Please click the following link to read a blog post about coping with the loss of a living child. A child that just disappeares from your life…
I was undone by a simple interaction. On a walk with a friend through beautiful, flowering trees in a local park, he reached up and plucked a blossom. We looked at it together, chatting about various types of cherry trees, and then he handed it to me.
This was not a romantic interaction. However, in that moment the history of mankind crystallized and merged into this one image; a man and a woman walking in a garden and he hands her a blossom from a beautiful, fully radiant tree and she accepts it.
What is this? Why have I been in tears ever since? I believe because the simple beauty of companionship between a man and a woman has undone me. It has unleashed the flood gates of loss and sadness and sorrow, it has broken down the chiseled stone, block walls of protection and defense and solitude that I have been encased in for years.
Yeshua, Jesus, I completely and without shame abandon myself before your Holy and Majestic person – I need your truth in helping me to understand this. I know myself. I am not to be trusted. I am not to be trusted for my own good. For the good of others. For your Kingdom.
I, I, I. I am nothing without you. Nothing. Dust in the wind. Unremarkable, forgotten as a dried, brown leaf, fluttering, fluttering to the rich, earthy soil of autumn.
It seems reasonable that my weeping is in response to fear of deception. I am keenly aware of the insidious trap of deception; in my personal life, and in the church.
I’ve been observing and studying it for quite some time. It is the big one on my radar, right now.
“Watch out that no one deceives you”. Jesus – Mathew 24:4 NIV
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows”. Paul – Gal 6:7 NIV
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters”. James – James 1:16 NIV
I’m watching this; this handling of the Word, this compromising of the Word which (in my opinion*) comes by being finessed off the path by opinions*, by interpretations, by following various teachers; teachers that are currently popular, teachers particular to our bent, teachers that may be regurgitating others, teachers that may be false.
God alone knows what reason we search and search from others and then find ourselves nodding in agreement and/or spewing, proclaiming, exhorting what they believe/teach/preach without ever, or rarely ever, checking with the two priceless treasures that we have been given:
- The Word of God: holy, active, perfect and alive.
- The Holy Spirit: our personal, indwelling interpreter, teacher; He who confirms, convicts and warns us.
I could not speak to this if I had never done it. I’m grateful he pulled hard enough and spoke loud enough to redirect me to the narrow path and open my eyes and prick my ears to the ease in which we wander from the truth.
So I am in vigilant watch mode right now. In my own life and by way of this, comes observation of the church, the body.
I’m presently observing, praying and digging in the Word for the Truth in two areas where I have concerns or ‘checks’ in my spirit, for sisters and brothers in the flock, who are fully immersed in one or the other:
- Tongues and add-on spirit behavior
- Gentile Torah followers
Their demeanor, body language, and resistance to any question or discussion is immediate heavy-duty verbal justification, strong verbal accusation, tough-chic/tough-guy verbal condemnation and closed ears, a closed face, a closed mind, a closed heart and a closed spirit.
‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, my strength and my redeemer’. (Linda Ronstadt singing) Psalm 19:14 KJV
Is it up to the ‘Bible police’ or the ‘deception squad’ aka pastors, elders, ‘others’ to confront & convict our stumbling family?
It is certainly up to each and every one of us to examine ourselves and root out deception. And once we recognize it, we are to repent and return to the narrow road, which, right now, I envision as the eternal vertical post of the old, rugged cross, lying before us for our contemplative journey. We get hypnotized by glitter in the pavement, or a different looking trail and off we go! Off of the narrow path, the firm foundation old as time; traveled by many a tired traveler, stained with the blood of Christ, the blood of the martyrs, the tears of the saints, the sweat of the disciples, pheromones of fear in some, song and rejoicing by others and the unbroken chain of love connecting each one of us for our beaten, battered, crucified Messiah, the eternal King of Kings, who stands in unimaginable glory ‘in the wings’ as it were, awaiting his second coming; watching, weeping, encouraging, and noting all those who jump off, walk or wander off, and those who return to this narrow, narrow path that leads to eternal freedom, blessing, life.
Additionally, Scripture is clear about warning our brothers and sisters in the body. So I study and when I am certain that He has shown me truth, if I am not rebuffed, I stand on that and I warn. Quietly, carefully, face to face, with prayer. This is not easy to do, in this age of ‘political correctness’, of ‘anything goes’, of ‘to each his own’. It’s not easy, but it is required of us, or the body gets trampled under lies and deception while we stand by, ‘not interfering’, not ‘correcting’, ‘not suggesting’, not saying or doing anything. I believe, from what scripture commands us to do, we will be held accountable for being weak in this area:
‘He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.’ Hebrews 5:2 NIV
‘Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.’ Galatians 6:1 NIV
‘Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.’ James 1:16 ISV
Do not be deceived. Let me state it this way: Every illusion, every trick, every silver-tongued beguiler is after you dear reader, not ‘them’ – YOU.
