The Power of Water

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1

Imagine a dry riverbed. People stand in and near it, waiting. Hoping. Needing. Pleading.

Finally, one day the river fills with pure, clear water.

 

The water cleanses, flushes, and fills those who have been powerless to make changes on their own. Some are permanently freed when unwanted traits and habits are flushed by the ethereal water; others’ positions or geographical locations change.

Many are filled where there had been voids within. They finally feel complete. Whole. Right. They are experiencing what they have always believed they should be, or could be. Inner deficiencies are overcome. They no longer lack qualities elusive since birth, or lost in their years of parched deserts.

For these people, life changes suddenly. Altered forever. Changed in the way that life changed for survivors of concentration and POW camps on liberation day:  blurred days of lack, sameness, captivity, injustice, disrespect, torture, betrayal, and abuse, all having caused erosion of hope, suddenly ended.

With the arrival of the river comes deliverance, and the past is over. Hope leaps to life, justice yields joy, and lives of abundance and purpose replace lives of lack and insufficiency.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Ask, and don’t be surprised when you are suddenly affected in one of these ways. You will love the change and be forever grateful to God for what he did. Be assured that the water soon (or already) enveloping and filling you is God’s living water, intended for good for you, and never evil. Intended to complete and make whole, and make possible your abundant life. May you take great delight in it.

 

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Extraordinary Night

A week ago I woke to incoming texts from a friend, “Are you up?” I responded, “Yes”, and in a moment she called.

She had had a dream in the night. In it, she heard a speeding car and then a crash. She believed it had really happened, so she took note of the time (2:42), fought the urge to fall back to sleep, and made herself get out of bed.

Because, in her words, “I had to go find it. You can’t call 911 and say, ‘I had a dream there was a crash’.

Her husband woke to my friend getting dressed to go out. “What’s up?” he asked, and after hearing her dream, said, “You’re going”, not to question her judgment, but as a statement of fact. He too, got out of the warm bed in the dead of night, dressed, and grabbed his high-powered flashlight.

To help her search. For a crash. That happened in a dream.

Their progress was slow. My friend scanned from the passenger side of their car with her phone flashlight, her husband scanned his side with his powerful light. They continued through their town into the country, searching ditches and fields. They passed home after home where people slept, not letting the fact that no one else had heard anything deter them.

Just after 3 a.m., they rounded a curve and found it: scattered car parts. And finally, deep in a ditch, a mangled car.

My friend’s husband called 911 (because now they could), and they approached the car, expecting the worse. They found all the airbags deployed, and … no body. While he stayed on the phone with 911, my friend walked to a nearby field as if she expected to find someone there. She called out to the darkness, “We’re here to help you.”

Nothing.

“We’re here to help you.”

Out of the darkness, slowly, a young man emerged. Bleeding from his head, holding an injured shoulder. Saying, from a distance, “I have to go. I gotta go”, and he poised to flee again.

“Think of me as your mom,” she called, and he stopped. “Is there anyone else with you?”

No. He’d dropped his girlfriend off at her home before it happened. “I’m going to be in so much trouble. I’m going to lose my job.” Again, “I’ve gotta go.”

My friend persisted. “Your mom will be so glad that you are alive. Your girlfriend wasn’t hurt, nobody else was hurt. It will be hard ahead, it will suck. But you can do it. It will be hard but you will get past it, you will be fine.” As she relived the details, I could hear the love in her voice for the young man.

He obviously heard it, too. He ended up in her arms, and she held him. He reeked of alcohol. It didn’t change anything for her.

He went with her to the crash site, and put up no resistance when the police took him into custody.

I wonder if he remembers the night at all — maybe he was too drunk and blacked out. Maybe he thinks he dreamed about a wonderful, loving woman who found him in a field in the middle of the night. Maybe he realizes he could have died if he’d passed out in that frozen remote field, so many hours from daylight and visibility. Maybe he thinks an angel arrived to help him. I don’t know, but I believe he remembers the important things my friend imbued:  that he matters; that he can take the high road and face the consequences of his actions; that he can get past it; that there is plenty of hope for a good future.

I believe this too: That something extraordinary happened that night.

Because she had a dream and believed it was real.

And because her husband believed her.

In His Shadow

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

 

Surely he will save you

from the fowler’s snare

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,

nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes

and see the punishment of the wicked.

 

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”

and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you,

no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra;

you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;

I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine

“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people.” (Matthew 5:14-15)

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Psalm 119:105
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Matthew 4:16
16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Matthew 5:16
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 1:5
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 8:12
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1 John 1:5-9
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 27:1
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

John 12:35-37
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. 37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.

Ephesians 5:14
14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Luke 11:34-35
34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy,your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

Psalm 119:130
130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

John 12:36-37
36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. 37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.

