Thursday, December 31, 2020

Beauty for Ashes


At the close of the year 2020, may you have many things to reflect on that bring you joy. The Lord can take our ashes and make beauty. For mourning, He gives the oil of Joy. For the spirit of heaviness, a garment of Praise (Isaiah 61:3).

This video is worth watching. This girl composed this waltz when she was about 14 years old and her prologue at the beginning can be likened to the year 2020.

God bless you.

Siren Sounds Waltz
Alma Deutscher 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Slothful and Unwise Servants

I was reading an LDS Living magazine an article which I will link here about the church handbook updates. The article went on to list new additions and changes and what caught my eye was this change:

An added section titled “Seeking Information from Reliable Sources” counsels Latter-day Saints to be wise in their pursuit of truth. “Seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information,” the text says. “Avoid sources that are speculative or founded on rumor. The guidance of the Holy Ghost, along with careful study, can help members discern between truth and error (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12; 45:57). In matters of doctrine and Church policy, the authoritative sources are the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the General Handbook.”  (emphasis is theirs, not mine)

Two things broke my heart when reading that. First, the General Handbook has been placed on equal footing with scripture (see the last sentence). There is no mention of consulting the Lord and seeking His spirit to obtain your answer. I think the argument could be made that, "we have living prophets and they wrote the handbook and prophets write scripture so, there you go." I have multiple concerns with that argument so I ask you, does it read like divine scripture to you? To me, it reads more like Exodus 21. Exodus 21 comes after Exodus 20 where Moses invites the children of Israel up the holy mount to meet their God face to face. 

Remember their response?

"And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." (v.19)

They wanted a prophet, not God Himself, so they got what they desired. God is good - He truly gives you the desire of your heart.

If you pay attention to Exodus 20 and Israels rejection of an intimate relationship with God...the chapters following Exodus chapter 20 get gnarly....rules that make my head quite perplexed and sometimes shocked. As I've pondered on those chapters where God writes an ancient handbook of instructions I came to the conclusion that they didn't want God, they wanted what they wanted. "Hey Moses, what about if a man steals an ox, or a sheep, and like - they kill it, or sell it...what rules do we have? Or like, if a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten and shall put in his beast, and like - you know, he feeds in another man's field, how should we handle that one? Or like, what do we do if a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house - what do you say we do?" You get the gist. 

Like the current handbook of instruction, if we aren't willing to engage with the Lord directly, then we must be commanded in all things. Are we so distant from the Lord that rulebooks and guidelines are considered equal to Holy Scripture with no mention of Seeking the Lord and His Righteousness? We are the chosen people, right? We know the way to salvation? Yet, we are modern day children of Israel saying, "President Nelson, if I want to take a picture in the chapel after sacrament meeting, what should I do? If I feel prejudice towards someone, is that okay with the church? How should I dress and groom myself? Can I be cremated and still be resurrected?" You get the gist.

Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. (Jeremiah 17:5)

President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds…”
TPJS p.237
The second thing that is heartbreaking is the blindness and hardheartedness and refusal of members to not only see where we are at, but to see it as a problem at all. If we are at the point where we need rules, rules, and more rules, we are so far strayed from the spirit we claim to be in possession of. From the words of the hymn, 'Let the Holy Spirit Guide':

1. Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heaven’s view.

2. Let the Holy Spirit guard;
Let his whisper govern choice.
He will lead us safely home
If we listen to his voice.

3. Let the Spirit heal our hearts
Thru his quiet, gentle pow’r.
May we purify our lives
To receive him hour by hour.

I often wonder if the Book of Mormon Prophets were to show up at one of our Sacrament meetings if they would be "exceedingly astonished." The structure, the repeated phrases, the unilateral uniformity. Moroni shows us a pattern of what his sacrament meetings looked like: (Moroni 6)
9 And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

One of my favorite Book of Mormon moments is in Mosiah 26 when King Mosiah gives Alma authority over the church. In this chapter, the children of the people who listened to King Benjamin were too young to understand the words of King Benjamin and so they grew up not believing in Christ and were causing many to commit sin. Alma was deeply troubled. He didn't know what they had done personally but many witnesses came testified against them.