This means me, myself and I – as well as you, are in danger. And seeing so many that I love traipsing along this road, or that highway, wandering along, exploring, killing time, meeting others on converging paths and changing directions – all of this I recognize because my life story is riddled with episodes of this, that and the other. Oh, you Jesus, have been with me, to be sure, but you were not out in front leading, you were observing my choices, my motives, my feelings, my desires, my supposed needs, my hungers and thirsts and lusts. Yes, you were there so it seemed to me that I was OK – but what I know now, from looking back at the memorial stones along my travels is this: I was not thoughtful, or prayerful, or thoughtful or prayerful enough in the decisions I made in my growing faith, because I chose to believe I was free under my salvation and free to move along as I chose. Justifying choices.
What I learned is that He was teaching me, not unlike the way we taught our girls to ride a bike. Stand back, hold your breath, be patient, kiss scraped knees and applaud the victory.
I share this because it is deception in all its miserable trickery. I look back and am appalled at some of the decisions and choices I’ve made – as a believer in You.
The only good that will come of this, will come if I share my experience; now knowing how vulnerable I was, how capable I am of being tricked, being swayed, being encouraged to take the smallest detour; the comfort of the grassy running trail versus the hard packed asphalt and off I go, looking up, racing along, praising You and miles later I stumble and fall and realize that I’m alone, I’m in an unsafe neighborhood, and I’ve lost my way. This is when the tears come, the woe comes, the shame comes, the repentance comes and I look up and thank God – thank You – and there before me is my beloved path, my old familiar trail, whether its heather-lined in Scotland or on the needle covered under-story in the Pacific Northwest forests. There, before the trodden narrow path, I take Your hand and I step back on, and away I go, safe again, for now.
My goal? My goal now, as far as walking in truth and not in deception is to shorten the rabbit trails – detours for sure – when they jump out at me. I am not foolish enough to think I’ll never, ever wander again; I’m wiser now and aware when an enticement appears; when someone speaks something that is intriguing and I want to chase it down, or I feel a great big ‘wait a minute’. I’ve learned to stop; to stop right where I am and to survey the Map, (your Word) and use the Compass (your Holy Spirit) to line myself up with your word and your instruction. If I’m three steps off instead of three miles or thirty miles, hallelujah! That is good progress.
Another illustration. I have friends, whom I’ve walked with, who are now miles away on their journey, and I’m not with them because when the Spirit cautions my heart, it stops me in my tracks. If they choose to go on, warned, I’m to follow guidelines in the Word and love my friends, shout ‘hello’ across the forest and pray for them, but I am not to follow them. I am to follow You.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’ NIV
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.’ Luke 17:3 NIV
Conversely, when a brother or sister comes to me with a concern about me, I should listen quietly and come before you prayerfully for confirmation, conviction, correction. Is this ever easy? No, but it is beneficial.
Years ago, in a very personal and intense season of prayer I asked Christ to make me his slave. I offered my life to Jesus as a bond servant, a slave. A slave in the Greek is doulos, and it means exactly what it says. To me, it means I am to be and to do what he requires of me, with the tools he has given me, for life. No regrets.
Something else that has cleared up for me is that following You is not hanging onto your belt or backpack, but walking with thoughtful prayer the steps you walked, so that I arrive where you are. By following you Jesus, of my own volition. By reaching you Yeshua, because I want you more than I want my friends.
And sometimes, while getting to you is the object of our desire, suffering is our walking partner, and I have to remind myself that the end does justify the means – meaning if I lose my friends, my husband, my children, my house, the city or country I love, the comfort of my income, the accolades of my peers – if I forfeit all of these because you are worth more to me than anyone, anything or anywhere – the end even blesses the means.
I need to say this. It’s been quite a journey. The last thing I want is anyone to think I’m good at this thing called ‘Follower of Christ’ – I know how much easier this walk would be now, had I been obedient earlier; consequences for choices do show up, sometimes later in our lives or sometimes later in our children, friends and families lives. We do reap what we sow, each one of us.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5)
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
“A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (Proverbs 11:18).
Also, there is no benefit in bitterness of heart or blame. We all should and in my maturity, I now willingly take full responsibility for my decisions and I must live with the consequences. I think of Moses being denied entering the Promised Land. That doesn’t speak to me personally, but it must have been bitter for him, sorrowful and convicting at the same time.
It concerns me and makes me wonder whom I have influenced along this path to the Kings throne. Some for good, some not, assuredly. I cannot sort through my own history without self-deception, so how can I presume to sort through another’s?
Only Jesus has this authority, at the judgement seat with what I imagine is a colossal, supernatural video screen projecting virtually, through his mind. This is not about being saved. This is about rewards and punishments. There will be no escaping Him showing us our accomplishments and our gross failures.
‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done.’ 2 Corinthians 5:10
I am deeply and somewhat abjectly humbled just thinking about this particular moment to come. But he is just, and I rest in that.
I hope and pray that my sharing is of some benefit to some. It’s all about and all because of Jesus.
How does this tie into my introduction where I’m happily wandering around a lovely park full of beautiful, blossoming cherry trees? I’m aware of my predilection for self-deception – and as I rarely meet someone who is a sold-out believer, single, interesting, joyful and great company; I find myself a bit like the story of longing in the children’s book “Are you my Mother”? (PD Eastman), thinking the refrain “Are you my soulmate? Are you my soulmate?” So, considering I’m waging war on deception, its no wonder this simple kindness shattered through to my heart. It seems wise to be exceedingly cautious when I’m feeling lonely from the beautiful reminder that God, in his wisdom, created woman for man. Just sayin’.
