Allowing Christ To Be the Word of God

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♫ There’s an unseen hand to me
That leads through ways, I cannot see
While going through, this world of woe
This hand still leads, me as I go

I’m trusting to, the unseen hand
That guides me through, this weary land
And some sweet day, I’ll reach that strand
Still guided by, the unseen hand

I long to see, my Savior’s face

And sing the story, of his grace
And there upon, that golden strand
I’ll praise him for, his guiding hand

I’m trusting to, the unseen hand
That guides me through, this weary land
And some sweet day, I’ll reach that strand
Still guided by, the unseen hand
Still guided by, the unseen hand ♪

Lyrics: The Unseen Hand/Albert Jackson Sims (First heard by the author last month sung by country music artist, Marty Stuart – link)

My husband and I go to a monthly auction with some friends of ours during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. It’s always an interesting and very diverse collection of things and people. It’s outdoors in a dirt parking lot; rows and rows of stuff. Before the auction begins we peruse the goods, whispering to each other behind our hands, never pointing at our wish-list items. Very often my friend and I leave the men to do the auction bidding while we go see a movie and enjoy lunch. It’s a win-win, really. Earlier this month, though, we hung out all day – all.day! While walking through the rows of stuff I happened upon a cardboard box lid turned upside down filled with antique looking papers and books. I was intrigued, not to purchase but to flip through. One was what seemed to be a book of poetry from the early 1900’s in French maybe; there was some old sheet music, as well as a worn and ragged Bible. In the front was a page with a stamped letter signed by the President at the time: Franklin D. Roosevelt (this ‘stamped letter’ was part of the printing, not original, or I would have tried to purchase it). It read as follows:

The White House

Washington

March 6, 1941

To The Members of the Army:

As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel, and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.

Very sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt

It was so intriguing, I snapped a quick photo with my phone camera. Flipping through hoping to find notes scribbled by its once-upon-a-time owner, but ending up disappointed, I came to the last page which was another ‘stamped letter’ signed by the Chief of Chaplains, (the signature and name did not make it into my photo). It read as follows:

Do You Know Your Chaplain?

This copy of the Scriptures should initiate and promote a warm friendship between you and your chaplain. He has studied the Word of God for years and uses it daily for his own strength and comfort, and for the instructions of others. His love for the Scriptures make him your friend and guide. When he counsels you he speaks with the knowledge and charity found in this little volume. A soldier who knows the Word of God and honestly tries to observe His laws is a man of power and influence among his fellows and exalts his military service to a high level of religious faith, courage, and loyalty.

Allowing Christ to be the Word of God shifts every lens we look through. It will eliminate the religious bondage many have known and still know presently. Though there is some bondage that is a life long unlearning, our Father in Christ and by His Spirit is faithful to lead us onward unto life and freedom! It will offer to us the power of an endless life, manifesting through these imperfect lives of ours, the power and glory of God. It is not more church attendance and/or activity that is needed to save us, or deliver us, or transform us, or heal us, and our lives and families and relationships. It is not even more Bible study as a thing or a course taken. What was prevalent in Christ’s day is sadly still very much so today. Many are searching the Scriptures looking for eternal life in them, refusing to go to Christ for life. And there is much more to be busy with these days it would seem, seeking salvation or eternal life in these things, activities, etc. All the while refusing Him who offers life. There are those who have the (head) information but lack the (life) power; they have a form of godliness but deny its power.

Oh, brothers and sisters, this is a burden on my heart today. There is this train of thought that goes back generations that the Lord is apart from us in some manner. We may believe on Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior, trusting that He is the Son of God. But we must have loads of external help to get through the day and our life: pastors, priests, sermons, bible studies, Christian activity, etc. The Bible to us has long been, as was stated above circa 1941, our strength and comfort. But that is not true. There may be words of strength and comfort in it, but that is not where our strength and comfort come from. What does the psalmist say? Looking to the hills, where does our help come from? It comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

I recall a number of years back, since my surrender and return Home to the Father in late 2007, a filthy prodigal daughter with a load of church, Bible, and God baggage, and reading a book that helped my heart catch an initial glimpse into the fact that the Bible was a book that pointed to Christ. So in essence you can have the Bible and not have Christ. We have long been attempting to make heavenly realities an earthly way of things, when the Lord would have us know it is the heavenly realities that alter us here on the earth. Not being so ‘heavenly minded we can be no earthly good’ as some saying once was. But being so heavenly infused by the life and light of Christ that those of the earth in our circles of influence can’t help but know that something must be up. It’s not the same ol’ hypocrisy and busy life with little grace. It is – WE ARE – made alive to God in Christ. This changes everything. But we’re stuck believing with our heads; hands and feet busy with the ‘Christian work,’ lives devoid of His power. And we’re dying.

Oh, Father, that we would know first and foremost Your heart towards us which is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. That we would allow You to apply the Cross to our lives; that we would cooperate with the sometimes painful circumstances or irritating people and situations that come our way – not that you designed the evil or the pain, but that You wish to show us Yourselves in these things that come to us on this fallen planet; to crucify our flesh in order to bring Your Son, Jesus Christ, in His resurrected power, to earth through His Body. That we would allow Christ to be the Word of God which is alive and active, He is sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. We acknowledge that we require this surgery, Father. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.

*Scriptures: John 5:39-40; Isaiah 30:21; Hebrews 1:2-3; John 1:1;  2 Timothy 3:5; John 16:13; Colossians 3:3; Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 121:1; Psalm 145:8

(In an effort to simplify and keep any ‘chatter’ out of our hearts as we seek the Spirit’s voice for a time such as this, the comments have been disabled on the posts here at A New & Living Way. Some of you have my email and we are able to communicate that way. If you do not have my email and wish to contact me, there is a ‘contact’ tab on the home page of A New & Living Way (here is the link).

