Stand Firm!

Yesterday, with a backdrop of vibrant trees, I posted myself on my porch swing, where I spend my mornings.  Good Book sprawled across the lap, I peered into the Source of wisdom and courage.  

I have felt compelled to read Ephesians over and over again.  I know that whenever I have sense God asking me to marinate the mind in a portion of His Word, it is always, ALWAYS good for my soul.  Especially when I am to read it many times over.  The book of Galatians once saved my life, that way.  

This morning I noticed something I haven’t ever given much thought to, in all my decades of reading the Bible.  Ephesians 6 gives us a full description of what spiritual armor is given to God’s people, for the invisible war we are all involved in (and some are aware of).  We are clothed with, Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, and the Word of God, as well as the prayers we breathe for and from the Church.  

What burst off the page, like never before, was this: Before He describes our armor, He gives us our battle posture… twice, to make certain we get it.  “Stand firm” it says redundantly, as verse 13 ends and 14 begins.  

Our posture is not to race into battle, to rush away from it, nor to cower behind our shield, helmet and breastplate.  It is to STAND FIRM.  Simple as that.  

In Exodus, where Pharaoh and his cruel army were pursuing God’s people, Moses tells Israel, “Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today, you will never see them again forever.  The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”  (Exodus 14:13-14).  In Psalm 46, we are told to “Cease striving (be still, relax) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  In 2 Chronicles, Jehosphaphat is told “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”  

Most of us are pretty aware that we are standing on a battlefield.  You can honestly see it, these days.  Maybe many of us are not aware that this war is spiritual in nature, however.  All of life is.  

We, who hope in God Almighty, have a hope that the Lord fights for us!  We have a hope that supersedes anything that could happen to our bodies (and can give us immense joy in the midst of suffering), but we also have a hope (if we are saturated with Scripture and believe what it says) that He is more than able to deliver us from any bodily harm, should He so choose.  Don’t believe me?  Read Daniel, Kings, Chronicles, Judges, Samuel, Exodus, Acts, etc., etc., etc.  A God-fearing man gets thrown into a den of hungry lions, and instead of being eaten, gets to pet them (I’m assuming, because I would), then rest peacefully among them.  A few righteous young men resist the cultural pressure to comply against their conscience by worshipping an idol, get thrown into a blazing furnace so hot it kills everyone else approaching, and instead of being singed, they get to walk among the flames with God Himself!  Peter, on the cusp of execution, is woken up by an angel and led straight out of prison, as though the doors were all unlocked. Paul and Silas sing in a prison cell, and the doors fling wide. I could spend pages telling you story upon story of deliverance against all logic, but I won’t bother.  If you want to read that, you should go straight to the Bible.  It’s loaded with wild tales of deliverance!  

In the middle of the night last night, I woke abruptly from a nightmare.  I don’t know about you, but my dream life has been pretty… well, I don’t even know what adjective to use… anxiety-invoking, and prayer-provoking.  Last night was no exception.  

I knew I wouldn’t sleep again unless I flung back the covers and hit my knees on the rug.  As soon as I was kneeling, these life-sustaining words surged through my soul, “Stand Firm!”  I was flooded with peace, and was back asleep nearly as soon as my head touched the pillow.  

Church, this war is raging.  This battle is fierce.  But the Lord, the God of Grace and Glory, has told us how to posture ourselves in battle.  Stand firm!  

                                                                       Space 10/12/20

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The Consuming Peace of His Presence

Last night, standing beneath a canopy of stars, I began to feel anxious. It was all silly things, like the need to help my husband fix the brake line in his truck, or the fact that it was pushing 10 p.m., Simon wasn’t home, and he had school in the morning. It was an overall, general anxious wrestling, intended to propel me racing past the moment I was in, and consume me with stress.

I knew my spirit needed tamed, so I looked up at the sky.

Stars were speckled everywhere, like an artist taking white paint and flecking it wildly over an almost-black canvas, lit up by the blazing flames from the fire pit at my back. The trees striking outline against the backdrop. All of it was so glorious! I began to think about God, the Creator of all this splendor, and imagine how His affection for each and every one of His children couldn’t even be contained if you were to try to scoop it up into all that borderless space we call “the sky”. I stood out there for an hour or so, before anyone interrupted my musings and marvelings, just gawking at all that beauty, and let it wash through the deepest parts of my soul.

It occurred to me, as I make my final preparations for whatever is going to befall us on November 3rd, that the thing that has been most impressed upon my heart to do, is not scurry to take care of any business, or to try to fix the state of the world (not that I could anyway). It is to draw near to God. To be still. To position myself at His feet.

In doing so, there is this feeling of consuming peace taking over my spirit, as wild as the nighttime sky with Mars blazing fierce, and the stars playing their orchestra, and the moon cresting the horizon to greet all the watching world, who will listen for it’s songs of majesty and bliss!