Alma had a conundrum. He was, "troubled in his spirit." And so what did he do? He went to King Mosiah and essentially said, "Help! You take this one." And King Mosiah, being a great leader said, "Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged."

Alma is stressed out, troubled to the max. He has the weight of grievous sins of the church members on his mind and heart. Things in the church were going so well since King Benjamin died. This was all too much. And Alma had been a sinner himself at one time in King Noah's court. How can he judge them. Alma's relief and answer could only come from one source and it wasn't a handbook of instruction on do's and don'ts and how to's...

13 And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.

14 And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying:

15 Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.

16 And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them.

17 And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people.

18 Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.

19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.

20 Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.

In that moment, Alma received eternal life. He received a DIRECT covenant with the LORD that he would have eternal life. And how did it all come about? "Because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor". Thank goodness that King Mosiah told Alma to solve the situation. Because of Alma's fear to do wrong in the sight of the Lord, he was blessed. He received Eternal Life.

How many mistakes have been made in leadership positions because they consulted a book rather than the Lord? How many missed opportunities to wrestle with the Lord in prayer over another soul, fearing to do wrong in His sight? How many times would He have gathered you as a hen gatherers her chicks, and you would not? I heard a speaker say, "I once paid $1,000 for advice that I could have received after an hour on my knees."
D&C 58: 26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.   

It Starts Right Here
Casting Crowns

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Invite The Cross To Do Its Deadly Work Within Us

It is my guess this post will be skim worthy and boring to most. A lot of my posts are boring I guess. When I see the statistical analysis on this blog, the posts that focus most on Jesus get the least amount of views and shares. I don't care though, because frankly...I love Jesus. 

A.W. Tozer said:
“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God's professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”
― A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God

Rome, Italy Temple (link)

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” Matthew 27:51

“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion... I want all that God has or I don't want any.”
― A.W. Tozer

“The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has not done deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.”
― A.W. Tozer
Removing the Veil 
by A.W.Tozer
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" - Heb. 10:19
Among the famous sayings of the Church fathers none is better known than Augustine's, "Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."

The great saint states here in few words the origin and interior history of the human race. God made us for Himself...should faulty education and perverse reasoning lead a man to conclude otherwise, there is little that any Christian can do for him. For such a man I have no message. My appeal is addressed to those who have been previously taught in secret by the wisdom of God; I speak to thirsty hearts whose longings have been wakened by the touch of God within them, and such as they need no reasoned proof. Their restless hearts furnish all the proof they need.

"Question: What is the chief End of Man? Answer: Man's chief End is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." With this agree the four and twenty elders who fall on their faces to worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11)

God formed us for His pleasure, and so formed us that we as well as He can in divine communion enjoy the sweet and mysterious mingling of kindred personalities. He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile. But we have been guilty of that "foul revolt" ...describing the rebellion of Satan and his hosts. We have broken with God. We have ceased to obey Him or love Him and in guilt and fear have fled as far as possible from His Presence...and from that Presence we have fled, like Adam, to hide among the trees of the garden, or like Peter to shrink away crying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."

The whole work of God in redemption is to undo the tragic effects of that foul revolt, and to bring us back again into right and eternal relationship with Himself. This required that our sins be disposed of satisfactorily, that a full reconciliation be effected and the way opened for us to return again into conscious communion with God and to live again in the Presence as before. Then comes His working within us - He moves us to return. This first comes to our notice when our restless hearts feel a yearning for the Presence of God and we say within ourselves, "I will arise and go to my Father." That is the first step...

The interior journey of the soul from the wilds of sin into the enjoyed Presence of God is beautifully illustrated in the Old Testament tabernacle. The returning sinner first entered the outer court where he offered a blood sacrifice on the brazen altar and washed himself in the laver that stood near it. Then through a veil he passed into the holy place where no natural light could come, but the golden candlestick which spoke of Jesus the Light of the World threw its soft glow over all. There also was the shewbread to tell of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and the altar, of incense, a figure of unceasing prayer.

