Stand up!

Ezekiel of the Old Testament heard directly from God and receieved many incredible revelations. At the beginning of his journey with God, he encountered the glory of the Lord, which overwhelmed him. He fell on his face, literally lying face down in awe of God’s magnificence. Ezekiel 1:26-2:1. This seems like a reasonable response to a personal encounter with the living Creator of the whole universe.

But God did not want Ezekiel to remain prostrate before Him. God told Ezekiel to “stand” on his feet for God to speak to him. Ezekiel 2:1. Ezekiel tells us: “Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me.” Ezekiel 2:2.

In the New Testament, in Hebrews 4:16, Paul tells us to “come boldly to the throne of grace,” where God’s glory shines brightest. As with all commands in the Bible, there is also a promise; when we come boldly to God’s throne, recognizing that He alone is sovereign, then “we obtain mercy and find grace in time of need.”

What this tells me is that when God has an assignment for us, or when we come to Him asking for help, we are not to cower or allow His magnificence to sidetrack us from the task at hand.  We are to stand on the legs He’s given us, to come as close to eye to eye as mortal to immortal can, and listen for His instructons so we can get after it. Or if we come to convey a need to Him, whether for ourselves or for others, we are to do so without reservation, unapologetically, frankly, using plain, everyday language, stating our case as openly and fully as we can.

It is Jesus who gives us the confidence and authority to enter God’s throne room to talk to our Father and listen to His instructions. After all, Jesus “lives to make intercession for us.” Hebrews 7:25. The word “intercession” in Greek, tunchano, means to meet with another to converse with him, but it also conveys a sense of pleading on behalf of another. So Jesus, who now stands at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55), is there as our Savior, and stands with us as we receive instructions from God and tell Him our needs.

Since we are also comanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), that has to mean that our Creator and Almighty Father is vitally interested in everything that concerns us, from the smallest to the most overwhelmingly huge. Through Jesus, God has plans for us that we are to stand up and take note of. It is our solemn responsibility here on earth to bring all of our needs for ourselves and others boldly before His throne of grace, and while there, listen attentively for His instructions.

Amen and amen.

Deliverance 101

Many of our worst habits begin from a good intention. One of my worst habits, overeating, began when I was a small child.  I loved to eat, that pleased my Mom, who loved to cook, and it made me happy.  But when I got older, in my rebellious teenage years, I added other habits that I thought at the time were harmless-drinking, smoking pot, partying.  At the time, I was interested only in myself.  I thought of God as my Creator but intended for Him to stay on the sidelines of my life while I did as I pleased.  Surely whatever I did would be okay.

By the time I got to college, my once innocuous overeating for pleasure morphed into a full blown eating disorder. Now overeating had become an obsession. I controlled the beast as best I could with strict dieting, only for the old habits to creep out unnoticed, causing me to binge-eat disgustingly huge quantities of food and then purge.  Over and over. I had developed bulimia and felt like I had no power to control it.

Through willpower, I forced myself to stop this destructive cycle after I got married and was pregnant with my first child.  I had read enough to know the physical risks to myself and my child.  Through the love God placed in my heart for my unborn child, I was able to stop the binge and purge cycle.  But willpower only took me a short distance along the path to recovery.  I still suffered from obsessive overeating. I constantly felt intense physical hunger, even after I had just eaten a large meal. I knew there was more going on than any diet plan could address.

It was not until I was much older that I began to learn about God’s deliverance plans through my church (New Life Church of God, Benton, IL; http://www.nlcg.org). You see, all addictions, including my addiction to overeating, stem from the most basic choices we make–choosing good or evil. We each know in our hearts what pleases God. We also know the opposite, what satisfies our rebellious nature and God’s enemy, the devil. Just as God is triune–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–we too are triune beings created in His image. We are body, soul, and spirit. To be entirely free from any true addiction, we must address it in all three aspects–body, soul and spirit. Otherwise, it will inevitably rear its ugly head, wreaking havoc again and again. Fighting that battle on only one or two fronts leaves us weak and exhausted.

Addictions often begin from a good, completely innocent desire, but can be and too often are warped by the enemy. I now realize that the eating disorder that plagued me was not only a physical and emotional problem but also a spiritual problem. The need to eat to nourish my body and the God-given pleasure of enjoying good-tasting food with my loved ones was perverted into an eating disorder because I allowed the devil into my life. For me, this happened in a physical way when I chose to ingest marijuana.  I knew my choice was wrong, not only because it was illegal but more so, my conscience knew it was wrong to seek oblivion instead of joy. But I wanted to go my own way without listening to anyone, God or parents, who I thought might cramp my style. God created this world to give us that free will, to choose what we know in our hearts pleases Him, or to choose what we also know in our hearts displeases Him because it honors the devil.