I am unraveled, but in the most magnificent way. It feels as though the molecules racing through my blood stream, pumping from heart to feet to brain to fingers, are made of the fibers of another world.

When I fail to fight against the urge to rush and take care of “business”, my days are devoured with wrestling and wearing, distraction and chaos. Yet, in the beginning of time, God spoke chaos into order. When I listen for His voice, He does it all over again, but this time with my soul!

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The View From the Knees

I have found myself experiencing a range of emotions, most of them not good, leading up to this 2020 election. I don’t know about you, but it sort-of feels like we’re on the cusp of getting hit with a plague, I, for one, am hoping it washes over us, like the Israelites in Egypt, when they plastered blood over their mantles, and God spared them.

I have hope we might be spared, but I said hope, not confidence, and remember, it was only those who trusted in the Lord who were spared. Egypt still got hit brutally hard. And we have long been a nation whose habit was to trust in ourselves and in our bank accounts.

I don’t know how many of us realize how much this country is on the brink of collapse. It has been for awhile, simply because of how we have not been trusting in, surrendering to, or delighting in God. We have even been indoctrinating our kids, from a tender, young age, to doubt His existence, by telling them the world was created by some catastrophic accident, as though that makes more sense than believing a Sovereign Creator designed it. You know what that implies? That our children and everyone else are just accidents. Think about it. If the world is an accidental combustion, so are our children. So, why would they care about their fellow man, or even themselves, if they are just some freak accident? Perhaps this is why we are seeing all of this violence, homicide and suicide.

Back to this cusp-of-collapse. For days, I have been feeling despondent, battling fear, wrestling through the sense that I am just living on auto-pilot: cutting soap, writing a book, grocery shopping, and cleaning my living room, when I need to use what fleeting time I have left for something more eternal. What if we only have less than a month before this election, and we either become Socialists (which is one step before Communism, by the way, and it’s NEVER gone well for Communist nations), or before the polarization of our civilization hits hyper-speed, and a Civil War breaks out, or before… I don’t know, you fill in the blanks. There are plenty of bleak predictions that could be made about what’s happening around us, if our eyes are open.

But I am not one to write a blog post simply to drag people into the mire with me. If I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t be writing. So, here is where these negative emotions have driven me

To my knees!

In Philippians 4:4-8, God gives the remedy for anxiety. The remedy is: with thanksgiving, talk to Him about our struggles. And it actually does work! I am not any more settled about the results of the election, but I am settled into remembering that He is sovereign, and it can turn out whichever way He chooses. The options are the table are not limited to my finite understanding of which way this country will turn in less than a month. The options are limitless, purposeful, and glorious (though, not always by human reason) when sifted through the hand of God. When I pray and give thanks, I remember that I am His’ and He will love me and be faithfully good to me, regardless of the outcome (you know, when you read about Israel’s exile from Daniel’s perspective, he got to live in a palace in a foreign land. Maybe it’s just about perspective!).

When I seek His face, it produces surrender. I love where I live and what I do. I live on a hefty chunk of land, surrounded by forest. I can’t even see any neighbors. It’s serene. I have a job where I get paid to make people happy, my house smell lovely, and I never lack for a great bar of soap! By human standards, I have a lot to lose, but what does any of it compare to losing my life to Christ and gaining eternal glory? This life is super short compared to eternity. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glories that will be revealed to us” (Romans8:18). Nor are they worthy when contrasted with the significance of showing the face of God to the aching, dying world. I mean, if we are to suffer, what is that, but an insignificant part of our calling to change the world for His Kingdom’s sake. I know I speak folly to anyone who doesn’t know the worth of Christ, but I hope all Christians will agree with me. If not, maybe you should spend a little more time on your knees and in the Book.

As we look suffering, death, pain, and fear in the face, yet we take it before the Lord and lay it at His’ feet, all of it begins to look beautiful… purposeful… and pale in the light of eternity.

So, once again, I raise my arms, in both praise and surrender. Because, who else, but a Christian, can walk in such hope during such tumultuous times? And if the joy of the Lord is my strength, then bending the knee has made me strong once again! I am thankful!

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Unfathomably Great!

I have a confession: I think I tend to view God through an American lens.

I am keenly aware that God is in-love with me! That He has the hairs of my head all numbered, and intricately handcrafted me in my mama’s belly! I am overjoyed that He goes with me, throughout my days, and never leaves my side. I know I am the apple of His eye (along with all of His other beloved ones).

Yet, I find myself neck deep in a pandemic, on the cusp of this country possibly capsizing, and facing the tremendous fact that we may not have all the same stuff we’ve thought we were entitled to (at the top of the list, freedom!). And where is my affectionate, head-over-heels God if that happens?

Then I read verses like “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Isaiah 40:15).

But I am not so foolish to walk away from my Beloved, or think Him monstrous, when I read that the nations are like dust to Him. No, this is rather the other side of the coin. The one that takes reverence to embrace. The one that produces reverence when embraced!

