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Prophetic Endurance

Call to Prayer for the Ukraine

Details from Dr. Dobson's Letter:

Personally, I am convinced that Almighty God is active in the affairs of mankind. It does appear to me that we are entering what has been referred to by biblical scholars as "end time events." No one knows how human history will play out in the days ahead, but we can be sure they will be guided by His mighty hand. Ultimately, according to my theological understanding, the Rapture will occur along with the other events that were foretold in Scripture by the prophets of old.

The New Testament ends with the phrase, "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly." Amen.

This is a critical time for prayer by people of faith. Let's join together with a united voice in asking the God whom we serve to lead and guide in these perilous times. Nothing will happen that is not permitted by Him. This is not a time for despair. Our obligation is to win as many people to Jesus Christ as possible and to say with the prophet Isaiah, "Send me."

By Dr. James Dobson, Family Talk


 

Thanksgiving Address

 


I placed an oak leaf in a book to press it.

This fall it is as if the earth is on fire—and I am not just thinking of multicoloured leaves in red, orange and yellow. This autumn follows an unprecedented record number of forest fires in British Columbia. This September was the hottest one on record. This scenario is akin to watching something I love die. As much as we would like the earth to live on, and ourselves to live with it, we are faced with more and more evidence that climate change and global warming are just fancy names for “The Time of the End.” What is this time, and what is my place in it? This is the question we must ask ourselves as residents of earth, and citizens of heaven.

Ever since I was a child I had a sense that I would be chosen to live in “The Time of the End.” My parents read us stories every night about missionaries in far away countries, but they also read us the Bible nightly. I was conditioned to recognize that I would not be here forever, that I was to live as if my real home was heaven. Even the last book of the Bible, Revelation, by the Apostle John found its way into our children’s literature in form of Hal Lindsey comics. These children’s renditions of his apocalyptic books blared that the end was coming. One of his most popular books is The Late Great Planet Earth, which was published in 1970 and became a bestseller. It’s a treatment of literalist, premillennial, dispensational eschatology that compares prophecies in the Bible with modern events.


“The Late Great Planet Earth . . .compared end-time prophecies in the Bible with then-current events in an attempt to predict future scenarios resulting in the rapture of believers before the tribulation and Second Coming of Jesus to establish his thousand-year (i.e. millennial) kingdom on Earth. Emphasizing various passages in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, Lindsey originally suggested the possibility that these climactic events might occur during the 1980s, which he interpreted as one generation from the foundation of modern Israel during 1948, a major event according to some conservative evangelical schools of eschatological thought. Cover art of the Bantam edition suggested that the 1970s were the "era of the Antichrist as foretold by Moses and Jesus," and termed the book "a penetrating look at incredible ancient prophecies involving this generation." Descriptions of alleged "fulfilled" prophecy were offered as proof of the infallibility of God's word, and evidence that "unfulfilled" prophecies would soon find their denouement in God's plan for the planet.

“He cited an increase in the frequency of famines, wars and earthquakes, as major events just prior to the end of the world. He also foretold a Soviet invasion of Israel (War of Gog and Magog). Lindsey also predicted that the European Economic Community, which preceded the European Union, was destined (according to Biblical prophecy) to become a "United States of Europe", which in turn he says is destined to become a "Revived Roman Empire" ruled by the Antichrist. Lindsey wrote that he had concluded, since there was no apparent mention of America in the books of Daniel or Revelation, that America would not be a major geopolitical power by the time the tribulations of the end times arrived. He found little in the Bible that could represent the U.S., but he suggested that Ezekiel 38:13 could be speaking of the U.S. in part.

“Although Lindsey did not claim to know the dates of future events with any certainty, he suggested that Matthew 24:32-34 indicated that Jesus' return might be within "one generation" of the rebirth of the state of Israel, and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, and Lindsey asserted that "in the Bible" one generation is forty years. Some readers accepted this as an indication that the Tribulation or the Rapture would occur no later than 1988. In his 1980 work The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, Lindsey predicted that "the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it".

“The Late Great Planet Earth was the first Christian prophecy book to be published by a secular publisher (Bantam, 1973) and sell many copies. 28 million copies had sold by 1990." (1)


It was in this troubling world of prophecy and arena of predictions that I was dunked. No more just fantasies of fairies, I was waiting for the world to end, and I would watch it. Believe it or not, thanks to Hal Lindsey, I spent my life watching for an army to come out of the Orient numbering 200 million. After all, Hal Lindsay’s books indicated that the Book of Revelation predicted it. I imagined them amassing a secret army behind closed doors. If I have ever seen a war with that many people fighting an enemy it would be Covid, and ironically it originated in China.

Now I have a few trusted prophets, believe me, I have dwindled that number down to a trusted few after living in what became a septic system of bad prophetic words and visions, nightmares, and horror. The most frequent and most trusted prophet I have is my prophet of the day, Prophet Russ Walden. You can see a sample of what he has said to me over the years here:

Prophetic word given Sept 21, 2017  from Russ Walden, Father’s Heart Ministry  

"The Father says today, I have not forgotten. I have not forgotten your determination to serve and please Me. I watch you and I am closer than your very breath. I am not a distant God who observes from afar but I am intimately acquainted with you beloved. I know what was said and how you were treated. Even as I was with Joseph in the times of slander and accusation and false imprisonment, I am also with you. He left his reputation in My hands and continued to trust Me and I bestowed much honor upon him in his day. I am going to bring you out intact and all the attacks against your honor, your integrity and your reputation will be dealt with swiftly as you pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.

"Be kind in response, and let My kindness flow through you as it is My kindness that leads men to repentance. I will move you out of the situation and circumstance. It will be soon. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. When I speak honor over My children, who can speak against it? None can. So, rest in My proclamation over your life. You are the head and not the tail. You are the beloved. You are worth so much, I gave up My greatest treasure in all of the universe, Jesus. The honor I give Him I give you because you belong to us. You are ours. The harm intended by the enemy will not prevail and the strength of his plan is brought to nothing even this moment, says the Father."

Sept 22, 2017

"The Father says today, you have cried out to Me for My glory. You have cried out and said I will not move another step unless Your glory and Your presence go with me. But you already have My glory beloved. You have My glory and power and presence. You need not just hope for it because it is already on the inside of you. It is Christ in you, the Hope of Glory. You have a limitless account and access to the substance of My glory. The substance of My glory contains the dunamis of resurrection power and unending supply. Have I not said I will provide for all your needs according to My riches in glory in Christ Jesus? It is not according to your riches but according to My riches.

