Category Archives: rest

God’s Not Dead 2 Movie Reinforces Misunderstanding of God’s True Identity e.g. God forsakes You

At least God’s Not Dead 2 movie is not as disturbing as God’s Not Dead Movie was. I did enjoy some of the sequel.

God's Not Dead 2 movie exposes religiosity

But there were several things in God’s Not Dead 2 that perpetuate the misunderstanding of God.

Here are some of the troubling religious points in God’s Not Dead 2, as I see it:

  • God, do not forsake me
  • Stand with the world and be judged by God
  • Come into my heart Jesus, forgive me of my sins – the traditional prayer of salvation
  • Who do you say I am
  • God is good, all the time God is good

Today we will look at being forsaken by God. I’ll address the others later.

Does God forsake you

Grace Wesley, the main character in God’s Not Dead Movie 2, was in a very difficult situation, fearful of the possible outcome, overwhelmed by the circumstances. Throwing herself on her bed one evening, in utter dismay she prays, “Oh God do not forsake me.”

Now obviously difficulties happen in life where it feels like God is nowhere to be found. But if we really knew God, we would never believe that God forsakes us. Religious Christianity preaches a conditional loving God, so it’s easy to think He would.

What Does God Say About Being Forsaken

Heb. 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The Greek tense of Heb 13:5 means spoken vehemently, as if –  “look me in the eyes when I say this to you, I am dead serious”.  Now read the Amplified version with this intensity.

“I will not in any way fail you or give you up, nor leave you without support. I will not; I will not; I will not, in any degree leave you helpless; nor forsake you; nor relax my hold on your life; definitely not!”

Check out the next verse!

“So that, we may boldly (Greek: of good cheer, am courageous) say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear or dread. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)

Talk about confidently and happily knowing you are never forsaken!

Dig In

  • Paul knew the true God, hence he could speak of being hard-pressed yet not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. (2Cor 4:8,9)
  • Because religious Christianity believes in a ‘conditional unconditional’ loving God, confusion and uncertainty under gird many believers’ faith. No wonder some would think God just might forsake them. If you are one of those, please know God does not judge you for that. He wants you to come into full revelation of who He really is, then you truly can rest in His faithful and ever present care for you.
  • Jesus, Paul, and Peter looked forsaken. However:
    • Jesus said the Father has not left Him alone. (Mt 27:46, Jn 8:29, 2Cor 5:19)
    • Paul, while in prison, uses rejoice and joy eleven times in his letter to the Philippians.
    • Peter was sleeping in prison while bound by chains and guarded.
    • Oh, if Grace had just remembered that!
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Comfortable Stuck Empty or Resistant to Change – In Your Faith? Dream Says He Has So Much More!

Do you dream? Does God speak to you in your dreams?

Dreams are significant in the Bible and they can be significant in your life. Please know there are “God dreams”. Be open to Him speaking to you this way.

Often you will not understand the complete interpretation of a meaningful dream until weeks, months, or even years later.

Fuller understanding might come after other things happen in your life or the Lord has revealed other truths about Himself to you. Be patient. He knows when you need to have more clarity in a dream that seems important.

Remember – Jesus told His disciples, “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (Jn 16:12)

Sometimes we cannot ‘bear’ (Greek take up, carry) them because our mindset is so unchangeable that we couldn’t hear it if we even wanted to.

That is why it is so important to be like the ‘Bereans’  – they searched the scriptures to see if what they were hearing was so. They were not searching the scriptures to prove something new, fresh, different was NOT true. (Acts 17:11)

Today I share a dream that happened eight years ago, but the freshness of it is still as palpable as it was back then. What is more significant is seeing fuller  meaning in this dream even after eight years!

Click the video to hear the dream and see if you could be like me!

Dig In

  • We all have religious traditions and a world view through which we determine our understanding of life and God. Isn’t it sweet that God can use even dreams to expose and dismantle misguided or limited views.
  • Are you open to change? If not, ask the Lord why you aren’t. Are you too comfortable, too fearful, too set in your religious ways? Don’t forget – change is a principle in growth and maturity.
  • All true growth and maturity have to do with unity of the faith, knowledge of the Son of God, maturing to the stature of the fullness of Christ Jesus. (Eph 4:13) Now why wouldn’t we want to change and grow?! Revelation brings change that brings us into the ‘so much more’! Welcome revelation, welcome God dreams, welcome change! It’s part of fullness.

Does Jesus Really Cut Off Branches That Are In Him?! No way!

Surely Jesus does not cut off branches that are “in” Him? But, it says so in the Bible!