You see, my God is still the God who numbers hairs and stoops tenderly, but He is also the God who rules nations with truth and justice. And justice sometimes involves smashing nations. But God is still tenderly near to His afflicted Church. He is still keenly aware of the number of hairs on each of His persecuted ones’ heads. And perhaps there is something about that persecution that draws men nearer, and reminds them of the greatness of God. Because who can endure torture, and even joyfully, but the one who has hope in something far greater than Himself? Yet, Christians, for thousands of years, have been testifying with their joy, of the surpassing worth of Christ, even in the midst of immense tribulation.

“One Chinese church leader, who spent 23 years in prison, once said this to Christians who did not face persecution: ‘I was pushed into a cell, but you have to push yourself into one. You have no time to know God. You need to build yourself a cell, so you can do for yourself what persecution did for me – Simplify your life and know God.’ It is vital that we spend time with God, to grow in Him, so we are prepared to stand strong in the face of persecution.” (opendoors.org – The Theology of Persecution).

We, Americans, tend to view the world through the lens of our own worth. We have so much self-esteem, we may just turn into hot air balloons, soaring off into nowhere. There’s a difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Self-worth acknowledges that God doesn’t make mistakes, He is intentional, He loves and adores us. All of this is true… but it also stops short of the full spectrum of truth that makes it most amazing!

The fuller story is that the God who loves, creates, and delights in us, is the same God who hung stars like ornaments in the nighttime sky, the One who set galaxies in motion and leaves a cap of snow on the jagged mountains which jettison up into the oxygen-rich atmosphere surrounding. He created atmospheric pressure. Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. He invented inertia, and fingernails, vocabulary and mathematics, tree bark, and sunsets, and color. He sifts nations like sand! He is Mighty and Majestic. He is the One who sits enthroned forever and ever, to Whom the angels never get tired of singing of His glory! “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

I am fairly confident, though I’ve never been imprisoned for my faith, that there are two truths that keep Christians from utter despair. One is that God is near, and tender, and deeply loves them. The other is that God is unfathomably great, and His purposes are vastly higher than our understanding! May our minds fill to the brim with wonder over how magnificent, glorious, and enormous He is! He not only invented eternity, He inhabits it! To Him be all glory and honor, forever and ever!

Space 9/8/20 a.d.

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Hosea’s Whore

A friend was talking about Hosea last night, so when I retreated to my porch swing this morning, the book was on my mind. If you’ve never read it, it’s sad and glorious all at the same time. It is a book about God’s faithfulness, and His people’s unfaithfulness. It’s about how wayward we are, in our perpetual quest for satisfaction in things that don’t have any eternal value.

In the opening chapter, God tells His prophet, Hosea, to marry a whore. I know, right? I might have second-guessed whether I was really hearing from Him. Even though Hosea’s wife, Gomer marries a good man, she just keeps running after her illegitimate lovers. It’s not long before the reader of the text begins to understand that God is drawing parallel between Hosea/Gomer, and God/His people.

In chapter 2, the Lord, in His mercy, strips His people of all their prized possessions, then brings her/us out into the wilderness (into solitude) and speaks kindly to us, wooing us with His affection, the affection of a Bridegroom.

Chapter 2 sounds a little like 2020, doesn’t it? Like all of the stuff we’ve been trusting in suddenly gave out beneath our feet. The economy crashed, and with it our security and identity. Our entertainment industries (restaurants, sports, movie theaters, etc.) very suddenly dissipated, and we were left in quietness and contemplation. Hosea 2:11 even says “I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.” And I am reminded that every, single music festival and craft fair was canceled this year.

But all of this is for the purpose that we would know God. That we wouldn’t put a displaced hope in things that don’t matter.

God offers Himself as a Husband to this wayward bride. He strips her of her treasured baggage to present Himself to her, as the One who ought to have been her deepest desire already.

Now, here’s where my heart breaks wide… she goes right back to it. To her whoring, ungratifying ways. And I am so afraid that we are, too.

I keep reading Hosea and I keep seeing us in the story. It speaks of God’s people being destroyed for lack of knowledge (4:6) and of them cherishing things that numb, rather than heal (4:10). It speaks of rioting and thieving and forgetting God (7:1).

And it speaks of God’s people crying out to get their stuff back, rather that to know Him (Hosea 7:14-16).

I am honestly afraid for where we will end up, at the end of this year. I think many are hoping that all will be well, and assuming that this really was just about a virus. Once the virus clears, or there’s a vaccine. Once so-and-so gets elected or re-elected. Once all the angry mob releases their aggression. There is all of this hope in false things. And there is hardly any seeking of God. If we don’t turn from our wickedness and our security blanket facades, we are toast!

But there is one hopeful verse wedged in there, that will only be hopeful to those who know the surpassing worth of Christ already. It says, at the end of chapter 3, “they shall come in fear to the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days.” (ESV). The NASB words it like this “they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.”

