Slaves

We were slaves in the marketplace; we were full of fear. We wondered how and where we would end up, who would purchase us and what would they be like? Would they be means and vicious, or kind and tender? Would they care for our needs or expect us to care only for theirs?

Fear–thick and heavy–ruled us with an iron fist and our captors wanted it that way. Fearful slaves were easily controlled slaves. They led us, not in tenderness and love, but by hatred with beatings, both actual and threatened.

Hatred kept us in our place. Hate and fear were our two constant companions that dogged our footsteps and shared our bed.

We didn’t have names, that would have shown kindness, we were just a number to those who ruled us with an iron hand of control. One by one, they called our number, the number they had assigned us when they stripped us of our identity and our hope as one strips off yesterday’s clothes.

There we stood, wearing nothing except our fear, wondering, trying not to cry, nor look anyone in the eye because they could see our fear and they would feed on it.

“Just do what they say and never think about anything else. You have no choice, just do as they say.”

We were bought, shame, fear, and all. Brought with a price. The One who bought us clothed us. We were given a name.

But still we clung to our fear, believing we had no choice. A slave we were, a slave we will always be.

Then our new owner–stooped down, looked us in the eye and said, cutting straight to the heart, our heart,

“Do not fear. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

The freeing part isn’t in our redemption, but in the One who redeemed us. The One who paid the price of our life on that slave block. Everyone not sold is sentenced to death.

And we were already dead.

Sometimes we strut around touting, “I have been redeemed!” and “I am FREE!” as if we had anything to do with it. It wasn’t because we were so strong or capable or great that He redeemed us, because He is far more than we. But He redeemed us.

That is the reason we can have no fear, He redeemed us. The words “Do not fear” is not saying, “Do not fear you are redeemed.” It is saying, “Do not fear I have redeemed you.” The emphasis is not on the one redeemed by on the One who does the redeeming.

In Jesus fear dies. In our pride, in our arrogance, we show who our real master is in that moment–fear.

Why when He has freed us from death, sin and fear, do we chose to live that way again? WHen we choose fear, we choose the old life. There is no life there. There is no freedom there.

He has redeemed our life from the pit! We must stop going back there. And how, how do we do this? By surrendering fully to Him. Admit the shame, the fear, the nakedness, and confess our wrong beliefs about ourselves and our God, our Redeemer.

Then we walk free…given a name and clothed in His robes.

Laying it all Down on Our Mt. Moriah

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…but whatever things were gain to me, those I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,”

Philippians 3:10, 7-8

The first sentiment is easy and very churchy. It’s what we think we’re supposed to want, to say and to mean. It’s all well and good until He starts taking things and we start losing those things we hold so dear. Then counting our dearest treasures as rubbish in view of the surpassing value of knowing Him, suddenly it isn’t so easy. It’s hard. It’s brutal.


Dying to self and denying ourselves is never easy, except on paper and in our head. Move that to a heart thing and we find out we are incredibly selfish and, quite frankly, we don’t really trust and believe Jesus. We don’t believe He is good because if He was truly Good He would know how much we need that. You can name your own that, possession, relationship, person, job, treat, pet, position, it’s a need and you feel entitled to it. He’s good if He takes what you’re willing to freely give, the things on the fringes of your heart. Those are easier to let go of than the gifts you treasure.


One of the hardest things to give up is the very thing you know He gave you. You’re facing your own Mt. Moriah, you have the wood, the knife, the altar is there. But where on earth is the sacrifice?


It’s living in you. It is the very thing you’re holding onto with a death grip. It is the thing you know deep in your marrow that He gave you, He told you and now you’re having to die to yourself. You have to lay it all down on that altar, not knowing if there will be a ram caught in the thicket by his horns.


You pray and pray that this cup, this cup of affliction and suffering, this cup of pain and loss when you’ve lost so much already, will please pass from you.

But you’re still holding that cup. The cup that burns in your hands and you’re looking around, wanting someone, anyone to come and take that cup from you. You’re dying for someone to rescue you and heal your burning hands.

But still you’ve got the cup.

You know in your soul as the word reverberates in your mind that Jesus says “Die to that thing. Kill it. Deny yourself. Pick up your cross. The very cross you said you’d gladly bear and bear it all the way to the death. The very cross you want someone else to take, pick it up and die on it. Die to the very thing you want more than life itself. “

Because only in the dying do we live. Only in the losing are we found. The only way out is the way in. The way to life is the way to death.

So sacrifice it already. Surrender it and yourself in tears if you need to. But give it and your anxious heart to Him. No guarantees and no bargaining. Just simple trust.

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 5

This is a little later than I normally post these but Jesus was speaking and I had to get His words to share with you.

