Good News

The below words aren’t mine. I listened to an online prayer meeting last night and heard the message I could listen to everyday for the rest of my life. I have heard this all over the world and spoken it to others myself. I get absolutely emotionally lost in this good news. My spirit becomes so satisfied and rich with the presence of God basking in this truth. I couldn’t help but go back to the recording, transcribe it, and share it here. May it bless you.May it touch you. May you feel God’s spirit, his presence, his life in the room with you as you read this.

In last January and February I did a deep dive into Romans.

I want to meditate together on what’s been purchased for us, on what Christ has done in us. How many of us ever look at yourself, or you make a mistake, you do something stupid, and you feel bad. Right thinking produces right living. Often times in religious cultures we try to do right living first  before right thinking, right believing. But repentance is to change the way we think. It means to go up to the next place. And so let’s just meditate.  I’m not going to preach at you.

Romans Chapter 4,5,6,7 and 8. I’m convinced you can’t actually know your identity in Christ outside of these passages. When I begin to read these, Romans 4 really shows how faith works. 

Abraham is the father of faith.  He believed God before he had the sign of circumcision. Before you feel the breakthrough, before your family is saved, before your healing is manifest. Before you feel saved, before your prayer language. Before he saw all those things, he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. That’s how faith works and he’s the Father of faith.

Romans Chapter 5 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace of mind starts with God. Peace of mind starts with Faith in Christ.

Faith in what he’s done.  And you can’t add to the blood of Jesus.

How many of you have felt the unrest and the anxiety and the fear of America and all that’s going on in the world.  How many of you guys have felt that? I have to continually go to the heavenly places, Ephesians 2.  I’m present with Christ in the heavenly places and just dwell above the storm.

We’ve been justified by faith. Just as if we’d never sinned. Thank you Jesus for Peace.  Jesus thank you for peace. Somethings you have to cast out. Other things you crowd out. We’re going to crowd out anxiety right now. Holy Spirit come. Peace rush in like a river. If you have been battling anxiety and fear, lift up your hand. We just release the peace of God over you right now.

We have access by faith into this grace by which we now stand. We stand. We’re standing and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Thank you Lord. Peace is not the absence of chaos, its the presence of a person. Thank you for your peace Lord.  Come Holy Spirit, thank you Lord.

You know it says in Romans 5:17, If by the one man’s offense, death reigned through the one man, much more those receive the abundance of grace, ABUNDANCE of grace and GIFT of righteousness. How much grace do you need? It’s never going to run out. No, you don’t understand Tom, I’ve had a tough week, tough day. I know me too but its an abundance tho that is never going to run out. It’s a gift of righteousness that we reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.  How do we reign in life? Through receiving the abundance of grace, the gift of righteousness. Put your hand on your heart and say, “Thank you God that you have made me righteous. I am righteous in your sight. Thank you Lord.

How many of you need grace today? God is my source of everything. I have nothing without him.  How much do I need? An abundance of grace. Romans 5:20 says where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Grace abounded much more. I feel like some of you guys we’ve been listening to accusation. We’ve allowed the enemy to make ourselves the worst enemy and we’re accusing ourselves. How many people need to let that go right now? Yes, let that go right now.

Speak to yourself, “Heather, time to receive some grace. Time to give yourself some grace. Time to give yourself some grace. God has more than enough grace for us but sometimes we’re the hardest on ourselves, right? Say this over yourself, “Say Heather, You’re not the judge. You’re not God. Jesus Christ is Lord. 

Chapter 6 So What are we going to say, that continue in sin so grace may abound? Certainly not! How should we who died to sin live in it any longer? Don’t you know that those of you who were baptized in Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? There we were buried with him through baptism into his death, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. If we have been UNITED together in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be in the likeness of his resurrection.  We have been made one with Christ. He is Lord. We’re made ONE with Christ. We are united, co-crucified, co-buried and co-raised in Jesus. 

Oftentimes we get a religious mindset and we say I am going to go and I’m gonna pray to God, and that’s okay, but more than that God wants us to commune with him, commune together. The blending of two pitchers of water. They no longer cease to be separate entities, they become one. Impossible to separate. This is a perfect picture of our relationship with God, because we have become one with him. One with Christ. Isn’t that a good word? You are one with the superpower. You’re one with somebody who is gracious and kind, he is constantly true, it’s who he is. 

