Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last Bedroom on the Right

So yesterday one of the women in charge of my internship told us this year is going to be a year of stretching, that however much we thought it was going to challenge us, it’s going to do so even more. She said it’s not her intent to make us uncomfortable, but it is her intent to help us become Christ-like, which means discomfort is going to be part of the package.

It made me think about how I probably landed in the hardest bedroom in my house. First it’s the only bedroom in the house with two extra beds in it, which means whenever there are extra visitors our room occupancy grows from two to four, something which could be in flux for a while. Secondly, I don’t deal well with drama, and God gave me a roommate that screams at bugs and spends a half hour trying to work up the courage to dip herself into the pond when we go swimming. Drama Queen with a capital D.

I know the truth, that she is a daughter of the King, that she’s in desperate need of extravagant love and the chance to mature in a safe environment, one her parents probably never provided. I know in a lot of ways she doesn’t know better. She’s never had any other way of living modeled out for her. I know she can’t change all at once, and if I think hard I can recognize small ways she’s already changing. However, knowing the truth still doesn’t change the fact that sometimes she’s hard to live with. On the way to the pond this afternoon I heard her say that she’s never heard me complain about anything, and I wanted to turn around and say, well why don’t you give it a try?

But I didn’t. Instead I’m writing this and becoming very much aware of my own sense of pride—pride that I don’t dwell on the negative, pride that I’m not as shallow as she is, as paranoid, as insecure. If I’m brutally honest, I’d have to admit that I’ve thought I’m better than she is, which is an untruth of the highest degree. Because the real truth is that I’m only the way I am because of the abundant grace of God. We’re both on a journey, and it just looks very different for both of us right now even though our paths are intersecting to use the same dresser and bathroom. And my immediate journey is that God is going to use her to strip me down again, to reveal another layer of selfishness in my heart and ask me to surrender. And that’s a gracious thing for Him to do, because I want to be a part of her story, to live in a way that brings her life and not death, to be compassionate and show her there’s a different way to view life than the way she’s been taught. Abba, fill my heart every morning with eyes to see her as you see her and the grace to surrender my will to your Spirit, because I know, if let on its own, my stubborn heart is going to kick and buck for its right to freedom and a pasture all its own.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

B is for Binding and Loosing

Most commonly in the Christian world, the idea of binding is associated with immobilizing the demonic. Demons are bound and the Spirit of God is loosed. However, in reality the kingdom works in reverse. Let me explain.

There is one definition of the word bind that can mean “a temporary tying up,” but this is not a long-term solution. If you study Yeshua and His treatment of the demonic within the gospels, He doesn’t bind. He is more concerned with permanently destroying the works of the devil rather than entangling them up in knots from which they can later work themselves free. The real definition of the word bind is to tie together, knit, be in bonds; fasten or wind together; to obligate yourself. In other words, to take two things and make them as one.

The root of the word loose does not carry the assumed connotations of setting free in the sense of being released from confinement. Rather it means to cast away like a filthy garment, to destroy it, to dance upon it until it melts away.

If this is true, the last thing we want to do is bind demons to ourselves and send the Holy Spirit packing. So the second part of our daily liturgy is to bind ourselves to Yeshua, to ask Him to weave our spirits into His, to make us one.

Lord, I thank You that my spirit is bound to the Holy Spirit. In the name of Yeshua, I bind my mind to the mind of Christ. I bind my will to the will of God. I bind my emotions to the heart of my Father. I bind my imagination to God’s imagination. I bind my physical body to excellent health and prosperity that I might fulfill the destiny God has for me. In other words we ask that we can think as Yeshua thinks, feel what He feels, envision what He envisions, draw our hearts into alignment with His will.

Then we cast away the things designed to hinder our hearts. Yeshua, I loose all fear, doubt, unbelief, shame, guilt, intimidation, a spirit of religion and performance, stronghold thinking and behaviors, distractions… the list can go on. You fill in the blank. I love to think of throwing them out into a muddy street in the middle of a rainstorm, of dancing on them until they are swallowed up into the earth while the rain pours down on my upturned face to wash away any evidence of the effects they were ever there.

