Welcome to…

So, here’s the thing.  When you pray for God to move, to strike up revival, to use you, He might actually DO it.  I know the church has been praying for revival for a long time, but nobody actually expected (or, in my opinion, wanted) it.  Change is just too uncomfortable.  We like our lives.  American Christians enjoy complacency – surrounding ourselves with menial everyday things.  “God, meet us where we are but please don’t make us suffer.”

Kind of connected to this, and kind of on a buzz-high of a rant, here’s something crazy that’s going on in my life right now.

All black, fuzzy, out of focus.  The world of my dream hard to touch and easily forgettable.  Mind barely comprehending, confused and cloudy, separated from body and motion.  

And into my dream popped something so solid and real I knew it must truly be happening.

I was holding my phone.  It had to be mine, not a subconscious fabrication of desire.  The cheap walmart phone with nail polish on the “x” button and “i” beginning to peel.

There was a text message on the screen.  I couldn’t see who it was from, but I could clearly read it.  Acts 2:18.  “That’s cool,” I thought.  “Someone sent me a Bible verse.”

When I awoke from this experience several weeks ago, everything from that other world fell away.  Everything except the text message.  It was so real I could almost still feel the phone in my hand.

“Hey that’s pretty neat.  Jesus sent me a text message.”

The thought was half joking, but I was still curious to see exactly what verse I was sent.  I jumped out of bed (a RARE occurrence I assure you!), flipped on my desk lamp, and pulled out my Bible.  Opening to that passage I found that I’d highlighted that whole section of scripture.

What’s happened is that Peter stood up and addressed a crowd at pentecost, quoting the prophet Joel who had been speaking about the end times (read Joel 2:28-32 for the original).

My verse specifically was this (Acts 2:18):

“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

Wow, that’s pretty interesting.  But it really didn’t catch my attention.  “Yeah, prophecy’s not really my thing.  Sooooo….MOVING ON!”

I’ve been steadily reading through Paul’s letters, a few chapters every morning.  The day before I’d left off with 1 Corinthians 13 so, after my excursion into the book of Acts, I flipped to chapter 14 for my pre-class devotion of the day.

Check it out (1 Corinthians 14:1):

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”  

Hey now.

Especially the gift of prophecy?!  Both men and women?!

Okay, God, you’ve got my attention.

Of all spiritual gifts that I’ve ever read about or heard taught on, prophecy wasn’t ever one I was drawn to.  Healing, maybe.  But not so much this one.  In fact, my most common reaction to the “prophets of our time” is EXTREME SKEPTICISM.

Yet, as someone who doesn’t believe whatsoever in coincidence, I could not ignore this.  Unfortunately, chemistry lecture would not wait for the revelations of heaven, and I had to dash off to class.

But I couldn’t shake those verses, or the chills I had after reading them.  What in the world did it all mean?  And why was it directed at me?

Here I am.  Barely surviving school.  Sure I’m getting good grades.  But all I do is study.  Once again struggling with chronic illness and depression, struggling to find a solid group of friends, feeling generally emotionally raw.

And now I’m supposed to be a prophet or prophetess or whatever???

They thought I was weird before….

So here’s what I know.  After talking to my mom and studying scripture more thoroughly I have a more solidly biblical understanding of what a prophet is.  Not only can they foretell the future as a result of divine revelation, prophets are solidly grounded in truth.  They see what is wrong in the world and speak out against it with the authority of God.  Prophets have discernment from the Spirit in life’s situations.

Words of Wisdom.

That’s what my mom called it when I told her that I knew.  I knew about the situation my dad had gotten himself into a full year before it came out.  It was the ultimate thing that separated my parents three and a half years ago, and I knew about it.

How did I know?  Every time it would come to my mind I would shake it away.  No 14 or 15 year old child wants to believe such terrible things about her father.  But they were there.  And it all turned out to be true.

Time and again it has happened, these Words of Wisdom.  Something would come to my mind, sometimes something nice, often times something horrible.  Thoughts about people and situations.  STOP BEING SUCH A JUDGY PERSON, I would tell myself.  Then I would turn out to be right.  Frighteningly, terribly, inescapably right.

