When will I stop…

When will I stop thinking,

“Maybe when I’m….. God will…..”
or
“Maybe if I ….. God will…..”
or
“Maybe if I could just …. God would….”
or
“I bet when we…. God will…..”

When I realize that Christ sat down and that His redemptive work is finished, I am brought to 2 wonderful new pathways that lead me to be un-stuck!  (How long we stay stuck declaring, ‘I guess this is the way God wants it to be. I guess when I’m …… He’ll ………’)  What, when you’re more holy, he’ll come through more? When you’re more deserving, he’ll bless you more? When you’re more needy, he’ll answer more? When you’re more sacrificing, you’ll see his power more? When you’re more humble, he’ll exalt you more? He came through, blessed you, answered you, gave you all power, and exalted you in his free gift of offering you to be in Christ, to accept Christ as your free gift provision.

I was reminded of a great truth by a friend today via a summary from Watchman Nee’s The Normal Christian Life.  When a couple–who had trouble with self control when it came to how they treated their kids–asked him to pray for them to have more self-control, he refused. You’ve already got all the self-control you’ll ever need, he told them.  “He has given you all things pertaining to life and godliness,” the scripture says!   HUH? I don’t know how well he explains this in his book, but I know that I sure needed a good teacher of the Word to explain it to me.  Wommack did that for me in his teachings, Spirit, Soul, and Body and You’ve Already Got It.
When I realize His part is done, I can joyfully move through my BEGGING phase and into these two paths!

1)  I can rejoice that He IS coming through RIGHT NOW! He IS fulfilling His promises to me RIGHT NOW!!!  Since His name is Provider, I can stop begging him to provide and start gathering buckets to catch it. I  can ignore my circumstances and use my understanding (and imagination if needed)  to grasp what is really going on and then act and prepare accordingly praying through every hindrance.

One man who finally grabbed hold of this truth was in a desperate situation. He had taken a new job and put his house on the market confident that with the Lord’s help, he would sell the house.  They moved, started the new job, moved into the new house expecting the old house to sell. They felt they had done the right thing for sure. Two years later, they were desperate. The house had not sold. They had begged and pleaded with God, figured God was teaching them patience and trust, gone through every religious interpretation that was given to them… but it took a good teacher of the Word to explain to him what was actually happening according to God’s Word.  Jehovah Jireh (“My Provider”) had not withheld, was not withholding. This man could rightfully praise God for his good grace, for having given to him already past tense (in reality, not theory) everything he needed, which meant (in this situation) a buyer for this house.  WHAT? HUH? That is ridiculous.  That’s like taking something out of the air and having to pretend!?

That would take faith to believe that.

Exactly. Now, this man’s faith did not make it so; his faith just relied on what was already true.

He came home, took two days off, and just renewed his mind thanking the Lord for having sold his house. Not knowing how to pray or intercede, he prayed in the spirit.  Even though he could not see it, and even though his situation looked DIRECTLY AT ODDS with that idea, he decided to interpret his situation according to God’s Word no matter what it looked like in the natural.  After two days, he got a phone call, and the man on the phone said, “My wife and I decided to buy your house the DAY you put your house on the market TWO YEARS AGO, but we’ve had all these hangups. The guy who wanted to buy our house…(blah blah) … the guy who wanted to buy his house … (blah blah)…. But IN THE LAST TWO DAYS, all kinds of things have happened, and we can buy your house now.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

What kind of theology is this? It is believing what God’s Word says is ACTUALLY true, not sometimes true, not I-wish-that-was-in-my-situation-true

So why would God allow the hangups that two days of intercession would overcome? That seems cruel, like a hide and seek game.  God’s Word tells us that “There is one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Our adversary cannot stop us from trusting God and cannot stop God from giving to us, but if the provision is passing through the hands of others, he can hinder them through speaking deception and doubt and fear to them. But now, because of Jesus’ triumph over death and evil, the bible says Satan has been placed “beneath our feet.”  We have authority over his works in prayer.  The scripture says Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and the fact that Jesus told his disciples to cast out devils means that though the authority for this work is finished/established through Christ’s death, it is part of the work at hand today. I am not saying that this man “cast out a devil’…I am saying that the Devourer was at work in his situation and he overcame it in prayer by standing on the truth (which took some imagination, faith, and boldness) and interceding out of his mouth.



2) In his name, I can calm the storm.  Just as Jesus rose up and spoke to the storm … [“You can say to this mountain…”]… and just as “all authority has been given to [Jesus]” and He said, “In my name, you shall… heal the sick, cast out demons…ask anything … “(various scriptures).   Yesterday I was talking to an old friend about all hell breaking loose in her family.  I called just as she was preparing to take her friend to the hospital who had been couch-ridden all day with an intense fever. We prayed for her and within minutes she was up and around and feeling better. People are begging Jesus to show up and DO SOMETHING!… “If only you had come, Jesus,” the friends of Lazarus said.  But Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the father. He now gave you authority to do what He did… in His name, as His ambassador.

