Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Will Fear No Evil

Father God, You woke me up this morning with this verse from the 23rd Psalm, and kept playing it over and over again in my mind -


My dad, a very wise man used to say to me over and over again,

Prevention is easier than Correction

Do it right in the beginning, and it saves you some heart ache.  This is what I remembered when God kept playing the verse over and over in my head this morning.  When thoughts about the "what if's" of life begin to flood my mind, I heard Him whisper to remember, and combat fear with truth...

I will fear no evil, because You are with me.

Have you ever played the "what if" game?  What if THIS happens?  Well, if THIS happens, then of course THAT is going to happen, which then leads to another THAT happening, and within minutes you are overcome with FEAR, running scenarios in your mind of backup plans upon backup plans - and then possibly making decisions based upon FEAR, which seldom work out well for me.

Let's get off the hamster wheel the devil has had us on.  When he tempts you into going down the wide path of "what if's," combat it with truth.

"What if" something happens to my spouse -
Prevention: I will fear no evil, because You are with me. I will fear no evil, because You are with them.

"What if" something happens to my children -
Prevention: I will fear no evil, because You are with me. I will fear no evil, because You are with them.

"What if" something happens to my job -
Prevention: I will fear no evil, because You are with me.

"What if" something happens to me -
Prevention: I will fear no evil, because You are with me.

"What if" I get sick -
Prevention: I will fear no evil, because You are with me.

You are a child of God.  You are forgiven.  God loves you more than you can fathom!  
Ask Him to help you Receive His love.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

His Faithfulness

Psalm 91 has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  I love the way it states clearly His promises and His character, and the way it speaks these truths into you.  It was the first complete chapter in the Bible I memorized (about 6 years ago now), and one I say over circumstances on a regular basis.  So when Holy Spirit woke me up this morning to a song and a verse within 91, I almost missed the depth, the new revelation He took me to due to familiarity.
The song was "You make me brave" by Amanda Cook & Bethel, the verse was the second part of 4 "...HIS faithfulness will be YOUR shield and rampart."

Faithfulness -

  • Strict or thorough in the performance of duty.
  • True to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
  • Steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant.
  • Reliable, trusted, or believed.
  • Adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate

Shield - 

  • a large piece of metal, wood, etc., carried by someone (such as a soldier or police officer) for protection
  • protect (someone or something) from a danger, risk, or unpleasant experience.
  • something that defends or protects someone or something
  • a police officer's badge
Rampart -
  • a defensive wall of a castle or walled city, having a broad top with a walkway and typically a stone parapet.
  • fortify or surround with or as if with a rampart.
  • anything serving as a bulwark or defense.
Our protection from the world is trusting in His Faithfulness, that He is true to His Word, reliable  always, despite what it looks like in the natural. When we allow ourselves to trust completely in His faithfulness, surrendering our need to understand, with no backup plan, He is our Shield and Rampart.

Friday, September 11, 2015

That's all you have to do with Me

A couple of evenings ago as the family was walking into the house from the busyness of life, our oldest son noticed a sticker on his younger brother's folder that looked a lot like one of his. Not knowing the younger had earned the sticker at school that day, immediately and without asking, he tore it off his brother's folder and took off to his room.  As the younger witnessed this atrocity, he began screaming and crying and hitting, chasing the older all the way to the older's room, where he then stood throwing a huge fit and demanding the sticker back.

As I calmed the younger down, I told him again there is no need in throwing a fit, with the yelling, screaming, hitting and crying.  All he had to do next time when someone takes something away from him is to come let me or mommy know what happened, and we will get it back, we will make it right. His tears tried up and he began to smile.  It ended up being a teaching moment for both the older and younger, and the younger got his sticker back.

As my wife and I were later talking about the drama and how it all went down, I felt God tap the ears of my heart as He whispered "my son, that's all you have to do with Me when someone takes something away from you. I am more than capable, and very willing."

