I Get Him

Luke 7: 1-10 (Berean Study Bible), “When Jesus had concluded His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. There a highly valued servant of a centurion was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to ask Him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and pleaded with Him earnestly, “This man is worthy to have You grant this, for he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. But when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends with the message: “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. That is why I did not consider myself worthy to come to You. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell one to go, and he goes; and another to come, and he comes. I tell my servant to do something, and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at the centurion. Turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith!” And when the messengers returned to the house, they found the servant in good health.

Jesus found this non-Jewish man’s faith to be something to comment on. He wanted to make sure that we all remembered this centurion’s words. “Just say the word.” He believed in the authority of Jesus and His word. This was before Jesus’ death and resurrection, before the Holy Spirit, yet this man had the faith that his servant would be healed simple because Jesus said he would.

What about us? We who know the price Jesus paid for our sin and our sickness, we who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we have access to His word, bible teachers, preachers, and direct access to the throne room of God, shouldn’t we have such faith.

If God said it then it is so. If He promised, He will do it. It is already settled in Heaven. Jesus shed His blood to take away our sin. He allowed His body to be broken and bruised to take away our sickness. God hates both sin and sickness, they aren’t allowed in Heaven. We need the kind of faith that says “at your word, Lord, so be it!” If we have anything less, we aren’t pleasing Him.

Hebrews 11:6 (Berean Literal Bible), “And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For it behooves the one drawing near to God to believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder to those earnestly seeking Him out.”

Paul knew about this kind of faith. That’s why he could say to those manning a floundering ship that had been driven by a storm for two weeks: “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” Acts 27:25 (NIV) That’s why he could shake off that poisonous serpent.

The very best thing about this kind of faith, in this time of grace, is that it gets us more of Him. It isn’t that my faith gets me money, or health, or a great husband, and the perfect job. It gets us Him! The more we learn about who He is, who we are to Him, His promises and plans for us, what He has already done, His finished work, the closer our relationship with Him. This builds our faith, and our trust, and our love for Him.

What more do we need? When we get Him, we get it all.

Book Review for “The Field”- Christian Fiction/Allegory

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What it’s about:

“Three women are lured into a forbidden field by a charming prospector and the promise of buried treasure. Hava, in doing the prospector’s bidding, inadvertantly unleashes a battle in the Kingdom, and the consequences of her actions leave her guilt-ridden and isolated. Delilah, daughter of an influential Kingdom ambassador, uses her philosophical wit to recruit treasure hunters to her own cause. Lilly, ever a loner, seizes the opportunity to do something meaningful and be recognized for it. Through their respective encounters with the Field, Hava, Delilah, and Lilly take up their roles in the age-old battle between the King and those who oppose him in ways none of them had planned.”

My Review:

I was given a copy of “The Field” in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, I loved this book! One of the best Christian allegories I have ever had the privilege of reading. It tells the story of the ultimate battle, the one for our souls. It clearly portrays our enemy, the Deceiver, and the love of the King. I give it five stars and will definitely be looking for more from this author. No swearing or sexual content, there is violence, but nothing explicit. Good for teens and up.

 

Heart Hooks

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Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJB), “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Have you ever been hooked by a fish hook? Maybe seen someone who has? I have several times, some of the stories are downright comical, others make you cringe just thinking about them. The thing about a fish hook is that you can’t just pull those things out. They have little barbs on them that are supposed to keep you from losing your fish.

I read a book recently where they used this analogy to explain the hurts in our heart. Those hurts are like fish hooks, full of barbs that are embedded in our hearts. You really can’t just pull them out. God knows this and cares about us so much that he takes them out the “easy way”. This involves pushing them through. It is still painful, believe me, it will hurt. However, it will not do more damage. Our Father knows the safest way to get them out. He can remove them without tearing our hearts to pieces. He is in the repair business not the demolition business after all.

We read in scripture about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, resisting, and then coming out of that experience full of the power of the Holy Spirit. He immediately started teaching in the synagogues. We read in Luke that He returns to His hometown, where He was raised and as was His custom, went to the synagogue there. He stands up and reads those words out of Isaiah. I enjoy the King James Version of this one because it reads that He came to “bind up the brokenhearted”. When I read this version, I always picture a torn and ravaged heart that He tenderly wraps in the gauze of His love, stopping the hemorrhaging.

