Thursday, October 23, 2014


It was dark. For as long as I could remember, it was dark. I don’t know how to explain that moment when I first saw the light except for the fact that I felt indescribable excitement and a flood of paralyzing fear all at the same time. In my struggle to be free from my little prison cell I had also made it my home so to experience new life was so fearfully foreign to me.

It’s important to remember where you came from. Too many people look at a mighty tree and fail to recognize that its beginning was that of a once small seed. So small in fact that it would be tread upon by many an unknowing foot, and overlooked by almost everything and everyone, but God himself.

I know a little something about seedlings. I used to be one. I know you wouldn’t think of me as ever knowing what it felt like to look up at all. I am the largest, the tallest and the oldest in the forest; I am the Lodgepole Pine. I was born in adversary and in struggle but live in triumph.

Over the years I have collected many stories that are worth honorable mention, but no story as powerful as the one of my pain and suffering. It’s hard to rationalize pain. It’s not an easy subject to talk about let alone an easy path to walk down. The scope of how people react to pain is so broad that it is hard to pin down one way to deal with it. It seems so easy for some to cope and so difficult for others. Whether the reaction is one of fight or flight we still find ourselves in the same place, a place of weakness; a place of inadequacy.

The fight is raw, it is harsh and if we allow the pain to become the lie that the heart of God is cruel then we will grow bitter to the beauty that is still so very real in this world. Without faith it is impossible to please God and I would suggest that without faith it is also impossible to be pleased by God. If we fail to believe that God is GOOD even in the times when life is not, then we will allow the lies of Satan to grow a deep rooted bitterness in our souls. This bitterness will blind us to the truth of God’s amazing Love and taint everything after with a grey unforgiving hue. But if we choose to believe (out of our faith in Him) in His goodness, no matter how awful the circumstances in our life are, then he will grow inside of us, a peace, and a joy, and a sense of his comfort that no words can describe.

Let me take you back in time with me before I became a conqueror of hardship and believer in God’s amazing provision through trials.

A little known fact about us Lodge pole pines is that our seeds are incased in a cone completely impenetrable by any force other than the extreme heat caused by fire. A cone can stay dormant, hanging from a tree for several years. We grow to a hundred feet and produce Cones for two hundred years. We are a king among trees and yet it is the adversity of fire that grows us beyond the tiny safe world of our limited cone.

I would argue with the idea that God brings adversity. This is where I believe we lose our faith in his goodness. We see the pain as being more powerful than His love and so our faith is manipulated. When he refuses to take us out of our struggles and rather through a trying time, we blame him for the pain rather than recognizing that he wants us to conquer it rather than run from it. When people go to the doctor for a broken bone they don't blame the doctor for the break just because they hate having to have it reset. People may hate the process of Physical therapy but it is foolish to blame the physician for the source of pain. Often we get hurt and because we know the power of God, we question the healing process he chooses for us. God has a way of getting us healthy that we don’t generally want to go through.
Most of the fires that have come through my woods have been man made, or a bi product of the elements. I don’t believe that God brings pain into our life to direct us a certain way but I do believe that he never leaves us to be broken by the struggles and his pure love is always the driving force for his presence in our lives. If you go back to the beginning, pain was never a part of the plan. The very first lie of Satan, directed at man, in the Garden was that we should question God’s goodness and his intensions. Eve in turn took that bait and man began to believe that maybe God didn’t have his best interests at heart. The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. He is a liar and he delights in our ignorance to blame God for things that are not in God’s character to be.

Let it be clear that God has created us to be overcomers. My God does not create pain but he does create us to be able to withstand its destructive nature. I am living proof of a creator that wastes no opportunity to turn a painful, destructive element into a life starting environment.

The day I was born, I was born from adversity. The fire came up all around me and death in all of its violence screamed for more. And yet by the design of God, life arose. Lodgepole seeds are only opened by extreme heat, and in that moment I feared that I would be consumed. But I fell into the rich soil that had been created but the fire, I immediately sprang forth and began to grow.

God created a way for us to thrive in the midst of great adversity. He did not bring the fire, he brought the life. He did not bring the death, except that of His only son, so that we could live eternal. Death has no hold on us. Every moment of unforgiveable, torturous pain Christ endured on a cross so that we could be that seed planted in the ashes of His life. God promises that no matter how terrible the pain of loss, that His love is as strong as death, His Jealousy for our hearts is as demanding as the grave.