I’ve been listening to this song the past few days and I really like it. Except for one line. Plumb sings, “Come and consume, All we are. We give You permission….” That line, about giving Jesus permission, just rubs me the wrong way.

We do not give Jesus permission. He is not beneath us, nor is He in our control. He does not stand outside, hat in hand waiting for us to deign to invite Him in. He always works. He draws our hearts to Him. Yes, He stands at the door and knocks, but He is not a gentleman. He goes where He is not wanted nor invited. He gets in our business all the time.

Anymore the very thought of our giving Him permission or allowing Him to do anything turns my stomach and makes me angry. Yes, angry. He does what He is going to do–no permission from His creation is needed nor sought. He is God and His plan marches on to completion. He is not a gentleman, but He is good and kind, loving in all He does.

Our only role–is not that of foreman, granting permission as we deem necessary–but that of surrender. We bow our knees before Him in surrender. He is in charge and is not a gentleman.

Oh Jesus, consume me like a forest fire out of control. Burn off the dead, bring fresh nutrients to the soil. Please set me aflame.

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but not He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ And this expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:25-29

We all want a nice, safe God. One who plays nice with our lives and doesn’t rattle our cage or shake us up at all. We want one that allows our control and strongholds to remain and He sure doesn’t ask anything from us. We want to Him play sweet on Sunday, we want to feel His presence as we sit in church and then bless us as we live in our control and strongholds the rest of the week, calling on Him only when we face something we deem to big for us to handle.

This is not the Jesus–not the God–of Scripture. That God rattles and shakes things. Often the things He rattles and shakes is us, our things. He shakes things up and He shakes us up.

He shakes to remove those things which can be shaken–our sin, our control, our strongholds–in order that those things–His Life and gifts–that cannot be shaken remain.

One thing we desperately need is to be shaken. We must see all our control and strongholds for what they are–a farce and a sham. They are flimsy and no good at keeping anyone with any strength out. Until we surrender to Him and surrender our control and strongholds to the One in Control and our Greatest Stronghold of refuge, He will continue to shake us.

Even after we surrender things will be shaken up, because He must expose and remove all our self-made strongholds. This is why we should pray to be protected from everything except what would bring Him glory. When we pray this, we know in our times of shaking that everything that happens is bringing Him glory, painful though it may be. We can rest secure in Him and watch Him be glorified in us and through us.

So when things start to shake in your life, and they will, trust me on that, surrender. Don’t dig your heels in and staunchly try to maintain your control. Surrender. Lay down your weapons, ask Him to speak to the hurt, the stronghold and then be set free to live in Him.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things  which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 4

Can you believe we’re finishing up our first month of Bible study already? I pray Jesus is opening your eyes to see Him, to hear Him, and to experience Him in brand-new ways.

I’ve been struck over over the past couple of weeks with His very sameness. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change. He cannot change. The way He was before the beginning of time is exactly how He will be after the end of time. There is no shifting of shadows in Him. There is no, “well, I don’t know if He’ll still do it….”.

Precious reader, if He did it before He is sure to do it again! It might not be the in the exact same way, but He will do it because He doesn’t change. If He met you yesterday, He’ll meet you today. Since He was faithful to you last week, He’ll be faithful to you this week as well.

Here is the thing that really strikes me about the very unchangeableness of our Jesus.

He’s not monotonous.

Monotony bores me to tears. If you want to see me run, put me in a place I will have to do the same thing, in the same way, every day. I’ll die. I will invent new ways of doing it. I will be so bored I’ll cause trouble for everyone. I’ll talk when I should be quiet, I’ll poke my neighbor, I’ll prattle on and on, long after you’ve shushed me a billion times.

When I leave my house I often try to take a new way to wherever I’m going. Since I’ve lived here for over 17 years, I’m quickly running out of ways to go, but still the thrill entices me.

My man is the opposite. Change is horrifying to him. He lives today as he lived yesterday. He takes the same way to work every single day. And what’s more, he sees no need, has no desire to change it at all. I’m going to admit it drives me absolutely up the wall.

It is comforting however, to know that Jesus never changes. It comforts because we can know that as He loves us today, He will love us tomorrow. He will never love us more, never love us less than He does right this moment. He will never know us more, never know us less than He does right this second. He will never stop loving us, or knowing us because He doesn’t change. As He is right now, He will always be.

He will reveal different facets of Himself and we plunge deeper into Him, His heart and His life. But He, His heart, His life, His character, His character remain the same forever. From forever past to forever present to forever future, He remains the same.

Man changes. But our God remains steadfastly faithful.

He will continue to grow us, to change us, to teach us, but He will always remain our Faithful God. Through the shifting sands of time He is steadfast.