That’s why He came. To heal our hearts. To show us that the Father’s love is more than enough to bind up any brokenness, to stitch up every wound, to break up every stony place, and to fill our hearts with His love (His love is “shed abroad” in our hearts.)

I found myself recently having to allow one of those barbs to be removed. I thought that the broken place had already been healed. Sometimes we don’t even know about a wound until God starts that gently pushing. Did it hurt? You bet. It also brought up some ugly stuff that I didn’t want to deal with. Yet, I have gotten smarter with every hook removed, so I allowed Him to do His thing. I was left feeling emotional, drained, and free! One more hurt gone. One more kiss from Daddy on the boo-boo. I am glad that just because we think everything is fine, doesn’t mean that He stops working on us. He knew I still harbored that hook. He also knew it was not part of His plan for my life. So out came the spotlight and there it was.

When that happens, the best thing to do is immediately surrender that hurt to God. Forgive anyone you need to, and ask Him to take it out. I used to reason with myself, make excuses, say things like, “I already got over that years ago,” or get on the bandwagon of lamenting all the hurts in my life, or take on a victim mentality. I learned the hard way that doing those things only makes those barbs reproduce. It makes the hooks grow, and it makes the process of removing them take even longer, and hurt a lot worse. That’s why it is important ask God to search our hearts. Allow the Holy Spirit to show us what’s really in there.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me,  And lead me in the everlasting way.”

This isn’t about just looking for sin, or bad habits, it is also looking for wrong thought patterns, unforgiveness, and unhealed hurts, every “hurtful way” in us. He is faithful, He is gentle, and His love can heal every wound.

Will you let Him?

The Law Couldn’t Change Me

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Galatians 2:21 (NLT), “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

I knew at a very early age that I wasn’t what I wanted to be. Sure, maybe dreams of being an astronaut, a ballerina, and a rock star weren’t exactly part of the purpose God had for me, but at the time they felt like something attainable. I did know I was destined for greatness. I just didn’t know how to get there. My legs were too short for ballet, my stomach couldn’t handle the tilt-a-whirl, let alone outer space, and my voice was less than stellar. So where did that desire for greatness come from?

From God.

He has purposes and plans for each one of us that would either excite us to delirium, or scare us enough that we would hide in a closet the rest of our lives. We are destined for greatness.

I Corinthians 2:7 (Weymouth New Testament), “But in dealing with truths hitherto kept secret we speak of God’s wisdom–that hidden wisdom which, before the world began, God pre-destined, so that it should result in glory to us;” (emphasis mine)

We are pre-destined for glory. His glory will be revealed in us! When Jesus returns we will be just like Him.

I John 3:2-3 (NSASB), “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is and everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

That is the reason He came. The law couldn’t change us into the image of Jesus. In fact Paul calls the law, “The law of sin and death.” Jesus had neither in Him. Jesus is full of the Father’s love. When we accept that love, then we are changed. Not by outward conformance, but by inward repentance. The word repentance actually means “to change”. We change the way we think, how we see God, how we see ourselves, and what we think of others, by accepting the finished work of Jesus. We change from the path to hell to the path to life. We become more like Him. His blood justified us, that is something the law could never do. At best it covered our sin, it never wiped it all away.

Galatians 2:16 (KJB), “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

If then, we have been changed by the blood of Christ, and by His great love, why would we ever want to go back to the law again? Why would we expect others to live a performance based existence? That would make us just like the some of the early Jewish Christians who wanted the gentiles to adhere to the law. But, Paul’s answer still resonates today:

Acts 15:10 (NLT), “So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?”

The whole reason for the law was because of the hardness of men’s hearts, because of the fall of mankind. God did it to protect the whole race. That is the same reason we have some of the same laws today, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t rape, don’t mistreat children, etc. They are for protection. Now under grace, those who have accepted His atonement for our sin, those of us who know His love, don’t need a law to tell us not to kill, steal, and destroy. We know those are the actions of the enemy and we don’t want no part of that. We also don’t need laws to tell us how to dress, what to eat, or where to live. We allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in these areas. If we had such laws, most of us wouldn’t be able to live up to them!

So we certainly can’t expect others to conform to any weird laws we have made up in our own imagination to prove that they are truly saved.

