2020, COVID, RIOTS, AND THE CHURCH

2020, COVID, RIOTS, AND THE CHURCH

June 10,2020

It is 1:00 am and I am wide awake. Not for the first time.

Habakkuk 3A Crisis Hits!

Earlier in this year of 2020, our world turned upside down and inside out when it was hit with a mysterious new virus which then turned practically overnight into a full-blown world-wide pandemic. Some called it a war with an “invisible enemy.” Indeed, it is—in more ways than one. The medical community was trying to learn as much as possible about this new enemy, and giving as much information as possible, but then the media got involved and turned it into a full-blown misinformation propaganda campaign.

By the middle of March, we were plunged into lockdown, forced into isolation from our families, support groups and churches. Some began frantically searching for answers online but were confused upon hearing so many conflicting reports. With everything locked down and fear pouring out of our news sources, several things seemed to be happening at once. The narrative from different medical organizations and doctors seemed to change every day, and those who expressed disagreement with the CDC, the United Nations WHO, and other governmental models, were being cancelled and banned from social media and news.

It began to be clear that over and above what anyone said or felt about this virus, there was something much, much bigger going on and we were being manipulated and pushed into believing the narrative or face consequences—this was and is happening and accelerating.

Preaching the Gospel

When our churches closed, which may have been the most difficult part, God began to show up in amazing ways on the Internet through many wonderful teachers and pastors—we found out we were facing something bigger than most understood, but the Church came alive online and we could see that when Jesus said the Gospel would be preached to the whole world and then the end would come, it suddenly made sense. Online, the Gospel was being preached and the body of Christ was being changed and new lives were brought into the Kingdom of God. The messages that had the most impact were those who were connecting the dots between what was happening on the ground and what the Bible taught would indeed happen in the world as the coming of Jesus drew near, and what our response should be as believers during this time. Those messages were messages of the encouragement we all needed, training and raising up believers to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, to move into position as the overcomers facing a worldwide war. These messages were coming from those who might be called the last days “Children of Issachar,” who according to 2 Chronicles 12:32 had “understanding of the times in which they were living.” There are those today who understand the days in which we are living, as it relates to what the Bible teaches about these very days, and who are able to speak truth into the current situation, without hype or overblown speculations.

The Response of the Church

In the beginning of course, the church as a whole complied with the new rules of the health experts and closed the doors to their buildings, corporately, for the first time maybe in the history of the Church. It was the right thing to do under the circumstances and with what information we had. However from Mid-March until June, the scene changed rapidly and dramatically almost on a daily basis and many churches, realizing that there seemed to be an agenda in singling out churches to keep their doors closed, began to search the heart of God in the matter to see what He would have them do. After being completely closed down, while other venues of commerce were being opened back up, some churches, such as Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, Jack Hibb’s church, felt he needed to really seek out what God would have them do. He said that after much prayer he simply heard the date: May 31. As he shared this with some other leaders in his church, he found that they too had heard that date, and apparently there were other churches in California doing the same. Shortly after, Hibbs announced that his Church would be opening on that day—which unbeknownst to him, happened to also be Pentecost Sunday. The significance of that did not escape him—the anniversary of the birth of the Church 50 days after the crucifixion of Christ. After his announcement, some 3,000 other churches in his state followed suit. They did open on that day and it was an amazing sermon. It wasn’t an act of rebellion against government authorities, it was obedience to God. On that following Wednesday, he held a solemn assembly prayer in his church—a repentant, falling-on-faces before God, crying out for Him, gathering of believers and it was truly awesome. There was no program, no guest speakers, no glitz, lights, or vapor machines to create a mood—it was simply Jack Hibbs on the platform, on his knees, and the entire church engaging in prayer for two hours, asking for God to forgive the sins of the nation, as we read in Daniel 9. It was the body of Christ prevailing upon God as Habakkuk prayed a couple thousand years before “In wrath, remember mercy.” God did move during that service. I joined this prayer time online because it was exactly what I had been seeking and longing for throughout the months of the lockdown. As I spent the two hours in my own living room praying with this group, God moved in me and on me, and I thanked Him that someone understood what was really needed during this whole season of chaos and confusion.

