Brain Bucket

    My brother used to ride motorcycles and he referred to his helmet, as his brain bucket. The other night, I was drifting off to sleep when I was hit with nasty negative thoughts about myself. The thoughts attacked my basic personality, my core values and started to really discourage me as a human being. Suddenly I heard myself boldly speak out loud, “devil, you cannot penetrate my mind, my head is covered with the helmet of salvation”! Whoa! Wow! I turned the light on and wrote that down! Lord, what are you revealing to me right now?

    We are familiar with Ephesians 6:10-18, the whole armor of God. I’m even ashamed to say, I am pretty sure there’s nothing new in this, we have heard sermon after sermon on the topic. And yet, here I am, looking at it again with fresh revelation pouring out. I am properly chastised and ready to look again! We know the Apostle Paul is teaching us to take up the armor of God lest we leave ourselves exposed to attack. It’s interesting to me that the NKJV says “take up”, not put on. Paul is saying, grab it, take it, make it yours, speak it out and march. Verse 17 reads, “and take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” I usually just casually read that and assumed I have the helmet of salvation because I am saved. I moved on the part about the sword of the spirit. So, today I realized I need to back up and evaluate the sentence in its entirety. Here’s how I broke it down.

    According to the Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, 1986, Thomas Nelson pub., the helmet was put on first because the head is the most vulnerable part of the body. Paul, the author of Ephesians, was a Roman citizen, and I believe he used Roman military imagery to enhance his lesson for us. It works beautifully and is just as relatable now as it was when he wrote the epistle. The Strong’s Concordance applies the number 4030 to the word helmet. Interestingly, I can only find that Greek word used twice in the new testament; Ephesians 6: 17 and in I Thessalonians 5:8. “… and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.” 4030, Pereklphaiaia, literally means to encircle the head. Salvation, 4992, literally means gift of God. To apply the helmet of salvation means to encircle the head with the gift of God. It’s a short rabbit trail, but hope of salvation means the anticipation with pleasure, expectation or confidence in the gift of God.

    Look further with me into verse 17. The sword of the spirit is defined as this: Sword, 3162 is literally a knife, or figuratively, a war or battle. (This is where I got excited.) Spirit, 4151, is pneuma, to breathe, air, or God, Christ’s spirit, Holy Spirit. Word, 4487, Rhema, is to speak, to pour forth, to command, to speak out. God gave Jesus to the world as His word, 3056 logos, the divine expression of God and the direct communication of God. Jesus is God, sent to earth in human form, to tell of the good news, that God is love, He desperately cares about all His children, and wants us to know Him. Christ’s act of death upon the cross opened Heaven to us and paid the price of our sin for us, brought us freedom from sickness and disease, poverty, delivered us from bondage to all kinds of sin, addiction, and ignorance, and set us free from future attacks giving us peace and hope. We are protected and cherished and all we need to do is believe Him. We will not suffer judgment or need for atonement, it has been freely paid for us, once and for all. God is excited and waits with joyful anticipation of spending eternity with us. God does not change; His word does not change. Once decreed, spoken or communicated, it is yea and amen, eternally relevant and the issue is finished.

    All this research into the Greek language was to magnify my own understanding of the truth Paul so eloquently conveyed. It is my contention that God was revealing to me something new in this very familiar scripture. To activate protection from attack, all we need do is respond with all the vitality and confidence given to us in the name of Jesus. Just the fact that we possess eternal life and cannot be killed, defeats the value of any attack. The more we study the word of God and know His heart for us, His plans, and His intentions, the more certain we become. The Bible says we are equipped, we have everything we need for life and godliness. We need only receive it, activate it, give it priority in our lives. How? Renew your mind by reading the word of God. Pray over the scripture, ask for wisdom, ask for change in your heart. Ask the Lord to right the places of wrong thinking and fill empty spots with revelation. Look for reasons to worship His majesty. Forget not His benefits. Rejoice in His holiness. We can’t expect to be effective if we are not willing to invest in what He has given us. It’s not all about us, it’s all about Him and His unending love, mercy and grace.

