Can I Get a Witness?

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“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.”

-Isaiah 43:10

In biblical times, witnesses held a vital role in proving one’s validity. Afterall, how can one man stick up for himself and his actions objectively and prove himself innocent without witnesses to verify his story and character? There truly is strength in numbers, the more people involved, the more accurately one can discover what really happened. As well as the harder it is to cover up the truth. That is the wonder of the Bible itself, it is a book of witnesses, and we can believe in its truth because every witness’s stories line up. They do not contradict each other but support one another.

We see through their personalities what stood out to them most in each event, and yet the core of the story remains unchanged. Jesus did walk among them, performing miracles, raising the dead, and casting out demons. Not even the Pharisees can deny what their eyes have seen, though they try to deny that each miracle came from God’s Son, they cannot describe how a blind man can now see, or how a lame man can now walk.

The fact is, we wouldn’t have the Bible if it wasn’t for witnesses. People had to witness God to know Him, had to witness miracles to believe in them. There is much that God still wants us to witness today if we would be willing to simply look. How can we be God’s witnesses if we haven’t witnessed anything? Testimonies are vital to proving the goodness and grace of God. If God’s will is good, then we must show this, prove this, and stand firm as witnesses of that goodness. It has never been a sin to long for visible proof, however, it is a sin to close your eyes from the truth that is displayed around you, even as you read this. What you seek you will find. We should never stay at doubting, and we should never close our minds to God and how He wants to work in your life.

“A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.” (Proverbs 14:25)

If you believe God is in a box, you won’t look for Him outside that box. Every miracle that contradicts what you believe about God and how He works will be discarded. In limiting your view of God, you will limit your sight and witness very little. It is like looking at the world through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars.

Though there is power in believing without seeing, we cannot expect the lost world to take this route. God sent His Holy Spirit to display His goodness in miraculous works and wonders, and Jesus himself declared that we would do greater things than he did while on the earth. What did he do? He taught large crowds and then displayed the truth he taught in miraculous signs and healings.

It is time we become witnesses of God again, be a witness to a miraculous sign, and don’t hold the testimony in, speak it out! Share it at your church, with your friends at work, and to your family who know more than most whether you are telling the truth or not. They won’t be able to deny the joy and wonder on your face, they won’t be able to explain your excitement and passion.

Testimonies spark hope, satan has had his hands over the eyes of many people. He has gained control of the media and has turned our heads away from the good things that are happening towards the ugly, awful suffering brought about by his evil servants. It is his worst fear that we would witness something from God and not be able to deny it. That we would get a glimpse of God’s heart and will for mankind and that in that glimpse we would be forever changed.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” -Acts 1:8

Go out into the world and witness!

 

 

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The Crown

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“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

-James 1:5-7

Excerpt from my Journal with God, Aug. 11, 2016:

You have faith in what you cannot see-but not in who I am. Doubt is often disguised by fear. Fear is not of God. You must stop bowing to it when you have authority over it. It’s time to pick up your crown and wear it with dignity.

To make a crown one must use fire and effort. Craftmanship and patience. The crown maker must believe in the outcome, envision it clearly and make it so. Life is the same way, in this world grey hair is the crown you wear- symbolizing a long life of wisdom and success. While your hair greys, in heaven your crown is perfected.

What crown will you wear? What does it say about your life? Is it adorned in many jewels? How much work was put into it?

What you do in this life effects more than you realize in the unseen world. Are you one who lets darkness reign or do you cause demons to tremble and flee? It’s time to rule over your kingdom-your domain. To exercise your authority so that one day you will receive the crown of eternal life and wear it proudly in all its splendor because the time you spent here on earth was not wasted, but used justly for the Glory of God.

It is not enough to be called a queen-one must become one, trusting in her God-fighting the good fight, and growing the kingdom of God.

[End of excerpt]

Reading through my journal or conversations with God always sets me on my feet again, and refocuses my mind. I just went to walk across the room when I saw a glint on the ground, it was a small compass. I have no idea where it came from (probably ask Aaron later) but it got me thinking. That is what my journal is, a compass. When I talk to God and record our conversation, no matter what life throws at me I can come back to these precious words of love and guidance that remind me of who I am, whose I am, and what I need to do. I can reset my direction back to the heart of my Father.

So what is the significance of a crown? As I reread this excerpt I thought about how very opposite our world is compared to heaven. We live in a democracy here in America, which can often affect how we view God’s kingdom. In heaven, there is no democracy but kings and queens placed in authority, with God as the head. There are righteous judgments and holy submission. And there are crowns, whether true or symbolic crowns that represent the level of glory and honor given to those who gave much in this life.