Remember that! Never forget.

Here is the link to the next month of Bible study.

One Word 2019

A number of years ago it was popular to choose a word to focus on for the coming year. It was a word you would hope to be characterized by at the end of the year.

I have shared a time or fifty of my non-conformist ways and so it should be no real surprise to you that I did not immediately jump on the bandwagon, choosing a word willy-nilly. The words I chose were simply words that I kept encountering. At every turn I was confronted with the word Joy one year and another it was grace.

After a sweet conversation with Jesus, I was convinced the word for my life would be Joy, and there was no reason, no real need, to ever again have a word for one year. I slowly began collecting anything with the word, Joy, on them.

In the words of Marie Kondo, they brought me joy. Immense Joy.

This year I began noticing people again choosing a word or two for their year. And I thanked Jesus that I had a word for my life. And that I was made a non-conformist.

Then He spoke. One word.

“Mine!

My heart questioned, not from unbelief, but it seemed a strange word for Him to speak to my heart.

“I have called you by name, you are Mine!”

Isaiah 43:1

The word He chose for the year is so multi-faceted. It is a pronoun showing ownership.

But it is also a noun. As a noun these two definitions have piqued my interest,
1. A subterranean passage under an enemy position.
2. A rich source of supply.
These are to definitions I’m definitely going to be thinking on over the next few months.

It is also a verb and these two definitions jump out at me.
1. To dig under to gain access to or cause the collapse of an enemy position.
2. To extract from a source.

My identity is simply this. I am His. He has called me by name and I am His. In this I get to mine the depths of Him. In Him I have a secret, underground passage under the position of my enemy. As I mine His depths, enemy held positions in my life collapse.

His life, His supply is endless. We could mine the depths of Him every day for the rest of forever and we will never exhaust our supply of Him or His riches.

So, be encouraged, dear Reader, He is more than adequate to meet your needs. His riches and His life do not end, there is nothing you will experience that will be beyond the riches of His source, His Life. Plunge yourself deeply into Him, mine the depths of His life and grace.

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 3

Can you believe we’ve completed three weeks of our study into our identity already!?! I would love to hear what you have been learning, please consider leaving a comment so we can rejoice and celebrate with you.

Jesus will never love us more, He will not know us more than He does in this exact moment in time. It is also true that He will not love us or know us less than He does in this precise moment in time. There is nothing we can do to stop, thwart, or change His love for us. He will never stop loving because His heart never changes.

As Jesus is right now, He will always be. He will reveal different facets of Himself and His life; but He will remain the same. His heart, His character, His love does not shift or change. He remains the same forever, from forever past to forever future He is steadfastly faithful.

We are often so quick to think other people bring change and growth to our life. We think they make us flourish in ways we hadn’t before. We think, “Man, since this person has been in my life, I’ve acted differently.” Ergo, it’s the person.

But all growth and lasting, noticeable change comes only from Jesus. As He breaks–shatters–the strongholds, we are changed and that change lasts. He will continue to grow us, to change us, teach us but He will remain the same. He will never be surprised by anything, He will never know more or less than He does because through the shifting sands of time He remains steadfastly faithful.

When I look back over the last year I am amazed at the changes in my own heart. Most of them have been subtle, yet sublime, internal changes that are not readily noticeable. I haven’t experienced a sudden, remarkable change. One cannot point to a time and say, “One moment you were this and then BAM! You were like that!”

His truth has been cemented in the marrow of my soul. Things I had heard, things people had tried to teach me have been understood because of His love, His faithfulness. His truth has moved from an intellectual pursuit, staying all in the mind and never reaching a behavior-changing heart level, to being dropped and cemented in my heart and is now a truth lived out because Jesus’ Life lives in me.

He showed me the high price of surrender is not near as high as the cost of remaining in and with an illusion of control. Surrender to Him and His life is always worth the cost. Always.

So many times we fear a loss of who we are if we surrender to Him. We fear we will be a nobody, we will have no identity. We are afraid we will be an empty cup. We will have no life, we will be a nameless, faceless person in a crowd. We fear this because our identity is wrapped up in who we are not. We think we are the life, we think the cup makes the coffee great, not the coffee making the cup great.

Our identity is not in who we think we are. It is in who Jesus says we are! Our identity is not lost when we surrender who we are not to Who He is, it is realized! Only in this freely surrendering our identity to His truth are we changed and enabled to walk in our high places with Him.

In this surrender we see ourselves as we are–His–and that frees us to see others as they are, and allow them to be who Jesus created them to be. We let go of any illusion of control that says everyone must be just like us or they are wrong. It frees us of the trap of comparison. It frees us from so much self.

