Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mind-blowing...

Have you ever had God surprise you out of the blue with something that you weren't even seeking?  /// 

That is what has happened to me this week. I walked around a corner that I didn't know even existed, and I am overwhelmed by what I see. /// 

Monday morning I somehow wound up watching a message that John Bevere gave. (Anyone who knows me knows how unusual that is, to find me watching a well-known preacher, for I have, for most of my life, been a 'get-my-revelation-straight-from-the-Bible-with-the-Holy-Spirit's-interpretation-and-spare-me-the-worries-of-being-deceived-by-a-human's-interpretation' kind of person.)

But the message was about the fear of the Lord, and it was centered around a verse that I "found" a few weeks ago, though I didn't realize it until half way through the message.  You see, a number of weeks back, I'd been listening to my Bible-on-CD mp3 recordings while I worked, and I stopped in my tracks when I heard this:
The Lord confides in those who fear Him;
That word "confide" just blew my mind.  To think that the Lord would confide in a human!  Though He did with Moses and Abraham and Daniel and Paul and others throughout the Bible. The key was "those who fear Him," but I didn't think too in-depth on that at the time. I was too overwhelmed just with the thought that God would confide in a human.

That was the NIV translation so I looked up the NAS:
The [h]secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him; - Ps. 25:14
You share your secrets with those who are very, very close to you. You share your secrets with those you trust. The mere idea of God sharing His secrets with me just floored me!

So perhaps that is what led me to watch this message entitled "Who God Shares His Secrets With" this past Monday... it's about what the fear of the Lord really is, but for me, it also touched on so many other things related to questions I've had and revelations I've received... and I took great comfort from the fact that so much of what he said was Scripture, Scripture, Scripture. And all of it scripture that I know very well and didn't have to go looking up because I was thinking, "Does it really say that?"

But that led to me listening to another series about the Holy Spirit, and he was reading scripture after scripture after scripture in Acts... the Spirit said this... the Spirit did that, etc.  I realized how often I have read over various verses and attributed the action to God the Father rather than the Holy Spirit... even when the verse specifically says "the Spirit."

And that led to.... truthfully, I can hardly trace the paths God has led me along this week. If I could, it would probably bore you. Suffice it to say that I have found myself talking to Him almost non-stop.

I worshipped almost the entire day yesterday (one of the benefits of having a home office) until I found myself overwhelmed and weeping in joy at 1:00 am last night, unwilling to stop and go to bed.

I am finding different questions I've struggled with for years brought to mind, and I sense Him whispering that the answer is near.

My hunger for more and my peace in where He has me right now are simultaneously and paradoxically surging to new highs.

He is bringing to mind various spiritual experiences that He's given me over the last 30 years of finding Him. I been given the interpretations of tongues... but it's been a year or more since it happened and was only occasional before that. I once woke up in the middle of the night to hear Him saying, "Get up and praise Me" so I did... and what followed was the most mind-blowing and powerful hour and a half in His tangible presence that I have ever experienced. But that was a couple of years ago.  He's now whispering to me that these do not have to remain just occasional happenings... they can become my normal.

So last night I was sharing with my husband in that words-tumbling-out-I-can't-keep-this-in-anymore sort of way.

And I think the entire week led up to these words that spilled out of me:
Sometimes we say how we wish we could walk and talk with Jesus and see Him and talk to Him face to face. And yet, Jesus said that it was to our advantage if He left so the Spirit could come. He said it was better for us.

And yet we still talk as though it would be better to see Jesus face-to-face. What arrogance! To think we know better than Jesus!

So what does this mean?

If it really is better to have the Spirit as we do now than to walk and talk with Jesus as the disciples did, then think of how much most of us today are missing! 

It's staggering how much we're missing! 

I sat there totally overwhelmed with that revelation.

We are meant to have more than we would have if we were walking next to Jesus. 

More.

I suddenly felt bereft... because I suddenly realized that I'm missing out on something I was meant to have. Lots I was meant to have. Lots that God has for me.  For you.

