I was robbed.

I was robbed. I had a vivid dream last night that left me wide awake. In this dream my purse was laying on the ground, and my wallet was next to it, laying open. “NO” I screamed, with that sinking sick feeling in my gut. When I picked up my wallet, by license was gone, all my credit cards and my debit/bank card. All gone.

In my dream my first thought was to call police, my husband, all the companies, so when I reached for my purse, I saw that my phone was also missing.
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Tears.

Panic.

All my photos, my contacts, personal info. I saw in my mind’s eye, the apps like Venmo, square, photos and things I use daily, now gone into the wrong hands. All my vacation photos, pictures of my grandson, our vacation, my friends – all gone.

Trying to remind myself this was a dream, my first response was to pray protection over myself, family and to break fear and intimidation from the enemy.

As I was trying to calm myself and fall back asleep, I heard God ask me, “What do you think that dream was about?”

Me, “to be careful and not let my purse lay around?” God smiles as my sleepy response but then tells me the meaning:

People are at risk. They are being to casual with my presence, their identity and relationships.

The license speaks of identity. People are at risk of losing their identity.
The Credit Cards speak of resources. People are at risk of losing resources.
The phone speaks of contacts. People are at risk of losing connections.

We lose our identity when we give to it away to the wrong people. We are so easily swayed by the next popular person or swayed into a way of thinking that is contrary to the mind of Christ. We are to be thinking on the things of God. Philippians 4:4-9. Our identity needs to be rooted and grounded in God. Many of us think we are the prodigal son coming home, but we are the older son, already home and not realizing we have as much of God as we want. He is the one who speaks our identity. The more time we are with him, the more we know who we are.

Our finances and resources need to be stewarded with the guiding of the spirit, and not to be used for foolishness. Going back to the prodigal son, we so easily squander money on empty items. God has the finances and the resources of the Kingdom at hand, but how many of us go to God first? How many times do we waste the resources that God has provided or complain that we still need more. Is is possible we don’t know what we have?

Many think, I don’t need anyone, or a fellowship family, or teaching, but that is a mistake. No one can be isolated to function in the relational Kingdom. Thinking we don’t need each other is just going to leave you lonely. Are there times when God draws you away, yes. But it isn’t a lifestyle. The older son in the parable could have spent as much time with his Father as he wanted, but he was always to busy working. Everything the Father had, was already his, but he worked by himself as if he had nothing. His complaint and anger to his father wasn’t about the younger son coming home. His complaint was you are spending all this time and energy on the younger and I was here the whole time. But the Father responds, with I was here all the time also. If we feel like we aren’t close to God, it isn’t on his end. He is already there.

Guard your Identity.

Guard your Resources.

Guard your relationships.

Don’t let yourself be robbed.

 

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Peace isn’t listed.

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Did you ever get stuck on a word? Like an easy word that is common to us and we use it all the time? We even quote it like a band-aid, but what does it really mean.

I have been studying the book of Ephesians for a beautiful group of women that I am teaching, and I came to the word peace. Verse 1, Grace and Peace to you. How many times do we say “I’m praying for peace, or I need peace”. As I read and stopped, I asked, what really is peace? How do you describe it?

I was able to easily look it up in the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and in my Keyword Study Bible:

1515 eirḗnē (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole“) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace(God’s gift of wholeness).

Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines peace as: exemption from the rage and havoc of war

Holman Bible Dictionary defines peace as reconciliation with God and salvation in the fullest sense.

So when we are saying or asking for peace, we are saying or praying God’s wholeness. Doesn’t this put peace in a whole new level for you? It isn’t about a warm feeling or being happy all the time. It is about wholeness. Peace to you is reconciliation with God to you, and stop warring within.

Wouldn’t you like to have the war within you to stop?

Paul was praying for the church in Ephesus to be in God’s wholeness. To hae the fullest sense of salvation! What a great prayer we can be praying for our family, spouses, leaders. etc.

But it made me think and ask, what does it mean in English?

I looked it up in my new favorite book: A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. But on page 336 where the word should be defined, it says – Peace: see Pact.

The word peace isn’t in our English Language. Let that sink in for a bit.

Peace began with God, not in our English Language.

So we had to find a word that meant similar; Pact.

Guess what the word “Pact” is defined as?

It has Latin origin meaning a contract. an agreement, to agree, to fasten, fix; to bind

Hold it! Did you see that?

Let it sink deep into your spirit and heart.

When Jesus is telling us “My peace I give to you”, He is saying “I am making a contract and binding my “peace”, my wholeness, my completeness, my salvation in the fullest sense to you. My reconciliation with My Father to you. Peace.

My prayer for you today is that you experience His wholeness, completeness, that you feel the binding, the fastening of His salvation to you.

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unglued.