Though the worshipper had enjoyed so much, still he had not yet entered the Presence of God. Another veil separated from the Holy of Holies where above the mercy seat dwelt the very God Himself in awful and glorious manifestation. While the tabernacle stood, only the high priest could enter there, and that but once a year, with blood which he offered for his sins and the sins of the people. It was this last veil which was rent when our Lord gave up the ghost on Calvary, and the sacred writer explains that this rending of the veil opened the way for every worshipper in the world to come by the new and living way straight into the divine Presence.

Everything in the New Testament accords with this Old Testament picture. Ransomed men need no longer pause in fear to enter the Holy of Holies. God wills that we should push on into His Presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held, it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.

This Flame of the Presence was the beating heart of the Levitical order. Without it all the appointments of the tabernacle were characters of some unknown language; they had no meaning for Israel or for us. The greatest fact of the tabernacle was that Jehovah was there; a Presence was waiting within the veil. Similarly the Presence of God is the central fact of Christianity... At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His Presence. That type of Christianity which happens now to be the vogue knows this Presence only in theory. It fails to stress the Christian's privilege of present realization. According to its teachings we are in the Presence of God position, ally, and nothing is said about the need to experience that Presence actually. Ignoble contentment takes the place of burning zeal. For the most part we bother ourselves very little about the absence of personal experience.

Who is this within the veil who dwells in fiery manifestations? It is none other than God Himself, "One God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible," and "One Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God; begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father." Behind the veil is God...He waits to show Himself in ravishing fulness to the humble of soul and the pure in heart.

The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the, Church is famishing for want of His Presence. The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us. This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged. This would burn away the impurities from our lives as the bugs and fungi were burned away by the fire that dwelt in the bush.

What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is eternal...Time began in Him and will end in Him...He is omniscient, which means that He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and He has no future. Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it. Only fire can give even a remote conception of it. In fire He appeared at the burning bush; in the pillar of fire He dwelt through all the long wilderness journey. The fire that glowed between the wings of the cherubim in the holy place was called the "shekinah," the Presence, through the years of Israel's glory, and when the Old had given place to the New, He came at Pentecost as a fiery flame and rested upon each disciple.

Frederick Faber was one whose soul panted after God as the roe pants after the water brook, and the measure in which God revealed Himself to his seeking heart set the good man's whole life afire with a burning adoration rivaling that of the seraphim before the throne. 

His love for the Person of Christ was so intense that it threatened to consume him; it burned within him as a sweet and holy madness and flowed from his lips like molten gold. In one of his sermons he says, "Wherever we turn in the church of God, there is Jesus. He is the beginning, middle and end of everything to us .... There is nothing good, nothing holy, nothing beautiful, nothing joyous which He is not to a His servants. No one need be poor, because, if he chooses, he can have Jesus for his own property and possession. No one need be downcast, for Jesus is the joy of heaven, and it is His joy to enter into sorrowful hearts. We can exaggerate about many things; but we can never exaggerate our obligation to Jesus, or the compassionate abundance of the love of Jesus to us. All our lives long we might talk of Jesus, and yet we should never come to an end of the sweet things that might be said of Him. Eternity will not be long enough to learn all He is, or to praise Him for all He has done, but then, that matters not; for we shall be always with Him, and we desire nothing more." And addressing our Lord directly he says to Him:
I love Thee so, I know not how My transports to control; Thy love is like a burning fire Within my very soul.
I have risked the tedium of quotation that I might show by pointed example what I have set out to say, that God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is. Such worship as Faber knew (and he is but one of a great company which no man can number) can never come from a mere doctrinal knowledge of God. Hearts that are "fit to break" with love for the Godhead are those who have been in the Presence and have looked with opened eye upon the majesty of Deity. Men of the breaking hearts had a quality about them not known to or understood by common men. They habitually spoke with spiritual authority. They had been in the Presence of God and they reported what they saw there. They were prophets, riot scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen.

The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are today overrun with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the Church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the Wonder that is God. And yet, thus to penetrate, to push in sensitive living experience into the holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God.

