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.    

Cast Your Care

I Peter 5:6-7 says: ” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” NKJV. I got to thinking, what does it mean to cast your care? It sounds almost violent to me, as if you are to throw it with vengeance and disgust. I was wrong.

The Greek word for cast means to throw upon (lit. or fig.), to cast upon. But that word is a combination of two other words, so let’s see if we can get more clarity. In digging around, I found that it means a superimposition of time, place, order, etc., as a relation of distribution. To have charge of, over, upon, beside. It is through the idea of sudden motion, to fling, with a quick toss, not a deliberate hurl. It indicates an extended projection, by qualification to deposit (as if a load), to disperse, cast down, out, scatter abroad, throw.

    So, in all that, it seems clear to me that because of the blood of Jesus, we are qualified and loved eternally, so much that, He desires to free us from worry, guilt, hurt, anything that would hinder us or cause us to focus on anything but Him. He tells us to worry about nothing, to be anxious about nothing, and gives us the way to accomplish just that. Casting has a nonchalance about it. Casting is just flicking it aside over to the one who heals our wounds of the body and the heart. Casting is not a deliberate or violent act, it’s a mere tossing of the care off to Jesus. It’s almost casual, without a lot of thought, done by rote. We can do that because He cares for us.

    We all know that the devil hates us and wants to kill us. But Jesus loves us and wants us to live abundantly, fruitfully and blessed. He will turn our mourning into dancing. He will turn all things for our good. He has already paid the price for our sin and shame, it is finished, forgotten and He set us free. So, Jesus, having walked this earth as a man, suffered and knows all our sorrows and pain, worries and life issues. He knows what it’s like to be sad and depressed, to be hurt by others, to be broke and hungry, and to be lacking. We live in a contaminated world, but keep in mind, we are only sojourners here. We are citizens of Heaven. In Him, there is fullness of joy. In Him there is hope and an unshakeable understanding that He did everything for us. It was finished a long time ago, and whatever our circumstance at the moment, if we will cast that care upon Him, He will turn it for our good. I’ve seen Him obliterate debt, fill a hungry stomach, pay the rent, and give rest to the weary. He doesn’t give us trouble to teach us something, there’s no need. The instructions for life are in His Word. He doesn’t take from you, He fills you. He doesn’t cause problems, He can’t. God is good and His mercy endures forever. He never stops being merciful and kind. He is not a man that He should lie, He is trustworthy.

    Bow your knee with a grateful heart, be convinced that He will lift you up, and tell Him your cares. Transfer authority over to Jesus concerning your cares. Remove it from yourself and focus on what is promised in His Word. He is forever faithful. Just hand it over and walk away in anticipation of what He will do. Sing to Him a song of praise. Blessings.

The Trouble

I was talking with a family member the other day about suffering. Not a popular topic, to be sure. We were talking about suffering with sickness and disease, and there was a reference made to suffering for the Lord in infirmity. I was profoundly knocked off balance and saddened that anyone might believe that God desired they suffer such agony, but then I got to thinking. Slow down Carol, analyze this. It’s a logical conclusion if someone doesn’t know God’s Word on the subject. The devil is a liar and seeks to trip us up anywhere he can. His lies sound like they make sense. If that kind of supposition is pervasive, then I better get educated. If the devil can persuade someone that we suffer for Christ in many ways, sickness included, then he succeeds in one more step in his quest to destroy them. Not on my watch! We will build each other up in our most holy faith!

Three words came to mind as I poured over scripture; suffer, trouble and tribulation. Trouble and tribulation are almost interchangeable, finding their root in the Greek word thlipsis which means pressure, affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble. I started from John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” NKJV. The same word is seen repeatedly in the new testament indicating squeezing, pressurized distress that crushes. The word suffer in the Greek is pascho, which is a verb meaning to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful), to feel, passion, vex. It is combined in this text with the word sun, a Greek word denoting union with, i.e., by association, very closely with, a process, a resemblance, possession, meaning beside or with. Together and in the context of John 16:33, Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, 9:12, and Romans 8:17, (there are many more, but I don’t want to get you lost in scripture yet!) the meaning is clearly to suffer the same way Christ suffered, to identify with, to be persecuted as He was, to endure pressure, anguish, tribulation, be crushed and beaten as He was. To go through the process of persecution in the same manner as Jesus did. It makes sense, people still revile Jesus and religion and are quick to attack a believer for things they do not understand. Go back and look again, Jesus said in Me you may have peace. If we suffer, we do so in His peace, without animosity, bitterness or worry for self-preservation.

Absolutely nowhere in the scripture is there a reference to sickness and disease in conjunction with suffering for God. I find no reference to any of the disciples suffering pain and disease. Pain and suffering sickness is not included. The reason for that is simple. Jesus was persecuted and as he was nailed to the cross, he took upon himself the sickness, disease, poverty, demonic affliction, and every other thing that would torment and distract us from life in God. Jesus bore those things so we might be free. Because of the blood of Jesus, sickness is not ours to suffer because His blood covered it. I Peter 2:24, “who himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. He wants us to live for righteousness, right standing with God, unencumbered, abundantly. I Peter 4:12-19 talks about suffering for God’s glory. It speaks of suffering the same insults, persecutions, revilement and reproach that Jesus did, all because we are His. Verse 19 says, “therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” Is it God’s will that you suffer sickness? No, it very clearly says, according to His will. His will is His word, the word does not speak of suffering illness because it is finished on the cross. We have authority in the name of Jesus to cast that out. Sickness and pain serves no kingdom purpose, does not glorify God. Being healed glorifies God. Going through things in the strength and power and equipping of Jesus, glorifies Him. Taking hold of what He did for us on the cross, glorifies Him. Putting on the whole armor of God, glorifies Him.

Wow, I love revelation. So, if the devil can get us to believe we glorify God when we suffer pain in our bodies because of sickness, he can get us to accept it and speak life into that pain. He can get us to just live with it, do nothing about it and die sooner than is God’s plan. It will stop our effectiveness, it will stop us from doing what we are called to do, it will steal our joy and render us miserable. Speak truth and life, speak the Word of God over yourself, refuse to believe anything that is not the will and Word of God. Know the scripture, it is life and health, joy and freedom. Phil 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.” Look for the goodness of God and think on those things. Forget not His benefits and remind yourself what He has done for you. Train your mind to look for God’s way first. Blessings.