Mute Dogs

“Why are the dogs set to guard the sheep if they cannot bark to waken the shepherd and frighten the wolf?” -A 17th Century minister

I can honestly say I have never paid as much attention to the following passage as I did today:

“Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep! They are dogs with mighty appetites, they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding, they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.” -Isaiah 56:10-11

My God, My God, what an eye opener. First God speaks to me through others about discipleship and shepherding, then He begins to drill into me about radical trust, and then… then He speaks to me once again about the watchmen. The first time I heard the prolific call for the watchmen was at a small gathering of worshipers who were invited to a sit down with Don Potter. He spoke about the worshiper’s creed in Micah 3 and what our mandate is as according to Jacob’s house, and in accordance with the duty of worshipers at the foot of the mountain where David’s tabernacle stood. At one point I found myself looking up from my Bible and notes when he spoke about how all of it was derived from being watchmen. Some are classified as lookouts, others… guardians, and even others warriors. But, all in essence were and are one in the same.

What an amazing expectation to hold up to, don’t you think?? But, then I look back at the above passage mentioned, and my eyes still grow wide with the increased understanding and revelation of the passage. To understand the passage, I might need to take a step back and at least give a brief run down of preceeding passages leading up to the one mentioned here.

An instance of restoration for Israel was taking place in the form of a vision. Israel had fallen into a spiritual stupor that had opened the doors to both spiritual and physical attacks. They had turned their backs on God, living their own lives, in their own ways. Forgetting the convenant that had been set forth between the nation and God.

It was kind of like the Revelatory passages where one of the seven churches are acknowledged for their spiritual successes, and then quickly leads to their failures, by it being said… “But, I have this one thing against you…”

God revealed that Israel WOULD be restored and their future glorious, BUT He could not allow their spiritual stupor to go unpunished! This is where the passages started leading to vs. 10-11 of Chapter 56. The watchmen of Israel were described as always dreaming, but forever sleeping. They loved to sleep! There’s a reason why the Word chooses this phrase, I believe. It’s not enough to dream, folks. We have to awake and act on those dreams; otherwise we are nothing but “blind” fools full of “ignorance” and complacency. The watchmen (the leaders) of Israel were described as such. I like this one entry I read after doing a little research, and it was said, “their leaders were depicted as shepherds with no discernment, acting like the very sheep they were supposed to lead.”

It reminds of a curious phrase I heard once… “Never expect God to do for us, what we are not willing to do for ourselves.” The people had become wasteful, and had fallen into severe stupors of spiritual complacency. I imagine that for many, the idea that the convenant was a “get out of free jail card” was their ticket to such a religious spirit and complacency. Reminds you of anyone else we may know? I digress…. My father was Roman Catholic — so trust me when I say, I have the right to say it. But seriously, no offense intended… just simply… putting out the truth.

If you are not willing to live a righteous life, do not expect God to move in you as if you were. If you are not willing to be the watchmen God has called all of us to be (on different levels, and in different ways) then do not expect God to make you anymore effective than you probably already are. God was furious with the watchmen of the nation. They were blind, greedy, religiously prideful, and spiritually, just plain, stupid.

What a dreary depiction made about the watchmen in v10. “…They are all mute dogs, they cannot bark…” I was curious about the meaning of that particular description — mute dogs that cannot bark. Interesting statement! Evenmore, what an interesting answer to the question. One 17th century minister had his own answer, by asking a question himself: Why are the dogs set to guard the sheep if they cannot bark to waken the shepherd and frighten the wolf?

Every light bulb and blinking signs of “Eureeka” came popping up in my head. The blind watchmen wasn’t so much about the leaders, as it was about the people…. the believers that did not stand, cry out, and awaken their shepherds that were watching over the flock against the attacks of the enemy. It’s like the worshipers and watchmen at the bottom of the mountain at David’s tabernacle. Their ONLY job 24/7 was to worship. As worshipers they were their to glorify God, as watchmen, they were there to fight against the enemy with praise. They were guardians, seated at the bottom of the mountain, where David knew they were the front line defense (spiritually) to the tabernacle.

The watchmen, the leaders, had all but miserably failed in their dutiful positions, and it angered God. The enemy (in the case the Babylonians) had been allowed to push forth and conquer Israel because of their complacency.

I personally don’t want to be like the blind watchmen. I don’t want to be a disciple or shepherd with no discernment, acting like the very sheep they are supposed to lead. I’ve seen what that does, and it’s not pretty. I don’t want to be blind, a watchmen with no bark, with no discernment of impending danger. Without the ability to warn my shepherds, and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Been there, done that.

Reformation is a good thing.