Sunday is Easter in the Christian church. It’s also the only holiday that moves with the moon phases, so it is not static, like other holidays. I find this has become a beautiful gift, so that we can actually consider the heritage of our Jewish Messiah, and the roots of our faith in Him.
The Old Testament is the Scripture that the New Testament writers are referring to, when they mention anything to do with Scripture. I have read through the entire Bible a number of times, and studied individual books over and over again. I have always loved the Old Testament, as much as the New Testament. I have been blessed so many times when studying their ancient culture, and how they related to God and His commandments and laws. I’ve heard it said that we cannot make sense of the New Testament without reading the Old Testament and I couldn’t agree more.
I could go on and on, but what I want to write about, today, is about what God gives to us, when we believe in His Son, Jesus. When we acknowledge that He is who He says He is, that God sent Him to be a sacrifice to pay for sin, He was crucified, died, in the grave three days and three nights, rose to life and stayed on earth for many days and then ascended to heaven. That He is real, that He lives still, resurrected and in Heaven with God, the Father. We now wait for the ‘end of the story’ to happen. His glorious return as the King of Kings. The long story is in the Bible, and is great reading every time we open it.
When God decided to send Jesus, as a sacrifice, His decided to make it a one-time payment, for any who will believe. No more animal sacrifice. (It’s notable that the last temple was destroyed in 70AD by the Romans and there has not been one since.)
What has me in wonder is something I’ve lived with my entire adult life. Something I’ve actually grown so comfortable with that I lost the edge of wonder about this profound, living miracle. When the church was brand new, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on them, and filled them with Himself. And when we accept Christ as our Savior, our Messiah, we are indwelt with this same Spirit. I’m just going to put my journal entry here, as it speaks my heart, plainly.
I praise you, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who lives in me, Father. Thank you for your beautiful plan and how very personal, even intimate, it is. We need only acknowledge you, believe the amazing good news of Yeshua/Jesus, your only Son, and you become more available than you were, pre-Christ. You take up residence in our living, breathing bodies. What a remarkable God you are! What an amazing gift you gave. You, residing in me, so that we may fellowship together! So that I need never, ever to feel alone, or afraid, or confused; all I must do is ask your help, and you willingly, eagerly supply me with truth, truth that can be validated in the Word, validating You – as if that needs to be done. Nonetheless, you supply me; my mind, heart, soul and spirit, with as much knowledge and wisdom as you deem I am capable of handling, You help me to grow – grow up, grow into the woman you created me to be, grow wise and kind and humble. These are just a few of the marks of a believer. I love that they are pure and perfect and good. How can I ever question or wonder about your path for me? It is beautiful, as you are beautiful, beyond description, as the song says.
The very knowledge that You choose a supernatural way of revealing yourself – the Bible, the Word – the only book of its kind – living, active, sharper than any two edged sword, (Hebrews 4:12) and your Spirit, indwelling me, brings life to reading and hearing your Word. Who else could do such an amazing miracle, a miracle that separates the chaff from the wheat? A miracle that is not static, it is present and ongoing in untold numbers forever; in your Word and in those of us who belong to You. No Spirit residing internally means the Bible is dead to the reader.
Think about this for a minute. No belief in Jesus, no repentance, means no Holy Spirit coming to indwell, which means the Bible, living to those of us who know Christ, is flat. Dead. Like any other piece of literature. No wonder unbelievers scoff and mock!
That’s an amazing miracle and is validated by scripture and in every believer’s life. Provable? Yes, as a witness to the Spirit among believers, but not to an unbeliever.
How could I ever complain about anything, ever, in this amazing life you have fashioned for us, in us, when living water flows through me? Your Word, to me, is life. Your Spirit, in me, is life. You are life, and regardless of circumstances going on around me, this is abundant living to overflow! It matters not if I have an old car, or limited finances, or I’m aging (without too much complaint) – the complete opposite of the striving world’s perspective. I have You and You will never leave me or harm me. A thought I first had some 30 or so years ago is this: Because of Your Word, I have had a supreme education that ranges from literature, architecture, maps, charts, geography, languages, cultures, history, the heavens, and so much more. Thank you.
I have grown from striving to resting, from insecurity and wanting love to knowing love, as what You meant love to be. A great comfort. A companionable walk, a respect and honor and delight in Your wisdom, Your plan, Your being. You are the one and only Yehovah, the almighty God. And then there is Jesus. I cannot picture His physical, earthly appearance. It was temporary, as my aging appearance is temporary. (It seems reasonable that no one was allowed to ever describe His appearance because it would certainly become some kind of stumbling block.)
Jesus is – You are – an eternal spiritual being, as I am. I just have not passed through the death door, but it really is just that; passing from this mortal life on a fallen messed up planet to eternity in immortal perfection. I like to think, to imagine, I suppose, that you will be with me right through the door to the other side and I won’t be entering alone, a stranger, I will enter as your very own, and with my very dearest love and friend who happens to be the Eternal Son, the King of Kings, escorting me to the new realm which You, in Your wisdom and power and intelligence designed and created. (I know it’s a micro-picture I’ve painted, but it serves.)
