Why Miracles Today

To be frank, I am not sure how the church ever stumbled over the miracle question. How we dropped the training and expectation of miracles is disturbing. Let’s break this down with the old math adage:  Milk comes from cows. Butter comes from milk. Therefore butter comes from cows.

Salvation comes from Jesus. Salvation is a miracle. Therefore miracles come from Jesus.

“Oh, oh !” the unbelieving believers exclaim, “IF you only count salvation then miracles still happen today.”

Not quite. Remember the word “saved” is the Greek word “Sozo” meaning physically healed, emotionally delivered, and spiritually restored.  To know Jesus and to be known by Jesus unlocks the miraculous way of life.

“Freely you have received, now freely give.” Jesus said in Matthew 10:8

Wait. What have I received? What have you?

He gave these instructions first to the disciples and then the 72 and then to us.

“Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”  (The MSG)

He was instructing the very people who were the sick, the untouchables, the demon-possessed. In Paul’s words, “and such were some of you.” They had received the miraculous life of Jesus and there was plenty to share. In fact, they grew stronger and bolder and richer the more they gave away.

To know Jesus is to know miracles. It’s not a rare occurrence. It is the living, breathing expectation of heaven invading earth on the daily.

What will you speak and declare? And wait for?

From obstacles removed to bills being paid, to hardened hearts softened, to generational curses broken, to divine strategies, to bones being healed, to demons cast out, to fear and anxiety silenced, to sickness vanquished, all this and more Jesus has given to me and to you. There is no area of our life and this world that the healing power of Jesus is not available to radically transform.

Do you get stuck? Do you wrestle with unbelief? Do you have questions? Then do the work and clear the path for your faith to flow. The whole world is in need of the living water that exists in His followers.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

 

 

The Power of a Word

Each year we ask the Lord for His word for us for the year. It’s an exercise we have been doing for a long time.  My spiritual father, John Dee, started this beautiful practice and now many of us have this rich history of seeing God reveal more of His heart to us and in us. So, first things first, have you asked the Lord for your word? Second, what do you do with it when you get it?

More than a faddish thing, these words become bricks in our soul’s structure. I find each word builds on top of one another. In fact, if you haven’t recently, go back to the last 2-10 years and locate your word. It’s amazing how one brick, one deposit or revelation, had to come before the other. While you are at it, look at your memories. See how God unpacked your circumstances through the lens of the given yearly word. I can say that 2022 was a bruiser. But through the lens of His word for me, it is totally different.

Next step, share your word! Give testimony about how God revealed Himself to you.  We are all strengthened by the movement of God in each other’s lives.

Last year my word, or phrase, was “Unveiled and Seen.” I look back over my year of death and disruption, letting go and taking on the new, and I am in awe. This year has truly been an unveiling and seeing a whole new way of doing life with God, new comfort in sorrow, and even a new focus in ministry.

Okay so brace yourself. This is vulnerable. My words for 2023: Unleashing miracles.

I mean what even is that? I didn’t want to write it down. BUT. GOD.

What if Unleashing Miracles is what God wants to do give me, show me this year??
I don’t want to miss that.  So here’s my testimony.  This is me putting on my seatbelt. Tag your it. What’s yours?

Let’s do this.

Advent Reflections Week 4: The God Who Is With Us

I am enamored by The Chosen series, for many reasons. It’s startling to “hear” Jesus speak the words of scripture I know so well. It makes me weep to see the heroes of our faith in their humble beginnings. Matthew the hated tax collector. Mary the possessed woman. Simon the cheating, angry man. What beautiful transformations— just like you and me. We are not who we used to be.

And yet this beautiful offering is more than stories being told in a fresh way.

There is something familiar.

The way Jesus laughs and jokes with His new followers. The firm look He gives when they ask fearful questions. His outrageous instructions on how to live in His Kingdom. The comfort, oh the comfort of His touches and embraces. He is with them in every way.

In this whole new way of living.
In the unknowns of food and shelter.
In the threats of the Romans and the religious leaders.
He is With them, just like He promised from the beginning.

With. Us.

I recognize this Jesus. The fierceness, the tenderness. He locks eyes with me and sees straight into my very being. He heals my heart with a single word of His truth. And oh, the comfort of His embrace.

All of His Kingdom is summed up in two words. Follow Me.

We can make up lots of stories about lots of noble themes. But in the end, the bottom line is whether we allowed ourselves to be deeply known and loved by Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Perfect Love is the single greatest hope of change for any and all situations. His love transforms us.

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Maybe, just maybe…give Him a present this year. Spend some time with Him.

Advent Reflections Week 3: The God Who is to Come

I went on a crazy rabbit trail with the Lord the other day.  About swaddling cloths. Really? Yeah.

