“You, Lord, Care for People and Animals”…Maggie!

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.”  Psalm 36:6

One may recall from previous post, “The Lord Taketh Away…Maggie!” (3/5/17) that I tearfully purchased a burial pod for my furry friend in February this year. But six months after the significant diagnoses of megacolon, liver mass, pancreatitis, cholangiohepatitis, and anemia, Maggie is still here and on the go!

Maggie in PA for Summit School of Ministry graduation…

Maggie in PA (2)

Graduation can wait…room service please!!

Why is this important? The Lord often reveals His truths and glory through His creation, whether through the lion’s boldness, the ant’s diligence, or the beauty of the lily of the valley. In fact, the Lord can reveal His truths through any and all the circumstances in our life…which includes the life of Maggie! God is not bound by any report of man whether it is a negative, even terminal, medical report, a ‘pink slip’, divorce paper or ominous threat. When such a report comes, it may be time for the ‘burial pod’ but faith should open our heart to whatever the Lord reveals for His purpose and pleasure.

When the Lord calls us to “go” or to “do”, He will enable us, provide for us, and fulfill His purposes through us in spite of limitations and obstacles. It is through those challenges that faith muscles grow and God’s word is proven.

May this truth take root – God is not deterred when the sun is setting on our life. Age, dwindling resources, and increasing weakness are not hardships to God who declares, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” The Lord is not looking for super Christians, only surrendered vessels in whom He can dwell. Whether He allows or brings us into storms of hardship, disappointment, sickness, or betrayal we can hold onto the promise of Romans 8:28 which represents the sovereignty of God. For those who are His, all circumstances, events, calamities and details – even enemies – are under His control.

Elderly Maggie attends All Night Prayer (Commemorate Armenian MartyrsPray for Their Unborn posted 4/12/17)

Maggie at all night prayer (2)

Well, nearly all night!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-7

Our ‘own understanding’ leads us to ‘figure it out’, ‘plan ahead’ and ‘move forward’ without hearing from God. While the world rewards ‘self-starters’, the ‘empowered’ and ‘ambitious’, the Lord is seeking surrendered followers who wait and trust Him with the lead.

Maggie and Bible 2

“Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

God knows when every “sparrow falls to the ground” and He knows the exact day Maggie will ‘fall to the ground’. Until then and until that day comes for us, we are not bound by any bad report of man.  If “our lives are hidden in Christ” He has reign over our lives and will “order our steps” as we surrender to Him.

“Lord, I pray that we can live each day with faith that You’re in charge, that You have all authority, and that You are well able to order our steps. I pray for a hunger to know your word more and meditate upon it so it takes root and lives within me. Help me to commit and obey. May the reports of ‘man’ – no matter how ominous or weighty – never cause us to shutter but compel us to seek you, trust you and wait upon you for direction.  Amen.” .

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11

The Importance of Failure in Our Walk With God

That Sunday morning started out good and got even better during church. The Lord allowed another ‘chance encounter’ with someone who needed prayer and counsel. This time a single mother was outside the sanctuary, weeping and distraught. I was so grateful for the words to minister and was elated later when I saw her come inside and join the service.

I was feeling so ‘good’ in fact I prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let me think I’m anyone special or that it is in me to restore or uplift anybody. Humble me Lord.” The last part of the prayer made me a bit nervous….

That afternoon, at a ministry meeting, the director spoke about engaging troubled and rebellious people, a frequent occurrence in a large urban church. He discussed techniques to verbally disarm and defuse hostile people and lead them effectively to comply. Ah, didn’t I know all this? Hadn’t I practiced these interventions?

Later that same afternoon, in walks a woman with children wanting assistance from church ministry. While she and the kids were treated to a meal at a nearby diner, she returned wanting further assistance. She did not need shelter but apparently money. Someone gave her the impression that she might get such help after the service.

She waited in the lobby as the service went on and, not interested in ‘church’ she grew impatient, disregarding the promptings of ushers and others not to sit on the floor, to supervise her kids, etc. Our ministry was asked to intervene, I took the lead. When I approached and assessed her angry face, all the ‘disarming techniques’ fell to the ground. I explained that she must comply. She refused and dismissed me. I responded with a statement that, not only got her off the floor but unleashed the rest of her pent up fury. While the pastor was preaching in the sanctuary, she yelled out obscenities and curses upon me in the lobby. Apologies were futile as my pointed words somehow broke a floodgate of anger. My husband berated me and the woman stormed out of the lobby, continuing her ranting out on the sidewalk.