Below the Line/Above the Line

In the midst of what God was doing above the line, here on earth, as confusion reigned, I was reminded in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” This chaos and confusion is not from Him. What is happening is the work of that ancient malevolent battle we call the “Cosmic Conflict,” and it is in full blown operation. I have taught for years that we as believers are privileged to live in two systems: the “above-the-line” system where we can soar above what is happening on the ground, and enter directly into the Heavenly system where God dwells, and begin to understand events through His perception above it all. The other system is the “below-the-line” system where things are happening here in our temporal existence and where Satan, the “Prince of the Power of the Air” operates (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus Himself speaks of it, warns of it, and trains us how to fight in this invisible battle (Ephesians 6). It is an ancient war that has been taking place in the Heavenlies since before time began and we were told it would only increase as time begins to wind down and Satan’s rule is about to end. In this current manifestation of the conflict, there is truly an invisible yet tangible enemy—the Covid virus. But then, it must be understood that behind the scenes, forces of darkness are at work, invading through media, politics, world conflicts, health experts, and now instead of simply learning to deal with a pandemic, people were being tossed to and fro, in fear and panic and sadly, dividing up into little “personal opinion” camps.

But Who Is Behind It All?

A pandemic, fear, panic, chaos, misinformation, lies, and now divisions among otherwise close-knit groups—Oh yes, this was clearly the work of that old serpent, the dragon, the Prince of the power of the air. His fingerprints are all over it. Where are we in the body of Christ?

Just as it seemed the Country could begin opening back up, another war erupted—worse even than the virus. Suddenly the virus took a back seat as attention was turned to another uprising, this time over a police incident where a black man was killed and the country erupted in anger, mob rule, name-calling, violence, looting, burning. Again, the tactics of the enemy became clear—dividing, rioting, accusing, “stealing, killing, and destroying.” Again, where were our spiritual leaders? Who would bring truth against the lies that were being spread? Should we enter the fray, join in the divisive opinions, go out into the streets, get involved in the politics? No, we don’t enter into the fray, we rise above the fray, looking down on the fray from the perspective of God, who is above it all. Step out of the fray and into the secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1), and gather together as one to call upon our God, who alone knows the beginning from the end.

As the word got out that a group of protestors were coming up from Phoenix to hold a protest in our little city, I learned that a local woman I know had been doing what I and others had done many years ago—pray-walking around the courthouse square. She, with a group of college kids from her Church, had been doing this for a few weeks, and I joined them in a prayer gathering at a local park on the day that the protestors were coming to our city. Sitting there on the grass with around 30 others, college students, teenagers, moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, all finally out in the open air, and crying out to God with one heart and one voice, my own heart found what I had been longing for—meeting together, face to face, and going into the Sanctuary of God. It was a breath of clean, fresh, air.

What Is Our Response?

There are many instances in Scripture showing what Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament did when faced with a national crisis. They gathered together, bowing down before the Creator of all things, and moving above the line. King Jehoshaphat, King Hezekiah, and many others found themselves at the end of their earthly resources in the face of critical wars, and they fell face down (“Shakah”), before the only One who has the answers. Psalms 107 speaks this very thing.

We see this in the Psalms many times. In Psalms 73:17 we see King David lamenting that all he could see was trouble surrounding him on all sides—lies, evil, immorality, threats to the kingdom he ruled, and it threatened to overcome him, until, as he writes: “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end” (Psalm 73:17).

Until he went above the line—above the fray—above the cacophony of voices and noise—into the center of the peace of God which passes understanding. There, in that place, God trained his hands for war, gave him His perspective of it all and spoke truth to him. There he met the One who promised “You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”

This is overcoming life. Oswald Chambers wrote that “God doesn’t give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.” Is the Church overcoming in the midst of this war?

Our Precedent—Habakkuk 

I wrote a blog on March 10, four days before we were ordered to quarantine, and it was from the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk lived in a period of time over 2600 years ago, much like the one we are living in now. He cried out to God, wanting to know why things are happening that are happening and why God doesn’t do something about it. He wrestles it out with God and God gives him an “above-the-line” explanation, “I am doing a thing in your midst that you would not understand if it were told you.” That is where we are now. God is doing a thing that we do not understand, but whether we fully understand it or not, we must follow Habakkuk’s admonition in his prayer.

So, this is where I am stationing myself—as the Book of Habakkuk says, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” And the Lord answers: “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” Then He goes on to tell what that is–” bitter and hasty nations who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome…” (He goes on to list details of this). And this is where we are, right now.