Help me Lord God, to run to You first with my every need.  Let me come with a mighty faith of expectancy, but completely empty of all expectations.  Give me the strength to wait on You.  Let me see from Your perspective.

ADONAI will do battle for you. Just calm yourselves down!
Exodus 14:14  The Complete Jewish Bible

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree.
Isaiah 55 8-12  Message

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 6th 2015

I got up early to spend time with God, and I sensed He wanted me to read one of my old journals.  I just picked a page blindly, opened and started reading - it was September and October of '09.  We had just gone through our second presbytery and I was in one of the most spiritually sensitive times in my life.  As I read the pages I remembered how passionate I was to know God more.  A sadness started coming over me because I didn't feel that intense passion I did back then, and that's when I heard God whisper "don't compare where you are now with where you were then.  You surrendered your life to Me Joey, TRUST I know what I'm doing."

Wow.  An incredible peace came over me, and I realized He has me in a season of rest.  He will call me to a season of intense growth in Him again, it's just not today.

Be joyful always, Pray continually, Give thanks in every circumstance; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  - 1 Thess 5:16-18

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Journal - November 26th, 2014 - birthday

Daddy, You have blown me away again!!!!!!!!

I opened Jesus Calling for yesterday and today's devotional this morning, and the devo for the 25th, my birthday, was all about giving thanks in all circumstances and to pray without ceasing.  The first verse on the list for that day was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
 Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.
These are the verses You told me years ago are my "Life Verses", and the very same 2 verses I put up on my wall 3 or 4 years ago!

Daddy, Your ways are so far above my ways that it makes my head spin!  Dad, I love You too!  Thanks for showing me again how much You love me!  That you whispered to Sarah Young all those years ago to make this THE MAIN verse for the November 25th devotional, then whisper to me "this is your life verse Joey," then to whisper the thought of having me put it on the wall of my office - all to show me TODAY to what lengths You will go to to show one of Your kids how GREAT is Your love for us.  I am wrecked by Your love Daddy, in such an awesome way. I recognize and receive Your love, and love You too!!!

                                                                                                 my office wall

Friday, January 31, 2014

Since the 40 days

As my 40 day fast came to a close, I experienced a lot of emotions.  I felt the high of accomplishing what I believed was impossible mixed with a feeling of uncertainty about what would happen next.  I remember feeling a nervous excitement as I asked God, "What now?  Are all my prayers already answered?"
I sensed Him answer, "Did your prayers line up with My will?"
I answered "Yes sir, to my knowledge of You they did."
"Then you know what My Word says in 1 John 5:14-15:
'This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know He hears us - whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.'
Your fast didn't make Me want to answer your prayers any more than I did before you fasted.  Your prayers were answered when you believed I heard them, but your obedience opened in you a new realm of knowing Me and trusting Me beyond what you were capable of previously.   You cannot yet comprehend the fullness of this new realm, but in time you will.  As for your prayers, trust they are answered in My timing and My ways."

Two days after the fast ended, my oldest son Trey came to me and said he wanted Jesus to be Lord of his life, that he was ready to surrender his will to Jesus' will.  I asked him what that looked like to him, and he laid face down on the floor and began to talk to Jesus like He was standing in the room.  I witnessed my son in beautiful humility surrender his will the best he knew how at that time.  What an honor!  God is so faithful!!!   Thank You Lord!

One morning in my quiet time a couple of weeks later, I sensed Him ask "Do you want to know why I invited you to the fast?" Of course I bit quickly and said "Yes Dad, why?"  What He said next still blows me away and brings tears of joy to my eyes whenever I think about it.  He said, "Because I knew you would say yes Joey." 