These crowns will never fade, nor will what they symbolize. It is a ruling that will never pass on because time will be a figment of a long forgotten past in a world that was but a vague imitation of what God has in store for us. Crowns will never again be worn by those who don’t deserve their burden. Those who use the title of king or queen to carry out their evil desires. Any kingdom we have ever experienced in this world is also but a vague inaccurate imitation. A heavenly concept taken and twisted by sin.

Someday we will all be a part of a true kingdom, the greatest kingdom, God’s kingdom! Until that day we must live aware of who we are, that we are kings and queens on the battlefield, fighting from victory and acceptance, not for it. Because the battle is already won, we have only to carry it out to completion. Take the final swing of our swords, give the final battle cry, plant the crest of our heavenly kingdom firmly in the ground once governed by darkness, and make every demon flee, in terror of our might.

So what is the significance of a crown? To me, it represents honor, glory, sacrifice, and the completion of who we are. You were made holy, you were made to reign with God, what sin stole from you, He will restore back to you. And on that day, it will be a glorious celebration, one that will mark the beginning of eternity in God’s presence. Knowing who we are and who He is and never ever turning back.

Wolves at the Gate

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Long ago, in a time much like our own, there stood a kingdom on a hill. It was vast and strong, with large fortified walls and guards keeping post. They didn’t guard against invading countries or even against man. Surrounding the bright and glorious kingdom was a wood, and concealed in its darkness was an unspeakable fiend. Wolves.

Every child in that kingdom knew how to raise a bow, aim, and fire. Every woman knew what to do should a wolf find its way past the mighty gates. And every man was vigilant and brave. The king himself tarried not, and if the very sound of a howl reached his ears, be it day or night, he would lead a hunting party himself into the wood to destroy the beast.

They weren’t ordinary wolves you see, not the mild type that eat only woodland creatures, they had a different hunger, a thirst for man, a hatred for the kingdom on the hill. It was an evil thing, that made the wolves appear larger than normal, darker than night, and with eyes as vicious as a snake. The kingdom never suffered a loss, however, because they slept with their swords in their hands, and woke up aware that they were fighting a battle.

After many years of this, it seemed that the number of wolves appeared fewer, and the howling altogether ceased. The woods were silent and still and the kingdom began to lower their defenses.

It was then that idleness took over.

The children were no longer taught to shoot a bow, the women became plump and content, turning their attention to parties and dances. The men slept, ate, and turned their eyes away from the woods and the gates. And the king? he thought highly of himself and his kingdom saying, “what could ever come against my perfect kingdom, who could ever break down my mighty walls?”

It was night, and not a person stirred, everyone was asleep.

The panting of many wet tongues and the pattering of paws ran across the open grass towards the mighty gates. Dirt flew, and the gate rattled and still, no one stirred. The gate was all rusted from neglect, and the ground was soft as it hadn’t been pounded down by guardsmen feet in many years.

The wolves climbed under the gate and broke into pairs of three, threading themselves throughout the sleeping kingdom. And just as the sun was about to rise above the horizon, casting an eerie red glow over the face of the stone houses, a chorus of screams rang out through the land.

The king awakened with a start and gasped as he took in the view from his window, people were running to and fro with large beastly wolves nipping and snapping at their heels. Already, half the kingdom lay in bloody waste, with unused weapons tucked safely and forgotten in closets and cupboards. Not a single man raised his sword out of fear and shock, never had they prepared for this moment, and never had they seen a wolf. It was larger and more terrifying than they could imagine.

The king wept. He had brought this upon himself, he had let his great land fall to the wolves of the wood. He had grown idle and unfocused, had believed that his kingdom was invincible.

He wandered through his quite castle in defeat, walking down the hall he hadn’t much traveled soon brought him to the library. He reached out towards a red bound book covered in dust and opened it. He skimmed the many pages and stopped just as he reached the final page. It read:

“Lo to the kingdom that forgets to watch the gate, lo to the people that forget their enemy the wolf and turns their faces from the wood, lo to the guards who drop their shields and lower their swords, and lo to the king who watches it all unfold and holds his tongue. This kingdom will not stand in courage, this kingdom will not taste victory, for when there are wolves at the gate and no one to greet them, the battle will be decided. The kingdom will fall.”

