Jesus

Fear wears a mask named Responsible

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In the few days since the fire (click here to read about it) I have noticed signs of trauma.  It happens mostly at night.  As I snuggle down into my pillows and feel the normally comforting warmth of my blankets I get edgy.  My ears are heightened to sounds around me and I find myself opening my eyes to glance out the window.

I’ll hear an animal scurry or a limb crack in the woods but something tells me, “It’s a fire!”  What was that?  A pop, a rumble?  Are the trees glowing?  My heart starts racing and I want to get out of bed to look.  I quickly recognize my anxiety is irrational.  It’s very unlikely another one of my neighbor’s houses will explode in a roaring inferno.  And, yet, I feel it…

Fear.

The type of fear I felt the day of the fire spurred responsible action.  It caused a respect for the danger and potential reality of a fire.  As a result our family took action steps to be as prepared as possible in the case of a house fire. (Click here for a safety checklist.) But this, this feeling I’m having at night, is not the same kind of fear.  It doesn’t cause responsible action it causes worry and sleeplessness.  This type of fear sneaks in like a villain.  He masquerades as Responsibility.  Like a bad insurance policy he promises security but demands a hefty payment and never delivers.  He’s really a thief.

He steals peace and leaves worry.  He steals sleep and leaves weariness.  He steals trust leaving a sense that my life is all dependent on me.

Fortunately, I’d seen this villain before so I recognized him quickly.  And did what you do with a thief who comes in lies and betrays you and tries to steal your precious possessions.  I kicked him out.

Hope, peace and trust in God are some of my most valuable possessions.  An abundant life does not exist without them.  I can not sit passively allowing any type of thinking displace them.  I cannot deny I experienced trauma and that it’s normal to experience triggers that reactivate the feelings of a trauma.  But I won’t allow that to be an excuse to partner with the villain who wants me to think that worry, heightened intensity (aka jumpiness), and anxiety are going to protect me and my family from fire – or any other threat for that matter.

Intimacy with the God who loves perfectly allows a trust that imprisons the villain fear.  The peace that follows isn’t rational.  It transcends understanding.

Fear is a conniving little snake.  He’s not your friend or protector. Has he snuck in on you?  Sometimes we don’t recognize that fear has trespassed until we notice the shortage of what he’s stolen.  Here are just a few examples.

Fear of the future steals our hope.
Fear of the unknown steals our peace.
Fear of rejection steals our relationships.
Fear of failure steals our success.

Do you lack hope in any area of your life?
Do you lack peace?
Do you lack depth and satisfaction in your relationships?
Do you lack momentum towards your destiny?

Perhaps there’s fear there.

Last night I slept without one worrisome thought.  How did I kick out the thief?  I remembered who my God was.  He never promised me a life without trouble but he did promise me a life of peace.  I began to thank him for all he is and all he’s done in my life.  I made a conscious choice to think about those things.  And without another thought fear was gone.

Do you want freedom?  Freedom from fear that causes worry, anxiety, loneliness, depression, perfectionism, performance driven, controlling behaviors is available through a relationship with Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. Andthe God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (emphasis mine)

Do you believe you know at least one person who needs freedom from fear?  Would you share this on your Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media site?  Recognizing how fear works could be all someone needs to gain back what’s been stolen from them.

Be a herald!  Together we can make a difference!

Jesus isn’t a Republican… (and why you should vote)

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I heard a statistic on Sunday that 60% of evangelical Christians don’t vote.**  The day before I heard about the thoughts of a young man who is passionate about his anti- government ideas and, yet, when asked if he voted the answer was no. I suspect he is not a lone individual.

It baffles me (and then it doesn’t) that more people don’t’ vote.  It wasn’t long ago that I was so preoccupied with my own life that I didn’t think about voting.  Later I remember thinking one little vote wouldn’t matter nor did I have one clue about the world, our nation or how it worked.  I was ignorant.  I’m still working to educate myself.

As Christians, who by nature typically care about people, how can we justify not voting?  Some might claim their prayer meetings for leaders and our nation is more powerful than any action taken in the natural.  Pray for our nation.  Yes.  Pray that it would be righteous and just. Pray her people are cared for and their liberties defended.  But prayer alone is not enough.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; be warm and well fed,” but does nothing of his physical needs what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:15-17

Praying for transformation of this nation and not participating in the privilege of voting is faith without action.

Jesus cares about government but he’s not a Republican, a Democrat, Independent or a Libertarian.  Voting carry’s with it the responsibility of staying informed.  It is not good enough just to vote party lines because Jesus isn’t associated with one particular party.  We need to educate ourselves on how our government works.

