.

What a song! What a privilege! Gone are the days of holding the bulb of that stethoscope against my own heart, a frown of confusion and frustration painting my face downcast because I can’t interpret the rhythms of my own heart—or worse, because I think I can.
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He knows everything about me. There isn’t an angle of me He hasn’t investigated. Not one development has gone unforeseen. Every bump, every bruise, every particle of me has been examined. I can’t surprise Him—and yet I can delight Him!

“Your majesty gently washes over me.”
–Kari Jobe

He is so tender and so gracious and so merciful! That He reinforces His sovereignty by gently letting me know that He knows everything about me—and that when He reexamines my heart, the results aren’t death and judgment, but pleasure and affection!

It’s a tender but firm reminder that my mission isn’t to sift through my heart and scrutinize for impurity so I can yank it out—that’s His job. My mission is to romance Him in return. I am questing for His heart, for His face, to know everything about Him.
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My job isn’t to know myself inside and out; that’s a depressing pastime with finite fruit, and after so long of introspection I have discovered that I can’t dig any deeper, that I’ve turned over every stone in my heart there is to turn over.

But if I know His heart, which He has given to me, then I will know my heart. Because you become like that which is your treasure, your object of awe and affection and adoration.

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For He is the infinite adventure! There is no end to the pleasures of knowing His heart! He knows me. He sees me. Every part of me, even down to the cellular level. He knows everything about me, things that even the most knowledgeable surgeon or technician, even the wisest scholar, could never know!

Every  mystery that baffles our minds is simple and, simply, known by Him.

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I am overcome with affection.

“I love you so much,” I say.

Not as much as I love you, is the immediate reply.

The love of the Lord…wow. Astronomic. Titanic. Galactic. Mighty, extravagant love. Overwhelming. Talk about butterflies in the belly. 

Part II: Are you Hungry?

Click here for part 1.

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The enemy will try his hardest to make us believe that obedience will never be worth the sacrifice of favorable public opinion. He will try to cripple us into thinking that disciplining ourselves to God’s ways will make us weak.

This is exactly right. Welcome back to the inside-out, upside-down Kingdom principles.

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I’ll reiterate: The only way God can be made mighty in you is if you are made weak.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I blog about this passage a lot. Every topic I write on, it comes up and becomes more and more relevant to my life personally. It is truly alive for this season of spiritual growth, and is central to the gospel itself.

In our weakness, God is made stronger.

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In the world, when you train for an athletic event, you discipline yourself rigorously. You starve your body of excess things you don’t need–only what’s needed for nutrition and rebuilding is allowed in.

Exercising your body beyond yesterday’s limits creates microscopic tears in the muscle tissue; it is the repairing of these tears that allows for the muscle’s growth.

In the Kingdom, when we rigorously discipline our minds, we emphasize more time spent in our prayer closets. Our daily bread is the Word of God, and our water is prayer. Worship is our oxygen. We fast, depriving our flesh of indulgence, literally starving to death the part of us that is “me.”

Anything to make room for more of Him.

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You make time for what's important.

As we devote more and more time to feeding our spirit, we become aware of how much of our time before was spent on indulging our impulses and making excuses about how we “didn’t have time” to pray and read our Bibles.

In these times, we realize that all our excuses are silenced in the face of a stern but simple truth: You make time for what’s most important to you.

Proverbs 27:17 – One who is full will refuse honey from the comb, but to one who is hungry, every bitter thing is sweet.


This is one of the most crucial verses for revival. Pastor Bill mentions it often to the church as a whole, but I would like to grab hold of this on a deeply personal level. We  can’t have corporate, large-scale revivals unless we have individuals who are hungry.

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Hunger motivates.

When you’re hungry, living from simplicity and not out of gluttony and clutter, every little thing that comes your way is a special gift, something that feeds your spirit. Many times in theological discussions and kung-fu movies, the phrase “You can’t fill a glass that is already full” gets tossed around, and it’s very true.

How can we come to God and ask for Him to fill us up if we don’t take the time to empty ourselves and just get hungry?

Pastor Mark Venti from Generation Church illustrates prayer as the process of emptying ourselves of the world in God’s presence. It’s a spiritual cleanse that purges us of the junk food we eat in our everyday lives, the stuff that’s impossible to escape from, and allows us to be hungry for the good stuff: Him.

A year ago, when I was first really digging deep into the Christian walk, my spiritual father sat me and a few friends down to start watching a series by John Bevere. In the introduction, John contrasts physical hunger to spiritual hunger. He says that when your physical body becomes hungry, your stomach growls. Your blood sugar is low. Survival kicks in, and all you can think about is getting food into that belly to satisfy the hunger pains.