The king placed the open book down and with it, he laid down his pride. The wolves never slept, while he ate and drank, they plotted and devised. While he sat on his throne, they moved about, becoming stronger and more agile. While the gate rusted, their teeth and claws were sharpened, and while he slept, the wolves rose up and the kingdom fell.

Never let yourself become this king, and never step foot inside such a kingdom as this. For the bible says, “whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” -Proverbs 18:9

Like A Child

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“He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 18:2

I’ve always loved the zoo. From the moment I could walk I have been captivated by God’s creatures. Going to the zoo so often has made me accustomed to their appearances. My husband grew up differently, he only vaguely remembers going to the zoo when he was very young and so one day we both went to the zoo together. I thought he would be impressed, after all, the last time he went he was too young to truly appreciate God’s creatures. I was wrong.

He looked at the elephants and giraffes and said, “they are much smaller than I remember.” The wonder had left him, and reality had set in. As a child, the world was a lot bigger, the days much longer, and the animals much larger and incredible. I looked at the large elephants chewing on hay and wondered, “did they ever become smaller to me?”

At home, we have a very large Alaskan Malamute, I remember the first time I saw her at the shelter, she was so big and fluffy…and intimidating. But I fell in love with her and now three years later I still appreciate her beauty, but I no longer feel she is that big, or that she is intimidating, at least to me. I know she is big and that her bark can be scary to those who don’t know her, but I have grown used to her. 

How is this example different to the first? With our dog, familiarity with her changed how we saw her. My husband at the zoo was not familiar with the animals like I was, he just remembered things from a childlike perspective and that expectation came up short once he saw them as an adult. It’s like when we were little we believed our parents were superheroes, nothing could stop them and they were strong enough to protect us from anything, including the scary monsters under our beds. Now, we still respect them, but we know they are just humans, and that we all battle monsters and can easily fail.

In both these examples, the wonder wore off as time passed. Our perceptions changed and that change made what we saw less exciting and “big.”

How does this relate to how we view God?

As a child, I knew God was powerful, He was like a superhero to me. He was big, but not vast, not multi-faceted. I didn’t understand the depth of His love, I couldn’t fathom His goodness or righteousness. As I have grown, God has only become bigger and better. Though I draw closer to Him and become more familiar with Him, there is just so much to Him that instead of figuring Him out, I find that I have more and more questions, more and more wonder at Who He is, instead of What He is.

It is good to think and see like an adult, but we must not forget that we are to be like children in our faith and trust. The truth is, as a child we naively trust people, we view the world as a safe place. Evil acts of violence and suffering are, or should I say “should,” be beyond a child’s ability to comprehend. They are full of the need to be guided and taught and corrected. They simply believe the best and hope for the best, and they know that God is real without a doubt in their minds.

I love children for this, this ability I find difficult to re-capture. It goes back to my previous post, how can I go back to being naive, how can I go back to not knowing or understanding things the way I do now? God does not desire for us to try and be naive, that is denial. And denial hurts both the world and us in the end. Denial grips the church and the nation, it re-directs blame and causes numbness in our hearts. Hearts that were made to carry the love of God to others. We simply can’t go back in that way, and God shows us that He is bigger than what we know.

The more we know, the more mature we are equals the more we see God’s hand at work, the more ways He can demonstrate His awesome power and love. A veil is lifted from our eyes and we can choose denial at what we see, or we can look around and see God in everything while before we saw Him work only in our own lives. Our God is very active, He isn’t sleeping, and He just wants us to trust Him.

“Be like a child in this way,” Jesus said, honoring your parents, trusting and hoping, joyful and free. We are to honor God for He is our Father, we are to trust and hope in Him and His goodness, and we are to live joyfully in praise, free from the weight of sin. 

 

 

 

The Garden

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I was traveling down a winding trail unawares when suddenly a man appeared before me. It was quite a shock as I had been lost in thought and looking at my feet. He smiled warmly yet his eyes were serious. “The path you are looking for is this way.” He pointed to the tangled mess of trees and vines to my right, I noticed no path through the chaos. “What do you mean?” I asked confused, “there isn’t a path through that mess.” He laughed and shook his head, “It is the only path my dear, the one you walk only looks clean and bare because many have walked it, just as unaware that they were traveling the wrong way as you.”

In silence, I stepped closer to the path which he pointed to, “If this is a path, not many have traveled this way, why should I?” His face softened as he replied, “because it leads to life, at the end, you will find the beginning.” I took another step, “the beginning of what?” I glanced over again at the man and realized that a light seemed to radiate from him a little. He held out his hand, “come with me, and I will show you.”

I began to feel afraid, the man felt both safe and wild, his eyes flashed like fire and soothed like water. I swallowed and asked, “Can’t I go alone?” His smile faded and was replaced with sadness, “You could, but you would never find the garden, and you would wander back to this path, the one that you know and trust.” I sighed in resignation, “So you are saying that I need you?” And then I gasped and added quickly, “…a garden?” He reached towards a large oak tree and ran his hand down the rough bark in thought. “Yes, however, it’s not “a garden”, but thee garden.”

I couldn’t help but feel excitement and wonder rise up within me. In response, I held out my hand to the wild man. And he turned from the tree and grasped it as though it was what he had been waiting for all along. He smiled warmly and his joy was contagious. He led the way through the brambles and vines.  I had to push and fight my way through every step, at times I stopped and he stopped with me, looking back expectant yet patient. A few times I longed to go back altogether and he would say, “to go back would be more painful than going forward, you wouldn’t have me to lead the way.” And so we continued and as we walked and fought together, we trusted and grew closer to one another. After a while, I asked him, “Why are you helping me?” He now was covered in many scratches and bleeding, he sat down and said, “because I love you.”

I was full of both awe and shock as I looked at this bleeding yet wonderful man before me. “Why do you love me?” He reached out and pushed the hair out of my face, “I love you without reason and without end.” I laughed now completely content, “that doesn’t make sense and yet I think I’m beginning to understand the more time I spend with you.” He chuckled too and stood up, though tired and sore he seemed to radiate life. I stood up as well and noticed that the trees and brambles were beginning to fill with beautiful flowers, the wind picked up and to my right, I suddenly saw a whole open field of grass and mountains beyond that. The sound of a stream bed and the musical tones of birds filled the once silent and staleness of the brambled path. And yet in that amazing moment, I longed only to hear the man’s voice, to feel his hand in mine, and to look at his face.

I turned and in an instant, the garden disappeared and before me stood the man I love. And yet now a name came to mind, “Jesus.” His name is Jesus! I fell at my feet before Him, He was clothed in white and the light coming from His being was so bright I could barely see. “Forgive me, God!” I called out in fear and shame. Jesus knelt down beside me and lifted my face, “daughter, I am the garden and you have found me!” He kissed my head and hugged me tightly. With tears in my eyes, I said, “I didn’t know it was you, Jesus, beside me all along…I’m so sorry.” He wiped away my tears and said. “You took my hand even when you didn’t know me, you took a leap of faith and trusted me even though you were afraid and unsure.” He lifted me up on my feet and took both my hands in His. “Welcome to the beginning, welcome home.” I laughed and cried and shouted in joy and Jesus celebrated with me.

Never again would I wander down the beaten path, for I knew that the greatest and wildest destinations are only found on the paths less traveled by.

And never would I go down a path, without Jesus’s hand in mine.

My Lucy

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Lucy, Lucy where are you going?

Called the great Aslan to me

I turned in delight at His glorious sight

And He smiled back at me.

Aslan! Aslan! I’ve been looking for you

Following your paw prints, you see?

I pointed and placed my hand  in His mane

And He wrapped His paws around me

Lucy, my Lucy, I’ve never left you

My footsteps appeared by your feet

I turned and I noticed for the very first time

His paws walked in stride beside me

Aslan, O Aslan, how did I forget?

It’s a great and terrible thing!

I knelt and I wept but my tears never fell

For with one lick, my face was clean

Lucy, dear Lucy, why are you crying?

I hold no anger towards thee

He laughed and He danced

And Narnia joined in

As we played and splashed by the sea

Aslan! Great Aslan! I love you so

“I know,” He replied to me

Lucy, my Lucy, remember this

You love because I first loved thee.

 

 

The Burden of Knowing

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“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

-Ecclesiastes 1:18

I remember the first time I heard about Human Trafficking, it was quite a shock to know such hideous crimes were taking place right in my hometown. Innocent women and children, seemingly ignored by society, taken away while we hid behind our picket fences and tv screens. I remember feeling the weight of the problem on my shoulders, a shame at having let something so big occur, as if I could stop it.

I vowed to fight the injustice, to make everyone else aware so that they too would feel it’s weight and take action. As time went on I started a group at our church and researched Human Trafficking statistics in America, and in the rest of the world. I bought the documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls and played that to my group. It’s one thing to list the facts, it’s another thing to show real footage of the crime, to put faces to the numbers.

