“You Better Soak That”

As we wait at the feet of Jesus, as we are still in his presence, as we listen in our prayer closets – we are “soaking” in the very present environment of a life giving, life changing, life speaking Holy Spirit that loves to speak. In this place we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

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Today words that I have spoken probably a hundred times in my lifetime – “You better soak that” – jumped out at me as a source of pondering.

To soak something means that it becomes saturated for a purpose. We soak a grim covered pan, a stained piece of cloth, and even a dried up pot of soil. The purpose is to change it – remove the grim, the stain or, in the case of soil to till it – prepare it for something new to take root.

In the Christian church culture the word “soak” has run its course of the “in thing” – but in reality it is where we are changed. As we wait at the feet of Jesus, as we are still in his presence, as we listen in our prayer closets – we are “soaking” in the very present environment of a life giving, life changing, life speaking Holy Spirit that loves to speak. In this place we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

Our busy lives find it difficult to slow down and take that time to be still but if we don’t, we live in a constant spin of chaos. Peace comes from that quiet place of trusting our Jesus.   It is during these times that we allow our grim and stains to be removed and our dried up soil to be saturated and tilled; then we are ready to receive something new that will take root and bloom in our lives.

Take time to “soak” – sit, be still, listen and receive – you will be amazed how his presence will refresh you, give you strength for the day ahead, and transform all areas of your life.

Ps. 46:10a “ Be still, and know that I am God.” (ESV)
Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

One Missing Piece

Jesus came to make us whole-to bind up the places that are frayed, broken and missing. He gave us-free of charge-the missing piece.

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 I love puzzles, and several times a year (usually during winter or a nasty cold bug) I binge on them. Inevitable to this process is the end result of “one missing piece”. With two little dachshunds at my feet, getting to the completion of a puzzle without having lost one to their love of eating cardboard paper is almost unheard of. However, I still love the process and have learned to enjoy the picture that has presented itself. But, there is just something disheartening when I see that one gaping hole.

 As I look at my recent creation with its one missing piece I am struck by the thought that our lives are often like this puzzle. Pieces are fit together and begin to create a beautiful picture that represents our journey in this life. Each section of the puzzle shows our life’s endeavors – our relationships, our jobs, our adventures. But that picture will never be complete with the empty space that begins to loom. That one missing piece is what holds the whole picture together. You can look at its overall beauty but that gaping hole is obvious, and you can’t fix it by yourself. But, it is fixable, for we have been given a solution.

 Jesus came to make us whole – to bind up the places that are frayed, broken and missing. He gave us – free of charge – the missing piece. The piece that completes our lives, that makes us whole, that brings all those other pieces in our lives together into one beautiful picture. That picture is one of a life lived in abundance that was given to us from the hand of a loving Heavenly Father. We just need to reach out and pick up that offered piece from the nail-scarred hand of Jesus.

If you find your puzzle missing that one piece – simply say YES and pick it up.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
John 10:10-11  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (ESV)

 

 

Two Faithful Caterpillars

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The unexpected loss of two friends yesterday stirred an emotional fitful sleep but as I finally rested in the peace of Christ, I dreamed,  and from that dream I found comfort in it’s analogy. So here I share it with you my friends,  as you too, walk the path set before you – it’s joys and it’s tears.  

    I dreamed last night of two beautiful fuzzy caterpillars. I watched them faithfully plod along the path set before them. They traversed the wet thick grass and the stony hot ground; they climbed straight up the slippery leaves, and triumphantly crawled over barriers of debris. Always moving up and over the most difficult of terrain, always moving forward – side by side, without hesitation on this journey of life. Then, as the sun rose on one “set apart” morning they woke to a “suddenly” in their short lives.

     Today there would be no pushing forward.   Today the journey had changed. The sun’s warmth, shining upon them, stirred something within as they rose slowly on the gentle breathe of a breeze. Together, they looked below at the path they had traveled. It looked so different from above. That journey – that yesterday life, had been so full of wonder as they had fully lived each new day,  but in an instant it was new. They now had been transformed – from a caterpillar to a butterfly. A transformation that now allowed them to rise high above; to walk into a new eternal home where the caterpillar journey of short duration would now be used for an eternal purpose as a butterfly.

     We too, will someday be transformed from this life to a more glorious eternal one. We know not when or how that will come to pass, but in faith, we daily walk out our journey – plodding along the path set before us, traversing the thick, hot, slippery terrain we call life. We live each new day fully, and in faith we slowly, faithfully move forward toward the ultimate prize – our own “suddenly” where in that one moment the sun will warm us and we will rise on the breeze – to look below at what no longer will matter. For in that instant, our eternal journey will have begun.