I haven’t had such a “Word” in a while.  But the fact that it’s happened before won’t leave my mind.  Especially in light of these most recent events.

Just over the past few days it keeps coming up.  Last night I went to a community group bible study for the first time (props to the crazy friend who dragged me out).  The leader is a seminary professor at my school and told us something crazy.  He and a ton of other professors on this campus have been praying fervently for revival to break out among and as a result of these students.  *cue chills*  Then this morning I heard a teaching that highlighted the spiritual gifts of Romans 12:6-8.  Guess which one caught my attention?  (Hint: more chills)

What does all of this mean?  How am I going to apply this in life to change the world for the cause of Christ?  Honestly, I don’t have the foggiest idea.  But it WON’T GO AWAY.  So here it all is.  We’ll see what God does.

Yet I will say this – it is clear that these are the end times.  And it is quite obvious that God has been moving in powerful ways.  So please permit me to say:

Welcome to revival.

Voices in the Wind

I see flashes of red and gold blow by the window. I am safe here, protected from the wind and the chill.  I should be content to stay here in the house.  Should be.  But something is calling me, pulling me.  It’s tugging at the little hollow place where my ribs come together.  The center of my being.

I yank on my boots.  Warm and black and rubbery.  Designed to keep out wet and dirt.  I wrap the yellow scarf around my neck.  Bright and happy.  Why am I not content to stay in this refuge from the outside world?  Something is out there, drawing me on.

In my haste I slam my fingers in the closet door.  Pain!  Flash of white hot light!  I consider stopping to get some ice to calm the throbbing in my hand.  No time, no time!  Nothing can divert me from reaching out and answering that call.

One step and I’ve left the safety and protection of the house.  A chill runs down my spine as a cool breeze toys with my hair.  I can feel it here too, even stronger than before.  The desperation in the hollow of my stomach is large and round and hard, pushing out all other thoughts and feelings.

Down the gravel path, crunching, grey, determined.  I see the trees before me, purple and orange and red.  They are waving to me, beckoning to me, inviting me to join them.  I run, almost fall, keep running.  I must get to the woods!  The pulsing in my chest is so strong, I know I’m close.  If only I can reach it before it overcomes me!

Suddenly the path is no longer gravel.  The moist earth beneath me, spongy and welcoming.  Shadows fall across me, and I am here.  The insistence in myself that was so consuming is now gone, leaving in its place a quiet.  I listen.  Whispers of the leaves as they fall from above, joining their brothers and sisters on the ground.  Creaking and groaning of trees as they speak to each other.  If only I knew what they were saying.

Burst!  A fresh gust of wind blows through the majestic trunks, swirling and wrapping around them like a river.  It takes hold of my hair and throws it in all directions.  It blows in my ears and eyes and nose, sniffing me, touching me, testing me.

I can understand!  “What a strange being to be out here in the wide cold world” says the gust blowing through my clothes.

Why are you here?” demands the powerful wind wrapping around my neck.

My throat feels hoarse.  Dare I speak?  Will human words uttered out loud defile this moment and break the spell?  But if I don’t answer will they abandon me, thinking me to be only another dumb creature, lumbering by and taking no notice?

So I whisper as softly as I can, afraid of the sound of my own voice, “I was called here.”

Oh!” they all cry and go rushing away.  I feel deflated, as if they have left and taken a piece of me along with them.

But then I feel the slightest tug on my shirt.  A little breeze, that I hadn’t notice before among all the turmoil, had remained.  It must have been a young wind, for it was very small, hardly more than a breath of air.  It climbs up my body until it reaches my ear.  I can barely hear it, but it trills in its gentle whispery breath “I know what you’re looking for.  I can take you there if you wish.”  I only nod my head, terrified that I will startle this one too, and it will leave me as well.  Yet, as small as it is, it must be the bravest of all the Winds for it stays with me.

Gently, ever so gently, it wraps itself around my hand and leads me deeper into the woods.  Farther and farther, how far I do not know.  I am too captivated by the magic of the situation to notice much else.  Finally we stop.  We’ve reached a clearing ringed by trees.  The sunlight breaks through the leaves here, dancing on the ground carpeted in a soft and welcoming bed of leaves.

