Triage

Some say it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe that’s true,

but all villages include thieves and liars and fools.

Whether we like it or not, each makes an imprint the child carries with him always.

So what our children really need is a triage team that prays;

some who see the yearnings, and some who see the fears,

some who battle the enemy, and others who know the tears

the child has cried, alone in the night,

as well as his greatest delights.

Every day brings another load of emergencies to prioritize, stabilize,

and heal from the inside out.

It takes a triage team, waiting nearby, standing in the gap,

knowing when and what to pray about

to raise a child who’s always protected,

knows s/he is loved, now by us,

and eternally by God.

Amen and amen.

Magnify

Old people connected by family ties

to a young virgin girl,

not only a virgin in body,

but surely innocent of the ways of the world.

 

Old Zacharias did what he knew to be right

and served his Lord but that

shred of doubt made him

deaf and dumb, unable to tell even

Elizabeth the wonderful news

or hear her joy and delight.

 

Like Zacharias, Mary could not believe

the marvelous truth at first,

but God did not need to shut

her mouth or ears; she and

Elizabeth both pondered

these things in their hearts.

 

The Holy Spirit so sweetly and

powerfully at work in this

time and place to birth

the only way back

to the God of the world.

 

Old Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth,

the young peasant girl Mary,

and the babies who would

herald and fulfill the dawn of

salvation; every soul ever born now

able if willing to magnify the Lord

through His Son Jesus Christ.

Amen and amen.

(From Luke 1:5-80, NKJV)

Hope Over Heroin (hope over any addiction)

At New Life Church of God in Benton, IL, we are partnering with Hope Over Heroin. The big event will happen in August 2019. Look for much more information to come.

As in Ezekiel’s vision, recorded in chapter 37, we can no longer walk anywhere in this land without stumbling over the dry bones of the lives thrown away in search of more and more poison to fuel the disease of addiction. Our land is scattered with the shells of people whose lives are sucked dry of all hope of any existence outside their prison of addiction. People who used to live and laugh, who used to go to school and work, who used to love others and enjoy life now lay scattered across our land, able only to ceaselessly crawl toward the black hole of death that is addiction.

But, just as Ezekiel saw the valley of dry bones come to life, we too will see the broken, fragmented, buried lives lost to addiction come up out of the graves. God knows how to cause His breath, the very substance of His Holy Spirit, to enter into these dry bones: “Hear the word of the Lord” and live! “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live!” Ezekiel 37:4-5.

God also knows the step-by-step process it will take to restore the fractured, fragmented, useless shells of addicts back into living, breathing, loving, growing people. God is bringing His Holy Spirit from the four winds to “breathe on these slain, that they may live.” Ezekiel 37:9.  Once people are delivered from addiction, the toughest work begins. Long after they arise from their graves, they will continue to say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off.” Ezekiel 37:11. So, through the power and might of the Holy Spirit, those set free will have to be convinced, over and over, that they can live and love and be happy, valuable members of our communities again.

We who partner with Hope Over Heroin to battle against addiction must be willing to walk alongside the restored for as long as it takes for God to convince them that He truly loves them and has a plan for them, until they know that the Lord opened their graves and brought them up out of the darkness simply because He loves them. Therefore, we commit to praying and seeing them through so that they will know that God has put His Spirit in them and placed them in their own land to live and breathe again. Ezekiel 37:13-14.

Amen and amen.

A Pure Language

“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.” Zephaniah 3:9

Yesterday evening, a friend at church asked me to explain to another friend how I had received the Holy Spirit’s gift of tongues. This is where many readers will roll their eyes and be tempted to stop reading. Years ago, I too would have thought, “Oh no! She’s getting into that weirdo stuff only holy rollers believe in.” Well, I challenge you to continue reading; of course I am a holy roller–washed in the blood of Jesus and so crazy in love with Him that I can’t help but sing His praises every chance I get. You certainly should stop reading if you do not want overflowing joy that sustains you in the valleys and sometimes lifts you up to soar like an eagle.h

But my friend was hungry to hear how the Holy Spirit gave me this precious gift. Here is how it happened:

Until I was in my late 50’s, I didn’t know anything about this gift and thought it was a hoax, just another gimmick to get some old fashioned church goers lathered up so they could show off.  Then I began attending New Life Church of God in Benton, where it was common for people to speak in tongues during the service. But there was no show or production, just a quiet reverance from the congregation and almost always an interpretation in English from another worshiper. I came to realize that the Holy Spirit was palpably present in those moments, like He had wrapped us all in a warm, soft comforter, holding us in His loving arms.

When I read chapter 3 of Zephaniah, my heart almost leaped out of my chest at the promise that God Himself planned to restore to all believers “a pure language,” one that allows “all” of us to “call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.” (verse 9) Then, I read what this means to God:

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with          singing.” Zephaniah 3:17.

Then I understood. My simple openess to this gift of the Holy Spirit would give my Father in heaven cause to rejoice over me with gladness.  As I opened my mouth, willing to allow the Holy Spirit to undertake speaking to God Himself in a language so pure I could not understand it with my mind but only with my heart, I was simply submitting to God’s sovereignty in a new, miraculous, unfathomable way. God delights so much in our participation with the Holy Spirit that He rejoices over us with singing every time we allow His pure language to come forth. To me, this realization melts my heart, causing my pride and fear to wash away.

I spent quite a bit of time alone with God, allowing His word to grow deeply in me, before I was able to let go of control over my vocal chords enough to allow the Holy Spirit to undertake for me. I was not in church with others but alone, at home, during my sweetest time of the day, my morning meetings with God, where He shows me who He is through His word. When I finally let go of control and sincerely asked the Holy Spirit to undertake for me, He spoke through this amazed old lady with unknown words spilling out in a waterfall of diamonds and rubies and topaz light. That light then burst forth in my spirit, burning down the walls of resistance I had erected, thinking I needed to keep parts of my life only for me and away from God. As those walls came crashing down, the light washed me clean and free as never before. I knew I was changed forever, that right down to my DNA, I was truly a new creation.

Now, although I still struggle because I live in a fallen world where the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), I now have the constant assurance that I don’t have to rely on only the words I can think up in my own limited mind. The fact that I don’t know how to pray as I ought (Romans 8:26) no longer hampers my prayers. Now I have access to that pure language that delights my Father in heaven, and the prayers of my heart are transformed into the song of my Father.

So this tesimony is first for my friend. She knows who she is. And it is for anyone wanting more and more of God. May God Himself enlighten the eyes of your heart.