Here’s why this is hopeful: Because those of us who are already seeking Him know that knowing Christ is far better than any of the false securities the world could offer. There is no amount of blessing this world could ever give that would even compete with His unparalleled splendor and beauty and worth!

If we must be stripped off all our gaieties, all our music festivals and restauranteering, all our economic stability and job security, our freedom and liberty, in order to know God intimately, then we are gaining more than we are losing!

My concern is that we are too much like Gomer, and like Israel… that if we get our stuff back, we will immediately put our hope in and displaced affection upon those things. So, I am not sure we are going to get our stuff back. I’m not sure we’re going to come out of this pandemic. Because I’m not sure that’s what’s in our eternally best interest. My hope is not in deliverance from this virus/rioting/political pandemic, but rather from our pandemic of idolatry. I’m hoping that, should our circumstances take a turn for the worst (or even for the better), that it would produce repentance towards God. I hope that many will “come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness”, because boy, is He good! But sometimes we have to come trembling to see it.

Here is the glorious promise towards God’s people, in the day that she is stripped of her idolatry… “I will betroth you to Me forever, Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion. And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19-20), and as the Psalmist once penned “Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live.” (Psalm 63: 3-4).

God’s goodness is better than life, folks! If the ax falls, and the earth gives way, and all around us turns into a trash heap of pain and clutter, but we find God and fall in-love with our Maker, then we will have gained something vastly more wonderful than all we have lost! May this stripping give birth to revival and intimacy with our God!

Space 8/26/20

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A Psalmist’s Satisfaction

I stretched out on the black, shaggy rug spread across laminate flooring made to look like wood planks. For days I had been planning to have coffee with this dear sister, who was about to move from her apartment (which was about twenty-three steps from my driveway) all the way to Columbus (which isn’t terribly far, but it’s still not the edge of my driveway!). We hadn’t been friends for a very long time, but the depth was much deeper than the length was long.

I had laid in bed contemplating how I wanted to read a Psalm with her, before her parting. As we lounged in her living room, I posed the question of what Psalm she would enjoy reading. We tossed ideas, and finally landed on three different choices. Psalm 42. Psalm 63. And Psalm 84. We split each of these passage in half, then mused over them, swirling the glory of what we had just read around in our minds, like a drink to be casually stirred before it is fully enjoyed. Then we shared our observations.

When we finished reading these three Psalms, it occurred to me that there was a theme woven through each. A theme worthy of pondering until it transforms the soul. I spoke it out loud to Monica, re-reading portions of each of these Psalms, and sifting out the correlation, to place it on a platter before our eyes.

Psalm 42 says this, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.” It gives an imaginative description of a ravished deer, frantic for a gulp of life-sustaining water. There is no reason for us to assume this deer would not be satisfied. I am confident that only a severe drought would prevent any deer from searching until it’s needs are satiated.

Psalm 63 picks up with similar language. “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live.”

As I pondered the second passage, it occurred to me that in this Psalm, the physical needs go unmet. “In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Yet, the Psalmist (David), finds his satisfaction in God’s presence and His lovingkindness! He is satisfied, just not in the ways many will look for satisfaction.

The parallel of these two Psalms intrigues me. I ponder how many prayers have gone unmet, as far as the plea for physical healing, yet God meets the soul of the grieving one in ways that are higher than this world’s satisfactions. He meets them in suffering with His abundant joy. He meets them in anguish with His nearness, faithfulness, and tenderness. He uses the lack of physical relief to bring about a greater spiritual benefit.

But we have one Psalm yet to excavate. I often wonder if this may be my favorite Psalm of all. The Psalm begins with these words: “How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.” It goes on, and you should read it, because, like I said, it may very well be my absolute favorite Psalm, which is no small honor. But I will stop there for now, to make my point.

We have moved from the picture of the panting, desperate deer, who is restless until it’s needs are met… to the one whose needs will not be met in this realm, yet finds the grace of satisfaction in the presence of God. But finally, in this Psalm, we see the one whose satisfaction is entirely laid up in heaven, in Zion! Later, it says “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” This person is fully satisfied. There is no longing, panting, grieving or groping here, other than a heart that flies away to heaven (My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord). Their only desire is to fully enjoy the Presence of God, yet find such rich satisfaction in the longing.

And what is the result of their life? As they pass through the valley of Baca (which means “weeping”), their presence brings and invites the substance of life… water. “They make it a spring; The early rain also covers it”. People whose hearts are full of joy in God bring life to the desert. To the valleys of weeping.

As I sat with the clarity of these overlapping passages, I saw how desperately the Church needs to live like the one in Psalm 84, the one whose strength is in God and in whose heart are the highways to Zion (to heaven)! In Psalm 28:7, it says “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Nehemiah 8:10 says the same thing, which means that when we read Psalm 84, we could almost read it, “How blessed is the man who JOY is in You”… In the Presence of God, rather than in all the fortunes of this world.