A great deception is at work to get Christians to interpret their situation as if God were holding out on them!  THEN THEY’LL NEVER STEP UP, SPEAK UP, INTERCEDE AND MOVE FORWARD!  It is very troubling and sad. The more I see this in more areas of life, I am driven to talk about it out loud.  (“What I tell you in your ear, shout on the rooftops!”)

I have many more examples of how this has played out in our lives in the last two years. If I just went into that much detail about a story I just heard but didn’t live…. you can imagine why I’m not diving into a single example of mine!  Nutshells elude me, and the details matter to me too much…..so.. another time.  The father away from a story I get, the more I can sum up…..  my close friends know this a little too well.

Until next time….

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*(In the Old Testament, when Daniel prayed, the angel sent to answer the prayer explained that he was sent the moment Daniel prayed.  In one instance, the answer came immediately; in the other, it was still 2 weeks… with Daniel praying the entire time.  The angel explained in this case that he had been struggling against an evil spirit in the heavenly realm.  Now, in Christ Jesus, in the New Testament, HE HAS DELIVERED US from the power of darkness, and these hinderers cannot stand against God’s answers of provision as we pray with the authority of Christ (in us.)

 

 

My love-hate relationship with mommy blogging

 

photo(21) copy 5

This was originally published as “Young teaching Young: the Antithesis of Titus 2:3″… words that screamed, “Give me a new title!”
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It’s taken me a long time to figure this out.  What was it about the blogger mom generation that was irking me!?  Yes, I would state Add Mediathe obvious–we know their house is not that perfect every day—we all love to take pictures and glorify our perfect momen—AH, there it went!  But I realized recently that it goes deeper than that.

I began to be amazed that many many of my google searches began to take me to the links of HOW-TO tutorials and good cooking or decor ideas  coming from ….women my age with kids my age.  Now, I am the first to tell you, these things are not my gift, so I was a grateful, humble recipient of all their treasures.  What bothered me was still something else.

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Whatever it takes to stop you…will.

When Zach and I set out to play at the coffee house across from Texas Tech–we had no idea what we were doing.  We had no idea what the context was…nor what the future held. We only knew that we had to play at the little shin dig on the corner. We had to start with the $5 in our pocket.  Just about literally.

We had Friday nights from 8-10.

It was just a few times in, right when we were starting to feel our groove, that something very interesting began to happen.

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Fight, Flight….or Implode(?) …or STAND

This topic has come up for me 3 times in the last two months…talking to different people who are trying to describe the way they are handling (or not handling) very difficult, very real situations. When I learned the simple concept of ‘fight or flight’, it was a dorky thing that a junior high english teacher discussed.  It can be explained in about 10 seconds.  Bam. Easy. Done.  Only later, as adults, do I notice (because I am one to connect to many people’s personal lives) the depths of people’s unresolved questions, their brinks of divorce and insanity, their trapped feelings, and the accompanying medications …of all sorts.

Secular psychology has its terms, and Christians have theirs.

When facing the pressures of life’s very real problems or a threat to the stability you just fought to gain, if you feel you cannot fight it/subdue it, and you feel you cannot run away to escape, then that energy turns in on itself creating a ball of stress that begins to erode the mind forcing it to crack or to alter reality.  When I recently heard someone talk about it in this way, I revisited the tired “fight or flight” concept from my college psychology class.  Where does that ENERGY GO that surges from within…a source of help in times of trouble.  I have felt it lead me to stand and fight in screaming prayer; I have felt it make me hit the bed in a heap of hopelessness, escaping it for a time for someone else to deal with; I have used it to erect boundaries between myself and another (fleeing in self protection), and I have felt it catapult my mind toward its breaking point.  But I have also found it not that simplistic.

Years ago, I read the beginning of Bill Gillham’s book, Lifetime Guarantee.  I have chewed on his metaphors for many years since.

The problem with fear is that it is not always accurate.

If I see a belt on the ground and THINK it is a snake, my body is flooded with a powerful energy preparing me to fight or flee.  But it is based on an untruth.  When I see it is a belt, my emotions do NOT respond immediately.  It is like a BB moving back down a glass of oil, Gillham says.  It takes time.