Just when I thought I couldn’t feel lower, she yelled out from the sidewalk, “You don’t know what I’ve been through!!” No, I surely didn’t know and would probably never know. Her statement so indicted me, and in front of everyone! I felt like such a loser and to think just that morning….

I was feeling so ‘good’ in fact I prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let me think I’m anyone special or that it is in me to restore or uplift anybody. Humble me Lord.”

Agh! I was humbled in front of the brethren whose esteem I value. I did not at all feel like ‘anyone special’ but rather especially terrible.

The Lord graciously exposed the pride in my heart, enough pride to feel sufficient in my own capabilities. I had assessed a situation with my own reasoning, without the spiritual discernment or compassion to reach beyond a person’s presenting hostility. James chapter 3 points to the power of our words, so apropos is verse 5, “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark”. Yet, lest the devil tempt us with self-condemnation James assures us that, “We all stumble in many ways.”

Importantly, I truly sensed that while the Lord was exposing and humbling, His promise and purpose for my life did not diminish. In fact, with correction and surrender, I am confident to continue, knowing that in Christ my failures don’t define me but can truly refine me.

I am thankful for a heavenly Father who (painfully) chastises, not at all to condemn, but to refine and mature so that we may move forward and better represent Him. Ultimately however, it is God’s will that we be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29) towards which He will reveal, chastise and humble our un-Christ-like ways.

Has this ever happened to you?

“Heavenly Father, I pray for all of us who have failed in any way, made a wrong choice, or fell into a temptation.  I pray that we all receive your correction in love, resist every temptation of self-condemnation, and rest assured of your fellowship and promise . For those who don’t know You and Your loving fellowship, I pray that they enter into relationship, repenting of every wrongdoing and receiving full pardon and new life by trusting in Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose, conquering death.  May we all know freedom from condemnation and abundant life through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

When the Lord “Taketh Away”…Maggie!

“…the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Job 1:21

Soon after Maggie’s fabulous New Year Resolutions (see December 2016: Resolutions? Maggie Knows the Best!) she went to her vet with constipation and another seemingly minor complaint.  Surely simple interventions would resolve the problems and we’d be on our way….

“Haven’t you noticed that Maggie’s lost weight over the past few months?  She’s lost 2 pounds!”  The concern on Dr. Chiverton’s face seemed odd, I thought slimming down was a good thing.  However, x-rays, a sonogram and overview of blood work analysis yielded bad news…liver tumor, pancreatitis, and the final stage of chronic constipation – megacolon.  I saw the results and know what they mean for a 16 year old cat, “I want to treat her, make her comfortable, but I don’t want to prop up her life artificially to make me happy.”  With that I left Maggie in the clinic hospital.

maggie-in-hospital

Maggie during visiting hours….

A challenge loomed ahead as a planned trip with my elderly parents was set four days later.  Could I leave my loyal and loving companion?  Might she pass away while I’m gone?  Could I disappoint my elderly parents?  I prayed and could not discard the conclusion to go.  I hired a vet tech to oversee and administer meds.   “She’ll be okay” my husband said but to me I saw her weak and fading away…

I do believe in the sovereignty of God and His desire to reveal Himself to us and that He often does so when we are oppressed and in turmoil.  He honors our decision to go forth as He leads even when our feet are iron clad. 

I went through the motions at the airport with a heavy heart.  As time passed and thoughts swirled, pain gripped my heart.  I walked slowly to a vendor for bottled water and suddenly these words rose up clearly and etched into my soul,

“In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:10 

With a deep exhale, a great weight was lifted from me and the following days passed lightly, even enjoyably.

Maggie did survive but soon returned to the hospital.  This time I began perusing ‘final destination’ plans for my furry good friend.   “I believe God’s going to heal Maggie”, said husband Bob.  I almost chuckled when he added, “she can be with us another 5 years.”  I was hoping for another 5 weeks, when the ground wouldn’t be so frozen….

As I sat in the waiting room praying, contemplating and further perusing, another verse pressed upon my heart,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above….” James 1:17

I never doubted that Maggie was a good and perfect gift from my heavenly Father.  After finding her and her litter at an abandoned brownstone, she was the friend who sat beside me during times of grief, cuddled alongside when others betrayed,and  remained constant when life events brought upheaval and confusion.   Maggie is a ‘good and perfect gift’.  From that my heart grasped the further truth:  when God gives a good and perfect gift, His hand is seen in the beginning and in the end.  I sincerely and decidedly handed Maggie back to the Lord,” I give her back to you Lord” and my worries lifted.

And what is Maggie’s status?

podphoto

We’ll be storing this away for now!

