Remember that episode of Friends where Ross thinks he has this thing called Unagi? He received Unagi while training in Kay-Ra-Tay. It is a conscious state of TOTAL awareness where a person is keen to all things around them. A sort of “sixth sense”, if you will, or what we who love Jesus might call communion with the Holy Spirit.I had an Unagi moment yesterday.
Life is always a mixture of ups and downs. Good stuff, bad stuff… it all comes with the package. Sometimes we just have to roll with the punches.
But yesterday, I was complaining a little, I will admit.
I just can’t do this anymore! This is impossible. There is no way I can handle this. I CANNOT DO IT. CANNOT. NO…. NO NO NO!!!!
And then Unagi:
“I trust you,” He says.
At first I think it is me praying these words out loud. Because that is something you PRAY, not something Jesus says to you… or at least He wouldn’t say it to me. But then I realized that I have a ton of trust issues and so that couldn’t have possibly been me who made this statement.
What the heck does that even mean?
“I trust you. You can do it. I picked you and that means you can do it.”
Ummmm…. No. No, I cannot.
“Well, not without me, you can’t. But you have Me, so you can.”
This doesn’t even make sense. What the heck is happening right now??
But something weird did happen. All of the pent-up anxiety that I had been feeling all morning just left. I felt this rod in my back, strengthening me, straightening me. I felt taller (those who have seen me might find that hard to believe).
He trusts me……… You trust me? ME????? WHY????
It’s funny how one word from God can change everything. It’s a suspicious word, I know. But His words bring life and I know that it was Him because that phrase brought life to my heart. That was the only thing I needed to hear. That He thought I could do it. No, that He KNEW I could do it.
Next time you give a word from God to someone, think about whether that Word will activate something in their heart. Will it bring life? Does it seem impossible or possibly ridiculous? Does it not make sense to you? Do things not line up with what you see? Then, baby, it is probably Unagi… errr Jesus. That’s how He rolls…. In the impossible.
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Matthew 13:6
Today I was thinking of the many people I know who once claimed to follow Jesus but for various reasons of their own, fell away. Some of them will return. Some of them won’t. Either way, it makes me sad that they aren’t part of my family right now. The family of God, that is. Prodigals hurt my heart. It causes me to wonder how they became prodigals in the first place.
This parable in Matthew, better known as “the Parable of the Sower”, kind of explains what actually happens when prodigals fall away. I guess I have never thought about this parable at any great depth but tonight as I pondered the “falling away” of old friends and family members, I decided to ask Jesus about it.
Roots… it wasn’t just a famous mini-series from the seventies. I think all of us learn in second grade science what an important role roots play in the life of a plant. Roots gather nutrients from the soil, allowing the plant to grow and remain healthy. Without roots, a plant will not survive.
It’s a perfect example of what happens to us when we don’t gather spiritual nourishment from Jesus. And when I say spiritual nourishment I don’t mean memorizing Bible verses, reading your 10 chapters a day, having “spiritual” conversations, or watching corny Christian movies. When Jesus is talking about roots in this passage, I believe He is talking about Himself. He’s the root system. He is the Life-Giver.
When people fall away from Jesus it is because they either haven’t really known Him or the distractions of this life have caused them to forget who He actually is. You see, the most important part of discipling someone isn’t just to teach them to read their Bible, to ‘obey’ God, and to get their butt in church. The first, and most important aspect in discipling a new believer is to teach them to sit in front of God and learn who He is, what He’s like, and who they are to Him. To help them gain understanding that Jesus loves to hang out with them and that they can discover for themselves how exciting He is.
I think so many are afraid to talk about this most important part of knowing Him because they are bored with God, themselves. But if we call ourselves “Christians” and are still fumbling through the law and refusing to embrace the cross, than why would I even want to be a Christian? I mean… really what’s the point? Blah! I wouldn’t want to stay a Christian if that was all that my life would be about.
I went through the whole ‘prodigal’ thing for a little while. Thanks to the grace of God, it didn’t last long. And I believe the reason it didn’t last long is because I had some ‘roots’ leftover from my teenage years. I realized that God was actually way more addictive than any substance I was drinking or any boy I was hanging out with. It helped that Jesus pursued me in some pretty incredible ways but that longing for Him, that dull ache in my chest grew the more I wandered from Him. It really is true that nothing else will satisfy this ache in our hearts… and it eventually made me want to come back for more of Him.
Before you start out in ministry or in life, be sure that your root system is set. Be sure to establish true intimacy with Jesus before you are thrown to the lions. I believe we’ll all need this sustenance in the days ahead more than ever history. Believers in communist and Islamic countries don’t suffer torture and martyrdom because they think it’s the ‘right thing do’ to not deny Christ. They suffer simply because they are in love and only lovers die for the ones they love.