What do we do with Jesus’ words –

“He CUTS OFF every branch in me that bears no fruit…” (John 15:2 NIV,  Emphasis mine)

or

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He TAKES AWAY…” (John 15:2 NKJV,  Emphasis mine)

Most Christians would go ‘Gulp’. How do you read that?

If you are an ‘abider’, if you are ‘in’ Him, wouldn’t that make you nervous? Does this imply you could go to hell if you do not bear fruit? Some would say, “Yes”. Yikes!

Did the translators get it wrong? Did they have a biased mindset of a Fallen Man Gospel? What is Jesus really saying?

Before we get to that let me add –

It is so easy to cut and paste scriptures. This way we can prove our own theology, doctrine, opinion, point. But, when we read scripture we must look at the overall heart of the Word made flesh and the Good News that resulted. We must read the Word through the Word Himself.

If we don’t

  • see Jesus in our interpretation
  • see unconditional love
  • sense incredible mercy and grace
  • arrive at reconciliation and restoration (the Father’s eternal intention and plan for all mankind)
  • see God’s great faithfulness (even in our unfaithfulness),

then pause and reconsider.

We just might (unknowingly) be tainted by legalism and religion – two strongholds that always promote judgment, works, and uncertainty. You will end up believing BAD news, not the Good News.

Okay, let’s check out the good news of John 15:2a, when you consider a few Greek meanings –

Every

branch‘klema’ – shoot, twig, branch

in – ‘en’ (a preposition) – in, inside, within, something which operates from the inside (within)

Me not

bearing‘pheró’ – to bear, carry along, temporarily or to a definite (prescribed) conclusion

fruit‘karpos’ –  fruit, result, gain

He (the vinedresser/Father God)

takes away – airó’ – to raise, take up, lift

Can you see it?!

While we are abiding in Jesus there can be times or situations whenA Shoot from the Vine we are like little shoots or twigs –  vulnerable, weak, tender, fresh. Then the Father carefully lifts us up, raises us up and tends to us –  because it is in His heart to nurture, protect, mature, and produce fruit in us.   

Did you happen to notice the suggestion of resurrection in the ‘raises us up/lifts us up’?! Sweet, huh?.

God doesn’t want us ‘down and out’, nor does He take us away, as if to get rid of us. The Father is a tender vinedresser. He knows how to keep us remaining and bearing.

Now you know – you won’t be taken away, you won’t be cut off! No way!

What a great Vinedresser He is! So relax. Be amazed at the fruit He will enable you to bear as He lifts you up and supports you in those tender ‘twig’ times of weakness and vulnerability. He is doing it all. You just get to abide – and feel safe and secure.

Dig In

  • Are you in a ‘tender twig’ time or have a ‘simple shoot’ look and don’t see any fruit? Not to worry. You are tailor made to be raised up and lifted up in your Father’s loving hands. Just rest in His support. He keeps you and makes sure you will mature into a strong branch that bears HIS fruit.
  • Remember that religion expects and even demands fruit. Don’t fall for that – there will NOT be any support in this system – just guilt, and that brings you down. He made you for ‘up’!
  • There is great certainty when we are ‘in’ Him. When you are ‘in’, your purpose is ‘abide’. It’s really quite simple, and yet profound. What a Vine! What a Vinedresser! What a life! What fullness!

The next post will look at the second half of John 15:2. More good news!

What Does It Mean to Abide In The Vine? Part Two – False Vine Is Possible!

I ended my previous post with –  Next post we will find out what God had in mind about abiding! You just might be surprised!

In light of some fresh insights that happened yesterday, about Jesus’ passage of ‘abiding’, I need to postpone the surprise of what it really means to abide. I think these additional nuggets will wow you, like they did me.

So hang on for a series of good stuff about John 15:1-12!

The previous post, Part One, talked about things we do that enable us to abide in the vine. In and of themselves they can be part of growing in our relationship with God, but they are not what Jesus was specifically talking about when it comes to abiding.

This post, Part Two, exposes the false vine possibility!

Jesus said, “I am the TRUE vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” (Jn 15:1, Emphasis added.)

This implies there can be a false vine and even a false vinedresser!

The Father would not tend to a false vine, right? He’d be wasting His time and not being true to Himself. Thus, if we are abiding in a false vine, then that means we could have someone (or a thing) tending to us that is not a true vinedresser/husbandman/worker of the soil. Hey, this could also mean the possibility of  false fruit!Abiding In A False Vine or the True Vine

Gosh, what could a false vine possibly be?