We are in desperate times. Times of longing and adversity, where we don’t know which end is up, or how these trying times are going to pan out in the end. We may find the flowing creek of His favor, or He may nourish us with His comfort in our lack of physical relief. There is only one cure for our frantic yearning… a far greater joy in Him than in the things of this world. We can fight corrupt politics by voting. We can fight oppression by protest, prayer or wisdom. We can fight desperation and despair with hope and gratitude. But we are swinging at the wind. We have no idea whether God will look with mercy or judgment upon us. We deserve judgment, but oh, do we long for mercy. And we have no say as to which He chooses.

Yet there is no cure for our despondence like the full throttled enjoyment of knowing what is to come for the one who puts their hope in Christ and longs for His Kingdom! When I take my eyes from the sludge of this world’s issues and fix my gaze on the Celestial City, I feel weightless.

Recently, it occurred to me that when a child thinks of a treasure, they imagine a chest overflowing with gold and precious jewels. If you read the book of Revelation (and I think the book of Daniel, if I am remembering correctly), this is exactly how Heaven is described, like a treasure chest: with a wall of Jasper, a foundation laid with every kind of precious stone (jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth and amethyst), gates of pearls, and streets of such pure gold that it is like transparent glass. When my mind flees to heaven, I am no longer so concerned with whether or not my longings are fulfilled upon this earth.

An old hymn encourages us: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

A sweet old puritan named Samuel Rutherford once wrote, “This world deserveth nothing but the outer court of our soul.” Amen, dear brother! My heart is set towards Zion!

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Talents and Treasure

I tried to get my words to come clear, above the choking tears that threatened to torrentially downpour out of my eye-spigots. It’s a hard thing to communicate when you feel, deeply, as though your heart is splitting open as you speak.

I was relating to the parable of the talents, specifically to the one who was given one talent and hid it. The story is found in Matthew 25: 14-30. If you don’t know the story, you should pause from reading this, and go read something much more precious and valuable.

In the story, Jesus teaches us about the Kingdom of heaven, through the practical story of a Master (representing God) and His three servants (representing the people that He created, and by nature has dominion over!).

When the master heads out of town, He entrusts three of His servants with talents. It would appear that talent is symbolic of money or some sort of resources, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the English translations of the Bible all seem to use the word “talent”, as though our gifts and talents are given for us to be faithful with and multiply blessings in the world around us, for God to be honored with upon His return.

Two of them honored the master and invested the talents in order to multiply them. They were blessed by the Master upon His return.

The last servant is the one that had me choking back violent sobs. When the Master returns, this is what he says to justify having wasted his time/life/talents… “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours’.” (Matt. 25:24-25). I wept because this guy’s perspective of God was so, so wrong! And I have so many friends like that! So many people that I love who think that God is a hard taskmaster. Who think that God reaps where He does not sow, as though creating the world with such intentionality and purposeful glory doesn’t entitle Him to everything. And if that wasn’t enough, He poured Himself into human form to die on a cross. In my estimation, we owe Him our very breathe… and all our talents.

But because this wicked slave had a wrong understanding of how good and gracious his Master was, he betrayed Him. He wasted his life. He went about his own business, not realizing that the Master’s business and blessing was FAR more important than whatever he felt like doing with his own days.

I weep because I have so many friends like this wicked slave, spending their lives on things that don’t matter for eternity. Rejecting the Messiah-Creator who loves and cherishes them because somewhere along the way, they got it in their head that He is a hard man, rather than a Faithful Lover of His Image-bearers! And I weep because I wasted and destroyed years of my life, because I thought He was cruel. Yet He was so merciful to show me His true nature before I also had to face Him, hear the rebuke and be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If God seems cruel to you, let’s talk. Or better yet, read the Gospels (my personal favorite is the book of John, but the rest of them are pretty great, too). But please, don’t waste any more of your days thinking God is cruel, or spending your moments on the temporal, when you could inhabit eternal bliss! He is so much more sweet and lovely than all the treasures of this entire planet! He is so kind and tenderhearted towards any and all who come to Him.

We get so wrapped up in this world, and honestly, knowing that our life is His’ is keeping a lot of us sane right now. There is so much terror on the horizon, but I am fully confident, like these first two slaves, that my Master is returning, and all my life belongs to Him, so regardless of what lies in my near and temporal future, I have a Hope that far outweighs any of the menacing threats before me. All of this brings tremendous peace, because I know my God to be a kind, faithful, tender, intimate Friend and King! And I await the day when He will smile over me and I can hear the sweetest words ever spoken, “Well done, good and faithful servant…. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

Space Welch- August 3rd, 2020

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Watchmen

*I know this is a lot. Please read all the way to the end!