We might not like how it’s working but the ONLY way it’s going to change is if we participate.

In many states across the Nation tomorrow, November 5th, is Election Day.  If your state is having an election tomorrow GO vote!  If your state is not having an election tomorrow here’s your opportunity to get ahead on the issues that are important to you and how you can make a difference in coming elections.  Our government is complex and overwhelming, I still have a great deal to learn.  But thinking you don’t have to vote or that it doesn’t matter if you vote is one of the very reasons our country is not working as it should.

Are you frustrated with society, economics, education, immigration, insurance, taxes, restrictions and regulations… etc.  Then get informed and get involved.  Ask yourself, “What is the role of local, state and national government?”  Find answers.  Read your Bible.  Research online, get books from the library, and talk to people you respect.  But don’t believe everything you read – know your sources and use your brain.

Register to vote and then actually vote.  But only if you use a better method than “eenie, meenie, miney, moe.”

Complaining is worthless and prayer alone is not enough. Your voice is important and what you do matters!

***

If you are moved to action by this article or you think others need to have greater value for their civil responsibility please share this on your Facebook, Twitter or favorite social media site.

Be a herald. Together we can make a difference!

(**I was unable to verify this stat before publishing.  It could be inaccurate – but it  got me thinking, which led to this article.)

The problem with Christians today (and ever since Constantine)

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Christians today continue to sell Jesus as the answer to life’s problems.  But what many provide their convert is the way to do church losing the heart of Jesus and the freedom of His Kingdom.  This method of “evangelism” has become ineffective at impacting our culture where Christianity no longer has the largest influence.  Frankly, this was never good form.

For decades, Westernized Christianity ruled American culture through social pressure.  Divorce was forbidden, and many steered away from breaking the legal contract, yet fear of being shunned did nothing to bring wholeness and joy to marriage.  Stigmas that followed the promiscuous youth along with fear of pregnancy (pre free contraception and readily available abortion) was effective to curb the overt actions of some but did nothing to create purity in a generation.

Today, non-traditional ideas and lifestyles tout new social pressure.  Christian expressions of opposition to these ideas are taboo and in some settings literally outlawed.  Christianity was wrong to use it’s popularity as a method of conversion and control.  Similarly, Constantine legalizing Christianity, making it the religion of the state, was ineffective at creating a society of true converts in the fourth century .  Heresy was intolerable. Becoming a Christian was the way not to be killed or imprisoned or a new way to climb the Roman Empire ladder. Sadly, not much has changed in the hearts of mankind.  Church going is often used as a way to keep parents or a spouse happy, to draw customers to a new business or to help fund a political campaign. Church attendance may swell but it is not the “building up” of the church written about in the Bible.

Modern Christians need to let go of the illusion that conformity is indicative of a heart that has met Jesus. The tree of life is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  These were two separate trees in the garden of Eden.  And the fruit of knowing right and wrong is not the same as the fruit of the spirit of the tree of life.

Christians need to stop pressuring people to agree with truthful statements and start introducing people to Truth.  Rules, regulations and behavior modification is more manageable and less messy than a relationship with a loving, untamed, passionate God.  But transformation, both individual and cultural, will only come with authentic spiritual relationship with the Creator.

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Do you feel Christians need to change their approach to better represent Christ?

Do you want others to know the Truth,  Jesus Christ, and not just learn how to go to church and “act right?”

If so – would you share this article on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media?  Be a herald and spread the word.  Together we can make a difference.

Is there a God?

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I grew up in religious home.  I went to Catholic school for nearly every grade level including college.  And yet I didn’t believe in God.  I have limited memories of my childhood but when I was young I did adopt the faith of my mother.  I remember walking arm in arm with her through the woods of Calaveras Big Trees talking with her about Jesus.  But that didn’t “stick.”  I am not sure when it happened. I suppose it was about the time normal teenage angst begins.  When developmentally we separate from the beliefs of our parents and seek to discover our own convictions. I decided I didn’t believe there was a God.  Religion was dumb and going to church was a pointless waste of time. Because I still lived under my parents roof I was required to continue attending church services with them despite my vocal disdain for such practices.

Hindsight being what it is I think I always believed there was a God.  But I was so angry about life, and there was so much I didn’t understand, that I turned into an antagonist and later a self proclaimed atheist.  When the rest of the “Religion” class in high school was quietly watching the minutes tick by I would argue with the Priest about the return of Christ.  I wrote papers about atheism and how we just need to believe in ourselves.  Oh, that poor teacher.  But he was wise in his feedback – never giving me the fight I was looking for but praising my passion and exploration.