  • a particular denomination/non-denomination/house church
  • a pastor (certain personality and teaching style)
  • doctrines
  • rituals
  • the Bible
  • ministry
  • other believers (AKA fellowship)

Am I saying these are bad? No. But, they can be if they are substitutes for the real deal. Taken to extreme, they could even be idols! That is when they are really ‘bad’ for us. Those things cannot produce fullness or fruitfulness, even though they might ‘feel’ or look like they do.

How to know if these things are not false vines:

  • they are not your identity or even make up part of your identity
  • they do not consume your time and energy
  • they do not lure or sway your thoughts and emotions
  • they do not control you (e.g. through guilt, fear, condemnation, manipulation)
  • they point you to Jesus
  • they help unfold the wonder of Jesus
  • they help you fall more in love with Jesus
  • they increase your love for all the ‘branches’

Obviously Jesus made it clear we are to abide in Him, and Him only. But that can seem nebulous, confusing, or difficult. How do you abide in something you can’t see? Then He talked about pruning, casting out branches, and fire stuff. Yikes!

So maybe this abiding in Him doesn’t look so good in light of ‘judgment’ that seems to be part of His telling us to abide?

Maybe, those substitutes aren’t so bad after all? They can seem to have an appearance of abiding, so isn’t that good enough? Then I don’t have to think about those verses of being cut off and thrown into the fire.

If you have any judgment notions about ‘abiding in the vine’ then please know religion’s ‘fallen man gospel’ has duped you. You are being deceived by false teaching that nullifies the Word of God.
(Mark 7:1-13)

Okay, enough of that religious mindset of hell fire, better watch out, naughty or nice junk! This kind of twisted and confused thinking has propped up our notion that God can be mean, even if He is joyful.

This false teaching actually promotes a false vine and leads to continued uncertainty in one’s relationship with God.

As true abiding unfolds in up coming posts you will see the tenderness, supply, nurturing, fullness, and joy of it all!

Stay tuned. You will never look at abiding as an uncertain and scary dynamic of Christian living again.

Dig In

  • There is an ease and a rest in abiding in the true vine. If you get uptight about abiding then just figure you have heard false teaching. Truth is on the way to bring you pure abiding.
  •  Scary prospects come with the traditional religious gospel message. The true Gospel has nothing but certainty, clarity, paradoxical and illogical grace, compassion, love that never fails, faithfulness that covers our unfaithfulness. Abide in truth, ditch the false uncertain junk.
  • Enjoy and receive from those ‘things’ that make Jesus even more real and nourishing. They can be an asset towards abiding in Him, and in Him alone. But remember true abiding is empowered by the Spirit of God. (1Jn 4:13)

What Does It Mean to Abide In The Vine? Part One -The Wrong Way!

Do you abide in the Vine? How? When? Why? Where?

Shoot, all I knew was, I sure didn’t want to be one of those branches that gets cut off and thrown into the fire! That thought alone is enough to make me want to abide or at least die trying to!

Come on now. Is that what Jesus was trying to get across in His message about the Vine and the branches? You had better abide, or else.

Have you ever noticed how we Christians are notorious for wanting a step by step plan to:

  • Do it right
  • Be right
  • Please God
  • Impress God/others
  • Mature in things of God
  • Advance the kingdom
  • Do our duty
  • Show how thankful we are for His ultimate sacrifice by doing and obeying

Hey, maybe just give me 3 points, and I will do it. How about a list, then I can check it off. I know, let’s make a chart and the visual impact will be a big motivator!How NOT To Abide

Sound familiar?

Truly I did not understand Paul’s words – “…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:2-4)

Confession time – I was one zealous believer back in the day. I had no clue of “knowledge”, even though I thought I did! Hey, I even remember using that phrase, “they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”, as a way to judge others! Sick, huh?

Paul nailed it with this wonderful description of those of us who, in misguided sincerity, are trying so hard. Our fervor and zeal only wear us out, they don’t do a lick to develop any righteousness or please God, let alone abide. But we can’t see that, because we busy doing the stuff, or feeling guilty for not doing the stuff.

By the way, do you see how our “step by step” formulaic mindset is another way of establishing our own righteousness?

Geesh, I’m so thankful in my ‘old’ age He finally broke through all the religious mindsets to show me what He really wants. Has to do with fullness and freedom!

Okay, back to the Abiding topic.