    So, when the battle comes, I will grab onto the full armor of God with all the vast implications of the privilege the uniform carries. I will encircle my mind with the gift of God and I will seize the sword that belongs to Christ’s Spirit, to God, and to Holy Spirit, knowing He goes before me and is my rear guard. The battle is mine says the Lord, and therefore, I am not overtaken because the very word of God defends me, promises truth and protection to me, guarantees victory, and most importantly, brings glory to God the father who is the creator and lover of my soul. So, I will engage, because the full weight of the name of Jesus has made me a warrior, confident only in Him, convinced of His unchangeable faithfulness. Thank you, Lord, for supplying me with a very effective brain bucket and the grace to employ it. Blessings loved ones!

The White Flag

    I was praying recently about some things that I was sick and tired of dealing with in my life. If I can’t fix it, get a grip on it or get over it, I need the author and finisher of my faith to take over and show me how to get free. So, I was praying and asking to see what the reasons were, what caused me to think the way I did about some things, what door did I open, and how to tear down strongholds that have hindered me from reaching my destiny. And God, being faithful and righteous and ready to help, began to put a vision before my eyes.

    I saw Jesus standing right there with me in all my attempts and failures, the trials and errors, the frustration and short-lived victories. He is standing there waiting for me to hand it over to Him, once and for all. I began to talk to Him. “Lord, forgive me for holding onto these things, excuses, justifications, ways of fooling myself”. “Forgive me for believing a lie when the truth was right there all along”. “I can’t do this anymore, I’m tired of my inability to control these situations”. “How do I get free from this”? “Lord, I want to give this to you, completely and totally”. “What will you give to me in exchange to seal the deal”?

    Jesus handed me a folded flag, a banner. It’s pure white. I know the Word says His banner over me is love, acceptance, forgiveness, purity, wholeness. “It’s a royal flag”, He says. “It’s to be used by a royal conqueror, one mighty in battle”. “You break the curse and the stronghold”. “Simply repent of believing and accepting a lie, renounce it, hand it to me, and accept my gift in exchange”. “This is a flag of surrender”. “The battle is over; the fighting has ceased”.

    Ok Lord! I began to call out things that hurt me, things that kept me from being courageous, things that stuck around in the dark corners of my mind and tormented me. I waved that flag of surrender over the things in my life that were bogging me down. The things that hindered my destiny and my quest to know the heart of God. I flew that flag over each named thing that held me back, repenting and renouncing. I laid all those things down in a heap and flew the victorious white flag of surrender over the whole pile! I began to shout and dance and laugh over the mess as Jesus stepped up and lit it all on fire. The bonfire consumed it all! It left nothing. My sacrifice of self-doubt and insecurity, of things I did that weren’t good for me, things I didn’t want to let go of, vaporized in the wind of the Holy Spirit. Even the flag caught fire and burned bright until I had to let it go. It all burned, a sweet-smelling aroma to the nose of God. Gone, forgotten, nothing left but a few ashes tossed into the wind. The Bible says God forgets our sin the minute we repent. It is as far from Him as the east is from the west.

    I felt light, empty of a burden, free and happy. Jesus lifted an urn and poured the oil of gladness over my head. He then poured the wine of His spirit over me, and then again, the oil of anointing. He said, “you are leaving all of this behind, it is gone, erased from our memory”. “Your new season begins, new life and vitality”. “Good things”.

    How Great is our God. I am in awe. Jeremiah 23:11.

The Highway of Holiness

Often in the middle of the night, I wake and write down the time. This morning the time was 3:56 am. The Lord never fails to give me a scripture that corresponds to the time, so I keep a notebook on the nightstand. I knew immediately it was Isaiah 35:6. It was our first night back from a 3-day road trip that was a fun mini vacation to a place the Lord has put on our hearts. Isaiah 35 is a promise to us, and Mike and I have been drawn to this chapter again and again. This time there was clarity as never before. Verse 6 says: “Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” I believe He is promising us joy and wholeness in our next life adventure. Our voices will be heard, and we will live in abundance of peace and happiness. But what really caught my attention was verses 8 through 10:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.


wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;

they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

My spirit began to leap like that deer and my voice rose up in praise. You see, life is a series of detours. On our road trip, we had to take a detour because road construction was going on in the main highway. That detour was short, but it was beautiful. We may have never seen that lush farmland had we not been obedient to the detour. The detour could have been a boring or a bumpy road; it could have been a desolate and dirty way, but it was not this time. It was beautiful because God works all things together for His plans and purposes and glory in our lives.