I love you, guys!
“This above all to thine self be true.”

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Radical Trust

This weekend has been pretty darn good if I might say so myself!  I’ve been spending a lot of time in worship and the scriptures, and felt the strong necessity to do some character studies on certain individuals in the Bible.  There was a common theme with every single individual I did the study on…. Trust.  And not just any kind of trust. RADICAL trust!

Different individuals, different lives, different circumstances, different failures, different successes.  And, I felt God continuously revealing the same common thread in each one that I was putting down on paper and studying.

Radical trust…
Radical trust..
Radical trust.

David, Solomon, Joshua, Jehu, Paul, John, Ruth, Joseph, Micah… the list goes on and on.  Whether the were an Isralite or not.  Whether they put their faith in God, many gods, or none at all. There was something to say about the faith and radical trust they had put in God or for a few of the individuals noted in the Bible, “The God of the Israelites.”   Whether it was a lifetime or one single moment that changed their lives forever.  Whether they were considered lowly servants or great kings.  They all had a radicalized kind of trust that was immeasurable, uncommon, and powerfully influential.

My studies began with the attempt to learn more details about individual lives, and it quickly begun to turn into a study of my own life.  God was trying to show me something.  Teach me something about myself and my walk with Him.  Is it enough to simply have faith in God and His Word, or should I be daring and “bold as a lion,” and radically trust in Him, so much so, that my faith is a demand for unwaivering, undivided attention as His beloved daughter, and my servant’s heart towards Him.

I think for many Christians, we feel guilty desiring to ask God for things — regardless of what that request may be.  Asking for ourselves seems terribly selfish to many of us.  We rather say, “Bless my family, my neighbors, the poor, God!”  Than to say, “Bless me, with immeasurable blessings and favor.”  But, I’m here to say that there is no shame or guilt, in not only asking God, but radically demanding His undivided attention to our requests.  I think it is what He is looking for. What He is waiting for.  The boldness to ask, and the RADICAL trust to fulfil those requests.  No matter the timing, no matter the way it happens, or how.  That’s where the “radical” comes into play.

There’s a wave of a new type of generation coming forth where our youth are standing firm in ways that has never been imagined before.  Don’t get me wrong!  Their focus is on changing the lives of others — their communities, their country, nations.  But, recently I’ve noticed that their prayers are turned inward so that they may be effective outward.  Their demand for a breaking in the heart’s and mind’s of others, is so intense and so influential, it’s like flames… alive… and raging.  Ever moving foward, never dormant, never complacent in its motivation or reasoning.  I want to be at a point where there is no reasoning.  Ride hard, ride fast, with NO hesitation.  I move, because I simply do.  Because it is what God desires.  To radically trust Him so much so, that there is no second thought given to pushing forward, and never looking back.

There are those that ask daily (even some hourly), demanding for the floodgates of revival and reformation to happen all across this country and throughout the world — but they also know that it HAS to begin with them.  And they live their lives, as normal.  Go about their jobs, their relationships, their families, knowing and radically trusting God WILL move.  It’s what He wants.  He doesn’t want us to simply trust Him.  He wants us to be so feverent in our demands for Him to COME and MOVE, that we will RADICALLY trust the manifestations of our beliefs in Him and His glory.

Such radical trust brings a hunger and thirst for MORE.  More of God.  More of His awesome power.  More of His glory.  More change.  More tearing down and breaking of walls — spiritually and physically.

I have a tattoo that reads the following in Hebrew: Consecrated by God. Saved by Jesus. Reformed by the Spirit.

I just recently had the tattoo done, but it has been a longstanding testament, acknowledgement, and prayer in my life for almost 10 years now.  My surname means “Consecrated by God,” and I truly believe that before my parents EVER met, God’s will, desire, and hand on my life had already been formed — had already been consecrated.  I was born into that name, and I believe wholeheartedly I was born into it for a reason.  “Saved by Jesus.”  I acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the ONLY thing that can save us, just as He is the only thing that saved me.  “Reformed by the Spirit.”  It was, is, and will always be my prayer for a revolving door of reformation in my life.  You are never too young or too old to learn.  We will never STOP learning.  We will never stop being taught the mysteries of God.  The life we live, is a life meant to glorify God, make disciples by way of the Gospel, and radically change the world by radically changing OURSELVES.  That venture is never complete.  It just grows and grows. A continual process of feeding your Spirit-man and learning how to not just follow, but ultimately how to lead, walk, and exist in God’s glory and powerful Will for ALL of our lives.

