The dictionaries will tell us that purity, a noun, means “not dirty” or “free from contamination”; unadulterated, uncompromised; faultless, moral, and chaste.
With people, who then is pure? Absolutely nobody.
We are veined with darkness, born into sin with selfish natures. Disobedient as sheep gone astray, each turning to his own iniquity. Even the Apostle Paul said he was unspiritual, carnal, and sold to sin (Romans 7:14).
Often, I hear how a person admits to having done too much wrong for the Lord to want them. Bad history or choices, afflictions, keeping us from serving the One True God of purity and goodness. Maybe regrets of a tainted past keep regurgitating like wounds, sharp thorns that won’t go away. Living in a fallen world means there is a division between soul and spirit. Yet it’s the Word of God—which is Spirit and alive—that is our source for clean-living (Hebrews 4:12). We can’t do it on our own. And the living Word doesn’t just sit there… it moves, breathes, transforms; therefore, requires our active pursuit and absorption.
It’s an old and effective ploy of the enemy to keep us stagnant. Prohibit us from moving forward into freedom by flinging at us hisses of guilting, shaming, and regret. Nagging that we are weak in the body or corrupt at the heart, and it’s pointless to fight the next dirty urge.
I would suggest viewing purity as an action verb and not a noun. Purify: “To cleanse, or rid of impurities. To free from guilt or sin.” We grow in purity.
Go to the source, the Word of God. That’s our aim. For “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6). “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3). “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9). How about, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22).
That’s something to savor, isn’t it? Obedience. Obedience to the truth, to the only unblemished one, Jesus, who fills us with himself, making us pure, for the Lord surely wants us, his precious ones, close to him. This includes those who already made a commitment to faith in him. We don’t accept forgiveness for our sins then just sit there. Life is hard and we all still falter, so it takes a daily renewal of mind. I would suggest the verb form of obedience here. Obey: “an act or instance of obeying.” Just as we deliberately fall into an immorality (it’s a choice, always a choice), we can be deliberate about reading/viewing the Word. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).
In this age of instant gratification, and where immodest boastfulness and temptation come at us in bombarding fashion, the struggle is strong for anyone who wants to live a clean life. But the same troubles have existed in every generation. It’s tough, the pressure, especially if one has succumbed to a form of enticement often, that it’s become a persistent pattern or addiction. But it’s not impossible to overcome, not when we have the miracle-worker manifesting in our lives.
The Word is also our shield, our protector. Through the Word, we find sanctity. It is our cleanser and healer. Here is a helpful link I found providing an array of scriptures on Being Pure.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). I want to be that person. I want to see God.
His Word, beginning with His Word…
Have you noticed how many people, especially aging people, like to talk about their aches, pains and physical problems? Sometimes there’s even a little pride like comparing heroic war wounds or something: “You think that’s bad? Well, get a load of this,” kind of exchange, as a person proceeds to pull up a pant leg and roll down a sock for the big reveal. As I age, the more I hear such things, have taken part of such things, and yet depart from these discussions less cheerfully. If you haven’t known an individual, or clusters of acquaintances complaining about health issues, you’ll most likely see plenty of posts and pictures on social media. There’s also the constant campaign of ads and commercials on medications. I think it’s safe to say there’s brokenness in our society over health, but the overwhelming need to chew over conditions without end can be equally draining.
I’m not referring to the serious diseases and terminal illnesses, afflictions and real medical emergencies that require our understanding and compassion, and that can also expand our testimonies. I mean the day-to-day discussions that seem to vie for center stage when they don’t need to and probably shouldn’t. Maybe it’s not you doing the talking, but you’d lived with a hypochondriac, or worked with a malingerer, for years; that can be its own sort of burden. The negative concentration after a great length of time can be a real drag, when everything about a person, or that comes out of their mouth, is about their ailments, mild, moderate, or imaginary. It's like a verbal mountain of affliction, and you’re caught on its strange and precarious ledge between feeling numb and hypersensitive. Whether it’s you or someone else, aside from trying to fix sincere problems or addressing them with prayer, dwelling on them can be a thought ravager and praise stealer.