Traditional Christian responses on how to abide:

  • “Quiet time” is necessary – BE STILL, focus on Him, renounce any wandering thoughts, write down wandering thoughts so they stop wandering.
  • Make sure you sincerely worship God, which best happens with worshipful music. In fact, some believe you can only truly worship with music.
  • “Carpet time” might help. (For those who aren’t familiar with that phrase, this means laying prostrate on the ground as you worship Him or are ‘still’. Not to say this is a bad thing to do, but it gets twisted as a work, a should, a must, a need to – particularly to show Him you are humbling yourself.
  • Read the Bible and meditate on scripture. Even memorizing scripture will show Him you really want to abide.
  • Pray in tongues, but do it quietly for true abiding. 🙂

Is that what God had in mind when Jesus said “Abide in Me, and I in you.”? (Jn 15:4)

Dig In

  • Are you good at abiding by doing stuff? Have you been caught in the religious works traps of abiding? Please realize you don’t have to stay trapped.
  • Do you like three step formulas, check lists, charts? Have you ever tracked your abiding success rate from these things? Having done the stuff do you feel restful, full, and certain?
  • What kind of fruit do you bear with the traditional Christian ways of abiding? What kind of fruit do you think God is looking for when we truly abide?

Next post we will find out what God had in mind about abiding! You just might be surprised!

Does Faith Have Joy or Works?

We tend to think of faith as something we do.

In my former religious-traditions-walk I was taught there were things I needed to do to prove my faith and grow in faith. For example:

  • Memorize scripture, especially ‘faith’ passages
  • Declare scriptures out loud – the thinking is that if you speak it then it has more power
  • Fasting is necessary
  • Have quiet time and worship time
  • Pray in the Spirit often
  • Listen to faith teachings
  • Have positive confessions and don’t acknowledge negative circumstances
  • ‘Name it and claim it’

Looks like, to have faith, we must do something. It is up to us. Many Christians have been taught that without faith you can’t do mighty signs and wonder, can’t heal, and can’t advance the kingdom of God. He is looking for spiritual giants – after all there is a war to fight and we need more faith!

What a misunderstanding of faith!

Little did I realize, back then, all those ‘to do’ things were keeping me from TRUE faith and joy, and fullness.

Do you realize that joy is a natural part of faith?

Paul effortlessly and gladly demonstrated this faith dynamic in his repetitive words of, “Rejoice! Again, I say rejoice!”, while imprisoned in a dark cell. (Php 4:4)

Paul acknowledged the Philippians’ “joy of the faith”. (Php 1:25)

Then Paul extolled how he was filled with joy remembering the genuine faith that was in Timothy. (2Tim 1:4,5)

Check out the Greek to get the fullest meaning of Paul’s joy about faith:

Paul was

  • filled (plēróō  – to make full, complete)
  • with joy (chara – joy, delight greatly, gladness)
  • when he called (lambanó – to take hold of, to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available)
  • to remembrance (hupomnésis – remembrance, recollection, putting in mind, a reminder
  • the genuine (anupokritos – unfeigned, without hypocrisy, sincere, no phoniness from a hidden agenda)
  • faith (pistis – faith, trust, belief, confidence. From root peithô – to persuade, be persuaded. Faith is God’s divine persuasion on the human heart. Faith is always received from God, never generated by us.)

that was in Timothy.

Was Paul working up joy when he was in the midst of prison? No! Paul’s joy flowed from the faith by which he was persuaded. He knew who he was in Christ Jesus, and circumstances did not alter his confidence, trust, and faith. Joy remained because it is naturally and spiritually a part of true faith.

Paul saw this same faith in Timothy. It was genuine. True faith has no pretenses, no striving, no performance, no requirements, no hype. True faith is rock steady, full of rest, and certainty. Now, who wouldn’t have joy with that kind of faith?!

If you have uncertainty in your walk with God, if you think you waver in your faith, then please realize you have not heard the truth about genuine faith. He wants to persuade you with the truth of real faith and joy. And He will do it because having His faith is knowing your true identity. He wants you to get it. He wants to whack you with the joy of faith!

Dig In

  • Paul said, “I live by the faith OF the Son of God.” (Gal 2:20, emphasis mine) Okay, it’s His faith. Then remember how much joy Jesus has over us? (Prov 8:31) His great delight came out of His faith about us. He was fully persuaded that who He made in His image was perfect. What a huge gift His faith is to us!
  • If you have gotten caught up in all the ‘works’ of faith that religion says you need to do, then ask Him to free you from all that misunderstanding and striving. Then enter into His joy of faith.His Gift of Joy of Faith! Receive! Go ahead, receive – there are no ‘strings’ attached, but hey, maybe a bow of ribbons for fun!
  • “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence on account of His faith.” (Eph 3:12) When we grasp we have His faith – talk about certainty! Let’s get certain! It is part of fullness upon fullness!

