Voicing Praise Will Shake the Faulty Foundation of Lies

One night, it was around midnight, on the other side of the planet, two guys were thrown in prison – wrongfully. But their prayer and praise and hymn singing resulted in earth and soul-shaking miracles.

acts1625

The very foundations of the prison were shaken. This was literal. Today, we do not find ourselves in literal prisons – but rather, demonic strongholds, or fortresses. These strongholds also have foundations. What would be the foundation of addiction, for example? The foundation of depression? The foundation of pride? I would venture to suggest that the foundation for most if not all demonic strongholds – that which all outward symptoms are built upon, is deceit. Lies.

When we see our prison-like circumstance as an opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus (in prayer and praise), the very foundation upon which demons have been stationed – becomes powerfully shaken! The core of their arsenal, their “Big Guns”, Lies, are dismantled. Rendered impotent.

And as a result, every time, there is a releasing. There is a spiritual opening of doors, and breaking of chains! 😳

There is a supernatural freedom that accompanies the proclamation of Truth.

But notice – the last 4 words of this passage. “Everyone’s chains were unfastened.”

Freedom did not just come to Paul and to Silas. But when they used their voices in the midst of their utter agony, sitting in their pools of blood, to give praise to Jesus, and lift up expectant prayers…everyone around them who was held captive became free! Paul and Silas’s decision to praise in the prison directly resulted in not just their own release, but the release of everyone else in that dungeon.

Our praise in duress. Our fervent, expectant prayer. Our singing – can do the same. Make it loud. Our God will shake the enemy to his core. He will open doors that were sealed and locked before. He will unfasten tight chains that were once the source of pain.

When have you encountered immediate freedom from bondage after deciding to sing, praise and pray to Jesus?

Advertisements

Not About a Tree

Last night at Steve and Debi’s, we were all talking and having fun – including Rocky and Kourtney and baby Bayleigh Bebb, the Stewarts and Sami! It was pretty special. And loud. So when Steve went to the attic and brought out Gramma Grace’s hand crafted and framed Christmas Trees made of sparkly jewelry and broaches, it caused a bit of a switch in the atmosphere. We all gazed at the four of them in their imperfect glory.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b45/1955011/files/2014/12/img_9347.jpg

One actually still worked when the light strand was plugged in. The wooden backings were drilled with holes so that tiny white lights could be pushed through from behind, making it even more special than any other kind of framed Christmas tree made of jewelry. 🙂 I remember these being hung around her and Grampa’s house every Christmas. Gramma Grace was a lovely, creative, funny, sometimes harsh, but most of the time kind and welcoming Gramma. I rarely talk about her, but miss her very much.

So Uncle Steve brought out the decorative trees and displayed them in the living room, giving Charity and I first “dibs” probably due to our childhood memories of them. There were some hurt feelings in the air, because Sami wasn’t considered. It wasn’t really about the trees, as much as it was about her feeling of being overlooked. I understood. She quietly made her way upstairs to her bedroom and I felt the Spirit just as quietly tell me to follow her so I made my way up the dark, narrow stairway and was happy she let me in.

We talked for a while. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was.  And was kind of concerned that everyone had eaten dinner without us at one point, but not enough to cut the conversation short. I learned many things about my sweet cousin as we dove into some deep subjects like depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and their threats on the Bebb family. Our words waded through the safe but murky waters of spiritual things like supernatural healing, speaking in tongues, and the intrigue of dream interpretation. And we also splashed around in shallow-water topics like our favorite memorized movies of the past (hers was Ironman and I had three: Dead Poet’s Society, Reality Bites and The Notebook) and our fave subject in school (which happened to be English and writing for both of us). Ricky came in and let us know that everyone was in fact, eating, so we better head downstairs if we wanted in. So we wrapped it up, just like that. But I was so thankful for that time we got to spend together.

I texted her on my way home to see if I could go sing at the nursing home she works at, since that’s been on my heart lately. She texted me back at almost 1am with a positive reply.  

I think God is reminding me of the importance of investing in a life, once again. I suddenly want to get to know her more. This new connection is not a coincidence. Life on this earth is too short to not really know or invest in your own family.

The Vacuum Dance

I was confronted. I was confused. I was searching my heart for any fault. Were these accusations true? Were they false & brought up to me because of underlying jealousy toward me? I didn’t know then, and even today, I still don’t. But one thing I do know, is that all the questioning I was doing, made me doubt who I was and what my purpose was. It was March of 2005, and as winter was blowing its chilly goodbye-kiss, I waited for spring to give me a warm welcome. But the questions and accusations in my mind would not let up. A month crept by. I felt more judged by outsiders. The sun came, but I was still cold, and digressing into depression. Continue reading

An Afternoon @ the Taylor Rest Home

God is teaching us today about the futility of boredom,  the life-giving power of kind words, the importance of eye contact and touch, a surprising connection between old and young, and the hope of a purpose-filled life on earth. The sand will run out sooner than we think.  And I think again, am I pursuing what is only temporary? Or will I commit to pursuing that which will last?