Not Neglecting to Assemble Together

The Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service (RMPBS) channel has had a short series on the Colorado National Parks. There are five of them: Mesa Verde National Park; Great Sand Dunes National Park; Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park; and Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky Mountain National Park has been the backyard of my life; born and raised along the Front Range of the Rockies here in Colorado, I have memories going back to childhood of times spent in the breathtaking park. The series is enlightening when looked at with a spiritual lens which changes everything we look at really. What is on my heart today particularly though is with regards to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park located in western Colorado. I’ve never been, but want to make the trek now!

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Photo Credit: SC Photography. The Painted Wall and Gunnison River

Take a moment to look at that photograph. Their website says: Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky. (This is not about the ‘two million years’ remark. Dismiss that if you must. I will not engage in that conversation.)

What is astounding is the relentless labor of water and its accomplishment on the massive rock.  As I watched the program on the resource of water in the National Parks, I couldn’t help but see the relentless ‘labor’ of our Living Water Source and it’s effect on the massive rock we call our heart. I couldn’t help but take it personally, as one who has been shown her heart of stone, and is in the process (because that’s what it is, just like the work of that water in the Gunnison River to create the canyon) of becoming a heart of flesh.

But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life. Jesus in John 4:14

Oh! These hearts of flesh He creates in us become like that river (take a look at that photo again if you’d like) – a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within us unto (into, for) eternal life. Over time with Him, we are less staunch and stagnant and unmoved, though the massive rocks in that photograph have a beauty all their own, let us not forget they are unmoved, never changing, unless the water does its relentless work.

Sparks writes that one of the attributes of a Spirit-led life is its adjustableness before the Lord.

In truth, all of that was written to get to this: Easter has passed, the death took place, the blood was shed, the stone was rolled away – He is risen, and the Son returned to the Father. Here we are in the year 2017, and what does it all mean, really? What purpose does it have on us now, here, or there, wherever we happen to be. What effect does it have on us when there is no ‘celebration’ on the calendar? Are we a people calling ourselves by His Name yet not allowing any adjustableness whatsoever, because tradition or what we’ve been taught is true is what comforts and soothes us? Is there Life and power in our hearts? Is there a spring of water welling up within us unto eternal life? Which speaks to Christ’s life being manifest here on this earth, not just a ticket to heaven when we die.

What has been nearly a lifetime of rebellious struggle; what came to a head on February 25, 2016; what has been a prayer, a lament, and a temptation to turn and run; what has been one of the deepest questions of my heart; where the Lord has met me straight on; what has been a veil slowly being removed, for we most assuredly could not survive it any other way, lifted yesterday in a glowing shot of clarity that only the Spirit can give us. The only illustration I can offer is that it felt like what was undoubtedly a moment in time in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison when the relentless work of the water finally broke through the sold and massive rock and found an area where it (the water) could well up, flowing and bubbling continually.

It was in David Murray’s post (here) where the Lord used two things written to really drive home something He and I have been walking in for some time now (like I said, nearly a lifetime but more poignantly and relentlessly these last 12+ months! He is so faithful I can barely stand it 🙂 )

#1 –  The entire dynamic of our relationship with the Lord hinges on righteousness.  

And

#2 – What I am endeavoring to encourage you here is to begin to meditate on the reality that the shed blood gave us access to His very throne-room and that our rags have been stripped off of us.

How the Spirit uses the phraseology of a brother or sister to break through what we had up to that point been unable to see, but then…we can finally see! A work of the Spirit!

~ Father, we acknowledge that in our old creation, in our natural state, and with our carnal thinking, we are unable to receive any part of Your mystery. We also acknowledge that You, good and loving Father that You are, have made us born from above, and a new creation in Christ. We ready ourselves in humble heart for whatever You have to show us today in these familiar and often misunderstood words. I am trusting this is Your Word to us for a time such as this. Thank You, Lord!

Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus,

By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh,

And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God,

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,

Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. Hebrews 10:19-26, Amplified, Classic Edition

Brother and sisters, as the day of His return approaches, let us not forsake or neglect assembling together in the righteousness God has gifted in Christ for us, for this is the New & Living way His blood opened up for us.

*Scriptures: Romans 1:17; Colossians 1:22; Romans 3:22-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 4: 10, 14; Isaiah 12:1-3; Isaiah 41: 17-20; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Psalm 1:1-3; Ezekiel 36:26

 (In an effort to simplify and keep any ‘chatter’ out of our hearts as we seek the Spirit’s voice for a time such as this, the comments have been disabled on the posts here at A New & Living Way. Some of you have my email and we are able to communicate that way. If you do not have my email and wish to contact me, there is a ‘contact’ tab on the home page of A New & Living Way (here is the link).

An Easter Epiphany

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When our spiritual journey’s are taken beyond the bunnies and dyed eggs of childhood; when the forgiveness of sins turns into what is the starting point in our faith’s infancy rather than a daily mantra; when we accept our death on the Cross in Christ and learn to live a Resurrection Life, the Spirit is drawing us into faith’s maturity; a maturity that knows no age.

This will be an ongoing learning. An ever increasing revelation unto the fullness of Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Last week I was talking with one of my daughter’s about possible plans with our whole family in celebration of another family member’s release from a situation that has been a hard road these last 6 weeks. I wanted to celebrate as soon as possible so I suggested this Sunday, April 16th. My daughter replied, That’s Easter, which took me by surprise because I didn’t know that. Initially I felt quite silly about it. Easter is the holiday we celebrate Christ risen, shouldn’t I at least know what day of the month it is? In modern day Christianity there are more than a few traditions to mark this day, both religiously and secularly. At this stage my life knows none of them. Easter has become less a day on the calendar and more a way of life in Christ risen.