Why Is Born Again A Big Deal!

The previous post about Jesus NOT saying “you have to be born again” certainly stirred up some questions and challenges from some readers. Great!

Hearing ‘Born Again’ For Years

Having heard the ‘born again’ phrase for over sixty years, I too was taken aback when I heard the real meaning to what Jesus said. So I am not surprised that those raised in or involved in ‘church’ would balk, dismiss, or wonder ‘what in the world is she talking about?!’.

It is unsettling and even upsetting to have our traditional religious teachings and phrases called into question, dismantled, or (gasp!) blown up! Resistance is to be expected.

Question

Let me ask you a question. Does the Christian teaching you have had, does the truth that you know -REALLY set you free? Do you live in abundant joy? Do you live in certainty and confidence? Are you content in whatever circumstances you are in? Do you abide in a place of rest and peace? Do you really love yourself? Do you experience love for ALL people?

If your answer is “no” to any or all of the above questions, then maybe what you know as truth is not the fullness of truth. Just maybe you have not heard or understood the pure Gospel, the really good news!

Do I live in all those things (above) all the time? No. But I now realize it is mine to have right now right here – because that is what the New Covenant scriptures declare! I am maturing in these truths.

Hey, it really is okay to question. Just think, how many times Jesus called into question the traditions of His day!

Back to the ‘born again’

Two more points:

1)      John 3:3 – Jesus totally changed the direction Nick began with, by starting with the words (various translations) – “Most assuredly” “Truly, Truly” “Verily, verily” “Truly…emphatically” “the solemn truth” “guarantee this truth” “Most certainly”

The Greek words in the text are “amḗn, amḗn…” Phonetically (am-ane’)

amḗn definition: verily, truly, amen, so let it be; as an “emphasis marker,” introduces a statement of pivotal importance – i.e. that is essential in interpreting the over-all passage.

Nicodemus You Are From Above!

Verily, Verily. Pay attention Nick!

Looks like we need to pay close attention to what Jesus was saying!

2)      Did you notice this in Jn 3:7?!

Jesus seems to conclude with a little humor by including Nick’s Greek word gennáō  (Greek  beget, give birth to Jn 3:4), as He re-enforces His anóthen point about needing to be ‘from above’.

“Do not be amazed that I said to you, “You must be born again.”

Now if we grew up with this ‘born again’ phrase we would automatically think Jesus is confirming what we’ve been taught in church – ‘you have to be born again’ – i.e. you have to repent of your sins in order to be saved, you have to be forgiven of your sins, you have to ask Jesus to be your Savior. Then you are saved and can go to heaven.

But, Jesus is NOT saying that!

The Full Import of Jn 3:7

Let’s look at a few Greek words from this verse, to get Jesus’ point.

  • amazed – Greek thaumázō – astonished out of one’s senses; awestruck, “wondering very greatly”
  • must be – Greek deí – properly, what must happen, i.e. what is absolutely necessary, inevitable
  • born – Greek gennáō – properly, beget (procreate a descendant), produce offspring; (passive) be born, “begotten”
  • again – Greek  anóthen  – from above, from a higher place, from the first, from the very first, from of old, anew, over again, indicating repetition

Here’s my very loose paraphrase of what Jesus was reiterating for Nicodemus:

“Hey Nick, don’t be bent out of shape, what I am saying is an absolute must.  Your natural birth must first originally begin at the very first from a higher place. Where you began has to happen anew, it must happen over again.”

In other words, Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to see where man originally began, before he came from his mother’s womb. Jesus would renew and restore our original source and beginning. He accomplished this through His death and resurrection. And, He also dealt sin a final death blow, once for all!

My point is to help you begin to see how important it is to get back to your beginning, your origin, your true identity. That is the really good news! Talk about freedom!

Dig In

  • If you find yourself absolutely unwilling to question your religious traditions then consider how confined you are. Jesus came to bring freedom. Religious rituals, rules, doctrines do not bring freedom.
  • It really is okay to question what you’ve been taught. God is not nervous about or disappointed in you questioning. He longs for you to be immersed in abundant truth and know fullness.
  • Don’t let your shallow identity keep you from discovering your true identity. You are meant to be ‘wowed’ with who you really are. God is certainly ‘wowed’ by you. For goodness sake – you are made in His image – why wouldn’t that be a ‘wow!’?

More points to follow! Stay tuned!

What Are You Good At That Does Not Bring Fullness?

There are some things we can be pretty good at, but they steal from us His fullness of life. For goodness sake then, why do we want to be ‘good at’ those?!