In Ancient Israel, the Lord set watchmen on the walls of the city. If any dangers were seen on the horizon, it was the watchman’s job to warn the city. If they failed to warn the city, the blood of all who died was reckoned as their guilt.

There are so many things I have seen during this entire pandemic that I would prefer to be ignorant of. The world says “ignorance is bliss”, and I understand the sentiments (oh, do I understand them), but I think ignorance can also cause irrevocable harm, and it is God’s mercy that has placed watchmen on the walls of this country.

I am stunned at the “conspiracy theories” that are being brought to light right now. I put that in quotation marks, because they are not conspiracy theories, but rather venomously evil plots that we would rather write off as theories, but can no longer do so because of the intense proof of such things, and even confessions of such out of the mouths of the plotters. I am speaking of things like 1) the skewed numbers of these coronavirus tests and the falsified death certificates intended to cripple us with fear and lead us to slaughter, 2) the cultural-shaming over masks meant to divide a nation and causing persecution upon the Church who knows that Christ (rather than government) needs to be the Judge of whether or not we should gather or cover our faces, 3) the acceptance of demolishing our entire country in defense of black people (although most of the black people I know are entirely against it, and the organization behind it has been shown to be marxist, racist, and paid off by George Soros with the intention of bringing down America!), 4) the erasure of history both with smashing monuments, and also with filling dumpsters with history books, as I have seen a picture of outside a middle school, 5) the push for a vaccine that has never been proven and comes with tremendous risk and on it’s coattails: the mark of the beast, 6) the increasingly cashless society (also intended to promote the mark), 7) The year’s long assault on the 2nd Amendment in order that common patriots are incapable of protecting their loved ones against tyrany, etc., etc., etc.

This is where the watchman is helpful, yet it is a painful job. I had to see the impending doom, before I knew to turn and yell from the top of my wall that an army is about to invade. Yet the blood on my head, if I fail to share, is a guilt I cannot bear.

I am stunned to see how many watchmen there are. How many are noticing these things. There are so many who would have called them “theories” before and are becoming increasingly aware of the propaganda our media is thrusting down our throats and the way social media is reciting it’s rhetoric. How the fear is the greater pandemic.

I am in awe of the Biblical prophecies transpiring before our eyes, but the agony of seeing is that these Biblical prophecies are not simply of Christ’s return (because that is the full measure of sweetness that comes in the End), but of intense suffering that is headed our way. If the Lord doesn’t intervene, we will soon be trampled with persecution and destruction.

Many are looking to a vaccine to save them, but any savior that isn’t Jesus is a slave-master. Jesus saves and He alone! This vaccine is intended to harm humanity, and force people to choose between taking the mark of the beast and denying Christ, or living a life of cultural shaming and intense suffering, one where we will be unable to buy or sell any longer (the mask mandate is a precursor to it, and funneling us into believing we must “comply” or lose our freedoms and that anyone who doesn’t comply is a hater). The cashless society may seem harmless, but if there is no exchange of cash, then these corrupt powers can control whether or not people can buy or sell goods, and force people who want the freedom to grocery shop into being microchipped to prove they have been vaccinated and are “safe” to be in public. Again, we have seen such skewed numbers of coronavirus cases that anyone that believes the numbers will believe that this is a necessary safety measure. Yet the watchmen are listening to the stories of false positives, of tests that were not even used and folks that were not even tested being “positive” cases, of folks dying of suicide and heart attacks and cancer, yet it says on their birth certificate “covid-19”. It seems like every single day, someone’s shouting out numbers of new cases, so that all our blood pressure can rise and we can once again learn this new art of global panic.

This is meant to cause us to fear one another and divide, because a Kingdom divided cannot stand, and fear is one of the most deceptive and cruel compasses for our soul.

But there is something else of a watchman’s job. It is to make the army ready for battle. This may be the most important job! I only tell you all of the horrors that are encroaching upon us to lead us to this point…

When I read through stories of Old Testament battles, there are a few ways that I see God’s people repeatedly winning battles: Repentance, Praise, Trust, Surrender and Prayer! We will only have victory over this pandemic if we turn our faces towards heaven and begin our pleading lament, our war cry for victory. There is one Victor! We, as a nation, have turned away from Him for far too long. We have called what is evil “good” and what is good “evil”. We have supplemented worship of the Holy One for worship of sports, celebrities, money, health, comfort, ease, entertainment and hype. We have sacrificed our children and our purity on the altar of pleasure, and our convictions on the altar of public opinion. We have been such a prodigal, as a nation, and one that God has been so kind and merciful to. If you don’t believe me, visit a third world country (Oh wait, you can’t, because our loss of freedom has begun, even though He has been tremendously patient with us to give us such freedoms, while we spat in His face). We have taught our children that some sort of happenstance created the cosmos, planet and humankind, rather than teaching them of the Majestic One who spoke the world into being and placed His Image within mankind. We have not only lied to them, but we have stolen from them, the dignity of knowing they were made in the Imago Dei.