What a gift it has been to be given the opportunity to walk this road. Do you feel that way? Those words are not written in jest or lightly as if all is always well and there is no daily dying to self with the stings and groans of it ever deepening. But those words are written having caught a glimpse of what this death to self is unto – Christ’s life, which He promised was for us to know a life abundantly (John 10:10); a life without the chains of self; without the bondage of sin and fear; a life without our Father.

Having the illumination of the Spirit in our hearts as to the Truth of Christ and the vastness of Him, the lies become glaring and obvious; the lies we’ve believed about our Father; the lies we’ve believed about Christ our Savior; the lies we’ve believed about faith in general; the lies we’ve believed about ourselves; the lies we’ve believed about others; and the lies we’ve believed about the world at large which is under the rule of the prince of darkness. In the presence and light of the Spirit of Truth, deceptions cannot exist, their breathe is choked out by what, or shall I say Who, has come in to usher Life and Light and Love and Fresh Air.

Having taken some time in recent weeks to marinate in what is being shown to me; living with a quiet spirit, focusing my mind on Him when a free moment presents itself, functioning in the mundane while carrying around the extraordinary, it dawned on me this morning like a ton of feathers, you could just about hear the rush of Air in the room. We aren’t Christ followers. The stories of Jesus as described in the gospels are not there for our example as something to emulate in our own strength and with our own natural abilities. God doesn’t find us only to help make us a nicer and gentler people. We are a dead people, that’s who we are! It is by faith that we see ourselves having been crucified with Christ on that fateful and dark and veil-tearing day.

It had been a vague deception that’s carried me along thus far. I believed that God made me a certain way, and when He and I got together through Christ, He would make me an even better version of myself. On the bright side I am jovial and boisterous, I have been told I bring joy to people and places. I am a lover of laughter and a mostly understanding person. On the dark side I am rebellious and defiant, resistant to any human form of authoritativeness and/or demands of conformity. I am a lover of jealousy and a mostly judgmental person. Any good thing I’ve ever done in my life is considered filthy rags (Isaiah 64:4). Any bad thing I ever have done or will think, act upon, silently wish upon, fall by accident or dive by choice into, was nailed to the Wooden Beam. There is nothing in me that is taken into consideration. It is Christ Alone. Period. (Galatians 2:16)

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Initially that tattoo was to remind me that my life is not about religious rules. Today it gives whole new meaning to what He’s been showing me. For if we have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; than it most assuredly isn’t us who live but Christ (the Messiah) lives in (us); and the life (we) now live in the body (we) live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved (us) and gave Himself up for me. I’ve been thinking of it in this way, when we are taken from a John 3:16 kind of life unto a Galatians 2:20 way of life – wow, what a journey it has been and continues to be! In the moments where something beautiful and unworldly is manifested through these jars of clay, it is Christ Alone. (2 Corinthians 4:7) . We cooperate with the death, He brings in the Life. There is no other way. (2 Corinthians 4:10)

Let me end with a powerful excerpt from T. Austin-Sparks’ book The School of Christ (link)where he is speaking of Jesus’ disciples, but is quite enlightening as to our own spiritual journey’s with and in Christ:

Through the months and years, they came to see how altogether different He was from themselves, and then came to the place of despair on that very matter as the Lord intended it should be. He foresaw it all. He could not hinder it, He could not save them, He had to allow them to go that way; and right at the end when they were making their loudest protestations about their loyalty, their faithfulness, their endurance, and what they were going to do when put to the test, He said to them all, “Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone” (John 16:31-32). And to one in particular He said, “The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice” (John 13:38). What do you think those men felt when He was crucified, and they had all run away, and left Him alone, and the one had denied Him? Do you not think dark despair entered into their souls, not only over their lost prospects and expectations, but despair over themselves. Yes, and He had to allow it. He could take no step to prevent it; it was necessary. And you and I will go the same way if we are in the same school. It is essential. No constructive work can be done until that has got advanced within us.

[…]

There is a difference, and the difference is not that they are necessarily changed men so much, as that Christ is now within them transcending what they are by nature. It is not that they become so much better, but it is that Christ within becomes so much more real as a power

(In an effort to simplify and keep any ‘chatter’ out of our hearts as we seek the Spirit’s voice for a time such as this, the comments have been disabled on the posts here at A New & Living Way. Some of you have my email and we are able to communicate that way. If you do not have my email and wish to contact me, there is a ‘contact’ tab on the home page of A New & Living Way (here is the link).

A Vital Clarification!

In yesterday’s post (link) I wrote:

“This becomes less about putting any one human being in their place, and more about receiving the truth of who we are in Christ, allowing that to be made manifest in our own ‘flesh and blood,’ living in and walking after the Spirit for our selves first. Not to sound like this is an individualistic thing, it is not. But we must first possess what we have attempted to hand out all these years.”

…receiving the truth of who we are in Christ…

Brothers and sisters, it is vital that what must first take place is an inward revelation of Christ Himself. For we cannot know ‘who we are in Christ’ without first and foremost learning Who Christ is. Who we are is not central. Christ is and must be central!

Father, that You would give us revelation of Your Son, Christ Jesus. That by Your indwelling Spirit we would by faith appropriate Christ in His fullness. Open our eyes to Christ, Father. For a time such as this may we above all else learn Christ.