Let’s see. Are you good at:

  • worrying
  • being fearful
  • being discouraged
  • striving
  • being angry
  • holding onto offenses
  • finding fault
  • doubting
  • being hopeless
  • man pleasing
  • being smart and figuring everything out
  • being busy
  • doing it right and being right

A couple of those don’t seem all that bad. But none of those are life giving.

Okay, how can we  be good at what is life giving?

Actually there is a place, a quiet place of refreshing and abundance. This place (actually a Person AKA Jesus) will help you get free from all those life depleting things you are ‘good at’.

This place is free, accessible, available, eternal. Certainty is there. 

All you have to do is push the ‘stop’ or ‘pause’ button of your lifeand sink into this place of green pastures. Anytime, anywhere. The Shepherd of your soul welcomes you. And as you ‘lie down’, deep will call unto deep.

This wonderful blessing is a spirit thing. You don’t earn it, deserve it, contend for it, buy it.  Plus, it has nothing to do with who you are in the religious hierarchical kingdom. So don’t sweat it! He freely gives His refreshing presence and He wants all of us refreshed.

May I suggest you do the following before viewing:

  • settle into a chair or stand still
  • take a deep breath, let it out
  • be open to receive

then hit ‘Play’. In 59 seconds you will be renewed.

Dig In

  • Let Him refresh you daily – “You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word You let me catch my breath…”  (Ps 23:2,3 MES)
  • Ponder this: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10 NKJ)  The word ‘still’ in Hebrew is rapha (raw fah’) – it means ‘sink, relax, cease, let go’.
  • Ask Him to wash off those things you are ‘good at’ that steal from the fullness that is freely yours. Hey, those depleting things are not your true identity!

The video, “Green Pastures Make For Deep Waters” is from my painting of the same name. It can be found on my art my web site.  

Christian Identity Crisis Affects Certainty

Ever had an identity crisis?

Do you know for certain who you are? Do you know for certain who God says you are? I’m realizing many Christians have an identity crisis, including myself! We just don’t know it!

Towards the end of December 2012 the Lord caught my attention with the TV advertiser’s phrase, “The new normal is uncertainty.” It prompted the two previous posts about uncertainty/certainty. But little did I know over these last three weeks since the second posting He would be depositing in me clearer understanding of certainty as a Christian. That’s why it’s been a while since my last post. I am being overwhelmed with liberating truth!

As I am grasping more of what Jesus did at the cross I realized my list of ways  that help us be ‘uncertain’ are easy to do, because of a Christian identity crisis. Very few Christians really know who they are in Christ Jesus or what really happened at the cross.

Now realizing there are some inaccurate things (according to the Word) in my last post, I am excited to make corrections and share the wonders about His scandalous grace that are being unfolded to me. By the way, that is an encouraging aspect of the Lord – there is always room to grow and change. In fact, for all eternity we will be discovering riches about Him. Actually we are to discover and live in some of those riches here and now! (Eph 1:17-19)

Do you know that much of what has been taught or modeled in Christianity today keeps us in a place of uncertainty? In fact it promotes a place of separation. An illusion of separation from Him, that is.

To illustrate – how about the way we pray. We still consider Him as up there, out there, or somewhere. We think we have to reach out to Him, even find Him!

Reaching Out

Sometimes we ‘reach out’ and ask, “Where are You?! Can You hear me?” Maybe if we shout? Maybe weep? Plead and beg? Fast? Maybe worship more, pray more, do more?  Then He will hear and answer?

Why do we think that and do those things?!

Hmm, this brings to mind some phrases I remember praying with other fervent-hearted believers  – “Oh God, don’t pass me by!” or “Oh God, don’t pass us by!” or “Oh God, have mercy!” This makes me chuckle now. What an identity crisis we had! The Bible says, “He is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us.” (Eph 2:4) Scripture also says that it is according to His great mercy that has caused us to be born again to a living hope. (1Pet 1:3)  In fact, His mercies are new every morning! (Lam 3:22,23) So why would we cry out for mercy, for goodness sake?!

Now here is a big part of the Christian identity crisis – many believers think they are just ‘sinners saved by grace’. We still believe Is. 59:1,2 is true in our walk with God  – “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

Because of that kind of thinking or belief, we live under the Old Covenant while being part of the New Covenant. This duality smacks against the cross and brings confusion, uncertainty, and striving.

Do you know that under the New Covenant, He has taken away our sins! He has even forgiven all our sins! (Jn 1:29   1Jn 3:5  1Jn 2:12  Col 2:13)  So much for separation because of sin! Remember, we are saints, holy ones – thanks to Jesus!