Just like plants, without roots, we die.
For more on this topic, check out Mike Bickle’s message on the Spirit of Revelation. It’s a powerful message and I highly recommend it.
It’s been a weird week. It has been really easy for me to become distracted with anxiety, anger, and sadness as I have been wrestling with how to confront the last two years of my life. So much so that I have been finding myself spending less and less real time with the Lord, filling that time with listening to messages and reading books. Sometimes it feels safe to hang onto all of my bitterness and I suppose my subconscious realizes that sitting before the fire of God’s love will probably expose the darkness and pain in my own heart. Not so comfortable, you see.
I can look at David’s life and notice a pattern that he had in seeking God. When walls of despair enclosed around him, he didn’t cower in fear. He just made a decision to avert his gaze. Instead of dwelling on the pain, confusion, and anger, he just looked at God and talked to Him about it. And in times where he could have spent his time thinking about all of the yucky stuff, he instead focused on his beautiful God. This kept David strong and steady throughout his life. He didn’t live a perfect life and failed miserably several times but David knew God enough to know that He would never give up on His favorite one. Knowing the truth of who God is kept David from giving up on himself and helped him to continue to pursue God for the rest of his life.
In Psalm 103:4 David writes about God saying He is the one
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies
David didn’t really care too much about the crown that gave him earthly authority. He knew that his crown was the love and compassion of his God. This is what he put his pride in. He found his identity in God’s love and mercy over his life and in discovering the beauty and revelation of the knowledge of God.
I think a lot of people consider a transformed mind having to do with dwelling on what we can do in order to change our mindset and have healthy thinking. If we simply stop thinking negative things and turn our attention to thinking positive things we’ve got it figured out. But I don’t think these people have the whole picture. I think it is simply turning our attention onto who God is. Having the revelation of the beauty of God makes us beautiful, you see. Examining scripture and allowing our minds to become consumed with who He is, destroys the lies that we have built up in our mind.
We believe so many lies about Him! And because we believe lies about Him, we believe lies about ourselves and it darkens all of our understanding about the world around us. Meditating on the truth of who He is gives light to our understanding, and transforms our minds and spirits into life-giving products. Believing that God is love and that love lives inside of us transforms us into lovers. Believing that God is mercy and that mercy lives inside of us transforms us into being merciful. Carefully meditating on all of these attributes of God and knowing and understanding that this power lives within us will cause us to look more and more like the One we worship.
Me and Jesus at nighttime equals incredible. I have had some of the sweetest moments of my life with the Lord in the middle of the night. I have always been a night owl. I love being in my room alone with the Lord when I know everyone else is asleep. It feels like just me and Him hanging out. Sometimes I’ll just lay on my bed and cry as His presence washes over me. I don’t need to say anything to Him and wake up my roommates. He already knows my heart. Sometimes He has a lot to say at night and sometimes we just sit together and enjoy eachother. These incredible nights first began when I worked the evening shift at a bookstore in Dallas. I usually got home at around 11pm in which I would immediately watch Conan O’Brian while I ate my Ramen noodles and then turn Conan off, lay across the living room floor on my back and stare at the ceiling fan. My roommates were all asleep so nobody could hear my conversations with Him. We would talk about my family, my church, my failures, His plans and other items that were always up for discussion.
When I was in Fire in the Night– an all night internship at the International House of Prayer I learned that there were many verses and actually whole Psalms devoted to encountering God in the night.
“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Psalm 16:7
“Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil;” Psalm 17:3
“By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” Psalm 63:6
“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalm 119:48
Psalm 134 was believed to have been sung to the nightwatch as they entered tabernacle of David. Yes. There was a nightwatch back then. The tabernacle had 24/7 worship and prayer and so David actually had hired guys that came in and hung out with the Lord all night long.
“1 Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD
who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the LORD.
3 May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 134
I was able to be a part of one of these nightwatches in the summer and winter of 06. I came into the prayer room at midnight and paced the stinky floor of the IHOP prayer room until 6am. I would like to say it was heaven and sometimes, yes it was, but there was a lot of time where God was preparing and strengthening me for many things yet to come. It was a time where He was speaking destiny over me in the middle of the night. Where he was calling me to a place of really hearing His voice and working out the rough areas of my life that I hadn’t yet submitted to Him.
And not only do I encounter Him when I am awake at night but I encounter Him in my dreams. In my dreams I see Him washing my feet, sitting on the side of my bed having a conversation with me, or giving me a hug. Sometimes I encounter Him in ways that are NOT so sweet. Like maybe I’m exposing demonic forces and wake up speaking in tongues at 5am (like this week) , fighting in an endtimes battle, evolving into the prophet Jeremiah, or maybe He’s revealing secrets to me about the future that aren’t so pleasant.
