The Jungle Whack Blessing

 

The Jennifer and Mark Morris family with Silas and Liana from the jungles of Pucallpa Peru

The Jennifer and Mark Morris family with Silas and Liana from the jungles of Pucallpa Peru

             My friend Jennifer Harris Morris was in town this summer from her mission station in Pucallpa Peru. She has started over 35 churches in 16 years. It’s an amazing story of what one woman can do devoted to God’s purposes. Their Jungle Ministry funds Micro Enterprises, conducts Animal Husbandry projects, provides social services, educates satellite churches, organizes a Bible Institute, operates Emmanuel Farm, and supports Youth Scholarship Programs for 40 students to get a vocational training. For more information, check out Mark and Jen’s Jungle Ministry

                At the end of the time where our two families spent time with one another in California, we took time to pray before leaving. Jen prayed for me a blessing she had had prayed over her in her first few years of missionary work.

                “I bless you with the Jungle Whack Blessing. You feel like you’re in a jungle and you can’t see where you’re going. But each day you move forward using the machete to cut a few more feet forward. As you look back, you can see you are leaving a path. You keep whacking away at the jungle until you reach the clearing or the water. Each day is progress, even if you can’t see it. You are moving forward and creating a path through the jungle. I bless the work of your hands each day you work.”

                This captured exactly how I was feeling about working on five projects at once and not feeling that any of them were progressing toward completion. Jen had listened, and lended her outsiders’ perspective to my world, and shared a blessing that had brought her victory.

This blessing sustained me. It was exactly what I needed to keep whacking away each day! Thank you Lord for friends who can hear and understand and know exactly how to pray.

 

For More Information on Mark and Jen’s Jungle Ministry, click here to visit their web site, Mary and Jen’s Jungle Ministry.  


Strategies for Overcoming Depression from Psalm 143 Part 2

 

God's Plans forus are for Good, Peace and Hope

God’s Plans forus are for Good, Peace and Hope

Previously we looked at Psalm 143’s description of what we call in today’s lingo, “depression.” King David felt persecuted, crushed and dark. He said it felt like being overwhelmed. But then, He focused on God. He remembered the things God had done for him and for the people that had gone before him. He considered in nature the works of God’s hands. We pick up David’s line of  thought in verse 6.

I muse on His promises to his people to be for us and on our side. Then I spread my hands out, from an emotionally safe place and ask for help (Psalm 143:6.) I can receive the water of His good news on my dry and thirty soul. “I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me (Psalm 57:2).”

            God has given us, ever since Jesus released it, the authority to trample on the plans of the enemy without worry about repercussions. “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luke 10:19, NKJV).” 

We have the power to loosen the life power of heaven with our words. The tool is our mouth. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…(Proverbs 18:21, NKJV).” We also have the ability to speak to our mountains of difficulty. “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says (Mark 11;23m NKJV).”  These two points allow us, with our mouths, to bind the powers of darkness and loosen the principles of heaven on earth. We call this binding and loosing.

The more we know scripture, the more we can use it in our prayers. Many people are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” These principles are incorporated in this prayer.

“In the authority Jesus gave me, I bind and cancel the plans of the enemy in                                    ‘s life, and loosen the good plans that God has for this precious child of God to come forth and unfold, in Jesus’ name. We know that God’s plans are for good, peace, and hope.”

See also Strategies for Overcoming Depression from Psalm 143 Part 1


Strategies for Overcoming Depression from Psalm 143 Part 1

 

Pausing to Look at the Sunset from Spanish Bay Resort, California

Pausing to Look at the Sunset from Spanish Bay Resort, California

In Psalm 143, King David outlines the strategy of the enemy for discouragement and despression. Then he describes the steps we can take to win in this battle of the mind.  Psalm 143:3-6 in the New American Standard Bible reads,

            “For the enemy has persecuted my soul;

            He has crushed my life to the ground;

            He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead

            Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;

            My heart is appalled within me.

            I remember the days of old;

            I meditate on all Thy doings

            I muse on the work of Thy hands

            I stretch out my hands to Thee

            My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land. [Selah]” (italics added)

 

The action verbs that describe the enemy to stir up our souls are persecuted, crushed and dwelling in dark places. Anyone who has walked on or near the path of depression knows what those days are like.  We feel overwhelmed and distressed (v.4).

Psalm 143 continues after verse 4. King David shares what his plan of action is. We remember the things God has done in the past. We mediate on the things he has done for us in the past. And we muse on the works of his hands (v.5). I purposely pause to consider a rose, or comprehend the stars of a night sky, or a sunset at the beach. These things give me a perspective larger than myself. Life gets better when I focus on how big God is. He’s bigger than my problems. He’s bigger than my family. He’s bigger than my company. He’s bigger than my state or country. I remember this, and then factor in his love. I take the time to meditate on his love and power told in scriptures.  I speak scriptural truths out loud.