I believe the Lord shows us a destiny, a destination, a promise to look forward to. The road to that destiny may not look like we expect. There might be detours on the way to the Highway of Holiness that prepare us and mold us and sever us from unrighteousness. We need a little construction, rebuilding and restoring now and again. How can we get on the Highway of Holiness if there are still things we need to shake off? Keeping the promise of God before us, we press on. Perseverance is the vehicle to righteousness. When we arrive at the off ramp of our destination, we begin to leap like a deer and shout for joy! The promises and freedom overtake us, and we give God the glory. The doors open, the details fall into place, the momentum is unstoppable! We are covered in joy and safety and peace and love. God longs to remove us from captivity, to free us from man-made rules and regulations. He wants us free to stop “doing” and start just being His friend. Glory to God for His lovingkindness that goes from everlasting to everlasting! What an adventure!

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Phoenix Rising

    Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes of devastation and destruction, we rise. We, the believers, the Church, the Body of Christ, are each individually, a new creation in Christ. All the old things have passed away. We rise in victory over sin and death, disease and sufferings, emotional abuse and betrayal. We, are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. The City dwells within us, empowering us to live in Kingdom wisdom and authority. The promises of God, the Words of God, are our source and shield; the truth, the love, uncompromised and ready in season and out.

    We rise, knowing we have full assurance of salvation, freedom and value to our Father. We rise, knowing we have the mind of Christ and are created in the image of God. We rise, in confidence. No weapon formed against us will prosper, and every tongue that speaks against us, we shall condemn. This is the inheritance and the life of a Kingdom dweller. We rise, secure in the perfect love of Jesus, the power of His might, His resurrection that conquered death, and the restoration of all things necessary for abundant life. It is humbling to know the God of creation has made us to dwell with Him. It is humbling that He chose us before the foundation of the earth, to enjoy a mutual, intimate, fellowship and friendship. It is His desire that all come to the full knowledge of Jesus and choose His salvation. He waits for us.

    We rise, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave and conveyed us into the Kingdom of His love. We rise out of the ash heap of our former lives, free and victorious; ecstatic and overwhelmed with the goodness of God.

    We rise, we soar through the Heavens, we seek the face of God, we hear His voice, we hide under the shadow of His wings, and we worship with abandon. We hear His heart and pray from Heaven in agreement with Him. He rejoices over us with singing; He loves to set captives free and give us a future and a hope.

    We rise together, the Church, the Body of Christ, His peculiar people. We rise, knowing we will never be cast down. We can only rise.

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Superheroes

    The Lord God has an army of intercessors, people who are called to pray out mysteries and strategies, and birth God’s plans in the Spirit. I believe that in this mighty army are special ops, special task forces. One of these special forces is made up of ordinary people like you and me. These task force members are those called to deep prayer and supplication with fasting. Perhaps they pray for territories, or their own churches, or governments, nations and individuals. These agents invade darkness and bring light. They take their instruction from Jesus; they do nothing without going to prayer and hearing from the Father. I believe this particular task force is called the Jesus League. They are a band of super heroes suited up in their uniforms, going to front line combat in prayer. They are equipped with supernatural faith and understanding of authority and power conferred to us by Jesus at the cross. Mat. 28:19-20, Mark 16:14-18.

    Can’t you just see them? Picture in your mind the super heroes of the Justice League. Ok, I’m being a geek, but can’t you see the Justice League standing tall, united together, determination on their faces, ready to help the helpless. The original DC Comics heroes included Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman.  I see the comic book cover in my mind, they are proud and powerful. They are unstoppable.

    Likewise, in my spirit, I can see the Jesus League. They are fully submitted to God, on their knees, crying out on behalf of the Body of Christ. They intercede for us, they fight battles for us against principalities and powers of darkness, they save us from peril. These warriors stand on the Word of God. They worship the Lord and march into every engagement in humbleness and love. They won’t quit until the battle is done. They are transparent. They have cried out in the wee hours for a clean heart. They represent the diversity found in the Body of Christ. People from every tribe and tongue from around the world, kneeling before God, united with the Holy Spirit in purpose and determination. They know their authority. They know the victory is already theirs and they call it into being. The Lord goes before us and is our rear guard. He calls the intercessors to march in unison in prayer, to the sound of victory.