What terrible thing have you been blaming God for? A death of a child, the rape of your innocence, the abandonment, the abuse of love, the loss of a part of your physical, emotional, mental or spiritual self? What terrible thing have you given a loving God undue credit for, as he has done nothing but hold his hand outstretched to you, pleading with tears in his eyes to seek that place inside of you that was meant to overcome these horrors. God did not do these things to you but he did create you with a failsafe for when times were just too hard to understand. In the midst of great trial we can rise above with the miraculous life of God himself dwelling inside of us; creating forgiveness, wholeness, healing, generosity, and a love that puts itself last and is then exalted above all! Wake up! Arise, you are defeated no more! Jesus was crucified but He also arose from that death and in our hardest moments of unimaginable pain we can lean on this truth that nothing in this world can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you understand that he is for you and not against you? Do you understand that you have been running away from a loving God and into the hands of a deceitful devil. Do not be foolish, the devil strokes your flesh, selling your soul a lavish plate of all the things done wrong to us, all the while plotting our death. I will not tell you that it is easy to walk through a tragedy but it is harder without the comfort of a loving God. You may at this very moment be in that cone, a dark place where the light is so scary because you have made the darkness your home. You feel the fire coming, you feel the pressure of the change. The world around you is breaking, but do not be deceived into thinking that this is the end. This is your beginning and when this time of fire passes, a time of life will emerge out of death. Do not fear the light. Do not fear being planted in the soil of devastation. For our God exalts the weak, the broken, the lost, the smallest of seeds and he calls forth a mighty tree capable of growing a hundred feet tall. A tree that for two hundred years produces seed. Seeds capable of producing a forest from just one fire. He will not waste your tragedy. Will you? 

A Note From the Author:
His hands are outstretched in times of confusion. We ask the question of God that if he is good, then why didn't he stop something so bad from happening. But is our God confined by the limits of this world? Are we holding an infinite God who is the source of all life to the confinement of our selfish desires and limited understanding? Is this world the only dimension capable of His Life, His Love and His Presence? Has God abandon us to our pain? Was He not there?  At what point did He leave? Did He leave when you accused him of cruelty rather than love?

Mary and Martha lost their brother Lazarus. Martha said "If you had been here my brother would not have died" (an understanding of Jesus power yet an accusation of his goodness). Even after Jesus told Martha that her brother would be raised from death she doubted. Mary Said, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died ." (recognition of his power and a proclamation of his greatness). Same words, but each woman had a very different view of his character. After Martha spoke Jesus had words for her, a conversation, an explanation, a lesson. After Mary spoke, Jesus wept. He felt her pain, he felt her belief, he felt her reaching out to him in the midst of her tragedy. At this point Lazarus did not stay in the grave. Are we still clinging to the power of the grave long after the power of Christ has come to us? How do we ignite the power of God like Mary did? We have to look past our accusation filled pain and engage our faith. A faith that says, I know that there is power in the presence of God, especially in the midst of loss.

He wept. Our savior wept. He not only weeps for our loss but follows through with the promise of new life. What has been taken from you? Is it gone forever or is God big enough to restore? I have lost babies. I have lost hope, I have lost faith, I have lost my way many a time, I have been wronged, I have been cheated, I have been accused. But instead of letting an enemy whisper lies of God's goodness and character being faulty or anything other than perfect, I stand firm in the knowledge of God's love over us. I will be the seed that grows in adversity. I will be the mighty Pine that allowed the fire to burn off the outside so that the inside could be revealed. I am created to withstand anything in this world except for one thing.... I can not live without my Loving God right beside me. And that enemy is counting on us believing the lies of God having a tainted character so that we will not grow, so that we will not rise, and so that we will not feel God's life giving love. Do not let the fruit of your pain be the rotten fruit planted by the seeds of the enemy, these seeds are born of seclusion from God.  May the fruit that is planted in adversity be that of the Holy Spirit. For this fruit is eternal, this fruit is life, this fruit is of lasting glory.