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Have you ever felt like you are coming unglued? unhinged? In other words, becoming broken. Again. I use the word unglued because God has glued my brokenness many, many times, but for some reason it feels like maybe the glue isn’t holding.

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Now I know that sounds bad. Like what God has fixed isn’t holding. But in truth, God fixes and it is finished. Unless.

Unless we begin to pick at the glue.

The enemy is such a sly little bugger that before you know it, your glue starts to lose its effectiveness and you feel the effects.

Jennie Allen in her latest books Nothing to Prove talks about “If I were the enemy, I would” and then she list many things. Good things, but things that slowly over time cause us to feel unloved, alone or distract you with good things, social media or even ministry.

Then little by little you begin to feel and long for the times when you felt accepted, important or loved. Every photo that pops up on your feed causes you pain and confirms that “they like them more than you”, or “you will never be as good as her”, or “you have nothing to say”

A piece of glue begins to peel away leaving an exposed crack.

The enemy is very good at seeing that peel and he begins to rip away at it.

And we let him.

He is such a jerk!

But this is me.

Over time when we neglect any relationship, it will go away.  I remember an old poster in the dentist office “ignore your teeth and they will go away”.  It’s the same for our relationship with people, family and most importantly God.

When we try to keep the glue holding by ourselves and not allow our relationship to turn the glue into a sold adhesive that will never crumble, we begin to feel the same issues that cracked us in the first place.

It’s always hard to admit or to even realize that it all comes down to “In the beginning God…”. God spoke and it was finished. God breathed and it was created. God fixed His gaze on you and said I will complete what I started in you. But we have to let him. We have to take our vessel and all its cracks and broken pieces and let Him glue us.

How? The only way I know to have relationship is to be with someone. We have to be with God. Intentionally spending time with Him so he can reveal and heal at the same time.

How? Being honest. Admitting that we are lonely or we have used Facebook as our God.

We find time for everything else that is important to us, but we neglect the One that is omnipresent in us. Who alone can only heal and bring wholeness to us.

For most of us, it isn’t even a sin issue that causes the glue to dry and peel. It’s those little distractions that the enemy tricks us into believing so easily, and we convince ourselves and others that we are fine. Nothing is wrong. We are just fine. But we aren’t. Deep inside we are hurting.

Today I feel a little unglued.

But I know who holds the bottle of glue.

 

 

 

My Testimony: A Story of Unrelenting Pursuit

This is from my friend, who encourages me by her life and her love and trust in God.

Family Beginnings & Running Dreams

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I was born to an addict, both drugs and alcohol. My childhood was sprinkled with periods of sobriety and relapses for my mother. My father and mother never married, and I didn’t even meet my father until I was 14. He entered my life for 5 years, only to choose to walk out of my life again at age 19. I was raised in a house living with my mother, half-brother, 2 uncles and my grandmother. My mother fought with everyone, usually about her lack of money and demanding my grandmothers financial help, or about her lack of care for my brother and I. Our home was usually a very volatile place. My mother would also disappear for periods of time, and I never knew if she would come back. I had terrible separation anxiety, and when she was home I was always afraid she would leave me. I was neglected…

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Impossible Possible Peace

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If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. This is the words of Paul in Romans 12:18.

Sometimes  it feels that it isn’t possible doesn’t it?

It feels impossible. If it says, “IF possible”, that to me is saying that it can also be impossible.

Before you begin getting mad at me, be at peace and let me finish.

I have learned this the hard way, that the next part of the verse it critical to my understanding of possible.

“As it depends on you”.

It is up to me, the possible it up to me, to live at peace.

There are times (and I have experienced them) that we try to make peace happen with someone, and it doesn’t seem like there is peace in the relationship. Why? Because relationships are hard, messy and very risky. And sometimes there are seasons and friendships come to an end of the season, or the break is too wide to mend.

Sometimes reconciliation looks like a separation, or a ‘break in the relationship’.

But, in the midst of this, you can be at peace.

How? How is it possible to “be at peace” when it looks like there is no peace?

Being a Pastor and a ministry leader, I have learned this the hard way. I thought to be at peace meant I had to jump through hoops to make the other person like me.

Almost like I was (or did) try with all my strength to get them to approve me, approval meant peace. Or to get them to like me, as if that would give me peace. I was in a constant state of rejection because of this. It was killing me, and those around me because I was never really at peace. Within myself or with anyone.

So I started to really look at the verse, and focused on the next words; as far as it depends on me.

A new revelation began to take shape.

I can be at peace with someone, even if they are mad at me, or there is a break in relationship. As much as it depends on me, I can be at peace.  How? because my peace comes from God. Our peace comes directly from God, and that depends on me.

The word peace in the Strong’s Concordance is the word Shalom and NAS Extensive Concordance means: completeness, soundness, welfare, ease, peace.  In the Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language the word peace is described as a pact.