But my God finishes what He starts. He would not show me this vista of amazing-ness without arranging for the grace that will lead me into it...where the fear of the Lord opens the door to the secrets of the Lord... and permits me to understand and partake of the ways of His Spirit... and keeps me safely humble and submitted... for I know that to embark on a discovery of More without humility and the fear of the Lord is horribly dangerous. Because the more blessing and favor I see in my life... the more life-changing revelations I receive... the more supernatural experiences I have... the greater the temptation to pride becomes.  I cannot explain how much my soul trembles at the thought of discovering the reality of what God has shown me this week... and then becoming proud over it! It's almost enough to make me want to back away. The danger is so great, for I know how weak I am when it comes to pride. And yet the yearning in my soul for that More is so strong that I cannot resist His call to "Come and trust Me."

And so I will go. I will throw myself upon His grace to keep me humble. I will rely on His Spirit to teach me the reality of everything He gave me a glimpse of this week. I will continually ask for His grace to obey each direction He gives me and rest in His mercy when I stumble. I will quiet my trembling soul before Him, and shaky step by shaky step, I will embark on the path that I now see around the corner.

Will you join me?


With arms held high
Lord, I give my life
Knowing I'm found in Christ
In Your love forever
With all I am
In Your grace I stand
The greatest of all romance
Love of God my Saviour....

Friday, July 08, 2016

The world is dying...

As I look out my window, I see dying trees -- trees that were healthy last year.  I see stumps of trees that died last year and were healthy when we bought this house 8 years ago. I read on the Internet how many huge percentages of trees in North America are dying at abnormally high rates...  /// 

I happen across an article talking about how huge numbers of frogs and toads are disappearing...  /// 

I read the news and watch the hatred between white and black Americans suck people off streets that were supposed to be safe and into graves and nightmares full of fear for tomorrow.   /// 


The world is dying.   /// 


It has been ever since the fall... since sin and murder and hatred entered the world and brought with it a curse upon even nature itself. We think the world is getting scary, but only because we were born into one of the safest times and places in history to be born into. It's always been scary.
This is why the world so desperately needs the hope of Jesus.

He came so that each individual who was willing to accept it could have life in a dying world. So that you and I could experience peace in a world of turmoil. So that every single person might know His love in a world of hatred. So that there might be hope in a world dominated by media that spreads despair.


Is this the message that we as American Christians are sharing with our neighbors... our family... our coworkers... our Facebook feed?

If we were to ask them what our reaction is to all of this, would they say that we are talking about hope sent from a God who knew that humanity would do this to itself?

Or are they hearing us saying with shock in our voice, "What is this world coming to?"

Are they watching us blame our president and/or the liberals, or are they hearing us acknowledge that "our battle is not against flesh and blood"?

Are they hearing us talk about judgement, or are they hearing about the One who spoke mercifully and kindly to a prostitute and told those who 'stood for what was right' that they needed to learn from her. The One who shared food (maybe even cake) with sinners and said, "I have not come to call the righteous."


Is this the message that my own neighbors and family and Facebook feed is hearing from me? That I, at least, believe that in the midst of all of this mess, there is still hope and love and mercy and redemption to be found for everyone in Jesus?

I believe there is...

Hope for black people who are unjustly accused.

Hope for police men and women who are unjustly hated.

Hope for white men who can't get jobs because the law requires that a minority be hired.

Hope for women who are abused or enslaved, be it the sex trade or relationships that hold love hostage unless they perform.

Hope for men who feel like nothing they do is ever good enough to earn respect.

Hope for illegal immigrants who find themselves stuck in the quagmire of a court system that does not deport them or give them permission to stay, saying only, "Keep yourself alive as well as you can, just make sure you have the money to travel the 200 miles necessary to be back here in court in two years - no matter what."

Hope for hate-filled 'Christians' and hope for those who aren't hate-filled and don't understand why others say they are.

Hope for homosexuals and transgenders and everyone else caught in the middle.

Hope for politicians and government authorities who started their career with a sincere desire to do good and are now on constant trial before a judgmental and biased media and public.

And there is hope for every single one of us who looks at this mess and feels like it's hopeless.

Yes, it is hopeless... without Jesus.