With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus' flesh, with nothing on God's side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without? Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God? We hear the Bridegroom say, "Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely." We sense that the call is for us, but still we fail to draw near, and the years pass and we grow old and tired in the outer courts of the tabernacle. What doth hinder us?

The answer usually given, simply that we are "cold," will not explain all the facts. There is something more serious than coldness of heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence. What is it? What but the presence of a veil in our hearts? A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross. It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify. We have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see it there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress.

This veil is not a beautiful thing and it is not a thing about which we commonly care to talk, but I am addressing the thirsting souls who are determined to follow God, and I know they will not turn back because the way leads temporarily through the blackened hills. The urge of God within them will assure their continuing the pursuit. They will face the facts however unpleasant and endure the cross for the joy set before them. So I am bold to name the threads out of which this inner veil is woven.

It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice...To tell all the truth, it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible Conference than in a tavern. Our very state of longing after God may afford it an excellent condition under which to thrive and grow.

Self is the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. As well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. We must prepare ourselves for an ordeal of suffering in some measure like that through which our Saviour passed when He suffered under Pontius Pilate.

Let us remember: when we talk of the rending of the veil we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant; but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.

Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified. But we must be careful to distinguish lazy "acceptance" from the real work of God. We must insist upon the work being done. We dare not rest...being content with a neat doctrine of self-crucifixion. That neat doctrine is content to imitate Saul and spare the best of the sheep and the oxenInsist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God.
Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance o f faith. W e would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter T by heaven to dwell with Thee there. In Jesus' name, Amen.



Bethany Worship

Ruth here: I recently watched a YouTube video of a young man who died and went to heaven. I wasn't interested in watching it but I had a couple hours of stacking wood to do and since it kept appearing in my YouTube feed, I clicked on it and listened. I'm glad I did. What I got from it was vital for me. The young man said that in God's presence you only desired to do His will. You awaited His every command. THAT is what this life is about. You are given free will, we all are. And we sure do use it to it's fullest. But it's time to put off the prodigal and stand at the Throne...seeking His Will in all things. 

If interested, I will attach a link to that man's experience. I want to give a disclaimer - I don't think anyone is an expert on heaven. I listened to his experience. It was accurate and real to him and it taught me things because I left out judgment.

Link here:

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The evil habit of seeking God-and....

These writings are excerpts from author A.W. Tozer who wrote these things over 70 years ago and are still just as applicable today.

My soul followeth hard after thee: 
thy right hand upholdeth me. 
-- Psa.63:8

Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.

Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow.

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. "No man can come to me," said our Lord, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him," and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: "Thy right hand upholdeth me."

The doctrine of justification by faith -- a Biblical truth -- has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be "received" without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is "saved," but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.

God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.

You and I are in little (our sins excepted) what God is in large. Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him. In our sins we lack only the power. The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart's happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.

Shoreless Ocean, who can sound Thee?
Thine own eternity is round Thee,
Majesty divine!

To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart. St. Bernard stated this holy paradox in a musical quatrain that will be instantly understood by every worshipping soul:

We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. "Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight"; and from there he rose to make the daring request, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." God was frankly pleased by this display of ardor, and the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before him.

David's life was a torrent of spiritual desire, and his psalms ring with the cry of the seeker and the glad shout of the finder. Paul confessed the mainspring of his life to be his burning desire after Christ. "That I may know Him," was the goal of his heart, and to this he sacrificed everything. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ."

Hymnody is sweet with the longing after God. "His track I see and I'll pursue," sang our fathers only a short generation ago, but that song is heard no more in the great congregation. How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Thus the whole testimony of the worshipping, seeking, singing Church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to an Augustine, a Rutherford or a Brainerd.

In the midst of this great chill there are some, I rejoice to acknowledge, who will not be content with shallow logic. They will admit the force of the argument, and then turn away with tears to hunt some lonely place and pray, "O God, show me thy glory." They want to taste, to touch with their hearts, to see with their inner eyes the wonder that is God.

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to "babes" and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.

When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.

We need not fear that in seeking God only we may narrow our lives or restrict the motions of our expanding hearts. The opposite is true. We can well afford to make God our All, to concentrate, to sacrifice the many for the One.