(P.S. Going forward the comments have been disabled on the posts here at A New & Living Way. In an effort to simplify and keep any ‘chatter’ out of our hearts as we seek the Spirit’s voice for a time such as this. Some of you have my email and we are able to communicate that way. If you wish to contact me, there is a ‘contact’ tab on the home page of A New & Living Way (link).

Get Behind Me, Satan!

On the surface the words Jesus spoke to Peter in Matthew 16:23 appear harsh: Get behind me, Satan! You are in my way [an offense, a hindrance, and a snare to me] for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men. Yet it wasn’t Peter he was addressing. More than any human on the planet at the time Jesus knew that we do not battle against flesh and blood but against the rulers of this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12). So Jesus spoke as such. Not to Peter directly, but to the spirit that partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men.

Oh! What a curious thing this is. How often have we and do we make it personal, finding offense with the flesh and blood in front of us, rather than having the wisdom to know the difference. It is an even more curious thing when the rulers of this present darkness speak in Scripture, using the lingo of Christianity in attempt to blind us to their desire to enslave us to a spirit of bondage again (Romans 8:15). This is a reality for far too many believers. The blind leading the blind. Believing we are receiving truth and grace and (spiritual) life, but in actuality it is deception and shame and (spiritual) death.

In John 14:30 Jesus says: I will not talk with you much more, for the prince (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me.] 

“He has no claim on Me. He has nothing in common with Me. There is nothing in Me that belongs to him. He has no power over Me” Brothers and sisters, when we are in Christ and Christ is in us in living union…this is true for us!

The rulers of this present darkness have no claim on you and I. They have nothing in common with us. There is nothing in us that belongs to them. They have no power over you and I.

Sparks writes: “That which is called Christianity is essentially a spiritual thing, and not an earthly order or system, and every fragment of it has to be entered into in a spiritual way, by way of Life and Revelation. There is all the difference between imitation and Life.” (link)

This truth should take us to our knees, figuratively and literally. So much unlearning and letting go of old mentalities that I’ve drug along with me all my life without even knowing it or at the very least having an awareness that these mentalities and preconceived notions are (spiritual) death. The life I live, as you may know if you’ve read here long, is surrounded by unbelievers, people living in and from their old nature because Christ’s life has yet to be accepted and received. To learn to live by the grace of God, to allow this ‘Life and Revelation’ as Sparks put it, to be the guide not only for myself but to live a life of rest and trust it also for others, oh dear readers, it will look nothing like the Christianity we have been privy to. It is easy to allow the voice of Christendom and reason and goodness to shame me based on my background of rebellion. After all it sounds so ‘right’. But that voice is of Satan himself, whomever it may come through. And he has no claim on me any longer.

What if the majority of what we’ve come to know as Christianity is an offense to Christ, a hindrance and a snare to Him? What if the plethora of churches and sermons; of books and blogs and podcasts are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men? What if living by the Spirit and walking after the Spirit looks nothing like the Christian culture at large? Are we willing to lose connections and friendships, even our reputation? What if the crowd says we are to speak, and in speaking we are only fueling (spiritual) death? What if the Spirit silences us, and in our mouths being shut, He now has room for Life and Revelation? Obviously this goes against many Scriptures we’ve come to use as our means of justifying our ‘purpose’ or our ‘call’. We are getting ahead of ourselves, speaking out of fear and tradition, preaching out of having been taught how to preach but not from having received Life and Revelation ourselves.

This becomes less about putting any one human being in their place, and more about receiving the truth of who we are in Christ, allowing that to be made manifest in our own ‘flesh and blood,’ living in and walking after the Spirit for our selves first. Not to sound like this is an individualistic thing, it is not. But we must first possess what we have attempted to hand out all these years.

Father, that You would bring Life and Revelation to our seeking and hungry and dying hearts.

P.S. Going forward the comments have been disabled on the posts here at A New & Living Way. In an effort to simplify and keep any ‘chatter’ out of our hearts as we seek the Spirit’s voice for a time such as this. Some of you have my email and we are able to communicate that way. If you wish to contact me, there is a ‘contact’ tab on the home page of A New & Living Way (link).

 

Praise & Glory

Here we are passing through trial, adversity, sorrow, suffering, and we are tempted to think the Lord has given us up; the enemy presses in on every side with accusation, condemnation, question, doubts, fears. “Be ye steadfast, unmovable,” for beloved, this is the establishing principle at work, our faith is being exercised. We know anguish, travail. Remember the establishing work is done while our eyes are unto Him; […]

Are we not sometimes bewildered with the Lord, and are not His ways past finding out? It all looks such a muddle, but as faith holds on, one day we shall praise Him, as we see the reason for it all afterwards; “the path of the just… shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” – Prov. 4:18. Note “PATH” not things! These mysteries of the way contain some secret mystery of God; and are they not another opportunity to show forth His wisdom and power? When all seems gone, the conflict so great, the experience so strange and there is no key to the situation; we are tempted to question whether the promises were even of God; everything is so contrary to what we expected, we begin to wonder if we are all wrong! Just then, is the time for us to stand fast in the Lord and maintain that stand in faith.

After all, our experiences are very much alike. There is perplexity, there is apparent contradiction, there is conflict; the forms of experience may vary, but it comes to all of us in some way or another – still “He abideth faithful”.

