Withstand

Withstand

This week, the word “withstand” came to mind during a prayer time. Not a word I typically use. It means, “to not be harmed or affected by something…to deal with an attack or criticism successfully.” Here’s how the Lord unpacked what He was saying to me with a single word.

withstand resentmentIn June, Hollywood star Jim Carrey spoke to ex-gang members in Los Angeles about forgiveness, grace, and Jesus. Watch the 8-minute video here.

Father Gregory Boyle hosted Carrey. Boyle has worked tirelessly to help gang members leave their destructive lifestyle through faith, employment, and choosing to let go of deep retaliatory grudges that have put countless people in coffins. Boyle’s story and the ministry of Homeboy Industries are wonderfully told in his book, Tattoos on the Heart. 

Carrey said. “We have to somehow accept, not deny, but feel our suffering and feel our losses. And then we make one of two decisions… Continue reading

Bucking Heaven

Bucking Heaven

At this point, you might be wondering about my preoccupation with Terry. By telling you these stories, I’m showing you a steep incline of growth in my spiritual journey. After thirty some years of following Jesus, I was just starting to learn about the Holy Spirit. Terry’s illness and death became a marker, a turn in the road, a point of departure.

Old Arch Gate opening to endless country road leading nowhere. Hopelessness and great unknown concept.

Flipping through my old journals, I noticed an impression dated September 30, 1998: “Terry is the timeline.”

Jenny’s prophetic word regarding the prayer meeting for Terry included this phrase:

“The time is not yet ripe.”

What are you saying, God?

When Terry died, some believed we weren’t ready for the ramifications of a major healing. God wasn’t saying no, but perhaps “not yet.” He saw we needed more time and growth to handle the weight of glory.

C.S. Lewis’ classic work, The Great Divorce, illustrates this thought: In a perpetually gray city, representing something akin to Purgatory, the main character decides to take an excursion on a bright bus and arrives at the foothills of heaven. He and his fellow travellers appear as ghosts in the glorious light. wonderful waterfall with colorful tree in thailandAnd while the country is beautiful beyond imagination, the visitors are in no condition to enjoy it. Every blade of grass feels like a sharp knife, the rain like bullets, the waterfall like thunder.

They are not ready for the reality before them.

Solid-looking men and women come to meet the ghosts. They promise them if they enter Heaven properly and travel forward, they too will become solid. As they gain substance, they would experience heaven as wonderful instead of painful.

Back in the 1990s, we were spiritually hungry, but like the ghosts, we weren’t prepared. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We longed to see miracles, signs, and wonders. God set our feet on a path for growth, yet we had a long way to go. We still do. We want to be solid shining men and women, ready for the supernatural power of heaven to manifest on earth.

Then, the Holy Spirit gave me another clue about the process…Continue reading

Finessing Love

Finessing Love

Picture four people at a bridge table. The deck is dealt, the cards sorted.

After a moment, the first bid is spoken. “Two clubs.” It’s a fairly strong pitch.

The next player doesn’t hesitate. “Four hearts,” he says, stunning everyone.

After that, the third and fourth players pass. All three look at the original bidder. Going to five clubs would be over the top, but it could mean less of a loss. A decision is weighed. The outcome remains unknown.

The gist of that scene came from a dream. Because dreams are highly symbolic, think with me about possible interpretations.

Justice and truth are necessary forces in the world.

Justice and truth are necessary forces in the world.

What if Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades stood for different forces at work in our world? Hearts would obviously embody love, mercy, and grace. Diamonds could signify wealth or greed. Perhaps Spades represent labor, as the word is synonymous with “shovel.” Spade, if seen as a spear, might symbolize war. And what if Clubs pointed to the power of government and the rule of law. All these forces profoundly affect the human story.

In addition, bidding in a bridge game determines the trump suit. In the same way, how do forces of love, mercy, grace, wealth, greed, labor, war, government and law shape our lives? Does one trump the other depending on circumstance?

This particular dream highlighted Hearts and Clubs and could portray the tension of love, mercy, and grace—versus—truth, justice and righteousness. The human condition requires that both “hands are played,” but this difficult balance has brought turmoil through the ages.

As believers, our challenge is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Being “just” in our behavior toward others is not the same a bringing justice on others. If we don’t understand the difference, we may get branded as judgmental—a popular adjective, marring Christians today.

Pastor and teacher, Rick Joyner, gave keen insight on that distinction. Continue reading