Later I went off to college and  met a young man I thought had hung the moon.  On several occasions when we would have deep conversations about  the world and life he would declare with certainty that there was a God and that he was going to hell.  Despite my supposed disbelief in God this statement bothered me tremendously.  If I didn’t really believe there was a God and afterlife what would it matter if he thought he would go there?

After taking me on a date one night we laid the seats back in his car and gazed up at the stars through his moonroof.  We talked about aliens.  Interesting date, I know, but we had just come from seeing a movie, “based on actual events,” about a guy who got abducted by aliens.  The conversation ended with me conceding that there could be aliens.  And he questioned if I could believe there might be aliens why couldn’t I believe there might be a God.  Logical or not, it made me think.  Why didn’t I believe in God?  What if He did exist?

It was in my college Anatomy and Physiology class that I first began to believe that God existed.  It was the day we studied the beginning stages of the reproductive process or how a baby is made.  As I looked at the slides and heard the descriptions I sat amazed.  I thought it was simple: have sex, sperm and egg meet, 9 months later a baby is born.  But on a cellular level thousands of factors must align. The maturity of the egg and sperm, the body’s pH, the timing of the meet up.  Then once joined they create a single cell that divides and grows. One cell becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes eight and so on. By the fifth or sixth day of this process the one cell has become a 64 cell unit called a blastocyst.  Inside there are undifferentiated cells, you may have heard of them called embryonic stem cells, anyway, these cells which divided from the ONE cell already know what they are to become; a brain cell, a muscle, an eye, a heart.  One sperm with 23 chromosomes and one egg with 23 chromosomes join making a perfect cell of 46.  And from that comes a fully grown baby!  It’s utterly amazing.  I sat in the class floored by the details of design and in that moment resolved this doesn’t all happen by accident.  I began to believe in a Creator.

Once I considered there was Intelligent Design I wanted to know more.  I considered myself a rational and logical person and I truly wanted to understand.  I started looking for answers and eventually attended a church service with a girlfriend from school.  There I heard something my mind needed to hear.  The preacher was talking about Creation and he said, “You want to believe in evolution, ok.  You want to believe in the Big Bang Theory, fine.  But you must remember one thing:  In the beginning God…”  And something clicked.  I didn’t have to know everything and have it all figured out.  I didn’t need to have all the answers.  I just needed to know that in the beginning God.  Before anything else was God was. I could figure the rest out later.

It didn’t all make sense to me.  It would be a few months before I knew about the Love of God and what Jesus did for me.  But from that moment on I couldn’t get away from one fact and He hasn’t left me since.

In the beginning God… Genesis 1:1

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The Silence is Screaming

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We all know the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder in the Bible, jealousy, rage, and pride at it’s worst.  God came to Cain and asked,

“Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done?  Listen! Your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground.” Genesis 4:9-10.

Cain killing Abel is a tragic story but what I want to focus on is God’s statement to Cain. This is a fascinating verse because we can learn so much about how we are created and the impact of our lives.  Hebrew, the original language of this text, is such a rich language. The word ‘blood’ in this verse is from a root word that literally means silent, be still, to make silent, die.

That which was silent was calling out.

God heard something from the silence of Abel. He says to Cain, “Listen to the silence of your brothers voice – the silence of the gift (*see footnote) I gave Abel is crying out to me.”  It’s as if when God created the Universe he gave everyone a beautiful part in the grandest symphony ever written. Abel’s life had a purposeful sound, he had a voice and the silence of that voice was like screaming to God.  The absence of his beautiful creation named Abel was a loud noise. And because Abel was dead not only was his silence screaming but every child and grandchild and great grandchild’s silence was screaming too.

We all have been give a voice, a sound, a part to play in the symphony.

Each one of us is created with purpose, a gift of Grace and Glory to spread upon the Earth. When a life is cut short, like Abel’s, the gift that was designed to impact the Earth is missing and the World will never be the same. Likewise, when we silence our own voice, if we hide the Grace and Glory we’ve been given, the absence of our gift is screaming. Our silence on the Earth is a deafening noise to Heaven. And until we start Being the Earth is less than it should be.

