Saturday, January 30, 2010

Humble kings...

Do you like paradoxes? Two things that are equally true, even though they appear to be opposites? I do...and the things of God are full of them, for our natural understanding so often views things upside-down from how they really are. Here is one, based on two small revelations God gave me earlier this month.

When you think of Jesus as the King of Kings, what do you think that means? Me...I always thought of all the kings and presidents and dictators and prime ministers of the world as being today's "kings." Jesus is over all of them, therefore He is the King of kings.

But recently I was listening to a message from an anointed modern-day prophet, and he spoke these words as a word from God:
Move, saith the Lord, into power. Move, saith the Lord, into purpose. Move, saith the Lord, into purity. Move, saith the Lord, into prayer. And as you do, you will be moving into kingly authority, for I have chosen to be the King of kings.
With those words, a light bulb went off inside of me. For the first time I saw myself as one of those kings that Jesus is king over, for Revelation 1:6 says that He has made us to be kings and priests.

These positions are, of course, positions in a spiritual kingdom--a concept which used to be somewhat vague to me. But as the Lord has increasingly opened my eyes to see the world through His viewpoint, the connections between spiritual kingdoms and the activities of our natural kingdoms are more and more apparent.

In reality, spiritual kingdoms are many times more powerful than any nation on earth, for they shape the kingdoms on earth. They cause wars and annihilations and recessions and military coups. In Africa, they work through tribal kings causing destruction and famine and through everyday people spreading AIDS until its become an epidemic. In America, they work through CEOs causing the downfall of companies that many trust for employment and through the middle class causing epic levels of credit card debt, resulting in economic woes that have affected the entire world.

If you were to ask me what type of title would apply to me in a spiritual kingdom, you'd get different answers, depending on which part of my life I happened to be in at the time. Sometimes I would say my title is "Weak and Wounded." Other times I'd say I'm "Clueless" and "Confused." Still other times I would have said I was "Katie the Failure" or "Katie the Fruitless One." Right now, I'd probably say my title is "Apprentice."

Yet, Jesus did not name Himself as the King of Failures. Nor did He say He was the King of the Clueless. He didn't even call Himself the King of Apprentices. He said He was the King of Kings!

Is He my King? Really and truly? Or do I still sometimes give higher allegiance to my own desires...to things on this temporal, untrustworthy, and ever-changing earth?

I think there is a connection here. The extent to which He becomes my King is the extent to which He is able to teach me how to operate in the kingship that He has reserved for me.

.~*~.

The other side of the paradox is humility. Of course humility is important. Everyone knows that, right? And yet, I am discovering depths to its importance that I never knew. I am discovering that humility is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful things in existence.

I recently read a book which was something of a parable. In it, a man climbed the mountain of God, getting to know Him and receiving revelations and a certain amount of power against the enemy. Yet, at a point still early on in the story, he was given a cloak. This cloak was humility, and he was told something profound. "Wear this always, for you will not be able to see very clearly without it."

In the last three months, since reading that, God has opened my eyes to amazing things regarding His kingdom. And when I look back and wonder why I never saw these things before, I am easily able to discover the cause. Pride.

I see now that pride is much more subtle than the obvious "I'm better than everyone else" type. Sometimes it sneaks in through my natural desire to organize things and thoughts and people and revelations from God. Sometimes it's as simple as undervaluing an old revelation compared to one that is new-to-me.

But I see now that pride does blind me in a devastating way. It blinds us to attacks and traps of the enemy. It keeps us from seeing reality for what it really is. It prevents us from seeing the beauty and awesome power that exist in some of the "simplest" things of God. This is why the Bible says that "pride goes before a fall." Not because God punishes me for thinking more of myself than I ought, for in His eyes, we are kings! Rather, pride blinds me to the rope stretched across my path. That fall is as matter-of-fact as 2+2=4!

What if I were a king and my son, the heir to the throne, was blind? I knew he'd have to fight battles. I knew he'd have to know the lay of his land and be able to recognize attacks against it. In short, I knew that there was no way he could hold the kingdom as long as he was blind. Now...what if I also had the cure for his blindness? A cure that felt so worthless and rough that he didn't want to wear it. Would I gladly pass the kingdom on to him anyway? Or would I, perhaps, choose to pass over this son in favor of another...one who was willing to wear that rough cloak. Would I, perhaps, tell them that the meek/humble son will inherit the kingdom? (Matt. 5:5 and Ps. 37:11.)