How does this establish us? By the very helplessness of the situation, and ourselves, which causes us to cast ourselves upon Him, and it is then we prove Him. You are coming to the place where you know the mystery of God, and it is a glorious opportunity for Him to show His wisdom and so you are established. It is all a matter of endurance. T. Austin-Sparks (link)

It is so very true, isn’t it? Trial. Adversity. Sorrow. Suffering. Temptation. Accusation. Condemnation. Questions. Doubts. Fears. All the while we are being established. Standing steadfast in the Unchangeable One. Eyes focused on Him Who is Faithful & True. The pressures unceasing. The list of contradictions long. The conflicts up in our faces; there seems no escape. Yet He remains true! He abideth faithful!

Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself, and he will always carry out his promises to us. 2 Timothy 2:13 TLB

Brothers and sisters, I write today to share a story of His faithfulness in the midst of my own helpless situation. It has been ten years since I have been covered by health insurance. I have asthma and the struggles of my breathing have unfortunately increased since I quit smoking seven years ago. The medicine/inhaler that helps the most is nearly $400 per month. If I could afford that, I could afford health insurance. For a time I was getting free sample inhaler’s from my doctor. I began praying for healing to be manifested in my lungs about 4 or 5 years ago. I believe God is able to do it, but to this point that has not been the case. Quick to doubt His care for me, this very specific situation has been on the front lines of my life. To be short of breath affects every area of your life. You don’t just push through. You have to settle down, slow down, focus on your breathing. Some activities are no longer an option as you settle and slow. Last May after I had to put my 18 year old cat down, I started noticing a change in my breathing for the better. I was thrilled and stopped taking the free samples of medicine. The weeks and months that have followed have been spiritually remarkable. I have trusted Him for healing and doubted His care for me more times than I’d like to admit. The ease of my breathing did not continue and I began praying for guidance and direction.  With extra money coming in from three different places, and no obvious answer as to what I should do, I didn’t do anything (miraculous, really!) Until it became clear to me inwardly that it was time to call the doctor, make an appointment, get a prescription for this expensive medicine, and, well, thank God there are some finances to cover it right now. So that’s what I did.

It was the most beneficial doctor’s appointment I’ve had since being a patient there, almost 20 years. I left with two new prescriptions, one for the expensive inhaler. Now, I had two different pharmacy discount cards and an online coupon I had printed out for the specific medication company that makes the inhaler that said I could save up to $100 on each 30-day supply. I wanted to talk to the pharmacist to see which card and/or coupon would be most cost effective for my situation. Without insurance this particular inhaler is $365. One discount card took that to $351, another reduced it to $335. Not bad. Now for the online coupon. She had to enter some information into the computer but the print out was missing some numbers. I checked my email which was also missing the numbers. I decided to call the number and talk to someone. A very nice man answered the phone and after giving him my email address and zip code he said I’d need to resubmit. I told him, “How’s that going to help anything? I just did this yesterday and it gave me nothing. Isn’t there something you can do at your computer as I’m standing here with the pharmacist now?” And of course he could, so within a few seconds he was giving me the missing numbers. I thanked him and handed the paper to the pharmacist. I am anxious to see how much ‘up to $100’ I’m going to save, hoping for the full discount making the cost to me $265. When the woman looks at me with a sparkle in her eyes, a smile on her face, she raises her hand to high-five me, and says, “You rock! You pay $0.” My knees buckle, my heart races. “What? Are you serious?” The tears are in my throat. I want to drop to my knees right then and there, knowing full well the Lord who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think has done this for me.

After all the trusting and doubting. After all the which-direction-do-You-want-me-to-go’s. After all the expectation that the extra money was His provision for the medicine. And He goes and gives it to me at no charge.

This is just one story in a heap of millions, I know. But it’s a way that He has been proved in my life in this particular situation. And I can’t stop thanking Him or being dumbfounded at the whole thing. It is evident the shift in my breathing since starting this inhaler. I’ve slept through the night three nights in a row now and haven’t used my rescue inhaler since Thursday!

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:20-21 TLB

Faith’s Learning Curve

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Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to part asunder… Jesus in Matthew 10:34-35

Asunder comes from the Old English phrase on sundran, which means: into separate places.

Christ is the dividing line: before the Cross and after the Cross. There are two places we find ourselves and no more. Our hearts are either one of stone or one of flesh. Our spiritual life, the union with God in Christ, is either dead or it’s alive. Our lives are either in a constant state of motion and worry, or we have found Christ to be our rest. There are varying degrees of these two paths in every life, as I have stated before, this is progressive. We become. We grow. But Christ is the divider; the Sword separating us. The tension is real and undeniable; it is also painful. This is the part of the journey I find myself in these days. What I once was able to share so inclusively and affirmingly towards all is something that I am no longer able to find, though I’ve groped around in search of it. To be one with our Great Warrior means our entrance into the battle with and in Him. The religious carnage is massive. His blood cries out for mercy still. To hear His Voice to-day is not as common as one might think, given the availability of Christian-anything. It would shock us, and does shock us, when one with the most outward appearance of Christianity, one with a fountain of biblical (head) knowledge would hold the least peaceful position of heart; one more of distrust towards the Father; a beggar at His door. The tension becomes almost unbearable when faced with this in a family relationship. Sometimes to the point the enemy using the other’s religious anxiety to steal your peace in order to make you a slave again. (Galatians 2:4)

In Galatians chapter 2 verse 5 Paul says that he: ‘did not yield in submission to these even for a moment, that the truth of the Gospel might continue to be preserved for us in its purity.’ In other words, yielding in submission to any other spirit than that of Christ destroys the truth of the Gospel, making it tainted or dirty. This is rampant. Not easily discerned. We are, as a culture, as a humanity, in the death-grip of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Christians and non-Christians alike; denominations in abundance blindly following something other than the True Gospel. We are proud of our ‘goodness,’ imperfect and untouched by the Great Lovers Love; we’re dead men and women walking and we don’t even know it because we’re so busy in religious activity and Christian business. We watch our Christian movies and read our Christian books because we think they’re better, no F-bombs, no sex scenes. But it’s not resurrecting us, it’s not supposed to. We’re spinning in the abyss of deception, never really getting anywhere, just happy to know Jesus died for our sins, yet unwilling and uneducated, if I may say it that way, on growing up in Christ; going on to maturity, leaving the milk for the meat.