God is a healer and restorer. He also desires our focus and attention. I’m not in denial that with aging comes decaying; this curse came with the Fall, our own undoing, that we all must endure. But it’s come to the forefront of how much I don’t want to focus on the process of pains but on praise. A small example would be if someone asked me how my day was going, and I answered, “Well, I got this pain in my hip, and when I move my wrist this way it pops, and I didn’t sleep very well last night…” and then junk is on the table. I don’t want to behave that way. Even if I’m hurting, I want to suck it up, work through it if I can, and not spread the psychological residue, the “crown” of physical discomfort. Instead, have an answer ready on my lips, “My day is good because God is good all the time. Praise the Lord. How are YOU?” Or “I’m still kickin’, thank the Lord–and thanks for asking! How’s YOUR day going?” I don’t want to whittle an opportunity to brighten someone else’s day by dwelling on problems, especially my problems. And if I need prayer, then why not just ask for it, then move on with thankfulness? Some days, I have a spring in my step. Some days, eh, not so much. I am learning the fine line between when to ask for (or offer) prayer and keep quiet being careful not to complain.
So when I’ve caught myself lately near joining the valetudinarian collective (such as beginning my last blog by explaining my recent bouts, and longing for my slipped youth), I hear the Lord say, “Stop. In your weakness, I am made strong,” with emphasis on WHO is made strong. The next time I’m feeling blue about getting older and dealing with aged issues (could be again tomorrow!)—the magic word, “Stop,” is followed by “Praise you, Lord. Prepare me for the best years of my life!” And also, to take special care to reporting glorious healings and answered prayers!
If you are upwards of age 50, I hope you embrace words of praise over pain. It’s okay to ask for prayer; we’re supposed to support each other and give good ear to listen with compassion and kindness. Give and receive. But at certain points, we might do well to fine-tune our focus, redirecting our thoughts from our bodies to Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals. This is one I’ve heard a thousand times, but it never gets old: let go and let God. From the heart, out of the mouth, may we strive to put the Lord first in all things and linger there.
And this concludes my two- day/blog posts on age and body. I’m moving on.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.”–Psalm 42:11
Sometimes, we need to step out of our own peripheries to see that there are other things that matter and other people who matter more. It’s estimated that 90% of global goods are transported by sea. I was one of those who relied on the shipping industry for just about everything, yet hadn’t considered the human beings behind the vital vein we all depend on; the largely unseen individuals who toil hard and sacrifice greatly at mentally and physically taxing, and often spiritually challenging, high-risk jobs on ships at sea.
When this book, The Seafarer’s Mind: The Questions I’ve Always Wanted to Ask, popped up out of nowhere as I was busy doing something else, I glimpsed at the cover and knew I was meant to read it before understanding the context. Then I found the words inside gave deeper insight, as well as affirmed what the Lord had already spoken to me.
I am not a seafarer, but I am an intercessor, and many months ago, the Lord asked me to commit to praying and fasting for seafarers, as one part of a three-strand cord of intercession. At first, it seemed like a strange request from the Lord for little ole me in landlocked Tennessee, who has always feared water, to venture into my “prayer closet” for seafarers. But I didn’t question the assignment for long; the persuasion was strong. Besides, the Lord asks for obedience often when the big picture is not clear or understood. At the surface, with human eyes, my prayer cord doesn’t look as if the strands are related, and yet the Lord keeps assuring that they are connected, and I have to trust.
The aforementioned book is expertly crafted for the sake of seafarers. The impassioned testimonies are inspiring, the resources offer help and support for various challenges that many seafarers face. So if you work in the maritime industry, The Seafarer’s Mind is truly an anointed aid for thriving in your environment. And if you’re in a landbound profession, this is an expander of knowledge and understanding; should be read by all lest we forget the largely unseen individuals on whom we depend.