From above-the-line, Habakkuk then sees that God allowed this as a judgment on Israel’s sins. Are we being judged for the sins of our nation? Yes, we are. Passages such as 2 Timothy 1:1-8 and Romans 1 give descriptions of what happens when a nation has begun to stray from God: “In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power…” Romans 1 outlines the slow downward spiral of a civilization which begins with men rejecting the truth of God, then worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. It says that God “gives them up,” to uncleanness, in the “lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves; gives them up to vile passions; gives them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…” 

 It is where the nation was when Habakkuk cried out. And this is exactly where we are. God doesn’t bring judgment on a nation or nations, until He sees that the sin has reached a certain measurement. He has shown mercy and grace to us for many years, but at some point He has to say, “Enough!” I felt from the start of these recent events, as did many others, that God Himself had shut down the world and that He was sending the message—“Stop! Return to Me!” It was a window opened into Heaven.

Habakkuk, after listening to God’s answer as to why He is allowing these things to come upon them, prays a beautiful prayer in chapter 1, and now that he is “above-the-line” seeing it all from God’s perspective, he says what I have always considered one of the most awesome things and exactly what God is calling all of us in the Body Christ, to follow: “I will stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” The Lord then tells Habakkuk to write out the vision so that he may run who reads it, and that “the vision is yet for an appointed time” (that usually means that the fulfillment will be at a future day, possibly the end times that we are seeing now), and God says, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” After He lists once more the sins that have forced Him to judge, He ends with “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

How does Habakkuk respond after God is finished speaking? He prays mightily. It seems this is exactly how we must be reacting and responding today:

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to wild, enthusiastic, and triumphal music. O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make Yourself known! In wrath remember love, pity, and mercy…. I heard and my whole inner self trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against my people him who is about to invade and oppress them. Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation! The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hind’s feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make spiritual progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” (Hab. 3:1-2; 16-19 AMPC).

This is my message from God after listening carefully to what He seemed to be speaking to me. This is the truth–all of the other chaotic, fear-mongering, and lying reports that we are hearing must be stored in the secret place of the Most High (Ps. 91:1). We don’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. We don’t go out and march and protest or sit in fear over every news story. We understand exactly what is happening from God’s perspective and then we wait, and we pray, and like soldiers waiting for the call to come, we are on call when He calls, ready to go out at the appointed time.

The Lord is in His holy Temple, let all the earth keep silence before him! Amen.

 

 

 

 

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My Thoughts at Christmas 2019

He is Majesty

He is Majesty

Thoughts on Christmas 2019:

As gently as I can and meaning no disrespect to anyone, allow me to share what some of my thoughts are this Christmas. They may differ from more traditional Christmas thinking, but it seems we are in a season that needs a fresh perspective of it all.

We celebrate Christmas with the baby Jesus in a manger, reading the story from the Gospel accounts which is a miraculous story worth reading and celebrating. But, for the most part, what we celebrate are Christmas “traditions” of trees, presents, Christmas songs, church candle-light services and a lot of stress, stress trying to keep it all intact; keep all of the traditions going, and enough presents under the tree.

Last Christmas, I couldn’t celebrate at all. I had suffered the loss of my precious 16-year-old granddaughter earlier in the year, and then the loss of my Mom, two weeks before Christmas. After her memorial services I made the choice to spend my very first Christmas completely alone. I didn’t decorate, didn’t attend the social events. Instead I got completely alone with Jesus and spent the day in a cocoon of His peace, His presence very near and it was truly one of the most peace-filled Christmases of my life. I think I experienced more of a true Christmas last year than ever before.

This year our country, and yes, our world, is in discord and chaos. Division is everywhere. The President of the United States of America has just been impeached! I have a very close friend who is battling the army of an invading host of cancer cells.

Jesus came, as the Bible tells us, to bring “Peace on earth, goodwill to men!” I once had a Jewish friend tell me that she couldn’t believe in this Messiah because He really didn’t bring peace on earth or goodwill toward men. I agreed, because this earth is actually under control of an evil entity who prowls about “like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” He is a “liar and the father of all lies, when he lies, he speaks his native language,” which is the lie. This is the world we are living in, and more so this year than last, and will be more so next year than this. These are simply the facts. What Jesus gives in fact, is peace or rest for our “souls.” The soul is the mind, will, and emotions. What Jesus promised was “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28). Rest for our mind, rest for our will, rest for our emotions. I can use some of that. We can all use some of that this Christmas.