"What is it you have need of? Reach into the substance of My glory to obtain it. My healing is there. My provision is there. My help is there. My deliverance is there. My favor is there. My coffers will never be empty and the vaults of My treasury are overflowing with immeasurable supply. My provision is accessed by those with grateful hearts and they enter in with thanksgiving and praise to the inner courts of the treasuries of heaven. The substance of My glory breaks open the windows of heaven and pours out from within where My glory resides. Wait for it. Wait for My glory to be manifest. Wait for the weight, for the heaviness of My glory will fill you and cover you. You will know and recognize and embrace the glory, and reach into that very substance to obtain what you need in this hour to turn every situation and every circumstance to your favor and your benefit, says the Father."

Fast forward to September 10, 2023 . . . he is still prophesying daily.

"The Father says today I am the God who never planted anything in a row. I take delight in surprising you with what I have in store. It brings honor to Me when I conceal things for you to discover, just as it brings honor to kings when they uncover hidden treasures. You hold a special position in My heart as both a king and a priest unto Me. Though you are a servant of Christ, know that you have the authority and power to overcome the enemy's schemes. Know this, my child, I am breaking any false authority that seeks to hold you back. Those who have told you that you have no choice are mistaken, for where humans restrict you, I am waiting there for you. I call upon you not to wait for My glory but to actively walk in it. My glory resides within you, yearning to burst forth. Embrace this divine birthing process and let it shine through you. As you enter a room, declare within yourself, "I release the glory here." You will witness inexplicable and remarkable events unfold before your eyes."

September 25, 2023

"The Father says today, My Spirit is moving in your situation to shed light on the deceptions that the enemy has sought to weave into your life. I am bringing forth in glaring illumination the secrets that have been hidden in darkness and ensuring that they are proclaimed loudly, resonating from the very depths of your being. The enemy's strategy is to entangle you in disappointment and overwhelm you with frustration. However, I implore you to redirect your focus away from people and circumstances, fixing your gaze firmly upon me, your loving Father. It is inevitable that people will let you down, and situations may bring forth frustration, but I urge you not to place your trust solely in human strength. Instead, trust in the Word that I have planted deep within your heart. My love for you is unwavering; I will never forsake you or disregard your pleas for help. My beloved child, do you truly trust me? If you do, then allow me to step in and take control of every aspect of your life. I will guide you from where you currently are to a place of victory and abundant blessings. The promises I have made in your life are the very catalyst for the breakthrough you yearn for. In this journey, it is crucial that you do not invest your energy or initiative into anything or anyone that contradicts the promises I have spoken over your life.

"The enemy seeks to isolate you, to cut you off from the vital resources that will lead you on the path to breakthrough. Therefore, I encourage you, dear one, to test the spirits around you. True discernment is not fueled by suspicion or doubt masked as religious behavior. Rather, it is rooted in love, which casts out all fear. It is a perfect love that is unconditional and brings rest to your weary soul. Enter into the rest that I have lovingly prepared for you. As part of this process, it is important to forgive those whom you hold anger against. Release those you have unjustly judged in your thoughts. Remember, dear one, that all humanity is prone to evil, and wickedness can manifest in every action. However, I offer you cleansing and redemption at the foot of the cross. There, I will set you free and bring you to a place of renewed and vibrant purification. Let go of the need to be right and release the demand for justice that does not align with the principles of my kingdom. Surrender these burdens to me, and I will bear them for you. I am here for you, ready to expose the deceptions of the enemy and lead you into a life of victory and blessings. Trust in me, lean on me, and allow me to guide you through every step of your journey. Embrace the rest and freedom that come from forgiving others and surrendering your burdens at the cross. Together, we will overcome the enemy's schemes and walk in the fullness of the life I have prepared for you." 

Thank you Russ, today I am thankful for your faithfulness to deliver a timely prophetic word. When I was only ten years old, I penned my own book titled "The Enemy's Schemes." It was written out on longhand, for those of you who would be interested in my childhood pursuit of the Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving!


References:

"The Late Great Planet Earth" Wikipedia. Verbatim . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Late_Great_Planet_Earth

Mother's Day Address

It's a heat wave. I thought you had gone away. But the score is half scribbled down . . . You could saw me in half if you're a magician, but likely both sides of me would groan from the ground, half matted with blood. I would fall there– my ears buried in wattles, my feet pointed in snow, my hands clenching my old Journal where I wrote in Latin. And when they would unclench and it would fall to the ground, it would lie there unbroken. Each word, lifeless, until the next swallow sang. Shrill notes to waken the dead, perched on each crest of sill. They clutch with their small bird claws, grey bird feet. They sit there and twitter ever so lightly of sun and warmth and all nature holds dear. 

Half matted with death, I would turn lifeless with cold, and shivering renounce all my earthly stones for the gems of one crown. My amethyst prophesies would all glimmer like a sea of words, where I was bathed in salt and thought relentlessly, waves crashing violently to shore, driftwood stoic, as children made nests and forts amid the wreckage of my futility.

I was one to bring hope, one to heal the ivory fragments, the dismembered purple mind, the feverish red rant, the darkened navy eyes, with a sensitivity to touch and silk greenness no one could emulate. Often called upon as an acacia sweeping the African sky: ambient "mimosa". All who said my name made me recoil, shrink back in absolutes. There was no wind, nor could there be. There was no wind!

I ordered a hundred mimosa seeds for five dollars. The mimosa plants are en route, and I shall harvest them, and I shall dry them, and I shall pour boiling water over them and make tea. Have half a cup with me, my mother? Would you like some cream?

Some dried petals, and a little beeswax, an angel must have dwelled in you while only a shell or I would not have risen into buttercup glory. The trees bow their boughs, the line of evergreens blows back and forth over the garden, an owl hovering. The moonlight falls gently on a stalk or a vine, a seedling or an herb, a berry or a rounded cherry tomato. My stars are seeking reception in the constellation-ordered darkness. Their ethereal realms are too far to touch unless you are truly alone and stand on tiptoe. Their minute light swims in the goat milk galaxy, where women are wholesome, brush their hair from their eyes, and harvest the bounty of the lives around them before it rots on the vine.

In good time! Let's commence now– juice and wine, bread and lentils, chives and onions. The stew pot is full and we have room for cherished guests around the table. 

I'll cut the bread. Here is the butter. The vase is full of rose blossoms, falling on the tapestried runner like snow.

The wineglasses are filled with iced wine, and we are once again giving birth, in pre-contemplation of a future child.

"A child with a name?" you ask.  Yes, and her name is Della, named after you.

When summer takes hold of the mind, our blooms open and fall in tandem with the rose and mimosa. But we are rigid with turgor, our thorns are proud to keep others away. Lest they be pierced as Christ was pierced in reaching for heaven. 