No, Jesus did not come to bring marvelous earthly solutions to all of the above. He said that the turmoil would remain. The paradox is that He said He came so that even then, we might still have peace.


Many are telling you to pray for your country.

But I am encouraging you to also pray for yourself.  



Pray that God will show you His peace so much that it would overflow from you so that you can share it with those around you who need it so very much.

Pray that God will overwhelm your heart with love for races other than yours -- regardless of which race you were born into.

Pray that God will let you feel His heart toward homosexuals and transgenders -- I guarantee you that it is loving and compassionate.

Pray that God will show you this nation and this world through His eyes -- and prepare to discover the parts of your old perspective that need to be abandoned.

Pray that God will open your eyes to see your own pride and judgement and sin... so that you can leave it behind and be a minister of healing, for this is what He said was required.

He is what this dying world needs, but they will never know if we cannot humble ourselves and let Him make us into what He desires us to be.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hope in the darkness...

I've been silent here for the last several months because I haven't been sure that I have anything worth saying.

Life's been difficult, and it's also been boring and normal. There have been wonderful triumphs and victories as well as great difficulties, questions, controversies, struggles, and pain.

This is what life is made of.


As I've faced things I prayed would never enter my life, I find myself falling back on one thing.

God.

The One who gave His Son not only to save me but to save my children as well.

Who else... what else... is there that cannot be shaken?

I look back at decisions we made that seemed good at the time. Things that seemed like blessings but now feel like burdens. It's so easy to second guess those decisions or even to wish that different decisions had been made, especially when the path led us through unforeseen valleys that were darker than we'd ever anticipated.

And yet...

Did we not pray about it and say we would trust Him? Has He not known all along that this path would lead through those valleys?

Did He know? Or didn't He?

Does He have a plan to carry us through or not? 

These are the questions that make us face what we really believe. What we really know.

As for me, I know that circumstances and appearances change. But my God does not change. He is the same in the valleys as He is on the mountaintops and the same has He has been at every fork in the road we have taken.

I look at another situation... a job opportunity for a loved one. I'd been praying that she'd get the job, for it seemed so perfect. But I prayed, "...if it is as good as it seems."

So now that we've received a No, why is my natural response to complain about how much I wish the answer had been Yes?  Seriously! 

I said, "That stinks!"

God said, "Why? You prayed that she would not get it if it wasn't as good as it seemed. Why is it bad that I stopped it as you asked?"

It's amazing how God can stop you right in your tracks and make you realize you should be thanking Him instead of complaining about circumstances!

Only I can answer for myself whether I really believe God's knowledge is complete enough to know if a job would be good or not... if God's love is deep enough to use that knowledge only for our benefit... if His power is great enough to carry out what His love desires to do for us.


And so... 

I realize again and again and again that my ability to trust Him and find hope in the darkness is based upon my revelations of who He is. It's based on what I know in the depths of my soul to be true about Him.

I know that my God is Someone who finishes what He starts. He is love personified.  His power is beyond comprehension over depression, over pain, over emptiness and need, over despair, over fear, and over everything that attempts to stand in His way.


Do you need hope?

Ask Him to show you more of who He really is, for that is where you'll find what you need!

The magnitude of who He is would blow our minds, so He shows us bit by bit, expanding our mind's ability to comprehend and our spirit's ability to receive increased depths of the revelations that hope springs from.

"You will seek Me and find Me." - Jer. 29:13
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Rom. 15:13


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Closing 2015, beginning 2016

Today's the end of 2015. I'm writing from 36,000 feet in the air, and I find myself wishing I could see this year, my life, our country, and the world from the point of view like the one I'm seeing Colorado from.

This year wasn't what I wish it had been.  I wish I had received thousands of revelations. I wish I had spent hours and hours upon hours in my Bible. I wish I didn't have this feeling that I didn't do much all year but work to pay bills.

But here I am, with another year behind me, and I still want the same thing that I wanted last January... to know Him more and more and more until everything else in my life follows that.

I changed a lot this year in some ways. I am relying on His grace and mercy alone as I trust that the changes were brought out by Him alone.