Many of the things that face me, screaming at me like obstacles, are not based on truths.  My body experiences the fear as real as if I were looking at a snake, but I am only looking at a belt…. a belt that is often planted in my path made to look like a snake to distract me by fear by a liar.  If the bible is true, and I can speak to a mountain and pick up a scorpion, then many of the obstacles that may look as though I must fight, I can simply DISREGARD altogether. My emotions do not tell me the truth. Even as the BB is going down, I can REST and walk right past it, right through it, telling myself, “This is not a problem. ”

In the scriptures, there are many metaphors of both defensive and offensive actions–a war. An adversary.   Putting on God’s Armor, using the shield of faith–and after you’ve done all you can, to stand (Ephesians 6). Who is fighting here? Is God or am I, in his name?  When Moses stood at the Red Sea, saying, Just be still and wait, watch and see, God will fight for you.  God directs him away from that way of thinking and that message and says, Why do you stand there! Take up your staff and hold it over the waters!  Who was fighting? God? Or Moses in His name? Moses was to DO something….lift up the thing that would part the waters. He didn’t have to hold back the waters himself….  it was God’s power, but he had a role to play in it.

At some point in life, you will face something stronger than you.

Sometimes it’s very real.  Sometimes it’s just a lie.  The first piece of armor is the to know the truth (in the passage below.) But you do not have to fight it in your own name with your own strength.  To fight in His name is not just for the semantics of justifying your cause! No. It means to fight with His strength and His protection. In His Armor. 

Read this from the Amplified Translation: (Remember right-standing with God comes by BELIEVING that your sins are forgiven and that you have been given a resurrected life).

Ephesians 6:10

10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].

11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.

18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

 

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

 

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To STAND means to believe that God’s Word really is true…. not wish it, but believe it.  Lord, you said, you would show me answers. You said you would provide. Then I expect that answers and provision are mine right now! HELP LORD!  Then command that mountain to move!

 

I know this is like a drop in the bucket…. but for the people that I talk to on random occasions on the phone who are wading through muck-y trials…. I am urging them along, and we are “starting somewhere.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I finally embraced Facebook

I originally titled this, “Facebook woes and 3 metaphors which settled me”…and what a lame title… but that gives you the gist here.

In five years it’ll be something else. Right now, it’s Facebook. It’s where people are…

When Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, the only publishing option he had was a magazine-like publication that wanted to publish episode-like installments. Dickens didn’t want to do it, but he wanted his writing to reach the masses. What he wrote ended up being put together as the novel masterpiece he had always hoped for and became an American classic. It was where the people were reading.

Those lofty thoughts just aren’t on at the forefront when you’re making seemingly silly decisions of whether or not to blast personal things or deep thoughts on facebook. We get distracted by all the side-conversations regarding a social forum.

For me, I essentially did with Facebook what I did with clothes: while criticizing how others found/put their identity in Facebook, I was establishing my identity in the fact that I did not. External tools/actions with those tools mean nothing –they neither add nor remove my value. I can simply use or not use them.

My relationship with Facebook changed when I began to see it like a PTA meeting.

PTA meetings have always seemed dorky and pointless to me–like a bunch of self-important parents spouting off ideas that no one will ever implement. Yet, now that I have become a parent, I might want to voice my opinion, in the case that there be a shred of significance at work. It’s my kid we’re talking about. Suddenly, I care!

Now, in my first few meetings, I might sit back and watch and learn how this works. And if I speak, I will find my voice a little strange to me, because I’m hitting a new target (talking to a new audience.) But naturally, over time, I’d become more comfortable about HOW to talk to THESE people in THIS setting.

It is neither right nor wrong, good nor bad; I can take it or leave it. But in the end, if I’m willing to give myself a voice-finding learning curve, I will settle in to bring myself in this quirky forum.

So forget the notions of, “I don’t want to come off as…..” or “I just don’t want people to think I’m….”

Just join the conversation or don’t. In your very own voice with your very own ideas, for your very own reasons. And after a few awkward moments with yourself, you’ll finally hear your voice as is sounds in this quirky forum. And you’ll find someone is listening.

For myself, I saw over time that the natural way I was made comes out on Facebook. It is what it is. I don’t care what people think about it; I am being myself. The rooftop shouter in me gets on there and blasts my nut-bombs. It’s all I know how to do, and I’d be doing it whether it was on Facebook or not. It’s the thing I have to give. Call it exhortation….call it flag-waving….call it lame..whatever!

The people I think about and care about are scrolling facebook. And so I meet them there.

If you are off of it, you are free to be off–just don’t find your identity in being on or off. Be yourself wherever you are, and if it’s Facebook, “set [your[ face like flint and know that [you] will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:7

Reach out, respond, engage, by all means have boundaries, enjoy, be fruitful.

If nothing else, let your focus be: I only tell you what I have seen and heard! 1 John 1:3

Somebody will listen to you who won’t listen to anything else. What an honor to be speaking then.