Yet a ray of light would fall on this old wood table and illumine for me why we transgress and trespass– and fly away before we are discerned. We are too afraid to reach for heaven in the darkest moment of our humanity. For then we would see the redemption. We would break it and eat it as something we are dependent on to be one with everyone else in need of a Saviour.

Letter from Emily Isaacson to her mother (Della) on Mother's Day 2023. 

  Mimosa Tree

–Photo from  https://thehorticult.com/have-another-mimosa-the-blooming-of-a-controversial-southern-belle/

 

The Prophetic Mantle

Nostradamus was a 16th-century seer. He and his prophecies—revered by some, ridiculed by others—are still well known today, centuries after he lived, and continue to be the subject of debate(1). 

Nostradamus was born in France in 1503. He first worked as a physician and began his medical practice in the 1530s, although he did so without a medical degree. He began making prophecies about 1547, and he published his prophecies in a book entitled Centuries (1555). He wrote his prophecies in quatrains: four lines of rhyming verse. The quatrains were grouped in hundreds; each set of 100 quatrains was called a century. Nostradamus gained notoriety during his lifetime when some of his predictions appeared to have come true. He was highly sought after and was even invited to the court of Catherine de’ Medici, then the queen consort of King Henry II of France, to create horoscopes for her children (1).

Nostradamus’s predictions tended to be about general types of events, like natural disasters and conflict-related events that tend to occur regularly as time goes on. Some people believe that his prophecies have predicted actual events, such as the death of Henry II, the French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the 9/11 attacks. Others maintain that because his prophecies tend to be about general types of events that occur frequently throughout history—and are written in a cryptic and vague manner—it’s possible to find one that seems to match almost any event that has occurred)(1).

The French philosopher wrote 6,338 prophecies, suggesting when, where and how our world will dramatically end . . .

He wrote: “The Moon in the full of night over the high mountain / The new sage with a lone brain sees it: By his disciples invited to be immortal, Eyes to the south. Hands in bosoms, bodies in the fire.” (2)

When philosophers discuss prophecy, they are typically interested in prophecies concerning the contingent future . . . What special philosophical issues are raised by this kind of prophecy? (3)

Let’s say that a future event is contingent if and only if it is not determined that it will happen and also not determined that it will not happen. (For more on the notion of determinism, see the entry on causal determinism.) Now suppose that based upon the revelation of an infallible God, a person prophecies that some future contingent event will occur. Since God cannot be wrong, does it follow that the future contingent event must occur? And if it must occur, how can it be a contingent event? (3)

Another way of trying to solve the puzzle is to deny that God has knowledge of the contingent future. According to this approach, often called “open theism”, there may be future contingent events, but God does not know about them. God does not know about them either because one, there are no true propositions now that report what future contingent events will occur, or because two, it is impossible for anyone, including God, to know such true propositions, or because three, God chooses not to know them in order to preserve our freedom. Open theists also typically argue that foreknowledge alone would be providentially useless to God. How can open theism explain prophecies that appear to make reference to future contingent events? (4)

William Hasker, perhaps the most prominent advocate of open theism, addresses this problem explicitly, and suggests a three-fold response. First, he points out that the main function of prophecy is not to foretell the future, but to reveal God’s will. Many prophecies, in fact, have a conditional character, such as “If a nation does not do such and such, then it will be destroyed” (see Jeremiah 18:7–10, for example). Second, many prophetic predictions are based upon existing trends and tendencies, which provide God with enough evidence to foresee the future. (4)

The Lion is a symbol of the prophetic. The Lion of Judah roars and he is fierce. Imagine a lion’s roar. He is not afraid of catastrophe. The face of God is as reserved at times and foreboding as a rock face. Yet God has many faces. This blog is for all followers of Jesus Christ. There is something miniscule about belonging, and something as great as meeting a lion, and we belong to him. This blessing is that of oil poured out in the end times.

It would seem as if the challenges we face, in persevering through trial are immense. It is all we can do to try to maintain our standard of living. It is all we can do to be resilient in the face of such stress. In this time also much faith has been given to us.

We can’t help but recognize that this must be what was predicted not only by Christ. It was also predicted by the disciples, including the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. It was predicted by symbols and by signs, and it is important that we turn to the prophetic in this time, and not just think that prophets must be true or they are false. This is somewhat black and white thinking and there are so many colours in between. Anyone in the church practicing the gifts of the spirit has the right to mature, to be trained, to be educated, to use their gifts for God’s glory, and their words are take it or leave it. With discernment and maturity we can appreciate the gifts in the body.

The walk of anointing is complex, and it is as if the Oils of the Holy Land have been added to our extra-virgin olive oil. We are not just oil, we are precious. We are aloes, we are nard, we are cassia, we are frankincense. As precious as a year’s fruit worth of labour, is our worth in cost. Not only that we get the exciting role of being poured out on Jesus feet, in a sense as if for the Earth’s burial.

This can be one of the gravest mistakes we make, as Christians, is to miss the anointing. The Holy Spirit desires to pour it out. If a person walked around with the anointing all day, everywhere they went, we would seriously ask, “What is that?”

What is that like fine oil that puts such a glow on their face, what is that fine substance that hangs in the room around them. We would sincerely mistake it for something else. We might even accuse the bearer of such goodness of all sort of things, in our misunderstanding of the basis for a kingdom touch. Or even a touch piece.

We need to experience the joy of the Lord, undeserved. We need to know what an anointing is. What is the role of the anointing oil in healing? What is the measure of the oil poured out in situations like worship and prayer? Do we need to get out the olive oil?

We were given a time, times, and half a time, and now my friends that end is drawing near. I write this as I don’t know what the end will hold, and how we will endure. But I chasten you to stay strong and not give in to depression, suicide or any other temptation as is common to humankind.

There will be wars, there will be signs in the heavens, there will be plague and catastrophe. Economic recession is close at hand with all these terrors, and yet we will the family unit to keep on, to keep our loved ones intact. We aim to overthrow the chaos and dissension we have been met with. In terms of acceptance of any situation of loss, grief is deep that things in life did not go the way we planned. Weddings have been postponed, children have been born into a time of ravage and famine, people have had to flee their homelands with their very lives.

How do we stand in this time with our prayers in their imperfection still rising to heaven like incense? The angels are holding golden bowls of the tribulation of the saints. And yet, our worship reaches the ears of the Most High. We are not alone when in the presence of Christ.

One day at the appointed time we will see him face to face. Here when we face God alone, without family, without relatives, without friends, we will come to know who we really are. It is in this meeting that we will turn from the shadows into the fullness of our resurrected self. We will become who we are in Christ.

What we have spent a lifetime cultivating in the inner man will become the outer form. The mansions we have invested all our earthly and spiritual wealth in, in heaven will be the body we now inhabit. This is the resurrection we can hope for and put our confidence in. There are things we should know before we die, and that no one is going with us, and we can’t take our stuff is paramount.