All is still for a moment and I’m afraid that the little breeze has left me, but I had no reason to fear.  Quiet, ever so quiet, I hear the word “Listen.”

At first all I hear is the tumultuous sound of my own breathing.  Slowly it returns to normal.  The bump, bump, bumping of my heartbeat in my ears.  The throb, throb, throbbing in my hand returns.  I am impatient, waiting to hear…what?

Then something inside me clicks.  I hear them.  The voices of the leaves.  They are quiet, oh so quiet, I would never be able to hear one by itself.  Together, they sing their song.  They sing of dying, slowly dying, but not to no end.  They are dying so that there can be new life.  They sing of the One that came before them, the One they model themselves after.  He, too, died to bring the world New Life.

The trees add their voices to the song, singing of winters past, and the winter to come.  Singing, knowing it will be hard, but they will make it through, and will be even stronger on the other side.

The sunlight laughs, shining on everything, bringing light to all.  No matter how great the cold, or deep the frost, or painful the change, it will always be there.  Singing, laughing, bringing joy to all who look upon it.

The wind returns, adding its harmony to the others.  Determined.  Persistent.  The wind bears the task of changing the seasons, bringing warm and cool air, each in their turn.  It sings of always moving, never resting.  Touching all and seeing all, it tells of places unseen and stories untold.  No one knows from where it comes, or the place to which it goes.

I listen.  I can hear them!  The song that they all sing, the tales that they tell, the lessons that they all have for those who are willing to listen.

Slowly the sun begins to sink, drawing night into the world.  Shadows deepen, and all prepare for sleep.  I can still hear their song, but I am now aware of my body as well.  There is no telling how long I’ve been standing here, in rapture to the words I was hearing for the first time.  I am shaking, chilled to the core.  My muscles ache, complaining of the strain I’ve so uncaringly put on them.  I know I must go in, but I never want to leave this place.  I want to stay and listen.  I want to hear the strains of snow adding its beautiful voice to the others.  I want to listen as the flowers emerge and life returns to the world.  But I know that even if I go in now, I will be able to return and listen to the songs of nature once again.

For once you have learned their language, you will always hear Voices in the Wind.

This is a story I wrote a long time ago, but just recently re-read.  I hadn’t remembered why I’d liked it so much, but I think I reminded myself.  For that is the power of writing.  To capture the world you see in your head, to share it with others, to preserve it so you can re-enter the land of your dreams.  I don’t want to be a professional writer.  But I love it.

Me

Who am I?

The soul-searching question that many ask themselves and few are able to answer.  Scientifically we know that our past actions and surroundings play a part in who we are at present, and our actions now change our future.  We are genetically set up from birth to look a certain way, to have a distinct personality, to become a specific person.

But how can we sum up in just a few words the complexity of human nature?  Is there one word that is capable of capturing past, present, future, mistakes and failures, hopes and dreams?

I WAS so young and unsoiled.  I loved nothing more than to enter the magical lands of my books or to create worlds of my own.  I believed in fairies and truly thought Peter Pan would come for me one day.  The world was good.  Life was beautiful.

But through years of sickness and hardship I became hardened and afraid.  An insatiable depression swallowed me alive, burying my hopes and dreams in its inky despair.  I would lay in bed and not even have the energy to cry.  I didn’t dream anymore – my daytime imaginations had dried up and turned sour, and the only dreams I’d have at night were nightmares.

Only by the power of Christ did I come out from under that weight of Darkness.  His Grace poured over me, cool and sweet, soothing the crack and sores of y spirit.  He lifted me out of sickness and despair and set me in a safe place.  Trials of life still reach me, and sometimes drag me down.  But I face them stronger and wiser than before.  On days I fall back into the trap of hopelessness, I know there is a way out, a place of Salvation.  I AM alive!

So it is there, in Him (my Savior) that my hope for the future rests.  One day I would like to have a husband to call on and children of my own.  I would love to publish my writings (nonsensical scribbles though they may be).  I want to go into ministry and pour into the lives of others.  But all of that comes after and through One Person – MY HOPE – Jesus.