Physically, the eating disorder began when I started smoking pot. I am not a scientist, so I won’t even attempt to fully explain the science, but getting high on marijuana triggered hunger receptors in my body, giving me the “munchies,” making me feel like I was ravenously hungry regardless of any real physical hunger. For me, and probably for many others too, long after I stopped smoking pot, those receptors were left on. On my own, I could not turn them off. Hence, the obsessive overeating. My repeated attempts, often succesfully, to eat smaller portions worked. I lost weight and felt great, only to begin obsessively overeating again. It was a depressing, seemingly never-ending cycle of overeating, gaining weight, dieting, losing weight, and then beginning the cycle again.

It was not until I began to learn about spiritual deliverance that I began to see that self-discipline and eating plans could only address the physical and emotional aspects of what had become a disease with three aspects–physical, emotional, and spiritual.  It was not until I finally came to God for His complete and total deliverance that I received the victory He had intended for me all along. I still love food and still choose to overeat at times. But the uncontrollable obession to overeat is gone, for no other reason than that my Father in heaven loves me and wants me to be free. When I came to Him to confess that I had done what I knew in my heart to be wrong and asked His forgiveness in Jesus’ name, He forgave me. When I truly in my heart renounced all ties to those wrong choices, God delivered me and removed the spiritual forces that had bound me for so long.  I have no words to describe the joy and relief that flooded my heart when God Almighty set me free.

He can and will do the same for you if you are willing. The process is the same regardless of the addiction. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, greed, or… you name it… , God has a plan to deliver you and set you free. Please contact me if you have questions about this. This article just barely scratches the surface of God’s plan for deliverance.

“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies…. He delivered me from my enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.” Psalm 18:3, 17.

Don’t Get Run Over

The idea of worshipping a wooden statue seems foreign to many in this modern world. Of course that carved image is just a lifeless object with no power in itself to protect us. That makes it easy for us to dismiss the constant warnings in the Bible to not worship false idols. God rightly describes these carved or molded images as false, futile, lifeless, and powerless. In our modern sophistication, it is easy to think those warnings are irrelevant to us.

But consider how most of us order our lives. Images of “beautiful” air-brushed emaciated angry-looking models parade in fashion magazines luring young people to be slaves to impossible standards. Sports teams vie for glory and the ultimate title of world champions. Many order their lives in orbit of them as their chosen diety. Hand-held computers give us instant answers to everything, and truth is no impediment. From babies to ancients, most of us now focus most of our attention on the small box in our hands, some occasionally posting a shout-out to God if it seems like enough “friends” will “like” it.

Our current idols are more sophisticated than the wooden statues God warns about in His word. But that is only because our enemy, Satan, has evolved his methods of drawing us away from God just like the world has evolved.  Our enemy now makes idols that are seamless with our modern world. Idols always seem innocent when we first begin bowing down to them. By their pervasiveness, however, our modern-day idols are much more dangerous than wooden statues that everyone knows will burn up in a fire. If our phones are destroyed, we’ll just get our life back from the Cloud.

I use a “smart” phone. I root for my Cubbies. I buy clothes I hope are fashionable and flattering. Like a lot of people, I simply try to keep these things in proper perspective. Like others, I have often failed, putting the world first.

The point is not to go live in a cave, foraging for food and shunning all connection to the world. The point is to put God first, to seek Him above anything in this world. When we get sucked into the vortex and forget to talk to and listen for our Father, we’re bound to stumble and fall. If our hearts belong to Jesus, He will reach out and help us up. If we’re consumed by the world, He’ll let the world take care of us, which may mean we get run over on the freeway of life. It is our choice.

Amen and amen.

So You Will Know What?

Whether we realize it or not, we all have questions that burn within us. Why am I here on this earth? What is the purpose of my life? No person has those answers for another. What I have learned in asking those questions myself is mostly personal and unique to me. However, truth transcends, connecting each person’s individual answer to the rest of us.