Yet the very attack on our faith during the end times is one of the disruption of intimacy. We see it in our spiritual lives. We see it in our personal lives. We see it with our friends, we see it with our enemies.

By the time Jesus returns a great many people of the world will have mistaken intimacy with Christ for erotic love, and even sacrificed their children on the altar of it.

They think that they are drawn to the one when they desperately need the love of Christ. They really can’t tell the difference, and oh how the prophetic mourns for them. Their interest in anything but erotic love is zilch. It is a fixation, it is a distortion, and it can easily become an addiction. This is the great void. It is the great delusion of truth, that love with another individual or the bringing forth of offspring is saviour.

In this very act of worship of earthly love we trade the real lion for a skin, and we technically worship a donkey. It is the donkey of promiscuity. It will make us look like a fool unless we are mighty cool. For how many lovers can one have before it is too many? The numbers go on and on in the modern world among young men and women.

Beyond the great composers, the authors of the Hymns of the Faith, we have contemporary worship music. It is written by musicians. In the early days of the Bible, these anointed musicians were called Levites. A lot of new worship music is produced today, and featured on Christian radio. This is attracting contemporary society in droves. Worship leaders strive to present music in church settings that is cool, singeable for corporate worship, theologically correct, and an attractive sound. But we are really using worship music as a medium, a means of connecting in an intimate way with our Creator.

I speak in this blog about the process of becoming a Christ follower in the prophetic. I speak of the languages of love, and the balance of love, and what the love of Christ entails. There are different roles in every church and it is important not to mistake a prophetic person’s role for yours. Priests face God on behalf of the people, and interceded on their behalf. They make an argument to God. Prophets face people on behalf of a deity. They speak words that sound like they came from God’s mouth, or share images that God is speaking to the body, words, or scriptures. They may make an argument to God also, in turning God’s wrath away in an act of justice.

There is a justice in the universe, and the laws of nature are a good example. We can’t break those laws without nature crying out in anguish eventually. If God has an issue with us in our sin, we must make a securely rooted argument to him that he might understand the words of the prophet and relent. The prophets in the Old Testament did this when God had told them to predict the Jewish people being devastated by other nations, and going into exile. Jeremiah’s words of prophesy were rejected; he even got thrown into a pit for his disturbing and anti-social prophetic words in his time!

The reality is the prophets were also prayer warriors. They would plead with God not to carry through his plans. In this we can conclude that the prophets of the Bible were there to predict upcoming events but did not cause them.

For this very reason, I have set down my teachings and my songs for you. I pray that you may read the lyrics, and understand the message I am trying to convey from the Lord. May you be ministered to. May you realize that I too have grown in maturity, been trained, been mentored, and been educated over the years. The form of my message has changed and become polished, but not the word. Whether you are a priest or a prophet, may you learn from this little book of teachings I am now publishing for you, the way to follow in Jesus’s footprints and how to go there alone. Do not despise loneliness, for it draws us to the Lord, and makes us seek out the community of believers. Koinonia!

 

Waiting for Jesus.

Listening to the Holy Spirit.

Urged to act by power not our own.

Hold your hands out.

 

Keep your candle lit. 

Worship every day.

Pray for others.


References

1.https://www.britannica.com/story/nostradamus-and-his-prophecies  verbatim. 

2.https://www.the-sun.com/news/4349045/nostradamus-2022-predictions-cryptocurrency-war-asteroid/  verbatim. 

3. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/prophecy/#PhilIssuRaisProp  verbatim. 

4.https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/prophecy/#DenyCont verbatim. 

Do we prophesy out of our imaginations?

The word of the LORD came to me:

“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!

Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins.

You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD.

Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the LORD has not sent them, they say, “The LORD declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words.

Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The LORD declares,” though I have not spoken?

“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD.

My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.

“ ‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth.

When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”

“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.

I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD.

So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD.” ’

“Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own?

You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.

“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds.

I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”

Ezekiel 13 (NIV)


I teach a creative writing course at the local art gallery. It has been on hold during the pandemic, but I am hoping to start up again soon. As an ice-breaker I am going to share some creative writing hints I wrote called The Archway to Insight . . .

Open the door of the mind

Be prolific

Question the slums of life

Bloom where you're planted

Art is just around the corner

Be rock solid at criticism

Pursue solitude


As Anne Morrow Lindberg put it. . .

“The beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm, too damp, too soft for any real discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carried down the faded straw bag, lumpy with books, clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists and good intentions. The books remain unread, the pencils break their points and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even—at least, not at first.

"At first, the tired body takes over completely. As on shipboard, one descends into a deck-chair apathy. One is forced against one’s mind, against all the tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the seashore. Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings."

(Source: Gift from the Sea. Anne Morrow Lindberg).

Lindberg prefaced it by saying, ”Besides, I thought, not all women are searching for a new pattern of living, or want a contemplative corner of their own. Many women are content with their lives as they are. They manage amazingly well, far better than I, it seemed to me, looking at their lives from the outside. With envy and admiration, I observed the porcelain perfection of their smoothly ticking days. Perhaps they had no problems, or had found the answers long ago . . .

"But as I went on writing and simultaneously talking with other women, young and old, with different lives and experiences—those who supported themselves, those who wished careers, those who were hard-working housewives and mothers, and those with more ease—I found that my point of view was not unique. In varying settings and under different forms, I discovered that many women, and men too, were grappling with essentially the same questions as I, and were hungry to discuss and argue and hammer out possible answers. Even those whose lives had appeared to be ticking  . . . under their smiling clock-faces were often trying, like me, to evolve another rhythm with more creative pauses in it, more adjustment to their individual needs, and new and more alive relationships to themselves as well as others."

As Luci Shaw wrote, “Silence and solitude leave us undistracted so that the messages can arrive undistorted, clear and true.

   But so many are afraid of silence and of being alone. They wonder, what if nothing happens?  . . .But, in gradual steps, and given some simple tools people can begin to experience contemplation for themselves and discover that it is transformative. And this transformation (as well as the waiting) also informs—always—the place where our creative work is done. For artists, this combination of discipline and listening-receiving is a true cornerstone.

   To be an artist, to live out the persistence of spiritual hunger and thirst—those seasons of drought and rain in art, in the weather, and in spiritual vitality—or a sense of connection with God the transcendent Almighty, in the context of an overwhelmingly material universe—is a kind of evidence of spirituality’s existence and importance. . .

   This mystery, this spill of clues to an unseen reality, is very much a part of the artist’s as well as the mystic’s life."

This is from the chapter, Listening to the Muse, from the book Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw.

