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Posts Tagged ‘journey’


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Me playing for a city-wide concert in 1970.

December 1st is the day I call my “spiritual birthday.” It marks the moment when Jesus surprised me with His invitation into a deeper relationship. This morning I wrote this in my journal as I considered the past 44 years of my spiritual journey.

THANK YOU!

Abba, Jesus, Holy Spirit —

Thank You for invading my life with Yours.

Thank you for purpose — my reason to live well.

Thank you for joy. No more mourning.

Thank you for making all things new.

You put me on a fast track into the pleasures of Your presence — a road that no one or nothing could hinder the pre-established course You determined for me long before time began.

Thank you for the Cross, and Your blood — my default position and fountain of cleansing.

Take me lower — into the heights of Who You are.

Take me deeper — into the mysteries and treasures You have hidden for me to discover.

Take me wider — to the know the breath of Your love.

Take me further — way beyond what I hoped for or imagined possible…by Your immeasurable grace.

Thank You Abba, Jesus, Holy Spirit — for adopting me permanently into Your home. I love belonging to You and I love being loved by You.

Let my life be a song of gratitude to You that always — in every situation — says, “Thank You!”

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It seems the normal human response to life frustrations and relational exchanges are best termed in a Yiddish word “kvetch.”

Kvetch /k(ə)veCH/

kvetchedkvetch·ingkvetch·es

To complain persistently and whiningly.

n.

1. A chronic, whining complainer.

2. A nagging complaint

There are large sections of the Bible, however, that demonstrate how God feels about such responses and it would be good for us to pay attention to our own responses of life.

I think the “normal” response can be trained to respond from a higher level, that is, seeing our life with new eyes – from God’s perspective. What would that look like in your own life? I’ll share my testimony of God’s work in my heart on this issue.

The “No Kvetching” Rule

Three years ago Ron and I instituted a core value that we now live by. We call it our “no kvetching” rule. We embarked on an ambitious and very exciting 50-day “walk” through Europe in 2009 and we knew it would be so necessary to live from another place other than out of responses to external things that we would experience. So, from the moment we left our home until we returned 50 days later, we did not kvetch about anything, or anyone, for any reason whatsoever. You can be sure that our resolve was sorely tested, but, for the most part, we were successful. The fruit of this “experiment” was exceptional.

And you know what? Living with a determination not to kvetch really works! I suggest that you try it yourself for a day, a weekend, a week, a month…then make it a lifestyle! This will change your life! Once instituted, you will have new eyes with which to process the world around you. You see people differently—you see only the treasure in them, and not the negative stuff. (It doesn’t take a genius to see people’s faults and weaknesses, by the way.) Instead, you see only how beautifully God made them, and you see the goodness of God working on your behalf, and are not bothered by circumstantial pressures. It is quite simply a different—and much better—place to live from.

Since that Europe/Middle East trip, Ron and I have adopted the “no kvetching” rule as our core value—and we just live there all the time. It makes every day a beautiful day, and every person we meet is a treasure.

Sing a New SongEveryday

But you have to replace the kvetch habit with the opposite: thanksgiving! Another core value I live by is maintaining a vibrant heart of thanksgiving. The way this works is that I choose to see God’s goodness in everything, and I sing a new song to the Lord every day, in all situations, no matter the stress or issues I’m going on. My life–like yours–is far from stress-free or trouble free by any means. I have the same health, financial, relational issues that everyone else has. I have had to train myself to choose how to respond from a core value of thanksgiving–singing a new song to the Lord, instead of focusing on the negative. As a result, I do not have a bad day!

I share this with you to give a backdrop.

Sing to the Well

After many experiences of desert wanderings with God, kvetching (grumbling, complaining) about food, water, and life-circumstances, the Israelites got it right. Their history finally convinced them: God is our Provider—our Sustenance for every need. He always gives us a good water source; He always provides nutrient-rich foods to keep our bodies strong, and He provides all we need—supernaturally—direct from Heaven.”

As the tribes of Israel moved into the land of Moab, they needed water—again. But interestingly, this time, they did not react violently towards Moses or Aaron or with unbelief towards God. Apparently, they decided that returning to Egypt was not an option anymore.

Abraham’s well in Beersheva

From there they went to Be’er, the well the LORD told Moses about, “Gather the people so that I may give them water.”

Then Israel sang this song:

Spring up, wellsing to it!…(Numbers 21:16-18, HCSB)

Instead of complaining about what they did not have, the Israelites chose to trust God – and their leaders. They chose to sing to their provision—in joy!—with the expectation of an answer to their need.