When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, "I am thy part and thine inheritance," and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

I'd Rather Have Jesus



Sunday, November 22, 2020

"The worst possible thing that could ever happen to you, can never happen to you."

I had someone say to me a few weeks ago: "The worst possible thing that could ever happen to you, can never happen to you." While she paused for that to settle into my mind -  my thoughts ran wild with the worst possible things that could happen to me. Then she said, "...nothing can separate us from the love of God," (Romans 8:38-39). The worst thing that could ever happen to you - will never happen to you. Nothing can separate you from His love. 

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus. I love you Jesus. I have been blind to You for so long. I have missed Your Beauty all around me. I have missed Your love notes lavishly placed all around me day in and day out, calling me to see You. I didn't praise you then, but I praise You now. You are Holy. You are Worthy. You are the Lion and the Lamb. You are my All in All. The Lover of my soul. My Savior, My Friend, My Bridegroom, the Author and Finisher of my Faith. You are Truth. You are Righteousness. You are Meek. Holy. The Desire of my heart. 

If all I can do for the rest of my life is to Worship You and Trust in You, 
then I will die in peace.

There are times and seasons in life Jesus seems to be elusive from us. "We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return." (Lindbergh) Sometimes we feel abandoned by Him or that He is silent in our life. You can ask the Lord to blow His breath on the embers of our heart and revive your desires

Ask God - What do YOU (Jesus) desire? What do You want to do together, with me?

It's easy to dream for others, but what do you dream for yourself? 

To the man or woman that God enjoys and delights in at every moment, what are your dreams? Allow God to access that place in your heart where you have dreams, He put those longings and dreams into our hearts to begin with. It tells you about who you are and who He is. It is okay to want more that He has to offer. Wanting more isn't the result of being dissatisfied, but it's simply agreeing with God for the more that He has for us. There's always more healing, more goodness, more life that God wants for us. Consider telling the Lord in prayer that you want to recognize His love for you. If you feel distant from the Lord or that He seems to have vanished from your life, you are not alone. There are countless examples in scripture where the Lord was hard to recognize by those He loved. 

In John 20 we see such a moment:

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 

12 And saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 

14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

In ONE WORD, Jesus opens her eyes:

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher").

17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Mary Magdalene was one who was very close to Jesus, and desired to be with Him and to worship Him. She was searching for Him - and He stood in front of her and in her distress and longing for Him, she was unable to recognize Him. 

Ask the Lord to call your open your eyes to show you where He is. Consider getting a journal and set aside Holy Time where you can write down the question  asking where He was when you have been in times of distress and where He is now. Pray until you receive His voice, or a vision, or an understanding of where He was (or is). And if nothing comes, don't give up asking. Ask what is keeping you from recognizing Him now. As Jesus asked Mary, ponder that He too is asking you, "Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

When you listen to this song, I want you to imagine that his words are your words and this is your song to the Lord. 

My Confession
Josh Groban

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Pursuit of God

Today one of our dearest friends, and as only God could orchestrate - our blood relative, stopped by. He is one of the most humble, Christlike people we know. His love of the Lord is all you see when you talk to him. Before he left, he encouraged me to keep writing and so today I wanted to post a writing of one of my favorite authors, A.W. Tozer.

In a world where we skim read news articles and listen to Youtube and Audiobooks at x1.5 speed, please slow down and don't read it until you can drink in his words...they pierce the soul as he gets right to the heart of the matter. 

The Pursuit of God

In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct "interpretations" of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.

This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a man's hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should[Pg 8] accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the Church of God in our day.

But this hunger must be recognized by our religious leaders. Current evangelicalism has (to change the figure) laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the "piercing sweetness" of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton's terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed." It is a solemn thing,[Pg 9] and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table. The truth of Wesley's words is established before our eyes: "Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this."

Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold "right opinions," probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the "program." This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless[Pg 10] and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

This book is a modest attempt to aid God's hungry children so to find Him. Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.

Book: The Pursuit of God


A. W. Tozer
Chicago, Ill.
June 16, 1948



Micah Tyler

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Whatever your gift is, wield it now in practice...