Oh, that this conviction would linger…

Loss of Sleep vs. Loss of a Child

Earlier tonight, I was tired and dozed off on the couch. I woke to noises from the 2nd floor. The thumping, screaming, running, jumping, scaring, throwing and more. At first, I was so annoyed. But then I had to check that emotion against the reality that there are many women who once had a child and once heard all those noises. But no longer do.

Some never had the opportunity to even hear them. Women like my long-time friend from Portland, Nancy, who lost her baby, Josiah. She got to hold him for four days. How our young-married group prayed for them! It took everything in me to not cry as I sang at the memorial service, but my tears would not be held as I watched the photo-presentation on screen as I listened to Nichole Nordeman sing the gentle and powerful song, “River God” . So many aren’t able to carry to term before the ultrasound no longer bears a heartbeat. My mom miscarried between my sister’s birth and mine. I have an “older” brother or sister, in heaven right now.

And then there’s Angie Smith, who has other children with her husband, Todd (singer in the band, Selah) but whose last child, Audrey, lost her life not long after birth. This woman is truly inspirational…to hundreds. I stopped reading her blog so often because every time I did, I was there for never less than an hour and never without tears.

angie.todd.smith.audrey

I’ve learned little bits about perspective and the importance of friendships and reasons why we must endure pain. That life can go on, and with greater purpose and satisfaction after enduring. There may be an emptiness at times, but she reminds her readers that God is a friend who can fill the emptiness if we allow him.

disney.minus.one

And even if we find ourselves sad, it’s ok. It’s ok because we can still be fulfilled. With the presence and peace of the Spirit of God. I don’t understand it. It just happens. Anyway, from here on out, I think when I find myself annoyed or upset, I’m going to try to challenge myself. I’m going to try to put into practice a perspective that will change my whole attitude. Lord help me.

night terror

what are they? a night terror (pavor nocturnus) is a parasomnia sleep disorder characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to regain full consciousness. the subject wakes abruptly from deep slow-wave sleep, gasping, moaning or screaming. after the episode, the subject normally settles back to sleep without waking. a night terror can rarely be recalled.

they’re not nightmares. they’re not recalled dreams. they’re a controlling combo of anxiety, tension & fear, (usually of insects or other attacking things) lasting as short as 1 minute… up to 20. the lack of a dream itself leaves those awakened in a state of disorientation much more severe than that caused by a normal nightmare. amnesia can follow, leaving one unable to recall their name or location for a short time.

what happens? my husband (who gives permission to write this) has suffered from this sleep disorder for years. his terrors are based around snakes or suffocation. Continue reading

does the blood of Jesus cover the blood of suicide?

thanks, dad, for your permission to write about gramma.

my gramma was so wonderful to be around. she was kind, always had a hug. she loved “the peoples’ court’ and ‘hee-haw’ and ‘mama’s family’. we used to camp with her in her pop-up at wallowa lake & roller skate on her wood floor. she nursed my first bee sting i got (in my belly button) while lounging in a hammock in her backyard. she baked us a bunny shaped coconutty cake every easter. she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind & boy, could she be blunt (i got that gene). she doted on her weiner dog, trudy (sister to ours) was devoted to the Lord & loved her husband. she lost grampa ted after over 50 years of marriage. that next year brought with it the greatest test of endurance.

emotional stress turned physical & chemicals in her brain started getting off-balance. no one knew her depression had gotten severe. no one knew about the thoughts. not the cuban refugee family she took in to her home, not her pastor, not even her two sons. they would’ve removed the guns from the home.

i was called with the request to drive to her house as “there had been an accident”. i pulled up in my white vw jetta & my mom held me & told me then…gramma was gone. i was confused. i sat on top my car hood with my knees up to my chin & rocked back & forth. there was no accident. she’d stripped her life from herself probably not b/c she wanted to die, but b/c she no longer wanted to live…and in doing so, stripped her life from everyone else who loved her. the tears just streamed as i watched her pastor & the elders haul off the carpet they’d ripped out of that tiny room. i’m just glad it was dark out. i’m even more grateful i wasn’t the one to discover her. i loved my gramma & respected her. i honor her even today. i just wish she was still with me & i could share my life & family with her, like we do w/rick’s grandmas (that seems like a selfish reason, doesn’t it). she sure loved family. there are so many great memories i can recount, that the awful details are usually overshadowed in my mind…

but for the sake of discussion, honest reflection, & hopefully peace to a reader who’s lost someone this way, let’s bring the topic out into the light.