And God provided so miraculously—enough water to care for all the tribes of people, cattle, etc…in the middle of nowhere, from an unexpected source. That’s our God.

There’s a lesson here. It is yet another example of responding with thanksgiving in every situation—instead of kvetching.

What would happen if we do likewise—singing to our well in joy—with an expectation of God’s provision? Think about your most pressing need today. Your song today could be:

  • The check’s in the mail…la, la, la
  • His mercies are new every morning…
  • Bread of Heaven, feed me til I want no more…
  • Spring up O well within my soul, spring up O well, and make me whole…

By now you have a long history with God. You know full well that the provision for all you need—however desperate—is already on its way. That’s a great start.

But, it is what we do in the meanwhile that demonstrates our current relationship with God—and our core belief about Him.

Moving up to the High Places

In all the places God led the Israelites, we see that they renamed it, appropriate to their God-encounter. Look at the three places they traveled to after their well experience.

They went from the wilderness to Mattanah, from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamot, from Bamot to the valley of the territory of Moab near the Pisgah highlands that overlook the wasteland (Numbers 21:18b-20, HCSB).

I was so intrigued by the Hebrew names of these places God led them:

  1. Mattanah – which means “gift”
  2. Nahali’El – which means “river of God”
  3. Bamot (Pisgah) – which means “high places”

It seems the people of Israel had a graduation: they moved from the desolate places of the lowest wastelands on the planet—in their kvetch mode—to the heights of the Moab mountainous plateau—singing to the well of provision. From the peaks of Moab, the Israeli’s had a major paradigm shift of their present situation. They now had a spectacular view of where they had come from and where they were headed—the Promised Land. And, what a vista it was!

While living in Jerusalem, I could actually see the mountains of Moab from my Jerusalem home balcony on a clear day. They were stunning in hues of pink, blue and purple. The Israeli tribes saw their inheritance for the first time in breathtaking sunrise and sunset colors.

Living From Heaven to Earth

God intentionally led the Israelis from the salt and mud pits of desolate wilderness places to the heights of beauty and provision. They called this place “a gift,” the “river of God,” the “high place.”

Likewise, our inheritance in Jesus positions us in “heavenly places” on our life journey where we too can experience a paradigm shift–particularly of our mind set. If we live from this vista position, everything in our life will be in its proper heavenly perspective.

Determine that in the very next life test your “kvetch” meter will be in the “off” mode, causing you to journey right through the salt and mud pits of desolate, wilderness places.

Sing to your well today, and watch God bring up refreshing waters from the artesian deep springs of His generous provision, all while He repositions you on the heights of His love and blessings. Enjoy the view!

Song: O Taste and See (Brian & Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4Md-hEvjz0&feature=relmfu

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The Suitcase


The Dream: September 27, 2009, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

Old, worn, and decades outdated, it was packed full. I didn’t recognize anything inside the suitcase when I opened it. I was preparing to pack it up for yet another trip.

Rushing around, I was running the list of usuals to bring along. I realized I  had forgotten two important essentials: Toiletries, and a dress.

Looking beneath the sink to grab whatever was on hand, I did not see any toiletries I really needed to bring that would not be provided at the hotel. Neither did I pack a dress.

Instead I opened the old suitcase — a relic from the 50s and about as old as I was — and I stared at three unfamiliar items:

  • A thick, black, well-worn old book
  • A photo album with nothing in it
  • A very oversized dark blue/black coat with emblems sewn on it (like a High School Letter emblem)

I realized as I looked over these items that they were completely useless to me in this present time, I didn’t own them, and I wondered why I was carrying them around with me on all of my trips.

It occurred to me also that I was carrying these items only out of obligation — and perhaps long time familiarity (because I always had done it this way and always carried it around with me) — because someone had given them to me.

The representation became clear to me:

  • I was carrying around old patterns of doing things
  • Reminders of past sins that triggered episodes of deep shame
  • Accomplishments like snaptshots I took out to appreciate and admire at will
  • Oligatory clothes I wore to put on a familiar persona that was expected of me in certain situations

Seeing I did not need these any longer, I removed them once and for all. Later I thought: “I do not need that suitcase! As a matter of fact, I do not need any suitcase at all!”

The Wake-Up Call

When I woke up from my dream, I met with God and dealt with these issues. From that point on, when these issues came up, I knew what to do with them. As a result, I was able to enter into a new level of freedom allowing for a creativity I had long since allowed to die.