Reformation is nothing something you ask for.  It’s something that is birthed from the moment you accept Jesus into your heart.  It begins the moment that you make that decision that your life is not your own, and that you are willing to radically trust God to move not only in your life, but through your life for the sake of others.  And He will — radically so.

I love you, guys!
“This above all to thine self be true.”
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Oh Happy Day!!

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I had a three day weekend coming up.  Honestly, I was more than pleasantly surprised… I was THRILLED!

I’ve been praying all week about how I was tired and needed a break.  It turned out that I had worked 40 hours in a 3 1/2 day period this week – something unbeknownst to me (I just knew I was T.I.R.E.D!)

So imagine my surprise when I get a call asking me to head on out this afternoon because according to their systems I had just hit 40 hours (apparently 40 is the max…. period – end of discussion – that’s all there is to it, folks!).   When 2 o’clock came around, the call came in for me to call it a day!  So I got to spend some MUCH needed quality time with the puppy!  Again… thrilled!!!!!  Here’s to Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday for some REST!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!!  I sure think I will!

I love you, guys!

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Because You Ask Not

Okay not trying to ruffle feathers, and it’s not like this hasn’t been said before from many many others; but this was just a thought today as I was reading out of James, and I’ve always loved reflecting on the v4:3.  In that verse, God explains that we do not receive because we do not ask.  Perplexing?  Perhaps to those who keep asking, but may not be receiving.

The Amplified explains it a bit better.  It says, “[or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives.  Your intentions [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.”  A bit more plainer huh?  But you are thinking right about now, wish that hadn’t explain it so well!  Well, it’s pretty clear cut.

God promises to meet ALL our needs.  What we need and what we want are two different things.  Now this isn’t to say that God won’t gives us what we want.  Quite the opposite!  God desires to give us our heart’s desires, as well.  But, the question is, what is the intent of your heart?  When you ask God for something you want, is it to benefit yourself or others?

“God, I want more money, so I can get a bigger house.”  God would love to answer that request, to present you with that blessed gift, but the question is… why do you want the bigger house?  Is it because, you think it’ll get you in that better neighborhood?  Or for the prestige?  Or for the comfort, and the big kitchen and yard?

God will always want to meet your needs, before He meets your wants.  I truly believe that.  But part of being human, is to cultivate our hearts and desires (it’s how He created us!); so therefore He is thrilled to give you your heart’s desire (your wants).  The trick is not to so much ask God what He can give and do for you, but what he can give and do for another through you.  How does your larger house benefit the kingdom?  How can it impact your life and the lives of those in your neighborhood?  How does more money benefit the kingdom?  How does the new job benefit the kingdom?  Don’t get me wrong… a larger house, more money, a better job, can all be good things.  It’s just a matter of God’s will, timing, and you desire to see that God’s gifts to you aren’t a benefit to you as much as it is a benefit for others.

Pray for that bigger house, but may it be a prayer for the house that can hold more people, so that you may love on them, fellowship with them, and help them when the need so arises.  Pray for that better job, but may it be that God has said your season there is up, that all that you could have done ministry wise has been completed.  Often times there is someone right there in your work place that could use a bit of love from Jesus — and God can put us in the position to be that  vessel to work His miracles through!  Pray for more money!  There is no such thing as money is evil!!  It is the greed of man that gives it a bad rep, and can turn people inside out.  You want more money?  Pray for it, but may it be a prayer asking God to increase your store house so that you may invest more into the kingdom and the lives of others.

Just a thought.

I love you, guys!