We move, we change, we love, we hurt, we stumble our way through life trying the best we know how.  Each one of us is so different, strange and complex.  But we share one thing, the one word that encompasses our lives, troubles, mistakes, hopes and dreams – who we were, are, hope to be.

We are HUMAN.

Above is a writing assignment I completed a few weeks ago, and I was fairly pleased with the way it turned out.  We were supposed to analyze ourselves – who we were, are, and hope to be.  I tell the story, vague as it is, of my life.  I became a Christ follower when I was very young, but only just a few years ago did I learn to love and rely on that Christ as my best friend.  This is my story.  This is me.

And this is the story of all of us.  We are human.  Human nature is not a bad thing, no.  We are created by a Great and Powerful God in His image, just the way He’d have us.  It is our SIN nature that drags us down and causes us to be less than He intended.  Yet we find REDEMPTION from all in the pure and beautiful Savior – Jesus Christ.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

THE GREATEST NEWS ON EARTH!

Okay, guess what? 

I just got the GREATEST NEWS ON EARTH! 

I mean seriously, this is awesome.

Are you ready for it?

I JUST WON THE LOTTERY FOR 6.2 MILLION DOLLORS!!!!!!

 

First thing I’m doing – buying my mom a diamond necklace.  Like, a HUGE one.

 

Next, I’m getting ALL my siblings their own laptops.

 

After that, I’m renting out Disney Land for a whole week, and you ARE ALL INVITED TO COME AND JOIN ME THERE!!!

 

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  HAVE THEM TELL THEIR FRIENDS!

 

THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER!!!!!!!

 

Okay, so I didn’t really win the lottery.  But wouldn’t it be cool if I did?  I would be telling EVERYONE I know.  And they would be telling everyone THEY know.  Because, like, wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever?

So, while I’m at it, let me give you another scenario.  You walk into your house and find your boyfriend kissing your arch nemesis.  Talk about the biggest cheat in the world!  You’re so angry, that without thinking, you grab the butcher knife sitting on the counter and stab them both! 

Of course the police find you hiding out at your mom’s house and haul you off to jail.  Found guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree, you have been given a death sentence, with only one day left to live. 

Sitting in your jail cell all alone, one of the guards comes and tells you that you have a visitor.  This guy comes in, and as soon as you see him, you want to tell him EVERYTHING that you’ve EVER done wrong.  You want to tell him how sorry you are that you killed those two people, because he looks like the kind of guy that could forgive you for anything.  But you’re still going to die.  There’s nothing he can do about that.

Then he comes and sits next to you and says “You know, I’m going to take your place and die for what you did.  All you have to do is say that you’ll let me.”

WHAT IN THE WORLD??????  DID THIS DUDE JUST SAY THAT HE WOULD DIE FOR YOU???  YOU WOULD BE CRAZY TO TURN DOWN AN OFFER LIKE THAT!!!!!!!

Thing is, this isn’t just a fun story.  We’ve ALL done HORRIBLE things, but One Person DIED, to take our places, and if we’d just accept that gift, we’d get to live FOREVER in the most AWESOME place anyone could EVER imagine (like Disney World, but BETTER!). 

 

SO WHY AREN’T WE TELLING EVERYONE WE KNOW ABOUT THIS?????  WHY AREN’T WE SCREAMING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

 

I WON THE LOTTERY BUT BETTER!!!!!!

 

JESUS CHRIST LAID DOWN HIS LIFE SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO BE ON DEATH ROW!  I CAN GO AND LIVE FOREVER IN A PLACE SO AWESOME, WE CAN’T EVEN START TO DREAM OF WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE!

 

And yet we who have already heard this great news and have accepted it as our own aren’t sharing it.  Heck, we’re not even sharing it with our FRIENDS AND FAMILY!  We should be telling EVERYONE we see on the streets!  Did you hear the great news?!?!?!?  JESUS DIED SO WE DON’T HAVE TO!  ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ACCEPT THAT HE DIED AND THAT GOD BROUGHT HIM BACK TO LIFE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO HEAVEN! 