So, for me this year, I am taking baby Jesus, meek and mild, out of a manger. I am taking beaten and bloody Jesus off of the cross. I’m removing those mental images and I am choosing to fix my eyes on this Jesus—the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah!” The living, resurrected, overcoming, majestic, powerful Jesus Christ:

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’” (John 11:25).

“… (and) declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4).

“… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Phil. 3:10).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3).

“Grace to you and shalom from Him who is and who was and who is to come, as well as from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Messiah Yeshua [Jesus, the anointed One], the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, kohanim [priests] to His God and Father—to Him be glory and power forever! Amen! Look, He is coming with the clouds and every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of Him. Yes, amen!” (Rev. 1:4-7 TLV).

“’I AM the Alpha and the Omega,’ says Adonai Elohim, ‘Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty!’” (Rev. 1:8).

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned, I saw seven golden menoret [candlesticks]. In the midst of the menorot, I saw One like a Son of Man, clothed in a robe down to His feet, with a golden belt wrapped around His chest. His head and His hair were white like wool, white like snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came forth a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at full strength. When I saw Him, I fell as His feet like a dead man. But He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the One who lives. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever! Moreover, I hold the keys of death and Sheol.’” (Rev. 1:12-18).

“After these things I looked and behold, a door was standing open in Heaven. And the first voice, which I heard speaking with me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ Immediately I was in the Ruach [Spirit]; and behold a throne was standing in heaven, and One seated on the throne. And the One who was seated was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow around the throne like an emerald in appearance. … And out from the throne come flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder—and seven torches of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne was something like a sea of glass, like a crystal. In the middle of the throne and around it were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind. … They do not rest day or night, chanting, ‘Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot, asher haya v’hoveh v’yavo! Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts, who was and who is and who is to come!’” (Rev. 4:1-8).

“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, For You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created!” (Rev. 4:11).

“And in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as having been slain—having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth…” (Rev. 5:6).

“They were chanting with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ … ‘To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power forever and ever!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea and everything in them, responding, ‘To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power forever and ever!’” (Rev. 5:12-13)

“After these things I looked, and behold, a vast multitude that no one could count—from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues—was standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice, saying ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne, along with the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen!’” (Rev. 7:9-12).

“Then I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The One riding on it is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and many royal crowns are on His head. He has a name written that no one knows except Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is ‘the Word of God.’ And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword… On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’’ (Rev. 19:11-16)

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a great chain. He seized the dragon—the ancient serpent, who is the devil and satan—and bound him for a thousand years. … Then I saw thrones, and people sat upon them—those to whom authority to judge was given. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Yeshua (Jesus), and because of the word of God.” (Rev. 20:1-4a).

“ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city—the New Jerusalem—coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God. He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer, for the former things have passed away.’ And the One seated upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new!’ Then He said, ‘Write, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will freely give from the spring of the water of life. The one who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’” (Rev. 21:1-5).

“He said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true! ADONAI , the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His servants what must happen soon. Behold, I am coming soon! How fortunate is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’” (Rev. 22:6-7).

“’The Ruach and the bride say, “Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come—let the one who wishes freely take the water of life! I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his share in the Tree of Life and the Holy City, which are written in this book. The One giving testimony to these things says, ‘Yes! I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua!

“May the grace of the Lord Yeshua be with all!” (Rev. 22:17-21).

(Scripture taken from the TLV version and the NKJV version)

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In Memory of Ardara

Ardare 2017For My Beloved Granddaughter, Ardara

Seventeen years ago today, September 23, 2001, two weeks after 911, a beautiful child was born in the neighborhood of Ein Karem, Jerusalem, Israel. She was born in the home of a Jewish believer, a doula, whose name was Pam. Pam and her family had made aliyah to Jerusalem believing that God was calling her to deliver babies in Jerusalem in the last days. Ardara Gail Chinnock was her first delivery. Pam’s house in Ein Karem was next door to what is believed to be the birthplace of John the Baptist.