If we are to survive this battle, we must come humbly, acknowledging our own idols, our faults, our folly, and we must plead for Heaven’s Help. God has repeatedly come to the aid of His people, against all odds. He defeated an army more plentiful than the sand on the seashore, with 300 unarmed believers. He had Israel march around a walled city for a week, until the walls splattered to the ground. He had Jehoshaphat win a battle with simple praise. Abraham and a couple of his buddies took down 3 kings and all their military forces. I could spend more pages than you want to read, reciting off these stories, or you could go read the Bible and see (specifically, Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles and Esther). Oh, and maybe Nehemiah and Daniel, as well.

If we are to survive, we cannot, absolutely CANNOT do this in our own strength, and it would do us well to come humbly to the Throne of Grace for deliverance!

Space Welch – July 28th, 2020

P.S. I want to make it perfectly clear that, although I stated some very fearful things, this post wasn’t written in fear, because though these threats are real and violent, what is more True than these threats is that God’s plans will not be thwarted, that He comes to the aid of the humble who seek His face, and that He is entirely sovereign over all of creation, as well as trustworthy, faithful, steadfast and kind. He will never forsake His children, and although we may find ourselves imprisoned in the near future, we will never find ourselves alone. Just as His suffering transformed into the greatest Mercy this world has ever known, ours’ shall be a radiant crown, as well. Though we may fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24), our sufferings are not in vain, nor are they any more than temporal (2 Corinthians 4:17), nor do they even compare with the glories that heaven will hold for us (Romans 8:18)! Besides, if you read what the Scripture says of suffering and trial, in the lives of God’s people, it is actually a tremendous gift, not in a sadistic way, but in a way that brings us nearer to Him, which is the ultimate gift. We are refined and transformed in trial, and comforted greatly. He gave Paul and Silas hearts of joy that overflowed into praise in a prison cell. Paul wrote the better part of the New Testament from incarceration. John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” (which may be the second best seller of all time, secondary only to the Bible!), was written from the confines of a cell. Suffering is not hopeless. Everyone suffers, but when we suffer for righteousness sake, it is glorious and so purposeful!

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Pandemic Humbling

I just realized that, when I began writing this book (the one I’ve barely looked at since February), I knew there was too much pride involved, but also that the Lord was going to use the journey to demolish my pride (maybe not all of it, but at least a good bit). Boy, do we need Him to do such miraculous and kind work, because fighting pride with our own prideful heart doesn’t work at all. Along the way, I kept being surprised by that grace, yet there was still this huge part of me that longed for success with it. Part of my desire was holy. I know that I have lived a great redemption story. I have seen the Lord tremendously used the folly of my youth to transform my heart into a rich lover of Him. I’ve seen Him use every bit of suffering in my life for my good and His glory. I wanted to share. But I also kind-of wanted someone to pat me on the back for my gifts (you know the ones we don’t earn or choose, but are just given to us as grace to use and give away), and maybe give me a good book deal. This morning I realized that these past 5 months have abolished all of that. I feel such a sense of urgency in my soul that I don’t even care if I finish and get published. It feels like the world may very well be ending soon, and would I have wasted my last chances to tell the world how very lovely Jesus is, or to encourage the Church as we may be entering into a time of great suffering? That’s the reason I have barely looked at the book, because I am not sure publishing companies will even exist in the near future, especially not for Christians. And I am not sure how much longer I can broadcast about my merciful and glorious God through facebook. And that was the whole point of writing… to tell the world how great and glorious Jesus is!!! So I guess these past 5 months have taught me that the days are short, and not to waste them. They have taught me not to care whether my words are bound by someone else’s approval. They have taught me that we all only have a few breaths, and then comes eternity. It is eternity that matters. All that matters on earth is whether we have received the magnificent blessing of God’s grace through Jesus’ sacrifice. And folks, I can’t tell you how much I don’t care about a book deal when I contrast it with the hope of bringing people to heaven with me when I go. I actually don’t care about anything on this planet when I compare it with Jesus or people’s souls.