Dear Father, I know that life is full of fire and to wage war against the only one who can carry me through it is foolishness. Forgive me for my unkind thoughts, words and untrue beliefs of you. I know you are good. I know you are love. I know that no matter what I face you will never leave me. I also know that the Devil is scared of this kind of faith in you, because to realize our place in you is realize our strength, power and potential; a power that tears down his disgusting strongholds. Right now in the name of Jesus I claim freedom for all who read these words. For all who dare to know of your great love and be forever changed I claim blessings in your name. I pray for healing, and for restoration but I also pray for abundance for those who come to you and desire to stay with you. You alone are worthy of honor and glory and we lift you up in true adoration and worship. You oh God, are worthy of our utmost devotion. I love you Lord so very much! Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More than Dust

Gifts… Talents… Strengths… Abilities… Purpose… Calling…

Powerful words. Are you walking in yours? We look around, we compare. We think that others are stronger, faster, brave, more patient, more of everything we wish we were. But for a moment imagine a world of no comparison to others. Or if we must compare, compare yourself to the very matter of what God used to create you. You are dust. Dust does not compare itself to dust. And somehow you are so much more than dust. For being dust you are pretty magnificent. God makes beautiful things out of the dust. He, in his hand, has crafted and designed something so marvelous that all of creation takes notice. He places us over the beasts and the birds and gives us charge over creation. With such an amazing calling to be more, why do we see ourselves as something so insignificant? God gives each of us talents, who are we to measure those talents with the worlds system of worth. 1 Corinthians 13 talks to this very matter but not in the way most view it. God says we have all these remarkable things that we can walk in, but the greatest of these things is Love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.


I would challenge you to think a little deeper.

Value is measured most importantly by who loves you. Do you know who loves you? Do you know that an infinite Creator has placed you upon his heart?

If you do not trust this to be true, than you will never truly feel valued.  

Secondly: If you do not do, what you do, out of love, it has no Value.

If you want your gifts, abilities, talents, strengths, purpose and calling to be of any value whatsoever, you have to operate out of the greatest of these gifts; Love.

I have a new friend, she is an ordinary woman with an ordinary set of skills. But with one small act of kindness and friendship, she has impacted my life. Without love our words are useless our actions are pointless, and our purpose is meaningless. But when we walk in the truth and light of God’s love for us and others, we make a huge difference!

God is revealing his Love, He is empowering His people and He is pouring out giftedness in people’s lives in new ways. He sees a generation that is seeking His heart, a generation that knows His voice and a generation who will see His face.

We are dust, and with a little bit of God’s creative love we became so much more. Our skills seem like dust to us but with the empowerment of love, our skills do extraordinary things and bring extraordinary people into our lives. Today, let God set his standard of worth in your hearts and let him use your ordinary for the extraordinary.


Father, we thank you that you have such a giving heart, that you love us so much and that you desire for us to see our worth and potential. We thank you that it is nothing we have done on our own but that you have placed within us a compatibility with love, that as we grow in love our gifts grow, and our lives have meaning. Thank you that you do not leave us nor forsake us to figure it all out on our own but that it is a relationship of intimacy and of growing love between you and your children that draws our gifts out. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for your Love. Amen.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Less is More