I’ve found that there is very little literature in the way of ministry to seafarers, and I appreciate this author, Rev. Martin Otto, who helped fill a gap. So I went on a recent binge-reading journey, as I felt like I was meant to read all of the following titles. The Lord asked me to be still, draw in, and absorb highlights of the seafaring world. I gained some clarity into visions I’d seen and dreams through which the Lord had already spoken. Sometimes what doesn’t have shape, form, or sense in the beginning, if you focus on God, filling your mind on things above, and with a heart full of lovingkindness and thanksgiving, eventually the fog will dissipate and you see what you before couldn’t; and comprehend what made little sense. And then sometimes, it’s a crash-course in faith-building, to believe though we can’t see.
As I am learning about and appreciating the crucial international community of mariners and their families, praying for their spiritual edification and encouragement, I’m also praying for those serving at ports in missions to seafarers, an area of ministry that still needs expanded.
Back at the start of this segment of my intercession, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that there are individuals who the Lord has planted a seed for specific ministry that is emerging from the oceans. Where cultural background, work experiences, and particular exposures lend to a uniqueness of testimony only God could orchestrate and use—for all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But the devil has been especially hard on these ones in the past season, trying to trip up and discourage to thwart the call and birthing of ministry in service to others upon and between the waters. In some cases, mistakes in the flesh-vs-spirit barrages have almost caused a giving-up, a falsity propounding disqualification. The only perfection any of us has is Jesus’ perfection within us; we are holy as he is holy within us. Works and/or clean behavior can’t save us, but Jesus, who unconditionally loves us and by his grace forgives seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22), each day renewed, can. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We fall down; we get back up. Even when circumstances feel overwhelming, there are people who are praying, lifting weary arms like Aaron and Hur to Moses (Exodus 17:10-13). Appointed to pray healing and strengthening words, to intercede, instill hope and encouragement, stand as watchmen on the walls, and help battle principalities and strongholds. A company of Christians you’ve never met are called to your cause; I’m only one in the appointed mix. And an invisible force of angels has been assigned to your spiritual welfare to help carry you through your life’s purpose.
So this blog today is more than another book review, but these titles are spurring standouts. There is much to embrace within the pages. I highly recommend each one.
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.
On my shoulder, I feel… tap, tap… the prodding of the Holy Spirit, along with the words, “The time is 0400 in Davao.”
Oookaaay. I’m perplexed. I also have to look up as a refresher what 0400 means, as I don’t operate on so-called military time. As a courtesy, if you’re like me, that means 4 AM, lol.
Other cities and times are given to me over weeks, maybe months now, at different spots in my days. Even a waking in the middle of the night, I hear, “The time is 12:39 PM in Dubai.” Appreciating better the civilian time, I glance at the clock and had already grown accustomed to looking it up, as if I still needed confirmation. It was indeed 12:39 at that instance in Dubai.
I’m an intercessor and requests of the Lord can be unusual. At first, I wondered what this was about. Then I realized these were all port cities. I asked if God wanted me to pray for these cities; did it have to do with territories, spiritual dominion, what? Then I saw in my mind’s eye distinct lines across blue. These were shipping routes. I began praying, and it led to praying for not just the shipping industry or routes themselves, more so, who works at sea. In some instances, what I was experiencing in “stepping into the shoes of another” so to speak, was rather tangible. And it wasn’t like intense spiritual warfare. This was more like prayers for edification, encouragement, a building-up of the human heart and soul.
Dates are important, and for some reason here, so are clocks. Over the past year, the Lord has taken me into three-month seasonal increments with themes. They are somehow connected, although my human eyes and reasoning cannot tie it all together (yet) but I’ve been through the wilderness, mountains, stretches of desert, and now it seems the ocean. This is my “Period of Rendering” I’ve been told, until Purim, anyway. Not sure I’ll fully know what rendering means, as there are so many definitions. But currently, images, visions, dreams seem to have much to do with the seas, ships, and nautical symbolism. It’s grown strong. Even in my prayer language, maritime terms have flown out of my mouth, including crew positions. I had to refresh my mind on, for instance, what a bosun is and does.