And as was stated in the last post, a blind man has no need for the light. What is needed first and foremost is life from death – Christ’s life. Not our theology of Christ’s life. Not our doctrine of Christ’s life. Not our memorized Scripture lines about the life of Christ. But the actual, risen, living, in-the-power-of-an-endless-life, life, alive in us. He, who learned obedience through what He suffered, and that experience now completed, perfectly equipped Him to be the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all who give heed and obey Him. (Hebrews  5:8-9) He is knocking on our hearts through our circumstances, quietly asking, gently inviting us to participate with Him – the Tree of Life. He will not cry out or shout aloud or cause His voice to be heard in the street. (Isaiah 42:2). He knows our hungry hearts can only find true satisfaction in Him. But we are slow to learn; more eager to quench our eternal thirst at the bottom of a bottle, or in the bed of a stranger, or in the umpteenth walk up the aisle at the alter call because the last one didn’t take.

Jesus Christ is sufficient in meeting our deepest spiritual needs, our cavernous spiritual appetites. But we don’t trust Him to, and the pulpits are so mixed and tainted and dirty, we have been made to believe we can pay our way to Jesus and God’s blessings; we can have our spiritual cake and eat it too;   or because we’re too ‘this’ or too ‘that’ we can’t go at all. Whatever the malady, Christ is the only cure. 

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. Romans 6: 8-11 Amplified

We died with Him. We died in order that we might live. The death we die is to our old nature with all of its lusts…the life we now live is alive to God in unbroken fellowship with Him in Christ. This is not fire & brimstone. This is not legalism. There isn’t a heavy yoke being twisted around our necks. This is THE great liberation, the true gospel, that frees and awakens us; resurrecting us from a dead people to living ones, testifying of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pressing On

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Consider this an addendum to or a follow up on From Blindness to Sight. How often it feels the words come across harsh, the peanut gallery taunting: Your rough edges are showing. There is still so much to learn, such a distance yet to travel, so much more of the Father’s Love yet to receive into my being. It is obvious that we need stepping stones to get where we’re all going. Some are drawn to one thing, others are drawn to another; be it an author or church or particular brand of speaker. Lately the writing that comes isn’t so gentle and full of grace. Not that there isn’t grace, there is – oh! there always is! What once moved me at the (re)start of this journey back in 2007 and 2008 is nothing that attracts me today. It seems the deeper His draw, the smaller the circle becomes. (After knowing a larger circle, the temptation is to believe this is a lost way.) It is as if He is showing me He is all I need. I know that goes against the themes of community and fellowship, but the experience of the last 12 months has been that closing doors and walking away from people, places and things, has been met with gargantuan rewards unbeknownst to me at the start. This is not an isolated or self-centered stage of the journey, far from it. It has been increasingly narrowed and crucifying, yet not ending there, for it is Life He is after. As Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14: But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I am coming to see, though, that this pressing on is a lonely road. But this experience of mine is not isolated! It’s being played out behind closed doors all over the globe with His sons and daughters. I trust it is His way.

It is a different time; in the history of things, the framework of this country, this world, and in Christianity. My mother and I were discussing something the other day and she shared with me how faith and God and prayer were the fabric of this country once upon a time. President’s would call for prayer. Interviews with certain people were on display without editing out ‘offensive’ words like Christ. And it’s just not that way any longer. But we are headed somewhere, the King is at the Head. What was once so easily put on display and is now seemingly offensive and becoming hidden, and may become even more so, is going to ask of us something that our mere humanity is unable. It must be a vital and living union with the Living Christ, that goes beyond anything we may be able to ‘prove’ outwardly, that carries us onward in the dark world. We are immersed in a culture that is making claims to fake news, what is true and what is false is becoming a hot topic. We cannot make mere claims to truth unless Truth has made His home in us; the Cross has had a personal application in our hearts and lives; the Spirit being our guide; the Father our keeper.

What I once needed to soothe the wounded parts of the legalism I had been privy to is not where I am any longer. Coming to know the Truth as a Person – Christ – has healed me of much, there is still healing to be had, He knows. Christ’s call to our hearts is not to accept Him and then live any way we want to. Oh, what a painful truth that has been to a former rebel who loved to do her own thing, her own way, in her own time. Correction is nothing I took, not from anyone. The Cross has broken my once resistant spirit. I now am able to see it clearly all around, and it saddens and burdens me. In order for an individual to continue living their own life, they must walk away from Christ. We can do this in one of two ways: reject Him altogether as Savior and Son of God; no longer recognizing Him as we once did, or continue to recognize and acknowledge Him for what He is and live a life of selfishness and sin. This is not the Father’s desire for any of us!