Turns out the details matter to God and ultimately to us when He reveals them.  I have been deep diving into Garments (which will come later).  One thing led to another and the swaddling cloths came into focus where I learned two important distinctions for our Advent meditations.

Speaking of Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem:
“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:6-7

 

The first idea is specific shepherds surrounding the birth of Jesus were Levitical shepherds. As such, they were charged with overseeing the conditions of lambs so they would be “spotless and without blemish” for the sacrifices in the temple.

According to columnist, Linda Littlefield, “when the mother ewe was preparing to give birth, she was taken to a special birth place, or to the only cave designated, to give birth to the sacrificial Iambs.

This cave was kept sterile and clean for the arrival of newborn sacrificial Iambs. The newborn lamb was immediately wrapped in clean swaddling cloths to protect them and keep them from blemish and danger.”

So when the angels declared: And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a  manger, (Luke 2) these particular type of shepherds understood from these specific instructions that they were looking for the Sacrificial Child.

Using our spiritual imaginations, we see how Jesus came as the perfect lamb and God left clues, if you will, to help us discover the beauty and wonder of our Newborn King.

Now, look at this next beautiful detail.

After Jesus laid down His life, they again laid his body in the tomb (cave) and again wrapped His body in cloths. But the cloths this time are not swaddling cloths related to sacrifices.  Instead, these cloths, in variations of the Gospels in Greek,  say Jesus was “wrapped in linen cloth.”

Hold on a minute. Linen? Linen is what the saints are dressed in in heaven. Linen robes.

 

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him the glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. She was given clothing of fine linen, bright and pure.” For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel told me to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:7-8
Let your spirit connect these beautiful dots.
The swaddling cloths were for God’s only Begotten Son, the perfect lamb to be sacrificed.
The linen cloths were for the Beloved to be the first Resurrected of many brothers and sisters.
I don’t know about you. My heart about comes undone.

The God who is to Come. It was always the plan.
Talk about rejoicing.  Amen!

Let your heart worship with this song today.

Advent Reflections Week 2: The God Who Is

The God who IS. The One who is not created, imagined or even ignored. The great I am that I am.

In the most basic way, the Christmas story confronts my Christian story.  The Christmas story is loaded with miracles, the unexpected, the impossible. It turns our socially acceptable religion upside down. Instead of the most likes and plastic fantastics, instead of going through the motions in a powerless life, it is a babe in a borrowed manger bringing a new reality to the whole world. Instead of us having it all together, the Christmas story holds all things together. Instead of settling in my small world thinking, this new born King releases all of Heaven’s glory to me and to you.

We talked about this at the Gala. How God looked at
—the state of our marriages
—the behavior and challenges of our children
—our fear anxiety, sorrow, selfishness
—the deep, deep need to be truly loved and known
—our helpless state to truly fix all that is broken.

And He said, “I know just what they need. I have the Perfect Gift for all of this. “
Yet even in this extravagant offering, He gives us the choice to receive or not receive it. Imagine it. The very Giver of our breath gives us the choice to believe.
“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Christmas is an invitation to remember the Gift. To remember Wonder. To remember our faith in the God is so committed to His world that He would give His son. Not one day in heaven, but today. In the tears, sorrow, and madness of today’s world. And to remember the God who is, who rewards those who earnestly seek him.
The wise men. The shepherds. Something pulled them toward Someone greater. May your Christian story be renewed this year by the God who Is.
Enjoy this worship.

An Advent Reflection 1st Week: The God Who Was

We live in a world of multi-layered confusion. “Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes.” (Isaiah 59:10)  So many in and out of church ask questions about our origins, identities, purpose, and calling.

And yet a greater Truth proceeds the resounding “what about me” question.
It is the eternal matter of  I Am—the God who was.

The Ancient of days.
Before the foundation of the world.
In the beginning.

These words shift me. Much like standing on the shore to look out over a vast ocean, I am simultaneously overwhelmed with God’s bigness and my own smallness.

Whatever my life may mean, or hope to mean, whatever my list of needs or weaknesses or desires, whatever deep joy or grief I may experience, there is One who is long before me and long after. There is One whose power is plainly seen daily and whose love is revealed to any open heart.

When we read Isaiah 59 fully we see our great sin and wandering. But the chapter begins and ends with the hope of our Ever Existing, Ever Interceding, Ever Saving God.

1Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.

21“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord.
“My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you,
and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips,
on the lips of your children and on the lips of their
descendants
—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

As we approach the Christmas season, with its built-in distractions and stresses, let’s pause and breathe in the comfort of The God Who Was.

Enjoy Him in these moments of worship.

 

 

Running out of the Desert

God has been talking a lot about Expanding. It’s a new season. I can feel it in my very spirit. At the recent Yes and Amen Beach Retreat, I could literally sense the excitement of Holy Spirit to unleash, unlock, begin a new work in all of us. It’s no mistake we call it the Yes and Amen Retreat.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.  2 Corinthians 1:20

This is what God is doing. But what about us? What is required of me, and you?