Subsequent exams show her colon shrunk.  Recent blood screens find liver enzymes normal.  Is the tumor gone?  I don’t know.  Maggie’s eating again, gained 3 ounces in two weeks and, pardon me but she’s even pooping!  It hardly gets better.

Animals may be nicer but are not more important than people however, spiritual lessons and intimate fellowship with the Lord has immeasurable value.  When scripture transforms from written word to living word, we hear from heaven.  We will not ‘throw away’ the burial pod but will trust the Lord to keep that which we committed to Him.  We trust Him to prepare us for every life event – the giving and the taking away – and anticipate His lovingkindness even or especially when brokenhearted.

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10)  Maggie agrees….

maggie-slaps-five

and slaps a low five!

Resolutions? Maggie Knows The Best!

In fact, there is no need to wait for a calendar change or ‘ball drop’ to start these….

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

maggie-reads

                                               “I will seek Him with all my heart…”

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior;  my God will hear me”.  Micah 7:7

maggie-at-window-1

                                                     “I will wait upon the Lord”

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8

maggie-snoozing

“I will rest on His promises”

I pray that we find the Lord in greater measure.  And that God’s word encourage us as we wait upon Him through trial and storm, finding rest through the Holy Spirit.  

May the Lord order our steps into the New Year.  God bless you!

The Hopeless and Futile Life of St. Barnacle and His Followers!

Saint Barnacle of Galilee is not well known but his legacy lives on throughout the generations, sadly continuing on today. He lived as peer to the Lord’s disciples in fact, he was alongside the fisherman Peter. That is when he first heard the Lord speak. Jesus’ sermons captivated this Barnacle and he soon decided to follow Him. However, Christ’s messages became more and more convicting and difficult to accept. The call to “pick up your cross” greatly interfered with his lifestyle and ambitions. Realizing though that Jesus is the Messiah, Saint Barnacle never really turned away but established a place outside the inner circle, farther from the ‘hem of His garment’ but close enough to hear at least the good messages. When the loaves and fish were multiplied, St. Barnacle and his followers were there towards the back. They missed parts of the sermon but did receive a meal.

When the Lord preached from the boat, St. Barnacle and his followers were the closest – they lodged themselves on the side of Christ’s boat but unfortunately, as barnacles they  were unable to ever leave – ever close, but unable to see Jesus. They could hear His preached word but never His intimate disclosures. When storms came, St. Barnacle and his followers were stuck on the outer side of the boat, unable to enter in and grasp a hold of the Lord. They never knew His peace.  They were distant when the Lord was crucified, and worse, they heard about the resurrection but did not witness it. They learned of the Upper Room but could neither receive nor conceive of the Holy Spirit’s outpour of might and power.

Saint Barnacle, perhaps not a saint at all, died on the side of Jesus’ boat as did many that gathered around him. A few followers however did manage to break away before that boat smashed against a rock. They continue to congregate today on the outskirts of ‘inner church circles’, never really entering in, never allowing Christ to ‘interfere’ with their lives, never really seeing the cross or accepting the call to die to self.

barnacles III

You may go places as a barnacle but never hear the Captain’s call.

Entire churches of barnacles gather today, content to live in the flow of the world,  using pearls of Holy Scripture to bolster and  coach their ambitions and goals.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their inching ears want to hear.” (II Timothy 4:3)

I pray that we turn from preaching that builds us up.  The Holy Spirit is seeking to dwell within us that we may truly walk as the Body of Christ in this world. His candidates are God’s representatives in this world – those inclined to “pick up their cross” and follow Jesus.

Proximity and familiarity could not save those outside Noah’s ark.

In these last days, noted by Jesus “as the days of Noah”, we are spinning rapidly toward His return as water quickly swirls toward the end of a funnel. Now is the time to consider and affirm our stand before the Lord. Have we truly entered into a life with Him? Are we His sheep that hear His voice?

I challenge myself and friends, resist the clamor of the world as it spins toward judgment. Let us not be bystanders in church, content with a pep talk from scripture. Let us find the flow of the Holy Spirit, where He is working, and pray to enter in. If your church does not preach the full Gospel, including true repentance and coming judgment, pray for your pastor, pray for guidance and depend on the Lord’s leading.

Barnacles never enter in but live in perpetual yet futile proximity and attachment to the boat. The intimacy, power, and presence of God is forever out of their reach….yes, forever.

Our short lives on earth today determine our place in eternity. There is no salvation found in proximity to the Lord.  We can all be stuck like barnacles, powerless in sin, complacency, and confusion.  But the Lord’s will is for us to enter into His life – He waits for us to turn.