The road is indeed narrow.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8

And as faith sees the beauty and the power of the truth in Christ, it hungers for conformity to Him in this His highest moral glory, and becomes itself the root of an inward self-sacrifice, a continual offering, of itself to God and His holiness; because it is nothing less than a real, living union with Christ the High Priest Himself […] the inward spirit and disposition of self-sacrifice is born within us by His Spirit, breathed in us every day where there is true communion with Him […] the great lesson of the Epistle (Hebrews) is: the way into the Holiest is opened up, we can live and abide continually in the presence of God. Andrew Murray

 

 

 

From Blindness to Sight

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“[…] the more you see, really see, the more overwhelmed you feel about the whole thing, because you know that you have come to the borders of the land of far distances, lying far beyond a short lifetime’s power of experience.” T. Austin-Sparks

In the last post I expressed being overwhelmed by “the breadth and width and depth of Christ that goes beyond our ability to rightly express it.”  Then adding that, “On one hand I am thrilled and want to shout it from the mountaintops in the form of song and laughter, but on the other hand it feels so much larger than myself (because it is) I couldn’t possibly communicate the breadth and width and depth in one blog post clearly.” Let me make it plain that these are not the only two ways of reacting to this being overwhelmed, for there are times I have been utterly doumbfounded; recognizing, quite possibly for the first time, the depths of my own unworthiness of receiving the enlightenment taking place in what was once an impenetrable, unyielding, and resistant heart. Something I believed was once impossible for someone like myself with so little brilliance or smarts in the mindHow could this be happening to the likes of me? It is parallel to the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14); to the dry bones coming to life (Ezekiel 37:1-14); to Christ speaking for Lazarus to come forth, then, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go. (John 11:38-44). This is something only the Father can accomplish. We are participants, but we do not, and cannot, bring any of this about. That’s what continues to just floor me: what busybodies we are in attempting to do what only He can. All the while denying the Father’s power available to us in Christ because we can do it ourselves. We’re like four year old’s, demanding: I can do it mine self.

Last week there was a news story about a ten year old boy in Iowa who had been born colorblind. His entire world was presented to him in black and white, with various shades of gray. His parents, having researched online, found some special glasses from a company based in California that peaked their interest enough to purchase them for $300. The mom recorded the moment her son put on the glasses. He stood on the back deck of their home, dad standing next to him; mere seconds passed before the boy, visibly emotional, and appearing almost too weak to stand alone, turned to hug his dad.  The article states the boy as saying: It was instant. I knew right away something had changed, how bright everything was. The boy’s father saying: Just to be able to see, all of a sudden, a whole new world opened up for him. The boy adding: That day changed my life. In the video (link) you can see clearly the dad’s reaction too. Emotional, grateful, embracing his son because he can now see what dad has known all his life. Whoa.

What a beautiful illustration for spiritual sight as well. There was nothing that boy could do to change the way he saw the world around him. But once his view was altered, he knew instantly that something had changed. As if his sight had been resurrected from death unto life. He knew that there was no use going up to anyone color blind and demanding them to see what he could now see. Oh! The article stated that he had seen his first (colorful) sunrise and would eventually see his first rainbow. Which is a good reminder for spiritual sight as well: we don’t see all at once. We begin to see, first seeing this, eventually coming to see that. And on and on and on. It is always afresh with the Spirit. Never stale, never has-been. Familiarity breeds contempt. It’s when we think we know that we stop being receptive to the shifting winds of the Spirit. Not that this will ever be something new per se, it will be an ever-widening, ever-deepening, view of Christ. And what a need there is for that today.

We live in unprecedented times with regards to information and our ability to retrieve it. Have a question? Google it. We can find out anything about anything any dang time we want to. Even in the realm of Christianity, the information available is unprecedented, which can be viewed as a positive thing, unless it is not ‘full, personal, precise and correct’ knowledge of God and of Christ that is being made available. We have a slew of churches and websites and colleges and seminaries and podcasts and blogs available, writers galore sharing things of ‘Christian’ and cultural interest. But what of it? Oh, this is a dangerous question, I know. I think back on my own journey these last two years; having once written so real and so eloquent with quite a following (these are things others have said to me. I am not attempting to say anything about myself here!). Then, being impelled to walk away, what has transpired has not been easy on my flesh (death), and there have been times I wish I could just write something nice and pretty that would attract those same people again. But I can’t. He has shown me too much, and what has been shown to me has been Life to me, Life that I was desperate for but didn’t know it, really. And it is for that reason I am even writing still today.

Life. It’s what dead people need. Sight. It’s what blind people need. 

Watching a movie over the weekend, an actor playing a blind character, and a scene where someone visiting his house tried all the light switches to no avail. Another character saying that the blind man forgets to change the bulbs because the light makes no difference to him. Oh! Light makes no difference to a blind man. It’s those with sight who need the light. Again, another tremendous illustration for spiritual sight.

It is even more so today than it was when Sparks wrote this article in 1942-1944, we have, “[…] voices, voices, voices, a confusion of voices, but not the specific voice with the specific utterance of God for the time….” A couple of blog posts ago I told the Lord, “Oh! If I am sharing anything that is not true, stop me! If I still have an ax to grind, release me from it!” It is no longer my desire to just throw something out there for lamenting or attention or followers or comments or even for myself. This is not something already perfected in me. But in all things, brothers and sisters, we keep on, lest we fall back.

Ministry, as we have said here before, is a matter of spiritual helpfulness. Any ministry which is not a matter of spiritual helpfulness is not true ministry, and anybody who is spiritually helpful is a minister of Christ. […] we, to be spiritually helpful, have to see, that others may have the ground provided for seeing. I put it that way; because we may see, and we may give out what we see, we may be living epistles, but others may not be seeing. But there is the ground for their seeing, and if they are honest in heart and unprejudiced, really open to the Lord, He will give them to see what it is the Lord has revealed to us and in us, and is seeking to reveal of Himself through us. He must have living epistles, men and women in whom He can be read. That is ministry. T. Austin-Sparks (link)

It is not my intent to speak only of myself. This is all so brand new and thoroughly other than what I ever believed it was or even could be. There is no spiritual resume in my history; nor any worldly resume. There is a slew of sins and failures that were forgiven and still being redeemed for His glory and purpose; and a hard heart softened by the presence and grace of the Father. I was blind and now I see! With no effort or striving, but could be said, rather, a complete incompetency of either on my part….I couldn’t even fake it. There is nothing to offer here but Christ.