The Lord said to me about this expansion, “The faith that got you here, is not going to get you there.” Whoa. What? My current level of faith was very costly. And He wants more? Yes and Amen.

I read a timely devotion this morning about the 12 spies scoping out the Promised Land. It’s a familiar story 10 of 12 men who were unwilling to believe the Yes of God in impossible situations. However, this statement stopped me in my tracks:

The will, calling, and assignments of God are most often unconventional and occasionally downright outlandish. The math rarely adds up. It requires a suspension of rational judgment and an immersion into the imagination of Jesus and the kingdom of heaven.
From The Seedbed Daily Text

The author, J.D. Walt,  goes on to call it the seductive hell of a predictable situation. “This story will show us something deeply embedded in the human condition—how people will readily choose a known misery over an unknown possibility.”

Ahhhh. Busted.

How many of us stay with what we can see, although it is desert conditions, instead of stepping into the more of God’s promised land?  Maybe it has to do with that word, unknown.

The phrase, unknown possibility, is not quite on point for me. The outcome may be unknown, but God IS known to us. His beautiful, intimate leading IS revealed to us.  Just like He led the Israelites through the desert TO somewhere better, He is leading us somewhere better. Therefore one thing we can bank on every time is His goodness. Sure, there may be wars. There may be giants, but they are dwarfed by His goodness.

What if I told you that F-A-I-T-H is actually spelled R-I-S-K?

Risk means taking action. It means making the phone call. writing the check, putting the house on the market, selling the car BEFORE you have all the outcomes settled. It means believing in our supernatural God despite what you see in the natural. Risk means, as John Dee used to say, putting some skin in the game.

We want God to do all the impossible stuff for us, but we don’t want it to cost us our comfort zones or our plans for independence and assumed safety.

Faith, and risk, is going beyond your own understanding to the realm where only God can pull it off.  Is dependence on Him terrifying? Yes. Is our faith worth it to God? Absolutely.

What can you risk today that puts you one step closer to your promised land?
Together, we will cry Amen to the glory of God.

Sometimes Freedom Requires Hard Pruning

At the beginning of this year, Chuck heard from the Lord these words, Free and Clear. This message created a domino effect in our lives with many changes to follow.  New job.  Changes in relationships. New goals. Changes in the rhythm of our lives.

Add to this domino movement, the passing of my Dad, and I suddenly found myself in a whole other space. There is an awakening in me, a mental and emotional capacity to breathe and dream again.

Imagine my surprise then, when the Lord invited us to do some hard pruning.  Here I am thinking , “I will finally enjoy the  freedom and flexibility I have been craving.”  But instead, He asked us to go one step further into free and clear.

What was I willing to give up now, so I could go into the next season undistracted and unfettered?
READ THAT AGAIN.
It’s one thing to have callings, plans, goals, and purposes. It’s another thing to surrender whatever diminishes those from becoming a reality.  And let’s be clear. I had oh-so-many conversations with the Lord.

“Ohhhh wait. You want me to prune something I love?  Something I prayed for and you gave me?”

(Anyone else getting hints of Abraham here? smile)

“This is a hard prune. So you will be even more fruitful.”

But, but, Lord…

The questions went something like this: How will I ever get this again? How will this affect my people? How will you meet my deepest desires if I give this up now? How do I know the New thing is WORTH the present thing?

BOOM. THERE WAS THE CORE QUESTION.

Our God is so loving that He helps us follow Him into the unknown.
His answers:

Does the rain have a father?
Yes He said that. It’s from the book of Job 
If you haven’t read it lately, go back and read the last chapters of Job where God reminds us all of who He is and what He is capable of.

Hold on, don’t grow tired. Don’t give up. He’s better.
A line from song Wouldn’t it be like you?   He’s better.
Being with Him, being loved by Him, and following Him is better than any present from His hand.

Two different double rainbows. This is your inheritance.
Double portion of his promises from Isaiah 61:7
This whole last season has been about my inheritance from the Lord. This is the next step of trust.

It probably seems obvious to you by now. But Trusting God is more than a t-shirt.  It is the very life we breathe and it comes from His heart of goodness and kindness in every season. Every. Season.

So here’s to hard pruning. And to letting go — so that we might see more of Him.

After all, He’s better.

It’s For Freedom Christ Set Us Free!

Happy Fourth of July! And God’s favor on the freedom you enjoy today. I can’t help but ponder the 4th because, like most of our holidays, we are removed from the real pain and sacrifice of the individuals who broke the ground before us. It’s embarrassing really. I am trying to decide whether to grill hamburgers AND hot-dogs, as compared to my ancestors who were literally fighting with their lives for the independence I am now enjoying.