do people who do this go to heaven? to seek some answers (cause i know i have far from all the answers), i went to the Bible, God’s Word. it says that to be absent from our bodies is to be present with the Lord, and there are so many that display his abounding mercy…but i didn’t take much comfort in this passage: he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. ~ 1 Corintians 3:15-17.

this is the only place in the Bible where it refers to what may be suicide, although, it doesn’t even state it as such, specifically. no where else in the Word {Christians’ one & only true source of God-breathed, Holy Spirit inspired ancient text} does it state or even imply that suicide in & of itself, is a sin worthy of eternal damnation…an unpardonable sin. sheesh, even in judges 16:28-30, samson is granted by God the strength to do this. suicide, if unpardonable, would be not just mentioned as such, but woven throughout text.

i know from experience about the kind of God i serve. i don’t care if people call me biased or subjective. everyone of us is, really. God is just & merciful & kind. he is the essence & exemplification of love. he reaches to us beyond the point of our carnal death & gives us a chance to be judged, for the good, bad & ugly. not one of his kids will escape accountability. committing suicide? yeah, that too. they’ll have to answer for it to their Creator himself. sin cannot go unpunished. it was his life to make, & his to take, in his time. but for him to ‘sentence’ hell because of this would be unjust & uncharacteristic.

our lives are so valuable…often underestimated…& extremely important to God! read Psalm 139. to me, suicide can be the ultimate act of selfishness…but i think our Father looks beyond the sin at the time of death, & sees what mere man cannot: the whole person, their lifestyle, their love for him. he takes into account their suffering from mental illness or severe depression & applies the blood of his Son, Jesus to that final sin. so what if they aren’t alive to ask for it!?! his grace reaches beyond that technicality. his grace always looks at the heart.

his blood is not partial. it does not flow down our hearts full of sin avoiding a few choice acts. it cleanses all. that’s why i love to sing songs about it. the suffering & the blood of Jesus is worth squat if we humans can determine that some sins it does not cover (“how could he forgive a child molester or murderer?” “how could he forgive one who doesn’t ask for it because they’re dead now?”), & some it does cover. what if i’m saved, (i’ll use a lame example for lack of time) i’m driving & completely envying the person driving next to me. i end up rubber-neckin’ & crashing into a pole & i die? would a gracious God just look at my last sin of envy & say to me at the throne, ‘well in spite of your life of obedience & humility and your heart of love toward me & toward the least of these, you never repented of that last sin…so, since the wages of sin is death…’

absurd. that clearly goes completely against his character displayed throughout the entire Bible.

we all tend to ‘heirarchy’ the wrong we commit to help us feel better about our ‘little pet sins’, but to God, it is what it is ≈ that which separates us from him, and calls for a perfect atonement. envy, greed, suicide, homosexuality (sexual sin is different, but not worse to God. see 1 corinthians 6:18-20), disobedience, slander, drunkenness…you name it, it’s all sin. if we live this way, refusing to acknowledge/accept Christ’s atonement, it is serious business (see 1 corinthians 6:9-11).

the Word states there is o n e sin that’s unforgivable, unpardonable & results in hell: blaspheming the Holy Spirit ~ (my paraphrase: completely & permanently denying Christ, even after you know the truth in your spirit). this may seem contradictory to the scripture above naming many sins that can lead to eternal separation from God, but this one refers to a blanket statement, covering all of those listed, as examples. hell is for the unrepentant of heart that denies Christ. anyone who has guilt for their sin, confesses with humility & repents…(“such WERE some of you” oh, please don’t miss that part!)…he is immediately restored to right standing with God. my heart leaps for joy to read this again.

Christ words on this sin can be read in mark 3:22-30 & matthew 12:30-33 . dr. henry morris & author & theologian, dr. f.f. bruce shed some further light on that ‘unpardonable’ sin ~ to read their insights on the subject, click here (but come back!).

so yeah, i’m biased here. i miss her. but not so biased, i’m blind. i have faith (evidence of what i can’t see) that the saved don’t have to worry about heaven vs. hell when they die. they are free of every pain in their new bodies, enjoying the gift of eternal life. in my humble opinion, this is the bottom line: whether it was a life of a Christian taken by God in his timing, by someone else or by their own hand, that life…that blood is covered by the blood of their Savior. period.

oh…my gramma’s name?

grace.

now, as for whether or not we know if someone’s really saved before they die?! …well, that’s a topic for another day. i’m way past my wordcount on this one, but i’d loooove to read any comments on today’s.