    Pray for your intercessors. Hold them up, lend them strength. They have paid a great price to have the privilege of living a life of prayer. They can see into the spirit realm, they often pray in the Spirit and in their understanding at the same time, interpreting both prayers simultaneously. They pull down Angels and the resources of Heaven for your life specifically. What an amazing gift. What an amazing responsibility. This is God at work on our behalf. In the world, people hurt one another. In the Spirit, people work with God to love one another. He partners with us, He works in our hearts, He provides a way and He protects us. Again, I am humbled and overwhelmed by His great goodness, His reckless love, and His plans for us. And, He uses us to accomplish those plans and purposes, exceedingly, abundantly, more than we could ask or think! God makes superheroes. This is amazing grace.

The Hungry Place

I saw myself walking on a pretty old-fashioned sidewalk. A small berm of snow was neatly brushed to the gutter, frost decorated the shop windows. It was cold, but peaceful. I looked up and saw a retro fifties style diner. The building was painted like a mural to resemble a train’s dining car. It was red and blue and green, brightly colored, warm and inviting. Delicious aromas spilled out into the street promising passersby delightful comfort food. The name of the diner was proudly sprawled across the building over the door…The Hungry Place.

I entered with anticipation, my stomach growling, my mouth watering in readiness. As I seated myself in the homey red leather booth, a friendly waitress with a beaming grin handed me a menu and a glass that was etched with a scene of a deer drinking from a cool mountain stream. The water in this glass was so good, so fresh, so different! I looked around behind the counter across the aisle. Soda fountain trappings were sparkling. A milk shake machine stood tall. I could see the freshly starched white cap of the cook behind the food delivery window. I smelled burgers and fries, apple pie baking and chicken frying.

As I opened the menu, I saw that it was huge. There were too many things to choose from. It was a joy and a delight just to look at it. I studied page after page of that menu as someone nearby dropped a coin into the mini juke box on their table. Sweet sweet music filled the air. My soul was immediately soothed; a joyful word of praise filled my lips. This is the Hungry Place! This where we come to taste and see that the Lord is good! This is it! Look, look at the menu! There’s peace, joy, love, healing, provision, deliverance! There are instructions, truth and clarity! There’s more than enough! Then I saw it, the one thing I wanted, the thing I craved with all my being. The special of the day! It was boldly featured on the last page. A serving is available for me, right here, right now! That most prized dish is intimacy with Jesus. I’m so hungry for it. I feel faint with the need of it’s nourishment. I need it to survive. I will not leave this hungry place without it.

I ordered with boldness. The waitress with the white ruffly apron smiles in approval. “Yes Hun, it’s the most sought-after dish in the diner!” “Not everyone thinks they are entitled to partake; are even afraid the serving would be too much to digest.” “Go ahead, reach out and take it! Dig in! Breathe in the fragrance of Jesus, consume every bit of this meal!” “Commit it to memory, strengthen your bones.” “Fill yourself with His love and comeback often for more!”

Oh yes. The menu is vast, but that one special dish is what I craved and what I requested. I sat with my choice for hours, savoring every nugget of His presence, delighting in every word whispered into my ear. I left that Hungry Place filled, whole, rested and satisfied. I know I can return again and again, be filled and loved, and never be turned away.

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Exemptions

    It’s January again, time to start getting my notes and receipts organized so I can think about doing our taxes. Not my favorite thing. It would probably benefit me to keep a ledger during the year, but I tend to get lazy and put it off till crunch time. The first thing I do is make a list of the deductions and exemptions I’m entitled to. Look, the IRS doesn’t exactly have a Good News Department. If you make a mistake, unless it’s in the government’s favor, you won’t know about it. The bottom line is, if you are entitled to a deduction, you must have knowledge of it and you must claim it.