God convicted me of a lot.  Pride here. Arrogance there. More pride and arrogance spread liberally everywhere.

But this is a necessary part of the transformation that He works in us.  This conviction. It is good for us, as long as we stay focused on Him.

And that is why my prayer for 2016 is for grace, mercy, and forgiveness for the pride and arrogance of the American church, of which I have been a great contributor.

Father, forgive us!

Forgive us for thinking that our land can be healed by legislating Your Word and forcing it upon those who don't know You... those whom we have not even tried to introduce to You.

Forgive us for the lack of love we so very often display.

Forgive us for our selfishness... for caring more about our own rights and privileges and less about the hurting world that Jesus surrendered everything for.


In Your goodness, grant us the grace to see the world through Your eyes... to see ourselves through Your eyes... and to see past how we think You see people so that we can understand how You really see them through Your eyes of infinite love.

Teach us to be a Light in the darkness of depression and loneliness and despair, rather than a gavel that crushes those already struggling.

Transform us into what You are calling us to be, and give us a heart that seeks You first above all things.

This is my heart's desire.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A story of tears...


For years, one of my most common prayers has been that God would allow me to see the world through His eyes... to know His heart.  One song that I wrote is all about this... "Show me Your heart that I might see the world through Your eyes."

But sometimes it's painful.  Very painful.

Because the closer I get to the Father's heart, the easier it is to feel the pain inflicted on those around me... those in my family... even on people I do not know personally.  To feel His heartbeat is to feel pain when it is inflicted on "the least of these," for He said if it's done to them, it's done to Him.  To bear His name is to feel your heart constrict in horror when that pain is inflicted in His name.

I certainly can't claim that this prayer means that I see things perfectly, because I don't think that'll happen until I reach heaven. I know this prayer has changed me, though, from the Katie I used to be.

I beg your patience while I tell a story.

Once upon a time I was part of an extremely large housing development. It was large enough to have many distinct neighborhoods within it.

This development was not full, and every year about 1,070 new people were officially admitted.  Plenty more came as visitors and sometimes people wandered in, but those applying to live there and build homes had to agree to abide by the development's rules.  You know how that goes. A development will let a slob visit, but they sure won't let one live there permanently.

There were very few shortcuts in the process, even for the 70 people per year who were in emergency situations.

Well, as the development committee was considering the 1,070 that were admitted every year, they came across a particular group of 10 that they had to consider.

Only 10 out of 1,070 who were entering already.



Five of these 10 were children - some orphans and children of widows.  Most already had family inside the development... family who had actually filled out the paperwork because they wanted to let them come live with them. Accepting those seemed a no-brainer, though the committee still went through the 29 official steps required for each person.

Two of them were elderly people whose homes had been destroyed in vandalism. They also had friends and relatives inside the development who were willing to help them get a new start.

I do not know who the last person was, but again, the 29 official steps were being carefully followed.

But then the neighborhood watch raised an alarm about this particular group of 10 people.

Some people in my neighborhood quietly stood back, waiting to see if it was a false alarm, waiting to see if the 29 official steps were really being followed for safety's sake, etc. This seemed like wisdom to me.

Some used the opportunity to voice concerns about other groups of people who needed similar kinds of help. This was understandable... there are many types of people needing help in many different ways.

Some, however, began to loudly call for the rejection of these 10. I think maybe these people did not realize that this would mean people in other neighborhoods would be forbidden from opening their own homes to their orphaned nieces and nephews...  forbidden from letting their parents and widowed sisters into their own homes. I understood their concerns, yet it grieved me that they did not ask who the 10 were or where they would stay before they called for their rejection.

Still others in my neighborhood called for their rejection because one of the children might become a gang member. There were indeed gangs in some of the development's neighborhoods, although these gang members tended to come into the development among the daily visitors. Perhaps this was understandable, though my heart still broke on behalf of the thousands who had to listen to people say that they did not want to let them help their own family and friends.

Others in my neighborhood began speaking of these widows and orphans and elderly people as though they were already gang members. It was very hard for me to see these calls coming from my own neighborhood, some from people who represented me.  I wondered, though, if maybe they had not taken the time to ask who the 10 were.

