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Tag: breakthrough

Think About Such Things

by Wendy

Philippians-4_8 by-sapphire-dream-photography_flickr-com_9600100560_293d0d7f22_CC BY ND 2.0

Philippians-4:8 by-sapphire-dream-photography_flickr-com_9600100560_293d0d7f22_CC BY ND 2.0

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”(Phil. 4:8, NIV)

Friends across a continent for more than two decades, we relished this rare week, far from the tangle of strained relations, finances, and obligations. Our daily duels with contentment-stealing vultures gradually faded as she basked in sketches, paintings and collages. I bathed in words, watercolors and photographs. She read. I wrote. We walked, prayed, talked, and made sense of the year’s triumphs and tumults. Until Wednesday, when all creativity ground to a screeching halt.

Stretching after an unproductive morning tussling with recalcitrant words, I peeked into the prayer room door. My friend sighed and looked up from her book. “I’m caught in a cauldron of negative emotions,” she mourned, shaking her head. “Yesterday was so good…” Read the rest of this entry »

At the Threshold

by juste buzas

Image by Seth SeChrist
Flickr.com_4541504459_b8e9f0eee3 CC BY-ND 2.0

“O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.”

(Psalm 63:1,2)

 

One morning, the Lord spoke to me.

“Closer still,” He said.

“How?” I asked.  “How, Lord?”

Months passed.  I grew restless, dissatisfied.  I knew God was calling me higher, but I could not figure out how to step in.  How to step beyond the veil. Read the rest of this entry »

One Word for 2018: Hope!

by juste buzas

Image by David
Flickr.com_brokentaco_2781330996_f9260fea91

“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear or dread?  The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”  (Psalm 27:1)

One afternoon not long ago, I stood on my front porch and watched the beginnings of a thunderstorm roll through the sky.  The sky was wild, exhilarating; alive with color and movement.  I was caught up in the rush of wind and action, struck with wonder at the battleground set before me.  It was as though the place in which I stood was the dividing line between storm and stillness.

To my left, the sky was ominous.  Layers of gray and black rolled together as one, threatening force.  An occasional drum of thunder grumbled from within the darkness.

To my right was brilliant sunshine.  Billowing white clouds set high against a glorious, blue sky.

The stage was set.  The battle was at hand. Read the rest of this entry »

The “Unless” Moments of God

by juste buzas

 

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. (Exodus 14:14)

“When will it break, Lord?”  I whispered wearily.  “When will release come?”

My spirit was tired and heavy within me.  Oh, I wasn’t complaining.  The motive of my heart was pure.  I was quite familiar with the rebellious cries of the children of ancient Israel for I, too, had cried out in bitterness and anger toward God.  I, too, had looked up through bitter tears and accused God.  But this was different.  I wasn’t angry or even sad.  I was simply tired.  I was weary.

As soon as I cried out in anguish, words of Scripture and prophecy flowed through my spirit.  Words which reassured and steadied me.  I took a breath.  I was not turning back.  I had no desire to return to the old for I had tasted and experienced God’s goodness.  I had come to know His steadfast faithfulness – there in the midst of my struggle.  I was simply facing another day of trial, and my heart was faint to bear it. Read the rest of this entry »

Step One to Breakthrough

by Mike McKinniss

Meanwhile Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God (Exo. 3:1).

There is a particular technique in devotional meditation on Scripture that encourages the reader to immerse himself in a biblical story. The idea is to read and re-read a narrative passage again and again and, in so doing, more and more deeply imagine oneself in the midst of the story.

It can be a powerful and insightful process, employing the imagination in such a way as to feel the weight of, say, Jesus’ parables, Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal, or Paul’s harrowing shipwreck. What would I think if I were there? How would I respond?

Occasionally, the reader is encouraged to put herself in the dusty sandals of certain characters in the tale, to try to see the narrative through a biblical figure’s eyes.

There are some people in the Bible with whom I imagine it might be rather easy and natural to trade places. I can often see myself in the lives of the disciples, especially pre-Pentecost; consistently missing Jesus’ point is a forté of mine. Gideon’s shoes fit me perfectly; I could ask God for signs as a stall tactic in my sleep. And I may have been cut from the same cloth as Jonah; my natural direction in life is generally opposite the way God is pointing.