I, we, did not earn this, and the mere thought of what that would cost – what it did cost – sobers my heart and brings me to worship. Who could imagine such a thing? Your death brings eternal life, and amazingly, it starts the minute we accept You as our savior. You come and reside in us. And in other believers, too. We are a body, Your body and we are a family now, and forever. I am so used to connecting on a spiritual level with other believers, and with the Word, that I’ve taken this amazing, living miracle for granted, too much of the time. When I contemplate this, deeply, it renders me speechless…
I pray you are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Have a blessed resurrection weekend!
There are many, many references to the Spirit, starting in Genesis 1:2 right through Revelation. I’ve just listed a few. If you are up for it, a concordance or online Bible can be an inspirational study on this Power and Presence of the Godhead, who enables us to live rightly and stay connected to the Head, Christ and the body, the believing church.
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Acts 2:1- 4a When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…
Acts 9:1-19 starting at 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:9 “You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
Colossians 1:24-27 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make know among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(Bold and italics mine)
The preface below is my private talk with Yeshua/Jesus.
Oh, Father. Thank you for a wonderful time of praying (speaking) with you. I want to get this down, here, if I can:
In my prayer this morning…the shades over my mind snapped up so the light of your Word was emblazoned in my heart; you warn us repeatedly, with examples we toss around as ‘bible history.’
I’ll paint the picture. You, the only God, Elohim, who said your name was ‘I am’ and ‘Yehovah’, created the universe, this earth and all that is in it. You created angels, your messengers, to communicate, give direction and do your bidding on this earth. Jesus says in Luke 10:18 that he saw Satan fall like lightening. Genesis tells us that your creation of earthly beings were created in your image; Adam and Eve, and you placed them in a perfect place with only 1 rule that is forever recorded in the Word. It’s so familiar; I’m taking the liberty of paraphrasing:
Do not eat of this one tree. It will bring death and mortality and other things you cannot imagine or conceive, as you’ve never experienced or understood these things. You must show me that you believe me, trust me, obey me and stand on these truths in faith, without wavering, and it will be well with you…
Backstory. Yeshua saw Satan fall like lightening from the sky… The word tells the story of Lucifer. He was perfect in beauty; he was the crown of the angelic community. And he wanted to be like God, he wanted to help God, he wanted to BE god….
You say we must worship You only. Period. Satan was thrown down and in his rage at this offense, in his arrogance, he continues to morph into the absolute antithesis of goodness, purity, righteousness and light. He is the prince of evil, lord of arrogance and most skillful deceiver this universe has ever known.
He works in stealth. He works in wheedling, chumming up, lie upon lie, deception upon deception to destroy everything he can that is from God, those in His image, those that He created, and all that He rules over. He wants to destroy God and in his maniacal madness he uses every ancient and current methodology he has found successful to do just that: He steals kills and destroys the earth and the heavens. He destroys our faith. He destroys our trust in God/Yehovah and he destroys our belief in Him and His written, eternal, living Word, written for our source of absolute truth and living through Christ, via the Holy Spirit in those of us who believe him, trust him and have faith in him.
And here is the evil kicker. Satan knows all this. And he rages against God and he destroys us and throws it in Gods face. And we as people have eaten all the apples he puts before us, some to eternal death, some to a lifetime of difficulty and questioning and a few clinging to Him for the faith to believe and understand this one truth: Yeshua/Jesus died for us on the cross and we are no match for His enemy and ours, satan and his minions. Father, help me to write clearly what I learned in my prayer time…The power is in the prayer, not me teaching about what I learned in the prayer ie., helping YOU to help people. Ach, Father. Let me type the prayer, please. Amen and amen…
11/30/17. (Rats. I think I’ve forgotten it, or I need to settle down and let it rise up)
Deception: The Destroyer of Faith
In the Disney movie, Snow White, there is that awful scene where the evil queen, disguised as an old hag, offers her a beautiful, shiny, red apple…
This is Satan’s most well-known methodology. He croons over the luscious, forbidden fruit hanging on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit God said would bring death. Satan simply asks Eve if God really said, and the deception was in swift motion.
What does that mean to me? To be made like You. You are powerful. All-knowing. Eternal. Supreme. Untouchable, unmatchable.
Adam & Eve did not know – until they disobeyed God – anything but perfection. Everything in Eden was perfection, without weeds & thorns, without any evil – truly, heaven on earth. This bears fleshing out. No striving, no misunderstanding, no competition. And stop for a minute to find those precious jewels of memory in every area of your life – the perfect moments; and when you put them all together we get the smallest glimpse of what they had.