Another woman from the U.S., Marge, had come to Jerusalem at that time because she believed God had called her to come to Jerusalem to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. She was a Gentile, some 80 years old, and her husband had died only months before. She prayed a special prayer of anointing over this beautiful newborn girl.EK_0162

Ardara Gail Chinnock was born between the Fall Feasts of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to her parents Dane and Tasha Chinnock, who were living in Jerusalem and serving with a Christian ministry there.

I was home in Arizona, having purchased my plane tickets nine months earlier to be in Jerusalem for her birth, July 23, 2001. Then the horror of 911 hit the U.S. and travel to the Middle East, alone, seemed out of the question. My Mother had also purchased tickets when I had, longing to travel to Israel, but the Lord seemed to require that she not go at that time. I was not so led. So two weeks after 911, with my husband’s blessing, I boarded the plane to Tel Aviv. I was one of only three other Gentiles on the plane, the rest were Jewish families traveling to Israel for the Fall Feasts. The three other women were going because they felt God was calling them to travel to Jerusalem to walk the streets and pray for Jerusalem. That flight was a surreal, unforgettable experience.EK_0166

Arriving in Tel Aviv, I saw my son Dane, anxiously searching the faces for mine in the crowd, and our uniting after a year was filled with great joy. We drove straight to Jerusalem and straight to the home of Pam, and to the quiet and peaceful little room where my daughter-in-law, Tasha, lay with my new granddaughter by her side. Everything about that moment is etched into my memory—peace, joy, awe.EK_0146

For the next three weeks I was privileged to travel to all of the places familiar to all who have been on a tour to Israel, with the exception that there were no tourists there. All of the traditional holy sites were devoid of tourists, allowing us to visit and linger wherever we wanted without lines or tourists. At the Garden Tomb we stayed inside for a long time, contemplating all that this meant, and I was able to sit just outside and pray for a while. Traveling to the Galilee (of course Ardara went along on all of our journey’s), was quite an adventure, again, wherever we went we had it almost all to ourselves—the Kfar Naum (Capernaum), the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught, the place where it was believed the Sermon on the Mount was preached and so many other memorable places. No tour buses were lined up, no throngs of tourists standing in long lines. At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Dane and I were alone with the exception of a few Jewish Ethiopian teenagers. We were able to leisurely walk and contemplate while we shed tears.
It was all surreal, being such a short time after the horror of 911 in my own country, and being in the Middle East where a new Intifada had begun with suicide bombers blowing up buses and businesses on the streets of Jerusalem, yet I have never experienced a time of such safety, protection and peace.

EK_0159 EK_0158 EK_0157 EK_0156 EK_0155 EK_0154 EK_0153 EK_0152 EK_0151 EK_0150 EK_0149 EK_0148 EK_0147

I write all of this today in honor of my beloved granddaughter, Ardara, on what would be her 17th birthday. I allow the tears to freely fall today while at the same time, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that six months ago, she saw the face of Jesus and her real life began as He gathered up this precious lamb and enfolded her in His eternal embrace and unfailing love. She is Home. She is really Home and I ache with unimaginable sorrow here, but I know she is safe. Her life will be remembered here, but she only knows perfect peace. I will see her again, more perfectly alive than ever.

I know where she is because she gave her life to Jesus Christ in the middle of the night as a child after having a dream that Jesus was asking her to make sure she was all right. She woke her mom, Tasha, to ask if she was all right and Tasha discerned that it meant she was to lead her to Jesus as her Savior. I will never forget a few days later, here, at one of her sleepovers, as she looked intently into my eyes and told me that Jesus had woken her and she had come to know Him. It was real.

This is her story. Though life became difficult over the next years, this is her real story. I felt it should be told because there is hope. There. Is. Hope. In Christ alone, there is hope.

If you do not know Him, Ardara would tell you right now, face-to-face, that Jesus Christ is real. He is living. She is with Him. And she would shout from the mountaintops to all her friends and family “It is real! He is real!! He is alive! And I am with Him and you can also be alive with Him if you place your faith in Him alone and invite Him into your life.”

I will see you again my beloved baby girl. I miss you awful, my sorrow is nearly inconsolable, but I will see you soon.

I will always love and cherish my memories of you,

Your Grammie.

EK_0165 EK_0164 EK_0163

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A CHANCE TO DIE

I also saw the LordA CHANCE TO DIE

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I also saw the Lord. . .” (Isaiah 1:1)

Every year at the end of the year, I ask the Lord to share His heart with mine so that my prayers, my desires, and my passions align with His. Just before Christmas, 2017, I was in my daily Bible reading coming to Isaiah chapter 6, a longtime favorite of mine. I stopped at the first verse. It spoke to me of the many “Uzziah’s” in our lives—”kings” that die.