Rarely, however, do I dare put myself in the position of the Greats. Paul would no doubt dismiss me as a timid mouse of a man. I quiver in Elisha’s gaze. When I stand at my tallest, David towers over me.

Yet recently, I have dared to imagine my life in the model of Moses.

Yes, Moses: the man who looms over the entire Old Testament. Moses: the prophet who called down plagues, carried God’s Law and formed a nation from a ragtag league of slaves. Moses: the man called the most humble who ever lived. I can see myself in him.

That is, I can see myself in Moses at a particular time in his life.

Although Moses began his life in peril—he was quickly hidden as a newborn because Pharaoh had demanded the life of every Hebrew boy—he was taken into the household of Pharaoh himself and raised amidst royalty. Exodus doesn’t tell us much about Moses’ upbringing, but we can imagine that he must have had the finest clothes, food and education as Pharaoh’s own adopted grandson.

Some time later, in a rather rash moment, Moses killed an Egyptian who was lashing out against a fellow Hebrew. The deed was discovered and Moses was forced to flee the country, heading toward the wilderness to the east. He married into a foreign family and took on the job of herding his father-in-law’s sheep. Moses’ prospects had sunk low.

This is the point at which I find it easy to picture myself as Moses. Though I could never claim royalty, I have been many times brought low from what I had perceived as a higher plateau. Indeed, how often does this happen to us all? We achieve certain accolades, a certain standing, but then circumstances shift and we find we are quickly at the bottom of the pile.

Scripture does not say how long Moses lived in Jethro’s household, walking his sheep over every desolate hill and dale. Some suggest it may have been as long as thirty or forty years. The Bible only says it was a long time.

It must have felt even longer for poor Moses, thinking of the height from which he’d plummeted. The attendant questions come easily to mind: God, how could you have brought me to this terrible place? Oh, to think of where I had been just a few years ago! God, when will you ever save me from this damnation to anonymity?

Many of us long for breakthrough. The circumstances differ from one to another, but we each are desperate, at various times, for the Lord to emerge in our lowly state and rescue us. For Moses, I imagine it was a longing to return to some kind of prominence. For others, it is a health issue for which they have prayed relief, recognition in the workplace for years of hidden toil, rescue from an abusive relationship. Whatever the source of our trouble, we rightly recognize the Lord as our savior.

But when might he come to save? That is so often the plaguing question.

For Moses, his breakthrough began when he noticed a peculiar thing. Walking the flock of sheep near the mountain of Horeb, the Lord caught his attention in a remarkable way. God set fire to a bush, but refused to consume it. Finally, the Lord shows up! This is what Moses had been waiting for.

But Moses must also have done an important thing. In order to receive the breakthrough God had planned for Moses and the Hebrew people, Moses had to respond: “Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?” (Exo. 3:3).

Moses’ breakthrough came because God suddenly appeared but Moses would have missed it had his eyes not been open. Had Moses not been on the lookout for the Lord, and had he not been ready to respond, he may have trudged on past that burning bush, never turning aside.

Perhaps this is step one to breakthrough: Daily set expectations to see God. Moses did not know when God would appear to him, but he was ready when the Lord did reveal himself. So it may be with us. Whatever breakthrough we seek, we know the source will be our God. And though way may not know when the Lord will act, we can know that we’ll be ready to see him and respond when he does.

Go Through to Break Through

by mymorethanme

A few weeks ago both our boys came down with strep throat. Since getting slammed with a digestive disorder seven years ago most antibiotics have not been my friend; therefore, strep has been at the top of my heebie-jeebies list. I have done all I can (within reason) to avoid antibiotics as well as sickness. Should I get sick, it could take weeks for me to bounce back, and many medications (from cold medicines to antibiotics) negatively affect my system–so much so that I would rather suffer through illness without taking anything for relief than deal with the side effects. While I have not become a full-fledged germaphobe, I readily admit I have used more than my fair share of hand sanitizer.