Absolute perfection and they were innocent and pure. Their bodies were perfect; no bad hair days, no blemishes, no wrinkles, perfect teeth, perfect hearing, perfect sight, no allergies, no aches and pains, no boss, no mortgage, no traffic, no cars, no tit-for-tat, obligations and expected appropriate behavior, actions or thoughts. No judgement, no abuse, no swearing, no vulgar comments, no put-downs, no shocking crudeness, no meanness, no cruelty, no dominating, no terrifying, no manipulating, no ‘grooming’, no pornography, no wicked thoughts, no power struggles, no other nations warring, no war, not strife, no murder, no torture, no fear. No natural disasters, no earthquakes, no floods, no tornados, no hurricanes, no car accidents, no train wrecks, no plane crashes, no sunken ships, no bombs, no grenades, no mines, no nuclear threats, no nuclear reactor meltdowns, no garbage, no smog, no terrifying weather, no salmonella, no botulism, no MRSA, no measles, no malaria, no pneumonia, no CANCER, no heart disease, no brain malfunctions, no mean kids, no bondage, no prison, no confinement, no wild animals, no venomous creatures, no bullies, no arrogance, no put downs, no one-upping, no unattainable goals, no liars, no cheaters, no deceivers, no tricksters, no con artists, no deformities, no blindness, no deafness, no fear. No weakness, no exhaustion, no dread, no failing eyesight, no glasses, no hearing aids, no crutches, no canes, no wheelchairs, no starvation, no bulimia, no addictions, no secrets, no shame, no confusion, no mistrust, no trampling, no rage, no tempers no fists, no restraints, no shame. No grime, no illness, no killing virus, no killing bacteria, no plague, no ferocity, no lying, no death. No disease. No fading, no wearing out, no running down, no end. No toothaches, no false teeth, no getting old, no tiredness, no foggy thinking, no bowel troubles, no stomach troubles, no disease. No sickness. No money. No need. No lack. No pining, no whining, no wheedling, no complaining, no gossip, no whispering, no judging. No demands, no commands, no government, no countries, no military, no garbage trucks, no sewage, no air pollution, no water pollution, no draught. No tension. No devils, no demons, no occult, no drugs. No mental numbness, no guardedness:
What they had was no knowledge of evil. They had perfection.
They knew God. They lived with Him. They loved each other and God. And God gave them everything and only ONE restriction. Only one.
Adam and Eve never knew, or imagined the evil we live with, in our day to day lives. We are numb to the truth that evil is the environment of our world and lives. We push back the creeping edges when they get too close – when we can – but we always live with a guarded tension for our very existence, whether we are aware of it, or not.
Because they only knew perfection, how would they be able to discern good from evil or evil from good? They had no concept, no way to even contemplate this. They had no experience with deceit, with malice, with trickery, with joking, with teasing. Nothing. They were innocent. So how would they know to beware a betrayer; a conspirator, an evil, sly, wicked one, showing up in their garden, their yard, and suggesting that God was holding back from them? They couldn’t.
And God, being God, who alone can handle the enormous, big picture, chose not to share the war in heaven and Lucifer’s fall, because he had
a better, simpler plan to keep them safe. He asked them to believe Him. To trust Him. To obey Him. Not in those words, but as loving and simple as possible – a loving parent command: do not eat that or your world will be turned upside down. Believe me. Trust me. Obey me.
So that is the background for where I am going.
Yeshua/Jesus states in Mathew 24:4 a command, a prophecy. From the very lips of God the Son: Do not be deceived. Notice the simple, clear commands: do not eat from this tree, do not be deceived. Implying truths we are shockingly flippant about: “Yeah, yeah, I won’t! I read my bible, I study, I pray. I’m good, LORD. Thanks for the heads-up.”
Not even considering the possibility that we live in a world that is full of depravity, and has been from the start of humanity. We are immersed in evil and our faith and love for Him seem like that’s all we need to navigate our lives here. As if we, at our best, are any match for the destroyer of everything. We who are the flip side of Adam & Eve in perfection. We who navigate our entire existence through the muck and slime of deception and are so busy with the effort, we don’t even recognize that our entire world is truly a mirror reflected dimly of eternal death & depravity. And about now, I’m rearing back, thinking: but look how beautiful nature is, and how awe inducing is the sight and sound and feel of a tiny, helpless baby placed in my arms. Moments, glimpses, really, of the envisioned life, the beautiful, perfect, pure life we were intended to live. A rambling secondary thought: look how stubborn the chosen people were, that God rescued through Moses at the Red Sea. God held sea waters back for, I’m guessing, a million or so Israelites, to walk, not drive, through the Red Sea and out into the journey to the Promised Land. They barely had the sand out of their sandals and already they were complaining! We think we are any different? That if we walked through the Red Sea, by Gods’ grace, we would never doubt or saunter through life like we are untouchable. That kind of thinking is easily deceived. Depressing, isn’t it? Frightening, actually.
If they, who knew only perfection and walked with God in the cool of the garden – if they could be deceived – don’t kid yourself, we have been, too.
I have clung to Mathew 24:4 as a very serious warning for years, but recently in an intense time of prayer and communion with Him, this crystallized into terrifying reality: I am capable of being deceived. This is really hard to swallow. But I know if from my gut. We all are and in shocking ways, we will someday see the effects of minor to massive deception in our personal lives, which also twines with our families, our churches, our friends, our work and our ministries.
This reality hits hard because I believe the Word; both the written, living Word and the resurrected Yeshua. So, the depth of His simple, but clear statement, “do not be deceived” a statement I’ve known has deep consequences, finally clicked. We live in what appears to genuinely be the last days. It seems the upkick of deception has been going on, is now increasing in intensity and will continue every day we draw breath. We are in a spiritual battle of such magnitude, such finesse, such stealth, such perfection that Satan was able to con 1/3 of the angels who saw God face to face. That is shocking. How many times have we all read all these verses and not comprehended the absolute perfect EVIL that Satan is? He wanted to supplant God. He hates God. He hates Israel, he hates Yeshua, he hates believers, and he hates unbelievers. His total existence is one of churning rage, evil, violence, seduction, suggestion and on and on. He has had six thousand plus years to steal, kill and destroy and he never relents, never repents, never, never, never.