    So it is with the Kingdom of Heaven. You know, Jesus gave us a list of deductions; things that we are exempt from. Just like tax information, over the course of the year, we tend to forget those things or shove them in a mental folder, then must bring them back up when it’s crunch time. The Word says, forget not His benefits. Good advice! If you don’t know what you are entitled to, you won’t know to apprehend them.

    The dictionary definition of Exemption is, the process of freeing or the state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others. It means immunity, exception, dispensation, indemnity, exclusion, freedom, release, relief, absolution. When Jesus took our sin upon him and died to save us, the things he saved us from, are exemptions. As a result of the cross, we have an immunity from the consequence of living on this earth where Satan rules this age. We are not subject to what the devil imposes on the earths inhabitants. Our sin is forgiven, all debt is wiped out, we are redeemed and free by the blood of Jesus if we believe in Him and ask Him to rule and reign in our lives. Without that forgiveness, we would be under the law and not under grace. The law is righteous, but almost impossible to adhere to. Grace is free, freeing and the true love of God at work.

    Let’s examine the truth a little here. We will limit the discussion to sickness for the sake of blog space. In order to claim a deduction, you have to know what you are entitled to. The word, salvation, is defined in the Greek language as meaning rescue or safety (physically or morally) welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, health, salvation. Logic would remind us to remember those benefits and use those exemptions as life happens. People have been tricked into believing sicknesses are hereditary, run in families; or are just part of life. It’s tolerated, it’s feared, it’s allowed. Hold up, let’s look again at the Word. I Peter 2:24 in the Amplified Bible says, “He personally carried our sins in His body on the [a]cross [willingly offering Himself on it, as on an altar of sacrifice], so that we might die to sin [becoming immune from the penalty and power of sin] and live for righteousness; for by His wounds you [who believe] have been [b]healed.” Jesus already paid the tariff for living in this infected world, so we are exempt. He bought our sickness, it is finished. He could have just died for our sin, but He gave us more. We need to know that! Satan is going to try every trick in his book to destroy you. He will get you to accept the cold or flu. You assume you will recover, and justify it, even welcome it as time to get some much-needed rest. Your friends send sympathetic wishes on social media and hope you feel better soon. However, the flu turns to pneumonia and the little foothold became a stronghold and now you are out of commission for weeks. You are rendered helpless; your vitality is stolen, and your strength is temporarily gone. A wish and a hope based on nothing, won’t do anything. An overflowing faith filled claim of demand based on absolute truth and knowledge of what Jesus did on the cross, along with your received benefits, will. When we take our stand, the affliction has to leave. We may have to fight, but we march forward knowing the victory is already ours, and we do it before the foothold has attached.

    James 4:7 says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you”. We can go straight to the court of Heaven and request enforcement of our right to what Jesus paid for. We can simply stand in our own authority and rebuke him. The devil has no recourse but to flee. He is legally bound to bow to the authority of Jesus, and that authority has been passed down to us. He is a liar and the author of confusion. Are you confused as to why you are afflicted? Awesome! You are on your way to victory because you recognize confusion as an attempt on your life! Keep rebuking the enemy, deny him access, there is no trespass allowed! Watch your mouth, idle words can trip you up. If you say, for example, “my arthritis is hurting”, then you just opened up the door for the enemy. Arthritis is not yours. It is a name and the name of Jesus is the name above all names. That name of Jesus is your weapon, your truth, your covering. Claim that name, not the name of something useless or harmful! There is nothing owing on your account, it has been paid with blood. You have immunity! He gave us every tool and every weapon in His name, to overcome everything the enemy would bring. I will not disrespect what Jesus has done for me by allowing Satan access to my mind, my body or my spirit.

    So, what’s the bottom line? Know the Word of God. Jesus is the Word. He became flesh and dwelt among us. Know His words and you know the intentions of God. God himself came to earth to free us from our assumptions and confusions, the enticement of sin, and the terror of torment. He paid the price for our sin and set us up for divine health, life, abundant and overflowing. We have the Holy Ghost to guide us and teach us, and we have everything we need for life and godliness. It’s all there in the Bible, but it’s up to us to discover its riches, learn of His grace and devour His character. Lay claim to your exemptions and live exceedingly, abundantly. Blessings.