That is God, and that is us. And this is why I have a new prayer. I want God to give me the same humility Jesus walked in, for Jesus saw everything for what it truly was. I do not want this because I am desperate to be a king. Quite honestly, the prospect of being a king is somewhat intimidating...especially when I am only now beginning to understand this realm I am called to rule in.

Yet that is what He has called me to do. And the more I feel His love and His heart for those oppressed by the kingdoms of the enemy, the more willing I am to do anything to set them free...even if it means taking the responsibilities and dangers of kingship. Gladly will I wear that rough cloak, if He will show me how.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Attacked...

I got attacked last night. Not mugged or anything, but attacked by that enemy who is out to steal, kill, and destroy.

Last night, when I got home from a busy day of errands, I discovered that the car smelled horribly. It smelled like burning rubber! I called my husband out to the garage, and he went around checking the brakes, only to discover that something wasn't right with one of the back brakes.

I honestly didn't think much of it. I mean, I acknowledged that something was wrong and I was now without a way to get anywhere until my husband had a chance to see if he could fix it (which, with his schedule, could easily be days), but the thought honestly didn't raise any worry or frustration or anything...and, perhaps because of that, I didn't go to God about it.

Then, in the middle of the night, my daughter came to us with pains and numbness in her leg...not the sort that happens when your leg falls asleep. We prayed for her, but I confess that fear started to attack me. It's not pleasant for your child to have strange pains that you can think of no explanation for.

I lay awake praying...asking God what was going on with her leg? I hated the horrible possibilities that were going through my mind, and I rushed to pray against them...only to be hit by doubt. What if my prayers made no difference? What if this...what if that? Confusion followed quickly on Doubt's heals.

Again I asked God for direction, peace, and answers...and then I was hit by guilt, for I have allowed myself to be easily distracted from Him the last two days. I know He is still there, but I also know that I have not been abiding in Him. And in this stage I now find myself, in my walk with God, it is very apparent to me what a difference it makes to be abiding in Him, or wandering through life ignoring Him.

Somehow I fell asleep, still troubled by Fear, Doubt, Confusion, and Guilt, and still feeling the loss of that special connection I so desperately wanted but hadn't spent time cultivating.

This morning, our new puppy woke me up early with her howling, and though she quickly went back to sleep, I didn't. I began praying again, and this time I was awake and conscious enough to feel my hunger for Him...to know that I was not going to allow myself to be distracted from Him this morning...I needed Him too much! (Why do we so often wait for Him to make us need Him before we seek Him? Forgive me, Father! Thank You for Your mercy and lovingkindness!) I began reciting Psalm 91 quietly...both over my daughter sleeping next to me and my own spirit. I knew I would turn to Psalms this morning.

So when the morning rush was over and I settled down with my Bible, I found myself reading Psalm 46. And what I found ministered to me so much that I want to share it, for it instantly brought peace to my heart, and joy in who my Father is...those things that make cars-that-can't-be-driven and daughters-with-mysterious-pains mere nothings compared to Him. He also gave me another marvelous picture of what this Psalm means...one that successfully and easily fought those four nasty things that had attacked me at 2:00 in the morning.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
That’s precisely what I needed to be reminded of this morning…which I knew, but somehow it’s different when the words that are speaking it are His words. My words are a statement. His words are power and life.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
It’s amazing how those words breathe peace into my heart. It doesn’t matter why K--’s leg was hurting. God has it under control. It doesn’t matter whether the brake problem will be covered by the warranty, or if I'll have a way to get to music practice tonight. God has it under control.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
I wish I understood what this river was. Is it, by any chance, His Spirit? Or perhaps they are the channels through which His peace flows to me.
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
Ah!!! We are His dwelling places, for He lives within us! So we are the city of God! And that is how a city can be glad, because it is a living, breathing entity, full of Him.
5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
This is also why a city would need helping. But again, He is in this city of us.
God will help her when morning dawns.
The night is the darkness...the rough times...the times of struggle. Yet morning always comes according to His timing, for He sets the times and the seasons. And when morning comes, He will help us!
6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
I think this is Him acting on our behalf. I wonder if nations refers to physical nations, and kingdoms refers to spiritual kingdoms that are arrayed against us?
The Lord of hosts is with us;
“Of hosts.” Elisha's servant was privileged to see those hosts. Jesus knew they were there, awaiting His command, if He so chose to call them.
I want to see them! I want to know in an even deeper way that my God has hosts of armies at His command!
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
So...if we are a city, then in order to be a proper city, we must have a stronghold. For in Bible times through the Middle Ages, every city had a stronghold--a section fortified with everything the builder of the city could muster. Our stronghold is the “heart” our city, where we are strongest, and where we can always retreat to...a place fortified so much that it is indestructible...a place filled with the stores and weapons needed to outlast any attack.
And we do have such a stronghold. It is Him!
8 Come, behold the words of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
This is interesting. We are being called to come watch Him wage war with his words (which is how He releases His power), destroying things and making places desolate. He is going out against our enemies!
9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
These are the actions of a victorious warrior, not the actions of a defeated one!
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Stop trying so hard! That is an amazing command, even if it is one we have a really, really hard time doing. Why is it so hard to stop? Especially since we have the assurance here that our stronghold will be exalted! And an exalted stronghold is a victorious stronghold--a stronghold whose fame spreads far and wide because of its glory and its strength.
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