     Have you ever seen a child put on layers of clothes? Instead of taking off the old ones first they just put another layer on top of the old. Or when they get ready to play in the snow, those oversized snow clothes seem a bit ill-fitted when they are already wearing layers of heavy clothing underneath. To watch a child try to run or play is almost amusing due to the many layers of clothing hindering movement.
     Keep that image in your head children of God because when you go out and try to spiritually dress yourselves for the day in clothing appropriate for what will come. Ask yourself If you have limited movement and feel no freedom as you go about your day. If we want to be able to go out and accomplish the mighty works of God we need to dress appropriately but often we try to keep the restricting clothing of our past and of this world underneath the new clothes that God has given us.
     I saw a disturbing bunch of pictures called “The People of Walmart” on the internet. Most of the pictures are of people who either have little understanding of how ill fitted their clothes are or how very silly they look. How we dress at Walmart may not be as important in the scheme of things as how we dress for other things but it gave me a glimpse into how important it is for us to clothe ourselves for the day ahead. For example: Your child is in cardiac arrest and the paramedic is wearing a clown costume and has a child’s toy medic bag, would you allow that paramedic to work on your child? Another example would be if you went to the dentist and the man claiming to be the best dentist in town had nasty yellow and black teeth, some rotted, some crooked and falling out, and a few missing teeth. A man claiming to care about dental care who has obvious gum disease plaguing his mouth. Would you allow this man to be your dentist?
     I’m not addressing the prideful idea of self  image, I am addressing the idea that as Christians we seldom dress the part spiritually of someone who even understands the name we represent. We have old habits and life styles from our past that don’t fit well with the new life we have in Christ.
     As a child grows up we have to replace the old clothes. How silly if we just left them on and covered them up with new clothes. But so many of us are living this way. We try to cover up our “bitterness” with a garment of “grace”, or we try to cover up our past “fear” with a covering of “Love”. How very silly we must look, telling others to love when we ourselves are just dressing the part. Have you ever wanted to be more genuine? I have found myself literally yelling at my children to love each other or to be nice or to stop yelling! I think to myself I am so not the right person for the job all too often. I used to keep a clicker in my mind of how many days I had left to become the mom I wanted to be before I damaged my poor children beyond repair. Part of it was that I was looking at my new clothes on the outside, but I could feel the scratchy wool of the old garments underneath.  
     Sometimes we feel like we are back at the beginning when we finally have that melt down moment when the heat gets to us and we find ourselves undressing and see the old garments. Good news people!! God knew this was part of our struggle and he has a way for us to be free.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
     Such Good news for all the layers we get to lay down, how light and freeing! One of my favorite verses is about God giving us his yoke, for it is light and easy to bare. His banner over us is love! On those days we don’t understand why God would have us dragging around so much baggage we have to ask ourselves if it is his baggage we are carrying or just layers of clothing that up to this point we couldn’t bare to part with.
     Are we ready to stop dressing ourselves in our old clothes, leaving on that layer of old desires and worn out dreams of selfish pursuit? Are we ready to lay down the liar, and the thief, the bitter, fear plagued mess that can find no rest, no joy and no peace because the old garments are still clinging closely to our bodies as we try to dress ourselves in the righteousness of God?
Psalm 30:11
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy"
     We need our sackcloth removed! But a word of caution, after we have undressed, we need to put something on so that we are not naked. Sometimes we try to wear it all, sometimes we wear the old garments, sometimes we are naked, but God wants us to be clothed in his garments.
     God has many garments for us to put on, Garments of praise and thanksgiving (Psalms), garments of strength and dignity (Proverbs), Garments of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness and Self Control (Galatians), Garments of Warfare (Ephesians). He has given us a full wardrobe, but to walk in the fullness we must take off the sackcloth.
     This week a spirit of bitterness came over me and tried to clothe me in its apparel. I knew something was off because I was so irritable. I had made myself vulnerable and before I knew it I wasn’t even wearing it under my clothes, like a bad spray on tan it was all I could do to get rid of it. I was completely covered in it until I had some very amazing friends lay hands on me and pray over me. Instantly a heaviness was lifted and spirit of peace fell over me like a blanket. I can’t explain it any other way than to say that this world is full of ill-fitting clothing manufactured with the intent of holding us down and keeping us back from God's love. But God has created us so uniquely that he has said those clothes will never fit. They will only ever be a poor imitation at best of what he wants to clothe us in.  First of all He wants to cover us with his love and it was so important that he did this by covering us in the blood of his Son. He used the wool of his most precious lamb to clothe our nakedness. In response to that we can not carry around all these layers of sin and shame, toil and torment, destruction and despair. It's time to let God strip down the layers and clothe us in his garments.
     Lord Remove our sackcloth, remove the filth of the enemy and the emptiness of this world. Completely clothe us in your righteousness and give us your garments. That we would be dressed in your likeness Oh Lord, that we would radiate the beauty of our king. We want to carry ourselves in such a way that we can move in great power to free the captives and experience the great joys of walking in the light. Thank you precious father for these intimate, tailor made robes. Wrap us in the love that you intend for us to walk in. All my heart rejoices and marvels at your gracious and giving heart. I love you so much. Amen.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Be Still Part 2 (Hope Chest)

Be Still Part 2 (Hope Chest)