James 1:17
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Peter 2:9
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Revelation 21:23
23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

Ecclesiastes 2:13
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.

Checkpoint

2019 is hours away. Moving into it can be viewed as a portal or gate — imagine a TSA checkpoint at an airport. What if the qualification of passing from our current status to the one we are meant to be in is that we must shed some luggage? — only those who are traveling light can pass through. Would we do it, or would we stay behind, unwilling to comply? What if it was God who defined those terms, and the requirements were personalized? Image result for TSA, person with tons of luggage

I know most people from church culture would say, “Of course, to love God is to obey God, I always do.” But what people say and what people do are often very different. I have traveled many miles, so to speak, with people who claimed God as their priority, and commander and King, but witnessed them unwilling to leave behind their massive pile of luggage at the TSA checkpoint. Had they only left it, as asked and encouraged, they could have passed through to what God had planned for them (plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give hope and a future). 

But alas, their priority was there in their luggage.

Although they begged the TSA agents, and tried to claim, “I’m with him” or “I’m with her”, with intentions to sneak in with someone who willingly shed all that God asked, they were left behind. 

Image result for person with tons of luggageWith their piles of luggage.

Believing they were treated unfairly.

Resenting those who got through the checkpoint and quickly moved out of sight. Inventing something to condemn them, to justify discreditation or dismissal of the forward movers. 

All the while turning a blind eye to the clearly-stated signs at the airport, those personalized stipulations meant for them, too, but conveniently ignored, the posted requirements that those who passed through did comply with.

Deciding themselves victims, not causes of their own circumstances. Dejected and angry, they gather their piles of suitcases and drag them back home. There they unpack the bags to inspect item after item, relishing their worth, reinforcing their decision to hold tight to them. Arguing with God, but not calling it so: believing themselves “right” and the travelers “wrong”. Making themselves feel better by bashing the blameless. Redefining themselves as “the staid”, “the consistent”, “the pillars”, “the holy”, and by compare calling the innocents who traveled forward “rebels”, “flashes in the pan”, “backsliders”, “amoral”.

Which is understandable, perhaps, considering human nature, and maybe not the end of the story for the noncompliant. As long as they don’t settle in where they are and continue to lunge for the future. As long as they look for the Lord’s pillar of cloud by day to guide them on their way, and pillar of fire by night to give them light, as the Israelites wandering the desert did, they may yet come to the passage to their promised land.

But keep in mind, God doesn’t conform to people, people must conform to him. Don’t expect him to change his terms for each person; expect the requirements and enforcements to be unchanged. As long as each is intent on hearing directly from the Holy Spirit and no other voice (including their own), they may yet hear and obey and perhaps even catch up with those who traveled before them.

But why do it the difficult way when it can be done with ease? Why refuse to comply and play all those mind games to hide misplaced idolatry? (It’s not as hidden as you imagine, by the way.) Why forego the good things that would have come with simple obedience and singular godship? 

If God asks us to see it his way, or do it his way, then do it. Do that over and over as often as he asks, and expect to ultimately arrive at portals and gates of things new, things wonderful, things grand, things possible only with God.

We can fake “the promised land”, “blessed”, and “favored” only until the real deal comes along, then the fake is overshadowed by the brilliant light of those who truly loved enough to obey, and who ultimately were planted by God as oaks of righteousness for the display of his splendor.

We can keep all those bags full of our preferred values, ideals, worldview, people, theologies, paradigms, prejudices, material things, and more — whatever it is we value more than him, and stay in the familiar world we like to control. But, don’t fool ourselves that we’ve arrived at the best stuff. 

For those who have been trimmed and thrashed and forged and refined by fires; for those who have loved and obeyed: through the TSA gate they go. They may only have wee little backpacks with next to nothing inside, but they have willingly thrown off everything that hinders. Their eyes are fixed on hope and a marvelous future. They know who God is; they let him be the commander or King or father or coach or any of his many roles in their lives, and they are headed to all things good. 

My friend, if God asks you to drop a suitcase or two or three or fifteen, don’t be a fool. Do what he asks. Travel light. There ain’t no other way to go through to the real deal. Image result for person with small backpack going through airport

Philippians 3:7.  I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

Jeremiah 29:11 .  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Exodus 13:21 .  By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

Isaiah 61:3   and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Hebrews 12:1-2 . Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 

On The Move

Cindi Gale

“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed,” [said Beaver].

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different … At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside.

beaver-and-children_thumb16Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror.

Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous.

Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her.

And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

(Excerpt from C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950; this edition from The Essential C.S. Lewis (Touchstone, 1996)) Chapter VII, 88-89.)

When you’ve…

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