Put your hand on your heart, we’re going to receive this. This is an encounter time, say “I’ve been united with Christ through his death, burial, and resurrection. I am crucified with Christ. The old me is dead. DEAD DEAD. Dead dead dead. Dead to offense, dead to lust, dead to lying. Dead to everything else that ’s not Jesus, so I let it go.  Thank you for the blood of Jesus. That we’ve been made one with you Lord. One with you Lord. Knowing that our old man was crucified that our body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

We died to the husband of sin as the authority over our lives. I died to my overshadowing husband of sin over my life and my perspective of my life, and now the wife has been set free to marry another. And this other that she just married wasn’t another man but the spirit of God, Christ. So she has been united with Christ. There is a marriage union that has happened. There has been a death, I have died to the law, I am no longer married to that, instead I am united in one spirit with Christ. I am one, united with him. Forever.

And the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives inside of me.  This is why God has taken away our ability to enjoy sin. Which is why sometimes stuff starts kicking up and can come to God and there is a fountain that has sprung up, it’s never going to dry out.  That’s a fountain called the blood of Jesus. There is ONE hope for a life burdened down with guilt and shame and that’s the blood of Jesus that the cross of Christ has purchased.  Can I say it’s not your enneagram number? It’s not your personality profile, its the blood of Jesus, one blood. Amen. Makes us new.

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death, for what the law was powerless to do, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh that we might be united with Christ.

This is the gospel.  There is only way to the father, one way to hope and that’s through faith in Jesus, that’s through trusting in him and what he’s done in our lives. We have been set free from the spirit of this air.

An untrained, unschooled, unqualified woman meets the son of God, goes home and becomes the first missionary evangelist the world has ever seen, possessed with conviction of the Son of God she has seen face to face.  When you see the Lord as who he is, you don’t have to have all the qualifications, you’ve seen something and you’ve come alive.

Quit managing an image for everybody else to think that your something and step into freedom! Do not let pride keep you from getting right with God. I’m going to lose my life to get right with him, washed clean in the blood of Jesus.  You’re going to get free tonight and leave here so full of HOPE.

Thank him for righteousness, peace, and joy in his holy spirit, the free gift of righteousness. I feel like there’s about to be a blast of supernatural risk. The currency of faith of heaven touching earth. Taking risk, going for it, its messy sometimes, terrifying, ABIDE IN HIS GRACE, ONE WITH CHRIST.  When I realize I’m united with Christ, that puts me on a foundation, to look at all the thoughts that come across my screen and to sift those things that are not him, and drink the things that are him. When condemnation comes across my screen, keep going, when accusation comes across my screen, nope that’s not it, keep going, and I just worship. Just stay seated with Christ in heavenly places.

Jesus thank you that we are united with Christ, one with you, we worship you God. Come holy spirit, fill us up. For the rest of this meeting I want us to come with authority.  John 1:12 says as many as who have received him he has given the right to be called sons of God, a badge to cop, its the authority to come as sons and daughters, with risk and faith, we are going to pull down heaven, peace, salvation. We have the authority of heaven as ambassadors in Christ to declare things that are not as though they were and see heaven come!”

Tom Crandall, Bethel Church Sunday Night Prayer Meeting, June 13, 2021

WATCH HERE

Love

red-love-heart-valentines

Introduction

Above all and before all I must expound on this thing you can’t see but everyone believes in: love.  We know it and talk about it, whether we have it or lack it or desire it, or reject it; love.  Everyone thinks they know what love is but few remember ever being taught by someone in a conversation or a class what it is.  Lust masquerades as it and vanity pretends to earn our worthiness of it, but oh love.

Relationships of marriage or dating sometimes exist without it.  All of us at one point were prompted by our hearts to attempt it or hope for it with someone.  My speculation is that love is like a galaxy.  There are certain exchanges or experiences that emulate love and we think we’ve obtained it.  We experience it to some degree in this relationship or that and we settle inside even though we are left thirsty for something more.  But there is this epicenter of love himself that quenches every longing.

No matter how wonderful your relationship has progressed with God or another human being, my speculation is that love is even better than our brains and emotions on this side can fathom.  How many times has a quote or person done something of love and it pulls your mind and heart from somewhere else it drifted to back into that living reality that you are loved.  I love love.  I love its smell, the indestructibleness of it, the softness of its care, the maturity of its nature.

Concretes

In its base form between humans, I would say love is wishing well for somebody and participating to make that happen, to whatever degree.

Love for others, however, is never self-demeaning but is entirely selfless.  These two are different and I’m sure I will probably refer to this idea specifically another day in this writing collection.  Moving on.

Let me clarify one uncompromisable attribute of love.  Love is only ever unconditional.  This is best revealed when trust is broken, expectations are not met, and failure ensues, both with others, God, or yourself.  Often times it is hard to continue forward after one of the above events.  The thing I love about love is that it gets dirty.  Love has no regard for self-preservation.  It will hold onto nothing in order to preserve the one thing important—the connection.  This is love.