If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at ease, at soundness, live in completeness with everyone.

I can be complete only because my wort, value, approval and identity come from God. I don’t have to chase people and force relationship or force peace to happen.

I have learned that when I am at peace, “complete in Him”, He brings peace to the relationship.

There will be people who have no idea they hurt you, or even care that they hurt you, but you can live in a place of peace, because of  the One who is your peace.

It is possible to do the impossible and live at peace with everyone, because my peace doesn’t rely on them.

Jesus tells us in  John 14:27 “My peace I give to you”. He is telling us that He gives us our completeness, our soundness, our ease, our peace. He give us this pact – that He becomes our peace.   In one of my situations, talking and reconciling is not possible, but I am at peace. I know that my peace comes from God and I can extend that peace into the situation, not of my strength, but by depending on the One who is my peace.

“As far as it depends on you”, you can be at peace. The impossible is now possible.

 

 

 

 

 

STumbLing

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First, my apologies for not writing much lately. I have been in a season of rest and restore. Spending time with my new little love Owen Davis. My first grandchild! And I have just been contemplating the Love of God in my life, nature and through the Word.   It was much-needed and I feel a sense of peace that I have never felt before.

I have been reading Romans this summer. Really reading and letting it sink in deep to my heart. But I’m stuck on Romans 9:32b

They stumbled over the stumbling stone. (NIV)

I think I have stumbled,  or am stumbling.

How many have stumbled over God? Over Jesus?

Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. (MSG)

 

How many times are we going to go sprawling, tripping over Jesus to do good projects?

Look at these definitions of Stumbling:

Verb (used without object), stumbled, stumbling.
1.to strike the foot against something, as in walking or running, so as to stagger or fall; trip.
2. to walk or go unsteadily: to stumble down a dark passage.

3. to make a slip, mistake, or blunder, especially a sinful one:

to stumble over a question; to stumble and fall from grace.
4. to proceed in a hesitating or blundering manner, as in action or speech(often followed by along).

5. to discover or meet with accidentally or unexpectedly (usually followed by on, upon, or across):

They stumbled on a little village.
6. to falter or hesitate, as at an obstacle to progress or belief.
verb (used with object), stumbled, stumbling.
7. to cause to stumble; trip.

8. to give pause to; puzzle or perplex.

Noun:
9. the act of stumbling.
10. a moral lapse or error.
11. a slip or blunder.

Now,  read them again and use the verse and think of Jesus.

They (we) struck our foot against something, in our efforts to do something, we proceeded in a blundering manner.  stumbling-block

How often have we not looked to or at Jesus, stumbling over our own projects, ideas or thoughts?

Maybe it is just me. But I don’t want to be so busy or focused on doing, that I literally stumble over the One I think I am doing something for.

Maybe we need, or I need to slow down enough to see what Jesus IS doing and join Him there, not look for what He HAS done and try to repeat it.

Maybe we need to spend more time with Him as our Cornerstone, so that we don’t stumble over Him in our hurry to be famous.

Maybe we just need to stumble into Him and not over Him.

Today, I am stumbling.

Encountering the Word – Haggai

I always try each year to read through the Bible, and found it hard to follow some of the plans out there, since they were jumping around from verse to verse. So, we (City Gate Lancaster) decided to make our own, because we value reading whole books of the bible. It’s called Encountering the Word {a daily bible reading guide}, which you can get from us at City Gate Lancaster.

With all that being said, today’s reading was the book of Haggai. I found it spiritually epiphanyinteresting that today was the Book of Haggai and it is the beginning of the “Epiphany Season”, the season after Advent and prior to Lent. It’s a season of Shining Forth. “Who is this king of glory” from Psalm 24.  It’s the season of the year we recognize the significance of Jesus, His Identity as Christ, where we see who Jesus is, where he is found, what is He about.

So going back to Haggai, as I read I was hit with some of the questions asked.

  1. Is it time for you  to dwell in paneled houses and this temple to lie in ruins?  If we make this personal, do I spend so much time making the building pretty, while the temple inside me is in ruins? Do I know HIM, or about HIM? Do I identify with Him or with the things of him?
  2. You have sown much and bring little; you eat, but do not have enough, you drink but you are not filled with drink….Thus says the Lord of host; consider your ways! We spend so much time in programs, pageants, platforms but are we bringing little ? If we have all these books, schools, church buildings then why are we still hungry for the presence of God?  Is it time to consider our ways ?

Haggai then moves on to say because of this, we are in ruin, therefore Heaven above withholds the dew and the earth withholds the fruit.

Is it possible that we are living life to the fullest but not in the fullness of Heaven?

The book goes on that there is a shaking coming and I know that there is. But I think many will be surprised that the shaking is way more personal.