Her friend Madeleine L’Engle wrote: "I was lucky as a child in being given a lot of solitude. . . Allowing the child a certain amount of solitude in a reasonably safe environment . . . is allowing the child’s imagination to grow and develop, so that the child may ultimately learn how to be mature."

(Source: Walking on Water. Madeleine L'Engle)

As Luci put it, “In George Bernard Shaw’s play Joan of Arc, Joan’s captors respond to her claim that she hears God by telling her that it’s just “something in her imagination.” She responds, “Exactly. That is how God speaks to me, through my imagination.” This is very often how I feel (Luci Shaw continues)—that words, ideas, and rhythms are given to my imagination, handed to me as a gift for which I am infinitely grateful. But the gift must be shaped and crafted if I am to be a cocreator with God."


It’s a cracked crossover world, waiting

For bridges. He escapes our categories,

Choosing his own free forms—fire, dove,

Wind, water, oil—closing the breach

In figures that flicker within.

Luci Shaw

(Source: Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit. Luci Shaw.)


When I was taking a course in the prophetic, I learned from Murray Dueck, the leader of Samuel’s Mantle that prophets in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, were considered false and condemned if they prophesied out of their imaginations. He read a selection from the chapter at the top of the page from Ezekiel. I wondered if I could think differently about prophecy and the imagination.

“Maimonides suggested that "prophecy is, in truth and reality, an emanation sent forth by Divine Being through the medium of the Active Intellect, in the first instance to man's rational faculty, and then to his imaginative faculty." (Wikipedia).

On this website Prophetic Worldwide we ask:

What is your definition of prophecy?

Should prophecy engage the imagination, and if so, how?

Would you respond better to an overt word or a subtle word picture?

Does God speak to us through our immediate faculties, or in secret ways?


To quote from lessons on the empathetic imagination by Beth Kephart:

Open your eyes to open your heart.

Use your imagination as an arrow hurtling back toward what might have been or will never be.

Use the distance between the facts and your yearning to change those facts as your personal redemption.

Meander within the space of insufficient evidence.

Make your readers the agents of empathy.

Think of what might have been as a prayer.

Hope.

Define again the categories of our empathetic imagination, to get a little closer to the truth.

I am a storyteller.

The power of your forgiveness.

You have found your story.

Your greatest achievement is not behind you.

A house of memoir, she said. A shelter for the truth.

(Source: Wife/Daughter/Self:a Memoir in Essays, Beth Kephart.)


In compiling my stories for the work of fiction called Ageless Confessions I am launching this Friday night (see invitation) I drew from my own life experiences. I also drew from my imagination to recreate scenes of an area of Victoria called Fairfield and Rockland. Because I felt the preceeding short stories were necessary to set the tone or atmosphere of the novel, it is preceeded by about five short stories about various times in history and varying social classes. This I called a segue. Buy the book.

The Abomination That Causes Desolation


“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Matthew 24:15-21


This box was filled with straw somewhat like a manger. It contains a pot too heavy for the average person to lift. The origin of the pot is Vietnam. This pot was revealed to me to contain The Abomination That Causes Desolation mentioned in Matthew. This pot is an abomination, and cost $600, made of terra cotta. 

I bought it over a year ago before I moved, and now it houses a large peace lily. The ugliest thing I have ever seen, it is large, ludicrous and overbearing. Yet it is meant to be.

So let the reader behold.


 

I Will Follow You

C                                                 F    

I will follow you wherever you go

C                                                 F

I will follow you wherever you lead me

F/A  G/B  C                       F/D

One day, I will be what I long for:

F  Gsus G  G7  C

Like you, Jesus

C                                            F 

Your steps are bigger than mine

                        G        C/A

And all of the time, I find

F                                       Gsus G          C   

Walking with you is like walking with heaven

 

C                                                 F    

I will bless you, Lord, all of the time

C                                                 F

I will worship you wherever I’m standing

F/A  G/B  C                       F/D

You are so worthy of all I could whisper

C                                            F 

 

Your love is bigger than mine

                        G        C/A

And all of the time, I find

F                                       Gsus G          C   

Loving with you is like loving heaven

 

F/A  G/B  C                       F/D  

One day, I will be what I long for

F/A  G/B  C                  F/D   

One day, I will be like you

        F     G      C               F/D 

And you are, so worthy, so worthy

F     G           G7  G

So worthy, Jesus


I wrote this song during my twenties: now things that have endured become like essential oil, purified. May we become the beauty of our Christ.


What is a Fortified City?


A woman should be like a fortified city, but so many women today have their walls and constitution broken down. It can be broken down by abuse, by health problems, and by neglect. It can be broken down by rape, by verbal abuse, and by stigma. Poverty never makes for a functioning citadel. What should we do to heal a broken down city? Studying the city of Cacassone has given me some insight. It's history is prophetic.


More on Carcassone . . .

The first signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac—a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the south—became an important trading place in the sixth century BC. The Volcae Tectosages fortified it and made it into an oppidum, a hill fort, which is when it was named "Carsac".

The folk etymology—involving a châtelaine named Lady Carcas, a ruse ending a siege, and the joyous ringing of bells ("Carcas sona")—though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme. Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention. The name can be derived as an augmentative of the name Carcas.

Carcassonne became strategically identified when the Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC and eventually made it the colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcaso, later Carcasum (by the process of swapping consonants known as metathesis). The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times. In 462 the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since 453. He built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the northern marches—traces of them still stand.

Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In 508 the Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis. Saracens from Barcelona took Carcassonne in 725. King Pepin the Short (Pépin le Bref) drove them away in 759–60.

A medieval fiefdom, the county of Carcassonne, controlled the city and its environs. It was often united with the county of Razès. The origins of Carcassonne as a county probably lie in local representatives of the Visigoths, but the first count known by name is Bello of the time of Charlemagne. Bello founded a dynasty, the Bellonids, which would rule many honores in Septimania and Catalonia for three centuries.

Cathars being expelled from Carcassonne in 1209

In 1067, Carcassonne became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, through his marriage with Ermengard, sister of the last count of Carcassonne. In the following centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession with either the counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Château Comtal and the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus. In 1096, Pope Urban II blessed the foundation stones of the new cathedral.

Carcassonne became famous for its role in the Albigensian Crusades when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209 the crusading army of the Papal Legate, abbot Arnaud Amalric, forced its citizens to surrender. Viscount Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city's surrender and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. The people of Carcassonne were allowed to leave—in effect, expelled from their city with nothing more than the shirt on their backs. Simon de Montfort was appointed the new viscount and added to the fortifications.

In 1240, Trencavel's son tried to reconquer his old domain but in vain. The city submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Crown of Aragon under the 1258 Treaty of Corbeil. King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years' War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town.