Why did my normally kind and loving neighbors do these things? 

It might have had something to do with a shooting that happened in a different development, run by a different committee with much more relaxed rules, a long ways away.  It was a shooting that wasn't all that different than some that had already happened in my development, though the shootings in my development were typically carried out by people of my own race, my own political party, and sometimes even people who claimed my own religion.


By now, you probably realize what this parable is referencing.  The development is my country, the 1,070 are the immigrants who our country accepts every year, the 70 are refugees from around the world who are already accepted every year, and the 10 are the Syrian refugees... only 0.6% of what we already take in on a yearly basis from around the world.

The numbers are accurate if you multiply them by 1,000.

Of course, this is only my view... the story as it unfolded to me. 


I realize fully that my viewpoint might not be fully accurate and definitely isn't shared by everyone, but here's why I share it... why I think even those who do not share my viewpoint might be interested.

I was raised as both a Christian and a Republican, so that's where I'm going to speak from, when I say...

Both Christian groups and Republican groups know that we are considered by many to be hateful.  Sometimes we consider ourselves simply misunderstood, and other times we think other things about such accusations.

I am receiving a deeper understanding 
of why we get a reputation for being hateful.

I wish to beg those of us who bear Christ's name to consider a little more before we speak. This is what I'm calling on myself to do.

I think we need to realize when "standing for what we believe" or "voicing our opinion" amounts to telling others things like, "No, we do not want you to be able to open your own home to your brother or sister's family who is running for their lives."

Or when it amounts to, "We honestly don't care about the safety of your nieces and nephews; our own safety is more important."

This is why we are called hateful and selfish and hypocrites.


I've done it in the past a lot, and I still find myself falling into it sometimes. But God is teaching me to more often keep my mouth shut and listen... listen particularly to those who disagree with me and ask God to show me what He thinks and sees... to admit that what I think and see might be missing a little something... or maybe missing a lot.

Listening is loving. Becoming educated before we open our mouths is loving.

We are being told that we will allow in only 10,000 out of ten million Syrians who have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed. That means we're being asked to allow in only 1 out of every thousand. Even if it does rise to 65,000, that's still less than 7 out of every thousand.

These 10,000 are just a tiny, tiny percentage of the 1,700,000 immigrants and refugees that our country already absorbs every year.  Different people might have different opinions about various types of immigrants and refugees and whether or not our country should continue its heritage of welcoming people, but that is a different issue.

10,000 is a very small number. 
Only about 0.6% of what we took in last year.
Only 0.1% of all Syrian refugees.

We're the 3rd largest country with the 3rd largest population in the world, and we're being asked to take in only 0.1% of them.

These 10,000 people are mostly women, children, and elderly. 10,000 who mostly have family and friends already here.  That's why they want to come here.

How many of us place high importance on the location of friends and relatives when we move to a new home? 

Would that change if we were forced to choose a new place to live because our previous home, workplace, and city looked like this?



What if some of them don't already have family here? Well... I strongly suspect that Americans of Syrian heritage in our country would understand very clearly a parable that began with the question, "Who is my neighbor?"  Some churches do... and I think maybe all of us should be willing to consider their viewpoint and experiences so far.

We don't have to agree to everything our president says in order to let Syrians already in our country help their family and friends. Our government sets a priority on letting refugees join family they already have living here, so they can have the help they need to become productive members of society.  I have six immigrants from six different countries in my family, not counting my great grandparents and more distant family.  They have built businesses, hired born-here Americans, saved lives, become veterans, etc.

We don't have to stop helping groups of people we care about just because other people are given the chance to help people they care about. My pastor spoke an excellent message yesterday about staying focused on what God has called us to do.  That also means allowing other people to do what God has called them to do.

If we are concerned about 1.7 million immigrants and refugees coming in each year from around the world, then by all means, we can research the many different ways they come, which are "vetted" and which are not, how they are handled, whether they help or hurt the economy, and other such things so that we can intelligently write to our politicians about it.  We all have the right and responsibility to do that.  Terrorists have so far found it much easier to get into our country by means other than the refugee process, so those of us concerned about that can certainly write our politicians and try to get involved in improving the processes that terrorists have used to get into the country.