I pray oh Lord, scrape us off from the sides of this world and draw us into Your Life, live through us that our lives might be blameless and truly matter for Your Kingdom, through whatever ‘good works you have prepared in advance for us.’ (Ephesians 2:10)

THE GENESIS OF APOSTASY

“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man…”

Although the ‘days of Noah’ are described as exceedingly wicked and violent, that is not the weighty sign of this passage as the Lord continues, “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…”  Amidst Noah’s ongoing preaching of coming judgment and obliteration, people were living their lives in denial and unbelief.  So it is today, however worse, as unbelief is coupled with a void of truthful pulpits to expound upon the Lord’s return and judgment.  The church, so much like the world, is complacent and comfortable, “…eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…” without an urgency and passion to preach the whole counsel of God for salvation.

Why do we live like there is no Book of Revelation?  Why has unbelief lulled our minds into a faith of earthly blessings and heavenly visions, without “fear and trembling” and the due awe to submit to Almighty God?  Revelation did not fade away after the Book of Jude.  Revelation unraveled with the unraveling of Genesis – a strategic dismantling of the beginning and the end of God’s Word, stunting our spiritual life and power.

“For the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any two edged sword…”

“Living and active” yet with a scalpel of human wisdom and dead end discoveries men strive to amputate the truths of Genesis and, far worse, supposed believers subscribe to alternate theories of man’s origin.

Why such ongoing cultural and intellectual attacks on Genesis?  Genesis and Revelation are God’s powerful bookends.  Few scientists write dissertations on the impossibility of Christ’s resurrection, walking on water, healing the sick or any of the multitude of miracles included in God’s Word.  The one who ‘masquerades as an angel of light’ inspires to dismiss God’s truth in Genesis, paving the road to apostasy.

Websites such as Institute for Creative Research (www.icr.org) and Answers in Genesis (www.answersingenesis) present elaborate overviews of creation and science and many learned and anointed Christian leaders such as Watchman Nee (The Mystery of Creation) provide scriptural foundation.  For example, a great mystery lies between the first two verses of the Bible, Genesis 1:1-2.  The heavens and the earth were created by God and became dark, void and empty. Study through scripture brings understanding to this unknown length of time and events between the creation of earth and the creation of mankind.

Only when we dive beyond the surface will we discover hidden treasures.

Only when we dive beyond the surface will we discover hidden treasures.

Questions should not lead us away from scripture but draw us deeper – beneath the surface – to find hidden truths and a greater measure of the Lord’s presence.

“The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”   (see: I Chron 28:9, II Chron 15:2, Jeremiah 29:13)

The spiritual cost of compromising God’s Word cannot be measured by any human standard.  While the Bible can sustain man’s scrutiny, it is pride that stirs the willingness to discount Genesis and receive seeds of disbelief and dishonor toward God.  With man in the judgment seat, the entire Word of God is tried at man’s own dire expense.

Unraveling Genesis infects the entire Word of God with a virus of unbelief, not because the Word is fragile but because it is so strongly intertwined with chronological truth and historical testimony. To ‘fictionize’ Adam and Eve casts shadows over carefully established genealogies and the numerous references to them and creation itself.  Our ‘knowledge’ puffs up over great learned and anointed spiritual leaders such as the apostle Paul, as if they were somehow naïve or ill informed, not endowed with the Spirit of God.

Choosing to believe God opens up a spiritual door of understanding, only then is the Bible truly alive and able to impart life in us.  Conversely, when we choose to disbelieve, the Bible begins to dry up as the ‘living water of God’, the Holy Spirit, will not impart Himself.

Man has not evolved at all.  In fact, after all these years of supposed intellectual and technical growth and advancement, each generation is more depraved than the last.  Puffed up with knowledge and fearless in rebellion to God’s standards, we demonstrate a vested interest in dismissing Genesis:  Robbing God of the awe and majesty as Creator of the universe and every living being emboldens us to invalidate anything else in His Word, from flagrant sin to the return of Jesus as King and Judge.

As ‘Lucifer became Satan’ we set upon a similar course, rising up as our own ‘god’ with ‘freedom’ to choose, to sin, and order our lives as we determine.  ‘Freedom to sin’ however, is like an oxymoron as every sin and allurement gives a heady feeling of control and liberty but always leads to bondage, loss, despair and futility.