But when your spirit is hungry, it gets quiet. It withdraws.

Only when you begin to feed your spirit will it start marking noise. It’s a peculiar and unexpected aspect that capitalizes on the importance of paying attention to how we’re feeling. In a sense, it’s like we need to constantly monitor our spiritual heart rate, to come and do checkups on our spiritual health.

I believe that’s partly what church is for, though we ideally would be in a place where it’s a daily self-examination as well.

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Reader, I challenge you: Take some time to examine yourself. Are you hungry? What would you do for a word from Papa God, right now? What’s He saying?

One of the biggest symptoms that lets me know if I need to fill up my tank is if I don’t feel like getting close to Him. If I feel like I’m not poor in Spirit.

If I feel like I’m satisfied, I know there’s something wrong.
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God is big enough that it’s possible to never have all of Him. If I think I’ve spent too much time in worship or in the Word, or if I feel like there’s a more important priority, then I’m letting God be second. I realize that I’ve been eating the rich foods of the Babylonian king’s table without coming in hungry simplicity to eat from the Most High King’s table.

Without hunger to drive us, we risk the danger of slowing our pace to a trudge. Without hunger, we risk forgetting that our mission is to those who are starving.

Without hunger to motivate us, we forget why we are even running in the first place.

Philippians 3:14 – I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 

The Table in Enemy Territory

Psalm 23:5 – You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.

His understanding truly does exceed our comprehension. Somehow, He understands that the best things for us are waiting in the places we hesitate to enter, for we don’t feel welcome or comfortable there.

He prepares a table for me in the presence of depression. In the presence of self-loathing, of harsh criticism, of contempt. He sets up a  bounty of good gifts in the areas of my life where I am spooked away by the filth I see in my own heart.

And Daddy just calmly finished polishing a spoon for my place setting and says, “Come here, I’ve got something Good for you.”

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Victory is in the battlefield.

We often think of this verse as a spiteful, triumphant “Haha!” to satan and his minions. Like, “Ooh, yeah, the devil’s right there and God is gonna feast with me just to make him watch.”

The problem with that theology is that it removes all the affection from us and turns the story into a spiteful romance between God and the devil.

But it’s never been about the devil. This is not all one big conquest to capture satan’s attention and get him riled up with jealousy. It has nothing to do with the enemy.

It has everything to do with us.
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Let’s examine the motives of the  Father’s heart. Here is the psalmist, doing just that for all of Psalm 23 preceding this verse.

David begins the song by stating Whose he is, and thereby affirms his identity.

Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd. (Therefore) I shall not want.

Vine’s Dictionary defines “Want” as several words in the Greek meaning a number of things, such as “Lacking,” “Poverty,” “Need,” “Suffer,” and even “Failed.” Essentially, Psalm 23:1 means we will have no want that is a need that goes unfulfilled. If we have a need that is not met, there’s either something in the way on our side, or a mild delay on His side used to teach us something.

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Verse 2 of the 23rd Psalm describes the gentle authority of the Good Shepherd. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.” From the Father stems direction and instruction, a personal intimacy and closeness in which He shows us how He meets our needs, rather than just manna from Heaven.

It shows how much God desires relationship with us.

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Verses 3 and 4 talk about how the Good Shepherd instructs and renews His sheep, bringing protection through training and guiding–again, with intimacy.

David goes on to say in the latter portion of  verse 4 that the Shepherd’s rod and staff, instruments for guidance as well as disciplining and retrieving, are of comfort to the psalmist. David has found comfort in discipline only because he has grasped the concepts of the past four verses of this chapter.

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So we have established  Whose we are by affirming our Shepherd. We have acknowledged that we have every need met. We have become aware of God’s desire to accompany us intimately in every season. And with understanding and surrender to His character, we now welcome guidance and discipline.

Now, onto verse 5: You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.

Ephesians 6:12- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Our enemies are not carnal; our enemies are of spirit, of power, of argument and of principle. Our enemies are either (or both) internal or invisible. To find your greatest enemy, look into your heart–examine it, have someone examine it with you. What do you see that’s not so swell? Are there skeletons in the dark closets of your heart?
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 Ezekiel 37:1-10 – The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

   I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breathenter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
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Everywhere that is dry, everywhere that is fruitless, everywhere that is dark, God wants to invade. The places that you dread going back to, the memories that you  have locked in a dark corner in your heart–those are all seeds for personal revival. God isn’t into redundancy; He’s into restoration. And when He restores, it’s always, always better than it was before.

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