Shoot, it just dang frees us. From us. To Him. And that is true freedom.

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 2

A number of months ago there was a fire in the building next to their favorite Mexican restaurant. The restaurant was not completely destroyed in the fire but it did receive considerable smoke damage and so it was forced to close until repairs could be made.

I think this restaurant was one of those small, family-owned Mexican restaurants, that I picture in the seedier parts of town, but knowing them it wasn’t. Well, it probably was a small, family restaurant but not in the seedy parts of town.

All these months later the restaurant is still closed, repairs are being made slowly as time and funds allow. In the cleverest of stunts to be sure they were not forgotten they did a pop up restaurant. Limited menu, limited seating, limited time. We were there, standing in line with the rest of the crazies just wanting a taste of this iconic establishment.

They brought a couple bowls of chips and salsa, then just before our meal arrived the brought a bigger bowl of chips and what at first glance was a larger bowl of salsa. I thought it interesting, wondering why they brought the large bowl out last.

I wondered until I tried it. Then I realized this was not just a larger bowl of salsa, no, not at all. This was a bowl of sin-filled, and sinful, cheese sauce. The likes of which I’d never had before and likely won’t ever have again.

In the words of Lorelai Gilmore, “I want to take a bath in that sauce!”

My first taste was innocent, I was unaware of the cheesy goodness in that bowl. My next tastes were not so innocent. I took those knowing very, very well what it was and exactly what it would do to me. And I ate it as if I hadn’t eaten in months. I gorged myself on those chips and that sinful cheese dip.

And so it is with all of us. Believer or not, we sin. Sometimes it’s an innocent “oops”, we simply didn’t know, didn’t think. It’s still a sin, it still sent Jesus to the cross but there was no malicious forethought. Then we continue, because it tastes and feels so good. We know the consequences will not be good and we will regret it in five minutes so we keep eating it, keep trying to keep the consequences away. Until later that night, or the next morning when our over-indulgence has caught up with us.

Believing in Jesus gives us choices we didn’t have before. Before we are In Jesus and before His Life-Giving-Spirit indwells us, we have no choice to sin. It’s our identity. We are a sinner. But then Jesus comes in, places us in Him, indwells us, and suddenly we have a new identity, a new nature. New choices open up to us in an eyes-wide-open-in-wonder-type of way. Jesus now calls us saints.

If we are called saints,set apart ones, holy ones, how can we persist and insist on an identity that says we are a sinner? That the old identity, controlled by the enemy–who longs to keep us enslaved to do his bidding and not walk free as the creation Jesus says we are.

To say we are both “saint” and “sinner” is to be a schizophrenic Christian at best. A sinner will not produce good fruit, a pond will not give salt water.

A saint/sinner identity means you live a life of both blessing and cursing all at the same time. This is not possible! You either walk in your new identity of saint of your old identity of sinner, not both.

You are–if you are indwelt with the Breath of Jesus–a saint who sins, not a sinner who saints.

How can a Holy God live in something contrary to His character without changing the vessel He lives in? James 3:10-12 is speaking specifically about the tongue but I think it applies here since the tongues only speaks what is in the heart and mind.

Every sin is a choice, whether made consciously (like my continued eating of the cheese), or unconsciously, we make the choice to sin and sometimes our sinful reactions come out because we don’t realize how dead our old self is. We have choices in reaction and response. We cannot serve both God and satan, the Savior and self. We must choose one. We cannot justify our sinful choice with “that is just how I am. It’s who I am.” We have choices in our behavior, often we are ignorant about it or just too lazy to make the hard decision to change.

If Jesus calls us saints, why do we say we ain’t?
If Jesus calls us friends, why do we continue to try to make amends?

If Paul referred to himself as a saint, why do we think we are different than he was? What makes us so special to get to keep the sinner moniker when he discarded it?

In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul refers to himself as the foremost sinner, or the worst of the bunch. The word translated “sinner” means “despiser of God.” I hardly believe Paul meant that to refer to himself post Damascus road! Peter comes right out and calls us a Holy People.

Holy people can not also be sinful people.

When we call ourselves a sinner, we are basing our identity on what we do. We are not what we do! We are still human beings and not human doings.

Maybe the issue is our feelings. We don’t feel holy so we aren’t holy. We sin still so we aren’t holy. We try so hard to make ourselves holy, because we are commanded to be holy as He is holy. We are commanded to be, we are not commanded to make ourselves be Holy. We are not commanded to make ourselves work hard to be–to feel–but just to be. This means our holiness is not by our own efforts! Be! Holy!

Be holy in Him. Rest in Him holiness that was imputed to you. Take His declaration of your position as holy and be in it.

Be holy because the God in you is holy.