I was having a soul piercing conversation with my best friend last week. The writing I will post below was written by her at my request because I never want to forget the things she was teaching me. I know it will be of value to every reader because what she wrote was pure revelation from the Lord. 

Spiritual Gifts and Blessings

Nearly ten years ago I listened in amazement as a young woman, only seventeen, described what it meant to her to be “Highly favored of the Lord.”  She was an incredible soccer player who played the forward, goal shooting position for her High School soccer team.  It came in a burst of enlightenment one day while she was practicing, that she was thankful for both of her legs, their strength, developed agility, and their ability to follow through quickly the commands of her mind.  But, when she needed to make a goal, she “favored” her right leg.  She trusted that leg to accomplish her literal and figurative goal.  It made her think about how she wanted to be favored by the Lord, and be trusted to follow through with whatever His goal may be.  That has stuck in my mind and I want to hug her every time I remember that and the way her inspiration has expounded in my mind as well.

Later, while serving as our ward Relief Society president, I had the challenge of watching over and caring for nearly 160 women and their families.  It was a daunting and overwhelming task.  I need God and my Savior constantly to hold me up.  I created anxiety for myself by thinking that a good president would wander the neighborhood with a wagon of lasagna’s and cleaning supplies to be able to help anyone in need at a moment's notice.   I made myself sick, but what I was taught by the Master Teacher was simple.  It came as a pure and peaceful revelation that I needed to, “Send Rebecca.”  This situation needed a Laura, or a Marie, or a Jessica.  These 160 women didn’t need me 24/7, they needed the gift, the blessing, and sometimes the powerful weapon the Lord sent in the form of their neighbor and friend.  I found myself appreciating on a whole other level the spiritual gifts these beautiful women had been given.  I could rely on this person to help with kids, this person to make a meal, or this person to sit and merely abide with someone in need.  These were not felt to be burdens to these women because it was what felt natural and easy to them to give.  Expressed as a flowing out of the gift they had received as a gift from God.  

From my personal experiences and from listening to ladies I love, I realized that we often are dissatisfied with what we have been given and what it is we give.  A powerful teacher wishes they were softer and gentler.  The quiet ministering angel that softly cares for a sick friend feels bad that they aren’t able to speak truth with the fire someone else has.  What I have been thankful to learn in that each person, with their unique gift, is powerful.  It is needed.  They are Highly Favored.  To imitate another’s gift, or berate ourselves for the lack we have, has to be a sin because of the sickness we bring upon our own souls.  It isn’t healthy or helpful.  What is life changing is to ask God to show us what gift He has given us.  “What is it you love about me?”  “What is the gift you have given me to accomplish my work?” 

In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy visit Narnia.  Mr. Tumnus, the faun Lucy befriends, tells her that since the White Witch took control “it has been winter but never Christmas.”  Cold without the warmth Christmas or Christ, brings.  As the White Witches power begins to wane, and Aslan is on the move, the winter starts to thaw and for the first time in memory Father Christmas comes and gives the kids true gifts they will need for the upcoming battle.  They were not given toys but tools.  He gives Peter a Sword, named Rhindon and a shield.  Susan received a bow and quiver of arrows, and a horn that is later heard in the battle against the witch.  Edmund wasn’t there and missed the gift that was given then, but when he returns doesn't miss out on the battle or the crowns with their new titles in the throne room.  Little Lucy receives a small dagger and a “Magical healing cordial”.  I want to be “Peter the Magnificent” in the story!  He is brave and true and fights valiantly in the battle against the witch.  Who I resemble more in real life is Lucy.  Lucy watches the battle from the hill tensley.  She isn’t an active participant in the battle.  I don’t remember her killing anyone or heroically sweeping in and saving one of her loved ones with warfare brilliance.  Instead, as the battle fades she goes to work helping everyone she can with her healing elixir.  She is more like a nurse who is just as needed in a battle, rather than the general or soldiers.  Nothing lacking and equal courage and strength needed for each.  The tasks are different, the goals are different, the people are different, so it is necessary the Gifts are also different.   