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I suppose the sons of Korah felt that this was worth repeating. ::smile:: And I agree, because now that I see how God is my stronghold in a more glorious way, I want to remember it and repeat it to myself until the truth of it gets deep inside of me.

God is my stronghold!

Friday, January 15, 2010

My heart and my prayer...

These last two mornings, I've begun my day reading news reports on Haiti and feeling my heart break. So many lives lost. So many more lives changed forever.

To a small extent, I know what the people there are going through, for Hurricane Charley, the first of the eight hurricanes to strike Florida in '04 & '05, passed right over our home and destroyed much with its almost-Category-5 winds.

But that was nothing compared to what they're going through in Haiti.

With Charley, we had no power and no water...but enough roads were clear that we could drive to where there was power and water and food.

With Charley, power lines were down everywhere, laying across roads that were now unrecognizable and now also un-signed...but power crews from other states were still able to drive to us to help rebuild an entire power grid in a remarkable 21 days. Haiti is surrounded by ocean.

With Charley, 90% of houses were destroyed where the eye passed...but that area was quite small, and even there, most were destroyed slowly by water that fell in, not destroyed in 30 seconds before anyone could get out.

In short, the devastation there, and the permanence of it, is the sort of thing that I wish only existed in books and movies. Yet it has happened over and over again throughout history. It is folly to think that it cannot happen today, no matter what country you live in. New Orleans is proof of that.

This morning, as I read of planes full of supplies that cannot land and ships full of help that cannot dock, I saw how inadequate even the best-intentioned help of man often is. For those people suffering in the streets have no idea that there is food and water just miles away, that cannot get to them. They do not see the help and love swarming through Twitter and the millions already collected through a crazy little 140-character communication source that didn't exist a year ago. They feel abandoned because the help and compassion stirred in the world cannot reach them where they are at.

And that leads me to what stirred my heart this morning.

Jesus once found himself in a situation where possibly as many as 15,000 people were hungry, in a place where there was no food. He wasn't a world away, He was right there in the middle of the same situation they were in.

There are something like 3 million people down there right now needing the food and water that cannot get to them.

And Jesus said that we would do greater things than He had done.

Do you see what thoughts are stirring inside of me? Hopefully, there are some submitted-and-connected-to-Him servants of God in Port-au-Prince. If there are, is there any chance that feeding the 3 million around them might be one of the greater things they are called to do?

What about the wounded and dying? If Jesus walked through Port-au-Price today, He would be hearing from His Father perfectly, and I can't help thinking that His compassion and the Father's would lead Him to reach out and touch many along the roadsides, healing in an instant, and sharing the love of the Father. Perhaps the Father would even be giving Him direction in where and how to find those still living, buried in the rubble.

The thought is astounding...perhaps moreso because, at this point in my life, after everything God has shown me in the last year, I cannot simply say that "those things don't happen nowadays." Because they do, and they can.