Here is something that kicks that ‘separation’ mindset in the teeth! When we believe on Jesus and His ‘once for all’ sacrifice, then He comes to live inside of us. In fact, so does the Father and the Holy Spirit. They not only live in us but we are one with Them! (Jn 17:21,23  7:38,39) Goodness gracious, we can’t get any closer or fuller than that! So why do we keep ‘reaching out’ to God when the whole Godhead is living and flowing inside of us!

Certainty Himself said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up, nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down, [relax My hold on you] – Assuredly not!” (Heb 13:5 AMP)

If we get what Certainty firmly and clearly said about never leaving us and being for us, then we can throw off that illusion of separation and a distant God. We will then resoundingly say – “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, ‘The Lord is My Helper, I will not be seized with alarm – I will not fear or dread or be terrified.’” (Heb 13:6 AMP)

Next time you pray, just remember He is so near you that He is IN you. He is one with you so He hears you clearly, even your unspoken words. And please know, He wants you to hear Him clearly.

Oh the certainty of an abiding relationship with Him! He brought this about, we had and have nothing to do with it. He maintains this oneness, we don’t. It is ours to enjoy! It is founded on His faithful everlasting love.  He declared, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” (Jer 31:3 MSG)

Oh the certainty of LOVE!

He is rocking my boat because of clearer understanding of truth about certainty found in His cross, love, mercy, and grace! May He rock yours too! It’s part of growing in the fullness of our identity in Him.

Dig In

  • If you struggle as a believer, you just may have an identity crisis. A sinner mentality sure keeps us struggling and working hard.
  • Drop the religious stuff and grab hold of the relationship. There is absolutely no condemnation in it. It is an internal abiding one where resting in Certainty awaits you.
  • If you catch yourself ‘reaching out’ to Him, just remind yourself to look within. He is that close!

Prophetic Senses In The Newtown Tragedy

How does one not break into tears or get choked up when viewing the images of the aftermath of Newtown’s devastating loss? Indeed, the untimely death of so many precious little lives and the adults that cared for them is gripping to the core. Truly our nation mourns for these families that have suffered such loss.Newtown aftermath
In the midst of watching these events unfold via television newscasts I was struck by the word “inexplicable” that someone used while being interviewed about the horrendous tragedy that struck Sandy Hook Elementary School. That seemed like an appropriate word – how do you explain such carnage?

But ‘in the Lord’ it does not have to be “inexplicable” and there can be clarity. There is a prophetic dynamic in the Lord that is available for us to access in the midst of difficulty, confusion, heartache, and needed answers.  He wants us to walk in wisdom, understanding, and discernment.

He brings light to dark situations. In fact the word says, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”(Jn 1:5) Even in the natural before dawn can break forth it takes the dark night. If we look to the Lord in the darkness, light will surely come. Understanding will unfold even as the dawn will progress to the noonday sun and shadows will be no more. His Light will cause all shadows of fear, confusion, and doubt to flee.

The world’s way can only process at a lower level when trying to figure out great loss – looking for motive, for mental or emotional issues, for broken relationships, etc. to try and explain the inexplicable. These certainly play a part and might seem to be the root causes. But there is another hidden deeper root that is usually not spoken of because of complete ignorance or lack of understanding.

Without knowing this deeper dark root it is easy to just blame God. If He is so good and He is in charge, then how could He allow this?  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Again, if we do not go deeper in understanding we will walk this life angry, bitter, confused, and/or hindered. We will miss out on His fullness. He wants us full no matter the difficulty.

A television anchor came close to exposing this hidden dark root. He said, “Evil has visited Newtown.”

Evil is the operative word here and indeed evil visited Newtown. The demonic is very real. Satan and his demons are malicious and relentless. They work through man’s selfish and broken flesh to incite destruction, perversion, fear, and doubt, along with other negative effects. They hinder us from living  abundant lives. They work to twist our understanding of who God really is. Most of the world and, even many Christians, fail to realize or grasp the cosmic warfare that is going on around us, let alone the demonic influence among us and for some, within.

Though these dark forces might look like they are in charge or winning, the good news is this is one of the very reasons Jesus came –  “to destroy the works of the devil”. (1Jn 3:8) Further good news – He has empowered His people to deal with these dark forces.

As I waited on the Lord to look for prophetic signs in this tragedy several things became evident. The dark side was obviously at work, but the Lord was clear and present. These prophetic indications bring me great hope and confidence. He always trumps Satan.