A mutual deal based on expectations is also not love.  You will do X, Y, and Z so I will be for you or give you X, Y, and Z.  This is all too common.  You will wash the dishes, stay thin, pay the mortgage, put out, if I keep looking the other way, take care of the kid, keep the cash flow going, stay normal, etc, etc, etc.  Let me explain something.  Love relationships—family and friends—make these kind of shared responsibility arrangements, but they are a byproduct of a love exchange, not the agreement upon which they hinge.  Those are two different things.

The unfortunate part about living our lives on this journey of knowing love more and more often involves us experiencing the broken trust, expectations not being met, and failure.  Unfortunately, we must experience these things in order to cross beyond the line of fear one naturally walks in when we are young in love.  You try not to go outside of others norms and you work hard to meet the expectations of the ones loving you.  It is hard to find out where love is not.  Sometimes when we don’t meet expectations or walk in failure, the other person is unable to show love towards us.  In all actuality, they really do probably love you but they themselves haven’t experienced love’s unconditional nature and therefore are unable to continue to show it.

Let me discuss a little bit more about our divine failure process.  This is the hard road that I would say most humans find themselves taking, it’s called Humility.  You see, when we still believe we earn love, we find ourselves justified in receiving it.  I made myself pretty enough, I practiced this set of religious rules faithfully enough, I clean enough, cook enough, bite my tongue enough.  This will never due.

The thing about God is that we are not God.  We are one in spirit with him, incarnate in Christ in the trinity even, but none of this was accomplished by our own working.  I never reconciled myself to Christ.  He reconciled himself to me.  I could go on and on about this but my point is that part of the human process of love is learning to receive it from God without condition, not only from him and sometimes others, but also from yourself.

After learning God liked me a lot, he invited me to like others with him, family, the poor, strangers, etc.  Then he invited me to like the people who broke my expectations that I didn’t know I still had.  He invited me to love rapists, hookers, pimps, crack dealers, mentally ill, pedophiles, and murderers.  Yes look them in the eye and love them knowing full well everything they did or are still doing and serve them, help them, praise them, and give to them.  This helped teach me about the unconditionality of God.  He even lovingly offended my righteous piousness in all my saintly service one day by saying, “I love them as much as I love you.”

Oh, I still have so gloriously much to learn about this awesome God who is himself this love with which I am in love.

Love Grows Beyond Failure

The next unconditionality lesson was much closer to home and so much harder to bear.  I had expectations in my relationship with God that I didn’t realize I had.  I knew he loved me.  And my attempting-to-be-obedient self was loving myself, but not quit so unconditionally.  I had never been as good at that one, often struggling with condemnation, self-hatred, shame, rejection, etc.  But if someone asked me if I loved myself I would have most assuredly said yes, and I really did (there’s that galaxy thing again, with areas of love floating around this epicenter of goodness)!

I failed at my own expectations in my relationship with God.  Both in obedience to Holy Spirit on a repeated basis to the point of ignoring him, and giving into temptation of the heart in a very real and destructive way, and again decidedly quitting to do the very thing he sent me to do somewhere.  If I were God I would have fired me already.  I spent plenty of time blaming God, others, myself and everyone else in a wonderful display of self-justification that only revealed how scared I truly was.  I must not be guilty because in my mind that meant I was no longer worthy of love.  From myself and from God.  I think I quit loving myself first after these things happened in an attempt to beat him to the punch because I thought that’s what I deserved, that’s what should happen to me from him.

I’m happy to say that years later, he still loves me!  And I love myself again!  Whew, that was one rough and bumpy road that I could still shed tears about on command even today.  It’s not to say there wasn’t real loss that happened.  In relationships, opportunities, joy, peace, service, etc.  It’s not that everything patched itself up again, things got burned, but there are some things I’ve gained that survive fire.  Wisdom being one of them.  Self-acceptance being another.  Freedom from condemnation and self-examination.  Freedom to breathe in my relationship with God.  More of what his love is really like towards me.  An even greater appreciation and celebration that everyone in the church calls failures.  Like religious leader’s failures.  They’re for sure going to hell, right?  At least we can judge them, right?  Those hypocrites right?  Or does God still love them?  And is he filled with goodness towards them and hope for their life and celebration of all the times they have believed him and said yes to things he was inviting them into.