As a lover of Jesus, my freedom is doubly significant. He also fought with His very Life for the freedom I am now enjoying.

So what do I do with this outrageous gift?

Paul’s letter to the Galatians has thoughts about it.

“Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery.” (Galatians 1:5, Phillips Translation)

Did you enjoy my oh-soft-intro? Let’s heat it up a bit.

Here are the shackles of slavery we have been freed from:

Performance and legalism — futile efforts to try and to earn God’s love.
Politics and public opinions — attempts to deceive and distract us from God’s truth.
Selfishness and Pride — focusing on our accomplishments rather than God working in us
Fear of man’s rejection  — raising others above God’s opinion of us
Fear of death and hell — obsession or denial of a certain act and decided future

We are free from all of these, and so much more, in Jesus.

Which leads to the same questions spiritually we are asking as a country?

Can we maintain our freedom?
How do we maintain our freedom?
Are there areas where we have lost our standing?

“Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do. For love completes the laws of God. All of the law can be summarized in one grand statement: “Demonstrate love to your neighbor, even as you care for and love yourself.””  Galatians‬ ‭5:13-14‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

To which the pundits cry, what is love? How do I know if your idea of love is the same as mine?

It’s neither. It’s God’s idea of love because it’s God’s Son who bought our freedom.
We are grateful recipients of a life we could never attain on our own.

“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you
is divine love in all its varied expressions:
joy that overflows,
peace that subdues,
patience that endures,
kindness in action,
a life full of virtue,
faith that prevails,
gentleness of heart,
and strength of spirit.
Never set the law above these qualities,
for they are meant to be limitless.

We must live in the Holy Spirit and follow after him.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23, 25‬ ‭TPT‬‬

It’s for THIS kind of freedom you have been set free. Free to be loved perfectly by Perfect Love.

 

The Heart of a Mother

I was blessed to attend a baby shower the other day. A long-awaited miracle baby. A baby of promise.  The air was thick with celebration. It’s as if we all let out a collective sigh of relief that this prayer had been answered. Finally.

As we began a blessing and prayer time,  I looked around the room of women and choked back a sob.

This was holy ground.

There were so many stories. Some had no children of their own. Others had birthed children. Many had miscarried babies. A couple of women grieved babies lost through abortion. Several had adopted children. Some had glowing little toddlers, some had heart-wrenching prodigals.

Despite these stories, our own hurts, and sorrows, we still rose up to prophesy over this new mama.

But what to pray?

Why pray some pie in the sky future that every woman present already knew would not happen?

There would be terrible, sleepless nights in the beginning.
And in the elementary years
And in the teen years.

The child would rend her heart over the years as much as he would rend her body in delivery.

The road would be blissfully filled with hand-drawn art and sloppy kisses. But the road most assuredly would also be filled with broken dreams and promises as this mother, like all mothers, weathered her child developing and testing his free will.

What to pray?

Do we pray for God to shield her and her child from all hardship?
We know that trials and hardships drive us into Him more deeply.

Do we pray for a fairytale birth story and golden child reality?
We know full well that our enemy thrashes our faith with a weapon called disappointment, so why fill her head with unrealistic expectations?

And tell me what on earth does God have to say about all this?

Enter the Heart of a Mother.

If you are a woman, you know what it means to be a mother. Child or no child, there is an innate God-given fiber of your very being that rises up around the weak and defenseless. We somehow don’t have to be taught to nurture, teach, tend, or protect.

Some women are warm hugs and soft places to land. Some women are more like fierce pioneers who cut a new path for others to follow. Regardless of the varied expressions of a woman, one common thing to watch is what she does if her loved ones are at risk. Think mama bear with cubs.

I have been walking out a beautiful revelation from the Lord about the feminine side of God. I am writing a book on it actually.

But for today—because it is nearly Mother’s Day—because of the days we live in, when many already-born persons want to debate the validity of un-born persons—I want to speak truth.

God is a God of Life.

God, even uniquely expressed in the Holy Spirit, holds all the tenderness and nurturing we need to exist but also to model. The Holy Spirit contains and holds our sorrow, strengthens and undergirds our weakness, teaches and leads us into Truth. The Holy Spirit defends and protects. The Bible draws so many parallels of the Holy Spirit to women that finally, FINALLY,  we find our feminine place in the Godhead.

And because we find our place in the Godhead, the beautiful, powerful, life-giving God, we find our place in the world. We are life-givers. We are life protectors.

Would you like to know the theme that formed in our prayer time for this new mama, and actually every woman present? That we would come to embrace the overwhelming love of God.

This baby shower was a God shower. Reminding us that the Holy Three of Them created each one of us and delights to sing over us in every season, heartache, milestone, success or weakness. That’s what we prayed.

May each of us receive the love of God as fully as this new mama loves her baby.