But as for me, right now...

I weep for the 5,000 children and 2,500 elderly who were hearing loud and clear, "We don't want to let anyone in our country reach a helping hand to you in the most practical of ways."

I weep for the widows and orphans and elderly who were hearing on every television that half of the states in this country do not want to let them join their family here.

I weep for the men who are trying to provide for their wives and children in a place of safety... someplace where their sons will not be press-ganged into the army that already slaughtered their brothers and cousins and razed their homes and businesses.  My great grandparents were of this group 100 years ago, leaving Germany for the United States, and trying to make a life in a country where having a name like Rudolf Melichar was viewed with the same amount of suspicion that those with the name Mohamed are viewed with today. If my great-grandparents had not been allowed to come, then my grandfather would have been pressed into the German army rather than becoming the American WWII veteran that he was. He also probably would not have found salvation in the 1970s.

I weep for the 1,800,000 Muslims already here in the US who are being told by millions of Facebook posts that they should not be allowed to help their friends and relatives. Personally, I think those 1,800,000 should be allowed to try to help their own.  There are still another 317,000,000 of us in this country who can continue trying to address other kinds of needs in our nation.

I weep for the Syrian Christians who are too afraid to even ask for refugee status, unaware that greater numbers of them would be helped if they could only be found.

I weep for the veterans who have been ignored by their family, their neighbors, and their government.

I weep for the homeless teenagers here in the US who have grown up so lost and ignored and abandoned that they do not even know how to conduct themselves in the way necessary to hold down a job... and the Christians who hear their rudeness write them off with comments about "what this world is coming to."


I weep for the Muslims families in Africa who have had watched Christian armies slaughter their families and destroy their homes in the Central African Republic and other African nations.  Did you know that the same terrorists lists with ISIS on them also have the Lord's Resistance Army on them? This group which also called themselves the Holy Spirit Movement celebrated Christmas a few years back by attacking a concert venue, holding hundreds of people hostage, murdering 143 of them, and then going through town slaughtering as many as they could. Sound familiar? Except this was in Congo, not France. And this was a Christian army, not a Muslim one.

If there is a terrorist among the refugees of any religion who make it here, I weep for him and I pray that here, in this country, he will meet the Jesus who offers what terror can never provided. Other former terrorists have found Jesus, because that's just how powerful and amazing my God is!

I weep for the many in similar situations around the world who receive the same message... that someone else is more important.  As my pastor said yesterday, many of us are called to minister in different areas and to different people. Many of us are called to share our resources in different ways.  The problem is the number of times when, in our passion for one group of people, we inadvertently tell others that they don't matter.


Everyone matters... and so I weep for a world that frequently hears the "you don't matter" messages more loudly than "you matter, and a Savior died for you."

And finally, I also grieve for the millions around the world who watched members of my political party and religion in disbelief, for I have been hoping and praying that those millions would hear and see a different message... that a lot of us represent a God who loves the world enough to give His Son in order to save them...

...a God who chose to save the world by allowing religious zealots acting in His name to turn Jesus over to a terrorist regime for torture and death.


Yes, sometimes it is very painful to love.

And yet, when God lets me feel His heartbeat, I also feel the joy that somehow abounds even while I grieve. 

I feel the love that is pulsing and calling for people of all nations to believe that He really does love them enough to willingly walk into one court run by misled religious zealots and another court that would be called terrorist today, knowing that He was headed to a death worse than beheading.

I feel the forgiveness that prayed, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."  A forgiveness that is extended to me when I realize that I too did not know what I was doing. That happens a lot.

He points out the stories of how Muslims are dreaming of Jesus and coming to salvation in record numbers, finding a peace and a joy that they never had before.

He moves on antagonistic regimes to allow shoeboxes carrying the gospel and more practical gifts to reach children that will hear of Jesus for the first time.

He does all things well. And I love Him. And I rejoice because I can trust that He holds this crazy, twisted, confused world in His hands.



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