The meanings of personal names, words, titles, functions, etc. can be significant. Symbolic meanings of numbers and colors can be also important. Processing these types of things help  in trying to understand difficult or confusing circumstances, and are also of benefit in interpreting dreams. For my limited exposure to this tragic situation I found the following to bring some understanding and eternal perspective.

Prophetic things to consider:

  • Sandy Hook Elementary – the meaning of the name Sandy is ‘defending men’. Much defending and protecting happened at this school on that fateful day.
  • Adam, the killer – meaning of Adam is ‘to be red, earth’. Adam, the name of the first man, is symbolic of God’s marvelous creation of man and also, sadly, fallen man. The name Adam can symbolize the brokenness and depravity that resides in our flesh as a result of the fall. Yet One came to rescue ‘man’ from dark ways and broken relationship with Him. All because He so loved the world.
  • Nancy, shot by her son Adam, – the meaning of Nancy is ‘grace’. Satan hates grace and would like to annihilate it. But he never will. “Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:16) “Where ‘sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” (Rom 5:20) Amazing grace is being poured out profusely in Newtown.
  • 20 children were killed – the number 10 is scripturally symbolic of ‘trial or testing’. Here, the ten is doubled – hence, double the trial and testing. He can use this trial to increase faith and endurance, that His people may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Ja 1:2-4)
  • 8 boys were killed – the number eight is scripturally symbolic of ‘new beginnings, regeneration’. Also the sum of Jesus’ name in the Greek is ‘888’. In Jesus there is always new beginning and regeneration for ‘man’ (symbolized by the eight boys).
  • 12 girls were killed – the number twelve is scripturally symbolic of ‘divine government, apostolic fullness, divine power, rule, anointing’. Those in Christ are known as His bride. She is called to rule and reign with power and authority. Satan hates the Bride of Christ. The loss of so many little girls is symbolic of the enemy’s hatred of the love of His life, His Bride. God told Satan in the garden after the fall – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gn 3:15) Jesus triumphed over the enemy and He will do it through His reigning Bride.
  • 6 adults at the school were killed – the number six is scripturally symbolic of ‘man, the Beast, Satan, imperfection, sin, fallen human nature’.  It is also scripturally symbolic of a ‘place of refuge’. Though the enemy manifest himself that day by destroying six adults and using the  fallen flesh of a hurting young man, those six adults were a refuge to all those little ones in that school.
  • The children were a picture of Jesus’ love for children – “Let the children alone, do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt 19:14 “Unless you are converted and become like children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:3-4) The openness, dependency, simplicity, and abandoned love of children is dear to the Lord. Satan thought he could take a swipe at them but the word says these little ones angels in heaven continually see the face of Jesus’ Father who is in heaven. (Mt 18:10) God’s huge love and care were encircling these little ones even in the midst of horror and death. He will also be ministering to the surviving Sandy Hook Elementary children who were there on that horrendous day.
  • The teachers were targeted. Teachers are so special in their ingrained desire to impart life lessons and knowledge to children. They have a genuine care for their students, their well being, and their success. They are passionate in wanting others to learn and grow. Jesus was also a Teacher who imparted eternal truths to His students. He deeply desires that His disciples mature and grow. The enemy hates life-giving teaching and the heart found in good teachers. Satan thought he could destroy some teachers but they rose up to the higher call to protect and comfort those in their charge. The heart of these teachers won, not Satan.
  • Newtown – I found that name very prophetic. Newtown is picture of community, of family. God is our Heavenly Father who cares deeply about family. He loves community. His heart aches for their loss and pain. He will heal them. Newtown also speaks of ‘new’, and in light of this situation speaks of hope. He will do something new in Newtown. (Is 43:19)

No death or destruction instigated by demons or man’s flesh can match the resurrection power of God. He is good and He cares. He will redeem this awful tragedy. There will be many testimonies of His grace and goodness. The enemy thought he won, but God always trumps evil.

His grace, comfort, and love will prevail in Newtown.

Dig In:

  • As His children, we do not have to be confused and overwhelmed by difficult  or horrendous circumstances that happen at large or that directly impact our lives.
  • He wants us to grow in prophetic understanding no matter what happens. When we look for and discover the prophetic in any situation we will find encouragement, edification, reassurance, comfort, insight, and rest.  He really is at work in every situation. He wants us to see that. Ask Him to open your eyes to really ‘see’.
  • We are not to be ignorant of or fearful of Satan, demons, or their schemes. (2Cor 2:11) Spiritual warfare is happening all the time. He has equipped us to fight. (Eph 6:11-12) We have been given authority and power over every dark force. We are called to defeat them and be more than overcomers. It is part of growing in God’s fullness.