There are many deaths that we in our lifetime, will experience.

There is the death of a relationship, the death of trust, the death of a dream, the death of a loved one, the death of an unhealthy attachment, the death of reputation, of self-image. Each death that is permitted into our life by the Lord, must inevitably include, if we allow it, “… I also saw the Lord…”

In the year that _______ died, I also saw the Lord.

With each experience of the tearing away of something or someone dear to us, a piece of us also dies, but even with that death—the death of little pieces of self—the purpose is to see the Lord. To see Him enthroned in the temple, high and lifted up, His robe filling the temple, multitudes of angels surrounding Him crying out Kadosh! Kadosh! Kadosh! (Holy! Holy! Holy!)

Each of these experiences of death inevitably leaves us wounded—scarred—yet never alone.

Never alone.

It is to move closer to the vision of the Lord, high and lifted up—high above the emotional attachments that we hold so dear in this temporal place. It is to say with Paul,

“Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

Every Godly person who has passed through these many deaths throughout the ages has left behind this same testimony—I also saw the Lord. Like a sweet aroma upon the altar of incense that burns continually before the throne of God, they leave behind some mysterious and precious jewel of wisdom which travels down to us through each age, each season.

Amy Carmichael writes of this as she suffered the loss of everything in her life, including her health. She writes:

“One day, in this woman’s hearing, something was said to a younger helper which almost drew from her a flashing, angry remark. But at that moment, a word was spoken to her inwardly: ‘See in this, a chance to die.”

And though spoken inwardly, it was far more clearly heard than many a word addressed to the outward ear.

See in this’—this provoking, this rebuke that should not have been—‘a chance to die.’ To self, and the pride that comes from defending self.

‘See in anything’—anything that rouses you to claim your “rights,’ or even to consider them at all—“a chance to die” . . . .

Welcome anything that calls you to your only true position: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galations 2:20).

A crucified life cannot be self-assertive. It cannot protect itself. It cannot be startled into resentful words. The cup that is full of sweet water cannot spill bitter-tasting drops, however sharply it is knocked.” (Hazard, David. You Are My Hiding Place. 1991. Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN)

Offense in our culture today reigns supreme—everyone is offended, everyone is a victim. We are all so prickly. As someone said to me recently, if Jesus is not offended by something, then neither should I be.

My prayer for this New Year is, in a culture that is now defined by Offense, I will be transformed in my soul to see in all of it, a chance to die. I have a ways to go—as evidenced by the many ways I can be offended and resort to a flashing response before I see in it a chance to die. But this year, I am inviting Jesus to be my first response, as my “self” moves behind Him, and my life becomes what He tells me is “hidden with Christ in God…”

“…for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

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THE TWO HARVEY’S

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This morning my heart is heavy. It is heavy over the terrible fires destroying homes and businesses. It is heavy over the massacre in Las Vegas and over the fact that with all of our technology and supposed high tech forensics, no one can explain how or why this thing happened. It is heavy over the terrible hurricanes and destruction that is ongoing. It is heavy over the fact that in our rapid information world, some of these terrible things remain on the media watch list for only a few days and then they are forgotten. What is happening now in Houston? What is happening in the places where the eye of the hurricane actually came ashore in Texas, or Florida? Does anyone know? What is happening in Barbuda or the other Caribbean countries? Puerto Rico has a virulent feminist mayor who is exploiting the tragedy by lambasting our President every chance she gets and she gets the headlines, but what about the truth—the stories that don’t get reported? The real tragedy in so much of this is that with a media that only reports news that it decides we need to have, we are left with a loss of truth. When we have a media that has lost its moorings to the point that they no longer report news, rather they make the news they wish to report.

And now we have the media hoopla over the repulsive and vile behavior of another “Hurricane Harvey.” This hurricane is a Hollywood mogul who has been molesting and even raping women for decades. Where are the feminists with the pink hats now? A famous Hollywood actress who growled out “I am a nasty woman” during the women’s march was one of those who was sexually exploited by this man and she never spoke out. Dozens of Hollywood stars were attacked by this vile and disgusting man as he undressed in front of them, demanded they perform sex acts against their will in order to further their careers—they never spoke out. They all spoke out during the election campaign and the women’s march, about those who were of a different political persuasion, but now their true hypocrisy is exposed.