     As I sat before the Lord in Silence, He showed me a Treasure Chest. I would go to the chest and open it up and each time there were new gifts inside. One day before I went about my daily chores I opened the chest and inside was a hat, I heard a voice say “This hat is grace. You will need it today.” That day I especially needed his grace. Later that night I opened it again and in it was a night hat and slippers, I heard a voice say, “This is rest and peace. You will need it tonight.” Every time I went to the chest a new and beautiful gift (that I had no way of manufacturing) appeared.  I opened the chest again and inside was a single piece of paper and a quill. I heard a voice say, “I have something important for you to write today.” Another time I opened it and inside was a book of many promises, and love letters, from God.” I kept coming back almost expecting my luck to run out and find it empty but the promise he spoke was that as often as I would choose to come to him in silence with a pure and contrite spirit, he would continue to give gifts. Some days I sat in my corner of self pity, wondering why God did not show up, in that self-absorbed party that I was throwing myself I had no patience whatsoever for my children and lashed out in anger and then drowned myself in self-loathing, but it could have looked different. I could have been prepared by sitting in silence before the one who literally wanted to dress me for the day ahead. Maybe that day the chest would have had a picture with the scribbles of my daughter and the words I love you, to remind me that I need to love her even when she is throwing a fit, or maybe it would have been a necklace with the words “treasured” written in diamonds to keep in mind that I am a treasure to my king. I don’t know what I am going to need, but night and day God knows us and he wants us to live a plentiful, fulfilling life.
     Does our treasure chest sit in the dark corner of an attic collecting dust? Have we never opened even once? Our lives get so busy and we run out the door before we can even blink or think another thought. I can tell you what would have been in my chest today had I stopped to take the time to care. We were in such a hurry today that as we got to school it was quite apparent that my daughter had forgotten her backpack and lunch causing a whole bunch of events to unfold. I think if we had taken a few moments this morning to get fully dressed (inside and out) our day would have looked a whole lot different. What I feel God was really speaking to me in this eventful day was that we can leave the house without our jacket and although we are not completely naked, we are then very unprepared and vulnerable to the elements. I very often walk out the door without my spiritual clothing, I am not naked but I am living in the carnal part of me, very unprepared to handle what may come my way spiritually. It is so important that we stop and be still before God if we want the fullness. You can go about your day living it the way you want to but chances are you will be settling for a mediocre life if you do. If your being longs for more than what you are currently functioning in, it’s time to allow God to work in your life.
     I found a tasty bit in my bible today as I word studied “Be Still” In Exodus 14:14 Moses is speaking to the frightened Israelites right before God parts the Red Sea, He says “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” How many times do we fight for or with ourselves when we could have just gone to God and allowed a little stillness to come over us while we watch God deliver or bless us? I am so amazed at his goodness! And now I know that we all have a special treasure each day waiting for us if we just come and rest in him. I will call it my Hope Chest. But instead of relics from the past it will hold promises for the future.
     Sometimes the lies of the enemy have us all the way back in the garden looking at one piece of fruit, while he whispers lies in our ear about how God is not good. But that is a lie!! God is good all the time, It is in his very nature! We have a whole garden full of good. How much differently would that scene have gone if Eve had said, “I know my God, and he is good, he has given us all the fruit except this one, I will not take what is not mine and I will ask him about this fruit that belongs to him, to settle the matter.” When we don’t act out of selfish self-entitlement and we go to God with the things that we do not understand, he can give us deeper insight into his love. When the enemy has cast doubt, fear and pride into our minds we must go to God. He can put the enemy in his place; out of our garden! The enemy wants us to believe that God is not good, that we deserve things we don’t and that we can do things on our own that we can’t do without God. But God wants to show us the truth of his goodness, give us gifts of his love, and walk through our joys and trials because we need him through it all.
     In the garden after Adam and Eve had sinned, they heard God coming and hid. They heard him? They knew the difference between the sound of his walk and the sound of an animal; they knew the sound of him coming. The silence required to hear God coming is something I have lacked. I need to start being still before God so that I can learn the sound of his steps, the sound of his voice, the sound of his whisper. I need to be still to recognize the sound of my savior. How sad to know God’s heart so intimately and yet be deceived by the enemy as to doubt his goodness. Adam and Eve were for the first time naked (without the gifts in God's hope chest), so THEY clothed themselves in garments of their own making. So often we recognize our nakedness but try to cloth ourselves rather than allowing God to clothe us. God did not allow them to be clothed in their own garments and sacrificed an animal, (something that had never been done before as the animals were God's special creation as well) God used the skins of the animals for clothing for Adam and Eve. This was a symbol of the sacrifice of the cross, that one day God would give the greatest sacrifice for us so that we could be clothed in righteousness and restored into his kingdom. Now that we recognize our nakedness we need to come before God and ask for his coverings.
1 Peter 3:4  New Living Translation (NLT)
4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
    Isaiah 43 Talks about putting on the garments of praise in exchange for mourning. We need to start dressing appropriately for the days ahead and God desires to give us everything we need if we will only come to him and Be Still.
     Lord as I quiet myself before you, I ask you to clothe me with your righteousness. I ask that as I come into the stillness that you are in, that you would open my eyes to your heart and to your ways. Thank you for you gifts, they are beautiful and my heart is so grateful for your blessings. In the secret, in the quiet place, in the stillness you are there. And so I come into this place and ask for more of these intimate sweet moments. Amen