It seems that what I realized is that the magnitude of the spiritual realm is so vast, so complex and so beyond our mortal ability to grasp that I settled on a bit of ignorant complacency. What I mean is this: as Adam & Eve were innocent and clueless and unprepared for what happened to them, as the Hebrews/Israelites were unable to recognize their own Messiah – and few yet do – we are ill-prepared for what goes on in the spiritual world and we need to accept that this is true. We need, more than ever to put our focus on Yeshua – Jesus, and Yehovah, stay in the Word, live lives that are honoring to them and others and ourselves and never, ever, forget we have an enemy that makes Hitler look like a schoolboy in lederhosen, complete with a mom spit-combed side part.
We know Satan uses people, but if I’m honest, I rarely see past them and see who the artist behind the horrible behavior is.
I had a trusted friend deeply betray me, hurt me with vicious attacks and even though I recognized the she was a mere tool to come after me, I didn’t until months later, contemplate how powerful his tricks and deceit really are. I forgave her, immediately. And I learned that Jesus, in Mathew 24:4 was not issuing a warning like our mom’s did; “wear your coat or you’ll catch a cold!” He was warning us, commanding us, really, not to be deceived. So what am I doing to be obedient? I have made a huge shift in my personal life; I didn’t really even notice it until sometime later. This may be for a season or it may be permanent, I don’t know, but I don’t drink at all; and as much as I enjoy a great Cabernet, I just don’t want any. This isn’t me acting holy. It’s Him. I live alone in my wonderful, little motorhome. It is a sanctuary in the woods, a secluded place of rest, study, prayer and worship. I lean hard into this precious time I’m in now. I’m not suggesting anyone else should do this; it’s just a beautiful time in my life, which allows me to contemplate and get strong in my King. I eaked out time, when I had a husband, and cat and two kids. This is different and has a sense of urgency, for me. I can’t imagine why, but I think it will be clear in time. Simply put, I am to live in moral purity. And I am. I feel the clock is really ticking and I’ve been fortunate to see this and I believe, trust and obey my Rock, my Fortress, my Strong Tower, the Horn of my Salvation, my Messiah; Yeshua. Jesus, the Christ.
I’ve also learned not to cling to what I think or am told the Word says. Oh, I believe it and rely on it. But I also know there have been deceptions since the dawn of our planet and that I’ve been deceived and I need to cling to Him, study hard, and read daily (and I don’t mean a 5 minute devotional). Reading, praying, contemplating the scriptures I’m in and searching for truth.
Paraphrase of Daniel 10:12
“Set your mind to gain understanding and humble yourself before Yehovah God and your words will be heard.” Hallelujah.
Father, I think I understand, now, how all the unbelievable things Jesus told us will happen in the last days will happen. I understand and see why people destroy each other, families imploding and friendships shattering. It’s because we are no match, can’t compete (and must not) with Satan, the evil, fallen angel Lucifer. Belief is a wonderful gift, faith is our strength, and trusting God we must never, ever, stop doing and obeying what He warns us to do or not to do. It is urgently important.
Come quickly, Jesus.
I’m sharing my deeply personal journal entry today:
Good morning, Lord! (I typed ‘God’ morning and smile, knowing all mornings are God mornings.)
I just read Mathew 23 and 24. My safety net regarding eschatology. You are clear about how this is coming and I need not worry, what I need to do is stay in your priceless, timeless Word, listen to you and stand firm.
You have not let me down to date, nor will you ever. My needs have always been met by you – especially clear to me these past 9 years – as I struggle to provide and take care of myself and make mistake after mistake, learning how to stand on my own, for Christ Jesus.
I come confessing:
I have been going to a prophesy class in my very excellent bible church – something new in my walk. It is unavoidable (even for someone who left TV behind 26 years ago) to see the evil, black, roiling cloud of hatred huffing down upon the earth and would be irresponsible not to be in the Word regarding the coming wrath. I cannot get the photo of the 21Coptic Christian men kneeling on that Libyan beach out of my mind’s eye, nor do I want to.
They join upwards of 74 million Christian martyr’s and wait for the rest of us who will be coming along behind them, soon enough. “How long, O Lord?” they cry out from under Your alter. In Philippians 1:14 Paul speaks about others being encouraged by his suffering ‘Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly’. Because of these men’s deaths, I am strengthened to seek sufficient courage in the face of fear. God’s word makes no sense to the world, but to those of us who believe, this is an amazing comfort.
It’s one thing to study eschatology; it’s another when it becomes a reality in your lifetime. And regardless of a lifetime of seeing evil perpetrated across this earth, we are unaccustomed to the threat and fear of evil of this magnitude descending on our own American soil. Particularly frightening if we have held a dangerously complacent belief that we will be raptured out before the wrath of Satan happens. And although I gave that belief up 19 years ago, expecting and preparing for the possibility of facing this in my lifetime hasn’t make it easy to swallow when it appears to be at hand. I would crawl into a cave in the forest – my current option at off-grid living – if it weren’t for you, Lord. Your Word never ceases to amaze me. I run to it to find comfort and strength.