 

So why aren’t we screaming this from the mountain tops?  Are we afraid?  Scared of being judged?  Scared of offending people?  THEY’RE ALREADY GOING TO HELL!!!  What are we going to do?  Offend them into second hell???

Are people going to be angry at me for writing this?  YES!  Will people say nasty and hurtful things about me?  Probably.  I mean, I’m being so politically incorrect.  I said that people are going to hell!  I wouldn’t be surprised if my comments fill with horrible things about me (and my mom). 

But you know what?  I DON’T CARE.  I DON’T CARE!!

 

 

You can say whatever you want about me.  YOU CAN EVEN THROW ME IN PRISON AND TORTURE OR KILL ME!  Because there would be no greater honor than to die for my Lord, the Risen Jesus Christ.  And I know that whatever happens as a result of me obeying the greatest command ever given, HE will be there with me through it all. 

 

And if the Holy Spirit ever causes you to come into the Family because of something I said or did, then, well, I guess I’ll see you in Heaven.

LORD JESUS, TAKE THIS MESSAGE, TAKE MY HEART, TAKE MY LIFE.  DO WHATEVER YOU WILL WITH THEM.  FOR I AM YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. 

So.

Have you heard the great news?

Merry CHRISTmas

Having just come through the holiday season I have a few bumps and bruises, but am no worse for the wear. 

Yes, I am sick of those wintry jingles that seem to play every few minutes on the radio. 

Jingle Bell Rock?  How about we smash the stereo with a rock! 

Holly Jolly Christmas?  It’s the best time of the year you know.  Best time of the year to get earplugs. 

But you know, listening to these songs that in the end all started sounding alike, started me to thinking (a dangerous pastime). 

Tune in to any station, and you will hear a plethora of tinny jangling songs.  Even the “Christian” stations will play these ho-ho-hos and ding-dang-dongs. 

So why is it this one time of year, the one time that we are supposed to be most focused on a baby that was born 2000 years ago, that we turn to secular traditions and tunes? 

I really had to laugh at K-Love last week.  The cheery announcer lady said “Remember the Reason for the season” and then promptly played Here Comes Santa Clause.  Which brings me to my second point.

If we, the people who worship the One God of the universe and thank Him for sending His Son here to save us, can’t focus on that for more than a few minutes at a time, what hope does everyone else have? 

To tell you the truth, if I wasn’t a believer, I would be terrified of this holiday season.  It’s supposed to be the most magical time of all.  But say all you have to look forward to is lots of cooking, lots of shopping, lots of wrapping, movies and songs that feature talking slush piles and flying moose with glowing faces, adults drinking too much alcohol, kids eating too much candy, and family that you don’t really like being around you all the time.  What in the world is magical about that?

On the other hand you have a young girl, despised by her family and friends, traveling hundreds of miles while in the third trimester, giving birth to a baby in a dirty stable with animals all around.  Trying to care for an infant with no place to stay and people constantly after you.  There’s not much glory in this either, if you think of it that way.

But then you have to think of how brave this young girl was.  She could have been STONED TO DEATH for getting pregnant out of wedlock.  And her betrothed?  Talk about a brave man.  To stay with the girl who is carrying a child that isn’t yours.  And the shepherds.  They were the most despised people in the land, and yet they were the first to see the very special new baby.  And the baby!  How many births are accompanied with the singing of all the angels in heaven?

Then that baby grew into a boy, and that boy into a man.  And that man lived a perfect and blameless life, then chose to die a horribly painful death to pay for all the sins of all the people who would ever live.  But he didn’t stay dead.  Oh no.  He came BACK to LIFE, and is now waiting for the right day and the right time to return and claim all those that have accepted His Gift of Free and Eternal Life. 

And THAT is why we celebrate this time of the year, and why we should celebrate EVERY day of the year.  Because of a special Man that made a special sacrifice.  All because His Father sent Him to be born in the most humble of places. 

The speck of dirt called planet Earth.

Merry CHRISTmas to all,

Fairlight Maiden

/sīˈkädik/

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