So how did I handle this plague that struck our home? I couldn’t run, couldn’t hide, couldn’t avoid it. My love for my boys overtook my fear so I held them, stroked their heads, kissed their faces, and prayed. And cleaned. And obsessed a bit. Then, after about a week, my husband and I reluctantly went to the doctor to get checked ourselves because we finally had to concede to the fact that we, too, had sore throats. We were given antibiotics to take–just in case. Our test results had come back negative, but seeing as we had two confirmed cases of strep in the house, we were prescribed the dreaded antibiotics prophylactically. At first we held off, thinking (hoping!) perhaps it wasn’t strep, but then Dad got worse so we each took our first pill. Turns out he did not have strep, but the flu, and I had a mild something that quickly and quietly passed, but since we’d already begun the treatment, on we marched.

Know what happened?

Nothing. I suffered no side effects. I was surrounded by strep and the flu and I barely had a sniffle. I faced and fought panic and Love won. Where I broke down, God broke through.

Now fear has no hold on me.

We are all given the gift of choice. We can allow fear to hold us captive–to dictate our decisions, feelings and reactions. We can ruminate on what-ifs and worst case scenarios (poor uses of imagination) until we are bound and gagged, incapable of moving, living or breathing. We can turn tail and cower in defeat, curl up in a ball, and pull the covers up over our heads while settling into a stagnant slumber. Or we can wake up and live–alive. We can follow, believe, trust, rely and depend on the One who with loving strength and supreme authority earnestly entreats us to, “Fear not.” The power of fear is in the fear, not in the projected outcome we, while dripping sweat, strive to avoid. As it turns out, I did not get the sickness I feared, or suffer the consequences I anticipated by taking the medication I was prescribed. However, even if I had, I would have been given the grace not only to endure the circumstance, but also to be strengthened and empowered by it. There is a tragedy greater than the outcomes projected in fear that most often never come to pass, and that is the time, peace, love, and life sacrificed on the illusory altar of self-preservation, safety and security.

How do we break out of fear’s death grip? We must go through to break through. There is no other way. Turning our backs on fear leaves us vulnerable to being shot between the shoulder blades. We face our fears with faith and triumph, knowing life was never meant to be safe; it was meant to be lived. Knowing we are not victims; we are victors. Knowing we cannot win this battle on our own. Perfect Love drives out all fear. It is in this Love we stand as overcomers, warriors, winners, as more than conquerors.

We belong to our Father. The battle is His and He’s already won. Outcomes are irrelevant in His arms–where our coming apart comes together and our falling pieces fall into place. Where we are held, healed and made whole. Where our breakdowns become our breakthroughs, where all things work together for good, where Love never fails and we are always safe.

The only place we are safe.

The only place we are free.

Box-Buster Jesus!

by mymorethanme

Busted Box by Karl Baron  https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalleboo/2240045517 CC BY-ND 4.0

Busted Box by Karl Baron
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalleboo/2240045517 CC BY-ND 4.0

My heart has been on my mind. Sometimes it seems that’s as close as it gets. I have often felt I have so much cluttering my attic, yet so little furnishing my living space. How do I get all the treasures upstairs, downstairs where they can be fully experienced, enjoyed and shared with others?

Feelings are such funny things. We need them. We can’t live alive without them. Sometimes they strive to run the show. Who hasn’t wanted to call out of work or blow off a commitment or break a promise, just because? How many important decisions have been made based on emotion rather than on what we had previously set out to accomplish or stick with?

Other times it’s as if we have evasive, evaporating emotions. Where and when they went we do not know. We just know they’ve gone and we’re left feeling stone dry, desolate, detached…empty.

Having a history of addiction, I know well what it’s like to attempt to control my emotions. I wanted to feel, but only what I wanted to feel, and only when I wanted to feel it.

Years ago, when getting clean, uncontrolled emotions began returning. I was no longer inducing euphoria or numbing pain; I was simply feeling. What a scary place to be for the first time. Of course, you don’t need to be a recovering addict to relate. I used many things before I used drugs and alcohol. We’ve all used something at some point to try to control our feelings. Food, shopping, sex, television, power, religion–choose your drug. We’ve all been there and done that.

Underlying the desire to control my emotions was a deep fear of rejection. I felt rejected, so I shut down. I’m not going to trust, I’m not going to be vulnerable, I’m not going to put myself out there just to get sucker punched again, thank you very much. Me ‘n my heart are going to stay right here, nice and safe in this bare little box, and ride this life out pain free from now on. Pain free…but not free. Broken in and in bondage to that bare little fear box. Lifeless, loveless and blind.