It’s frightening how easy it is to step off the narrow path of complete trust in You:
- I’ve been overcome by a crushing bout of depression, thankfully now on the wane.
- I have been waking up at crazy early hours with horrific visuals and deep distress worrying about my daughters, as possibly both of them will be overseas for who knows how many more years?
- The realization that it’s possible I may never see them again, in this life, dawned on me a couple of mornings ago – an awful feeling and one I never imagined I would face. It is the very ache lodged in my heart after they were born; terror at the thought of losing a precious child. So, conquering this fear by trusting in your love and protection of them is urgent in my never ending training to stand firm, not get unduly fearful, or grow cold in love.
- I continue to grieve the loss of family life and close proximity to one another.
- My right shoulder is injured from aiding beloved clients.
- The realization that my ability to work as I did when I was younger came crashing down.
- My car is beyond repair and I need to get another one – this week.
- Do I go back to my RV transporting job? (think: Israel, buses)
- Drive a city metro bus – why did I apply for that job?! (think: Israel, buses)
After years of trusting you in the details, I was yielding to rising panic over safety, security, finances, work and a heart-wrenching need to cling together as a family unit. I have to stop and trust You for all of this.
I admit it. I am afraid and I don’t want this to happen, now or ever, and I don’t get a say in it. I can only control my thoughts and actions and strive to walk worthy. ‘I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Phil 1:20
So Jesus, I confess that I have, yet again, been unfaithful to you in my level of trust. Your Holy Spirit indwells me and somehow I have stepped outside His house (my mind and body) to worry on my own and leave His wise council which has all the answers I seek and comfort I need. Forgive me. I’m sitting on the porch of my life and I miss your gentle whisper, Holy Spirit, and I am so sorry for my wandering thoughts. You have called me. You need me to be reliable, as Tozer so brilliantly said. Dependable. Strong and standing firm. I turn back to You now and rest in your love, comfort and earth-making, star-shaking power and protection. You are Lord of the universe and King of my people, the People of the Book; beloved master of my mind, body, soul and strength. I thank you for this test that I struggle through – may I never be this weak again.
You are coming with the angels of heaven. Soon. My job is not to cave in to fear, my job is to stand and share You and your wonderful truth with the world. You love my children more than I do. They are in your hands. I speak of them to you – but I fear not if I don’t as often as I sometimes think I’d better (something like a baseball players rituals) your watch-care over them is not in the least dependent on me. You covet my prayers and I can’t stop praying to you, this symbiotic dance is one of the delights of my heart. I am so grateful for your patience in my progress to be like you, to become holy, righteous and blameless, things that sound like hypocrisy when I once again find myself deep in the pit rubbing the slime of fear and worry over my arms, legs and face with unsteady hands.
So now, bless me, Lord. I covet your hand upon my head, I need to catch the scent of your immortality that wisps invisible throughout this fallen earth; to feel and smell the cool breeze, hear the sweet sound of birds singing and rest in the knowledge of your complete control of all you have created. Today I will go for a long, long walk and tell you how much I love you as I bask in your creation.
‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them…granted to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.’ Phil 1:27-29
Recently I moved to the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington state, where I was born. I bought a great rain jacket from a local thrift shop and a pair of inexpensive black, high top rubber boots. I’m home!
Today, I am humbled and thankful for my national Christian ancestors; those who fled the beautiful, history making, Monarch-mandated-church in England, in pursuit of peace to worship as they saw fit. Simple people of that land, boarding and sailing on ships; most leaving behind their home, forever; faced with possible death at sea, certain illness, probably at times terrified, yet trusting God for an unknown future. After many, many weeks at sea, they can be imagined disembarking on the stark, frigid shore; cold, fearful yet hopeful; surely in any number of long dark nights, longing for home and routine. Setting foot upon a land without civilization’s comforts; no welcoming raucous band here, no boardwalk, no streetlights, no Dickensian world awaiting; a foreign, vast unknown. Plymouth Rock – a small, flattish – but now iconic cracked stone – that our weary ancestors first set a wobbly foot upon, lodged in the windswept, stinking coastal mud, surrounded by shrill seagulls, greeted with a handshake by the damp cold, an embracing hug by bone chilling winds. No handy cobbler available, to provide yet invented, wonderfully dry rubber boots for wet, cold feet; no general store filled with cloth to repair or remake clothing in ruins and tatters and no hope of supplies of coffee, tea, flour, basic food supplies, or anything else for months and months to come.
These people were Bible believing, bible toting Christians; (see link for information on the bibles believed to be from the Mayflower held in the Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts.) a people hatefully maligned for their staunch faithfulness to God from the beginning of the church to this day.
The lists are long of those who burned at the stake unwilling to deny God and his Word. Hear this sobering statistic: there are (best low estimate) over74 million martyrs under God’s alter, waiting somewhat impatiently for clean, white robes and Christ’s second advent, and the number grows daily somewhere between 400 and 500. While we view mind numbing repeat plays of close up shots of an inch of snow – when it dares to fall in balmy western Washington – and while the national news pummels our minds non-stop with every imaginable evil they can voyeur for our viewing satisfaction – remember this: Today, and every single day, around 500 bible believing, Christ following martyrs are murdered, sometimes heinously, and our media is silent.