Space Welch- July 24th, 2020

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Vision #1

I don’t post a lot of visions or dreams publicly. Partially, because I don’t want to promote the idea that you can neglect your Bible and God will still speak to you (if you aren’t grounded in the Word and are having dreams and visions, it’s very possible that you are deceived, because you have no pillar of truth to hold them up against). Partially, because He doesn’t speak to everyone this way and I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I am a super-Christian because He has revealed Himself to me through them. And partially because plenty of Christians look at you skeptically if you say you have dreams and visions, because of reason #1 and reason #2. Still, I think it’s possibly time to begin posting some of them. I have had an onslaught of them in the past 5 years, mostly in 2015 when I was dealing with debilitating depression and suicidal temptations. God stayed near and reminded me of His nearness by giving me visions of glory and spiritual battle (which is victorious to the one who hopes in Christ!). And many of them have come during this pandemic. But I want to tell you of one that came in 2015. I actually had 2 visions that were very similar, one on Aug. 16th, 2015 and one on September 20th. I actually only remember one of these visions, but as I read my old journals, I can’t tell which one it was because I documented what sound like identical visions. In my vision, I was in the heavenlies, dancing around a throne. It was a sea of brilliant white. I don’t mean skin color. I mean what we were wearing. I didn’t notice any skin color, only that we were perfectly spotless and impeccable pure! We were all dancing in absolute celebration and perfect unity. It was crowded, but no one felt crowded. We were all a part of one another, dancing in synchrony. Whenever my body swayed a certain way or my arm moved, it was in perfect rhythm and synchrony with everyone else in the room. And when my body touched the people nearest to me (and it was always touching someone or someones, to the right, left, behind or in front, because of how close we were), our bodies merged into one, seamlessly, because that’s how we are created to be, One Church, One Body, One Bride! 1,000 years later, with immense joy, we were all still doing the same thing… with perfect rhythm, in perfect unity, with fullness of joy! I think the Church might need this reminder right now. In John 14-17, Jesus gives His departure sermon and grand finale prayer before He lets the Roman cohort take Him to their torture device and string Him up to it. A hefty chunk of His prayer was directed at Church unity. He prays that we will be one as He and the Father are one. Church, the Bible warns us that in these last days, many people’s love will grow cold. Much of His departure sermon speaks of end time’s suffering, of the world hating us, of obedience to the greatest commandment to love one another, and of the never-departing gift of the Holy Spirit. I have been so grieved over the lack of unity I am seeing in the Church. It is prophesied by the Savior Himself that the world is going to hate us. But we, Church, have been making divisive issues out of superficial things. We are following the ways of the world, and allowing cultural judgments to shade spiritual matters. Everyone is fighting battles right now, but whether or not people wear masks or not, gather and sing as a church congregation or not, or think BLM is righteous or corrupt, are earthly matters. What matters is love! To some of us, that means wearing a mask. To others that means not wearing one. To some of us, fighting for BLM means loving people of all skin tones. To others, it means supporting an organization that has been destroying our nation, creating racism and erasing history. To some, their conscience would lead them to think of creative ways to worship outside of a building, in obedience to Romans 13. To others, their conscience is compelled by Hebrews 10:25, which tells us not to forsake the gathering of the brethren, all the more as you see the day drawing near. But these are all earthly matters in which we can learn to proclaim His worth by loving each other in the best ways we know how. That is the heavenly matter: Love. And we are all doing our best, I would assume. It just looks different from one believer to the next. We are all navigating stormy waters and simply doing the best we can, prayerfully, intentionally, purposefully, and there’s really nothing we can do about that. But what we can do is stop judging our brothers and sisters when the Lord doesn’t lead them in the exact same way He is leading us. Excuse my moment of venting, but I have seen so much judgment rise to the surface during this pandemic that it literally makes me sick. I have seen so many people spewing things all over facebook about how you’re a hater if you don’t act like they want you to. And honestly, I’m pretty fed up. It makes me want to crawl in a hole, or move to an obscure island (maybe off the Kenai Peninsula!) where no one watches national news or social media, and I can simply be with just my Bible, my family, and maybe a few, nonjudgmental friends! I’m tired. I keep thinking of Rosa Parks, who sat on that bus and simply said “I’m tired” and I get the feeling she wasn’t just talking about her body, but her soul. I’m tired, folks. But I expect it from the world. What makes me queasy is when I hear and see it from the Church. People of God, if your perspective on this whole thing is causing you to be self-righteous, and critical of everyone who doesn’t respond like you, this is NOT what Jesus prayed for during His final hours. Please, Repent! Our greatest tool for evangelism to the world around us is the way we love each other (John 13:35), and I gotta tell you, the way this seems to be turning, evangelism is more crucial than ever before! A Kingdom divided cannot stand, and right now we seem to be letting the world’s issues divide us. We cannot rightly fight this unseen war when we are bickering in the camp! And I don’t know if you’re aware or not, but there is a major unseen war happening all around us right now! Pray! Persevere! Unify!Editor’s Note: Some of what I wrote was coming from a place of exasperation and frustration. I don’t feel like I should delete it, because I think many in the Body of Christ still need to hear it, and get their eyes off the temporal and onto the eternal… But I do, too! I want to focus on the vision, because when Jesus prays for stuff, He gets it! I don’t want to forget that, just as we, as individuals look pretty stained, in the eyes of God, we (who have hoped in Christ) are made perfect, so it is with His Church. We may look like a mess, but this vision is only a glimpse of what God’s perspective of us entails! And some day, all division over denominations and theology and missiology and face masks will be all awash in the light of His glory and perfection! My gaze is fixed on that day! Oh the delights!

Space Welch- July 23rd, 2020

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