“God loves me, flaws and all. God is for me, and not against me. God goes before me into every battle. He is with me through the floods and through the fire. He is my rear guard. I call upon Him and He answers me. God is with me in trouble. God will deliver me and honor me.” (See Romans 8:31, Psalm 56:9, Isaiah 43:2-4, Psalm 91:15, Jeremiah 31:3, 1 Samuel 17:47)

See Strategies for Overcoming Depression from Psalm 143 Part 2


Forego the Pity Party and Align with God’s Action Plan

Pity Parties are Dangerous Because Jezebel Always Attends. Forego the Pity Party and Align with God's Action Plan for Your Life.

Pity Parties are Dangerous Because Jezebel Always Attends. Forego the Pity Party and Align with God’s Action Plan for Your Life.

When we don’t get everything the way we want, it can be tempting to throw a pity party.  The problem is that Jezebel always comes to our pity parties.

Ahab’s offer to buy Naboth’s vineyard got refused. “Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you! (1 Kings 21:3 NKJV).” Jezebel came and asked dejected Ahab what the matter was.  Next, the good man Naboth was murdered.

Note that Naboth was holding on to his inheritance.  He inherited the field and intended to pass this down to his children.  As our blessings flourish, they become enviable to others. Naboth held his ground before the Lord. We must guard our inheritance from the Lord in prayer, and take the authority Jesus delegated to us in Luke 10:19. “Behold I have you authority to trample upon snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means harm you (Luke 10:19, NKJV).” This is the word of the Lord. This is the authority on which we stand. This is the power to walk victoriously.

In another example, Elijah had just defeated 450 Baal prophets before the people of Israel and declared “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God! (1 Kings 18:39, NKJV).” Then Elijah ran for his life from Jezebel, and prayed that God would take his life.  An angel arrived before Jezebel found Elijah.  The angel spoke kindly and gave him food and rest.

Then God dialogued with Elijah.  God gave Elijah facts he didn’t know. “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him (1 Kings 19:18, NKJV).”  And God assigned Elijah some prophetic duties.  Game On! Time to move out (take action) armed with updated information.

So the next time it’s tempting to throw a pity party, remember that Jezebel might come, and call it off.  Research the facts.  Armed with data God provides (or directs us to), it’s time to get back to the “work” of our destinies and purpose.


Love the Waiting Process to Keep Your Promise Fruitful

Laban and Jacob negotiate.  Learning to love the process while waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. Photo: messianic-revolution.com

Laban and Jacob negotiate. Learning to love the process (Leah) while waiting for the promise (Rachel) to be fulfilled. Photo: messianic-revolution.com

Many of us have had amazing prophetic words and we haven’t seen them come to pass yet.  Getting to our promise is often a process.  Today’s reminder is to not hate the process.

Jacob loved Rachel and got Leah first.  He was promised Rachel, but Leah became the process.  The Bible says he hated Leah.  “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive (Genesis 29:31, NLT).” In other words, when God saw that Leah was hated, he made Rachel barren.  When we hate the process God has us in, the promise remains barren.

Leah conceived and bore Jacob 4 boys. Here are the names and what they mean:

1. Ruben – The Lord has looked on my affiction

2.  Simeon – The Lord has heard that I am unloved.

3.  Levi – Now my husband will become one with me

4.  Judah – Now I will praise the Lord

Interesting to note that the lineage to Jesus was carried through Judah.

We might not like the process God has us on while we wait for a word to come forth. But we might try to tolerate the process.  It is in the process that we…

1.  Learn to see Him

2.  Learn to hear Him

3.  Learn to be at one with Him

4.  Learn to praise Him

When we learn to love our process, God develops our character to see Him, hear Him, be at one with Him and praise Him.

Sometimes the promise isn’t what we thought it would be (Rachel,) and we realize that the lineage (promise of generations) came through the process (Leah.)

This year many prophets are saying there will be fulfillment of God’s promises. Hopefully we learned the lessons to see Him, hear Him, be at one with Him, and praise Him.  It is in the fullness of character development that the promise is fulfilled.

 

May this year bring the fulfillment of God’s promises to you as we appreciate, and grow to love the process. May we never forget what how we learned to see Him, hear Him, be one with Him and praise Him.


Do The Next Things to Walk Out of Depression with Psalm 102

One Rose Blooms at a Time. "Do The Next Thing" to Walk Out of Depression

One Rose Blooms at a Time. “Do The Next Thing” to Walk Out of Depression

My Women’s Bible Study at church is studying Psalms this year.  The speaker who looked at Psalm 102 observed that the author used dramatic verbs to describe his affliction.  “My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert….I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled y drink with weeping. Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; for You have lifted me up and cast me away. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass (v.4-6, 9-10, ESV).”