Father, God, I am not there. You did not see fit to place me in Haiti two days ago, and what I do in the natural is so vastly inadequate. So Lord, I will join Your workers in the spiritual. I ask, Father, that You pour forth your Spirit and Your power upon Your servants who are there. We are so inadequate and so far from what Your word says You have called us to do. Yet You are more than capable of feeding 3 million people. You know the locations of any who are buried but still alive. I ask You to move in Your servants in ways that they never anticipated, that Your glory and Your power and Your love will be poured out upon this nation, that there will be a rich harvest of souls who meet the only One who can provide for both their material needs and even more importantly, the needs of their hearts.

In Jesus' name I come against the spirits of anger and despair. They shall not have control of this city or this nation, for I join my prayers with any and all of those around the world who know that we have the authority over those spirits. I ask, Father, that You send forth Your Spirit to flood that city with hope.

And Father I also pray for myself, for those reading this blog, and for all of us around the globe who are seeking You truly. Prepare us for whatever might be in our future, and in the future of those around us. I ask that, if the day comes that we find ourselves again in a disaster, that we would be well prepared to do Your bidding on that day. Nothing more and nothing less, for we do not presume to know perfectly what Your will is, or to know how You see things, or what might be part of Your plan, unless You show us.

All I ask, Father, is that a day would come when the world would see again that there is a God who can multiply food. A God who does not need doctors and hospitals to heal. A God knows all things and loves more deeply than any human is capable of. A God who is You as You really are, not as man thinks You are.

For You alone deserve all glory and honor and praise, and You alone are the Answer, our Hope, our Peace, our Joy, and the One who never leaves us, never forsakes us. For You cannot be surprised, You can never be stolen from us, and You hold is always in the palm of Your hand.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

One year...

I have so much going on inside of me that I feel like I am holding the threads of four different blog posts, on top of even more that just belongs in my journal for now. Yet, I think God just directed me through several otherwise-random clicks to a blog with a challenge--a challenge that I know I must pass on, for I believe that someone who reads this blog needs this challenge and the hope that comes with it.

This blog and the testimony on its pages belong to a woman named Sarah Markley, and yesterday she wrote:

Six years ago today I gave God a year.

January 4, 2004.

I’d just confessed to an affair, my marriage was in shambles and I had no idea what the future held. I didn’t know if my husband was going to leave me or if he’d take our daughter with him.

I couldn’t bear to think about the next day and I didn’t know what would happen tomorrow. My “future” was as hazy and undefined as it ever had been. So I gave God all that I had, because honestly at the time, I had very little of my own. My integrity was shot. My marriage was fractured. Every one of my relationships with friends and family members were iffy at best and rocked at worst. To be the most hideous of clich├ęs, I had hit rock bottom.

The only where to go was up.

The weekend after my life fell apart (or rather began) my pastor preached a sermon. He asked us to “give God a year” and see what could happen…

Where are you? Are you sitting at "rock bottom?" Are you peering up through the long shaft of whatever pit you've found yourself in, wondering if that little pinprick of light could possibly reach you? Are you staring at the dark walls that surround you, hating them for the prison they are? Are you hating yourself?

Whomever you are--the one that this blog post is for--this is your word, and this is your time. Give God one year. Give Him this year and yourself, and see what He will do with them. Read all of Sarah's story if you like. Read mine. They are totally different stories, yet they are the same...they are the story of someone who found themselves so lost in a pit of misery that that pinprick of light was the only thing left to hope in. We even used the same words...that we had hit rock bottom, and the only place to go was up. And so we finally surrendered the last bit of ourselves to the One who always proves Himself faithful. In fact, every story I've ever heard of anyone who has experienced the power of God began there, at rock bottom.

It is because of His faithfulness that I dare to say this: The day you hit rock bottom is a day of hope. At least, it is if you turn to God when you're there. Because only then have you truly let go of everything else that is keeping you from letting your Savior pull you out. It is the day your old life will end and the day your life lived abundantly will begin.

Let Go. Surrender. Surrender fully. Every hope you have held onto that is something other than God Himself...drop it. For it is only when we know our own brokenness that we can find His wholeness. And it is only when we fully realize the worthlessness of what we used to hold onto that we can begin to understand the worth of Him. And it is only when we allow Him to empty us of everything that does not satisfy that He can fill us to overflowing with all the wonders of Himself.

Give Him this year...
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion