We can settle in a place of peace, regardless of what’s going on around us. It might be our nature to desire delineations, even if we dive deep in the Spirit. We might want to see above the surface, or how far to the floor. We might yearn for a glimpse of what’s around or ahead of us. We think we need explanations. Lines and restrictions can give a sense of security… or control. But what if God is asking us to abide in the depths of his fathomless grace? To just linger in his presence, in stillness, even if it’s dark and we can’t see as far as our own hands in front of us? To truly, wholly, trust in him, his mercy--just trust. A hurricane can rip over the surface and destroy everything in its path; impacting everything as we know it; perhaps ridding the familiar or comfortable. But in trusting him, in letting go and allowing him to sweep through our circumstances, our lives, our hearts; we can all the while abide in the depth of his peace, in calm. We can remain in an immovable space, a divine place; one of intimacy and confidence in the God of Glory who speaks to the storms. Instead of the storms threatening to destroy us, we watch them as they shift and scream away at his whisper. All that’s left is what was there all along. Peace, calm, assurance. To trust at a place in the present, where neither height nor depth nor anything can separate us from his love (Romans 8:39). May you abide in his immeasurable peace.
Choices make destinies. Destinies can also change.
A short story
In a year when thirty people jumped from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide and succeeded, one person determined to join their throng.
Near light pole numbered sixty-nine, he swan-dives off the ledge, traveling at a velocity of eighty mph, free-falling 250 feet at low tide. Bound to converge on the despondent crowd of over 1,600 who preceded him in death since the majestic span erected in 1937, something shifts. Instant regret consumes him the second he unhands the viaduct. But the chance for survival after the four-second drop stands at less than one percent.
What if somewhere between his last contact with the steel bridge and the impact of the frigid, bone-crushing bay, hovers an alternative Courtroom in the Sky? A panel of Judges who reviews the motives in a person’s life.
Here enters Ralph “Specter” Specht, the famous frontman for the rock band, Ghosts of Fleas. In the eyes of the world, he led a good life; talented, successful, and spoiled. Nobody thought he could do such a thing, fling himself over the edge, even him. Not until the dark impulse.
The defendant on trial crosses the threshold into weighted proceedings. With a blooming change of mind, Ralph wonders if he will find a different sentence than what he first intended. His verdict awaits.
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A few years ago, I sensed a shift in my spiritual journey. My dreams even changed. I heard drums in my sleep. At first, being of Jewish background, I thought they were Israeli, perhaps of Yemeni influence, since I had danced Yemenite-Jewish dances before—they are some of my favorites because of the percussion. And maybe my dreams began that way, but it became clear that what I was hearing originated from Native Americans. In one dream, I was walking in a cadence on one path at dusk, but when the music shifted, I turned and zipped up another, totally different path that ascended a hill, then a mountain. At the top, I saw people in regalia gathered there around a drum. Drawn at first by the sound, I couldn’t get there fast enough through the dark. And the closer I got, I realized the people sang praises to Yahweh and worshipped with fullness of joy in God’s spirit. Their divine sound swelled from the top of that high mountain and cascaded over the entire land as the sun rose in brilliance. The elation I felt was like nothing I’ve experienced. These kinds of dreams I was having grew so profound that the drumming became almost tangible. I woke up from my night visions and still heard the sound, like my own heartbeat. Sometimes, through the day, I’d hear the rhythm, remember the visions, and knew that something was up. God was giving me these reflections, images, sounds, stirrings, for a reason.
So, I’ve pondered this over the last couple of years. Mindful. Expecting something, but God chose to be… not exactly silent, but quietly guiding, gently influencing. I appreciated the gentleness, because the Lord was ministering to my own heart with healing even as I prayed for meanings and interpretations. He knew I needed the quietude, for he builds up rather than tears down. This past year I’ve spent a lot of dedicated months just pressing in, worshipping, seeking deeper intimacy with the Lord. One way I’ve served the Lord is as an intercessory prayer warrior. And this has manifested in a multitude of ways since the early 1990s, when he first called me to this type of praying. Now, as I’ve dwelled in his presence this year, I’ve felt a continual change within me, a sort of, I don’t know, personal cultivation, and it was very deep, very different. Also, I kept getting prophetic words from others about new seasons, new blueprints for what God is doing or preparing to do. I’ve heard repeatedly that the greatest spiritual harvest and healing that will take place will be unlike anything ever seen. Prepare for a spiritual tidal wave, I was told. Well, I want to be where God is moving, that’s for sure. I was receiving these words; in fact, I think a lot of believers I know were receiving the same, or along the same lines. There seems to be a theme of pressing in and of preparedness. However, in my own life, I couldn’t (still can’t) quite see what this is; what it looks like for me. My future, that is, is yet veiled. Except, a week ago, I distinctly heard the Lord say, be like a watchman on the wall—expecting, watching, waiting—and intercede for your Native American spiritual siblings, focusing on this, for the next three months. Although I long for more by details or involvement, that’s really all I need to know: the next step. Baruch Hashem (Blessed be the Name).
The Lord has, without question, planted in my heart that the greatest healing, revival, and harvest in this fractured land will emanate from the Indigenous. This is incredibly moving to me. That those who have been persecuted, oppressed, displaced, ignored—those who have the most to forgive will be central to bringing about the greatest move of forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Those who had been often damaged by the church will rise up and be the church, lead the church.
“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”—Matthew 20:16
And it all will spring from the vital drum; culturally intact, spiritually whole. All last week long, after God asked me to intercede in this manner, I have received affirmation after affirmation. Then a thing popped up when I wasn’t even looking for it; it was a blurb about a documentary called Awakened. I watched it right away and was floored. Apparently, I’ve been in a cocoon, because a lot has been happening in this realm and I’m just now catching on. Anyway, Billy Graham made a statement 40 years ago regarding the spiritual destiny of the original Americans and of the move of the Holy Spirit through them to others. This documentary is about that, and here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/Awakened-Ellson-Bennett/dp/B07JN4WTGC
I like to immerse myself in the thread of what I’ve been asked to pray about, so I’ve done some recent googling. There have been all kinds of gatherings huge and small with this similar theme. In much of these videos and articles I come across, some older, some current, I spot flashes of the Messianic! And I’m thinking, as a Messianic, how did I not know my Jewish brothers and sisters were already getting involved and joining hands in this significant move of God? I mean, in videos and pictures, I see shofars, a kippah, and a tallit (prayer shawl) or two! In decades past, I’ve had the privilege and blessing to travel and minister all over the world, while absorbing the beauty of other cultures. The Indigenous peoples of the Americas, though, have always been extra special to me. Of course, I love my own cultural upbringing, so to see other Jewish believers in Jesus embracing and uniting in what others are calling the “awakening of the sleeping giant” in “leading others on the path to Yeshua” for forgiveness and revival, and a “coming into covenant with the races of America”… Well, that’s a giant double-cool for me! And getting up to speed… Well, better late than never. Yet, somehow, I have this impression that I am exactly on God’s timetable. And I thank the Lord for making things so interesting sometimes. Living a redeemed life is an exciting life, even from a little old, worn-out prayer closet like mine.
I’ve provided a few video links that share this heartbeat, yet there is a ton of other information out there to peruse.
https://youtu.be/abCr07OX8os Broken Walls, Ride the Wind
https://youtu.be/Mtof2r1jNpQ Azusa Now, The Call, Native America (2016) live in LA
I know this is different from what I usually post. I’m also a very private person and this was a little challenging for me to divulge—the personal tidbits anyway, dreams and such. I am a prophetic dreamer, but tend to be shy about it. This day seems apropos at least to say: I’m stepping out to step deeper in. What I’d like to do is scale that mountain and physically join with the flow of this ministry movement, but I am for now actively a committed watchman on the wall, praying and praising with intention, because this is what the Lord has asked me to do.
Be blessed, for we are coming into the Year of the Lord’s Favor (Isaiah 61).
In hindsight, last year gave us the means to sharpen our vision for the future, to balance what is important, and find a better way to manage and appreciate life. The means to seek a clearer vision according to God’s perfect vision for us (his will, not ours) and be grateful for each day we have despite what storms around us.
We’ve been rocked—and not in a good way—by the pandemic and politics. We can’t help these things… or… can we? To some extent, we can. It’s our responses to these things that make the difference. I’m fond of the phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Here’s another by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.” Our behavior should correspond with the root of our beliefs. So now, I’d like to address some of my fellow believers in Jesus.
Call this a heart’s cry, but I’m crushed by what I see. Most disheartening, the attitude and angry speech from quite a few of my Christian peers who are spouting steam worse than an old locomotive. How persuasive is the demonstration of anger and the spirit of hate, which is contrary to God’s spirit, when the entire world rolls in hate-hysteria? Where’s the differentiation? Where’s the hope and encouragement? What difference does political affiliation make in loving your neighbor? Some of us have lost sight, are losing sight. If there was, God forbid, a massive earthquake in your neighborhood and people were trapped under rubble, would you reach in there and offer a helping hand or would you stand by and say, “What’s your affiliation? Because I’m only helping you if it lines up with mine.”
If you’re one of those screaming about injustice, remember that Jesus, the one in whom you believe, suffered the greatest injustice of all. Yet, he went as a lamb to the slaughter--as a lamb—for the sake of us all; not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s coming back as a lion, but that time hasn’t come yet—and it’s his right to roar when it does. In the meantime, by his grace we’re commissioned to be examples of light, salts of the earth, human versions of God’s steadfast love. Instead, social media, especially, reeks of an old famous bar where everybody knows your name and has to prove a point, prove a point, prove a point! It’s a frenzy; it’s an addiction. Easy to get caught up in—but where is the higher standard if we do as the world does? Where are the lambs?
I hope that instead of heated tongue-wagging, name-calling, and other adverse reactions, we can create an element of infectious peace—even, and especially, if we don’t agree with the climate. If you think I’m saying that we need to strive much harder to live and lead by Jesus’ example, then you are absolutely right—and I’m speaking to myself first.
Finally, if the present affairs are just too ugly and you feel like a loner going against the whitewater current of popular hysteria, then find a nice quiet place to pray. Because in the Lord’s presence is peace. There, we can find the strength to hold higher, a shield of honor, emblazoned with the blood of Jesus, this scripture:
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” — Colossians 3:12-14
I might have done a strange thing as a child when I asked for wisdom... I’m not sure. I wasn’t around peers too much to find out if this is what they did too, since my formative years took place in the boonies. My only friends were animals, especially horses. It’s just the way things were. I don’t mind. I had a solid upbringing with loving parents and siblings, and I adored my lot of furry companions who didn’t seem to mind my quirky quests.
And I couldn’t say I understood what or who God was, although I’m quite certain of his presence. My mother was my primary spiritual teacher, and she’d tell me stories about important things—things I embrace even stronger today. Because I still hear her voice, though she has passed from this life into the next. Wisdom was something she spoke and sang of often, and her multi-layered lessons, like colors in paintings, enthralled me so much that I remember being not older than five, six, or seven years old and asking for Wisdom to grace my life in bright hues.
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs is one of my favorite books, touching often on wisdom, and this verse comes from 4:6-7.
I’ve heard others use the expression, sometimes jokingly, that a person gains wisdom by making mistakes; the more mistakes made, the wiser you are. Is this what it means for something to cost all you have to gain? Well, when I, owning a catalog of cringeworthy mistakes, walk into any crowded room, all eyes should fall on me, and in unison the people cry out, “All hail the Wisest One of All.” But that never happens—thank God!
Circumstances beyond control cause a person to open their eyes, see reality for what it is instead of through a bubble (if there was a bubble to begin with). And choices. And mistakes. And results, as well as responses from others. If I knew then what I know now... You’ve heard the phrase. It goes along with the error of one’s ways.
All this to say, Wisdom is good; cherish her. One day, her benefits and nurturing rapport will shine through.
“Wisdom comes alone with suffering.”—Aeschylus
I’ve moved a lot in life. In fact, we’ve relocated again during this COVID-19 era. It’s not the woodsy rural environment I prefer, but more urban with constant buzz and people present. First time in the real burbs, but there are viable reasons for making this transition and, honestly, I look at it as temporary anyway. I’ve lived in exceptional situations, sucky ones, and in-betweeners. As far as materialism, I know what it is to have little, a lot, or thrive in moderation. I’ve gained and I’ve lost, so I don’t get too attached when I regain. Life can present us with all kinds of living situations and circumstances—sometimes changing on a dime. Some we bring on ourselves by choices we make; other times it’s circumstances beyond our control. But we have the means within us to adapt to life’s seesaw.
Life on earth is transitory. And because we are spiritual beings destined for eternal life, heaven is our true home. So in a big-picture sense, if you ever feel like a stranger in a strange land, it’s because we all kind of are. Strangers passing through in what is a privilege to live a purpose-filled, lungs' air-filled life… wherever we are… by mindset. We can bloom wherever we’re planted. It’s not where we are, but how we are.
We can bloom from whatever situation we’re handed, too, even the self-inflicted ones. Because no matter where we move, or how things pan out, what we do, or who moves in or out of our lives, the one constant is that Yeshua, Jesus, loves us unconditionally, as we are, where we are, without terms or conditions. By the time you reach a certain age in a fallen world full of broken people, you’ll have experienced friends who wound you, partners who break you, situations that hurt you and you hurt back. We are flawed, but God takes it all and loves us, as us, anyway, just like that.
The other day, I listened to an artist I admire, Kendall Payne, in a shuffle mix. I was on the treadmill maintaining my half-century-old body; I was also musing over blooming and belonging when her track “Belonging” played. Gah, if my heart didn’t ache to hear it just then. The timing, the bittersweet message of the song, the relatability, made me realize again how profound faith is and the absolute love God has for us as he waits for us on the other side (home, at last) with arms open wide.
I tire of political ads, speeches, campaigns wherein the focus centers on dissing opponents. Can’t recall when this became customary, but it has always struck me as poor taste. I hate few things. This is one of them. It might be the especially volatile climate of today and weighty bitterness and injustices witnessed cities-wide, a shaking pandemic, or that I’m just getting older and less tolerant of subjecting myself to this much negativity. Because I seem to have developed a recent habit of turning off the radio or television just as soon as a politician begins this focused rant—and it’s usually by the third or fourth word. I know I’m idealistic to a fault, but I just wish I could hear a passionate speech on proposals, personal principles, and persuasive stands with the strength to stand on its own merit without the use of harsh words ripping another by ugly comparisons and throw-downs.
Years ago, I’d served as a ghostwriter for political content. It can be well-paid, eye-opening work, but not for me I finally realized. I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Am I tainted by the experience? Sure. I’ve had more than my share of exposure to those who like to rule with brutal words and iron fists. But I always end up asking: Do unsavory words for the purpose of propelling an agenda (or for any reason) add virtue or honor? Do they truly enlighten or inform us on the issues at hand?
Yet, instead of growing harder, I seem to be softening under iron fists. I suppose I’m yearning for people, leaders, who dare to operate by a different slogan; one I’m trying--really trying to implement in my own circle: “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8). While I’m aware we will not all have unity of mind in this lifetime, on this earth, with such a range of discordant issues and beliefs, I think if we practice sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (that is, putting the welfare of others before our own)—even just one of these—then maybe we’d behave a little better toward one another. Take better care with the words we use for each other, our fellow humans. We might even earn respect. Today, I value kindness to a much greater degree, and I beg, I beg it begins within me.
The swell of despair over disease, injustice, hostility, and chaos can be debilitating. The giant mountain of unemployment is heartbreaking; many are out-of-work for an unforeseen time. I’m feeling the angst of the entire struggle (I know I’m not alone), and the political system stinks (sorry). Things are feeling way off, different, wouldn’t you say? But this isn’t new, this troubling season, this has happened before in history. And humankind finds a way. We find a way to survive. We do. We will.
I’d say it’s a time of transition. Yet transitions often are painful, crushing. But transition usually redirects us towards something better. I believe two years from now will look very different from what it does today. Today never lasts, so if today is bad we have tomorrow’s sunrise.
The horizon is difficult to distinguish on a cloudy day. We can’t always see beyond, but we know the beyond is there. This is like faith. When we believe without seeing that the sun will crack through and shimmer over the waters once again, and we can feast our eyes on the fresh, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. God holds the future.
“Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’”—Isaiah 46:10