And it’s not that I’m justifying anyone’s sin because it makes me feel better about my own poor choices.  By no means.  It’s that God had to relentlessly pound on my door of failure that had shut him out because he wasn’t content being so distant on the other side of it anymore.  As a loving father he does not tolerate well the hell we place ourselves in.

I remember when he initiated the healing process for me.  It had been some time in hearing his voice inside me the way I once had.  He began with the words, “You are holy.”  You see, we get so wrapped up in this physical realm.  So blinded by it.  His kingdom is unseen and transcends all your human experience.  Love only ever originates from him.  And it is only ever free.  He will make sure we understand that.  Deep inside our hearts in the places it whispers and we barely hear it ourselves.

You Can’t Escape It

We are nothing less than the value he has given us.  We cannot undo this.  That is one freedom he did not grant his free children.  You do not possess within you the ability to undo God’s love for you.  If you allow yourself to believe it, he would love to show you himself that way.

Love is who God is.  It is who he is today and it is who he will be tomorrow.  He will never stop being love.  When judgment day comes do you think he will really take off his hat of love, set it down on the table next to him, and damn the world but a few who were scared enough not to break the rules?  Christ’s death bore the punishment for all your sins.  All of them, in all of punishment’s consuming entirety.  Do not expect to lose love.  Ever.  For God cannot cease to exist.  And you my friend have no ability to exist, in this realm, or the next apart from him.

Did you know that I love you?  Do you know that I care?
Did you know I love you?  Did you know that I’ll always be there?

—spontaneous song by Joel

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

Peace where are you??

I found myself not feeling the same effect of my relationship with God for a season of my life.  I had experienced great change, experienced some intense relational and work stress and found myself making efforts to control my surroundings in order to manage my peace and somehow restore the inner stillness in my mind I had lost.

peace-of-mind1

It didn’t work.  Stress continued, unsettled sleep, and a general underlying presence of anxiety persisted.  Even though I prayed, even though I worshiped, even though I studied the Word, even though I was hearing truth.  I was attempting to self-medicate my spirit.

I was reading the writings of another saint and was reminded of how far my spirit was from the exchange she was sharing with God in her soul.  I missed that.  One morning I asked God how to return and I heard, “Preach forgiveness to yourself.”  I love preaching even though I rarely get to do it, and over here in the Middle East I rarely here others do it either.  He asked me, “When’s the last time you’ve heard forgiveness preached?”  And he wasn’t referring to that I needed to forgive someone else.  He meant between him and myself, and the always by-product of that is between me and myself.

I thought about it and it has maybe been over a year since I heard someone speak about what God did for me on the cross and what it accomplished on my behalf without any effort of my own required.

Now let me clarify something.  I’m strongly a minded-person.  And what I mean by that is normally in order for something to have an effect on my heart, I need to have a linear pattern of thought that makes sense to my mind in order for an impact to be felt emotionally within me.  This, however, has also been a weakness in my experience as I will get so caught up in trains of thought that will have nothing to do with life or freedom.   Whether they could be categorized as anger-based, or fear-based, or relationship-based, I tend to reason things out in my mind or have conversations in my mind.  Again this–I have not observed usually ends up in anything life-giving.

So the question is where has my peace gone?  And God’s answer was, why don’t you preach the gospel to yourself this morning.  And so I did.  I looked up the word forgiveness in the back of my bible, hunted out all the verses and at least one more that came to mind and wrote them down.  Now realize, heaven is not a formula.  Just because someone reads the verses below doesn’t mean, they will receive the peace I did through the process of looking them up, but I share them with you because of some of you who will believe them when you read them and it will settle things within your spirit and peace and calm will be experienced in an increased measure again.  Here we go.

  • There is forgiveness of sin for all who repent
  • Through this man Jesus there is forgiveness of your sins and everyone who believes in him is declared right with God
  • Even greater than sin and death is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this man Jesus Christ
  • Forgetting the past, I look forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of this race through Christ
  • He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his dear son who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins
  • For God was pleased to live in Christ and reconcile everything to himself.  He made peace with everything through Christ’s blood on the cross.
  • You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it
  • Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard this good news
  • Now he has reconciled you to himself through Jesus Christ
  • He has brought you into his own presence and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault

My conclusion in all of this was that if Christ is at peace with me through Christ’s blood, I can be at peace with myself through Christ’s blood.  I received a surge of confidence again in what Christ has accomplished and done entirely apart from my performance or abilities or competence, which freed me from any condition-ality in my relationship with God.  There remains no room for my failure within his love and accomplished work on the cross.

calm-peace-innerpeace1

It felt so nice to be in the presence of a savior again.  Previous negative experiences I’ve had had brought in a level of distrust between myself and God.  Why was that so hard, why did that have to be that why, why is this still that way, etc.  I grew in mistrust of him because I lot perspective of his heart through my experiences.  All I could see was the past and present of what went wrong or what I was doing wrong now and I could no longer see what he had done for me or who he really was with me now.  I lost sight of his goodness in all the muck.  Now don’t get me wrong, my mind didn’t lose the knowledge of his goodness, it was my heart that lost belief through my negative experiences.