I am determined to remain free of my past, obligatory actions and performances, pride of accomplishments, and personas imposed upon me previously, allowing me to be completely free and available to the Holy Spirit for whatever He desires in my future.  I am determined to be teachable, to express myself with liberty, to release the painful memories of my past, and not rely upon my accomplishments thus far as I look ahead to this new season of my life. He was making all things new in my life — out with the old, in with the new.

Transitions

During a transitional period when God is moving us upward and onwards, we do not like to let go of the things that are familiar, tools we always used, and even the patterns of our ways that initiated triggers which cause us to revisit painful periods of our past life. We generally do not like change and resist it.

Transitions create an anxiety in us for the very fact that we are leaving something familiar behind and journeying on to the unknown. Having lived through many transition phases of my life, I am learning to rest and relax in each phase of my life, which helps me to enjoy each day that comes instead of complaining that I am not where I was, or where I ought to be yet. As a result of not kvetching during transition, I enjoy each one of my days and go to bed completely and utterly satisfied with life.

The key attitude of our heart in transition:

  • Being thankful to God in all things releases God to care for us on the journey
  • Forgiving those who have sinned against us and offended us empties our “suitcase” of things we carry around

Traded for a Tool Box

In the afternoon as I lay resting and communing with the Lord, He offered me a tool box instead of a suitcase. It was small, new, and had a variety of useful tools:  Love, joy, peace, rest, patience, gentleness, faith, etc. The fruits of the Spirit are useful — and very powerful — tools to move us forward in our relationship with God.

So, here now was my “toiletry bag” and “dress” combined to take on my journey . . .  something I would never need to pack  because, from here on, I would have it with me at all times.

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Camel Caravan across the desert

No matter the circumstances that presented themselves to Joseph, he was never a victim. In every situation and evil intention against him, God was there with him. Joseph knew it; he felt it; he saw evidence of it . . . and so did everyone else around him. The Presence of God on Joseph was so clearly evident, that everything around him was affected because of it. When Joseph came in the room, managers prospered, the family business succeeded, productivity increased.

Joseph knew this. So, when things started to go very wrong, he did not wallow in self-pity, though he had every excuse to do so. How do we know? Because self-pity locks a person away in their own self-centered world so that they are unable to  see God at work to bring them through their circumstances into a good place. Self-pity is an apt term, because it pities “self.” Had Joseph exercised self-pity, he would not have been in the position for promotion that God manuevered on his behalf.

Joseph faced some of the most incredible life circumstances of anyone:

  • hated and despised by his brothers who refused to include them in family matters
  • sold to human traffickers as a slave
  • Separated from his family forever. He went from being rich, the most loved and favored son, to being fatherless and dirt poor
  • bought as a slave in a foreign land; had to learn a new language and customs
  • Falsely accused by the Boss’s wife as a rapist
  • Became a prisoner in the filthy dungeons of Egypt

And yet, there were no circumstances or evil intentions that were brought against Joseph that caused him to sink to the low places that others put him. He did not take on a prisoner or slave mentality.

          “But, the Lord was with Joseph!”

In each situation, he rose above it, prospered, and was blessed because the Lord was with him!

Joseph knew who he was in the midst of his circumstances:

  • He was a son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
  • A greatly loved and highly favored son of his father
  • His father was wealthy
  • He had a faithful, mighty, and loving God who was with him  – right there in the dungeon
  • He had a family inheritance from God Himself
  • He had prophetic dreams to hope in
  • He had God-gifts

Joseph knew that he did not belong in those dark and foreign places. This was not his home. Knowing this, he carried himself differently.

          “But, the Lord was with Joseph.”

“But” simply means even-still, no matter what, in every disgusting injustice and undeserved accusation, even in this incredibly difficult, painful and trying time, God is always with me.

With this understanding – and fresh revelation to our heart – we too can have a determination that says:

But, the Lord is with me. Therefore, I will rise above this. I will watch and observe how God is going to bless and prosper me in this lowly place. I will journey with God even through this dark season with a song of praise that everyone around me will hear. God is making me to be the “head” and not the “tail.” God has heard me. He is healing me – from the inside out. God is changing my circumstances, and meanwhile, I choose to trust Him.

What satan meant for harm, God delights in demonstrating to the world how He is about to turn it into something really really good.

No matter your circumstance, you can be sure that the Lord is with you in it.

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