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The Cost of Discipleship

I’m not a fan of everything Dietrich Bonhoeffer had to say, but there are some things that were just the plain truth.  If anything, Bonhoeffer was a man that stuck to his beliefs, and proved that he would make the ultmiate sacrifice despite a good many being against his voice.
The book, “The Cost of Discipleship,” has received both criticism and acclaim, for its theological ideas on God, Christ, and the role of the Christian in specific.  Much of the criticism was received however, after the 60s movement that had twisted much of his words to mean nothing more than how to operate as a so called “believer” without much effort put into true salvation through Christ.  Bonhoeffer never intended that to happen, but nonetheless, like much of today (including the SBNR movement), it served as the enemy’s way of counteracting true reformation and hard-thinking within the Church Body. Though I don’t agree with everything Bonhoeffer had to say, I do agree that some of his words and full meanings have been twisted over time.
Anyway, I’m not here to debate him, I’m here to speak on a small but powerful passage he wrote in one of his books.   Discipleship is the key to real change, and real reformation in the church.  It can heal, restore, and reform an entire generation and bleed over into the generations that come after.
I love this quote that is found in the above mentioned book:
If the world despises one of the brethren, the Christian will love and serve him. If the world does him violence, the Christian will succour and comfort him. If the world dishonours and insults him, the Christian will sacrifice his own honour to cover his brother’s shame. Where the world seeks gain, the Christian will renounce it. Where the world exploits, he will dispossess himself, and where the world oppresses, he will stoop down and raise up the oppressed. If the world takes refuge in lies, he will open his mouth for the dumb, and bear testimony to the truth. For the sake of the brother, be he Jew or Greek, bond or free, strong or weak, noble or base, he will renounce all fellowship with the world. For the Christian serves the fellowship of the Body of Christ, and he cannot hide it from the world. He is called out of the world to follow Christ.”
It’s ONE of the truest, most sincere things I’ve read from him.  It rings true to how the Body is supposed to effectively operate within the church and most importantly outside of it within the community.  But, I love the following line the most: “If the world dishonours and insults him, the Christian will sacrifice his own honour to cover his brother’s shame.”  WOW!  Now maybe this hits me so hard, because it’s something I’ve been experiencing, and trying my absolute hardest to do lately.  I’ve been punched, beat down, kicked, and burned in recent weeks — or at least… it has certainly felt that way.  I’d be lying if I said there had been some part of me (small, but nonetheless there) that desired at one point to return the favor.  Not very Godly, nor “Christian-like,” nor spiritual, huh?  I would tend to agree.  My flesh kicked in so hard the first few days after what I had faced, I didn’t know if I was coming or going!
But, I’ve tried to maintain some form of sensibility, relinquishing my pride, and felt the persistent tug by my Spirit-man to “let go and let God.”  I felt God telling me that the shame was mine to bear, not because I should be ashamed for something God had already restored and freed me from and had been covered under the blood, but so that my brothers and sisters in Christ who played a role (no matter how big or small) may not be brought to shame because of my own desire for vindication and redeemption in the mist of what I myself had been put through.  Now, the words of Bonhoeffer in this particular quote wasn’t referring to specifically Christians perse, but to a ANY man (saved or not) and how a Christian should act and respond accordingly to said man.  But it applies nonetheless.
You see, I know my past as a child and as a teenager.  I know the shame that followed, where I actively and knowingly deceived others ( one individual in particular) because they showed TRUE discipleship and love; and it frightened me.  For the first time in my life did it really begin to sink in, when I was told it was “not [my] fault.”  Now I had heard it all before, but this was different.  These weren’t family members, or family counselors, or childhood friends.  This was a Christian woman who sacrificed much for the benefit of my own restoration.  It scared me senseless, because she TRULY understood.  That was something I had NEVER truly encountered before, nor thought it was even a possibility.  And so in my mind, it seemed feasible to create a bubble so fantastical that she could no longer touch the truth and pain of my life; and in some effort I had hoped it would make her run from me and abandon me.  But she did not leave.  She did not go.  She stuck by me even with the knowledge that she knew that my truths were half-truths, because she understood it was fear and an effort to guard my heart because I could not trust.  I did not truly learn that restoration was possible and attainable, and that the thinking of how emotional and physical abuse, and what can result from it, did not have to rule my life until I was in my 20s!  And that occured with my first TRUE encounter with God that came with conviction, repentance, and forgiveness from the one I had hurt the most because of my past that contained a damaged and broken heart.  A past that made trust, a risk not worth taking.
So here I was, nine/ten years later, being forced to face a past that had been covered by the Blood (repentance, forgiveness, restoration and a turning away from said sin), and I had a choice to make.  Turn and fight, like a wounded animal cornered by its attackers in pride and hurt and anger, or weigh and risk the cost of true love and discipleship.
Don’t get me wrong… this is not ego speaking.  Please believe me, it’s not.  And every side has their stories.  I can only share my own.  This is not some form of me saying, “Well I’m the better person, because I took the high road.”  That has nothing to do with it; and I can tell you right now that thought wise, I certainly have been struggling on taking the high road!  I’m not talking about self, folks.  I’m talking about the Word and the actions we take as a result of it.  I’m talking about listening to that small voice that tells you — instructs you — in how to behave, and react, and in how to face your troubles head on WITH LOVE.  And not independently, but co-dependently with God.
I say co-dependently, because are we not in coopeartion with God, when we conciously make the effort to allow Him to take the yoke?  Is it not by our choice (the second greatest gift God gave us, the first being Jesus) to allow God to move freely in our lives, that we cooperate with God to move more effectively in and around us?  Do we not co-dependently work with God, if we were to follow such demands of discipleship (as quoted above) without thought to ourselves, but only for the sake of others?  One of the pastor’s of my church ends every blog entry the same way… “None of us live for ourself.”  That, my friends, IS true discipleship.  When you can learn to set aside and sacrifice yourself for the sake and love of another.
It sounds cliche, but I’ll say it anyway… “It’s all about love.  Love, love, love!”  Christ has called each and everyone one of us to be a disciple.  It is no coincidence that his Sermon on the Mount encompassed, through and through, one single notion… LOVE.  Everything that we are to be, everything we are to accomplish, can only happen when we learn to love.  And loving any and all people, with a sacrificial type of love, is part of being a disciple.
I’ll leave you with this —
Read the quote from Bonhoeffer again.  And now, again.  Now a third time, for good measure.   Ask yourself, do you know the cost of being a disciple?  If so, have you made that cost and actively making it even now?  If not, go back to the Word, and read it, again and again, until you are not only familiar with the Words of Christ — the Words of God; but that you eat it, consume it, and allow it to consume you.  Go to 1 John, Hebrews, Romans, Matthew 5!  See if it does not change the way you think.  You will, and you should.  You will see a change in how you look at your friends, your family, yourself, your church, and your community, and most importantly… God.  You’ll find yourself re-evaluating your priorities, and then soon the “cost of discipleship” won’t seem like much of a sacrifice at all.
Think about it.
I love you, guys!
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The Nature of God’s Forgiveness