Father, I ask that You give us eyes that see, really and truly see, Your Son, the truth of who He is and what You have made us to be in and through and by Him. I know that this is not an easy road, for what we believe we see, or have been taught in the wisdom of humans to see, will have to go. Speak to us as Jesus did to Lazarus: Come forth! Free us from our burial clothes of religion and this world. Amen.

Partakers of the Divine Nature – Morning Star Rising

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Nothing can be a proof of anything but that which partakes of the nature of the thing proved. Thus it is with faith and the spiritual world. Andrew Murray

Reading 2 Peter 1; Hebrews 7:20-22

We have been experiencing some unseasonably warm and dangerously dry weather lately. A couple of weeks ago I put out a large and deep clay pot saucer filled with water in my backyard for the birds. Later that day or the next day (I do not recall), standing in my kitchen looking out the back patio door, I saw a bird sitting on the saucer’s edge dipping their beak down into the water for a drink. I was giddy with excitement. Yes! That’s exactly why I made the water available! For you to quench your thirst and find refreshment, birdie! In a flash I caught a minuscule glimpse into the Father’s heart.

May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1: 1-4 Amplified

“[…] in the full, personal, precise, and correct knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

It is possible to have a partial, impersonal, inaccurate, and false knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. And what destruction and spiritual death is heaped onto the lives of many via the partial, impersonal; inaccurate and false ‘knowing’ or believing. Jesus said that a thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But that He came to give life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

“He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may […] become partakers of the divine nature.”

It was curious to me what exactly these precious and exceedingly great promises were that Peter wrote of. In essence he said that through them we become partakers of the divine nature. The word become here is important to take note of and keep in mind. This life in Christ is progressive.

Barry D. Smith (link) writes, “[…] the new covenant has two basic characteristics: an internal spiritual transformation resulting in a new relationship with God and a new possibility of obedience and forgiveness of sins.”

To have a spiritual understanding of this radically changes every aspect of our lives.

Brothers and sisters, it is often I am overwhelmed by the breadth and width and depth of Christ that goes beyond our ability to rightly express it. On one hand I am thrilled and want to shout it from the mountaintops in the form of song and laughter, but on the other hand it feels so much larger than myself (because it is) I couldn’t possibly communicate the breadth and width and depth in one blog post clearly.

In the book The Holiest of All, Andrew Murray writes:

The old covenant which God made with Israel had proved a failure. At its establishment they were most ready to promise, All that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient (Exodus 19:8). But how soon was the covenant forgotten and the promise broken. They had undertaken what they could not perform; the vow and purpose availed nothing without the strength. In course of time God promised to establish a new covenant, and in it provide for what had been wanting, for the power to obey, and so to keep the covenant. It would be a covenant of life – giving that new life into the heart, out of which obedience would naturally spring. […] The surety of a better covenant. It is this Jesus has come to do, to give the covenant its security, and to undertake that its engagements shall indeed be fulfilled. He is surety of the covenant on both sides. Surety to us that God will keep His promise, and give us His life and law and Spirit in our heart; surety to God for us, He will ensure our obedience and our keeping the covenant. Become a Priest with an oath. It is in the priesthood of Jesus that the covenant and the suretyship have their power. It is the Priest for ever who deals with sins and takes it away in the power of an endless life. It is the Priest for ever, the Son of God, perfected for evermore, who has opened a new and living way, a new state of life, and works all in the power of an endless life, in whom we have a divine surety that every promise and every obligation of the better covenant will be fulfilled by God and by us.

Murray ends this particular chapter (55) with this:

The one thing we have to strive after, as we move on in the path the Epistle opens up to the inner sanctuary, is that our faith stand not in the wisdom of men, in our own thoughts of the way or the measure in which God will fulfill His promise, but only and entirely in the power of God. What needed an oath of God to assure us of it, needs and has the power of God to work it.

As I already mentioned, to have a spiritual understanding of this radically changes every aspect of our lives. In what way? Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:16-19. Peter is writing that what he says of Jesus Christ is not ‘cleverly devised stories;’ but that he was an eyewitness to Christ’s honor and glory, hearing the voice of God saying (and I love The Message translation here), This is My Son, marked by My love, focus of all My delight. Peter then adds: And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts.

When Peter wrote this, there was no Bible as we have today. The ‘prophetic word’ he spoke of then could only be the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah. To bring Peter’s call to our modern age, and keeping in mind that prophecy is, as Sparks writes (link): Prophetic ministry is a much larger thing than the predictive. Perhaps it would be better if we said that the prophetic function, going far beyond mere events, happenings and dates, is the ministry of spiritual interpretation.

We would do well to pay close attention to the ‘spiritual interpretation of Christ’ (or the promises of God fulfilled in Christ) as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, such is our world today. And we do this until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in our hearts.

We then are as the little birdie in my backyard. Not sitting on the edge of a saucer, but diving down into the mystery, immersed in God in Christ where our real lives are hidden, drinking deeply of the Living Water. We can hear the Father now, giddy with excitement, if I may say it that way: Yes! That’s exactly why I made Myself in Christ available to you. For you to quench your thirst and find refreshment and life more abundant.

May the Lord make this  clear to our hungry hearts.