It has now been over a year since the fast.  Troubles still come and go just like before, but my perspective is changing.  I'm not saying the boys don't step on my last nerve from time to time, or golf magically became less frustrating, but I am quicker to realize and believe the truth of Philippians 4:5 that "The Lord is near."  The reality of that Truth changes everything when we accept and believe He is who He says He is.  He is near to all of us.  He's not mad at us.  He loves us more than we can imagine.  He loves talking with us.  He loves it when we choose Him over the world's distractions.  He loves it when we choose to believe who He says we really are.  He loves it when we choose to believe who He says He really is.  He loves it when we choose to believe He really sent His son Jesus to take our place in judgement.  He loves it when we ask for forgiveness in humility.  He loves forgiving us!  He loves to take our burdens upon Himself and exchange them for peace (Philippians 4).  He loves for us to give Him the authority to clean up all our messes.  He loves us.

He is love.  (1 John 4:16)
He loves us outrageously (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; many others)
To know Him is eternal life - (John 17:3)
He is our provider - (Phil 4:9; Heb 13:20,21)
He is our healer - (Exodus 15 and so many others)
He is our protector - (Ps 91; Eph 6; Ps 28 and so many others)
He is our avenger - (Ps 94, 35; Romans 13)
He sees all things - (Hebrews 4:13; Acts 1:24; 1 Sam 16:7; Proverbs 15:11)
The Lord is near - (Philippians 4)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

40 days - Part IV

Day 34 - This day I came so close to giving up that it still scares me.  Shari was on a trip and it was a weekend, so the boys were home being boys (amplified by what seemed like about 10,000!), running around the house, screaming, fighting, asking for food constantly, and our two year old must have pooped 10 times!  The enemy started whispering in my ear again that this whole fast was for nothing, and this time I was listening.  I heard:
Nothing is going to change. 
Why are you wasting your time? 
God didn't ask you to do this, you made this all up in your head, and NOTHING is going to change. 
You don't deserve this punishment.
Look how far you've gone, be proud of yourself. 
This is long enough.
I opened the pantry door and stared at a beautiful jar of peanut butter - Peter Pan, creamy (for you peanut butter fans you know what I'm talking about).  I pulled it out and set it on the counter.  I was ready to open that jar and dig in with my fingers when a thought entered my head to ask God for a new Word.   There was a part of me that didn't want to ask - I wanted what I wanted!  But His prompt was stronger, and as I asked my Father God for a new Word to stand on, a peace overcame me.   The desire for that peanut butter left as fast as it came, and I heard God whisper to me "Give Me your very best Joey."  Again, my words here can not do justice to how my spirit was renewed and my resolve strengthened - in an instant everything changed.  In a breath I was renewed in my core and I felt invincible.  Then the scene from Facing the Giants played through my mind where the coach blindfolded Brock for the "death crawl" and asked Brock to give him his very best.  If you haven't seen the movie or at least that scene, click here . 
I went to YouTube and watched the clip again and I felt like I could run miles I was so fired up.  In that moment it seemed like I was already in the end zone.  Yes Dad, I can and will give You my very best.  Six more days.  Thanks for saving me yet again!  Psalm 91:14-16 has been a favorite for a long time, but it became so real on day 34:
 "because he loves Me, says the Lord, I will rescue him.  I will protect him for he acknowledges My name.  When he calls on Me, I will answer him.  I will be with him in trouble.  I will deliver him and honor him; with long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

I was now seeing from a new perspective, a different altitude - everything had changed, and the next 6 days flew by.  My eyes and my heart were on the finish line, with a fresh Word to carry me through!  On day 36 I left to serve on a men's event with Fellowship of the Sword called Quest.  It is 5 and a half days with God on a beautiful 500 acre ranch in the hill country of Texas, and I was part of the volunteer staff that cooked and supported the men on the event.  I first went on this event back in January of 2008 and it took my walk with Him to a whole new level.  I had never had such frequent encounters with God, nor heard Him so easily as I did over those 5 days.  Now I love to go back and serve and witness others having their own encounters.  God arranging me to finish the fast on this event is another miracle and blessing in itself.  He knew what I would need and arranged it.  He put the desire in my heart and took care of the details.  No electronics, incredible praise and worship, and a lot of time with Father God - can you think of a better way to end a 40 day fast?  Another mind-blowing "coincidence"  I have failed to mention so far is that another friend of mine (Scott) had also been called to a 40 day fast of only eating certain foods.  His fast started EXACTLY when mine did, and he was serving on this event as well!  So we would both be ending our 40 day fasts at the exact time, together, over 300 miles from home.  You can't make stuff up this good - who would believe it?