I was impassionated for a few years…as time went on I began to feel that I couldn’t do anything, I felt pulled and torn by other things that needed fixing in this world. And at the end of it all, life took my attention and passion away. But deep inside I still feel the pull because no matter how hard we try to forget, we can’t go back to not knowing.

Knowledge means responsibility. Once we know something, we make a decision right then and there about what to do with that information. Do we store it away in the deep corners of the mind? Do we discard it as useless? Do we meditate on it, and take action? We decide these things the moment we see someone in need. And what we do with the knowledge may mean everything to someone.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:2-3)

We are to remember those in prison as if we were together with them! Do you know how many brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering at this moment for Jesus? Every month 160 Christians are put in prison, and 255 are even killed! (opendoorsusa.org) I can’t go back to not knowing that…every month.

So what are we to do with our ever increasing knowledge? In such a world where the internet and media advances have connected us all so much, what can God expect us to do about all the many needs and problems?

First, we pray.

Can we pray for every single thing? probably not, unless we truly take 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to heart;

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It says we must also rejoice and give thanks. I take these verses to mean we are to be constantly aware of God, not necessarily talking His ear off. But talking when something comes to your heart as if He were standing beside you. It’s like being with your spouse or a close friend, you don’t have to talk to be close to one another, and when you do talk it’s a two-way conversation from the heart.

That’s the key to praying, don’t feel pressured to pray for every single person or problem as if your one prayer may be the key to saving them, granted our prayers are powerful, but as Romans 8:28 says;

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

There have been times when I forgot to pray and realized that God had still worked in that person’s life. God works through us, but remember, He isn’t limited in resources to work through.

The next thing we are to do is give.

Ask God what you are to give in time, money, or resources. A tithe isn’t “giving”, it is what we are all called to give to God, giving is what we do when our heart is stirred, it can be a set amount of money a month like a tithe, or it can be a one-time donation. And although tithing is only done through money, when we give it can be whatever we want. We can give food or time, or the very shirts off our backs. We can give talents, and kind words, and we can give knowledge, like the gospel. We all give differently, based on what stirs our hearts and what we are called to give.

If every Christian gave what they were called to give, a seemingly small sacrifice, then the world would be changed. Imagine it! a world full of 2.2 billion Christians, all of which are giving and helping and praying, all are doing what they were called to do. I know this would be world-changing, and that the reputation of Christianity itself would change.

The world and its problems wouldn’t seem so overwhelming if we knew that we didn’t have to fight them alone. There are many Christian organizations at work in this world, they do the brunt of the work, they are on the frontlines fighting the good fight. But even they aren’t called to do this alone, every Christian is a frontline Christian. Satan is battling us all, anyone who carries the title of Christian he is out to destroy, we don’t avoid him by doing nothing…by doing nothing, he has already won against you.

There is a reason the bible talks about us wearing the full armor of God, we need it! We don’t wield a teddy bear in this image, but a sword! I believe that many Christians have become numb to the world, they see only what’s in front of them, they tell themselves that because the bible says that the world will get worse, why bother fighting the inevitable?

We fight because it is our call and commision to dispel darkness and bring the world under the authority of God’s kingdom. Jesus said that the poor would always be among us (Matthew 26:11), however, that didn’t stop him from helping the poor anyway. What we do here matters, lives are at stake, and all of heaven is watching us. It is a privilege to give today…in heaven, we will no longer be able to give because everyone will have all they need. Now is the only chance we get to sacrifice, it’s time we rise up and do exactly that. For what is money, or the very man-made treasures we own in the face of eternity with God? The things you cherish today you won’t take with you, it will be swept away with the rest of creation at the end, and from the ashes, God will create something even greater. You will never long for those things again after you enter through heaven’s gates, but you may just feel the weight of regret…imagining all the times you could have given, prayed, helped, healed, said, done…for the sake of those who are most precious to God.

Solomon had it right, he was the wisest man and he knew the weight of knowledge. It brought him pain and sorrow to truly know. And yet he never once asked for God to take away his understanding. He was offered wealth and he chose wisdom over wealth, God gave him both in abundance. Soloman had made the right decision, notice how the right decisions are rarely ever the easy ones.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:10-13)

Do your part, play your role…we are only on the stage of life for so long. Live your life fully, so that when the time comes and the curtains begin to close, you can smile and bow in the wake of heaven’s applause, having fully done all that was asked of you with excellence and honor.