A Day of Miraculous Multiplication

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     With anticipation I unlocked the door to the auditorium. Last night a large crew of “little elves” and I had prepared for what looked to be our most successful year for our Holiday Helps program. The food boxes were overflowing, the oversized chest freezer was cram-packed with turkeys, the toy tables were stacked high and we still had a closet full of extras. Plus in the center of the room stood a 6-foot-tall mountain of donated clothes in every size possible waiting for those who would partake in this year’s “blessing”.

     Every family was scheduled, so there was plenty of time for mom, dad or grandparent to shop “free of charge” for Christmas gifts and the ability to load up leaf-bags full of clothes for each child in their family. Each would also go home with a holiday box brimming full of food, complete with a turkey. The love and hours of preparation for this project began way back at the end of August, and today was the day!!

     The doors opened and the morning began as I had planned, with each appreciative parent that was scheduled appearing as if on queue. But schedules are meant to be broken when it comes to God-appointed appointments, and mid-morning unscheduled people began to show up, each with broken lives and humble stories. I could not say no – I knew HE had sent them and was asking me to believe! Today was a day to stand in faith, and not turn any away, trusting in His ability to provide.

     The anticipation of something miraculous was stirring and seemed to crackle in the room.

   The door rattled as the wind blasted it shut and a timid young woman walked in. I was drawn to her hopeless stance and approached her. She hung her head and looked up at me, “I heard you might help me. I have twin 3-year- old girls and I have nothing for them. I don’t have an appointment, but if I could just get some clothes?” I was overwhelmed with her humility and reached out to hug her, “we have plenty, let’s shop for them”, I encouraged. For the next hour, with tears spilling from both of us, we found toys and clothes that were just perfect for her twins. How perfect was the miracle that waited.

     We sat on the floor digging through the mountain of clothes. We sorted, and resorted, looking for the correct size. Then with great joy the young mom pulled out a beautiful, brand new Christmas dress the exact size for one of her daughters. But slowly that smile began to change. I watched the smile slowly go out of her eyes as she realized, “but which one do I give this to?” “Let’s keep looking, maybe there is another pretty dress” I spoke with more faith then I felt, and within my mind I quickly sent up a request for God’s hand to provide. As I saw her shake her head in hopelessness I declared, “Let’s just take a minute and ask for one”. The shock was obvious – she didn’t have a concept of a Father God who would hear her – much less provide for her – but she humbly conceded as I sent up a quick prayer. Off we went in search of more clothes for her girls; by now she was on one side and I on the other of our mountain of clothes. Suddenly, I heard a gasp and a shriek, which catapulted me around the pile to her side as she sat dazed – laughing and crying, with the matching dress in the same size, for her other daughter, clutched to her chest. That day changed that mother’s life – she saw very clearly that she has a Father God, who does care, hear and provide in twin-size ways.

     But the day wasn’t over yet, and as the hours passed on, more unexpected families appeared needing our help. I knew the answer was to be YES for each of them; the schedule no longer mattered.

     Nearing 3:00 I began to count those who were still scheduled, and realized that we had only packed food boxes for those who had been scheduled. The number of turkeys had also been prepared for according to those numbers. My concern now was growing – we would not have enough! Two of my teen helpers were realizing the dilemma as well, and asked me what we were going to do. Again – my response – “Lets ask God to provide”. So that we did, and then I sent them off to count the turkeys, knowing how many we still needed.

     Hearing excitement over by the freezer, I approached to find both girls, with eyes as large as saucers chattering and now quickly proclaimed how many were left – the exact number of turkeys that were needed for the last group of families coming. It made no sense – in fact, I had to go look and re-count! But there they were just as they had said, on the bottom of the freezer.

   Over the next 2 hours, appointments came and unscheduled families still filtered in – and now I knew we were going to run out; but we gave and gave and gave, and yet the food boxes and turkeys NEVER ran out. As the doors closed and all was finished, one of my volunteers and I lifted the lid of the freezer to find one turkey still there. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she revealed her need to me. That turkey was there for her and her family, as well.

     It makes NO sense, but miracles never do – “whys” will never be answered, but it is enough to know that when we believe – when we say YES and when we love – HE shows up in miraculous ways of multiplication.