There is a word in verse 14 that says: so the Lord stirred up…and they came and worked on the house of the Lord.  Now if the Lord dwells in me, then the house that needs stirred up in the one inside of me, the on that needs fixed is the one that dwells in me.

I think it is time to stop offering with our hands what is unclean (2:14) and to begin the process of cleansing the temple within us.

I don’t want to be sowing so much, but bringing little.

I want to be like 2:18-19. Consider now from this day forward…that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid – consider it. Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. BUT FROM THIS DAY, I will bless you.

I want this day to be the day. The day that myself and many others begin to put God first, begin to ask Who is this King of Glory in me ?

In my commentary, it says this verse if the plea of Haggai to the people to keep in mind the motives.

Let our motives be that we want to know Jesus, identify with him, learn from him, seek him and find him.

Shine forth my friends. Let the King of Glory shine forth in you.

 

 

 

You can’t have my oil.

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anointing_of_fresh_oilI think God wants more from us in 2017. We are really good at loud intercession, warring prayer and band led worship and events and gatherings. But, Jesus lived his life in the secret place. He drew away and spent time alone with God in the quiet secret place.
We need to learn to live from the quiet before we shout in the street.

I have been feeling for over a year, God telling me that he wants more and I have been struggling with what is more? How much more can I give?

But as I have been studying and asking, I really feel the body of Christ is to learn about living in the secret place, and from there we go and shout.   But it seems that we have taken to the secret place the same thing we do in the public place. We just do it by ourselves. That isn’t what God is asking.

He is asking for us to come fully into this place of intimacy and quiet, of quiet talks, and relationship – deeper than we have ever gone before.

There will be an intimacy and trust that grows from this secret place that causes our prayers to be bold and effective. When I am abandoned to Him, His prayer flows out of me and are His purposes and His promises.

Trust me this is tough. I have been involved in the prayer room movement, the house of prayer movement for years, but this is more than that. It is possible that we have substituted our time in these places for the secret place and it isn’t.

It is a Matthew 25 time.

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming. (NKJV)

If we want to be among the wise with oil, then we have to do what it takes to get the oil.

This oil comes from relationship, intimacy, friendship, quiet times, solitude, waiting, breathing, seeking. It doesn’t come from events, stages, lights or lasers.

Not that those things are wrong, but from my experience intimacy only comes when it is between two people.

And I can’t give you my oil. I had a dream that a dear friend came to me and was begging me for some of my oil. She had oil at one time, but had let it run empty. She was doing all the same prayer gatherings, events and such, but her oil was empty.

I can’t give you my oil.

It isn’t that I wouldn’t want to share my oil with you, I literally can’t. It doesn’t fit you, It is my intimacy oil.

It won’t smell good on you, because it is my oil fragrance.

The verse ends with you have to go and buy for yourself, your oil.

You can’t have my oil. You can’t live in my secret place.

My friends, hear my heart. I love worship gatherings, and spiritual warfare and loud intercession, but they won’t be sustainable if my life isn’t full of the oil it takes, from the secret place of relationship.

It is at the very end of this passage that the virgins that didn’t have oil, come running in – and the Lord responds “assuredly I say to you I do not know you”

This is what happens when we don’t cultivate a prayer life in the quiet, secret place. When we only offer prayers of lists and give me this”

In 2017 I feel God is asking, will you go deeper? Will you fill your jar with oil? Will you?

 

Take & Eat

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I am learning to be thankful.

To give thanks and offer thanks. It seems it is a lost art in our culture, especially with our political world and an election on the horizon.

Just a simple thank you.

But let’s go a little deeper.

When was the last time you just thanked God for being God. Not for what He does for you, or did or is doing. But just thanking him for being Him.

I have been doing this great praying and writing the scriptures of Thanksgiving that my friend Candance at http://www.mercyisnew.com compiled. I am writing, praying then actually digging into the original Greek or Hebrew of words in the scripture.

Today, was Matthew 26:26. “And as they were eating Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said “take, eat, this is my body”

We normally take this verse as part of our communion, where we drink the ‘blood’ and eat the ‘body’ of Christ.

But I think this was to be a daily time of thanksgiving and remembrance, not just an Easter or Christmas thing we do.

The word body in the text is the word Soma (so-mah). It means as a sound whole, substance, different from flesh, but soul or spirit, the whole man.

So think of this as you daily ask – to take and eat the entireness of Jesus, (not his flesh) but his spirit, his soul, the wholeness of him.

It really puts our thankfulness in a different place since now we aren’t asking for the bread as in the flesh (which really has been hard to understand or explain right?), but for the entireness of Jesus to be what we partake of.

God, as I take this bread (the word) that you have given me, I ask that you bless it with all that you are, and want for me, I take and eat of your wholeness, your substance, soul, spirit, I take and eat of your whole being, so that I can in turn offer thanks to you, because you are God.