As I’m praying for others, the Lord is also working with me. Although I grew up in a fishing village where a lot of people were about boats and fishing, those in my immediate circle were not. And to say I’ve had a healthy fear of water is an understatement. It’s probably pretty unhealthy. I’ve watched movies like The Perfect Storm, All Is Lost, or Poseidon with abject horror—yet I can’t look away; it’s torture. I’m not a strong swimmer. The idea of cruising the ocean has filled me with dread. I’ve had a PTSD kayaking incident (rescue) in the Gulf Islands. And a recurring nightmare has plagued me most of my life where I’m trapped in a sinking ship.
He’s reminded me that there was a time when he’d asked if I was willing to go to remote places on the earth to share his love for others, and I said yes. Decades ago, I served as a missionary all over the world with an amazing group of people who strove to preserve cultural wholeness rather than changing everybody up. We presented Jesus exactly as he is, a Semite who came for all people. We did cultural exchange programs—and I loved these—where I’d learn the local dances; I’d also teach my Jewish dances, and together we danced and celebrated the glory of God. But the recent reminder here hovered over locations. And willingness. There’s a joke among missionaries, “Yes, God, I’ll go and serve you; just don’t send me THERE.” And that’s usually where God sends you, the place you fear the most. Kind of like Jonah running from his mission to Nineveh then getting swallowed by a whale. As I was thinking about that, I remember when God had asked me to go to some pretty challenging and hard-to-reach places, ministering, joining arts and hearts, planting churches, delivering commodities. So many places, opportunities, tribes, and events.
So the Lord recently questioned me, “Tessa, if the ocean were a mission field and I asked you to go there… would you?”
I think over much of my life, the answer would have been no. Instead, I jumped and shouted, “Yes, Lord! Hineni!” Hineni is a Hebrew term that means much more than “Here I am!” It’s a serious way of giving yourself over to complete availability and total readiness. Wildly abandoned to God’s will. In other words, if you say it; you’d better mean it. And I do.
Water is often symbolic in the spiritual sense of expanding and moving, cleansing and flowing. The important thing is being ready for anything. And trusting wholeheartedly. And this is where God is working on my fear. I was surprised at my emphatic answer. But then I realized, I’m mentally at a place in life where I could give up everything, leave everything and sail, if that’s what he wanted me to do. I know he has my life in his hands and I can face anything. For if he’s beside me, behind me, before me, and beyond me and the horizon, and even below me, then I’ll be all right. Not unlike a lot of people, I’m not void of snags and complicated circumstances that hinder a mission of picking up and leaving if this were literal. I wondered about those details when the Lord gave me a vision. I was holding two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The outline or frame of the puzzle was already laid-out. The Lord had all the rest of the pieces in his hands and he plopped them down within the frame, and suddenly the puzzle was done, pieces put together. I snapped in my two little pieces, and the Lord said to me, his little girl, “Good job! I’m so proud of you,” making me sweetly feel as if I completed the puzzle when he did it all. I took this to mean to not worry about the process or details or how things fit together; he’s got it all, whatever “it” is. Just focus on the big-picture result, and childlike-trust him.
I believe this year will be a revealing of mysteries and revelations. “He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though He is surrounded by light.” (Daniel 2:22). Things that are shifting or have been getting into position in the heavenlies will suddenly fit together in the natural. The weary will burst into rejoicing (hallelujah). And I hear the Lord say, “Thank Me. Thank Me for what I’ve already done.” I just have to interject here that I honestly don’t know why anybody would not want to pursue a Spirit-filled life. It’s spontaneous, meaningful, and exciting. As an intercessor, I sometimes get to live vicariously through someone else and what they do, someone for whom I’m praying.
Speaking of that, apparently, I’m still in the metaphorical maritime phase. Yesterday, the Lord again told me to get ready for my new assignment, and that my future is going to look nothing like my past. Then he said, “Suit up.”
I’m like, “Right on! It’s go-time! I’m ready—wait, did you just say ‘Suit up’?!”
… to be continued
“Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again, you will never come to the bottom of these depths.”—Robert Murray M'Cheyne
is a storyteller, and a transcript editor. She's also a Romans 8:28 kind of Jewish girl ...