Feminism is a sham; it is a hypocrisy and women have been lured into it by other women—women who are exploiting them just as surely and as seriously as the men whom they bow to, whom they perform sex acts with in order to further their career. Is this Hollywood mogul the only predator in Hollywood? Has this not been going on as long as there has been a Hollywood? Why has it been allowed to continue? Why haven’t these women who scream out their feminist ideology ever screamed out against this? Why? Because they allowed themselves to be debased and degraded in order to move up in their careers. It is a two way street. It has required a form of consent—not consent to the acts, but to the silence. Hollywood actresses publicly called this man, Harvey Weinstein, a “god”. He was praised from the platform of the Oscar stage. He was photographed again and again with these actresses draped on him, while in private he was performing shameful and degrading acts with them, on them, and in front of them—against their will. Feminism is a sham and I pray—I really mean that—I pray for the women who have been taken in by it. I pray for the women who have been taken in by the lies that they been spoon fed, not just by men, but by other women.

I am personally glad that this man has been exposed for who he really is; it is about time. But underneath the glitter and glam of the Hollywood machine, there is an underbelly of such slime and darkness—darkness that they have been feeding to the public—darkness that is now showing up and being exposed. I only hope it all gets exposed, that it is not allowed to go under cover again. I only hope that these actresses who have been victimized by this man will see the truth, that the veil over their eyes will be removed long enough to really see the darkness behind it all. And the public, those of us who have been pouring our money into this machine for decades, will stand up as well and just simply say—“No. I cannot use my hard earned money to pay for this debauchery. I cannot pour my money into the gods of this evil machine.” How much of my money has supported this man? How much of yours? We have been complicit in this darkness for too long.

And finally, may I speak about the one and only place where women are truly highly regarded, truly given the respect and love that they are seeking?

I have a God who elevates women. While many of the stories found in the Bible contain lurid accounts of what the hearts of mankind can do to each other, there is Jesus Christ—standing magnificent and beautiful—reaching out His arms to those women who have been trashed and abused. There He is calling on the men who caught the woman in adultery—ready to stone her, “He who has no sin cast the first stone.” And no one did. Because this Man, Jesus, silently shamed them into seeing their own hypocrisy. And He forgave her. There He is hanging on that cross as the women who had been delivered and set free from shame and guilt, who had followed Him along with the men for three years, were the last ones at the grave and the first ones at the empty tomb, and He names them all by name. He knew them by name! He commends Mary of Bethany and writes beautifully and lovingly of her act of sacrifice. And all of this happened in a culture where men had no respect or regard for women. He stood above all of the filth and the hypocrisy and the lies and proclaimed truth. “I AM the way, the truth and the Life.”

I see Jesus Christ, today, reaching out His loving arms to women trapped in cultures where they are treated as dung, and He is setting them free—not just from the culture, but from the shame and the guilt that has been imposed on them.

I see Jesus Christ in 1989, when He met me in my worst sin, my worst self-degradation, and simply said, “Follow Me.” And I did, and I laid down my own nets—the nets of feminism and rights and deep involvement in the phony glitter of the world system and I followed Him. I had been seeking this kind of love and had never found it—not in men, not in career, not in relationships of any kind, and there it was—In Jesus Christ. And I have never returned to that place where I had been held captive.

Put this God—Jesus Christ—side by side with Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood god—and take a good long look. Look at that picture and decide which one you really want to worship. Decide which one you are going to follow. And then by all means—follow Him; allow Him to transform every part of who you are into His image. Follow and find a peace, a love, a freedom that you cannot even imagine until you experience it. No man can take it from you. No man or woman can throw you under the bus again because Jesus stands up for you. Jesus alone can say to you, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” And you will walk away free—no longer having to fight for your rights, no longer slavishly devoted to this fallen world system, no longer suffering the angst of who is in the White House or who is treating you fairly. Free indeed. That is what He offers. And it is free—it will not cost you having to watch a man perform filthy acts in front of you so that you can get ahead. It will not cost you your self-respect—you will finally, for the first time in your life, understand what it is to be loved and respected, even if no man or woman will ever respect or love you again. It is that kind of love. Trust me, I know what I am talking about.

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