But then Jesus got in my box and when Jesus gets in your box everything changes. There’s no box big enough to hold Jesus! Jesus busts boxes apart–He breaks in and breaks through! I was no longer rejected; I was accepted. I was no longer worthless; I was worthy. I was no longer forsaken; I was cherished…loved. Over these last nine years Jesus has been taking me deeper, healing me more fully than I ever imagined possible. I still get tempted to give into my emotions and do what I “feel” like doing. Jesus is collaborating with maturity to work this out in me. I also get tempted to shut down emotionally and check out. Play it safe. Put up walls and take a long nap. This is my greater struggle. But when I give my heart, my emotions, my fear to Jesus–because I have purposed to, not because I feel like it–He does the impossible. He makes me live and trust; He makes me safe and whole. He makes my winter spring and my death to self life in Him.

Today I purpose to pursue the One who has a plan and purpose for my life. Plans for peace and well-being, plans to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Today I choose to receive Truth and reject lies. God is always willing, always giving, always speaking. Am I willing, am I receiving, am I listening? It takes discipline to act and not react, to remain in love and be loved, to send faith to the door when fear knocks. We have this ability in Jesus. We have His love, power, self-discipline, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Thank You, Jesus–You are so good at unpacking our attics and filling our living spaces! Thank You for breaking in, breaking through and busting up our boxes!

Pressing Through

by Wendy

by Wendy Coy

Image

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Is 61:1b, NIV)

 

His forehead wrinkled and a tiny grimace floated across my husband’s face. No one else noticed, but I saw it and winced. This would be harder than we thought.

The microphone in his hand didn’t stop him; nor did the sixty people in the room, who variously prayed, winced or watched intently. He was meeting with Jesus but he was doing it in public, verbally telling us the intimate pictures and conversations He and Jesus were having internally. It was classic inner healing (the person, the problem and Jesus all in the same room at the same time) but brave was far too mild a word to describe this interchange.

My heart raced with a strange combination of pride and concern. I was eager to see if the new prayer process which had worked so well in more private settings could hold up to this kind of public scrutiny, but had we gone too far? My husband was not easily jostled, but this might be too much.

“What’s going on?” I prompted.

“Jesus knows this internal wound requires surgery and it might be painful,” he responded. “The hateful words became arrows in my heart, and they’re infected. He has to pull them out and… well, this may be too graphic,” he paused. I edged almost off my stool and silently prayed my standard panic prayer. “O God, O God, O God, Help!” We didn’t need to scare away sixty eager prayer ministers wanting to watch God at work.

“He wants to suck out the [metaphorical] venom from my heart. The venom came from the poisoned words, the ones I believed.” OH! Graphic, perhaps, but incredibly freeing! Jesus had such creative ways of relieving pain.

I breathed a little, and we waited while my husband’s spiritual surgery continued. He asked questions, Jesus responded. Jesus offered healing, he cooperated. It wasn’t a smooth road, but the lies dissolved, and he forgave the ones who had hurled them.

And then, as if on cue, it was over. “Thank you Jesus!” I said involuntarily. My valiant praying husband looked up, exhausted but happy. The heartache was gone. So was the mental picture that had held him back for years. And sixty people watched the whole miracle happen.

The room was electric with anticipation. Hurting hearts grabbed hope and dared to break through pain to Jesus’ healing.   One vulnerability led to another. Dread and anxiety eased out the door, and we watched pained faces give way to joy.

Was this freedom worth the risky cost of being so terribly transparent and vulnerable? I looked up at my husband, searching to see what he really thought, and smiled as he said all the right words. “Jesus knew what they needed and the model opened the door for them to go deeper!”

The risk was real but the reward was even greater. Pushing through the boundaries of doubt and anxiety brought more healing than we imagined, to my husband and to dozens of others who joined in. “I desire healing even more than you do,” Jesus reminded me. It was an old lesson, now made new: He offers hope and emotional healing to all who are willing to receive it. Relieved, I nodded. He certainly honored prayers, bravery and faithfulness that morning! How many others would benefit from that lesson, as well, I wondered?

Grateful, I wrapped my arms around my husband’s chest and hugged him, hard.

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