A Muddy Mess

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This time of year brings a lot of rain to the Pacific Northwest and along with it comes mud! My long-haired dachshund loves to help in the yard and if my hands come into contact with dirt he believes I have given him automatic free reign to dive in too. His 2-inch legs quickly dig a hole that engulfs him head to tail. His passion and love for digging at this time of year brings about a soggy muddy, yet ecstatic wiggly mess.

     So what does that have to do with the spiritual?

 We are rather the same. Our passions and desires can quickly find us covered in mud, even those that are good, profitable and enjoyable.   If we allow those passions to run ahead of God’s plan for our lives we can quickly feel overwhelmed, frustrated and well, rather muddy. We have become distracted from what He desires for our life.

If your passions and desires run you into that place where peace has disappeared – stop – step back – refocus at the feet of Jesus. Don’t keep digging in the mud.

Just as a warm soapy bath awaits my little muddy buddy sometimes we too need a quick cleansing. That is easily found when we look back to the cross of Christ and wait in His presence. Suddenly all the mud is washed away and peace reigns. We enjoy the bubbles and abide in a promised place of rest as we trust His leading not our own.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Training For Battle

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     This week was full of military training maneuvers that made themselves known in my home. Hour after hour the floor shook, my dishes rattled and my anxious dachshunds barked – and more then once did my own gasp escape and heart rate jump. But, today I was pondering the natural and spiritual of the training process; the training is necessary in both arenas.

     Training for battle is required for a positive outcome!

   In the natural, our military must be prepared at all times, willing and ready to obey a call in an instant as well as prepared for the job at hand. Each has a place to strategically move to and work from. Without training maneuvers the ability to instantly produce a needed outcome would not occur.

     In the spiritual it is similar. We are encouraged to be ready in season and out, to put on the armor of God, to keep alert and be watchful for the enemy’s tactics. The difference? We are not to fight under another mans armor, to fight on our own behalf, to even use our own words in the warfare. BUT – to know that the battle’s outcome belongs to the Lord. We are to stand, stand firm in faith! We are to pray in the spirit at all times – not using our own words to accomplish the battle but knowing HIS words will deliver.  Our aim in all areas of the conflict is to bring restoration and peace – and this aim must come from a place of love.

     The battle is not our own but HIS!

      HOWEVER – we must fight!

     We fight against the spiritual forces that surround, infiltrate and overcome our minds, our environment, our physical bodies and our daily lives. So how do we do that? It is all about being trained and ready for battle – knowing the place to move to and work from at the right time, and that training is found as we wait in HIS presence. When we are trained for battle the outcome is one of victory!

And the Walls Come Down!

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     Walls are meant to protect, to keep out or to keep in.

 But unbeknownst to us we find that outside forces have placed walls around us. Walls that set limitations on who we are – such as physical or mental illnesses, financial barriers, broken toxic relationships, and even environmental constraints; these are walls that must be broken down to allow freedom in our lives.

The story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a great example for us to consider. Joshua knew Jericho was promised territory but with thick tightly shut walls there was no way in. They had natural options just like we have – battle through with all the weapons and strength available, negotiate and manipulate to make a deal that allows a win or to listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.

Here, for Joshua and for us lies the rub! To run ahead and do all that is naturally possible makes the most sense – for isn’t that what makes a strong independent people?

The hardest thing to do is to choose to believe what you cannot do or see! Having faith in God – stopping your own striving, working, and trying – it is not easy but it is the only way that HE can come in and show himself strong on your behalf.

And the Walls Come Down!

 Joshua and all of Israel chose to listen and obey – to do what didn’t make sense. They were to quietly walk around the city once a day for 6 days then on the 7th day walk around it 7 times and at the sound of the trumpet shout and rejoice that GOD was delivering the city into their hands. Now remember, they did these things before they saw those walls start to shack, crumble and fall down – they rejoiced BEFORE – for they knew a God that was faithful to His promises. That sound, the sound of rejoicing erupting from them was the key! We too, can listen and obey – and as we rejoice BEFORE we see results the shaking is occurring in the heavenly’s .

And the Walls Come Down!

Freedom can be found! The walls that have blocked you in – limiting you in that which God has chosen for you to do must come down.

The lies of the enemy of your soul can be set back! As you accept and stand up with the authority that you have been given as a child of the King of Kings, a believer in all that the blood of Christ purchased for you, you too can listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.

And the Walls Come Down!

Rejoicing BEFORE you see the outcome because HE is faithful, because He is a good father and because He is always for you – that is where freedom begins, that is where the battle is won, that is where peace in all circumstances begins!

     Only then do you look and find that the miraculous has occurred.

And the Walls Come Down!