In the context of answering the Pharisees by what power He cast out demons, Yeshua describes, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” (Luke 11: 21-23)

The strong man is a spirit of self-protection. He is guarding his own home, or in spiritual terms, his own heart. But we weren’t designed to be our own protectors. It only causes our hearts and minds to shut down, to build protective walls, to shut people out or lash out in fear, something I have experienced before. But in this passage someone stronger attacks and overpowers the strongman. Attack is a faulty translation because in the original language it means simply to arrive. The mere presence of Yeshua, the More Valiant One, overpowers the strongman, no battle needed. He casts the strongman’s armor of self-protection away. He scatters it. He looses. Then to prevent the enemy from coming back into a cleanly swept house and causing more damage than before, we bind ourselves to Yeshua, we fill the home with His presence, with His truth. We rebuild with good things so there is no room for the broken to come back and make its home.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A is for Attention

On the farm we practice something called the ABCs, a type of liturgy we speak to God and over each other (usually in pairs) every morning when we gather, an invitation to open our spirits fully to God and close them to anything else.

A is for Attention.

In the name of Yeshua (Jesus), I call my spirit to attention.

Spirit is the best part of me, the part created to commune with God, the part stamped with His image. We are not bodies temporarily inhabited by spirit. We are spirits temporarily making use of bodies on loan. So spirit wake up within me and live to your fullest potential.

Spirit rise up and take your rightful place, seated with Christ in the heavenly places.

I am a daughter of the King and fellow heir with Christ. I belong in the throne room.

Christ is in the driver’s seat.

I relinquish control of my agenda for the day. I want God to lead, to determine what is important, to guide my thoughts, my actions, my interactions. He will see and hear things I will not. I want to be attune to Him, to hear and see those things too.

 Soul and body get in the backseat; submit to my spirit and the Holy Spirit.

The soul is made up of the mind, will, and emotions. Without the spirit my soul is left to earthly reasoning, striving to be good out of sheer willpower rather than grace. Living from the soul is living from the flesh. So we ask our will, our thoughts, and our emotions to be subject to the guidance and governing of the Spirit.

Then we speak blessing over one another. I bless you with revelations of the Father’s love. With joy welling up from gratitude. With peace that surpasses all worldly understanding. I bless you to know you are a daughter of the King, that you are filled with grace and beauty, that you have an inheritance in the heavenly places… every morning the blessings are different, but they fill our hearts with reminders of truth, with the space to claim our God-given identities and step into the day with confidence.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


My life is not my own, but I have been bought with a price.

I have left the United States as I know it and entered a mission field tucked away in a corner of countryside in Missouri. My time here is barely twenty-four hours old, and I already feel both more at home and more stretched than I anticipated.

I have nearly mastered the names of my new immediate family. Twelve women, living in one home. What that means is that my life is not my own, my room is not my own, my food is not my own. Everything but my bed and personal belongings are to be shared. Even my time is not my own. Living in this close of a proximity with so many people means schedules and structure are required to maintain order. Laundry happens on a schedule. Meal times happen on a schedule. Chore charts happen on a schedule.

My first instinct was to baulk. I’m twenty-six. I’ve lived on my own a long time. I’m used to buying my own groceries, having places for my books, going to bed without worrying when the light gets turned out, showering without checking with four others whether or not they need the bathroom. Many of the girls are much younger than me. It’s like being thrown back a decade into the days of camp or at least my freshman year of college with rules and regulations, designated lights out, and cleaning charts. I expected a house of seven with one roommate. What I received was twelve and a roommate both young and in need of a lot of healing, with two other beds in our room that could be filled at any time. I have to walk down the road to get internet. Not ideal. But I have a choice. As I walked the property this morning I sensed God saying this is a chance to die to self.

In Philippians 2 Paul instructs us to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Here are those interests very tangibly in front of my face. Have this attitude in yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus. He laid aside His rights, his divinity. He emptied Himself and walked towards a cross with open hands and an open heart. Lord teach me to walk as you walked. Paul states later that even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with your all. Lord, fill my heart with joy as I learn to pour myself out. Lose myself to find you.

This year may very well stretch me more than India. What heat and spicy food, complicated travel, dust and sweat did not draw out of me, this little place in Missouri may. This year, like India, I will get up every morning with a desperate need for God to meet me, but that is the best place to be. I will face a choice to choose gratitude over selfishness. This year I will realize what has always been true. I am not my own, but I have been bought with a price.

Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, writes about how joy is derived from gratitude. The more I have the eyes to see the good things God is giving rather than the things I do not have, the more my heart will find its capacity for joy. So this morning I rose and I chose to be grateful for these things:

A beautiful sunrise and cool morning to walk and pray
Time to linger over the Word and journal out my thoughts
The pleasure of not having to dig in a suitcase for the first time in weeks
Milk to go on my cereal
A houseful of people instantly becoming my community
The delighted eyes of one of the women supervising me. she is so glad I’m here
Teaching that makes sense to both my heart and my spirit
A sense that God has so much to bring alive in my heart