These conditions describe depression. This description would warrant a psychiatrist’s prescription for anti-depressant medication.  Since the psalmist probably didn’t have modern day prescription medications, he turned his attention to God and God’s mercy. He remembered the faithfulness of the Lord to the previous generations.  He acknowledged He was dust, and yet worthy of the Lord’s attention.  He called on God because God can change things.  “They [the works of His hands] will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed (v.26, ESV).”  He shifted his focus to the next generation. “The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You (v.28, ESV).”

Adding a practical suggestion for the person struggling with depression today, the speaker suggested that getting through depression is to focus on, “Doing the Next Thing.”  That could be to change a diaper, wash the floor, tidy up the kitchen. Work on the daily tasks. Get into God’s word.  Listen to God and “Do the next thing.”

As the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 102 did, we can shift our perspective to God and what He’s done and what He will do.  We focus on other people, the next generation.  Then we address the next thing that needs to be done, starting with the immediate and moving forward.

Focusing on God’s ability to help individuals and nations, produces praise to God and releases hope for impossible situations.  He saved the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt.  He delivered on His promises to establish them in Canaan.  He brought forth a Savior in Jesus Christ.  He created a path back to heaven through the sacrifice of His sinless son on the cross for our sins.  “You are the same, and Your years will have no end.  The children of Your servants will continue (v.27,28a, ESV).”  He has our descendants in mind as the events of our lives play out.  This eternal perspective offers hope.  Somehow every generation has gotten through their tough times and produced the next generation.

The very next thing to be done may be the mundane task of preparing this next generation (our kids) dinner. Start at home.  Then include group settings.  There is hope and comfort in coming together to worship God. “He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven the Lord viewed the earth to when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord (v22, ESV).”  “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer (v.17, ESV).”  “He hears the groaning of the prisoner (v20, ESV).”  He takes note of the people when they meet.  As the people lift their voices in worship, He hears.  Again, this gives hope.

Circumstances can be depressing sometimes.  Let us look up, remember how big our God is by what He has done and His merciful nature.  His promises endure forever.  Let us walk out of our depressed state by doing the next thing.  As we do this next thing, and then the next and the next, change happens. Our feelings shift. Our prayers are heard and answers come forth. Our perspective extends to the next generation.  We become part of the people created that may praise the Lord forever.


Sharing in the Victory Over Evil

The Cross Breaks Bondages, Over Every Circumstance, Every Failure, and Every Loss. Photo credit: tmewcf.org

The Cross Breaks Bondages, over Every Circumstance, Every Failure, and Every Loss. Photo credit: tmewcf.org

Sharing in the Victory Over Evil

 

For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV

 

Lord Jesus,

You are the victor over evil

Forgive me for believing Satan’s exhibit was the last chapter

Forgive me for seeing Satan’s bondage more than your ability to break the bondage

You use every circumstance, every failure, and every loss

for your glory

for his purposes

for your victory plan

Because I couldn’t see it, I stopped hoping

I choose to hope again

To wait in hope for your salvation

salvation for the people involved

salvation of these circumstances to be consecrated to your purposes

salvation of my believing in your goodness even in this situation

 

My focus shall rest solely on you

My heart believes in your good intentions for me

Your purposes bring forth your glory

My whole being trusts that your purposes will prevail at the appointed time

My mind remembers your mighty deeds

My spirit rests in your holy loving nature

Now send forth your strength to this weary soldier

Your joy is my strength, I praise you continually for what you are doing in this situation

 

I lift up my voice in song

I believe in your victory over all

Thank you for sharing your victory

You reign on high

You are not moved

Your glory is eternal

 

 


Criticism Breeds Accusations

Accusations Breed Criticism. Repent, and Move Forward with Blessing

Accusations Breed Criticism. Repent, and Move Forward with Blessing

Does it feel like people have a lot of negative things to say about you? Accusations can stem from criticism. One way to make the accusations stop is to repent over any criticism that we have said.  Then move forward without any further criticism. Forgive and bless as we go.

I grew up in a critical home.  My parents believed they observed good or bad behavior.  Every action defined me a good girl or a bad girl.  In college, I learned psychologists basically believe people are good, with “bad” behavior points that could be corrected.

Spiritually, churches teach that people can be “saved” and then “redeemed.” This is good news. Salvation happens with a decision.  However, the redeeming process, known as sanctification, occurs over many years.  Our willingness to be taught determines the progress.

Some accusations miss the mark.  I may know what they’re trying to accuse me of, but it simply isn’t true.  A family member repeatedly may accuse me of being sarcastic. And I have had a lot of sarcastic comments to repent over.  However, the Lord has really worked on this with me and there has been drastic improvement.  This family member hasn’t been around to notice the change in the last 20 years.  So the accusation comes from him solely, and no  longer rings true.  Other accusations carry truth.  I bring them all to God for sorting.  I want to address them all.  With God, there is order and pace and progress.  The Holy Spirit leads the way and offers supernatural help.  He is gentle and patient as I learn to walk in new ways.