So when I heard Norah sing that first line this week I couldn’t help but feel He was calling me back to that night season again… and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
God has a sense of humor. If you haven’t figured that out, then I feel really sorry for you. I say this because he speaks in the most surprising ways sometimes.
I was working most of the day today and had my iPod earbuds embedded into my head. Music causes the day to go by so much faster and makes mundane chores enjoyable. I haven’t listened to a lot of secular music in years though I will occasionally put some Pandora Radio on if I’m in the mood. For the most part, I prefer to soak myself in some really anointed worship music. But today I found myself staring at the listing for Norah Jones album “Come Away”, which was her very first recorded album. I haven’t listened to the complete version of this CD in about 4 years and was honestly obsessed with the CD when I first bought it. But because it was associated with a former bad relationship I sort of avoided it for awhile. For some reason I decided to go ahead and put it on. When the title song “Come Away” came on I stopped in my tracks and found myself wondering about the lyrics.
I don’t think Norah is a believer… but I’m pretty sure God is speaking right now.
“Come away with me in the night
Come away with me and I’ll write you a song
Come away with me on a bus
Come away with me where they can’t tempt us with their lies
And I want to walk with you on a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come?
Come away with me and we’ll kiss on a mountaintop
Come away with me and I’ll never stop lovin’ you
And I want to wake up with the rain fallin’ on a tin roof
While I’m safe there in your arms
So all I ask is for you to come away with me in the night
Come away with me”
I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt the Lord speak to me in almost every single line. Not only that but soon after I was done listening to that album I put on a podcast by author John Eldredge. In the middle of the podcast John states “I was driving on a beautiful day awhile back and that song by Norah Jones… “Come Away with Me” played on the radio and I knew the Lord was speaking to me through this song.” I was sort of stunned. Once again, I am amazed at his tenderness over me.
I will write more on the meaning of these lyrics when I have time.
I remember hearing one of the strangest analogies when I was at IHOP. My prayer room team leader compared our hearts to a pound of frozen ground beef. Set the ground beef before a fire and little by little, the frost disappears from the surface and the ground beef is thawed. He was explaining that if we posture our hearts before the fire of God’s love, the hardness that enshrouds our heart will eventually evaporate.
My heart has been feeling that way lately… like a pound of frozen ground beef. I read a book this morning that reminded me of the moments I’ve had when my heart has been tender and I have felt a ‘groan’ in my heart for more of God. I love that feeling. That feeling that you are so fixed on the love of God for you… manifest presence of Jesus that you can’t move… you can’t think… you can’t talk… you can only revel in the pleasures of God. Any distraction, any movement and you are terrified it will all go away and you will do anything to keep Him near.
So this morning I thought a few things… I thought…
Maybe I’m going to leave my agenda behind this morning. Maybe I’m not going to go by my usual scheduled prayer sessions. Adoration first, then prayer, then listening, then journaling, then reading my Bible. NOPE. I’m just going to sit here and let Him love me because He loves to love me. I’m going to place my cold heart before His flame.
Thus the thaw begins.
Today I was talking with Linda, one of my spiritual moms from IHOP and she, who is a violin player, told me that the Lord has been speaking to her about joining a worship team again. The Lord specifically told her whose team she needed to be on… though the person was not even leading a team yet. Two weeks after the Lord spoke this to her, the person whom the Lord spoke to her about started a worship team. She thought this was a sign from the Lord, for sure. When she emailed the person and asked them if she could join their team, they responded that since their team was so new, they didn’t want to establish more members then they could handle. Linda was disappointed because she felt this was positively from the Lord. But she spoke to me something that made practical sense: “just because you feel like something is from the Lord, doesn’t mean that you or anyone else doesn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay to move on if someone else says no. The Lord doesn’t always give us just one option.” Little did she know what had been on my mind for the past couple of weeks.
For months I’ve been getting the same prophetic word from one of my spiritual fathers– “Brooke. The Lord is going to surprise you. You have a choice and the Lord wants you to know that you can’t mess this up.” I guess there is the security factor that I like… I like it when the Lord speaks to me very clearly about things but I think what makes God such a great Father is that He gives us options… he lets us have a choice… we can disobey Him and choose the wrong thing but I think that He often asks us what we want… like, “Brooke… do you want the pink dress or the white dress…” both are good options… and would be good choices, but He wants us to really want what we choose. We actually get a say in things sometimes. This is part of what makes life with God such an adventure.