What are your gifts?  What strengths have you been given that aid the Body of Christ and even the Battle of or for Christ?  Whatever it is, it is needed.  It is favored, you are favored to do the work that suits your spirit.  Admire other gifts and other people, but don’t allow it to take away from yours, but allow it to be mutually enriching.  Don’t look down on anyones’ gifts, that points to lack of knowledge or understanding.  Don’t dilute or weaken your own gift by dismissing it as lame or unworthy.  Whatever your gift is, wield it now in practice.  Strengthen it with use and gratitude.   

I believe that we will all be called upon when we are needed to fulfill whatever it is we do best because of what The Giver of all Good Gifts, has given us.  Your name will be called when that weapon is needed by the Great General to accomplish His work.  Great or small, flashy or quiet, each is beautiful and essential to Him that created you and your gift.  


You Are My All in All


David Phelps

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The New Name

*Saul, a fierce and violent crusader set to destroy the people of God, puts off his false self through a series of supernatural encounters and takes upon his true identity, Paul. And he leads God's people into freedom. Jacob, whose name means "the deceiver," spends most of a lifetime living out that fateful identity. Then he wrestles with God in a blow-by-blow all night battle, crying out, "I won't let you go until you bless me!" (Gen. 32:26 paraphrase). God wounds Jacob in the hip, leaving him with an injury that strips him of the last bit of self-sufficiency. God gives him his true name, Israel, and from the strength of this revelation, Israel is able to walk with God and fulfill his destiny. Abram, at the ripe old age of seventy-five, has an encounter with God and becomes Abraham, the father of many nations. And at the age of one hundred, he completes the process of becoming his name. Simon betrays Christ, not once but three times. Later as he lives out the full stature of his given name, Peter, in partnership with the power of God, three thousand men and women come to faith during the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).

What is God showing us here?

In order for us to become who God meant when he meant us, we must seek to encounter God and receive the name He wants to bestow upon us. Yet we must also engage in the slow and steady process of apprenticeship to become our name. In the words of George MacDonald, since we are, so must we become.

In the book of Revelation, John brought this central reality when he said: "To him who overcomes, to him I will give...a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he wo receives it." (Rev. 2:17 NASB) When a person encounters the living God in the depths of his soul, he is given a new identity, a new name. 

George MacDonaled, a Scottish poet, offered a brilliant teaching called, "The New Name." In it, MacDonald reflects on Revelation 2.
"The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God things about the man, to the man. The true name is one that expresses the character, the nature, the being, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man's own symbol, his soul's picture in a word, the sign which belongs to him and no one else."

And who is the new name given to? The one who overcomes (Rev. 3:12). The Father wants every person to know they are an overcomer. You are a victorious one. That's part of your name in heaven.
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. (Isaiah 62:1-2)

In the book of Ephesians, Paul wrote, "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name" (Eph. 3:14-15). God has called you by name. Your name. "After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun" (Rom. 8:30 MSG).

You'll notice that in scripture, when a person encounters God, they are often given a new name, handed a parcel of heaven, and told what is written on their white stone. This isn't an event that happens in the eternities, it is a gift awaiting you now...the kingdom of God is NOW (Luke 17:21)! It is the manifestation of the soul's journey from the false self and the fig leaves we've hidden behind, to the true self. A person's name is the soul's picture of who and what they are intended to become. And the process of initiation is the journey a person must take with God if they are to become their true name. Receiving your new name from the Lord won't be obtained via a volunteer who gives the same name en masse through a ritual or ordinance. Rituals and ordinances are given by God for one purpose: to point the recipient to the real thing which awaits the faithful

God is constantly inviting us to, like Adam and Eve, come out from hiding behind the false self and begin the ever-deeper journey of knowing and becoming who we were meant to be. At the center of God's saving work, His restoration work, is a restoring of our identity, our name. He is whispering to us the answer to the soul's deepest question: Who am I?

Isaiah 56:5 To them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.

Isaiah 62:2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate.

Revelation 3:12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.



"Who Am I?"


Casting Crowns

*Many of the thoughts in this post come from the book: Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder. This book is well worth the read.