Apostasy begins as we devalue Genesis and, without repentance, infect our faith with disbelief.   Losing the supernatural counselor, the Holy Spirit, we are left to rely solely on ourselves for understanding – yielding a futile and foolhardy study of Scripture.

in the beginning

Let us delve deeper into this great beginning, aligning ourselves with Him and the power of His Holy Spirit.  God, our Creator and King, delights to open the treasures of His Word to us.  To the sincere and seeking heart, He reveals Himself with great reward, opens a view of eternity, and prepares us for His great and promised return.

5 Benefits of Excruciating Trials

In these end times when sin and apostasy abound there is an undeniable deep shaking, the epicenter of which lies in the Body of Christ.  Many are suffering great persecution and loss from the rise of nightmarish demonic enemies.   Others who live in relative safety are greatly shaken by fiery trials allowed or orchestrated by the Lord Himself.  As darkness thickens over this fallen world we can be assured of two things:  The Lord will always have a testimony of Himself in this world to reflect His glory and secondly, as pervasive evil comes to fruition, it will always ultimately serve the purposes of God.  The Lord’s prophetic word unfolds with certainty and eternal victory.

What of these fiery trials?  An entire book would not be sufficient to describe them – they seem tailor made for personal grief, heartache, confusion, physical and mental anguish.  Outside of James, believed to be the half-brother of Jesus, few lay claim to find “pure joy” when facing trials of many kinds (James 1:2).  But, while on the path to victory, many of us can testify to great spiritual benefits that come forth through fiery trials.  Five benefits arose in my heart, even as I continue to wade through the high waters:

  1. The battlefield of fiery trials strips us of frivolities and useless vanity, creating a pointed focus with priorities established by God.  Here we learn that much of our previous fretting and preoccupations were valid to the world but counted for nothing in God’s Kingdom.  When your house is on fire, trinkets hold little value.
  2. The Word of God will actually become “living and active. Sharper than any two edged sword”.  In times of confusion and turmoil we will see this living Word as “a lamp to our feet and light to our path”.   As we seek Him and wait upon Him, the Lord Jesus will speak through His Word as He is the Word.  (John 1:1)
  3. Fiery trials that manifest with supernatural power force us to acknowledge the futility and sin of selfreliance and worldly dependence. Money cannot buy relief, social ‘connections’ become powerless, and no search engine holds the answer.  Cornered without strength or resources, God reveals Himself and begins to unfold His ways, His agenda, His deliverance within the storm.  There is no greater backdrop for God’s divine providence and power than a totally surrendered heart.  Resolving to trust Him is the greatest challenge but comes with great promises.  The Lord will not disappoint.
  4. There is a supernatural peace that “surpasses understanding” when one is solely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. The peace of God is His visitation upon our heart as we cry out to Him.   We can sleep as Jesus slept, in the midst of a raging storm.
  5. As the Lord Himself cried to the Father to let the cup pass, we also cry to the Lord to spare us tragedy, grief, and pain.  Yet it is the fruit of crushing brokenness that prepares us for Kingdom work like nothing else.  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Loss, betrayal, grief and injustice are the personal milestones of spiritual giants, from Genesis to present day.  Excruciating trials are launching pads of great works of God.  Every challenge and obstacle leads us to higher places of faith and usefulness to the Lord.  They are opportunities, even appointments, used by God that hold great eternal reward.

Pastor Zac Poonen sums up the immeasurable value in brokenness:

“If you are really earnest about partaking of the life of Jesus, God will allow a thousand-and-one things to happen to you, in order to deliver you from the love of material things, from seeking the honor of men, from self-pity….if you are thirsting for God’s best, He will deal with you ruthlessly, cutting out the cancers that are ruining you and destroying the idols that corrupt you.  He will allow you to suffer pain, disappointment, loss, shattered hopes, humiliation, unjust criticism, etc. in order to bring you to that place of stability – where you can’t be shaken anymore.”   Zac Poonen, ‘Secrets of Victory’

“A thousand and one things” are really happening to true followers of Christ.  While the devil is “filled with fury, because he knows his time is short”, the Lord stands by us, ready to undergird and lead us through every inward and outward calamity.

The benefits, the eternal rewards of service, even the ‘pure joy’ await us in every trial once we pour ourselves out to the Lord and resolve to stand behind Him.  No matter how dark the circumstance, His love for us has not waned, His sovereign power never diminished.   The Lord stands at the edge of our Red Sea, ready for us to enter into intimate fellowship and His divine presence – His outpouring in us through committed time of prayer. 

“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered..Hold on..” (Prov 4:11-13)  (AP Photo/David Duprey)

Satan would rob us of victory by magnifying the circumstance and disastrous outcomes.  Let us magnify the Lord, eat and drink of His living Word and He, our Deliverer will “broaden the path” beneath us so we will not fail, we will not fall.