In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the border province of Roussillon to France, and Carcassonne's military significance was reduced. Its fortifications were abandoned and the city became mainly an economic center that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source quoted by Fernand Braudel found it "the manufacturing center of Languedoc".It remained so until the Ottoman market collapsed at the end of the eighteenth century, thereafter reverting to a country town.

(Source: Wikipedia)


"The French city of Carcassonne is one of the most perfectly preserved walled cities of the world and the largest walled city in Europe. The fortification consists of two outer walls, towers and barbicans built over a long period of time. One section is Roman and is notably different from the medieval walls with the red brick layers and the terracotta tile roofs. One of these towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th Century and is still known as ‘The Inquisition Tower’. Portions of the 1991 film ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ were shot in and around Carcassonne." (Source: https://www.touropia.com/walled-cities-in-the-world)


Carcassone is one of the 22 most impressive walled cities in the world, third after Jerusalem. The city given as a metaphor for the Holy City in the Bible is Jerusalem, and her history is depicted by scribes, saints, and Biblical scholars down through the centuries. Those living outside her gates were those rejected by society. They lived in the desert, and were in the company of shepherds, and other rough characters who lived in the wilds. This is typically where prophets lived.

To live within the gates of the walled city is to be fortified. This is a description of safety. Today in modern times it also refers to the food supply being fortified by various vitamins and minerals to prevent disease. When you eat a fortified food, you feel safe. You think that you are getting the minimal amount of vitamins and minerals you need to prevent things like scurvy, beriberi and pellagra. The idea that our diet is fortified is somewhat deceptive. So is the walled city. Why would someone choose to live outside it, for instance?

There is a desire to return to the natural state of food, as there is a desire in man to be a survivalist and return to the wild. A prophet is someone usually unrefined, so they prefer to be unfortified also. The natural state of the desert is closer to the natural state of being with God, without many possessions, without family, without distractions of the acceptable life. Without the security and provisions of the fortified city and those that belong to the common good citizen. Eventually, in the modern age we will seek a return to natural materials, and clothing, linen, and textures that exemplify the desert colour patterns, and rough feel. This is akin to our roots, of travelling nomads, living in tents around the time of Abraham. 

I buy a lot of the material in my house in linen including bedding, tunics, and long dresses, coats, some of it flax linen from Europe. I try to furnish my house with solid wood furniture, and with bamboo, and jute. I have hyacinth baskets in my living room that smell like a tobacco field. This return to natural fibers, materials, and smells gives a sense of the nomadic existence of the desert. This is also sometimes called transience. I think I have lived in fourteen residences of my own or with roommates since I left home at eighteen. I think it is a worthwhile gift to develop your roots, your reputation, and stay in one place but the Lord has also used a nomadic perspective to not let me get too deep for everyone to understand or relate too. I like the idea of living in one place, but I feel now that I live in the desert outside the city and that I am rejected by most. I am accompanied by a couple of rough-looking shepherds, and we pitch our tent, and have a campfire most nights, and eat under the stars.

Living with little and having little, is also a skill that allows us at points in our lives to draw nearer to God. It simplifies communion with the Holy One of Israel. It brings out our strengths, our fortitude, and our self-reliance. I try to feel joy in these circumstances, but sometimes it is absent. There is almost a long silence between you and God. He is working, but in ways you cannot see, taste, touch, or smell. It is beyond the senses. 


Song in the Night   

 

Jesus, Savior

Are you here tonight?

Broken, weary

Can you hear me tonight?

 

I cannot see you

I cannot touch you

I cannot hear you

but I sing and you have no words

 

Music and lyrics by Emily Isaacson (unpublished)


Right now I will be honest with my readers and followers and say we need more provision than we have. If you ever feel called to donate to my ministry, now might be the time. I have opened a Go-Fund-Me account that you can donate to on the home page: www.wildlilyinstitute.com


"Are you in a desert experience? Let your thirsty soul be restored and refreshed through the daily devotions in the NIV Streams in the Desert Bible.

At some point in our lives, we encounter the trials and deep mysteries of the Christian faith. And when we do become like a thirsty traveler, what we most desire is for hope, comfort, and encouragement to burst forth like a sparkling, clear river.

The hopeful daily readings in this Bible promise to revive and refresh you--one of today's generation of faithful sojourners--by providing daily devotions in modern, easy-to-understand language that beautifully captures the timeless essence of the original. These devotionals are presented alongside Scripture using the popular New International Version of the Bible.

While the devotions in this Bible were originally written by L. B. Cowman--a pioneer missionary in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917--this devotional Bible has been edited by James Reimann. It maintains the beauty of the original Cowman writings while making the devotionals more accessible for the readers of today."  (Source: Goodreads)

Buy Streams in the Desert

 

Whose Humility?


Guest Blog by James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal

I am in the early, ruminative stages of a new book project. I love this phase so much. It's the time when dreaming is work, when you get to be a student again, when progress is less linear and often arrives as a surprise.  

For this project (I'll share more in the months to come), I've been reading Thomas Merton's classic, New Seeds of Contemplation. It is a profound, ranging book, though not without its flaws. (Merton's patriarchal assumptions are unsurprising but nonetheless jarring.)

This week, one thread of Merton's reflections has burrowed its way into my psyche: his unique reflections on humility. He is a remarkable diagnostician of various forms of false humility. For example: Merton notes that there is a way of "being humble" that is really just conformity to the expectations of others. But that, he says, is not humility. In fact, "there can be an intense egoism in following everybody else." In other words, sometimes "being humble" (or "acting" humble) in terms of what others expect humility should look like is actually a form of self-interest, an intense desire to be seen as humble.

It is interesting that when he first discusses this, Merton associates the saint and the artist, the monk and the poet. The great temptation for the monk, he says, is to cloak oneself in what one assumes the crowd expects humility to look like. "If they do this job thoroughly," he notes, "their spiritual disguises are apt to be much admired. Like successful artists, they become commercial." These "spiritual disguises" that pass themselves off as humility are anything but; they still have their eye too much on others. At root, this is still a posture of self-interest: I see you seeing me and I want to be seen well. Merton continues:

A clever kind of insolvent servility, a peculiar combination of ambition, stubbornness and flexibility, a "third ear" keenly attuned to the subtlest modulations of the fashionable cliché–with all this you can pass as a saint or a genius if you conform to the right group.

I think Merton's keen insight is this: humility is not comparative. Humility, strangely enough, is not fundamentally a matter of how I look or relate to other people; it is, instead, about the posture of my being toward God. Like Kierkegaard's Abraham, what it means for me (and you) to be humble is somehow utterly singular–a secret, of sorts. Thus Merton cautions that the saint isn't always the one who conforms to our expectation of what it means to be humble.