So, I invite you to read what God has revealed to me, which I have received from my perspective: a 61 year old married white woman who grew up in a small town in the Midwest in America.  I admit and realize that what I know about how life works is just a drop in the bucket, but my hope is that you may be intrigued by my examination of that drop and encouraged to examine your own.

What I have learned most deeply and constantly is this: God is love, He is alive right now in His word, the Bible, and He wants each of us to know Him. God tells us over and over that He wants us to know that He is the one and only Lord of all creation. In the book of Ezekiel alone, He tells us more than 60 times, “then you shall know that I am the Lord!” (Ezekiel 7:27 for example)

God is eternal and omnipotent and sovereign over everything and everyone. But in creating this world, He chose to give each of us the right to choose-everything all day long every day. He knows the choices that will keep us satisfied, joyous, fulfilled. But He has ordered the universe to give us the ultimate choice of asking Him to guide our lives or to reject Him totally.  My choice, to seek Him as best I can, has proven to be bring me satisfaction, joy, and peace far deeper and sweeter than any choice I have ever made to go my own way without Him. Every choice I have ever made to go my own way without God has eventually failed to bring anything but anxiety, sadness, and discontent.

The really great news is this–it is never too late to begin choosing to seek and follow what God has for you.  Because He created you before you were born and knew you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-14), He knows infinitely more about you than you can ever know in this life, and He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. With His lovingkindness guiding you, your choices can lead you into the life you were always meant to live, where satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment transcend even your worst difficulties and sorrows. I pray that you begin talking to Him today, this moment, and that you get to know Him through His word.

Amen and amen.

I just love to run down stairs!

At the top of the long, broad, not very steep stairs of a museum I visited with my Mom when I was 14, I exclaimed to myself, “I just love to run down stairs!”  Bloop, bump, tumble down them I came, landing at the bottom with a sprained ankle and severly wounded pride. At the top of the stairs, I was glad to be the center of attention and was sure evryone would see how graceful and agile I was.  At the bottom of the stairs, I was a crumbled, red-faced, humiliated heap that wanted to hide under the nearest rug.

Now that I am more than 60 years old, I have to admit that I’ve had to relearn that lesson many times.  But frequently, mercifully, when I get too full of myself, thinking I can do no wrong, I hear my 14-year-old self saying, “I just love to run down stairs!” That thought sometimes stops me for just the moment I need to regain my footing and avoid another fall. Sometimes.

Before that day at the museum, I had heard God’s warning to me and everyone else: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” But I had to experience the consequences of giving in to pride before I could accept that there is a difference between pride/haughtiness, which eventully but inevitably leads to a fall, and the self-confidence that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, which gives me the courage to do whatever I need to do in my life.

Now that I am older, it is much easier to accept God’s warnings, spread throughout His word, the Bible. Those warnings are repeated all around us through the common sense experience of wise men and women throughout history.  Amazingly, I have found that every time I reach out for God’s hand, He lovingly guides me down stairs and through the maze of this life. And it is so much more enjoyable (exhilarating really!) to go where He’s taking me than to go anywhere else on my own.

Amen and amen.

(See also–

Psalm 139:14, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” From the New King James Version (NKJV) translation.)

Coming to Jesus

If we come to Jesus to justify ourselves,

To accuse Him of not fitting into the world we rule,

Then we’ll miss Him entirely.

Coming to Jesus

Can only happen if we recognize,

Without Him

We can’t carry the burden of this world,

We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.

But if for one moment

We humble ourselves enough to admit we’re needy,

Then He moves heaven and earth to align in our favor.

We all want to have our lives and live them too

But without a savior

We can only save ourselves,

Which means we have only ourselves to blame

When we come to the end and are left all alone.

Amen and amen.

(See John 10:22-39, Matthew 11:28-30, Romans 8:26-30)

They Shall Come Back

Just as God instructed a confused Jeremiah

To buy a field in a land too soon

To be overrun by the enemy,

He has instructed me to believe

That my prayers, spoken too timidly

With far too few words, are effecting change.

 

The territory sold into slavery

Has been redeemed and my children

Set free. I don’t see them coming home

Yet. But God is preparing the way.

He has spoken His word and it shall be

Accomplished as He purposed.

 

“Thus says the Lord,

‘Refrain your voice from weeping,

And your eyes from tears;

For your work shall be rewarded,

Says the Lord.

And they shall come back

From the land of the enemy.

There is hope in your future,

Says the Lord,

That your children shall come back

To their own border.’” Jeremiah 31:16-17.

Amen and amen