Often our voice is silent because we don’t know who we are or what we are called to do. Knowing ourselves is a key first step in walking out our destiny. If we don’t know our importance and what we are to be it’s impossible to live it.  Only in Jesus are we truly known. God is the only one who can see us perfectly.  On the Earth we have clouded vision; when we get to Heaven we will see perfectly as He sees.  For now we look to Him to help us see.  He knows us fully and as we look upon Him he reveals to us what He sees in us. It doesn’t hurt that He created us and so He knows us inside and out.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Corinthians 13:12

The more we gaze upon Jesus, the more we know Him, the more clearly we see ourselves. The more clearly we see ourselves the more we know the Grace we’ve been given and the Glory we are to shine upon the World around us.

Another reason we might be silent is fear; fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear that people won’t like us.  Ridding ourselves of fear requires us to know the love of God.  Perfect love casts out all fear. But along with knowing perfect love we must deconstruct the fortress of lies in our mind that contradict the Truth in us. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) These strongholds protect the lies we believe and they must be taken down for us to freely move forward in our destiny.

Do you want to stop your silence from screaming?

Do you need to find yourself, to know yourself, to see yourself more clearly?

Start now.  Start asking questions. Start praying. Start reading God’s word. Seek Truth. Ask for help.

God is faithful, He promises us that those who seek – find!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Recommended reading and Footnotes:

The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallottan

The Lies We Believe by Dr Chris Thurman

Victorious Mindsets & Cracks in Our Foundation both by Steve Backlund

*I first heard the concept about the silence of Abel’s gift mentioned in Kris Vallottan’s sermon during the Prophetic Conference March 2004 at Bethel Church

The King has a Dream

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Today is the national day of memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Perhaps you enjoying the day off!

from Billboard.com

I admit it’s shallow, yet nevertheless true, that in the past I rarely have given Dr. King much thought on this day – I was simply happy for a three day weekend much like I had on Memorial Day or Veterans Day (of course, this was before I was married to a Veteran and became so much more reverent of such days).

Several months ago I was reading a book called Heavy Rain by Kris Vallotton where he quoted two speeches from Dr King.  I was brought to tears by the words of this world changing man and determined in that moment that my children would read and study the writings and life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not at all qualified to expound much on the historical, political and social significance of Dr. King but I know what’s touched my heart. And to that I can speak.

Scene from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Where Martin Luther King, Jr gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech.

A dream.  Dr. King had a dream.  He dreamed of the world as it could be not only as it was. He saw the world with Kingdom eyes and with grace and resolve he lived to see it realized.

The day before his assassination Dr. King gave a less famous speech titled “I have been to the mountaintop.”  In that speech he said:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has it’s place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And I am happy tonight. I am not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

It is right to care for our health. Eat well, be active – steward our bodies and environment. Prepare for longevity. But to live a long life of despair, monotony or regret is not a grand thing. To live without living a dream is not to live.

A dream.  A Dream.

We all have a dream. We were born with dreams knit into us. The adventure of our lives is to search for the dream, the desire of our hearts. **(Proverbs 25:2) When we find it we must nurture it with hope, expectation and ACTION.

God, our King, has a dream and the dream is you. A dream of hope and love and destiny.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,

plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Martin Luther King did not live to see the United States free of social inequality – we still fight for that dream today – but he did live his dream. As he said himself, he has seen the Glory. He lived with purpose, resolve and inner peace.

When we live our dream, walk in our destiny, and dance with hope, we too live with purpose resolve and peace. It is to our glory to search out our dreams and purpose but it is an even greater glory to live out those dreams.

The King has a dream. Have you dreamt the dream He has for you?

In honor of one of God’s great dreamers start this day to seek that dream and then do something to see it come to life.

Footnotes

** Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (NIV)

Consider reading: Dreaming with Godby Bill Johnson

Not your average IPAD tablet

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So you might be wondering what in the world does Make it Plain on Tablets mean.  It’s a phrase taken from an Old Testament verse (NIV) Habbakuk 2:2

Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets that a herald may run with it.

In Habbakuk’s day tablets meant stones with words carved or marked on them.  Not so easy to run with – but I suppose they didn’t know any different.  Today tablet has come to mean a whole other medium.

This type of tablet makes it amazingly easy to run with information!

Habbakuk had been given a specific message from God to His people.  He spoke of violence and injustice, greed and the economy, perversion, and self sufficency. The ails of our world seem to be timeless. This old prophet had a message of encouragement and hope to share with God’s people.

Make it Plain on Tablets is a blog where I will share what I believe God is sharing with me, a place I will share my story and testimonies, and a venue where I hope to provoke the reader into devotion AND action.