I had a long talk with a friend the other night about condemnation.  She asked me questions, that biblically I knew the answer too, but on a more personal level, even I had to constantly bring reassurance to what the Word says versus what my mind would say.  It made the talk… difficult.

You know how you can know the answer to something, repeat it to yourself over and over again, and yet… when test day comes, you fail to pull it out of your memory banks?  Your mind draws a blank.  You repeat to yourself, over and over again, “But, I know this!”  But still nothing comes.  The conversation was much like that.  I identified with this person quite well.  Perhaps, too well.  I understood what they were going through, and emotions being drawn from my own experiences were overbearing to say the least, and in some ways was blindsiding me.

This morning, Danny White, from Anointed Fighter wrote a great piece on “Condemnation vs. Conviction.”  The title alone drew me in like a moth to the flame.  The subject of condemnation had been on my mind since the talk a few nights prior.

What struck me so hard, was how White defined condemnation.  It was kind of that Eureka moment.  One of his definitions was that in a nutshell, condemnation was something where you are constantly getting punched with the problem, but it avoids the solution!

Then he follows it up with this:

Jesus did NOT come to condemn the world (John 12:47).  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  Satan on the other hand is KNOWN for kicking Anointed Fighters with accusations (Rev 12:10).

I say this time and time again on this blog, and I will continue to do so, because that’s why it is here.  It’s drawing from my own experiences, blogging them, and hopefully end up helping others (as well as even myself) along the way.  More than ever before have I noticed how we are a people in need of love intermixed with Godly sorrow (conviction; Isaiah 30:18), and not that of condemnation born from the actions of man and not God.

White explains that, “Conviction shows you the answer (the Blood of Jesus, which washes away sin), while condemnation shows you the problem (the sin, the past and your failures).

Condemnation shouts, “Your past! Your sins! You loser!” But convictions shouts, “The Blood of Jesus knocks out sins…. Your sins and past don’t have to be a part of you anymore!”

When your past sins are brought up and displayed, it isn’t the work of conviction by the Holy Spirit, but condemnation from the enemy.  It’s his way of holding you down, holding you back, hindering, and destroying you.  But see, if your past is covered by the Blood, then it is covered, and God has promised freedom not bondage (which comes from said condemnation).  The enemy wants nothing more than to beat you down!  If you’re down and out, you’re no threat to him; and this is why he does everything possible to destroy your life — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  He’ll use your past, your feelings, your friends, your family, anything and everything to draw you away from God and your spiritual walk.

To combat the lies from the enemy, and to counteract the deception that he uses to sway us from the Truth (the Word of God), it is important to understand something that White conveyed perfectly; and that is, to understand conviction and the Godly love it is birthed from, you must understand and recognize the nature of God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Isaiah 30:18).

The enemy will try to use condemnation and mask it as conviction.  But, do not be deceived!  Seek the Wisdom and freedom found in God, and the Holy Spirit will show you HOW to not only face your problem(s), but how the Blood of Jesus, can wipe it away.

Love you guys!

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Congratulations (Doodle 4 Google)

Congratulations to Makenzie Melton for becoming the national winner of the Doodle 4 Google contest!  Yay, Makenzie!!!

Makenzie was selected from over 33,000 other entrants to come out on top.

Way to go, kiddo!!  Now go out and make a difference!

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