Repenting for my criticism is the start point for change.  In addition to criticism, all grumbling, complaining, bragging and flattering needs to go.  The Bible outlines how to speak.  From Jude 16-21, “There are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts, and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts…But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

As we cease criticizing, we pivot forward to build our faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, and operate in the love and mercy of Jesus.  From here, the accusations have no place to land.


After the Breaking Point, Fixing it Together

Broken Windows Happen.  Try Fixing Them Together with God. photo credit: kevinspear.com

Broken Windows Happen. Try Fixing Them Together with God. photo credit: kevinspear.com

After something breaks, we have a choice. It could be a broken relationship, a  broken job, or a broken dream.  Something happens and it’s broken.  Now what?  How do we respond?

I heard a sermon recently where a boy came to his Dad in tears. The Dad asked, “Hey, what’s up, buddy?”

The boy answered, “I broke a window.”

The Dad is thinking, “I’m so glad it’s just a broken window.”

The boy was really upset though.  He continued, “That’s not the worst of it. I did it while I was disobeying Mom.  She told me not to play in the garage, and I did it anyway. The ball went through the window and broke it. I feel really awful.”

Ah ha.  Disobedience and a broken window.  The disobedience part was more painful than the actual damage.  This was the part that was breaking him on the inside.  He had a contrite heart.  He didn’t try to blame anyone.  He didn’t try to lie.  He didn’t try to hide it up. He simply called his Dad and told him everything because he didn’t know what to do.  Now it was the Dad’s turn to respond.  The Dad didn’t respond with yelling and screaming.

The Dad said, “I’m glad you told me what happened.  I’m glad you chose to tell the truth.  We’re going to have to deal with the disobedient part.  But together we’re going to fix this.”

That is the heart of Father God. He doesn’t gloss over the disobedience part.  There’s consequence coming.  But there’s also the place to share honestly.  There’s the place to fix the problem together.  The boy didn’t have to tell the father.  The boy could have chosen options that drove them apart.  But coming to the father brought them together.  It didn’t change the fact that there was a broken window that needed repair.  But it did make the Dad and boy a team.  Punishment had to be implemented.  But learning who to call and what to do to fix the broken window also was part of the learning curve.

Some people grow up in loving families and learn how to handle life’s broken windows.  Others of us have to unlearn old responses of denial and avoidance and fix it ourselves before anyone notices. We learned our family members were not our allies.  We forgive, but haven’t learned to trust again. God wants to be our heavenly father.  He stands ready to listen and teach.  He knows what to do.  He quietly says to us, “Together, we can fix this.” It is our choice to turn toward God and become a team.


Getting to Peace in the Kingdom of God

Photo: edwardsaquifer.org  Aquifers are geological formations containing ground water that supplies water for wells and springs.

Photo: edwardsaquifer.org
Aquifers are geological formations containing ground water that supply water for wells and springs.

What is it like to live in the Kingdom of God?  The Kingdom of God isn’t just about having a secure place to go after we die.  Many treat it like a heavenly insurance program.  The benefit program starts here on earth.  It starts now. In Romans 14:17, Paul outlines three major benefit categories.  He writes, “The kingdom of God is…righteous and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The order of these three components matter.  They components build on each other.  The first component achieves right standing with God.  By becoming a member of the Kingdom of God, we have asked God to consider Jesus’ innocent blood as payment for our sins.  Jesus’ choice to make this available to us for all eternity still amazes me.

From this position of right standing before God, we can access His peace.  The peace of God bypasses all logical understanding.  His peace cannot logically be explained.  It’s the gift of confidence He gives.  He guarantees that He makes all things work together for our good and His glory.  This may not seem possible by looking at our circumstances.  Yet, by the very fact that God promises this, and through the stories of other people who have weathered horrific things, we come to believe that peace is possible.  We learn that His peace will take us beyond our feelings and our interpretation of events.  We start to learn and understand His kingly priorities.  We align our priorities with His priorities. This brings a living peace.

We gain more peace by studying God’s word in scripture and letting the promises therein become God’s guarantees for us.  To name a few…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“My righteous right hand will uphold you” Isaiah 41:10

“You will rest in safety”  Psalm 16:9

“I will be with in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” Psalm 91:15

After peace, joy follows. Joy must not be confused with happiness.  Joy is the underlying confidence we gain from being members of the Kingdom of God.  No matter the circumstances, joy lives beneath our emotions like an aquifer level of water.  Joy lives beneath the surface of our emotional highs and lows to bring us a steady confidence of God’s commitment to redeem and to restore all things into order for those who call upon His name.