Those last 5 days He downloaded a lot of revelation that I am still processing to this day, but the last day of the fast is practically a story in itself.  I woke up that morning at 5am full of energy and excitement.  It had been 39 days since I had eaten, and at 6pm that day it would be over!   I went outside to spend my last morning quiet time with Him while on the fast, and the emotions were overwhelming.  I felt His love in such an amazing way and I know it will be something I will remember forever.  I asked Him for a scripture for me, and I heard Him whisper in my heart Psalm 84.  I looked it up and wept.  I cried out with all my heart, "let it be unto me as You have said - I receive Your blessing Dad!"

The day surprisingly went easily and quickly, fortunately there is always a lot to keep you busy on these events.  Scott and I felt He wanted us to take communion as our first meal, and to dedicate back to Him the first meal sure seemed to line up with His ways, so as 6pm drew near I got a tortilla and a small smoothie my friend Norm had made me and headed outside.  To my amazement, Jeff, my friend who sent me an encouraging text EVERY day of my fast was waiting there.  He had driven 5 plus hours to be there when we finished the fast - I was blown away again!  As he prayed over us we broke fast.  I know most of you would not rank tortillas as incredibly flavorful, but I can tell you I tasted flavors I never remember being in a tortilla.  Texture, and even the simple act of chewing brought incredible pleasure.  I took very small bites, and chewed them for what seemed like minutes in utter joy.  I had felt led to ask God a couple days earlier to begin to wake up my digestive system, and unlike what happened the previous time I took communion (without His permission), this one went easy causing no problems.:-)

 After we went back inside I noticed a friend of mine in a lot of pain due to his back, he said it had caused him problems for years.  I felt compelled to pray for healing and to tell the pain to go away.  When I obeyed God's prompting, the miraculous happened - all his pain went away!  Thank You Lord! He told me years ago He would heal His kids through me, I've just always struggled believing it.  Not anymore!  I now realize it has NOTHING to do with me EXCEPT Obedience!  When He prompts, I'll say yes. And when I obey the miracles follow.  I don't know how to explain what happened the rest of the night because it doesn't make sense in the natural.  Within a couple of hours of eating, an overwhelming sadness came over me, and I just wanted to be alone.  I could not figure out where it was coming from until I asked the Father.  I heard Him whisper it's okay, your spirit is mourning this season coming to an end, it has to happen, let it.  With that I sat there and cried on and off for about an hour remembering the last 40 days.  What an incredible journey He just walked me through!  Then He whispered, your next season has already begun...

For you nutritionists out there, just as God carried me through the fast, He also carried me through coming off the fast, and it was effortless.  Mostly juices, soups and soft foods for the first week, then it was back to normal.  I had lost a total of 45 pounds, and now it was time to start putting it back on, and in the right proportion!  God had taken me to my foundations both spiritually and physically, and the journey of re-building was about to begin.

I want to acknowledge and thank my incredible wife Shari for everything she did and persevered through during this fast.  She covered me in prayer, spoke life and truth into me, and handled issues that came up without me evening knowing.  There were so many times I had to retreat to prayer and she must have felt like a single parent, yet I never heard her complain.  Her faith and trust in God's goodness and faithfulness is like a 300 year old redwood with a giant sycamore canopy.  The unity we had during the fast and have today stems from her burning desire to obey our Father God.  Thank you Shari, what an incredible wife and mom you are!  I love you so much!  One day she might share what this experience looked like from her side - closet eating and all :-).