And so through reading the writings I read, I had regained hope of being restored not factually but emotionally with God and my heart flittering again with confidence in his goodness and his love for me where I could feel it when my thoughts drifted within me.  He has returned this precious gift to me.  It was once something I could remember feeling, but now again my heart is alight with a tenderness within.  It is a gift that I have not been able to conjure up within myself for sometime.  And I am grateful.  His forgiveness is like nothing else that still the mind and soul; that he has made all things well and that treats me with kindness and tenderheartedness.

I will write another piece about returning a stillness to my mind soon.

The Gospel Revealed through our Enemies

140402_the_divine_hug

A man’s character is revealed through how he treats his enemies.  A man’s love extends only as far as his nearest enemy.  Or does it?  There are many religions in the world that refer to conflict, human interactions, and behavior choices. During the time of Jesus’ life racism was as strong as ever. Especially between the current reigning empire of Rome and the ever persevering minority group of Jews. They were excluded, forced to walk in filth on the roads instead of on sidewalks with others, they would be heckled, ridiculed, robbed, spit on, and more, even by Roman ‘police officers’.

Jesus did not avoid these issues when while spending his days with us here on earth. Kingdoms and individuals, political parties and people groups all have enemies, and all choose to respond to their enemies in certain ways revealing what lies within their make-up. In regards to individuals, Jesus’ revelation on how we should respond to people who have hurt us, robbed us, and taken something from us is VERY clear.

We may not be slapped in the face, and someone may not take our clothing from us, but there are plenty of offenses that happen to EVERYONE in daily life. No one is immune to opportunities for woundedness and accusation to take root in our hearts. Jesus, again, very clearly gave instructions for appropriate responses in these situations. The places of grievances and bitterness in our lives are the very thresholds of which the body of Christ stands on to shine something that lives inside of them that exists beyond human justice and selfish reasoning.

Here are a few examples of teachings for instance:

“Love your enemies. Pray for those who give you difficulty and hard times. In that way you will be acting like My kids. For I give good to everyone, naughty and nice alike. Even corrupt politicians love the people that love them, how does that make you any different? But love with perfection as I do.”

“If you do not forgive others, I will not forgive you.”

“Do good to those who hate you.”

What would this like if we acted like this toward the people who hate us? What would it look like if we acted like this as a nation towards countries that hate us?

I heard a man here talk about all that happened to him from under the hands of ISIS here in the middle east. He said to me, “If you knew everything they did to me, you would be friends with no Muslim.” This statement revealed not only the hurt of the individual but also his lack of the knowledge of God. God himself was beaten, betrayed, abandoned and murdered, and still the words on lips that revealed the content of his heart were “Let none of this be counted against them.”

In his innocence, God did not bear up under scorn and cry “I must have justice! I must have payment!” Instead, in complete selflessness, God denied what was rightly due him, and gave himself–his life–as an offering for their freedom, their peace, and their wholeness.

So often–myself included–we get caught up in this loop-hole of a thought process of self-justification, self-consideration, self-sympathy.  We are in the right; others are in the wrong.  The very ones we accuse in our minds are the very one’s God thought were worthy to give his life for. ‘Being right’ is not the answer; ‘being love’ is.

It is in the opportunities of offense, injury, and hurt we have a divine opportunity to confound the mind of our offenders in reckoning ourselves having been already crucified with Christ and not acting on our own behalf, but in his likeness living in us, as us, and through us.

We have the power to let yesterday go in the relationships we hold with people around us.  I’m not saying this is easy, but it brings to mind Corrie Ten Boom who forgave one of the very guards that held her in a concentration camp, but she knew it wasn’t of herself but it was God giving that man forgiveness through her.  Displays of forgiveness, selflessness, generosity, and blessing without them being deserved or earned, or even in the face of hatred, is giving others the experience of heaven here on earth.

I feel like this would be most profound on a political and international level as well. Sometimes we are holding onto power so tightly that we don’t actually utilize the opportunities we have in using the power we’ve been given.

This loving response to injury does not only reveal his glory here on earth, but is our own path to liberty and restoration; individually and nationally. Restitution follows forgiveness rather than being a prerequisite for it.