One of the first signs of a saint may well be the fact that other people do to know what to make of him. In fact, they are not sure whether he is crazy or only proud; but it must at least be pride to be haunted by some individual ideal which nobody but God really comprehends.

True humility, Merton says, can be mistaken for pride precisely because one who is truly humble is answering a singular call that is a secret wrestling of another soul with God. Merton ventures a definition: "humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God, and since no two people are alike, if you have the humility to be yourself you will not be like anyone else in the whole universe."

Humility is not pretending to be less than you are; humility is submission to one's utter dependence on God to be who you are called to be. "And so it takes heroic humility to be yourself," Merton says, "and to be nobody but the [person], or the artist, that God intended you to be." And if you do that, "you will be made to feel that your honesty is only pride."

It may seem strange, given our collective assumptions about what counts as humility, but this sort of humility requires courage. It requires a certain kind of refusal of expected norms. It requires courage to answer a call. It requires courage to wrestle with a God others cannot see. It requires courage to detach oneself from the expectations of others and say: this is not about you. "True humility excludes self-consciousness," Merton later observes, "but false humility intensifies our awareness of ourselves to such a point that we are crippled, and can no longer make any movement or perform any action without putting to work a whole complex mechanism of apologies and formulas of self-accusation."

True humility, in other words, starts to sound like liberation. Which isn't to say it's easy.

Standing Straight in the Gospel

There is more to life than being a wimp. This refers to our softness on ourselves when it comes to living the gospel. We need to have good posture. We need to exercise what we know. Living it out is a daily practice, not a monthly one. Exercising once a month won't get you in shape. Going to church once a month won't make you fervent. Hey wait. . . isn't fervent a little too intense?

Kindness and softness are not the same thing. We need to be kind instead of soft, encouraging others to rise to their full potential. Everyone has a destiny, not just the pastor. He gets paid, but you are being you out of your own free will. Your response is free.

We need to be somewhat stringent to really come down to a person and a relationship, not a religion, method, or structure. The reason is, Jesus can be found in many colours, many faces, many beliefs, many buildings, many structures, in the hearts of men. We can't quite pin it down, and this is good. When we want to make Jesus into something we can control, it has lost its life. There is already the understanding of what a dead church is, of the image of an old church building whose tithes and parishioners have dwindled down to nothing. A church full of people, with no life. A building where people come but don't mean it. Nominal holiday attending blank faces. The church is meant to be alive. It is meant to be a flame, a controlled fire of love. But be careful you don't put out the fire entirely with the hope of controlling the flame. Every believer has a flame in their hearts. They need those with their candles lit to light their hearts to flame. This fervency is what you see in a real believer. They have the capacity to light others.

We can rejoice that the real church lives and breathes, but it exists through pain and persecution. It is birthed by solitary prayer. It happens when we are alone with God through the trials in our lives and come face to face with who we really are. The persecuted church exists today as much in North America as it does in Asia. There are Christians who live out painful lives, crucifying their flesh until they know the reality of Christ in every country. That is how they know it is real. Jesus himself lived out human life in all its pain, and as a lamb, finally crucified the flesh once and for all. Halleluiah!

There are widows and orphans everywhere, and many mouths to feed. There are the poor on every continent who can tell you stories about the light of a church feeding them. There is both physical hunger and spiritual hunger, and both require our dedication.


When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread.

"Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?

Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?

Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?

How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 16: 5-24

The Commitment to Gratitude

After walking the beaches of Campbell River for over a week, collecting seashells and listening to the sound of the waves as I travelled back and forth to Vancouver Island last week, I remember all the nostalgic times my family has shared and why I want the good times to last. You never know when someone's days may be cut short or you may lose a family member. While I was there, my sister, who was pregnant with her fourth child was admitted to the hospital, and by morning we were informed that the baby had died. We aren't releasing any details of her personal journey and the grief we share as a family. We know you will respect our right to grieve in silence, in the valleys of solitude where we roam not as strangers but as friends with the Good Shepherd.

It is these dark times that make us relish making memories, the future retreats, and moments of celebration when our family will be together again. We were sitting at the table having a Celebration of Life over ice cream and berry crisp, and it was only the next day that the country marked another death, another reason to fly the flag at half mast. It is only recently that I have come to understand what the middle ground its. What is this aspired territory that marks us for the eternal?

This understanding came to me, as I have mulled over quite a few sermons on pride and quite a few teachings on shame, and why neither are really esteemed in the Christian life. They can be almost close, then almost polar opposites. I began to wonder if we counter shame with pride so we don't fall off our mountains. It became more and more clear, that we are taught that shame and guilt and related and that they are bad emotions to feel. Before, telling our stories, and even testimonies became commonplace. But now, we hear more and more that people have adopted pride, using that word, price in their heritage, their culture, that their culture has value and that they should be proud. It would be difficult for committed Christians, I am thinking of Protestants to accept this descriptor because we have been warned about the dangers of pride, and of being too proud. We are regularly admonished to be humble instead, and told this emotion is un-Christian. Yet as I thought about the matter it became clear that there must be a middle ground where we could rest and be healthy... I believe this middle ground is gratitude.

Gratitude is the emotion we feel when we want to avoid shame for our past. It should be the place of balance from the pride of not needing anyone, to the gratitude that comes when we accept grace. It is gratitude that allows us to accept a Saviour. Indeed, the marker we should look for to identify a Christian is how grateful they are. Are they grateful for everything? Can we seriously bless Jesus in the good times and the bad? There are plenty of things to verbalize in gratefulness, in the avoidance of shame, guilt or pride. It is by means of gratitude, our gracious acceptance of the cost Christ paid that allows us entry into heaven.


At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18:1-5


Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Mark 14:1-9 (NIV)

The Posture of Waiting

We are a waiting people. We wait in life for fulfillment, even for many years. We wait for our children to be born. We also wait in our brokenness at times for restoration. There is gestation and birth in many ways, in both nature and in earth's cycles of the seasons. Creatures live and die, and we celebrate and mourn, often at the same time.  

This conflict is seen both within and without, in both our conflicting emotions, and our conflicted relationships, lifelines, and years of service to entities we cannot control. Healing our wounds and our conflicts means waiting for redemption, for the meaning in the pain, and waiting for restoration, to be whole again.

One of the best things to do in waiting is to assume a posture of worship. This blog delineates some of the worshipful postures we have, including both dance and music. I spent years both dancing and teaching dance. I particularly found meaningful participating in the yearly 'March for Jesus' growing up which would start at the parliament buildings in Victoria. 