READ MORE {Ministry out of Molehills} posts

Stop Talking About it and Do it

Many times in my life I’ve looked up and found my life a little empty, a little wordy-heavy, thought-heavy without much relationship growth or interaction to show for it.   It seems like I end up thinking, “Well, I know what doing nothing feels like. Now, I have nothing to lose in doing something.” It’s how I started doing music in coffeehouses, how I started helping other people publish, and, come to think of it,  how I fall into most conversations with people.  I know what it feels like to say nothing, do nothing and come up empty.

I helped my dad establish his cross making ministry on the web. He designed a logo; I just put the pieces together.  I have done the same thing for several of my friends’ parents.  Because I have a relationship with them, they are willing to let me help them fulfill their goals and dreams online–big and small.

Tonight I spent a few hours with a friend’s parents who are building two websites of pictures and stories of their rock band days, making old songs available online as free downloads, etc.  To me, it’s a few hours and a few logins, a few uploads. To them, it is part of their lifetime dream realized.

minton sr manila

He brought everything in two manila folders–all the pictures scanned, all the songs moved from tape to digital format, all the text written.  This bad boy is ready to put up in a one-stop-shop.  When I showed him the drafts I had made, he fell in love. A big weight off my shoulders (mostly because I don’t want to revise.) It fulfills me to no end to know that a few clicks on a computer for me can mean so much to someone else.  I know the thrill of putting my hand to the works in my heart.  I know the thrill of moving forward.

And I’ve learned find the thrill in saying,”I take care of three children all day long.  I hope your deadline is far far far away.”

And of making a little money. 😉

I think my point is this: nobody is the best at anything. All you have is what you have.  You can either hold it, hoard it, fake it, or flaunt it ….or you can just offer it, and DO it, just like it is, just as you are.  Or do nothing, give nothing….and then have nothing to show for it.

So many people have given time and energy to me.  I want to be the kind of person who can do things for others, too.

 

 

Pleasing Our Parents & Kiki’s “Beauty Inside”

I landed on the couch today, refusing to rush for anyone. I was having that kind of moment. I couldn’t bring my brain back to normal, and I felt the use of music would be futile… just taking me into the soul realm–which was precisely where I felt trapped.  (Not that music isn’t spiritual.)

I craved Kiki’s album. No time to find it. So I went to her website, scrolled to the bottom music player and hit play. http://www.kikiebsen.com

It brought me back down.

I sat there and held my happy baby who was standing up on my sitting legs and just took some deep breaths.

Kiki is neither a powerhouse nor an understatment.  Since she produces her music, I don’t feel its decade. So it has an unassuming, gentle timelessness.  She has a had a successful touring career as a pianist for Christopher Cross and Wilson Phillips and does that to this day as well as running an Equine Healing Ranch out of her home in California.

We became friends through a chance gig in California when I lived there.  Being a songwriter, her stories (like mine) are on her tongue, and I soon learned about her upbringing as the daughter of the famous actor Buddy Ebsen (Beverly Hillbillies), and we bonded in our mutual respect for each other’s music. She came to TN for a few shows, which Zach and I played and sang with her on, including a writer’s round which introduced me to her friend Charlie Peacock.  (That was a big night for me!)

I have heard these songs a hundred times. I pull out each cd about once a year and wear it out, playing it over and over and over… Zach will tell you it’s true.

But tonight it was “The Beauty Inside”–the 4th or 5th track that plays on her site– that hit me hard. I had never connected to the song very deeply (and I knew I ‘should’ have because it was the title track.)  But tonight it finally got through. I was deep in relaxation by the time it played, and it hit me deeply.

“Can’t you see I was not put here on this earth just to make you so incredibly proud. I hate my reflection of you in me, this tainted perception of who I should be in your world of perfection. All I needed you to see–the beauty inside of me. All dressed up in christmas bows, pretty boxes in a row, sitting on a shelf…. so as not to call attention, 1 falls off the cupboard shelf, another falls in spite of itself, the others left to fend for themselves and the wrapping falls apart. ”

It is universal from generation to generation. We are entrapped and enslaved by the desire to please our parents… though we live in a different world than they lived in, with different talents and qualities than they had, different circumstance, different spouses, different children, on and on.   It FEELS so strong, that we assume the pull must be legitimate.  But they feel the same pull from their parents. It’s terrible. And finding it here in this song, really yanked me from down deep with a, “Joni! GET OVER IT! They can’t be your source of affirmation! Let it GO!”

Our parents are limited, just like we are, with one slice of skills/talents, created like no one else, and they’re lucky if we ever grasp their value, much less they ours.

Anyway…. that was my afternoon.

A quiet moment is never lost in my world. Thank God that a moment to breathe brings glimpses of new freedoms into view.

Thank you, Kiki.