When we surrender our hearts to the Father, then real change takes place. Changing a habit, changing what we say and do, by self-work, either won’t last, or it will cause pride. True, inside, heart change only happens through the love of God and the work of the Holy Spirit (and neither of those ever come by force!).

The law can’t change us, at least not for the better.

Praise God, His love can!

Less of Me

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John 3:30 (NIV), “He must become greater; I must become less.”

We pray, “I just want more of You,” and we sing songs that say, “More of you Jesus.” Why do we do that? It sounds so spiritual and maybe it makes us feel like we are really trying. Possibly we mean we want to experience more of Him in our lives, or most likely we just don’t understand that He already gave ALL of Himself to us. He has already given us everything. How much more could He give?

Romans 8:32 (NIV), “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Emphasis mine)

How much is all? Does all include all of Jesus? All of God? All of Heaven? You bet it does. Let’s look at this parable that Jesus told us.

Matthew 13:45-46 (DRB), “Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

Who is the merchant? God is. Who is the pearl (one pearl) of great value or great price? I am, ok, you are. We are, but still it says “one” so He did it for each one of us individually. This is important because the Liar will try to tell you that “lots of people would sacrifice their lives in exchange for dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of people. Nothing personal for you in Christ’s death.” But, get this, He died for you. Just you. Me, just me. If anyone of us would have been the only one, He still would have willingly given His life in exchange for us. He paid the ultimate price, Matthew says he “sold ALL He had” to purchase us. How much is all?

So we can’t get more of Him. There is nothing more to give, He already did. We can’t get more of His love, presence, grace, mercy, or any other gift you want to name here. He gave it all! On the cross, before time began, before Adam was created, before you were born, He gave it all. Out of time, outside of our Calendar, not just 2000 years ago. He paid it all.

So what do we really mean when we say “More of you?” We should be saying what John the Baptist said, and I am trying to practice what I preach, “Less of me.” We can’t get more of His presence, but we can spend more time in it. We can’t get more of His love, but we can accept more, allow more of it to rule and reign in our hearts. We can’t get more forgiveness, but we repent more often and ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. We can experience more of Him by putting Him first in our lives and putting ourselves second. Less of our wants, less of our plans, less of our whining and complaining, less of our stubbornness, and less of our self-righteousness. We can experience the “Fullness of God.” It isn’t impossible. How does that happen?

Ephesians 3:19 (AMP), “and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].” 

When we practically, through personal experience, know, really know, His love. This knowing is not head knowledge. It is the difference between recognizing the love of your life as someone you read about or heard about, and becoming one flesh with them. Knowing. Intimate. When we know that, then, we get the richest experience of God’s presence in our lives. “Completely filled and flooded with God Himself”. I love that. I want that.

Don’t you?

What is your prayer?

“Less of me.” Amen.

Book Review for “Emanate: Book Three White Road Chronicles”-Christian Fantasy

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Book three in the “White Road Chronicles”, “Emanate” is my favorite so far. I loved it. Great Christian fantasy, an allegory actually. Good storyline, characters are well rounded, several types of creatures and “beasts” are found in this story of the battle between good and evil and how even the seemingly most messed up person can make a difference. I give it five stars. No swearing or sexual content. The main character is a teenager, but most others are adults. There is violence and fighting, t Book three in the “White Road Chronicles”, “Emanate” is my favorite so far. I loved it. Great Christian fantasy, an allegory actually. Good storyline, characters are well rounded, several types of creatures and “beasts” are found in this story of the battle between good and evil and how even the seemingly most messed up person can make a difference. I give it five stars. No swearing or sexual content. The main character is a teenager, but most others are adults. There is violence and fighting, though nothing really graphic. I can recommend for teens and up. Though it has a Christian message and a story that follows the spirit of Christianity, it never mentions the familiar terms we use for God or Jesus. I think non-Christian fantasy readers would also love the book, just not see the true story.

Book Review for “Veiled Rose”-Christian Fiction Fantasy

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Wow, I loved this book! I thought book one was good (Heartless), but “Veiled Rose” is even better. The backstory is being told from some of the characters in book one. Still great fantasy, dragons, demons, princes and princesses, and good versus evil. Great writing, super well developed characters, and an epic story. Anne Elisabeth Stengl is easily one of my favorite fantasy authors. I give it five stars. Violence, no sexual content or swearing, some scary images so teens and up would be my recommendation. Great Christian Allegory!