On a recent trip to England I stood before various memorials, alternately humbled by those uncompromising souls and sharply aware of the ignorance of tourists clowning for a photograph before a marker ‘near the location’ where the likes of William Tyndale and many, many others gave their lives, rather than tolerate oppression and the slippery slope of concession. I am emboldened by their fierce faith. Awestruck by those that decided to make a run for it, to the shores of America.
Many Pilgrims starved – hunger most of us in America rarely, if ever, have known. They walked on bloodied, frozen feet. It is nearly impossible for a warm, housed, comfortable American to consider the enormity of what they gave up and what they endured – because of their desire to practice their Christian faith – so that we could arrive at today looking forward to the smell of a roasting turkey; friends, family, football; traditions that are deep and dear to our national psyche.
Today at some point, I am going to pull on my rubber boots and go down to the inlet, near my home, here in Washington. I will stand there, likely alone, and talk with God about our country and how and what I, a simple woman, am to do to help us remember the great cost that was paid to get us here, to shine light on the spiritual battle that continues to pound this country into a tolerant, politically correct, weakened, lukewarm stew of willful ignorance, spouting arrogant demands for innumerable ‘rights’ and ‘choices’.
The spiritual boundaries that kept us safe for so long have been stepped over, broken and trampled into near oblivion. Our country tolerates every kind of evil. Drugs continue to destroy our loved ones, pornography is rampant and destructive, the sex trade is booming, the media is our unofficial god, athletes and actors our idols of choice. Pharma and insurance reign over the medical world (what happened to the country Doctor who knew and cared for his patients?) You surely know these things. We that try to stem the flow are like little children with our fingers poked in the hole in the dam. We stop and see we are in trouble, but are overwhelmed by so much that we throw another log on the fire, put our feet up and turn on the news, because we can’t cope with the magnitude. Guilt is a worthless motivator, conviction is what moves us. I’m thinking out loud and hope you will think, too, in your own slice of solitude, sometime during this holiday weekend, about our country and about your concerns for her.
God alone can help us. May we unashamedly seek Him; ask him what we, as individuals, are to do in our little corner of this massive country and listen to Him as he continues to shed His grace upon us.
Worth a read:
Sometimes the naked cruelty and sin of others is like a jackhammer right over my heart. I am wallowing in misery. I want someone, anyone to get it. Sheep that I am, I need compassion, understanding, support; I cannot right myself when I’m flat on my back and feel oppression and the seeming tears of the universe battering me with more than I can bear.
Editorial pause here: I went to Google, thinking ‘bear’, above, wasn’t spelled correctly and a video I’ve never seen before pops up on You Tube of Kirk Franklin singing, ‘He’ll Never Put More on Me, Than I Can Bear’. I bawled my eyes out for about five minutes.
Lord, I know this. I know I am yoked with you, that you understand my heavy heart. The gift of this surprise video moment is that reminders of your boundless love for me bring me immediate connection to your empathy and validation of my suffering.
Way before I opened my journal this morning, to start writing to you Lord, I noticed a FB post from Renee Swope, Proverbs 31 Ministries, talking about how negative words can hurt us and cut us to the quick, ending with Hebrews 4:12: “The Word is sharp and active, sharper than any two edged sword” and I ran back to your feet, ready to learn. Your sword will cut through my cocoon of misery and sear the wounds in my soul with the white-hot power of your great love for me. Just typing this centers me.
I know whom I believe and I need to run to you alone, to your presence, and pour out my deep wounds and let you nurture me while I recover. Why do I do this again and again; expect people to do what only you can, simply to end up feeling worse for my trouble? It’s the awful, down side of isolating loneliness. When I am at my lowest point I turn inward and think the thing I need most is someone, anyone, to wrap their arms around me and say it will be OK, to make me a cup of tea, to let me pour out my tears and then point me to you. But human comfort is sometimes a risky endeavor. Baggage can come up and twist itself into an arrow pointed at me whispering a translation that pronounces ‘you must have done something to deserve this’ or, ‘I’ve had worse hurts than you, get over it’ or any other self-righteous, or even well-intended suggestions which my hyper-sensitive mind can pounce on and flail myself further. So human; so sheep-like; to want my Shepherd in person and because that’s just not possible, reach out to whomever is in the ripple effect of my dive into the black lake of misery.
So here I am, dry eyed for now. Sometimes the healing is quick, sometimes we have to recover. This complex wound will be a recovery and will take time, prayer, and all the moments I can spend in your Word. Instead of isolation and soul vulnerability, I need boundaries; to keep myself close to you, pour it all out to you, striving for gentleness to myself, in the process. When I do that, I can pray about those whom I am heartbroken over, then watch you do what only you can. How I love you, Lord. I can never repay you, but I can love you with all my heart, soul, strength and spirit, which is what you’ve asked for. I so look forward to the moment I see your face and hear your beautiful, kind voice.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Math 11:28-30
His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous fail. Psalm 55:21-22