I was part of a dance troupe that travelled to many churches, schools, and fairs, and went on YWAM as a teenager four times, even to Europe. The last team I was on was the Commonwealth Team that visited Victoria during the Commonwealth Games from Australia. I didn't stay with the team, as I was ill but stayed at home and travelled to the performances and sang a solo with them of "Let the Flame Burn Brighter". These trips taught me to keep the physical disciplines of dance and exercise in balance with spiritual disciplines. I saw the power of children singing and dancing to the Lord as a powerful tool to bring hope and renewal to many churches and even secular places like prisons, malls and walled countries.

Today as a Mennonite woman, I am reminded to keep things in balance with the spiritual realm. For example I read in the book The Celtic Way of Prayer by Esther de waal. She lead the way in relating the contemplative life to those living outside of monasteries. I now understand that we can couple menial tasks with prayer, particularly contemplative prayer. I appreciate the focus on building a good home, and a home that will last in the Mennonite tradition, with purposeful values. This physical house represents the spiritual house, and in this way each task takes on spiritual meaning. 

Sometimes we are left in life with real scars and can be hurt again where we have been wounded before. I am trying to see the way through some painful times where people seem to re-open my scars, when I have already healed them. I don't see the point of reliving trauma, and often would discourage people from destabilizing too much through extensive counselling. Sometimes the practical rituals of daily life have to heal us through repetition and the sanctity of life itself.

Even in my life today, I am having to go back in time and unravel things that went wrong twenty years ago that were never resolved. Sweeping problems under the rug is certainly not the answer. I am worried at times that entire generations can have a festering wound, as we have seen recently in the news as the First Nations bands have come forward with disturbing evidence of their treatment in residential schools. Much more healing is needed to restore a whole people group. I made this video to describe the healing process, and the resolution.


Esther de Waal, one of Celtic Christianity's preeminent scholars, shows how this tradition of worship draws on both the pre-Christian past and on the fullness of the Gospel. It is also an enlightening glimpse at the history, folklore, and liturgy of the Celtic people.

Esther de Waal introduces readers to monastic prayer and praise (the foundation stone of Celtic Christianity), early Irish litanies, medieval Welsh praise poems, and the wealth of blessings derived from an oral tradition that made prayer a part of daily life. Through this invigorating book, readers enter a world in which ritual and rhythm, nature and seasons, images and symbols play an essential role. A welcome contrast to modern worship, Celtic prayer is liberating and, like a living spring, forever fresh. (Source: Amazon).

 

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How to develop your prophetic endurance?

See what the next task is the Lord has in store for you, and follow through.

Build Yourself Up

But you, most beloved, build yourselves up
in your most holy faith. – Jude 20 (NIV)

Warm up with worship
hands raised, spirit stretching
to the Almighty.
Increase the rhythm of the heart
with the jumping-jacks of praise.
Hop onto the treadmill of the Word
read it, study it
meditate on it, memorize it.
Then it’s down on the floor
for push-ups of confession
abdominal crunches of petition
and, firmly grasping others’ weighty burdens,
bench presses of intercession, set after set.
Up on your feet again for step-ups of listening
then cool down walking in place, silent.
End with a song of thanksgiving
that pours from a well-toned heart.
Now go out to meet the day
your spirit radiating contentment and joy
flexible and strong from its workout
with faith, hope and love.

Violet Nesdoly

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A Day of Prayer

The Dr. James Dobson Family Institute asked to join us in linking arms on Sunday, Aug. 22, with Rev. Franklin Graham and Christians worldwide in ardent prayer for the catastrophic events that are unfolding in Afghanistan. Please pray specifically for the Lord's intervention and protection of the tens of thousands of Americans and our Christian brothers and sisters who are in immediate peril by the Taliban. Keep this in your prayers as we continue on.

What is prophecy?

A prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet to have been communicated to them by a deity. Such messages typically involve inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of divine will concerning the prophet's social world and events to come (compare divine knowledge).

--Wikipedia

Maimonides suggested that "prophecy is, in truth and reality, an emanation sent forth by Divine Being through the medium of the Active Intellect, in the first instance to man's rational faculty, and then to his imaginative faculty."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophecy   


What is your definition?

Should prophecy engage the imagination, and if so, how?

Would you respond better to an overt word or a subtle word picture.


"According to Walter Brueggemann, the task of prophetic (Christian) ministry is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture."

https://theaquariusbus.com/prophecy-101/

 

What is prophetic poetry?

Does every poet write from an ideology?


The ocean you find yourself in is oddly familiar, and that is the strange thing about poetry, how it is so solitary, but the realities spoken by the poem are shared by many.

--Onjana Yawnghwe, When Poems Are Rooms

What is a Levitical Ministry?

Beyond the great composers, the authors of the Hymns of the Faith, we have contemporary worship music. It is written by musicians. In the early days of the Bible, these anointed musicians were called Levites. A lot of new worship music is produced today, and featured on Christian radio. This is attracting contemporary society in droves. Worship leaders strive to present music in church settings that is cool, singeable for corporate worship, theologically correct, and an attractive sound. But we are really using worship music as a medium, a means of connecting in an intimate way with our Creator.

Prophetic Quotes

Praise to Jesus, my friends, we seek Him in all ways for all our everything every moment of every day, glory to Jesus! #onourknees my friends, crying out to He who alone is "our refuge & strength," healer & redeemer of ALL the enemy's games, glory to Jesus . . .

– Bruce Marchino, Twitter

No one can pray and worry at the same time. When we worry, we aren’t praying. When we pray, we aren’t worrying. 

–Max Lucado

No matter how dark things become, someone is always with you – and that someone is God. He helps by giving you peace and a positive mental attitude.

–Norman Vincent Peale

In every case, the cries of Christ are not declarations that he believes God has actually left him, but cries for help to a God who he knows is there but cannot hear, see or sense him.

– Brad Jersak

Those who never rebelled against God or at some point in their lives shaken their fists in the face of heaven, have never encountered God at all.

– Catherine Marshall

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.

– Mother Teresa

The success of God has far outdistanced the poverty of earth.

– Emily Isaacson

There is a tendency to see divine intervention in things that happen in the normal course of miracles.

– Robert Brault

There is coming a new wind of my Spirit into the Fraser Valley and the language of this wind will be signs and wonders and dreams and vision (as stated by Acts 2). If my people receive my language in this coming season then they will be able to hear what I am telling them to do. However if they do not know how I speak and value how I speak this wind can blow right by them and they will not even know I am moving.

– Murray Dueck

Prophetic Moments

Waiting for Jesus.

Listening to the Holy Spirit.

Urged to act by power not our own.

Worshipful Postures

Hold your hands out.

Keep your candle lit.  

Worship every day.

Pray for others. 

 

 

 

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